Board of Trustees
Mr. Christianson is the President of Paces Lodging Corporation and Property Resources Group. For the past 25 years he has been actively involved in real estate development, construction and management. Under Mr. Christianson’s leadership Paces and Property Resources Group combine a team that works in and on all aspects of real estate. From land acquisition and development designs, to building design and construction, to property sales, leasing and management; they are able to perform all functions within their organization. He has developed, financed, designed, and constructed over 750,000 square feet of office and medical space, 500,000 SF of retail space, 1,000 storage units and over 1,600 multi-family residential units, along with developing over 3,000 residential lots. Mr. Christianson serves on the Finance Committee for the Dakota REIT.
Mr. Fay is a 1983 graduate of NDSU with a BA in Ag. Economics. He is a life-long North Dakota small business owner and property owner. He is presently involved in several oil & gas development ventures targeting the Bakken & Three Forks reservoirs in Western ND. He is a founding shareholder in Dakota Growers Pasta Company and United Spring Wheat Producers. Brad served on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Wheat Growers and the North Dakota Grain Growers Association, for which he also served a State President term. He was the leader of the team which developed the N.D. Trade Office from a greenfield start. He maintains interest in international trade opportunities. Brad served on The Dakota REIT Finance Committee and has been Secretary of the Board of Trustees since inception of The Dakota REIT.
Mr. Hauer graduated from Bismarck Business College in 1962 with a degree in Business and Accounting. Mr. Hauer is the Owner/Operator of J & L Development, Inc., a land and real estate holding company with land in North Dakota and Arizona. Mr. Hauer also is involved with Arikota, LLP, a land and real estate holding company owned and operated by the Hauer family. In 1965, Mr. Hauer entered into the printing and publishing business. In 1980, Mr. Hauer entered the banking business with a start-up bank. Mr. Hauer has forty years of experience serving on profit and non-profit boards. He also currently serves on the University Board of Trustees for the University of Mary. Mr. Hauer is also the President of United Printing in Bismarck, ND, as well as a partner in United Printing in Phoeniz, AZ.
Mr. Heen graduated from NDSU in 1970 with a degree in Agriculture Economics. He spent 21 years working for USDA in Ag lending in various locations in ND. In 1991 he went to work for American State Bank and Trust Co. in Williston ND. as a Vice President in charge of Ag lending. He was later promoted to Executive Vice President and was with the bank until he retired in Dec. 2012 as it's President and CEO. He was also actively engaged in farming and ranching in the Williston area for 33 years. He has served on many community and church boards over the years and is presently on the board of directors for Am. St. Bk. and Trust Co.
Mr. Henderson received a BA in Industrial Engineering from North Dakota State University in 1976. Since that time he has worked in agricultural production services in North Dakota, specializing in chemical and fertilizer application. Personal real estate investments include multi-family apartments and tax credits. Mr. Henderson serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
Mr. Johnson attended Valley City State University in Valley City, ND from 1971-1973. In 1974, he entered the Respiratory Therapy program through Mercy Hospital in Valley City, ND. Mr. Johnson graduated as a Certified Respiratory Therapist in 1976. Mr. Johnson entered the construction business in 1979 as a manager for Wick Construction in Valley City, ND. From 1982-1984, he represented Midwest Marketing as an Insurance Sales Representative. Mr. Johnson developed Heartland Insurance in Valley City, ND in 1984. In 1987, he moved his offices to Fargo, ND. Heartland Insurance Associatesmarkets through independent agents and agencies in North Dakota, Montana, and western Minnesota.
Mrs. Liechty graduated in 1983 with a BA in Business and History/Political Science from Jamestown College. She received a Master's in Management degree from the University of Mary in 1994. Mrs. Liechty served as a director on North Dakota Natural Resources Trust Board from 1993-1996 and served one year as president. She served as a member of the North Dakota State Farm Service Agency Board from 1989 to 1993, and as a director on the North Dakota Grain Growers Association 1987-89. Mrs. Liechty was chosen, years 1987-1992, as one of twenty women nation wide to participate in the US Department of Agriculture "Women in Agriculture Workshops" as an international delegation to countries in Europe, Northern Africa, and South America. In her community she served as past president of the Jamestown Area Foundation and the Jamestown College Alumni Board. She served as mayor of the city of Jamestown June 2006 - 2010. Mrs. Liechty has spent her business career in partnership with her husband in agricultural production and real estate investments.
Mr. Sheppard is a 1972 graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a BBA in Business Administration – Marketing. He is President and owner of Cable Services, Inc, North Dakota’s oldest cable TV & broadband Internet company. Sheppard is managing partner of CSi Computers, a Jamestown based technology firm providing computer & networking sales and service.
He has served as President of State and Regional Cable Television Associations, has served as a director on the National Cable Television Association Board, and was a founding director of the American Cable Association, working to expand technological services for business, public, and private users.
In 1989, Mr. Sheppard was appointed by ND Governor to serve on the ND Educational Telecommunications Council, serving 2 terms as Chairman. Mr.
Sheppard oversaw the renovation and redevelopment of Historic Franklin School, as a 21,000 square foot technology center, receiving the ND 2004 Preservation Excellence Award.
Mr. Sheppard has personal investments in North Dakota and San Francisco real estate.
Mr. Slusky has been a partner in Smith Gardner Slusky Law, L.L.C for the past seven years. Prior to that time, he had been a shareholder, director and principal of Gross & Welch, P.C., and a partner with the Omaha office of Kutak Rock. He is licensed to practice law in Nebraska, Iowa and Florida. Mr. Slusky is known for his expertise in real estate planning, zoning, development, financing and leasing. As adjunct professor of law at Creighton University School of Law from 1990-1996, Mr. Slusky taught real estate planning, development and taxation. He holds an L.L.M. (Taxation) from New York University School of Law, a Juris Doctor, cum laude, from Creighton University and received his B.S.B.A. from the University of Nebraska at Omaha
In 2003, he was selected by peer review as one of six Nebraskans and inducted as a Fellow into the American College of Real Estate Lawyers (ACREL). Mr. Slusky was appointed as a member of the Midwest Real Estate News Advisory Board in 2004 and was inducted into its first Hall of Fame issue. In addition to his legal training and experiences, Mr. Slusky is a trained mediator who has studied with the Office of Dispute Resolution, and undertook the intensive mediation training workshops offered by the internationally recognized leader in the field of mediation, ADR Chambers, through the University of Windsor in Toronto.
Mr. Smestad graduated from the North Dakota State University in 1965 with a degree in Economics. He spent 2 years with the ND/USDA Extension service, 5 years as a bodily injury claims negotiator with State Farm Insurance, and 32 years with Farm Credit Services starting as a loan officer and ending as the President/CEO of AgCountry FCS of Fargo, ND. As the CEO of AgCountry, Mr. Smestad had over 350 employees, 28 branch offices in Eastern ND and West Central MN, and was accountable for the origin of servicing 3.1 Billion dollars of lease and loan volume with contracts in 31 states nationally. Mr. Smestad serves as the Vice-Chairman of the Board and on the Finance Committee of the Dakota REIT.
With almost 50years of being involved in all aspects of real estate development, management and sales George Gaukler brings tremendous experience to the Dakota REIT Team. Mr. Gaukler organized Dakota REIT in 1997 as the sponsor and is currently President of theadvisor to the Trust. Mr. Gaukler is a licensed real estate broker in North Dakota.
Mr. Gaukler is a 1962 graduate of Valley City State College. In 1964 he formed Valley Realty, Inc., a real estate development company, which now includes rental management services, real estate sales, land development and construction, of which he is the majority stockholder, president and CEO. Since then Mr. Gaukler has been involved in the development and construction of multi-family apartments and commercial properties throughout North Dakota. The Property Management Division of Valley Realty, Inc. currently manages approximately 3,000 apartment units and commercial property in North Dakota. Mr. Gaukler is the majority stockholder, president and CEO of Hi-Line Construction, Inc., which was organized to build housing and commercial construction in the bonded and bidding market.
Executive Vice President
Mr. Knutson graduated from Valley City State University with a BS in Business Education in 1970. He joined Valley Realty, Inc. in 1975, and is its Vice President. His real estate experience encompasses leasing, property management, finance, development, and construction of multi-family apartments and commercial properties. As Executive Vice President of Dakota REIT and Vice President of the Advisor to Dakota REIT, Mr. Knutson is involved in all aspects of the Trust. Mr. Knutson is a licensed real estate broker in North Dakota.
Mr. Braun was a managing partner at Ludvigson Braun & Co., a CPA firm in Valley City, ND since 1972, which has provided a variety of accounting and financial services including tax preparation and audits. For the last nine years he has been servicing in an advisory capacity. Mr. Braun was born and raised in Strasburg, ND and attended Dakota Business College and the University of North Dakota. He has been actively involved in the community over the years, serving in various official capacities. He is presently a director of Tri-W-G, Inc., Dakota REIT, Valley City State University Foundation, Sheyenne Valley Community Foundation and has various real estate interests in North Dakota. He has three grown children: John, Chris and Rae Marie.
Mr. Pedersen started his professional career in Washington, DC working for Arthur Andersen from 1996-1998 where his focus was primarily on real estate and mortgage-backed securities. In 1998, he had an opportunity to return home to North Dakota and help Great Plains Software build a consulting practice. He built and managed the Business Intelligence team that worked with reporting and analytics solutions. Great Plains Software was acquired in 2001 by Microsoft. Throughout his 16 year career at Microsoft, Mr. Pedersen held roles in consulting, finance, mergers and acquisitions, strategic program management and business management. In 2008, Mr. Pedersen started a real estate company, Summit Properties, and currently has 2 partners. They currently have 250 apartment units in North Dakota located in Valley City, Jamestown, Cooperstown and Lisbon. His primary roles within Summit Properties are finance/accounting, managing banking relationships and conducting due diligence on potential acquisitions. In January 2014, Mr. Pedersen started working at the accounting firm Ludvigson Braun & Co. and in January 2015, he acquired Ludvigson Braun & Co. With his professional team, they provide accounting, tax and audit services with a specialization in real estate. Mr. Pedersen is currently a City Commissioner in Valley City, ND. He also serves as a Director on the Valley City – Barnes County Economic Development Corporation Board and as Vice-Chairman of the Valley City State University Foundation. Mr. Pedersen serves on the Finance Committee of the Dakota REIT.