EmBe Tribute To Women Logo

49th Annual Tribute to Women Nominees

As the longest-standing award ceremony honoring women in our region, Tribute to Women has shined a light on those doing right by EmBe’s mission since 1973. Their peers have recognized the following individuals and organizations as outstanding community members in nine different categories. We are excited to celebrate the difference they are making in the Sioux Empire.

Joan Bartling Portrait

Joan Bartling, Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce

Joan Bartling serves as the Vice President of Finance & Accounting for the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce. She began her career with the Chamber 42 years ago, graduating from Augustana College/University with majors in accounting and business administration. Joan is a graduate of the Institute for Organizational Management. She has served as treasurer of her church and the YWCA. Joan’s family includes her husband, Mike; daughter, Nicole and her husband, McCord; son, Jared and his wife, Haley; and granddaughter, Sloane. She enjoys watching basketball, fishing, and anything to do with her family.

Patti Brands, The Bancorp

Patti Brands was born and raised in southeast South Dakota. She had spent most of her life living in Sioux Falls, except when she took a short assignment with The Bancorp and lived in Gibraltar, a British overseas territory, for three years while setting up their European issuing company. She has two children; Soren, a sophomore at South Dakota State University, and Hayley, a first-year medical student at the New York Institute of Technology. Patti has an immense passion for my role as the Managing Director and Head of Client Services at The Bancorp. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with family, friends, and her pets. Patti also loves to volunteer, travel, cook, read, and most recently, has started quilting.

Heather Hofer Portrait

Heather Hofer, Woltman Group

Heather Hofer, a Certified Public Accountant, and partner at Woltman Group, PLLC, manages the Marion branch, specializing in farm and business taxation. Heather and her husband, Shawn, have three teen sons, Noah, Zachary, and Isaac. The family farms outside of Marion, SD. Originally from Onida, Heather graduated from Sully Buttes High School and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration & Master of Professional Accountancy from the University of South Dakota. She is active in the SD CPA Society and enjoys serving in church, the Turner County Food Pantry in Parker, and the Banquet in Sioux Falls. Heather, an avid reader and fitness enthusiast, loves to be outside with her boys.

Kristina Schaefer Portrait

Kristina Schaefer, First Bank & Trust

Kristina Schaefer serves as General Counsel & Chief Risk Officer for First Bank & Trust. In her role, Kristina serves as the primary legal resource for the organization and oversees the risk management functions. Kristina is a member of several professional organizations and currently serves as Chair of the South Dakota Bankers Association, Chair of the American Bankers Association DEI Advisory Group, and is a member of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Community Bank Advisory Council. Kristina regularly coaches Girls on the Run, serves on the Helpline Center Board of Directors, and mentors children as part of the Lutheran Social Services School-Based Mentoring Program.

Heather Schelling Portrait

Heather Schelling, Northwestern Mutual

Heather Schelling, Chief Supervision Officer and a member of her agency’s Executive Leadership Team, recently celebrated her 15th anniversary with Northwestern Mutual. In a male-dominated industry, Heather prides herself on building meaningful relationships that directly influence her office’s integrity and fantastic culture of compliance. Heather graduated from Kansas State University in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in Personal Financial Planning and received her CLU© (Chartered Life Underwriter) designation in 2013 through the American College. Heather is married to Ross and has two teenage daughters, Riley and Aubrey. She enjoys traveling, bicycling, sand volleyball, and fulfilling the role as a self-proclaimed “Dance Mom,” in addition to volunteering in various non-profits to make meaningful changes within her community.

Lindsey Swenson Portrait

Lindsey Swenson, Northwestern Mutual

Lindsey Swenson married her high school sweetheart Casey and has a 7-year-old daughter named Rozlie and a 3-year-old son named Landon. She is a Wealth Management Advisor with Northwestern Mutual and has a team of 3 that help her service the clients they support. She and her team have been voted Local Best Financial Advisor for the last eight years and love helping clients navigate their financial planning. Lindsey loves spending time with her kids, riding a motorcycle with her husband, and attending hot yoga classes in her spare time. A fun fact is that she and her husband were on HGTV House Hunters when they moved into their home in Brandon in 2017.

Jessica Arend Portrait

Jessica Arend, Ronald McDonald House of South Dakota

Jessica Arend and her husband, Robbie, live with their three sons in Sioux Falls. For the past nine years, Jessica has served as Development Director for Ronald McDonald House of SD. Being part of a team that provides a safe, healthy, and clean living space for families with a child in the hospital drives Jessica’s passion for what she does. Jessica is also a breast cancer survivor after being diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer in 2019. After chemotherapy, surgery & radiation, Jessica began cancer-free life on March 31, 2020! After walking down this challenging path with family and friends by her side, it renewed her will to work daily at offering pediatric health and wellness, which RMHC provides.

Katie Ashmore Portrait

Katie Ashmore, Schemmer Associates

Katie Ashmore is a Rapid City native who never turned back after attending college at USD. She sits on the Board of Directors for the YMCA, Feisty Fighters, and she is currently one of the Next Gen Co-Chairs for the Children’s Inn Campaign. Her passion is helping people of all ages, but most especially children. Katie is an avid golfer and a dog mom, and she loves the city we live in!

Katie Bartling Portrait

Katie Bartling, Sammons Financial Group

Katie Bartling is the Vice President of Marketing and Digital Experience for Sammons Financial Group. In this role, Katie oversees all aspects of marketing and digital strategy and execution. She and her team constantly strive to find innovative and effective marketing strategies that drive action. She has held numerous leadership roles over the last 15 years at Sammons, including marketing communications and internal sales. Katie loves contributing to causes in her hometown. She serves on the board of Sioux Falls CASA and volunteers regularly with Holy Innocents Ministry at St. Vincent de Paul. She and her husband Tyler have an eight-year-old daughter, Eva, and a golden doodle, Bexley.

Kyriel Clark Portrait

Kyriel Clark, Hurdle Life Coach Foundation and Inner Child Circle

Kyriel Clark’s journey began at the University of South Dakota. She launched into the for-profit corporate world in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City. After a divorce, therapy, and soul searching, she gained a new passion for making the world better for her children. Her recent focus led her to vulnerable members of our community; individuals at Lifescape and kids at Children’s Home Society. Then the tragedy of the George Floyd incident peeled away her blindness to racial issues. When she heard George call out for his mom, it ignited her desire to answer that call for all the world’s children, regardless of age. She is now firmly planted in the non-profit sector.

Nicole Freesemann Portrait

Nicole Freesemann, Raven Industries

Nicole Freesemann is Vice President of Human Resources for Raven Industries, a leading technology company dedicated to helping farmers help the world. She was appointed Vice President of Human Resources in 2019. Since joining the company in 2008, Nicole served in several human resources roles, including manager and director, before being promoted to Vice President. In her time at Raven, she has created human resources partnerships with the company’s operating divisions, implemented a new approach to performance reviews, and spearheaded the development of THRIVE — Raven’s innovative approach to business leadership development. Nicole was also instrumental throughout the company’s acquisition by and integration with CNH Industrial, a world-class equipment and services company specializing in Agriculture and Construction.

Tiffany Hansen Portrait

Tiffany Hansen, 3 Degrees Sauna Studio

Born and raised in South Dakota, Tiffany Hansen graduated from Brandon Valley High School in 2005 and then went away to Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, to study and get her degree in Business. She then returned to start taking over her family companies and creating her own company. Tiffany now lives in Brandon with her wonderful, loving husband, who owns and runs his own companies in Brandon and Sioux Falls. As if running their own business doesn’t keep them busy enough, they have two darling daughters, Reina and Blair.

Sara Henderson Portrait

Sara Henderson, Avera Health

Sara Henderson is a supply chain executive with 17 years of experience in finance, supply chain, and healthcare leadership. She currently serves as the Vice President of Supply Chain for Avera Health System, based in Sioux Falls, SD. She oversees Avera’s supply chain category management, supply chain contracting, purchasing, data analytics, distribution center, courier, inventory management, and hospital supply chain operations. Sara lives in Canton with her husband, Kirk, two children, Caleb and Kaylee, and beagle Milo. When she is not at work, her favorite activity is watching her children participate in school sports and activities.

Kristin Hoefert Redlinger Portrait

Kristin Hoefert-Redlinger, Northwestern Mutual

Kristin Hoefert-Redlinger is an award-winning executive and community service advocate. She is currently the Chief Talent Officer & Executive Director of Community Relations & Strategic Philanthropy for Northwestern Mutual, a leading Financial Planning Company. Kristin is responsible for full-time and internship recruiting and developing leaders, recruiters, and Lead members in the talent space. Her team is also charged with strategic philanthropy and marketing the Northwestern Brand. Since joining Northwestern Mutual in 2016, she has helped lead the firm to record-setting years in recruiting, revenue, and retention. Through her role at Northwestern Mutual, Kristin strives to help others discover the opportunity of a lifetime, pursue their goals, and achieve their full potential. Kristin is passionate about making an impact in her community as well. She serves on various boards, including The Young Professionals Network, the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce’s Ambassadors, the Augustana University Business Advisory Board, and SME’s Women in Business.

Adeline Reiman Portrait

Adeline Reiman, Gallagher

Adeline Reiman is a seasoned employee benefits expert. Addie’s passion is to provide comprehensive business planning services and top-notch employee benefits to the small, mid, and large markets. She can do this with her strong focus on relationships. Integrity and dedication are the foundation on which Addie builds her excellent client relationships! Her ability to consistently deliver creative solutions to her team and clients separates her as a leader and an EB consultant. Addie lives on an acreage called The Highroad. She enjoys watching her kid’s sports, horseback riding, hunting, and all their animals. Her favorite night of the week is “whatever Wednesdays,” where she cooks whatever each kid wants.

Nancy Savage Portrait

Nancy Savage, Child’s Play Toys

Nancy Savage grew up in Sioux Falls but moved away in 1997 to pursue other goals. Over the next 12 years, her career in retail took her to Houston, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, and Seattle. Nancy got the idea to head home and replicate a toy store like one she visited in the Seattle area while she was there. In 2009 she turned her dream into a reality when she opened Child’s Play Toys in downtown Sioux Falls. The famous toy store has become a downtown anchor and a tourist attraction for visitors from all around the region. In April of 2022, Nancy opened her third location. Nancy serves on the Board of Directors for the South Dakota Retailers Association and the Board of Directors at the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce. She previously served on the Board of Directors with Downtown Sioux Falls and was on the City of Sioux Falls Public Parking Advisory Board.

Becky Word Portrait

Becky Word, Lloyd Companies

As Chief of Staff, Becky Word leads Lloyd Companies, Inc.’s Central Services operations. With over 22 years of experience in marketing and human resources, Becky oversees HR, Marketing, Administration, Safety, Events, Training, and Staff Development. The overall Lloyd Experience, for both internal and external customers, is a strong passion of hers and one she continuously looks to cultivate to ensure all touchpoints with Lloyd Companies support the company vision: Improving Quality of Life. Becky is a graduate of Dakota State University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Marketing and is also a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).

Abby Bischoff Portrait

Abby Bischoff, Stockyard Ag Experience

Abby Bischoff is the Executive Director for the Stockyards Ag Experience, a nonprofit that seeks to connect people to agriculture through interactive exhibits and dynamic displays. Originally from Huron, South Dakota, Abby spent her summers swimming in dugouts, taming Hereford cows, and participating in 4-H. Abby is a proud journalism graduate from South Dakota State University and loves indie music and heartfelt television comedies. Her not-so-secret vices are strong coffee, baby goat videos, and bold lipstick. She is the world’s greatest aunt (self-proclaimed) and lives in Sioux Falls with her fiancé, Chuck Beck, and their cats, Nancy Purrlosi and Nora O’Pawnell.

Sierra Broussard Portrait

Sierra Broussard, Pettigrew Heights Neighborhood Association / Cracker Barrel

Sierra Broussard is from Louisiana. For eight years, she lived in Wisconsin and was a community activist and civil rights advocate. Sierra moved to South Dakota in 2014 and was elected to Pettigrew Heights Neighborhood Association as President in 2019. Pettigrew Heights Neighborhood Association has 3900 citizens and 854 properties. Shortly after taking the President position, she cleaned up the neighborhood for code health and fire and suppressed the crime on 11th and Summit Ave. In one year, her police calls for service went down by 1481. Being the President of the Neighborhood Association, she is also a community activist.

Irina Goubanova Portrait

Irina Goubanova, Translators of Cultures / Minority Youth Advocacy

Irina Goubanova is an immigrant from Eastern Europe. She has lived in Sioux Falls, SD, since 1991. Irina’s first job was pumping gas in Eagan, SD. In the fall of 1991, with the first influx of immigrants, she was employed by the Sioux Falls School District teaching ELL classes at WMS. Her encounters with refugee families gave her more profound empathy and understanding of the difficulties of transitioning young people and families to a new life in America. Irina’s own experience and witnessing the struggles of the New Americans became an impetus to start a non-profit organization, Translators of Cultures. It helps the New Americans become leaders in the Sioux Falls schools and our community.

Stephanie Marty Portrait

Stephanie Marty, Peace Lutheran Sioux Falls / The Transformation Project

Stephanie Marty became the director of the Transformation Project after she retired. She had transitioned later in life. Everything changed when she was asked to return a message from a young person. They had been kicked out of their home while trying to come out – without shelter, food, or clothing. She learned that the Transformation Project had no resources for kids in that situation and vowed it wouldn’t happen again. Stephanie solicited clothes from church, friends, and various social media platforms. She soon filled a bedroom and then a garage with clothes from size 4T to 5X, over 100 ft of closet rod space. She was getting donations from all over eastern South Dakota and requests from just as great an area.

Jadyn Kay Ramazani Portrait

Jadyn Kay Ramazani, Jadyn Kay’s Spritz Cookies

Jadyn Kay Ramazani is 15 years old and attends Brandon Valley High School. Ever since she was little, she wanted to make a difference. When Jadyn Kay was about six years old, she began her journey of serving those who have served us. Baking with her mom was one of her favorite things, so she thought it would be a good idea to bake spritz cookies and go around Brandon giving the cookies to police officers, firefighters, pharmacists, doctors, and several others who deserve so much appreciation. It was such a memorable, incredible experience that she knew she couldn’t stop there. The way I felt by seeing how happy I made others was the best feeling. Year after year, Jadyn Kay wants to make more of an impact on individuals’ lives.

Jen Rothenbuehler Portrait

Jennifer Rothenbuehler, Presentation Sisters

Jennifer Rothenbuehler has worked for the Presentation Sisters since 2014 as the Gift and Stewardship Officer for the Mission Development team. She serves as a mentor for EmBe’s Dress for Success program, volunteers as a Sunday School teacher and youth ministry board at Brandon Lutheran, and she’s on the World Refugee Day committee. Jennifer currently serves on the St. Francis House marketing board and just finished serving on the board for eight years. She has served in leadership roles for BPW and DOVIA, and the American Heart Association as chair for Go Red for Women. Jennifer and her husband, Eric, have two children, Micah and Ryker, and English Bulldog Bailey. They live in Valley Springs and enjoy camping and being outdoors!

Angela Schoffelman Portrait

Angela Schoffelman, Avera

Angela Schoeffelman has a heart for the Mission of Avera, where she has worked for 6+, currently in Clinic Quality and helping with Diversity, Equity & Inclusion projects. She loves to volunteer and serve populations that have historically struggled to be seen or heard. Angela facilitates a Toastmasters speaking club with inmates at the maximum-security area of the prison and is a fierce advocate for the Justice Involved community. She has loved serving in various capacities for Dress for Success Sioux Falls and is a member of the EmBe Programs Committee. Angela is a volunteer and rescue dog advocate with B-Squad Dog Rescue. She lives with her wonderful husband Chad and spoiled pitbull, Tweety.

Serene Thin Elk Portrait

Serene Thin Elk, South Dakota Urban Indian Health

Serene Thin Elk MA, LPC-MH, LAC, QMHP is the Chief Behavioral Health Officer at SD Urban Indian Health and is an enrolled member of the Ihanktonwan Oyate (Yankton Sioux Tribe). As a therapist, tribal member, and mother, she is passionate about addressing patterns of inter-generational trauma and finding ways to help individuals, families, and communities heal from the effects of historical traumas. She firmly believes that healing begins within each individual, extending to family, community, and society. Her passion resides in continuing to help others heal mental health and addiction through the L/D/Nakota life-ways.

Stacy Wrightsman Portrait

Stacy Wrightsman, Sanford Health

Stacy Wrightsman gives of her heart and time as Senior Director of Community Relations at Sanford Health. In her role, she helps shape the strategy and overall goals of Sanford’s community connection while being ever mindful of the needs of the communities Sanford serves. She ignites her passion by investing time listening to stakeholders’ needs, questions, curiosities, and concerns about their health care in their town or community. Stacy has the great opportunity to interface with her community through service to community non-profits like: Brandon Community Foundation, Levitt Shell of Sioux Falls, and the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber. Stacy resides in Brandon with her family.

Tana Zwart Portrait

Tana Zwart, TZ Media Management

Tana Zwart is a self-employed Media Manager with a heart for non-profits, the arts, and the community. She is the Chair of the Disability Awareness and Accessibility Review Board for the City of Sioux Falls, active on various committees, and the former National Ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association 2019-2020. Tana has a significant volunteer and fundraising history in the rare disease community and the arts. As a woman with a disability and an advocate, she is passionate about authentic representation and inclusion for those with disabilities in our local community, spreading awareness about disability issues, and erasing stigmas.

David Basel Portrait

David Basel, Avera Health

Dr. Basel grew up on a small family farm. He received a BS in Electrical Engineering from Kansas State University and worked as a project engineer for a petroleum company before attending the University of Kansas Medical School. He trained in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Michigan and then spent ten years as faculty and administrator for Cedar Rapids Medical Education Foundation. Currently, he is Vice President of Avera Medical Group Clinical Quality. He serves on Avera’s system-wide steering committee for COVID-19 and helped guide Avera’s pandemic response. He enjoys cooking and cycling with his wife and three daughters in his free time.

Matt Gassen Portrait

Matt Gassen, Feeding South Dakota

Matt served 23 years in the USAF, specializing in aircraft maintenance and a First Sergeant. For the next 22 years, he served as CEO of Feeding South Dakota, facilitating a merger of the state’s two food banks, then adding a third location to create the largest statewide hunger-relief organization. In 2013, Matt directed a statewide capital campaign raising over $10 million for needed building improvements and replacements in Pierre, Rapid City, and Sioux Falls to increase efficiencies, food safety, and food distribution. At his career end, he led a team of 45 staff, distributing over 16.5 million pounds of food a year to feed tens of thousands of struggling South Dakotans.

Andy Howes Portrait

Andy Howes, Howes Oil Company

Andy Howes was born in Sioux Falls and began his career working for Senators Bob Kerrey and Tim Johnson before joining his family business Howes Oil in 2000. He was elected to the Sioux Falls City Council at age 27. He’s been the owner of Howes Oil since 2006. In 2013, he founded Local, a c-store brand comprised of nearly 40 independently owned sites in 5 states. I also own FUEL (a music promotion co.) and Different Folk (a record label.) I have helped recruit and support a dozen candidates for local office over the last five years and was a close advisor to Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin during her time in office. My wife Jessa and I have two sons, Will and Charlie, and a 15-year-old dog named Thompson.

Melanie Keegan Portrait

Melanie Keegan, Thrivent

Melanie is a Sioux Falls, SD, native and attended Roosevelt High School and Augustana University, where she played volleyball and basketball. Melanie started at Thrivent in 2014 as an Engagement Leader and was promoted in 2020 to an Assistant Manager of Engagement. Over the last eight years, she has served on several non-profit boards, including Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sioux Falls and South Dakota Plains Thrivent Member Network. Melanie is an active volunteer for several organizations and churches within our community. In 2019, Melanie received the “Leading with Excellence” Award for the West Division Engagement Team at Thrivent. She lives in Sioux Falls with her husband Matt, daughter Kya and son Beckett.

Mary Kolsrud Portrait

Mary Kolsrud, Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation

Mary serves as the Vice President of Philanthropy at the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation. In her role, Mary helps individuals, families, and advisors develop strategic giving plans. Mary joined the Community Foundation in 2017 after serving as executive director for Susan G. Komen Great Plains. A graduate of Augustana University, Mary also holds an MBA from the University of South Dakota and has achieved the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy designation from The American College of Financial Services. When she’s not at work, you can find Mary trying to squeeze her gear into a backpack for her next hiking adventure with her husband, Chris, and their daughter, Hadley.

Becky Rasmussen Portrait

Becky Rasmussen, Call to Freedom

Becky Rasmussen is a South Dakota native, a graduate of Washington High School, a mother, and a soon-to-be wife. In 2015, she helped establish Call to Freedom, an anti-human trafficking organization based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Through the help of her staff, volunteers, and an endless network of community and political support, the organization offers services that help ensure the safety and well-being of children, youth, and adults victimized by human trafficking. Becky has a BS in Mass Communication from USD. She draws on over ten years of experience working with non-profits and ministries and her 12 years in mainstream media, television, and marketing.

Nancy Reynoza Portrait

Nancy Reynoza, ¿Que Pasa? Sioux Falls & Reynoza Real Estate

Nancy is the President/Founder ¿Que Pasa? Sioux Falls and CEO-Realtor®-Team Leader Reynoza Real Estate. She is a Latina businesswoman, originally from Denver, Colorado, and the proud daughter of Mexican immigrants. She has resided in Sioux Falls for over 26 years. Nancy has a great passion for the growth and diversity of her community. She and her husband Braulio have a beautiful family of 7 children. In her free time, she enjoys spending quality time with her family, traveling, reading, learning new things, serving in her church, activism, and promoting community education and awareness.

Raven Industries Logo

Raven Industries

Raven Industries provides innovative, high-value products and systems that solve significant global challenges. For decades, the company has been committed to maximizing operational efficiencies through innovative agriculture technology. Today, its groundbreaking work in autonomous systems unlocks new farming possibilities. From field computers to sprayer and planter controls, GPS guidance steering systems, logistics technology, and independent solutions – Raven provides precision agriculture products designed for ag retailers and growers to remain competitive and profitable into the future.

Sammons Financial Logo

Sammons Financial Group

A subsidiary of Sammons Enterprises, Sammons Financial Group is a collection of some of the most enduring and stable insurance and annuity companies in the financial services industry. They offer more than just a job and a paycheck: real growth opportunities, competitive pay and rewards package, and work-life balance. As a privately held company, its employee-ownership mindset inspires a high-performing culture where each individual helps drive its success forward. Sammons Financial Group’s award-winning culture was recognized by Glassdoor in 2021, 2020, and 2019 as a Best Places to Work.

Shannon Ausen Portrait

Shannon Ausen, City of Sioux Falls

Shannon Ausen is a Minnesota native, born and raised on a farm just across the border by Beaver Creek, Minnesota. She graduated from Hills-Beaver Creek High School and continued her education at South Dakota State University. Shannon was hired by the City of Sioux Falls Engineering Division as an intern and worked four years part-time on the survey team during college. She graduated from SDSU with a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Civil Engineering. After college graduation, Shannon was hired by the city and started full-time in 1992 in the Traffic/Transportation group. She has held various positions in the city but mainly focused on transportation and capital improvement program coordination.

Jennifer Disburg Portrait

Jennifer Disburg, Sioux Falls Police Department

Jen Disburg is an accomplished leader in public safety. With a belief in service over self and a focus on partnership, Jen serves as the Sioux Falls Police Records Manager. Jen began her career as a 911 dispatcher for Metro Communications in 1999. Completing her tenure as Deputy Director in 2014, Jen is proud to be the first person in South Dakota to achieve both certifications of Emergency Number Professional (ENP) and Registered Public-Safety Leader (RPL). As a 2014 graduate of EmBe WLP, Jen honors empowering others and giving back to her community. While Jen is proud of her experiences and professional achievements, it is her supportive family that she holds with the highest regard.

Sue Lucas Peterson Portrait

Sue Lucas-Peterson, State of South Dakota

Sue Lucas-Peterson was born and raised in Miles City, MT. She graduated from Concordia College in Morehead, MN, received her MBA from the University of South Dakota, and served as Vice President of Business Banking for a regional bank before “retiring early” to raise her three sons. In 2016, Sue was elected to the South Dakota House of Representatives. She led the effort to secure parental choice in education and sponsored the most significant higher ed reform legislation in 40 years. Her colleagues describe her as a strong, independent, and fearless leader who isn’t afraid to tackle challenging issues. Sue, her husband Bill, and three grown sons, Lucas, Robert, and William, live in Sioux Falls.

Cynthia Mickelson Portrait

Cynthia Mickelson, Sioux Falls School District School Board

Cynthia graduated from the USD with her Juris Doctorate. She clerked for the SD Supreme Court and practiced law. She has been grant writing for 20+ years with over $15 million in grant awards for clients. Since 2017 Cynthia has served on the Sioux Falls School Board (President for the past three years). During her tenure, SFSD has completed a $190 million bond campaign, built a new high school and middle school, implemented new boundaries, and navigated the pandemic. Cynthia enjoys many other volunteer opportunities (co-chair of the VOA Homeplace campaign and Promising Futures Fund) in the community. Her greatest accomplishment has been raising three young men with her husband, Mark.

Lora Black Portrait

Lora Black, Sanford Research

Lora Black is Executive Director of Clinical Research at Sanford Research. Lora has oversight of enterprise-wide clinical research strategy and operations across the Sanford footprint in this role. She has been a nurse for nearly 20 years, starting at the bedside in medical oncology. For the last 16 years, she has been part of the clinical research team focused on bringing clinical trials to our local communities. Lora is Co-Director for the Clinical Research Resources and Facilities Core for the DaCCoTA Clinical Translational Research grant and serves on multiple national committees. She obtained a master’s degree in Public Health at Creighton University.

Joni Ekstrum Portrait

Joni Ekstrum, South Dakota Biotech

Joni Ekstrum serves as executive director of South Dakota Biotech, overseeing its advocacy, communication, education, and membership services while representing more than 65 companies in industries spanning agriculture, medical services, and renewable fuels. Since assuming this role in 2012, Joni has grown its membership and increased gross profit while maintaining and expanding membership benefits. Her collaborative approach has provided connections for networking and led to a career, new business, and partnering opportunities for both members and individuals. Joni has a B.S. in Psychology from SDSU and enjoys running, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

Christa Friedrich Portrait

Christa Friedrich, Avera

Christa Friedrich is the Clinical Research Manager at Avera Research Institute. She holds an MS in Education & Human Sciences from SDSU. Over the past 12 years, she has been involved with various aspects of research operations for large-scale community-based longitudinal studies in maternal and child health. Her role consists in managing the clinic’s day-to-day operations and coordinating the launch of new protocols & processes. The research world is constantly changing & that environment has been a catalyst for innovation and flexibility throughout her career. She is an achiever, agile thinker, and seeker of ways to improve herself and those around her. She loves cooking, hockey, and being an aunt!

Christina Lankhorst Portrait

Christina Lankhorst, Sanford Health

Christina Lankhorst is a mother of three and a practicing nephrologist at Sanford hospital. She grew up in Sioux Falls with parents who were both physicians. She is the oldest of three kids. Her brother and sister are also physicians. She went to the University of Notre Dame for undergraduate education, and that is where she met her husband of 20 years. After completing medical training, they moved back to Sioux Falls, and she has been practicing here for almost 12 years. She spends much of her time transporting kids to their activities but tries to find time to volunteer with the National Kidney Foundation.

Ashley Luethold Portrait

Ashley Leuthold, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center

Ashely Leuthold was born and raised in the small town of Ponca in northeast Nebraska. She graduated from Ponca High School in 2005 and attended South Dakota State University and received a B.S. in Nursing in 2010. Ashley worked as a CNA through college and began her career as a Registered Nurse with Avera right after graduation. She received my PCCN certification in 2013 and has worked in Avera’s Cardiopulmonary unit her entire career. Ashley lives in the small town of Lester in northwest Iowa with my husband, Michael, of 10 years, and their three children, Elizabeth, Alexis, and Grant.

Emily Van Klompenburg Portrait

Emily Van Klompenburg, South Dakota State University / Allied Health Professions

Dr. Emily Van Klompenburg is an Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice at South Dakota State University with a practice site at the Avera Medical Group-Brookings. She earned her Doctor of Pharmacy from SDSU, completed a PGY-1 and PGY-2 residency, and is a Board-Certified Ambulatory Care Pharmacist. Emily’s primary teaching responsibilities for the College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions are Pharmacy Law and precepting students on clinical rotations. Emily also serves as a Captain in the South Dakota Army National Guard and recently returned from a deployment to Djibouti, Africa. Emily enjoys spending time with her husband and dogs on their acreage and baking in her spare time.

Emily Wegner Portrait

Emily Wegner, Raven Industries

Emily Wegner lives in Sioux Falls with her husband, Mark, and two cats, Winston and Lewis. The Plant Manager of Applied Technology at Raven Industries in Sioux Falls, Emily received her Bachelor of Science from the School of Mines in Industrial Engineering in 2010. This past May, she received her Master of Science from the School of Mines in Engineering Management. Emily loves operations management, improving processes through lean manufacturing, and driving a culture of continuous improvement. She also has a passion for empowering girls and women with the confidence that they are problem solvers and will shape our future in STEM.

Wendy White Portrait

Wendy White, Face It TOGETHER

Wendy White has been with Face It TOGETHER since 2018. Before Face It TOGETHER, Wendy worked in healthcare in various clinical information technology roles leading technology innovation and best practices through numerous clinical applications. She also has experience in medical labs. Wendy has a bachelor’s degree in biology and clinical lab science (ASCP) and a master’s in business administration. She stays busy with her husband, four kids, and four dogs. She enjoys camping and boating with her family for as long as the weather allows. She enjoys reading a good book or having a moving or game night with the family in the winter. She loves to travel, but it means a lot of long car rides with four kids.

Gesine Ziebarth Portrait

Gesine Ziebarth, Lost&Found

Gesine Ziebarth is excited to work with an inspiring team at Lost&Found, a non-profit whose mission is to facilitate comprehensive, data-driven, resilience-focused, public mental health strategies for suicide prevention, serving young adults in South Dakota and beyond. In her role, she strives to bridge the gap between research and implementation through research and evaluation efforts for the organization and external partners. Gesine earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Human Factors Psychology from the University of South Dakota and has several years of experience working as an evaluator. Gesine grew up in Munich, Germany, and lives with her family in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Dawn Marie Johnson

Dawn Marie Johnson, Sioux Falls School District / Joe Foss at Axtell Park

Dawn Marie Johnson (Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate) from Waubay, South Dakota, is currently employed as the CTE and Community Outreach Coordinator for the Sioux Falls School District. She serves on the Indian Education Parent Committee, was appointed to the Human Relations Commission, and graduated from the Leaders of Tomorrow program through Think3D Solutions. Dawn Marie has devoted her life to helping others discover their strengths. Her outreach strategy includes rallying around those who deserve support and celebrating those who experience success to help build a better tomorrow. She supports schools and after-school organizations through collaboration and partnerships. A graduate of the University of South Dakota, she has been recognized for her work through awards from the National Afterschool Association, Running Strong for American Indian Youth, and the University of South Dakota.

Shantel Krebs Portrait

Shantel Krebs, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center

Shantel Krebs is the Administrator of Avera Academy, which serves low-income & first-generation American HS seniors to overcome barriers to accessing postsecondary ed & healthcare careers. Before Avera, Krebs was South Dakota’s 28th Secretary of State. She served ten years in the South Dakota Legislature as a committee chair and majority whip. She has been honored as a Dakota State University Distinguished Alumnus and has served on numerous boards in the energy, business, and agriculture sectors. In 2012, Shantel was selected as a national delegate for the American Council of Young Political Leaders to China and Taiwan. She was Miss SD 1997 and is now Board Chair of the Miss America Organization.

Wendy Mamer Portrait

Wendy Mamer, Augustana University

Wendy Mamer is a passionate advocate and a committed change maker. As an admission professional at Augustana University, the on-court emcee for the Sioux Falls Skyforce, a public speaker who shares her story about surviving suicide loss, and a candidate for the South Dakota House of Representatives, Wendy is intentional about making people the priority. Wendy also serves as the Vice-Chairperson for Sad Isn’t Bad, a local non-profit that provides free grief counseling to children and their caregivers. She cares deeply about the diverse Sioux Falls community and strives to leave every space better than she found it. Most importantly, Wendy is the proud wife to Kyle and dog mom to Milli and Milo.

Molly O'Connor Portrait

Molly O’Connor, Lemonly

Molly O’Connor is fiercely passionate about making her community more accessible, equitable, and inclusive through education and design. As a Senior Designer at Lemonly and board member of AIGA South Dakota and Rare by Design, she takes pride in leading projects that increase diversity, visibility, and accessibility. She earned her B.F.A. in Graphic Design, and B.A. in English from The University of South Dakota is a graduate of Leadership Sioux Falls, and was recently accepted into the Billie Sutton Leadership Institute. Molly currently calls Sioux Falls, SD home, where she lives with her husband Zach and 3-year-old daughter Lucy.

Sandy Case Portrait

Sandy Case, Case by Case Coaching

Sandy Case is an Iowa native and received a B.A. in Speech Communications at USD and M.A. in Counseling from U of Iowa. She moved to Sioux Falls and made it her forever home. Sandy worked in the mental health field as a Licensed Therapist, Clinical Director for Outpatient Eating Disorder Program, and an Employee Assistance Consultant providing consulting, coaching, and counseling to Postal managers and employees across South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana serving 6,000 employees in 1000 Post offices and Plants. Sandy served on a National Crisis Response Team and was on the YWCA and Ronald McDonald House Boards. She is a 30-year diplomat for the Sioux Falls Chamber Diplomat Committee and loves traveling and spending time with family and friends.

Dr. Nancy Free Portrait

Dr. Nancy Free, Child’s Voice / Sanford Health

Nancy Free, D.O., is the Medical Director of Child’s Voice, Sanford USD Medical Center, Sioux Falls, and Avera St. Mary’s Central South Dakota Child Assessment Center in Pierre. Dr. Free is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine. She earned her B.A. from Loyola University of the South and her D.O. degree at the University of North Texas Health Science Center. Dr. Free spends her time providing patient care, teaching, and promoting efforts to prevent child maltreatment. She lives in Sioux Falls and enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, gardening, and cooking.

Carly Hegstad Portrait

Carly Hegstad, Lawrence & Schiller

Smart meets social. As Director of Digital Marketing at Lawrence & Schiller, Carly Hegstad specializes in developing custom digital marketing strategies for websites, CRM programs, social media, and other emerging technologies. Carly loves the fast-paced digital world and is skilled at helping clients understand and quantify the value of their brands through marketing analytics. A native of CO, she earned her BA in Public Relations and Business Administration from Northwestern College in Orange City, IA, before joining the L&S team in 2014. While free time is hard to find, she keeps busy as a wife and mother to one-year-old twin daughters and volunteering at their church.

Shannon Huether Portrait

Shannon Huether, Central Payments

Shannon Huether was born and raised in southeastern North Carolina. She attended college at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the College of Agriculture. Upon moving to Sioux Falls in 2013, Shannon was introduced to the payments space and began her career in the role of marketing compliance. She was allowed the opportunity to join Central Payments in 2015, and over the past almost seven years, she has built their implementation and project management team from the ground up.

Morgan Larson Portrait

Morgan Larson, South Dakota Manufacturing & Technology Solutions

Morgan Larson helps manufacturers prosper and grow as a Business Advisor at South Dakota Manufacturing & Technology Solutions. In her role, she works with clients on marketing needs and helps SD students learn about exciting new career paths in manufacturing. Morgan is on the REACH Literacy board, was an EmBe Women’s Leadership Program participant, and previously served on the board of directors for the SD Advertising Federation. She has volunteered with organizations like Dress for Success, SDSU True Blues, and SDAF Student Day. Morgan grew up in rural Lake Preston, SD, and is a proud SDSU graduate. She and her husband, Eric, live in Sioux Falls and are proud parents of a one-year-old son, Porter.

Sydney Meza Fischer Portrait

Sydney Meza-Fischer, The Empowerment Center

Sydney Meza-Fischer is 27 years old, a Women’s Empowerment Coach, and Founder of The Empowerment Center – a women’s only self-defense program. Her mission is to Empower Women to become the strongest version of themselves by teaching highly effective self-defense and how to develop a survivor’s mindset. She believes in defending yourself, and you must first believe you are worth defending. Sydney created this program to teach women how to protect themselves and focus on building their self-worth and self-esteem. It would teach them how to set boundaries, physically and verbally, with strangers and people known to them. She helps women live their lives fearlessly!

Janean Michalov Portrait

Janean Michalov, Furniture Mission of South Dakota

Janean Michalov believes that “Grace should always be your first response.” In her nine years at the Furniture Mission of SD, she has held on to God’s vision for the organization and continues to push it to another level. Janean started her family in Sioux Falls in 2006 after migrating across the state from Rapid City. As the Executive Director of the Furniture Mission of SD, Advisor for the Furniture Mission of Red River Valley in Fargo, ND, Vice President of the PTA, and a volunteer Doula with DONA International, she plays an active role in her church and the Sioux Falls community.

Madeline Miller Portrait

Madeline Miller, The Link

Madeline Miller is the Nurse Manager of The Link Community Triage Center. The Link provides 24/7 care and support for individuals struggling with mental health crises and addiction. After completing her BSN at South Dakota State University in 2013, she began her healthcare career at Avera McKennan Behavioral Health Center. As a registered nurse certified in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, she loves serving people by helping them navigate through life’s most challenging moments toward a future of hope and recovery. She lives in Harrisburg, SD, with her husband, Jacob, and their two cats. She loves to cook and take trips with her family when she has free time.

Rachel Polan Portrait

Rachel Polan, Sioux Falls Pride

Rachel Polan is a nonbinary professional working with Sioux Falls Pride as a Board Member and Marketing Director, both volunteer positions she has held since 2019. The exponential growth Rachel has overseen in our online community has been rewarding and challenging. As our organization’s presence has grown, we’ve continued to encounter opposition from our state government and sometimes from local organizations. Sioux Falls Pride is why Rachel chose to stay in the area after college graduation and continues to provide an outlet for Rachel’s passion for sexuality and gender inclusivity.

Sara Romeo Portrait

Sara Romeo, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center

Sara Romeo was born in Austin, MN, and grew up near Blooming Prairie on an acreage. She moved to Sioux Falls about 7.5 years ago and has enjoyed every moment. Sara thinks Sioux Falls is a beautiful city! Since she moved here, Sara has been working at Avera McKennan as a Registered Nurse in the Cardiac-Pulmonary unit. Avera has provided her with many opportunities to become involved and continue her desire to grow and give back to her community. Working as a COVID nurse has impacted her personal and work life. Sara has been tried and tested but has continued to stay positive. She learned that we are stronger in numbers and our actions dramatically affect others.