Systems Staff


Ray Grabanski

Ray Grabanski, J.D.

President, Lead Market Analyst, Entreprenuer, Attorney

Ray has roots that run deep in agriculture. Ray developed his passion for agriculture growing up on a small grain and livestock farm near Inkster, ND. Balancing working on the farm and college education through his 25th birthday, Ray worked with his brothers Russell and George (who together managed the farm) to triple their acreage while he graduated magna cum laude from North Dakota State University, getting his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Agricultural Economics. Ray, as part of his M.S. Education, worked as a legislative intern at the 1989–1990 session of the North Dakota Legislature writing bill amendments and bill summaries for the House Ag and State and Federal Government committees, where he developed his passion for the law.

Read full bio >

Joan Braaten

Joan Braaten

Manager of Insurance

Joan joined Progressive Ag in 2016 as the lead trainer for marketing and marketing promotions and to oversee the crop insurance underwriting. She brings experience from the economic development, sales, and marketing worlds. She earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Agricultural Economics from North Dakota State University. She also has deep roots in the agricultural community as she grew up on a cattle and grain farm in rural southeast North Dakota. Joan has managed and overseen multiple non-profit corporations securing more than $500,000 in grants and donations during the last 3 years. Joan is a stockholder in Progressive Ag Systems.

Joan is married with two children, one in middle school and one in college. She enjoys traveling and playing golf with her family.

Laurel Gess

Laurel Gess

Senior Underwriter

Laurel Gess is employed as an underwriter for Progressive Ag Systems. Her career includes 12 years in accounting and 17 years in brokerage and underwriting. Laurel is an entrepreneur at heart as she owned multiple businesses and performed all aspects of business from sales to accounting. She also performed all back office functions for various brokerage firms. Her expertise positions her perfectly for Progressive Ag. She is excited to be back working with the fast paced dynamics of the crop insurance industry. She developed a great admiration for the agricultural community as a result of countless hours spent on her grandparents’ farm. She has strong roots in the Northwood, ND and Dawson, ND communities. She is from and currently living in Fargo, ND.

Laurel has two children, both attending college.

Shelby Grabanski

Shelby Grabanski

Underwriter, Marketing Representative

Shelby Grabanski joined Progressive Ag in 2013 as a marketing representative. In 2015, she jumped into the crop insurance area by becoming an underwriter. Having spent the last three years working for Progressive Ag, Shelby has become very familiar with the marketing and insurance sides of the company through representing them at trade shows and underwriting. Shelby is a licensed crop insurance agent. In addition to working at Progressive Ag, Shelby attends NDSU where she is studying Agricultural Economics. By attending a week-long, intensive program in Washington, D.C., Shelby has built on the agricultural experiences she has gained through her family and her involvement in FFA in high school.