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MSU government affairs director Janelle Booth departing to lead SDARL

Janelle Booth
Janelle Booth



Janelle Booth

BOZEMAN – Janelle Booth, Montana State University’s director of government affairs, will leave the university on March 17, 2023to lead a nonprofit agricultural training organization in her home state of South Dakota.



Booth will continue in her university role through mid-March and then transition into her role as CEO of the South Dakota Agricultural and Rural Leadership Foundation, which trains individuals to become leaders who are involved, lifelong learners with broad knowledge of agriculture and agribusiness.

Booth has held roles at MSU and in the Montana University System for 15 years, most recently serving as the director of government affairs for MSU since January 2020. In that role, she is the university’s chief lobbyist and a member of MSU President Waded Cruzado’s executive team. She was responsible for building relationships with leaders at all levels of government – city, county, state, federal and international delegations — to help further MSU’s mission of education, research and outreach. She has, and continues to, work closely with the governor’s office, the Board of Regents, the state’s congressional delegation, state agency directors, industry leaders and the media.

“The university has built and cultivated unprecedentedly strong relationships with our partners in the Legislature and elsewhere across the state thanks to Janelle,” Cruzado said. “We will miss her wise counsel and indefatigable work ethic and wish her the best of luck in her new position.”

Tracy Ellig, vice president of communications for the university, will fill the government affairs role in the interim and serve as MSU’s chief lobbyist for the remainder of the 2023 Legislature.

Booth’s involvement with MSU stretches back to 2008 and includes graduate studies and working as a community resource associate specialist for MSU Extension.

She was co-founder and director of REAL Montana, a highly successful training program for Montana industry and agricultural leaders, and served as a research director for the Montana University System in the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, where she oversaw the distribution of $15 million in legislatively appropriated funds through a competitive process to university research projects. She holds an MPA from Montana State and a bachelor’s degree in biology from South Dakota State University.

“Working for Montana State University has been the highlight of my professional life,” Booth said. “I’ve been so honored to work with leaders across Montana in the Legislature, industry and University System. Montana is an incredible place, and I will miss it.”

Booth and her fiancé, Troy Lindskov, both grew up near Timber Lake in the north central part of South Dakota and are returning there to work alongside family on their Black Angus cow-calf operation.

“Troy and I grew up farming and ranching. It is a dream of ours to continue that tradition, and an opportunity came up for us to do that,” Booth said. “We are looking forward to returning to our family roots, but Montana will always hold a special place in my heart.”