Dan Zink will receive the Chairman's award in recognition of his long-term service to the UGPTI as a member of its advisory council and as an adviser on numerous rail-related transportation projects. The award also recognizes Zink's efforts as a research associate when UGPTI's funding was uncertain in the 1980s. Zink was part of a team that helped demonstrate the Institute's value to the region, putting it on a secure path to the future.
Zink is a native North Dakotan, a proud Bison fan, and holds degrees in agricultural economics from North Dakota State University. He currently serves as vice president – economic development and community affairs for the Red River Valley & Western Railroad Company, a short line railroad headquartered in Wahpeton, ND. In this capacity he is engaged in business development, analysis of growth initiatives, strategic planning and capital investment. He has been with the Red River Valley & Western since 1992. Prior to his assignment at the Red River Valley & Western, he served as a research associate at the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute, focusing on research and public service related to ND grain transportation. He serves on the Board of Directors of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, as well as a variety of community development boards in Wahpeton. He also serves on the Advisory Council of the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute. He resides in Oxbow, ND, with his wife, Cindy, and two teenage boys. He is proud to be a North Dakota farm kid, with roots and many family members in the Carrington area.