Executive Office Biographies

Thomas Sorel, Director

Thomas K. Sorel, NDDOT Director

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Thomas Sorel was appointed Director of the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) in August 2017 by Gov. Doug Burgum.

Sorel served as Minnesota Department of Transportation commissioner from 2008-2012, overseeing a workforce of 5,000 employees with a $4.3 billion annual budget and a $1.4 billion annual transportation program. Prior to that, he had a 30-year career with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, serving as administrator of its St. Paul Division from 2005 to 2008 and receiving a presidential honor for his leadership related to the I-35W bridge collapse response, recovery and rebuilding.

Sorel most recently served as chief operating officer of the Minnesota Trucking Association. He previously ran his own transportation consulting firm in Woodbury, Minn., and served as vice president of surface transportation for Serco North America, working on intelligent transportation systems and other areas.

A native of Plattsburgh, New York, Sorel earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the State University of New York in Buffalo and holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Thomas College in Waterville, Maine. He and his wife, Laurie, have one son.

The NDDOT has more than 1,000 employees, a two-year budget of $1.2 billion and a $465 million construction program for this season.

Ronald J. Henke, P.E., Deputy Director for Engineering

Ron Henkei, Deputy Director for Engineering NDDOT

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Ron currently serves as the Deputy Director for Engineering at the North Dakota Department of Transportation.  He is in charge of the engineering area at the Department which is comprised of several programs including; operations, transportation programs, project development, planning, pre-construction, construction, and maintenance.  Ron joined NDDOT in 1990 and previously served as Office of Operations Director, Office of Project Development Director, as well as other various capacities including Design, Construction, and as Assistant Engineer for Planning and Programming. 

Professional Experience:

Ron earned his Bachelor of Science degrees in Construction Management and Construction Engineering from North Dakota State University in 1988 and 2001.  Ron is a Registered Professional Engineer in North Dakota with a background in field construction, statewide operations (construction and maintenance), planning and programming of projects, budget, environmental document preparation, and plan development.  He is a member the American Society of Highway Engineers.  He currently serves on the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Transportation Policy Forum and Council on Streets and Highways; and as time permits, coaches youth basketball in Bismarck, North Dakota.  

Mark Nelson, Deputy Director for Driver and Vehicle Services/Business Support

Mark Nelson, NDDOT Interim Deputy Director for Driver and Vehicle Services

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Mark Nelson was appointed Deputy Director for Driver and Vehicle Services of the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) in 2014. Mark oversees the Drivers License, Motor Vehicle, and Safety Divisions at the North Dakota Department of Transportation.  Besides overseeing these three divisions, he focuses on public safety education and strives to provide a high level of customer service at the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

Professional Experience:

Mark joined NDDOT to serve as Safety Division Director in 2009. Prior to joining the Department, he worked for the North Dakota Highway Patrol for more than 28 years during which time he was appointed Superintendent of the agency in 2007.

Mark has a Criminal Justice degree from Park University of Parkville, Missouri and is also a graduate of Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command. Mark is originally from St. James, Minnesota and moved to North Dakota in 1981. He and his wife, Colleen, reside in Bismarck and have two grown children.