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North Dakota's first lady Kathryn Helgaas Burgum has been named one of seven new members to the board of directors of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.

Helgaas Burgum's priority is supporting and developing initiatives for fighting addiction in North Dakota's communities. In long-term recovery for 15 years, she has been using her personal experience to help others battling addiction and to address what she believes is a statewide crisis. 


Gov. Doug Burgum and first lady Kathryn Helgaas Burgum walk through the Capitol's Memorial Hall past a handcrafted bison head on the silver punchbowl from the Navy battleship USS North Dakota.

“We are excited to have such talented, experienced and diverse individuals joining our board, all of whom are committed to our mission of helping individuals, families and communities overcome addiction,” said Mark Mishek, president and CEO of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the nation’s leading nonprofit provider of addiction treatment and recovery resources.

“Our new board members represent a great cross-section of expertise, professional backgrounds and geography, and we are grateful to have their leadership.”

Helgaas Burgum is working to erase the social stigma around addiction and spread the word that it's a chronic disease, not a character flaw. The second youngest of four children, she grew up in Jamestown, where her family was in the John Deere business for more than 35 years. She held her first job at the family business working in the parts department.

Helgaas Burgum is chairing a seven-member advisory council that will guide the efforts of a new Office of Recovery Reinvented, launched recently in North Dakota. This office, which was created through an executive order, aims to promote “strategic and innovative efforts to eliminate the shame and stigma associated with the disease of addiction.”

Earning her undergraduate degree in retail business at Arizona State University, Helgaas Burgum also has a master's business administration degree in human resources from the University of North Texas. 

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s 25-member board meets quarterly to provide governing oversight for the organization’s wide-ranging activities. Its first meeting of 2018 was Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Here is a snapshot of each new board member.