A leadership change at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development will bring in a rising star in Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration known for her focus on racial disparities.
Shawntera Hardy will replace DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben, who announced Thursday she would step down April 22 after more than three years at the helm. Hardy has served as Dayton’s deputy chief of staff since March 2015.
The move deepens the governor’s focus on tightening longstanding economic gaps between white and nonwhite Minnesotans. He has repeatedly called on lawmakers to address lower employment, income and homeownership rates in the state’s communities of color.
In her current post, Hardy helped map out an expansive initiative to diversify state employees, and has been at the table in discussions about how to spread that philosophy to other public employers and the private sector. She has also expanded community outreach efforts, and helped manage state agencies.
“As a member of my senior leadership team, she has consistently demonstrated her exceptional ability to manage complex organizations and engage a wide variety of viewpoints in solving difficult problems,” Dayton said in a statement. “Ms. Hardy shares my commitment to eliminating economic disparities in our state, and building an economy that works for all Minnesotans, everywhere in Minnesota.”
Her work, he said, will build on the momentum jump-started under Clark Sieben’s leadership. In recent years, Minnesota’s economy has bounced back from the recession in a big way, earning it a place in the national spotlight.
Katie Clark Sieben
During her run, Clark Sieben spearheaded efforts to secure millions of dollars in ongoing funding for the Minnesota Investment Fund and the Minnesota Job Creation Fund, two of the state’s most popular tools for businesses seeking to expand within its borders.
Clark Sieben also oversaw the creation of the Office of Broadband Deployment, firming up the agency’s toehold in its ongoing efforts to expand broadband access in rural Minnesotan communities. She also helped Dayton devise a $100 million plan this year to grow economic opportunities for people of color.
“Katie has made a lasting positive impact on Minnesota’s economy,” Lt. Gov. Tina Smith said in a statement.
Clark Sieben has not said where she’ll head next, saying only that she would “pursue other opportunities.”
“I am incredibly proud of the work we have done over the past five years to build a better Minnesota for people, communities and businesses all across our state,” she said in a statement. “I know that DEED will continue that progress under Commissioner Hardy’s leadership.”
Before she joined Dayton’s administration last year, Hardy was policy director at Fresh Energy, manager of government relations for Health Partners’ hospital division and a city planner in St. Paul. She also co-founded Civic Eagle, a startup aimed at better linking elected officials with the public, and she launched PolicyGrounds Consulting.
Most recently, Hardy settled in as a sort of ambassador for the state’s equity initiatives. Speaking to the Metropolitan Council earlier this year, she said DEED was expected to “move the needle” in diversifying its hiring, contracting and engagement strategies.
Hardy said at the time that a range of voices often gives way to innovation and success. In a Thursday statement, she reinforced that notion.
“Despite our nation-leading progress in business development and job creation,” Hardy said, “we have much more work to do to ensure all Minnesotans share in our state’s economic prosperity.”
Chris Steller contributed to this report.
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