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 earning his BS and MS in Agricultural Economics, Ray worked to triple the family farm's acreage during the difficult 80's, while he graduated magna cum laude from North Dakota State University. 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. Ray firmly believes after a thorough study of economic theory and applying it to a lifetime of business excellence, that as the Bible teaches, "There is a time for every season...", which includes a time to buy and a time to sell!

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Shelby Grabanski Bothun, Attorney at Law

Shelby Grabanski Bothun, Attorney at Law

Executive Trainee, Crop Insurance Agent

Shelby Bothun is currently an Executive Trainee with Progressive Ag Systems. Shelby joined Progressive Ag for the first time in 2013 as a marketing representative. Shelby was licensed as a crop insurance agent in 2015 and did crop insurance underwriting for Progressive Ag Systems from 2015 through 2019 while obtaining her Agricultural Economics degree from North Dakota State University. Shelby started selling crop insurance in 2017, focusing on the farm succession side of risk management. This led Shelby to attend law school to study estate planning at Drake University Law School in Des Moines Iowa, graduating 3rd in her law school class in May 2022. She also received a special certificate in business law.

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Joan Braaten

Joan Braaten, MS Agricultural Economics

Manager of Insurance, Crop Insurance Agent

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 is a stockholder in Progressive Ag Systems. Joan is married with two children, and one in college and one working as an attorney in estate planning. She enjoys traveling and playing golf with her family.

Laurel Gess

Laurel Gess

Senior Underwriter

Laurel Gess is the Senior underwriter for Progressive Ag Systems. Her career includes 12 years in accounting and 17 years in brokerage and underwriting as well as 6 years at Progressive Ag and 5 years at ArmTech as a crop insurance underwriter. 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 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.

Haley Norton

Haley Norton, BS in Math and Economics


Haley Norton joined Progressive Ag Systems in 2019 as an underwriting intern while she finished her college degree at the University of North Dakota. She earn her Bachelor's degree in Mathematics and Economics in December 2019. Haley was hired full-time as an underwriter at Progressive Ag in January 2020. Haley enjoys working with numbers as expected from a Math College major and also working in agriculture.