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Former Rybak aide Jeremy Hanson Willis named deputy commissioner at DEED

Dayton communications advisor Blake Chaffee will be the state economic development department’s CEO.

Two new deputy commissioners were named today for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED): Jeremy Hanson Willis is the new Deputy Commissioner of Workforce Development and Blake Chaffee will be Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer.

Hanson Willis was a longtime aide to former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak; Chaffee has been a communications advisor to Gov. Mark Dayton.

The new job for Hanson Willis will “strategic coordination of the department’s workforce development programs and aligning training and work readiness resources with the needs of Minnesota business,” the announcement said.

He spent the past nine years working for the city of Minneapolis, most recently, as Executive Director of the Department of Community Planning and Economic Development. Before that he was Rybak’s chief of staff.  Earlier, he’d been a communications consultant at Tunheim Partners.

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Chaffee’s new job is described as “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.”

He has been DEED’s Director of the Communications, Analysis and Research Division since August, 2012. Before that, he was a Communications Advisor to Governor Mark Dayton and before that,  Political and Communications Director for the late U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar.

DEED Commissioner Katie Sieben announced the appointments today, saying of Hanson Willis: “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.”

And of Chaffee, she said: “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.”