NDSU Foundation announces the addition of new trustees

NDSU McGovern Alumni Center

FARGO, N.D., — The North Dakota State University Foundation welcomes seven new trustees to help guide the executive governing board and advance the Foundation’s philanthropic mission to support North Dakota State University.

These volunteer leaders are critical to the Foundation’s ability to maximize advocacy and philanthropy to lift up the university, its students, faculty and the greater community. New trustees offer diverse experiences and perspectives to move NDSU forward:

Lisa Edison-Smith graduated in 1982 with Bachelor of Science degrees in business administration and accounting and continued her education at Hamline University School of Law where she received her Juris Doctor degree in 1996. Lisa is an attorney and shareholder with Vogel Law Firm and practices in the area of employment and labor law and is a MSBA Certified Labor and Employment Law Specialist. She is a past board member and president of both First Link and the Fargo Theatre and is a member and contributor in the United Way’s Emerging Leaders program and the Power of 100 Women. Lisa and her wife, Penny Andrist, reside in West Fargo.

Virginia Clark Johnson was Dean of NDSU’s College of Human Sciences and Education for 22 years and brought tremendous growth to the college from breadth of programs to increased enrollment. Under her leadership, the college added several master’s and doctoral degree programs and greatly increased capacity for research. Virginia retired from the university in 2015 and has been actively involved in her community with roles on the boards of the Silent Lakes Association, the Fargo Hector International Airport Authority and the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center. Virginia and her husband, Rick, live in Fargo.

Hugh McDonald graduated in 1980 with a degree in construction management. After attending NDSU, Hugh furthered his education at the University of New Orleans and received an MBA in 1987. He spent most of his career with Entergy, working in roles with subsidiaries in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas before becoming President and CEO of Entergy Arkansas, Inc. Hugh retired from the company in 2016. He has held numerous board positions at non-profit and community organizations, including the Arkansas Career Education and Workforce Development Agency, University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Foundation Fund, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, University of Arkansas Sam Walton College of Business Dean’s Executive Advisory Board and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock College of Business Advisory Board. Hugh and his wife, Michelle, live in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Ron Nichols received a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural mechanization in 1966 and a Master of Science degree in agricultural economics in 1971. Ron served in the military and worked as an agricultural loan officer, farmer, five-term member of the North Dakota House of Representatives and a two-term member of the North Dakota Senate. Ron has held leadership roles in the Ruth Meiers Hospitality House Board of Directors, Stanley Community Hospital Board, the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association and the Knights of Columbus. Ron and his wife, Sue, reside in Mandan, North Dakota.

Ann Noble is a 1982 graduate with a Bachelor of Architecture degree and a Bachelor of Science degree in architectural studies. Ann is a registered architect in Texas and served as vice president at HKS, Inc., a top-six architectural firm with worldwide offices. She has more than 30 years of experience covering a wide variety of project types, working with a variety of clients. In her community, Ann has been an arts ambassador, serving on The Arts Community Alliance Board of Directors, and is a supporter of the White Rock YMCA. Ann and her husband, Dan, live in Dallas, Texas.

Danielle Paulus graduated in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration. She began her career in finance before joining Roers in the real estate industry. Danielle is the COO at Roers Companies where she oversees the global administration services and leads the residential property management division. Danielle is an active member of the NDSU and Fargo-Moorhead community, serving on numerous committees and boards for the United Way, NDSU and the Fargo-Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce. Danielle, and her husband, Ken, live in West Fargo.

Ron Zink graduated in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical and computer engineering. Ron continued his education at the University of North Dakota and received a law degree in 1990. He has an impressive background as a senior global business leader: working for 17 years at Microsoft, with his last role as the Chief Operating Officer of European Affairs. He also worked John Deere, where he served as Director of Mobile and Digital Applications, and most recently served as Chief Technology Officer of Growers Holdings, Inc., a startup focused on digital farming. Ron is an Angel investor, board member or advisor to several startups and co-founder of Ideas Matter, an intellectual property advocacy group. Ron and his wife, Carol, live in Mercer Island, Washington.

Foundation trustees are appointed to five-year terms. There is no limit to the number of terms they can serve.


The NDSU Foundation builds enduring relationships that maximize advocacy and philanthropy to support North Dakota State University.


Nicole Thom-Arens
Director of Communications
(701) 231-6800 | 800-279-8971