Kristi Noem was elected in November 2018 as the 33rd Governor of South Dakota. Kristi is a wife, a mother, and a lifelong rancher, farmer and small business owner, who will bring her experiences to Pierre to improve education and workforce training, take on the drug crisis, improve mental health, and increase transparency – all without raising taxes or making government too big.
Kristi continues to live on the farm and ranch with her husband, Bryon, and three children: Kassidy, Kennedy, and Booker.
Steve Westra joined the GOED team as Commissioner in January 2019. Steve is responsible for the overall direction and management of the GOED. He is active with business development and legislation. In addition to serving as Commissioner, Steve is also on Governor Noem’s Excecutive Team and Legislative Task Force.
Prior to joining the GOED, he served as the Chief Operating Officer of Hegg Companies.
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.
For more than 30 years, Mary Lehecka Nelson has served the State of South Dakota in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development’s marketing division. With a knack for finding a story in every business or person she meets, marketing and public relations was a natural fit. Mary also chairs the events committees, including the Governor’s Economic Development Conference, Buffalo Roundup and the Invitational Pheasant Hunt.
In September 2019, Commissioner Steve Westra appointed Mary as the Deputy Commissioner of the GOED.
Born and raised in Pierre, Mary graduated from T.F. Riggs High School and went on to South Dakota State University (SDSU) in Brookings, earning a degree in Journalism. Mary and her husband Dave have two children and are avid fans of the Pierre Governor’s and the Oahe Hockey Capitals.
Sign up for our newsletter and stay up-to-date on the latest news, rankings, and information on economic development in South Dakota.