Alumni Newsletter – March 2018

Alumni Newsletter – March 2018

Alumni Newsletter – March 2018

Posted by on March 1, 2018 in

A Message From The Leadership South Dakota Directors

The fourth class of Leadership South Dakota will graduate on Friday, April 6th in Chamberlain. Following this celebration, we will have 160 alumni across the state of South Dakota. We are confident that as we add 40 members to our alumni base each year, our collective influence will increase as well.

We are involved in recruiting leaders for our 5th program year. You can help us by referring leaders you know who would benefit from the Leadership SD program. Please take a moment and refer someone to us. The strength of our program will always be directly related to the talent in each of our classes.

We are in the process of considering our next annual alumni event. In the past we have held the event
in Chamberlain and have enjoyed a good attendance. As we interact with other statewide leadership programs, we are learning that many hold alumni events in their state’s largest cities and take advantage of the event to present awards to alums and invite local leaders to participate and learn more about their programs. We are considering this for our next alumni event. It would likely be held in Sioux Falls this fall and rotate the event between Sioux Falls and Rapid City each year.

We will keep you informed about our discussions and would benefit from your input if you have strong opinions on this matter. An alumni survey around the idea of an alumni event will be shared in the weeks to come. Thank you in advance for your interest and participation in our alumni activities!

Melmers & Osters
Leadership SD Directors


Leadership SD Class of 2018: Overview Of Recent Sessions

Leadership South Dakota started the new year in Mitchell on January 17-19, where they learned about the education and arts industries and rural South Dakota.

The class toured the Norby Trades Center at Mitchell Technical Institute, Dakota Wesleyan University/Avera Sports and Wellness Complex, the Corn Palace, and the McGovern Legacy Museum. Additionally, they visited Old Elm Springs Colony and Avera St. Benedict Health Center in Parkston, then did a drive by tour of the community of Tripp.

Speakers included Teresa Kriese, DWU Exec. Vice President; Dr. Amy Novak, DWU President; Joe Wipf, Old Elm Springs Colony; Rita Blasius, Avera St. Benedict CEO; Jackie Miskimins, Vantage Point Solutions/Leadership SD Alumni 2017; Bryan Hisel, Exec. Director Mitchell Area Development Company.

The class also heard from an education panel featuring Dr. Joe Graves, Mitchell School District; Dr. Gary Cookson, Mitchell Christian; Jim Bridge, Hanson School District; President Mark Wilson, MTI. And, they had the opportunity to participate in a rural leadership panel and social conversation. The class met next in Sioux Falls on February 21-23 where they learned about the health care and financial services industries.

Class members participated in Group Opportunity Activities at Stockyards Ag Experience, Sioux Falls State Theater, The Compass Center, Bishop Dudley Hospitality House, Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship, and Sioux Falls Thrive. They also toured Sanford House, Rainbow Comics, and KSFY.

Speakers included Dana Dykhouse, President of First Premier Bank; Micah Aberson, Sanford Initiatives; Mike Huether, Mayor of Sioux Falls; and, Steve Hildebrand, Obama Campaign.

Additionally, they heard from an entrepreneurship and business panel featuring Vance Thompson, Vance Thompson Vision & Jessup Cellars Winery; Kevin Nyberg, Ace Hardware/Leadership SD 2015 Alumni; Rebekah Scott, Rebekah Scott Designs; Karla Santi, Blend Interactive; Zach Neugebauer, Year Round Brown; and, Eric Weisser, Weisser Distributing.

The class meets next in Kyle on March 21-23.


Leadership South Dakota Alumni Updates And Celebrations

Nick Kotzea (’17) accepted an executive leadership position at the USD Foundation as Chief Governance Officer & Legal Counsel last December.

Ericka Heiser (’15) was Promoted to Director of Business Valuation Services. She also launched her speaking career (

Tom Hurlbert (’16) announced his candidacy for SF city council. Tom and his wife Kathy also have a new baby boy named Landy. Tom’s website for his campaign is