Ed Schafer is one of very few leaders with extensive experience and proven performance in both business and government. He has led a multi-national consumer products business and several entrepreneurial start-up companies. In the public sector, he has been elected Governor of North Dakota twice and served as United States Secretary of Agriculture.
North Dakota elected Ed their governor in 1992 and again in 1996 and he approached his leadership for the state as if he were its CEO. Increasing investment in North Dakota was Ed’s top priority, and he did so by improving the state’s tax and regulatory climates. His creative priority-based budgeting initiatives and aggressive use of cutting edge technologies reduced the cost of government while his strong fiscal policies gave North Dakota the foundation for its current financial strength, budget surplus, and the lowest unemployment in the nation.
As Secretary of Agriculture, Ed oversaw a $95 billion operating budget and over 107,000 employees. He restructured and reshaped 29 agencies to modernize the focus of $285 billion in program delivery and built a new process for implementing the 2008 Farm Bill. Ed also helped direct international trade negotiations on behalf of the federal government.
Ed has been equally effective as a business leader. As president of the international cleaning and personal care products company, Gold Seal, he oversaw a 50 percent increase in sales and tripled this private company’s net worth. He launched three new products, four product line extensions, and made three acquisitions. Ed negotiated the sale of the company realizing top dollar value for shareholders.
Meanwhile he started a beverage distribution company and boosted first-year sales fifty-fold before selling to the managing partner. He later founded and sold an aquaculture enterprise and a real estate development group. Following his governorship, Ed returned to the business world and co-founded a telecommunications company focusing on rural cell phone connectivity and broadband coverage.
Ed Schafer is serving on public and private corporate boards of directors and holds leadership positions in foundations and trade associations. He’s also an active member of many civic and service organizations.
This unique combination of business, civic, and government experience gives Ed invaluable expertise in building effective coalitions and ensuring healthy partnerships between business and government.
He graduated from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelor of Science degree in business, earned a Master of Business Administration at the University of Denver, and has been awarded two honorary doctorate degrees. Ed is married to Nancy Jones Schafer. They have four children and nine grandchildren. He holds United States government top secret clearance, rescue diver certification, and is CPR trained.