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Kandiyohi County Board offers administrator position to Kelsey Baker, current Swift County administrator

The Kandiyohi County Board interviewed the three finalists Tuesday for the county administrator position. In a unanimous vote they will offer the position to Kelsey Baker, the current county administrator of Swift County. Current Kandiyohi County administrator Larry Kleindl is set to retire in February.

Kelsey Baker.JPG
The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners interviews three candidates for the county administrator position on Sept. 27, 2022, in Willmar.
Shelby Lindrud / West Central Tribune
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WILLMAR — The Kandiyohi County Board has decided to make an offer to Kelsey Baker, current Swift County administrator, to be the next administrator for Kandiyohi County. The roll call vote was unanimous.

Following the vote to make an offer to Baker, the board formed a committee to negotiate a contract with Baker. The County Board will need to approve any contract with Baker before the hiring is official.

Baker has served as the Swift County administrator for the last five years.

Prior to that she was the executive director for The Legends at Heritage Place, an assisted living facility in Sartell, for one year. She also worked for the state of South Dakota as a marketing and communications specialist for three years and a public information officer for one year.

Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners Sept. 27, 2022.
The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners interviewed three candidates for the county administrator position on Sept. 27, 2022.
Shelby Lindrud / West Central Tribune

The Kandiyohi County Board interviewed three finalists for the county administrator position on Tuesday, spending about 45 minutes with each candidate. Following the interviews, the board began the deliberations over whether to offer the position to one of the finalists.

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"This is the big day, you have been preparing for this for the last couple of months now," said Liza Donabauer from DDA Human Resources, the search firm hired by the county to run the candidate search.

The the two other finalists were Cassandra Harvey, program manager — Healthy Aging & Caregiver Supports for the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation; and Jennifer Lippert, the director of Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services.

Prior to the board interviews, each of the candidates met with staff and county leadership. Donabauer shared the feedback from those meetings with the board as they worked toward making a decision.

Harvey has worked for the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation in St. Paul for three years, serving as the program manager for Healthy Aging & Caregiver Supports. She also worked for the Duluth Regional Care Center for 19 years, serving as the program assistant to the program coordinator, a staff trainer and the program director.

Cassandra Harvey
Cassandra Harvey
Contributed / LinkedIn

Lippert has been serving as the director of Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services for the last four years. Prior to that she was the executive director of Ecumen of Litchfield for three years, a nurse clinician with Rice Home Medical for six months and worked for the Benedictine Health System for about one year as a licensed practical nurse/marketing director/staff educator.

Jennifer Lippert
Jennifer Lippert
Contributed / Kandiyohi County

Since May, when Kleindl made the announcement that he planned to retire in February 2023, the County Board has been involved in a process to find his replacement. In June the commissioners hired DDA Human Resources Inc., a David Drown Associates company, to run the search for candidates for the administrator position.

After the application window closed, eight applicants were vetted by DDA and four were moved forward as potential finalists for the position. The County Board decided to interview all the finalists but only the three interviewed on Tuesday agreed to move forward with the process.

Kleindl has served as the Kandiyohi County administrator for 16 years, though he has worked for the county since 1994. Before taking over the top administrative position in 2006, he first worked as a supervisor in the county Family Services Department and then as the department director.

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Members of the EDC's Joint Powers Board and local leaders recently aired their frustrations with private entities and the government when it comes to making sure broadband is available to all households from border to border in Kandiyohi County.
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The Highway 23 Coalition continues on its mission to transform Minnesota Highway 23 into a complete four-lane highway from border to border. At the Nov. 1 meeting of the Kandiyohi County Board, the coalition asked for the county's support on a project upgrade for 2.5 miles of the highway on the south side of Willmar.

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.


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