MN Senate confirms Commissioner of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation

Ida Rukavina
Ida Rukavina(Northern News Now)
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 1:51 PM CST
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ST. PAUL, MN. (Northern News Now) - Thursday, the Minnesota Senate voted to confirm Ida Rukavina as Commissioner of the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation.

On Dec. 21, Governor Tim Walz appointed Rukavina, who was born and raised on the Iron Range, to lead the agency and she officially started the role on Jan. 2.

In this role, she oversees the state of Minnesota’s economic development agency, with the goal of investing resources to foster growth and economic prosperity in northeastern Minnesota.

Most recently, Rukavina served as the executive director of the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools (RAMS). She also has worked extensively with numerous levels of government and with the labor movement, representing public, and private employees in northern Minnesota.

Her educational experience includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and American Politics with a concentration in Race and Ethnic Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Advocacy and Political Leadership from the University of Minnesota – Duluth.

“I’m proud that Ida Rukavina will serve as the next Commissioner of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation,” said Governor Walz. “With a proven track record serving schools, townships, and cities on the Iron Range, she is well-positioned to ensure the Northland doesn’t just survive, but thrives.”

“As a dedicated public servant with deep roots in community, Ida Rukavina will meaningfully serve the Iron Range,” said Lieutenant Governor Flanagan. “From good schools to reliable infrastructure to thriving businesses, she will lead with her One Minnesota values to ensure Minnesotans on the Range have the support and resources they need to succeed.”

“I am humbled by the support of Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan to serve the people of northeastern Minnesota,” said Commissioner Rukavina. “I am committed to working toward a future that includes jobs that support families, a strong educational system, and thriving cities and towns.”

Northeastern Minnesota leaders also stated their support for the Senate’s decision to confirm Rukavina’s position as Commissioner.

”Commissioner Rukavina has long been a supporter of education at all levels in our region,” says Minnesota North College President Dr. Michael Raich. “As executive director of RAMS (Range Association of Municipalities and Schools), she worked diligently to build a coalition of leaders who successfully advocated for the needs of our area school districts. Ida is a champion of higher education and understands how, together, our local P-12 schools and Minnesota North College are the catalysts for regional prosperity.”

”I am very pleased that the Minnesota Senate has confirmed Ida Rukavina as commissioner of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation,” states Cleveland-Cliffs, Inc. President, Chairman, and CEO Lourenco Goncalves. “Ida is a person of integrity who has shown true dedication to public service. She is the right person for the job because she cares deeply about the people of the Mesabi Iron Range, and she has a vested interest in making sure there are good-paying, middle-class, union jobs sustaining the region for decades to come.”

Blandin Foundation President/CEO Tuleah Palmer says, ’'It is long past the time of viewing Minnesota through the lens of urban or rural, metro or outstate. In reality, we are one state whose success depends on the success of every community and resident. Commissioner Rukavina understands the vital and interdependent role rural communities have always played and will continue to play in Minnesota’s future. Tackling our workforce challenges, responsible energy transition and economic disparities together is always our best foot forward. I look forward to working with her.’’

”I look forward to working with Commissioner Rukavina on community, business, and workforce projects that impact the region’s tribal nations,” says Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Tribal Chairman Cathy Chavers. “Her past experience working with governments at the local, tribal, state, and federal levels gives her great insight into the importance of involving multiple parties to create the best possible outcomes on large-scale projects such as those related to broadband, housing development, infrastructure, and outdoor recreation.”

”I have had the privilege of working with Commissioner Rukavina on several projects and legislative issues. She has a passion, expertise, and commitment to public service,” explains the City of Virginia’s Mayor Larry Cuffe. “She has been involved in issues that affect the Iron Range such as broadband, affordable housing, child care, municipal infrastructure, and responsible mining. She is loyal, ethical, and compassionate and will be very strong in her new leadership role as she helps provide for the success and vitality of the Iron Range and northern Minnesota.”

Heidi Omerza, Mayor of the City of Ely, states, ”Dozens of small to mid-size thriving communities make up the landscape of northeastern Minnesota. Having lived and worked nearly all of her life in the region, Commissioner Rukavina understands the unique assets of each community. Ely has different traits and goals than Grand Rapids, and the Chisholm-Hibbing area has different needs and priorities than the East Iron Range. But greater than that, she recognizes that the region as a whole can set and achieve large common goals that enhance our economy and quality of life. She has a strong reputation for her ability to assemble many groups and organizations and then identify common ground to work towards what is best for the people, business, and communities.”

”Having grown up in northeastern Minnesota, now raising her own family here, and being an outdoor enthusiast, Commissioner Rukavina is keenly aware how the tourism industry benefits the region on many levels,” states Iron Range Tourism Bureau Executive Director Beth Pierce. “She understands that a robust tourism industry with a large array of attractions, the abundance of outdoor recreation and trails, arts, and retail not only attract visitors to our region but also improves the quality of life and creates jobs for those who live here.”

”Ida has the rare gift of an appreciation for the history and cultures of the Iron Range with an eye toward the future and what is possible when we work together. As someone who was honored to serve in this position, I couldn’t be more pleased with her confirmation,” says Northland Foundation President/CEO Tony Sertich.