Sheri Haugen-Hoffart: A woman, a leader, a public servant

Sheri Haugen-Hoffart, North Dakota Public Service Commissioner.

Servant leadership was a value Sheri Haugen-Hoffart’s parents impressed upon all their kids – a value instilled in the hearts of countless co-op leaders.

On Feb. 11, after many years serving in various leadership roles in the cooperative, nonprofit, public, and private sectors, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum appointed Haugen-Hoffart to the state’s Public Service Commission (NDPSC), an opportunity she says she is grateful for.

We learned more about Haugen-Hoffart in a recent interview.

When and how did you get involved in the power industry?

Nine years ago, one of the members on the Capital Electric Cooperative (Basin Electric Class C member) board of directors asked me if I would be interested in running for a seat on the board. It sparked my interest and after a long conversation with him about what it would entail, I decided to run and was elected. After serving on the board for a few years, the board chose me to represent Capital Electric on the Central Power Electric Cooperative (Basin Electric Class A member) board of directors.

Being relatively new to the power industry, I took all the classes I could find to educate myself – classes to understand the power industry itself, on how to be an effective board member – anything I thought would help me be the best board member I could be. And I was always asking questions and looking for people to mentor me, people with knowledge and experiences I could learn from.

What offices have you held?

I was elected to serve a two-year term as Central Power’s first female president. When my term was up, I was elected as the board’s secretary/treasurer. In 2020, I was elected as Capital Electric’s first female president, a role I held until I was appointed to the NDPSC in February. I also served for several years on Basin Electric’s Resolutions Committee.

Did you grow up as part of a cooperative?

Yes. I grew up on a farm 15 miles north of Rugby (North Dakota). The farm was served by North Central Electric Cooperative (Basin Electric Class C member) headquartered in Bottineau, North Dakota. The farm my husband and I own is still served by North Central Electric, and we are currently members of Capital Electric.

I have been involved with cooperatives my whole life. In addition to receiving power from cooperatives, I also went to Farmers Union camp, and served as president. We ran a general store at the camp and our first role was to work on a business plan to successfully operate that business. I learned a lot through that experience.

Besides electric cooperatives, what other causes are you passionate about?

Military and veteran’s organizations are very near and dear to my heart. I worked for a mental health agency for several years and reversing the stigma surrounding mental health has been a big goal for me ever since. Post-traumatic stress disorder affects (PTSD) so many of our veterans and active military members, so I work very hard to support organizations and causes that offer help to those suffering with PTSD – such as the Wounded Warrior Project and disabled veterans organizations. I also have been involved with fundraising for Wreaths Across America, which has the goal of placing a wreath on every headstone at the North Dakota Veteran’s Cemetery, south of Mandan, North Dakota, since 2013. We have achieved that goal every year since then.  

What it is like to be a woman in a leadership position in a largely male-dominated industry?

I never let being in the minority bother me. I have always been welcomed by my male counterparts and some of my strongest supporters are men. I truly believe that diversity is critical to success, and every person brings unique perspectives, knowledge, and skills to the table.

What would your advice be to others interested in serving on a co-op or board?

Go for it! Don’t look at the barriers, look at the opportunities. Set your goals, move forward, and reach them.

Sheri Haugen-Hoffart served served for several years on Basin Electric’s Resolutions Committee.


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