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UGPTI Honors Transportation Leaders at Annual Awards Banquet

Posted: Oct 12, 2018

Three long-time leaders in the region's transportation industry were honored at the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute's 23rd Annual Awards Banquet Oct. 4 in Fargo.

The banquet honored Mark Johnson, Dennis Ming and Dave Leftwich. Johnson retired from the North Dakota Association of Counties after serving as the group's executive director for 35 years. Ming is an owner and retired executive with the Dakota Missouri Valley and Western Railroad. Leftwich is retired from the North Dakota Department of Transportation after serving in numerous leadership positions. The Transportation Institute also awarded several scholarships to students at the banquet.

Johnson received the John M. Agrey Award which honors individuals who have made significant contributions to the state of North Dakota, its citizens and its business community through involvement in transportation. The award is the highest honor given by the UGPTI and recognizes Johnson's long career advocating for and representing North Dakota's counties, particularly in advocating for long-term planning and funding for rural roads and bridges.

He provided significant leadership in promoting an asset management program for counties to help future sessions of the N.D. Legislature plan for funding levels for local roads. Johnson is a native of Minneapolis and graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1971 with a degree in public administration and business. He did his graduate work in planning at NDSU and served as a graduate research assistant for UGPTI. Johnson worked as a planner and in management in private engineering firms, state and local government, and regional associations before being hired as executive director of the North Dakota Association of Counties (NDACo) in 1983. He retired from this position in March 2018. While with NDACo, Johnson was instrumental in coordinating a number of innovative programs that benefit counties, such as juvenile justice, insurance pools, risk management and computer networking. He played a major role in bringing together groups that helped counties to more effectively do their job. Johnson also directed a diverse staff in many areas important to county and state government. He brought strong governance principles to the NDACo Board of Directors to help create a visionary organization. His work in the legislative arena provided strong lobbying on behalf of the counties. He also served as the president of NDACo Resources Group, a for-profit subsidiary of the NDACo.

Johnson is a Certified Association Executive and an active member of the American Society of Association Executives. His noteworthy honors include the Top 25 Doers, Dreamers, and Drivers Award from Government Technology Magazine in 2004 and the North Dakota Leadership Award in 1992. Johnson served on several national committees, including the National Association of Counties (NACo) Finance Committee and Information Technology Committee, the Public Technology, Inc. (PTI) Board of Directors, and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture's eGovernment Advisory Council. Johnson and his wife, Charlene, live in Bismarck.

Ming received the Chairman's award which recognizes individuals for contributions to transportation, research, education, and outreach at NDSU as well as contributions to the viability of the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute. The award recognizes Ming's support and efforts on behalf of NDSU, particularly the UGPTI through his service on the Institute's advisory council and during his time as a research associate from 1981 to 1986. Ming also serves as a trustee of the NDSU Foundation and Alumni Association.

Ming grew up on a small grain farm SW of New England ND, and graduated from high school in 1971. He served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Schweinfurt, Germany. He then attended NDSU, earning B.S. and M.S. degrees in agricultural economics. From 1981-86, Ming worked as a research associate at UGPTI. He then took a grain marketing position with Soo Line/Canadian Pacific RR, and worked in various marketing positions for 10 years. Dennis joined the Dakota Missouri Valley and Western Railroad in 1996 as VP of Marketing and became part owner. Under his guidance DMVW expanded operations and realized tremendous growth and profitability. He retired in 2017, and continues to serve on DMVW's executive board and is an owner. He also serves on the board of the North Dakota Agricultural Products Utilization Commission. He previously served on the Minot and Bismarck community development boards and on the Midwest Interstate Rail Commission Board. Ming and his wife, Maureen, live in Bismarck.

Leftwich received the Lifetime Achievement Award which recognizes individuals who have had a distinguished career in a transportation-related field. The award recognizes Leftwich's more than 40 years of service and leadership to transportation in the region during his career with the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

Throughout his career Leftwich demonstrated his ability to communicate transportation concepts to participants at all levels of government including road supervisors, elected officials, consulting engineers or NDDOT Executive Management. Leftwich grew up on a farm near Hansboro, ND, and graduated from Rolla High School in 1969. He earned his B.S. in civil engineering from NDSU in 1973 and went to work for the North Dakota State Highway Department in June of that same here. He went back to NDSU in 1981 and graduated with a M.S. in civil engineering in 1983 and returned to the NDDOT. He was a registered engineer and registerd land surveyor in North Dakota. Leftwich worked in various divisions of the North Dakota Department of Transportation. He spent much of his career at NDDOT with the Local Government Division where he was relentless at project development, streamlining and advocating local transportation, including improvement of rural roads and railroad crossings, urban streets, transit, pedestrians trails and sidewalks, multi-use trails and access to lakes. He created a high level of customer service and care within the division.

Leftwich also served as Deputy Director for Business Support for NDDOT where he coordinated the business operations of the department. After his retirement from NDDOT in 2013, Leftwich was asked by N.D. Governor Jack Dalrymple and NDDOT to assist with the complex transportation issues evolving around energy development in western North Dakota. As Western North Dakota Transportation Liaison, Leftwich regularly met with county and city staff and commissioners to explain how they could navigate the complex world of transportation planning, budgeting, design and project delivery. He and his wife, Jackie, live in Bismarck.

NDSU Dept 2880P.O. Box 6050Fargo, ND 58108-6050