The Nice Center at North Dakota State University is an entrepreneurship center. Our mission is entrepreneurship for all.

We pursue this goal by teaching, training, and supporting students, faculty and community members. We are pursuing the future of higher education alongside an incredible group of educators and innovators in our Nice Leadership Council. As a land-grant institution, our role is to serve the entire state of North Dakota, which is why we are here to serve North Dakotan entrepreneurs, no matter their age.

At the Nice Center, we believe the most successful entrepreneurs are those who learn and lead with empathy. By understanding the problems and pain-points of others they can create world-changing solutions, which all begins by being nice.

Team Nice

  • Scott Meyer

    Scott Meyer is the Ozbun Executive Director of Entrepreneurship at North Dakota State University. He founded The Nice Center, an entrepreneurship center for innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.

  • Kodee Furst

    Kodee Furst is a Programs Manager at The Nice Center with a focus on Greater North Dakota and underrepresented entrepreneurs. She heads up our Nice Center @ Dickinson location.

Nice Leadership Council

We sought out the brightest and kindest humans we could find to serve on our advisory board. Their insights and perspectives challenge us to think bigger about our impact and ensure our work continues to stay focused on what matters.

  • Victor Saad

    Victor is an author, educator, and community builder living in Chicago. In 2012, he designed his own Masters by completing 12 projects in 12 months. He called it The Leap Year Project and his experiences culminated with staging his graduation at a local TEDx and publishing a book of stories focused on the power of learning through risk. He later launched Experience Institute, an organization helping college students and career professionals learn and grow through short-term, real-world experiences. In 2015, he was inducted into Forbes 30 Under 30 in the field of education. And in 2017, he joined the team at Stanford’s School of Engineering as a Lecturer in Design, helping students reimagine their learning through experience.

  • Melissa Kjolsing

    Melissa is the Director of Growth at Cludo, a leading site search provider with over 600 customers. As Director of Growth, Melissa is responsible for leading Cludo’s North American sales and global marketing teams. Prior to joining Cludo, Melissa was the CEO and co-founder of Recovree, a mobile solution to connect and engage individuals with drug and alcohol addiction. In addition to Melissa’s startup experience, she has led numerous programs dedicated to advancing Minnesota’s startup ecosystem including Lunar Inc., an incubator for underestimated entrepreneurs powered by the Knight Foundation and American Public Media. She also led the MN Cup for five years, the largest statewide startup competition in the country.

  • Ryan Raguse

    Ryan is the Co-Founder of Bushel, an independently owned software company and leading provider of software technology solutions for growers, grain buyers, protein producers and food companies, headquartered in Fargo, N.D. Ryan is a speaker, author, and entrepreneur. A self-proclaimed day-dreamer and life-long farm kid, he is always ready to discuss the exciting future of Ag Tech. Having grown up on a farm, Ryan can’t shake the feeling of a hard day at work in the field and he returns to the farm for field work in the spring and fall.

  • Sandi Piatz

    Sandi is the Sr. Director for Community Program Management for RE&S (Real Estate & Securities) in the Americas at Microsoft. She is also the Site Leader for Microsoft’s campus in Fargo. Sandi started her career in technology at a start-up software company that was a partner of Great Plains Software, in Fargo ND. From that startup she went on to Microsoft where she was on the ISV business development team and then transitioned to doing global program management within support. Sandi serves on the Board of Directors for the FMWF Chamber of Commerce, Ascensus Trust, and NDSU Research & Technology Park. She is also on the University of Jamestown Alumni Board. Sandi has an undergrad in Education, a Master’s in Business Administration and a Master’s in Leadership.

  • Amanda Heyman

    Amanda is an innovation professional specializing in the creation and growth of successful early-stage, high-potential startup businesses. She uses her experience as an intrapreneur co-founder of an inclusive startup accelerator, a co-founder of a venture-backed global technology startup, and a startup attorney and business coach to help high-growth startup businesses develop products, achieve product-market fit, and professionalize operations. She is also a veteran of the natural food and sustainable agriculture space and has advised dozens of food startup founders over the past decade on commercialization, regulatory compliance, and operations strategy.

  • Elizabeth Meyer

    Beth is a pro at investor pitches, having seen hundreds during her time as a lawyer. She spent the earlier part of her career building a successful legal career advising and influencing the most powerful countries and companies in the world at the World Bank and prestigious law firms. For the past two years, Beth honed a unique specialty advising corporate entities and investment firms on sophisticated transactional insurance. Despite her busy schedule, Beth somehow makes time for biking and yoga and finds continual inspiration by listening to every single one of Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations. When she isn’t busy helping women take over the world, you can find her with her family and making as much time as possible to dance with her two children.

  • Luis Martínez

    Martínez is the Director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, where he also teaches courses in entrepreneurship and innovation; mentors student startups; and facilitates connecting Trinity students and faculty with entrepreneurs and accredited investors. Martínez is sought by early stage investors and senior management in private and public companies for his startup expertise in business strategy, new product and business development, customer acquisition, corporate positioning, corporate communications and investor relations, and competitive technology analysis.

  • Erin Belgarde

    Erin is actively working to spark economic growth. She is the strategic planning coordinator for Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians (TMBCI), including coordinating the Promise Zone program. She also runs project development for the Turtle Mountain Recovery Center.

    She sits on the State Board Commission of National Community Service as the Tribal Representative and directs the TM AmeriCorps VISTA Program.

    Belgarde is a graduate from Valley City State University and is currently enrolled in a master’s in legal studies in Indigenous Peoples Law at the University of Oklahoma Law. She is an enrolled member of MHA Nation and Descendant of Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.

  • Nadia Mitchell

    Nadia graduated from North Dakota State University in August 2020 with a major in Business Administration and a minor in Entrepreneurship. While on campus, she was also a founding student fellow at The Nice Center and an active member of Nice Productions, a student-run creative agency. Now, she is creating a non-profit focused on online mentorship for homeless youth. When she isn’t building her company, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, and binging tv shows.

  • Ross Almlie

    Ross has worked in the financial services industry for nearly three decades. He shares that, “for a guy who has been in the same industry for that long, you’d think I don’t have an entrepreneurial bone in my body. Quite the opposite is true.” Ross has chosen to innovate within the industry. Motivated to do what’s in the best interest of his customer, Ross introduced a 1% fee-based model in one of his first advisories. In an industry that can get wrapped up in the quick buck, Ross is driven by his integrity to do right by his customers. He also started a geographic-focused venture capital fund, cultivating entrepreneurship in the Northern Plains region.

  • Audrey Voorhees

    Audrey is a social intrapreneur who works at the intersection of design, impact, and innovation. Originally from Iowa, she spent over 7 years abroad in Southeast Asia and the Balkans forging community-led solutions, including co-founding a gender activism organization in Thailand. Domestically, she has helped entrepreneur networks like Ashoka, the Better Business Bureau, and Ureeka launch new programs. She now develops human-centered solutions and fosters a community of innovation as a Design Strategist at FINRA.

Nice Student Fellows

  • Grace Lange - Operating Officer

    Grace Lange is a third year marketing student at NDSU and second year Nice Student Fellow. She has used her talents in marketing, photography, and leadership to fuel a passion for entrepreneurship in herself and the team! To her, entrepreneurship means taking a risk for happiness and sharing your God given talents, skills, and gifts with the world. Outside of school and work, you can find Grace trying new foods, staying active, and drinking a TON of coffee!

  • Bryce Bakkegard - Content Manager

    Bryce Bakkegard is our most wise member, as he is a senior Business Administration major. His role as our Content Manager is to lead our social media team in all our endeavors. Bryce is very passionate about what he does, because he believes entrepreneurship is a vessel for change and allows every person to innovate solutions to real problems in society. He loves a good challenge, so he takes that into his personal life through faith, family, and all things outdoors!

  • Izak Moleterno - Graphic Designer

    Izak Moleterno, our talented graphic designer, illustrator, and art director in his senior year, brings so much value to our team through his skills. Izak has taken on many projects and brought The Nice Center to life. He is very passionate about entrepreneurship, because he wants young people to know that they can love what they do and that they can truly pursue their passion. When Izak isn’t drawing or designing, he loves to exercise, watch movies, and collect all the sneakers you could imagine! 

  • Sydney Sanford - Social Media Strategist

    Sydney Sanford is an outstanding marketing student in her second year at NDSU. She uses her passion for small businesses, economic and social growth, and tight knit relationships within the community to ignite her work at The Nice Center. Within her position, she writes, photographs, and posts for The Nice Center events and projects. Sydney also enjoys being with her family, snowboarding, and baking sweet treats!

  • Chloe Watterud - Social Media Strategist

    Chloe Watterud brings talent to our team in more ways than one! Chloe is in her first year, majoring in Vocal Music Education and loves to play guitar, piano, and sing! She is also one of the masterminds behind The Nice Center social media. Through her role she has the ability to put her passion for entrepreneurship into action. To her, entrepreneurship is a way to help communities grow with new ideas and new opportunities for people. Outside of school and work you can find Chloe supporting our small businesses with a coffee in her hand.

  • Walker Bruns - Production and Special Events Associate

    Walker Bruns is our jack-of-all-trades here at The Nice Center. He is in his third year majoring in Business Administration all while helping small businesses in our area build an online presence. In addition, Walker is our go-to when it comes to all things events. His passion for people and seeing how creative people are is so inspiring. Walker also loves to hunt, fish, snowmobile, and be with his friends!

  • Kennedy Fields - Writer

    As one of our Nice Writers, Kennedy Fields puts her growing knowledge of English and International Studies to work! Kennedy is a sophomore here at NDSU, and she is involved with Hola Club and Chi Alpha. She is constantly inspired by people who are creating solutions to problems they find in the world and in their communities, and she loves working in a place where creativity is encouraged. Kennedy loves to read, exercise, and meet new people – what a gal! 

  • Ben Van Berkom - Audio Production Assistant

    Ben Van Berkom is a talented sophomore at NDSU majoring in Agriculture Education. Ben brings his valuable skills of audio and video production to our team. Ben sees entrepreneurship as an outlet for creative expression for anyone, no matter who they are or what it may look like, and he hopes to encourage the people around him with his entrepreneurial mindset. Ben is a true outdoorsman, as you can always find Ben hiking, snowboarding, and flying drones!

  • Zach Johnson - Podcast Writer

    Zach Johnson is one of our great content creators at The Nice Center, and he is a sophomore studying statistics. His creative thinking skills, hard work, and passion for success shine in his work. Zach is passionate about entrepreneurship, because it allows one to contribute to the world in their full creative capacity. When he has a little free time, Zach loves to run, research, and relax!

Nice Faculty Fellows

Entrepreneurship is not owned by the College of Business; it should be across campus and the community. It also should not be limited to the idea of launching a business and making money. It can include innovation and creativity, as well. That’s why we rallied together the Nice Faculty Fellows: to integrate innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship into courses and research.

  • Meghan Duda

    Meghan Duda is an Assistant Professor of Visual Arts, with a focus on Photography and Design. This summer, she has been working on two photography projects involving experimental landscape photography and ecological impacts of the anthropocene. When she’s not behind a camera or in a classroom, you’ll find her working on home improvement projects with help from her two girls aged 4 and 7.

  • Adam Elznic - Libraries

    Adam Elznic is the Emerging Technologies Coordinator at the NDSU Libraries. He integrates new technology into the Library, including the Digital Fabrication Lab on the main floor of the library where he teaches students to use 3D printers, CNC milling machines, the Laser Engraver, and other various tools. You’ll find him using his background in sculpture and industrial design to build new things at home and at the office – including the mask he is wearing in his photo!

  • Ganapathy Mahalingam - Architecture

    Ganapathy Mahalingam is a Professor of Architecture and has been teaching at NDSU for the past almost 27 years. He founded his own software company in 2009 and is building an innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in his department. You’ll find him introducing students to global entrepreneurship through product and software design for developing economies.

  • Jill Nelson - Counselor Education and HSE Dean’s Office

    Jill Nelson is a professor in the counseling program and also serves as the Associate Dean for Professional Development and Leadership in the college of Human Sciences and Education. This calendar year she is also filling in as co-Dean. When she’s not busy at NDSU, she enjoys spending time with friends or on her patio enjoying Fargo summers.

  • Sherri Stastny - Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences

    Dr. Stastny is a professor in Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences. She serves as a dietitian on NDSU research teams and is also a licensed bone densitometry technician. In addition to her work at NDSU, she is an outdoor enthusiast. Normally, one might look for her biking, gardening, hiking, running or water skiing in the summer, but right now she is tied to elevating her broken leg.

  • Sara Sunderlin - Apparel, Merchandising, Interior Design & Hospitality Management

    Sara Sunderlin is a senior lecturer in the Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Interior Design & Hospitality Management.  She helps students create thoughtful designs in textiles, apparel construction and product development.  She also serves as the caretaker of the NDSU Tartan project on campus.  When she has free time, look for her sewing and designing bags and apparel as a part of her side business.

  • Jessica Vold - Engineering

    Jessica Vold is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Entrepreneurship and Innovation, encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation across the College of Engineering at NDSU. When not helping students on materials engineering, you’ll find her in the garden with her two girls, ages 2 and 4 years old, and her two Vizsla hunting dogs.

As one of our Nice Writers, Kennedy Fields puts her growing knowledge of English and International Studies to work! Kennedy is a sophomore here at NDSU, and she is involved with Hola Club and Chi Alpha. She is constantly inspired by people who are creating solutions to problems they find in the world and in their communities, and she loves working in a place where creativity is encouraged. Kennedy loves to read, exercise, and meet new people – what a gal!