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Transportation institute honors industry leaders

Photo of Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson

Photo of Dennis Ming

Dennis Ming

Photo of Dave Leftwich

Dave Leftwich

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.

The institute recognized 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.

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 institute 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 is a native of Minneapolis and earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Dakota. He did his graduate work in planning at NDSU and served as a graduate research assistant for the institute. Johnson worked as a planner and in management in private engineering firms, state and local government, and regional associations before joining the North Dakota Association of Counties in 1983. He retired earlier this year. He also was 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 Finance Committee and Information Technology Committee, the Public Technology Inc. board of directors and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s eGovernment Advisory Council. Johnson and his wife, Charlene, live in Bismarck, North Dakota.

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 institute through his service on its advisory council and during his time as a research associate from 1981 to 1986. Ming also is a trustee of the NDSU Foundation and Alumni Association.

Ming earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree in agricultural economics at NDSU. From 1981-86, he worked as a research associate at the institute. He then took a grain marketing position with Soo Line/Canadian Pacific Railroad, and worked in various marketing positions for 10 years. He joined the Dakota Missouri Valley and Western Railroad in 1996 as vice president of marketing and became part owner. Under his guidance the railroad expanded operations. He retired in 2017, and continues to serve on the railroad’s executive board and is an owner. He also serves on the board of the North Dakota Agricultural Products Utilization Commission. Ming and his wife, Maureen, live in Bismarck.

Leftwich received the Lifetime Achievement Award which recognizes distinguished careers in a transportation-related field. The award acknowledges Leftwich’s more than 40 years of service and leadership during his career with the North Dakota Department of Transportation. He demonstrated his ability to communicate transportation concepts to participants at all levels of government, including road supervisors, elected officials, consulting engineers or department executive management.

He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from NDSU. He was a registered engineer and registered land surveyor in North Dakota. He spent much of his career at North Dakota Department of Transportation with the Local Government Division where he worked on project development, streamlining and advocating local transportation. Leftwich also served as deputy director for business support for the department. After his retirement in 2013, Leftwich was asked by Gov. Jack Dalrymple and the department 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 transportation planning, budgeting, design and project delivery. He and his wife, Jackie, live in Bismarck.


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