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North Dakota seeks replacement for 1st chief people officer

October 1, 2018

In this Sept. 25, 2018 photo, Cheri Schoenfish pauses in Bismarck, N.D. Schoenfish is heading back to the private sector, and the state is looking for her successor. Brought on a year ago as part of Gov. Doug Burgum’s theme of “reinventing” government, Schoenfish says the No. 1 question people ask her is what her job entails. (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota government officials are searching for a new chief people officer to lead the state’s restructured division of human resources.

Cheri Schoenfish will step down from the chief people officer role on Thursday, the Bismarck Tribune reported. Schoenfish had taken a civic leave of absence from Microsoft in Fargo to serve as the state’s first CPO.

The position within the state’s Office of Management and Budget was created a year ago during Gov. Doug Burgum’s efforts to reorganize the government.

Schoenfish said she’s frequently asked what the job entails, though the position is common in large organizations.

“I have no idea what the chief people person does,” said Republican Rep. Bob Martinson.

Schoenfish had few interactions with state lawmakers because her service didn’t overlap with a legislative session.

The chief people officer works with cabinet officials and state agencies on employee development and initiatives. Schoenfish collaborated with state agencies to avoid the duplication of human resources duties.

She focused on identifying ways to attract workers while managing tight budgets and high numbers of retirement-eligible employees.

“In talking with leaders across the state, there’s a lot of energy to continue a role such as the chief people officer that’s kind of looking more broadly across all of the agencies versus we have people looking deep in each agency,” she said.

Joe Morrissette, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said Schoenfish’s successor will develop goals and policies to present to lawmakers during the legislative session.

Mike Nowatzki, the governor’s spokesman, hopes the position will be filled this month.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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