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Mayoral aide Kate Bolz appointed as state's USDA rural development director
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Mayoral aide Kate Bolz appointed as state's USDA rural development director

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Kate Bolz, an aide to Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and former state senator, will be joining the Biden administration as Nebraska’s USDA rural development director.

President Joe Biden named Bolz to the position Friday and she will transition to her new job, which will be based in Lincoln, at the beginning of the year, she said.

Gaylor Baird named Bolz her aide for economic development in December 2020, after the two-term state senator was defeated by Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry in the 1st District House race last year.

Bolz, who grew up on a family farm near Palmyra, will work to improve the quality of life in small Nebraska towns, working on affordable housing, energy programs and supporting businesses and community facilities through grant and loan programs.

“I’ve genuinely enjoyed working with Leirion Gaylor Baird and serving the Lincoln administration,” she said.

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As aide for economic development, Bolz helped with economic recovery efforts and was a key point person in deciding how to allocate $46 million in American Recovery Act funds given to the city and $62 million that went to the county.

She worked closely with workforce innovation and outreach, a job training program, small-business plans and tourism grants, and with the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development on business recruitment and recovery.

Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Jane Kleeb said Biden appointed a leader, partner and ally for rural communities.

“Kate Bolz will travel the state making sure rural communities are listened to and have the resources to solve problems at the local level,” she said in a statement.

Bolz, who was an educator and social worker before getting into politics, served as state senator for southeast Lincoln’s District 29 for two terms.

Kate Bolz

Kate Bolz 

She graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 2001 and earned a master’s degree in social work at the University of Michigan in 2005. She became an Emerson National Hunger Fellow and spent six months with community-based organizations that fight hunger, then gained national experience in the anti-hunger and anti-poverty movements in Washington.

She worked for Emerson and Lutheran Services in America on federal legislation on child welfare, housing and welfare reform issues, and was a policy analyst with Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7226 or

On Twitter @LJSreist


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Local government reporter

Margaret Reist is a recovering education reporter now writing about local and county government and the people who live in the city where she was born and raised.

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