ND Women of Honor
Recognizing Outstanding Women of North Dakota
Center for Technology & Business is proud to celebrate our annual Woman of Honor recipients. Recipients are chosen by CTB and announced each year at the ND Women's Business Summit in October.
2016 Woman of Honor Recipient
Betty Mills, was selected as the 2016 CTB Woman of Honor, a special recognition of someone CTB believes upholds true strength, wisdom and foresight. Betty’s widespread impact on our state is undeniable. With her self-proclaimed beginnings as a tractor driver and rattlesnake hunter, she went on to play an instrumental role in a variety of organizations and initiatives.
Betty served on the Veteran’s Memorial Library Board, Bismarck City Planning Commission, North Dakota Educational Broadcasting Council, North Dakota Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, Supreme Court’s Public Trust and Confidence Implementation Committee, the North Dakota Legislative Compensation Committee, was a charter member of the Bismarck League of Women Voters, and a participant in the Alternative to Violence program at the North Dakota State Penitentiary. She is also a founding member of the Bismarck Mandan Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, member of the Unitarian Universalist Prairie Star District Board, and served eight years as Trustee of the National Unitarian Universalist Association.
To top it all off, she is the co-author of “Mind If I Differ?” and the 100 Year History of the North Dakota State Bar Association, she was a weekly columnist for the Bismarck Tribune for 25 years, and her current writings can be found in Inspired Women Magazine. CTB is honored to highlight Betty’s lifelong and continued contributions as a mentor and leader in North Dakota.
First Lady Grace Link
2015 Woman of Honor Recipient
Former first lady, Grace Link, was born and raised near Cartwright, southwest of Williston. At 15, she attended a Farmers Union monthly dance where she met 19-year-old Arthur Link. Five years later, in 1939, they were married. The Links had five sons and one daughter that were raised on their farm in Alexander where Grace was heavily involved as a 4-H leader. Grace remained a long time supporter of the North Dakota 4-H Foundation and the North Dakota Extension program and, together with Art, was named a 2004 inductee into the North Dakota 4-H Hall of Fame.
Grace was very involved in the decision-making process throughout her husband's political career, especially as he served as governor from 1972-1981. She continues to play an active role in many organizations and political functions, too numerous to count, including most recently as Chairperson of Erin Hill-Oban's campaign for state senate. Grace has remained active across North Dakota as an advocate, volunteer, community leader and philanthropist. The Art and Grace Link Endwoment provides long term support to the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame and Grace still sits on the Society for the Preservation of the Former Governors’ Mansion where she has donated countless hours to its preservation and improvement. In 2012 she was presented with the Enduring Legacy Award by the State Historical Society of North Dakota for her contributions to the origination of the North Dakota Heritage Center and later its expansion. Her contributions across the state are felt by many but she still humbly claims that she is "just a mother doing her job."
Sister Thomas Welder
2014 Woman of Honor Recipient
Sister Thomas Welder, a native of Bismarck, North Dakota, and a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery, has served Mary College, now the University of Mary, since 1963. In 1978 she assumed her role as president. Retiring as president as of July 1, 2009, she currently serves as president emerita in the area of public affairs. She attended the College of St. Benedict, graduated from the College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, and earned a master’s degree in music from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
She also embodies the Benedictine value of hospitality. No one is too unimportant to be noticed, greeted, or helped. She is just so present to whomever she is talking to as if there were nothing else in her life or on her mind.
Sister Welder is an active participant on boards and in community organizations including service as a director of St. Alexius Medical Center and a past board member of MDU Resources Group, Inc. She also serves on the board of trustees of Missouri Slope Areawide United Way.
Twila Martin Kekahbah
2013 Woman of Honor Recipient
Twila Martin Kekahbah is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and has served in a variety of distinguished roles throughout her career.
Most notably, Twila was the first female to be seated as the head of Tribal Government for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, serving three terms and leading the effort to recode Turtle Mountain Tribal Laws.
She served as Director of Turtle Mountain Community College and was involved in the development of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, later she served as project director in a capital construction campaign to construct a new campus for the college. Twila has also served as the Policy Analyst for the National Indian Health Board, Director of Tribal Analytic Institute at United Tribes Technical College, and Community Laison for the Northwest Area Foundation working to help communities reduce poverty across eight states. She was also a partner in Kashpaw Enterprises, an American Indian female-owned company which provided technical assistance to Tribes on project and business development, policy and procedures, fiscal accountability and management practices.
A few of the board positions and appointments she has held include:
- Office of Women’s Health - Minority Women’s Health Panel of Experts
- Housing Assistance Council, President of Board
- UND Indians Into Medicine
- Rural Development Leadership Network
- Native People Cancer Control
- Native Elders Research Committee
She has visited over 34 countries with the majority of the visits sponsored by: the W.K. Kellogg Leadership Award; the U.S. State Department; the Phelps-Stokes Fund; the Ford Foundation Fellowship; the Rural Development Leadership Network; and, Oxfam.
Currently Twila is an independent contractor where she writes proposals, reviews proposals specific to grant application requirements, conducts focus groups, and addresses research studies.
2012 Woman of Honor Recipient
Tara Holt founded Center for Technology and Business in 1999, leading the ND Women's Business Center and ND Rural Development Council until her retirement in 2007. She then served on the CTB board of directors and now continues on as a mentor and advisor to the organization.
Her contributions to North Dakota are too numerous to count, she has served as a mentor to many students, entrepreneurs, and business owners and is recognized across the state as a ground breaker in technology, home-based business, and economic development with a focus on women, rural economics, and community development.
Her awards and honors include:
- “Top Innovator in Non-Profit Business”
- Key to the City-Rugby, ND
- “Outstanding Women’s Business Advocate”
- “Outstanding Home-based Business Advocate (ND)”
- First CTB “Woman of Honor” recipient
She has served on the following Boards, Advisory Councils, and Commissions:
- NWGF Insurance Company (first woman board member in 100 years and first female Chairman of the Board)
- Abused Adult Resource Center Chairman of the Board
- ND Fair Housing Council
- University of Mary Harold Schafer Leadership Center Operations Committee
- Bismarck Area Recreation Council Board of Directors
- Capital Curling Club Board of Directors, Chairman
- Missouri Slope United Way
- Association of Women’s Business Centers Board of Directors
- North Dakota Community Foundation Board of Directors
- North Dakota State Banking Board
- Mount Hood Corridor Planning Commission (youngest member and first woman)
- Bismarck Public Library Foundation
- Roughrider Honor Flight Operations Committee
Today she is president of Black Gold Partners, LLC, a privately held limited liability corporation dealing in mineral and energy holdings.