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Commissioner Rothman welcomes new leadership staff to Commerce Department

December 15, 2011


For Immediate Release


Rothman assembling “best and brightest” to help lead Minnesota Department of Commerce


ST. PAUL, MN – Commissioner Mike Rothman today welcomed several new leadership staff to the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Continuing his commitment to strengthening the Department’s service to consumers and regulated industries, Rothman is assembling the best and brightest to serve on his leadership team.

“Our priority is improving the health of Minnesota’s economy,” said Commissioner Rothman. “Protecting Minnesota consumers, helping Minnesota businesses, and growing jobs requires smart, talented leadership.

“I have confidence in the character and ability of the leadership team we have assembled over the last year,” Rothman said. “We are focused on serving all Minnesotans with excellence.”

Division of Energy Resources
Dennis Ahlers will serve as Assistant Commissioner for the Commerce Department’s Division of Energy Resources (DER). He will be primarily responsible for: 1) overseeing the Department’s regulatory efforts on telecommunications issues; and 2) managing the Department’s efforts to ensure the reliability of the state’s electric transmission system.  

Prior to joining the Department of Commerce, Dennis Ahlers served for 12 years as associate general counsel for Integra Telecom, Inc., and 16 years as Assistant Attorney General in the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office. Ahlers has decades of experience in utilities regulation, representing clients before state utilities commissions and the FCC. Ahlers earned his J.D. from the University of Kansas, an M.A. in Public Administration from Purdue University, and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Nebraska.

Securities Unit
Robert Moilanen will serve as Director of Securities for the Commerce Department. The Securities unit is responsible for regulating the securities industry, reviewing and approving licenses of broker dealers and investment advisors, regulating franchises in the state of Minnesota, and more.

Prior to joining the Department of Commerce, Moilanen was a partner at Anthony Ostlund Baer & Louwagie, P.A. and Popham, Haik, Schnobrich, Kaufman & Doty where he specialized in complex securities and commercial matters. Moilanen has decades of legal experience in shareholder, franchise, commercial, and trade secrets disputes. He has managed and tried complex litigation involving violations of federal and state securities laws. Early in his professional career, Moilanen served as Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of Minnesota.

Moilanen earned his J.D. from George Washington University, and a B.A. in Political Science and Environmental Studies from Gustavus Adolphus College.

Insurance Division
Blaine Shepherd will serve as acting Assistant Commissioner for the Insurance Division following the departure of Assistant Commissioner Jaki Gardner. Gardner took a position as COO of Catholic Holy Family Society in Joliet, Illinois after serving 15 years with the Department.

Blaine Shepherd has worked as a valuation actuary for the Minnesota Department of Commerce since 1992. While at the Department, Shepherd has been primarily responsible for monitoring the solvency of insurance companies, especially review of all related actuarial filings. Shepherd is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, a member of the American Academy of Actuaries, and active with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) representing Minnesota as a member of the Life Actuarial Task Force, and the Capital Adequacy and Valuation of Securities task forces. Shepherd received a B.A. in Mathematics from North Dakota State University.

In addition, Commissioner Rothman has asked Richard Theisen to serve as Chief Financial Examiner for the Insurance Division. Theisen will organize and direct the financial examination of domestic insurance companies doing business in Minnesota in accordance with NAIC standards. He will manage the Department’s insurance examination staff in accordance with the Risk Focused Examination process, and coordinate financial solvency oversight to ensure full compliance with NAIC accreditation standards and statutory requirements.

Financial Institutions Division
William Horlitz will serve as acting Deputy Commissioner for the Financial Institutions Division following the retirement of Deputy Commissioner Kevin Murphy. Murphy retired last week after 15 years with the Department.

William Horlitz has served as Assistant Commissioner of Financial Institutions since 2002. In that role, Horlitz was responsible for the on-site examination and monitoring of the financial condition of state-chartered banks, credit unions, thrift companies, and finance and mortgage companies. Horlitz’s experience includes 29 years with the FDIC, where he spent 10 years as a bank examiner in the Midwest and 19 years as a field manager. Horlitz served on the faculty of the FDIC Training Center, teaching advanced examination and bank analysis concepts.

Horlitz is a graduate of Mankato State College, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Wisconsin, Graduate School of Banking.

Five new financial institutions examiners will also join the Department this month, as directed by the Minnesota Legislature. These additional examiners will help provide additional staffing to continue to effectively monitor the strength and solvency of Minnesota’s banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions.