Grand Forks' Ken Vein named to Roosevelt Library and Museum position

Ken Vein Submitted photo

A Grand Forks man has been hired to help an organization with its plans to construct a presidential library and museum in western North Dakota.

Ken Vein, of Grand Forks, has been named director of design and construction of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. Also Monday, the organization announced that Courtland Miller, of Fargo, has been named associate director of strategic initiatives.

Vein is in his eighth year as a member of the Grand Forks City Council.

"It's really exciting to see the significance and magnitude of this project and to have the opportunity to be part of it," Vein told the Herald late Monday afternoon. "I've just been hired, so I'm still learning. But (the magnitude and legacy) of the project were contributing factors of wanting to be part of it. It is truly an opportunity."

Among Vein's first tasks is to consider potential sites for the library and museum in and around Medora, the western North Dakota town considered the gateway to the Badlands.


He spent 17 years as a senior leader and administrative director of plant and facilities for Altru Health System in Grand Forks. Vein also served 17 years as city engineer and public works director for Grand Forks. In this role, he was instrumental in helping Grand Forks recover from the Flood of 1997; a Monday press release from the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation noted Vein's efforts during that historic time in the city.

“Ken brings experience and leadership to the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library,” Cathilea Robinett, chair of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation, said in the Monday press release. “He showed grace under fire in the 1997 Flood and ran complex medical facilities for nearly two decades. He is a public servant and a proud North Dakotan. The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum is in good, capable hands with Ken.”

According to the release, Vein will work with the Medora community, Billings County, the state of North Dakota and the National Park Service while reducing the possible sites for the library and museum. The goal is to reduce the sites to fewer than three by March 31.

“It is truly an honor to be a part of the team, implementing a project that will be an everlasting tribute to Theodore Roosevelt – one of the great presidents of the United States,” Vein said in the release. “Exemplifying that honor is knowing not only the impact that North Dakota had on Theodore Roosevelt, but also the impact that Theodore Roosevelt had on North Dakota.”

The CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum is Ed O'Keefe, a Grand Forks native. He said the project is "on the cusp of a momentous year," noting a design competition, design concepts, site selection and a capital campaign.

“But, as anyone who has ever built in North Dakota knows from experience, it all begins with understanding where you’re building," O'Keefe said. "Ken is on board the team to help us understand and tackle that challenge the right way.”

According to the press release, Vein was appointed by Gov. Doug Burgum to the Fargo-Moorhead Area Flood Diversion Task Force in 2017, the Devils Lake Outlet Management Advisory Committee in 2018, the Lower Pembina River Basin Advisory Board in 2019 and the High-Level Radioactive Waste Advisory Council, also in 2019.

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