Community connector and leader LaDonna Boyd retires

  • Article by: KATIE HUMPHREY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 8, 2012 - 10:05 AM

A longtime advocate for the south metro and passionate community builder, she is retiring from her role as economic development director at Dakota Electric.

LaDonna Boyd

Photo: , Dakota Electric

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In Dakota County leadership circles, one name comes up again and again, especially when there's a project to start or a business issue to tackle -- LaDonna Boyd.

"She's probably the most connected person in the county," said Mark Jacobs, director of the Dakota-Scott Workforce Investment Board. "She always knew who should talk to whom to get something done."

Boyd, who lives in Rosemount and has been a south-metro champion locally and as far away as China, is retiring this month from her post at Dakota Electric, where she has been economic development director for two decades. She plans to spend more time with her grandchildren and escape to Arizona more often in the winter.

That means she'll be stepping down from, or reducing the time she spends working with, a laundry list of community committees on which she has served for years, including the workforce board, advisory groups for Inver Hills Community College and Dakota County Technical College (DCTC), local chambers of commerce and Dakota Future, an economic development group with a high-tech focus.

But instead of coasting toward retirement, she is helping with the launch of a new arts collaborative that aims to support local artists and help them make connections in the community.

"I love people. I love activity," Boyd said, admitting that her retirement won't be the lazy variety. "It's great to see new things happen and create new things and be part of the innovation."

And those who have worked with her are sure Boyd will keep recruiting others to her causes.

"There are a lot of people who could tell you stories about things that they've become involved in almost without realizing it because she explains why she wants you to do it," said Peggy Johnson, the community relations director for Dakota Electric. "She's just relentless in her efforts."

At Dakota County Technical College, those efforts included helping to establish an entrepreneurship program to grow local businesses and a customized training program in which the college offers on-site training for companies around technology, manufacturing and other topics.

"She's so professional, so kind, but can move an agenda quicker than you can imagine," said Ron Thomas, president of DCTC.

Over the years, she has also led local trade missions to Ireland and China and served on state-level economic development advisory boards.

To Boyd, the outreach was all part of her job of "telling Dakota Electric's story to the community." Economic growth in the county, she said, is good for the member-owned utility.

When she first started at Dakota Electric in 1968, there were 9,000 members and 52 employees, and the utility's annual revenue was $1.9 million. Today, the cooperative counts 102,000 members, 204 employees and annual revenue of $190 million.

Gail Morrison, executive director of the Inver Hills Community College Foundation -- a fundraising arm of the college that has named Boyd a lifetime "distinguished member," as both a thank-you and a way to keep her involved for years to come -- said that Boyd is always the first to register a foursome for a golf tournament or reserve a table at fundraising luncheons.

"She would do it with joy," Morrison said. "She's just hard-wired to be actively engaged in the community."

Katie Humphrey • 952-746-3286

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