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Staff Biographies

 

Herb Jones | Chief of Staff

Herb Jones serves as Chief of Staff for Governor Kristi Noem and is a member of the Governor's executive team. Herb's extensive government experience includes work in the Janklow, Mickelson, and Miller administrations and as chief of staff to then-Congressman John Thune. He also served as a deputy assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Herb previously chaired Noem's 2010 congressional transition team and was deputy campaign manager of the Kristi for Governor campaign in 2018. In addition to working as a licensed investment broker for seven years, Jones served for thirteen years as the director of state and local government affairs for the DM&E and Canadian Pacific railroads.

A Miller native, Herb is graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in political science. He and his wife, Deb, have two daughters and four grandchildren.

 

Joshua Shields | Chief of Policy and Communications

Joshua Shields serves as Chief of Policy and Communications for Governor Kristi Noem and is a member of the Governor's executive team. Previously, Joshua worked in politics, policy and communications in varying capacities including roles with U.S. Senator John Thune, then-Congresswoman Noem, and in the private sector. Joshua also served as Noem's campaign manager for her first congressional run in 2010, and for Thune's re-election bid in 2016.

Joshua was born in Pierre and grew up in Rapid City. He graduated from Rapid City Christian High School and holds a bachelor's degree in political studies from Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts.

Joshua and his wife, Danielle, live in Pierre with their four young children. Joshua used to have hobbies such as reading, golfing, and skiing and will hopefully pick those back up again someday, but for now enjoys spending time with his family, preferably outside.

 

Liza Clark | Chief Financial Officer

Liza Clark serves as Governor Noem's Chief of Finance and as Commissioner of the Bureau of Finance and Management (BFM), and she is a member of the Governor's executive team. She is also one of the Governor's appointees to the South Dakota Retirement System Board of Trustees.

Liza previously served as BFM Commissioner in the Daugaard administration, as well as policy advisor on issues relating to labor and regulation, workforce development, human resources, and higher education, and before that as chief budget analyst with the Bureau of Finance and Management.

A South Dakota native, Liza graduated from Miller High School and holds a bachelor's degree in finance and economics from Northern State University and an master's of business administration from the University of South Dakota.

Liza and her husband Zach, a small business owner, live in Pierre with their two daughters. Liza enjoys spending time with her family, playing a variety of sports, and having fun on the Missouri River.

 

Steve Westra | Commissioner of Economic Development

Steve Westra serves as the Commissioner of the Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED) and is a member of the Governor's executive team. Prior to joining the GOED, he served as the chief operating officer of Hegg Companies in Sioux Falls.

A native of Sioux Falls, Westra earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of South Dakota. He has spearheaded various public/private partnerships and has extensive experience in working with both in-state and out-of-state private equity and debt providers for the purpose of creating jobs in South Dakota. He served in the State House of Representatives from 2013-2016 and also served on the State Tourism Advisory Board.

Westra and his wife, Julie, have three children. When he's not busy at one of his children's activities, his family enjoys spending time boating.

 

Beth Hollatz | Senior Advisor

Beth Hollatz serves as Senior Advisor to Governor Kristi Noem and is a member of the Governor's executive team. Prior to her current role, Beth spent eight years with then-Congresswoman Noem, first as Northeast director and then as state director. Beth also worked on all four Kristi for Congress campaigns.

Beth is a Watertown native. She and her husband, Alan, owned Playhouse Family restaurant in Clark from 1985-2008. Beth and her husband currently live in Watertown, where they own Hollatz Dragline Service and where Alan works as a crane operator. Beth and Alan have four grown daughters and nine grandchildren.

Beth enjoys, first and foremost, spending time with her family and grandchildren, refinishing furniture, detailing automobiles, and reading. She is also an avid Nebraska Cornhusker fan.

 

Tom Hart | General Counsel

Tom Hart serves as General Counsel in the Governor's Office and also serves as Policy Advisor for the Department of Corrections and Department of Labor and Regulation. He previously served as deputy secretary of the Department of Labor and Regulation and as director of labor and management.

Tom grew up in Miller and graduated from Miller High School. He earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of South Dakota. Tom then worked in the financial sector for seven years in Chicago. He returned to South Dakota and earned a J.D. from the University of South Dakota School of Law.

Tom and his wife Jill, an optometrist, live in Pierre and have two children. Tom serves on the board of the Capital University Center. He enjoys outdoor activities including golfing, hiking, and downhill snow skiing.

 

Katie Hruska | Deputy General Counsel

Katie Hruska is Deputy General Counsel in the Governor's Office.

A native of Fargo, Katie earned her bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and her J.D. from the University of South Dakota School of Law. Katie was a law clerk for the Sixth Judicial Circuit for two years, assisting the Court on a variety of issues from election law and public utility disputes to workers' compensation appeals and insurance actions. Following that service, Katie worked in private practice until joining the Governor's Office in January 2019.

Katie and her husband, Eddie, who is also an attorney, live in Pierre. They enjoy hiking, the outdoors, and doing building renovations. Katie is a proud coach for the Oahe Elite Volleyball Club.

 

Aaron Scheibe | Senior Policy Advisor

Aaron Schiebe serves in the Governor's Office as a Senior Policy Advisor. His role encompasses strategic direction on policy and legislative issues related to economic development, transportation, public safety, and tribal relations.

Prior to joining the Governor's staff, Aaron served for four years as the deputy commissioner of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, and before that for twelve years as a diplomat for the U.S. Department of State, including overseas postings at U.S. embassies in the former Soviet Union, as a negotiator working on free trade agreements, and on the Secretary of State's staff in Washington, D.C.

A Pierre native, Aaron holds degrees from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and the George Washington University School of Law in Washington, D.C., and is a member of the South Dakota Bar. Aaron and his wife, Laura, a Nebraska native, have two sons.

 

Tiffany Sanderson | Senior Policy Advisor

Tiffany Sanderson serves as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Governor's Office, focusing on K-12 and higher education, Bureau of Human Resources, and Bureau of Information & Telecommunications. She also leads the Governor's workforce efforts.

Tiffany graduated from Lemmon High School and earned her bachelor's degree in agricultural education from South Dakota State University and her master's degree in human resource management from the University of South Dakota.

Tiffany's career has spanned education, youth development, and workforce development. Prior to her current role, she worked for the National FFA Organization in Indianapolis; a learning solutions company, Vivayic Inc., based in Lincoln, Nebraska; and the South Dakota Department of Education. While at the department, Tiffany led career and technical education, including the state's four technical institutes.

Tiffany lives in Pierre with her husband, Nathan, the executive director of a statewide trade organization, and their son, Carter, the director of their free time. She enjoys time with her family and friends, adventure in the outdoors, traveling, running, and supporting community efforts.

 

Melissa Klemann | Policy Advisor

Melissa Klemann serves as a Policy Advisor in the Governor's Office for the Department of Social Services, the Department of Health, and the Department of Human Services. Before joining Governor Noem's office, Melissa worked for the Department of Labor and Regulation, most recently as the deputy director for the Division of Insurance, where she focused on health insurance.

Melissa grew up on a ranch south of Highmore and graduated from Highmore High School. She earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Colorado Technical University.

Melissa and her husband Boonie, live in Pierre with their three children. Her hobbies include hunting, gardening, being on the Missouri River, watching a variety of sports, and transporting kids to all their various activities.

 

Jason Simmons | Policy Advisor

Jason Simmons serves as Policy Advisor for the Governor's Office, focusing on the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Game Fish and Parks, the Department of the Military, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Bureau of Administration, and energy policy.

Prior to joining the Noem Administration, Jason worked as a fiscal analyst for the South Dakota Legislative Research Council and as a utilities analyst for the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission.

Jason graduated from New Underwood High School. He earned a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary science, with a specialization in pre-professional health services, from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, and a master's in business administration from the University of South Dakota. Jason enjoys spending time with friends, being outdoors, and working on his family's farm and ranch.

 

Bailey Carlsen | Deputy Policy Advisor

Bailey Carlsen serves as Deputy Policy Advisor to Governor Kristi Noem, assisting in a variety of areas including legislation, housing, tourism, and boards & commissions. Before joining the Noem Administration, she taught at Sichuan International Studies University in Chongqing, China for two years, was an accounting assistant for the South Dakota Auditor's Office, and held various positions within the Daugaard Administration, most recently serving as the Communications Director.

Bailey grew up in Ashley, North Dakota before completing middle and high school in Aberdeen. She attended Drake University in Iowa where she earned bachelor's degrees in sociology and in law, politics & society. She later moved to the United Kingdom to attend University College London, where she earned a master's degree in transnational studies.

Bailey enjoys spending time with her family and traveling. She recently reached her goal to visit forty countries by the time she turned thirty. Next, she hopes to visit the southern hemisphere and add two more continents to her list.

Kennedy Noem | Policy Analyst

Kennedy Noem serves as a Policy Analyst and the Federal Government Liaison for the Governor's Office. Previously, Kennedy served as a field office director for the Kristi For Governor Campaign and spent two summers interning on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., eagerly expanding her political knowledge.

Kennedy grew up in Northeast South Dakota near Watertown and graduated from Hamlin High School. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science and economics from South Dakota State University.

In her spare time, Kennedy enjoys hunting, hiking, going to the lake, or really anything that takes place outdoors. She is a loyal fan of the Minnesota Vikings and loves traveling across the country and around the world with family and friends.


 

Emily Kiel | Communications Director

Emily Kiel serves as the communications director for Governor Kristi Noem. She has worked in communications for state government for fourteen years, including roles at the Department of Social Services, the Department of Tourism and the Bureau of Information and Telecommunications.

Most recently, Emily served as the strategic communications director for the Department of Game, Fish and Parks (GFP). During her time at GFP, Emily served on the executive management team and oversaw all public relations and communications efforts while executing and managing the 2016-2020 strategic plan.

Emily, a graduate of Watertown High School, holds a bachelor's degree in mass communications from Minnesota State University Moorhead and will complete her master's degree in organizational leadership from the University of South Dakota in 2021.

Emily and her husband Chad reside north of Pierre with their two children. Emily is a lifelong hunter and angler who enjoys spending time outside with her family - hunting deer, pheasants and turkeys; calling and snaring coyotes; hiking in the hills; fishing the Missouri River; riding horses and watching wildlife.

 

Kristin Wileman | Press Secretary

Kristin Wileman serves as Press Secretary for Governor Kristi Noem. Prior to her current role, Kristin spent two years in Washington, D.C. as then-Congresswoman Noem's press secretary, and was part of the Kristi for Governor campaign in 2018.

Kristin grew up in Aberdeen and graduated from Aberdeen Central High School. She attended North Central University in Minneapolis, where she earned bachelor's degrees in journalism and biblical studies.


 

Ryan Sheldon | Digital Media Manager

Ryan Sheldon serves as Digital Media Manager for Governor Kristi Noem. Prior to joining the Governor's Office, Ryan founded Armor Productions LLC, an event production company in Pierre.

A Pierre native, Ryan is a graduate of T. F. Riggs High School. He earned a degree in live sound and event production from the Institute of Production and Recording in Minneapolis, where he was the first to earn the Student Spotlight Award for his accomplishments in the program.

You can often find Ryan hiking in the Black Hills or taking photos of landscapes throughout South Dakota. 

 

Jake Monssen | Constituent Services

Jake Monssen serves as Director of Constituent Services for the Governor's Office. Prior to his current role, Jake served as a constituent services representative for then-Congresswoman Noem's Sioux Falls office. He also worked on the 2018 Kristi for Governor campaign.

Jake attended South Dakota State University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science and a minor in leadership.

Jake lives in Pierre and spends most of his free time fishing and hunting. He also enjoys reading books about political campaigns, presidential administrations, and leadership.


 

Megan Goltz | Scheduler

Megan Goltz serves as Director of Scheduling to Governor Kristi Noem.

Megan grew up near Estelline, where she graduated high school. She attended the University of Minnesota-Crookston, where she earned her bachelor's degree in animal science. Prior to joining the Governor's Office, Megan worked as a veterinary tech and a horse trainer. She also worked on the Kristi for Governor campaign in 2018.

In her free time, Megan enjoys rodeoing and hunting big game with her husband, Trapper.

 

Judy Davis | Executive Assistant

Judy Davis serves as an Administrative Assistant for the Governor's Office. Before coming to the Governor's Office in 2011, Judy worked at the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office in Deadwood.

Judy is a Winner native and graduated from Winner High School. She went on to further her education at Western Dakota Technical Institute and graduated with a degree in computerized office careers.

Judy has two sons. In her free time, she enjoys cheering on the Pierre Governor athletic teams, spending time outdoors, working in her yard and spending time with family and friends.

 

Morgan Ness | Executive Assistant

Morgan Ness serves as an Executive Assistant to Joshua Shields, Tom Hart, Katie Hruska, Tiffany Sanderson, and Melissa Klemann.

Morgan previously served as an Executive Assistant in the Daugaard administration and was also Governor Daugaard's Correspondence Manager. Before joining the Governor's Office, Morgan served as the Executive Assistant for Secretary Marcia Hultman in the Department of Labor and Regulation.

Morgan grew up in Watertown where she graduated high school. She and her daughter moved to Pierre in 2013. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, golfing, and being outdoors.

 

Rachel Graves | Executive Assistant

Rachel Graves serves as Executive Assistant to Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden, Chief of Staff Herb Jones, Aaron Scheibe, and Jason Simmons. Rachel has worked in state government for six years. Before coming to the Governor's Office, she worked for the Governor's Office of Economic Development and the Department of Tourism.

Rachel was born and raised in Pierre where she graduated from T. F. Riggs High School. She and her husband Matt have three boys. In her free time, Rachel enjoys reading, engaging in outdoor activities, spending time with family, and watching her boys' sporting events.


 

Neha Patel | Executive Assistant

Neha Patel serves as Executive Assistant to Governor Kristi Noem. Prior to her current role, Neha served in then-Congresswoman Noem's office in Washington, D.C.

A Kentucky native, Neha graduated from the University of South Dakota and holds a bachelor's degree in health sciences.


 

Travis Dovre | Fiscal Officer

Travis Dovre serves as the Fiscal Officer for Governor Kristi Noem's office, a role he also held in the Daugaard administration beginning in 2015. Wearing multiple hats, Travis also oversees the fiscal operations of the Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED), Department of Tourism, and Department of Tribal Relations. Previously, he worked for GOED as assistant finance director, loan officer, and grant administrator.

Travis grew up in Spearfish where he developed a love for the outdoors, achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, and graduated high school. After learning the welding trade at Lake Area Technical Institute, he spent several years working in Watertown and served as a member of the South Dakota Army National Guard in the 147th Field Artillery. After relocating to Pierre in 2004, Travis earned a bachelor's degree in banking and financial services from Northern State University.

In his spare time, he and his wife Dawn enjoy outdoor activities, culinary experiments, and spending time with family and friends.