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UND VP, former student-body president invited to National Security Forum

UND Vice President for Marketing & Communications Meloney Linder and former UND Student Government President Gracie Lian have been selected to attend the 70th National Security Forum set for May 7-9 at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala.

U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall III invited the pair after Col. Timothy Monroe, commander of the 319th Reconnaissance Wing at Grand Forks Air Force Base, nominated them for the prestigious honor. They will join about 75 civilians from 32 states for the three-day forum, which is meant to build enduring partnerships between local communities and the armed forces.

Since its inception in 1954, the National Security Forum has coupled the nation’s most influential and valued civic leaders with the military’s developing senior leaders to enable open discussions on historic and contemporary national security strategic realities and challenges, according to an Air Force news release.

Forum participants will integrate with 218 Air War College students as well as a select group of senior military officers from 48 partner nations as they attend briefings, lectures, seminars and social events. Although the forum’s annual focus varies, the news release stated that one constant remains: to establish an environment for open engagements on the diplomatic, economic, informational, cultural and military instruments of national power and how each benefits a more stable and prosperous world order.

“As a representative of UND and the Grand Forks community, where supporting our Air Force base is a priority, it is an honor to be able to participate in this prestigious opportunity,” Linder said. “I’m looking forward to the experience.”

It won’t be the first time Linder has played a key role in connecting the missions of the Greater Grand Forks communities. She has served for the past three years as an honorary commander to two vice wing commanders at GFAFB — first for Col. Jeremy Fields, and currently, Col. Delbert Rivera. She’s also an active member of the Military Affairs Committee for The Chamber of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks.

Likewise, Lian said she was honored to be selected to attend the forum.

“It’s a privilege and great opportunity to represent the Grand Forks community while learning more about the challenges facing our Air Force and local communities in a global context,” Lian said. “I hope to walk away with a greater ability to do my job of supporting and connecting Grand Forks Air Force Base and the Greater Grand Forks community.”

Just this week, Lian also was named the new 319th Honorary Mission Support Group Commander at GFAFB. She was elected president of UND’s Student Government in April 2019 and played an important role in decision-making during the earliest days of the pandemic. While a student, she also worked as an intern for Grand Forks County, where she later was hired as a project coordinator.

Tom Ford, administrator for Grand Forks County, attended his own NSF in 2016 and called it “one of the greatest experiences of my professional life.”

“We are thrilled for Gracie and all that she is accomplishing during her time with the county,” he said. “Gracie is well-liked by the men and women at Grand Forks Air Force Base. She is a wonderful ambassador for our community, and we are proud that she will represent Grand Forks County.”

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Photos available: Meloney Linder and Gracie Lian.

Media contact: David Dodds, director of UND Communications at or 701.777.5529.