A group of 20 law enforcement officers, including two K9 officers, pose for a photo in front of the Williston Police Department's white Mobile Command Center trailer.

NDIRF Sponsors Law Enforcement Drone Training Course

Bismarck, N.D. – The North Dakota Insurance Reserve Fund (NDIRF) sponsored a recent three-day drone training course from May 7-9 in Williston (N.D.) to help North Dakota law enforcement unmanned aerial systems (UAS) teams learn how to maximize drone usage and best relay information to ground officers. The course was led by Jack Schonely, a retired 36-year law enforcement officer who is “nationally recognized expert in the area of suspect tactics and perimeter containment” (accessed from www.OfficerTactics.com on May 20, 2024).

Schonely’s training helps UAS teams improve their communication, search techniques and tactics, K9 handler and officer coordination, and drone positioning. A UAS team includes a drone pilot, a spotter, and ground officers these teams The training’s goal is to help UAS teams effectively track, locate, and safely pursue a suspect by establishing a perimeter and providing clear direction to ground officers.

A total of 20 North Dakota law enforcement officers attended the training and represented the Bismarck Police Department, Minot Police Department, Williston Police Department, Stark County Sheriff’s Office, Williams County Sheriff’s Office, and North Dakota Highway Patrol.

“On behalf of the North Dakota Law Enforcement Canine Association, I would like to thank the NDIRF for its support of this training,” NDLECA President Lyle D. Sinclair said. “When law enforcement gets new tools, there is a learning curve, and this training has helped us understand how to maximize drones to help keep the public safe.”

Photo: 20 North Dakota law enforcement officers attend a three-day UAS team training from May 7-9, 2024, in Williston, N.D. Photo credit: NDLECA

NDIRF Director of Member Services Corey Olson stands behind a podium at the front of a room filled with 2024 NDIRF Annual Meeting attendees sitting at rectangle-shaped tables set up in rows (i.e. classroom style). The screens behind Corey show a summary of the NDIRF's 2023 financial results in a bulleted list.

NDIRF Hosts 2024 Annual Meeting; West, Jacobson, Frey Elected to Board

2024 NDIRF Annual Meeting hosts board member election and reviews 2023 claims performance, risk management services, and financials

Bismarck, N.D. – The North Dakota Insurance Reserve Fund (NDIRF) hosted its 2024 Annual Meeting on Thursday, May 9, at the North Dakota Heritage Center. The meeting featured the re-election of board members Chris West and Tyler Jacobson and the election of new board member Travis Frey. The meeting commenced with a review of the NDIRF’s 2023 claims, risk services, and financial results.

Frey serves under the Counties category on the NDIRF Board of Directors and replaces Slope County Commissioner Scott Ouradnik who fulfilled the board’s term limits per the North Dakota Association of Counties (NDACo). West, who is the City of Grafton Mayor, will continue to serve under the Cities category, and Jacobson, who is the Valley City Parks and Recreation Executive Director, will continue to serve under the Others category. The Others category represents all local government entity types, excluding cities, counties, and schools.

Frey was elected November 2020 to the Mercer County Commission. He is a project engineer who holds a professional engineering (P.E.) designation, master’s degree in business administration, and bachelor’s degree in ag & biosystems engineering. Frey brings various public entity experience to the NDIRF Board of Directors, including serving on the Towner City Council and as City of Beulah Mayor.

The 2024 Annual Meeting also marked the beginning of new terms for appointed board member positions. North Dakota League of Cities (NDLC) Executive Director Matt Gardner was appointed chairperson-elect, and Jacobson assumed the chairperson position. Jacobson replaces Cass County Commissioner Chad Peterson who fulfilled the appointment’s term.

NDIRF 2023 Review

NDIRF Director of Member Services Corey Olson reviewed the NDIRF’s 2023 claims performance, highlighting frequent and high-cost claim types and shared information about risk management services available to NDIRF members to prevent these claim types.

The available risk management services include online defensive driving courses, online LocalGovU professional development and safety courses, and in-person and online HR Collaborative for Local Government (www.NDIRF.com>HR Collaborative) educational resources and courses. Olson also provided information about the NDIRF’s partnership with the North Dakota Local and Technical Assistance Program (NDLTAP), an educational program that provides educational resources and courses for local government heavy equipment and machinery operators.

NDIRF CFO Nora Frueh reviewed the NDIRF’s 2023 financial results, affirming the NDIRF’s continued strong and stable financial scorecard, including:

  • 46.2% loss ratio
  • $8 million in net earnings
  • $30.1 million in members’ equity
  • $4.2 million in investment gains
  • Not filing a 2024 general rate increase, meaning most members’ rates will remain stable throughout 2024

In its 2023 Annual Report, the NDIRF reported the amount of members’ equity earns a more than 95% confidence level from its consulting actuaries that it can meet expected future obligations.

The NDIRF’s 2023 investment returns significantly rebounded from 2022 in which it reported a $5.1 million loss; however, the NDIRF shared that because investment assets had not fully recovered from 2022’s losses, its board of directors did not declare a 2023 Conferment of Benefits.

“The board’s decision was made so the NDIRF was not selling assets from a loss position, demonstrating our shared commitment to ensure the NDIRF’s long-term health and vitality for the benefit of our members,” Frueh said. “It’s an honor for us to serve our members, North Dakota’s political subdivisions, and it’s exciting to share continued positive financial results from 2023 with them at our annual meeting and through our annual report.”

The NDIRF’s 2023 Annual Report is available here: 202405_2023-Annual-Report_FINAL.pdf (ndirf.com).

To learn more about the liability, auto, and public assets coverages the NDIRF offers, go here: Coverage – NDIRF.

Photo: NDIRF Director of Member Services Corey Olson stands behind a podium and addresses 2024 NDIRF Annual Meeting attendees.

Director of Member Services Corey Olson stands at the front of a large classroom in filled with people sitting in chars at tables placed throughout the room.

NDIRF Sponsors Blue to Gold Law Enforcement Training

Bismarck, N.D. – The North Dakota Insurance Reserve Fund (NDIRF) provided sponsorships for North Dakota law enforcement to attend a five-day Blue to Gold POST certified training conference from April 29-May 3 at the Public Works Facility in Dickinson (N.D.). The conference was hosted by the Southwest Crime Conference (Dickinson, N.D.), a North Dakota law enforcement training organization, and offered courses in advanced search and seizure, advanced traffic stops, advanced criminal investigations, report writing, and courtroom testimony.

Blue to Gold is a nationally recognized law enforcement training provider that offers “high-energy training that is relevant and relatable to every street officer” (accessed May 13, 2024, from www.BluetoGold.com). The training provider strives to “translate essential doctrines into language that officers can easily understand and apply in their daily work” (accessed May 13, 2024, from www.BluetoGold.com) and to support effective decision-making and reduce costly legal errors (www.BluetoGold, 2024).

The conference attracted 102 local government law enforcement officers.

“All officers who attended felt they learned numerous things that could help them do their jobs better and reduce and prevent liability in the course of their duties,” Dickinson Police Department Detective and Southwest Crime Conference Secretary/Treasurer Tiffany Whinery said. “We appreciate the NDIRF’s support. We would not have been able to host this event without their help.”

The NDIRF offers liability, auto, and public assets coverages to North Dakota’s local governments, including cities and counties that provide law enforcement services. As the source of risk services for its local government members, the NDIRF seeks partnerships with training associations and organizations to help its members continually enhance their risk management operations.

“Providing law enforcement training helps to foster a culture of safety, accountability, and preparedness, ensuring both the protection of its members and the community they serve,” NDIRF Director of Member Services Corey Olson said.

Photo: NDIRF Director of Member Services Corey Olson addresses day-one attendees at the Southwest Crime Conference’s Blue to Gold Training, held April 29-May 3, 2024, at the Public Safety Center in Dickinson (N.D.).

Green and blue stage lighting against black background features the HR Collaborative logo. On the stage is a podium with a white front and showing the HR Collaborative's green and blue logo. The room is filled with round tables covered in a black tablecloth, and six people are seated at each table.

HR Collaborative Highlights Resilience at 2024 Conference

Nearly 170 North Dakota local government professionals attended the HR Collaborative’s April 17-18, 2024, biennial conference in Bismarck to learn about ongoing and emerging human resource trends. This year’s conference featured Platinum Sponsor NDPHIT, MetLife, and Brown & Brown and its ever-popular Building Your HR System Series led by Tanya Wieler, Dakota Dynamics Human Resources Consultant for Local Government.

“The HR Collaborative and the NDIRF are so thankful to those who attended and supported this year’s event, especially our Technical Assistance Committee who helped select the curriculum and manage the overall conference experience,” HR Collaborative Executive Director Joanna Drennen said.

The Technical Assistance committee is comprised of local government HR professionals and includes NDACo Professional Development Manager Alisha Adolf and Operations Director Genny Dienstmann; Williams County Administrator Helen Askim; Bismarck Parks and Recreation Administrative Services Manager Julie Fornshell; NDSBA Member and Marketing Specialist Taylor Lassiter; NDIRF Administrative Services Manager Nancy Reis; NDLC Member Services and Office Manager Carissa Richter; Dakota Dynamics Human Resources Consultant for Local Government Tanya Wieler; and consultant Kathy Hogan.

This year’s conference theme was Resilient HR, inspired by its opening keynote speaker Jackie M. Stebbins, lawyer, mother, wife, and autoimmune encephalitis (AE) survivor. Stebbins’s presentation walked attendees through her path of “SuRvive, Recover, and Rebuild” as she and her family navigated her AE diagnosis, a rare brain illness in which a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy brain cells. The illness, if not promptly diagnosed and treated, can cause irreversible destruction to a person’s brain and, in some cases, can be fatal.

Today, Stebbins lives in Bismarck and speaks across the nation about her AE diagnosis and recovery journey. She has penned a book about her experience called Unwillable: A Journey to Reclaim My Brain and writes frequent updates on her Unwillable blog available at www.JMStebbins.com/blog.

Stebbins’s presentation set the tone for the conference’s remaining presentations which included additional keynotes about how to strengthen wellbeing, resilience, and immunity from physical therapist and worksite wellness consultant Melanie Carvell, and the science of resilience by Tara Feil, PhD, Clinical Psychologist. Feil’s presentation reviewed current psychology and neuroscience research on resilience, providing attendees with strategies to further enhance their resilience in the face of adversity.

In between keynote presentations, attendees were given the option to attend one of two breakout tracks. One track offered courses about employee attraction and retention, implementing AI within a modern workplace, and de-escalating and defusing tense conversations and interactions, and the other track was Wieler’s Building Your HR System. In her four-session series, Wieler reviewed key HR functions and government public processes, recruitment/selection and compensation and benefits, employee and performance management, and seasonal and part-time employee management and onboarding.

“The HR Collaborative is so incredibly lucky Tanya returned to lead our Building Your HR System series,” Drennen said. “She works exclusively with North Dakota local government HR professionals every day, so her knowledge, insight, and experience are directly applicable to our attendees and provides tremendous educational value.”

As it has in the past, the conference concluded with its Keeping it Legal panel, which featured NDACo Executive Director Aaron Birst, NDSBA General Counsel Amy De Kok, and Vogel Law Firm Attorney KrisAnn Norby-Jahner.

A BONUS+ session was offered during the send-off lunch by Platinum Sponsor NDPHIT, MetLife, and Brown & Brown, featuring its Senior Vice President Randy Johnson who provided information about healthcare trends, employee benefit impacts, and strategies to enhance employee benefit engagement.

“Much of the feedback we’ve already received from this year’s event has been positive, and many attendees shared they are already looking forward to our next event,” Drennen said. “We’ve already started planning for the 2026 conference, and we hope to build on this momentum to make it even bigger and better for the benefit of our state’s local government HR professionals.”

Upcoming HR Collaborative Events

The HR Collaborative program, which as of January 2023 is managed by the NDIRF, is hosting a May 15 webinar on youth employment featuring Director of Operations for the Department of Labor and Human Rights Jessica Juma. For more information and to register, visit www.NDIRF.com>Events.

The program will also host its popular Six-Session Summer Virtual Series set to kick off in June 2025, and has already announced its next in-person conference April 23-24, 2026, in Bismarck.

To stay up-to-date on all things related to the HR Collaborative, visit www.NDIRF.com>HR Collaborative>Join Now to become a member. Membership is free and open to all North Dakota local government employees.

Renae Keller wears a black blazer in front of a tan background.

NDIRF’s Keller Promoted to Special Funds Underwriter

Bismarck, ND – The North Dakota Insurance Reserve Fund (NDIRF) is proud to announce Renae Keller has been promoted to Special Funds Underwriter. In this role, Keller is responsible for underwriting and renewing North Dakota State Fire & Tornado Fund (NDFT) policies as well as leading the administration of the North Dakota State Bonding Fund.

Keller first joined the NDIRF in 2020 as an Underwriting Support Specialist, bringing with her nearly 10 years of industry experience including underwriting and operations management for home, auto, farm, life, and business insurance.

Keller has an associate degree from National American University (Rapid City, SD). She also holds property and casualty and life and health insurance licenses, and certified insurance service representative (CISR), certified insurance counselor (CIC), associate in general insurance (AINS), and associate in underwriting (AU) designations from The Institutes. The Institutes is “the leading provider of risk management and insurance education and resources” (global.theinstitutes.org/history, accessed 7 March 2024).

Headshot of Carrie Wingenbach. Carrie is wearing a long-sleeved coral pink shirt. The photo background is tan.

NDIRF’s Wingenbach Earns AIS Designation

Bismarck, ND – The North Dakota Insurance Reserve Fund (NDIRF) is proud to announce Member Services Representative Carrie Wingenbach recently received an Associate in Insurance Services (AIS) designation.

The Associate in Insurance Services (AIS) designation further prepares insurance professionals for discussions with covered parties regarding coverage terms and conditions to help them determine which coverage types and limits best fit their needs. Wingenbach completed courses and assessments in customer satisfaction, business analysis, and process improvement while pursuing this designation.

HR Collaborative logo, featuring a teal "H" that swoops and fades into a green "R". Below the HR letters is Collaborative in teal.

Save the Date for the HR Collaborative’s Biennial Conference, April 17-18

Mark your calendar for the HR Collaborative for Local Government’s Biennial Conference, happening April 17-18, 2024, at the Bismarck Hotel (Bismarck, N.D.)! This conference is designed to support local government employees who perform human resource-related functions within your entity, including HR professionals, supervisors, and those interested in employee management and growth. All local government employees are welcome to attend.

This year’s conference will feature keynote speaker Jackie Stebbins, lawyer, mother, wife, and autoimmune encephalitis survivor, who will kick it off with a powerful message about resilience.

Led by subject-matter experts, the conference’s breakout sessions will discuss emerging and trending human resource management topics, including mental health, attracting workforce, employee retention, AI and more! This conference will also include our popular Building Your HR System series to help you refresh your knowledge on public processes and human resource management topics.

 New! HR Collaborative Web Page

Learn more about the HR Collaborative on our new home at www.NDIRF.com>HR Collaborative!

Further conference details, including registration and cost, will be shared on this web page. Conference registration will open Feb. 1.

If you have any questions regarding our upcoming conference, please reach out the HR Collaborative at HRCollab@ndirf.com.

We look forward to seeing you April 17-18, 2024, in Bismarck!

Headshot of Corey Olson in the foreground. Corey is wearing a black suit coat and collared shirt with tie. The background color is taupe.

NDIRF’s Olson Appointed to NDLTAP Advisory Board

Bismarck, N.D. – The North Dakota Insurance Reserve Fund (NDIRF) is proud to announce Member Services Director Corey Olson has been appointed to the North Dakota Local Technical Assistance Program’s (NDLTAP) Advisory Board.

According to NDLTAP, the advisory board “provides guidance and input for program development and delivery” (SOURCE). The 13-member board is comprised of representatives from North Dakota cities, counties, townships, and tribal nations, as well as state and federal department transportation representatives. Olson serves as the board’s NDIRF Representative.

Olson has nearly 17 years of insurance industry experience, and he has served as the NDIRF Director of Member Services since April 2018. As Director of Member Services, Olson is responsible for implementing educational services and training opportunities to help NDIRF members enhance their risk management policies, procedures, and programs. Olson holds a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation.

Photo: NDIRF Director of Member Services Corey Olson. 

NDIRF’s Verke Receives NDTOA Excellence Award