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Heitzman Graduates from Leadership North Dakota

Heitzman Graduates from Leadership North Dakota


Dan Heitzman graduated from the University of Mary's Leadership North Dakota (LND) program in June. This 6-month program trains professionals to lead North Dakota's private, public, and non-profit sectors while addressing current challenges and opportunities in the state. We invite you to read what inspired and challenged Dan the most during this program below.
Dan Heitzman

What Study Materials, Panels, or Group Discussions Stood Out to You?

We studied the Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership by James Sipe and Don Frick. Each session focused on one or two pillars, such as "Person of Character" or "Puts People First. We had so many excellent speakers, visits, and workshops that it is hard to even start naming them.

Vern Dosch (former president of National Information Solutions Cooperative [NISC]) kicked off and closed out each session and usually joined us to all the places and events we visited. He is such an amazing thought leader for the community. He is also a great mentor and all-around good guy. 

Karel Sovak and Monsignor Shea (University of Mary) are perfect examples of servant leadership and are some of the most inspirational speakers I have ever listened to. Their topics touch on compassion, vulnerability, and the relationship between magnanimity and humility.   

Other memorable speakers included Kathryn Burgum, Deb Eslinger, Jodee Bock, and Gary Theraldson.

What State Issues and Challenges Did You Focus On?

One speaker that really resonated with me is Jenna Clawson with the North Dakota Highway Patrol (NDHP). At the moment, there is a disconnect between Tribes and the State with regard to law enforcement jurisdiction/response. Working with the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians (TMBCI), I run into the same type of challenges she spoke about—just in a different setting and discipline. Jenna is leading the charge of unifying State/Tribal efforts instead of them working separately and sometimes against each other. In the end, they serve the same people. Of course, communication and leadership are key for this transformation. Another element is the lack of cultural awareness that the NDHP had, which led to misunderstandings and unnecessary arrests. She has put together training programs and advocates for positions that deal directly with tribal relations.

Another issue we are facing as a state is homelessness. I didn’t quite understand the circumstances that lead to homelessness and the challenges they face after they are in that situation. Cody Schuler made an excellent presentation to us in Fargo on that topic. I found that there are a lot of parallels between homelessness, the struggles of addiction (Kathryn Burgum), and criminal reform (the F5 Project) with regard to stigma and the path of integration back into society.  The main takeaway is that these problems affect our communities as a whole, so we should all be engaged or at least supportive of correcting the issues.

Dan's Takeaways

The program was incredibly rich with rewarding experiences, the best being the close relationships that I built with the cohort. We are also setting up an alumni network program so that we can contact LND alumni from other cohorts. Ongoing regular events and networking opportunities will also be scheduled in the months and years to follow.  

I also need to shout out Dr. Robert Martin (University of Mary) for being our fearless leader and administering the program. He did a fantastic job and I learned a lot about leadership from observing him execute the program.