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DEED Names New Leadership

Jeremy Hanson Willis and Blake Chaffee named Deputy Commissioners

May 29, 2014

Madeline Koch, 651-259-7236

ST. PAUL –Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben announced the appointment of Jeremy Hanson Willis and Blake Chaffee as Deputy Commissioners at the agency.  Hanson Willis will be the department’s Deputy Commissioner of Workforce Development and Chaffee will serve as Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer.

Deputy Commissioner of Workforce Development – Jeremy Hanson Willis

As Deputy Commissioner of Workforce Development, Hanson Willis will be responsible for the strategic coordination of the department’s workforce development programs and aligning training and work readiness resources with the needs of Minnesota business.

“Jeremy has been an outstanding leader for the City of Minneapolis, and we are thrilled to welcome his expertise in strategic economic and community planning to DEED,” said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben. “With his highly innovative and collaborative approach, Jeremy will be an incredible asset to work alongside our public and private partners in advancing our state’s highly-valued and educated workforce.”

Prior to joining DEED, Hanson Willis spent the past nine years in various leadership roles with the City of Minneapolis. Most recently, Jeremy was Executive Director of the Department of Community Planning and Economic Development, which manages the City's business development, workforce development, housing, land use planning, and building inspections.

Previously, Hanson Willis was Chief of Staff to Mayor R.T. Rybak, where he led the Mayor’s Office staff and collaborated with City leadership to implement Mayor Rybak’s agenda to improve the City of Minneapolis, with a focus on economic growth, workforce development and racial equity.

He also worked as a communications consultant at Tunheim Partners where he supported public advocacy campaigns for business and nonprofit clients involving communications strategy, media relations, coalition building and grassroots advocacy.

Hanson Willis grew up on a farm in rural Ada, Minnesota, is a graduate of Macalester College (Saint Paul, MN) and has lived in Minneapolis since 1998. He currently resides in Uptown Minneapolis with his husband Samuel.

Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer - Blake Chaffee

As Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer, Chaffee will be responsible for strategic coordination of the Department's operations, manage financial and human capital strategy, and information technology solutions.  He will also manage the information, research, and government affairs operations of the department; directing internal and external communication, overseeing economic analysis and labor market research.

“During his time at DEED, Blake has provided strong, strategic leadership and made significant improvements to DEED’s internal and external communications, analysis and research capabilities,” said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben.  “Blake’s exceptional ability to create innovative solutions and identify opportunities to streamline processes will develop greater operational effectiveness for DEED and reinforce our commitment to continuous improvement.”

Chaffee first joined the department in August of 2012 when he was appointed Director of the Communications, Analysis and Research Division.  He brings years of experience in communications, management, and policy.  Prior to his appointment with DEED, he served as a Communications Advisor to Governor Mark Dayton and as Political and Communications Director for the late James L. Oberstar, Minnesota’s longest serving congressional member.

Chaffee grew up in rural Cloverdale, Minnesota and earned a B.A. from the University of Minnesota Duluth.  He currently resides in St. Louis Park with his wife Britney and their daughter Zoe.

Hanson Willis and Chaffee will assume their new roles at the department on June 2.

DEED is the state’s principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development. For more details about the agency and our services, visit us at Follow us on Twitter at




Upon request, this information can be made available in alternate formats for people with disabilities by contacting the DEED Communications Office at 651-259-7161.