Board of Directors
In addition to the affiliations set forth below, the board members are active in many community, trade, charitable, educational and religious organizations.
Rachael Sherard, Chair
Rachael is the Senior Vice President of Rural Health Services for Avera Health with responsibilities for the Avera Rural Health Institute’s activities within the Avera footprint of South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and North Dakota. Ms. Sherard’s career path has been diverse. She established her career as an educator in a small rural school district, later transitioning to a “city” office in “downtown” Sioux Falls during which time she established and managed senior meal programs in several southeastern South Dakota counties. In 1996, Ms. Sherard accepted a position as a grant writer for what was then the Presentation Health System’s Center for Rural Health and has since transitioned to her current position. Ms Sherard has a Bachelor’s degree from South Dakota State University and her MBA from the University of Sioux Falls. Sherard resides with her family in Hurley, SD.
Ruth Christopherson, Vice Chair
Ruth Christopherson is the Senior Vice President of Community Development with Citibank. Ruth is a 15 year veteran of Citi, holding a variety of positions including Financial Controller for Citi Global Technology, Vice President of Operations for the Student Loan Corporation and Managing Director of Mortgage Originations for CitiMortgage in St Louis. She recently returned to South Dakota and assumed the role of State Director in October of 2009. Ruth was a member of the South Dakota Air National Guard with over 30 years of service, culminating in attaining the rank of Colonel and holding the position of Chief of Staff for the SD Air National Guard prior to her retirement in 2008. Ruth is an Adjunct Professor at Colorado Tech University and received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota. She currently serves as a director on four community boards as well as serving in numerous other volunteer activities.
Jeff Lakner, Secretary/Treasurer
Jeff is the owner-operator of a 4,000 acre diversified livestock farm in east central South Dakota. He is a board member of SD Wheat Growers Association and a member of several other coops. He has served on the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank’s Ag Advisory Council and is currently serving on the Executive Council for the Land ’O Lakes cooperative. He has collaborated with Harvard Business School on a case study to examine the impact of rural cooperatives in agribusiness. Jeff also serves on the Dakotas America Governing Board, which places New Markets Tax Credit Allocations in projects that have sustainable community impact in low-income communities throughout the United States.
Kory received his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from North Dakota State University and returned to his hometown, Andover, SD, to start Anderson Industries, which began out of a small garage. Today, Kory is the President and owner of three manufacturing companies with 6 locations in North Dakota and South Dakota. Kory was in the first Dakota Rising Fellowship class of 2009, and remains involved as an alum of the program.
Gary Cammack, Cammack Ranch Supply, Union Center. Gary is a well-recognized face in the agricultural retail market and also owns a cow-calf operation, among many other ventures. Cammack Ranch Supply has 13 employees, and serves agriculture producers across the state and region. Cammack Ranch Supply is located along South Dakota Highway 34 and extends across one mile of frontage. Gary was a member of South Dakota Agriculture and Rural Leadership class 1, and served as Meade County Commissioner. Gary is currently in the House of Representatives, and is a very practical problem solver.
Jon Farris became the Deputy Secretary South Dakota of Agriculture in January, 2011. He has worked for the South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA) since 1994, previously serving as Acting Secretary and Director of the Agricultural Development Division. As the Ag Development Director, Farris oversaw a number of programs, including South Dakota Certified Enrolled Cattle™ and South Dakota Certified Beef™, dairy development, value-added agriculture, crop development and marketing, loans, and mediation and finance counseling.
Prior to joining SDDA, Farris worked as an investment broker, served as an operations manager for a residential district and assisted in infrastructure development for local municipalities. Originally from Woonsocket, South Dakota, he grew up on a diversified farm and family business. Farris received his bachelor’s degree from South Dakota State University and his MBA from the University of Phoenix.
Justin is a Business Banking Manager with Wells Fargo. Justin is responsible for Ag and Business Banking for Wells Fargo’s Business and Ag Banking operations in Watertown, Brookings, Huron, Madison, Milbank, Dell Rapids, and Marshall MN. With more than 17 years of experience in the financial services industry, Gray assumed his current role in 2013. He joined Wells Fargo in 1997 with their Management Development Program. He has held leadership positions within Wells Fargo Community Banking since 2010. Gray holds a bachelor’s degree from South Dakota State University in Brookings. He has served on leadership boards for the Rapid City YMCA, United Way of the Black Hills, and United Way of Siouxland.
Terri was born and raised in Pennsylvania and served in the US Air Force for 14 years where she was a supervisor of accounting and finance activities at Ellsworth Air Force Base. Terri has been employed at Rapid City Economic Development as the Vice President for fifteen years. Her duties include policy issues research, prospect hosting, budget preparation, committee collaboration, and long range planning activities. In July 2013, she was appointed as the Executive Director for the Black Hills Business Development Center. Terri earned a degree in Business Management and Marketing from Western Dakota Technical Institute and serves on the Board of Directors for Western Dakota Technical Institute’s Foundation, Ellsworth Air Force Base Task Force, Black Hills Services Board, Black Hills Business Council, Rushmore Region Workforce Council, South Dakota Small Business Development Center Advisory Board and Western Dakota Technical Institute’s Business Management and Marketing Advisory Committee. Elected to the South Dakota State Senate in November 2014, Terri serves on the Appropriations Committee. Terri was awarded the SD International Association of Workforce Professionals Individual Citation Award due to her work with workforce development in the state of South Dakota.
Carrie Law is the Director of Communications and Government Relations at Sioux Valley Energy, based in Colman, S.D. She has 16 years of experience in the communications/marketing field. At Sioux Valley, she is responsible for member communications, marketing programs and services, special events, media relations, key accounts, legislative affairs and lobbying. Carrie is a graduate of South Dakota State University, completing her Bachelor of Science degrees in Mass Communications and Political Science and a Master of Science degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. Carrie is also a graduate of the NRECA Management Internship Program. She currently serves on the National Touchstone Energy Board of Directors, East River Electric Power Cooperative Communications/Marketing Committee and the Basin Electric Cooperative Regional Communicators Advisory Group. Prior to joining the Sioux Valley management team in September 2006, Carrie worked for the South Dakota State Cooperative Extension Service as Producer and Host of the “Today’s Ag” television program.
Mark was born in Breckenridge, MN and attended Moorhead State University where he graduated with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Finance. He has served the banking industry for 35 years within the states of SD, ND, NE, CO, and MN. Mark is the Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer of BankWest, Inc., in Pierre, SD. He has held this position since 2004 and was elected as a Director in 2011. Mark supervises the lending, sales and branch functions of all nine BankWest branches throughout the state of South Dakota.
Mark’s community involvement starts with Team BankWest, which is a group of employees who volunteer their time each year on various community projects including: raising money for various community fundraising efforts, Meals on Wheels, stocking the shelves at the local food banks, etc. He has also held positions within the following clubs: Optimist Club, Habitat for Humanity, Elks Member, President – Huron Community Development Corporation, Board Member – Huron Clinic, President – Huron Sertoma Club and Board Member – Community Counseling. He has also been very active in his church and numerous hockey boosters clubs.
Chris Malo started his first business, Castaway Products, in 2002 in Westlock, Alberta, Canada. Before beginning this venture, he worked for Lehman Trikes where he was the fifth employee hired. During his eight years with Lehman Trikes he worked as a machinist, draftsman, Quality and Safety Manager, and Plant Manager. Lehman Trikes began in a garage and ended up being the largest trike company in the world. The opportunities and education from this experience were critical in building the skills he needed in order to succeed in his own business venture.
After four successful years with Castaway Products, an opportunity was presented to expand his operations into the United States. Chris, being aggressive by nature, accepted the offer, and Black Hills Urethane began operations in May of 2006. Within two years, the company tripled in size. Since then he has started two new companies: Dirty Bird, a manufacturing company based in Phoenix, AZ, and Baggster, his first retail/marketing company. Both are into their second year and growing at a healthy rate. In 2009, Chris was awarded the Dakota Rising Fellowship award. He completed the three year Fellowship and continued on as an Alum and Mentor, as well as an aid in program design and instruction.
Brad was born and raised in Gettysburg, SD and attended Northern State College where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Business Administration. Brad has served the banking industry for 35+ years, all in South Dakota, serving the communities of Redfield and Aberdeen, SD. Currently, Brad serves as the Mid Dakota Regional President for Dacotah Bank serving the markets of Aberdeen, Faulkton, and Mobridge.
Brad’s community involvement includes serving as Past President of the Redfield Corp and Redfield Industrial Development Corp., Past President of the Redfield Chamber of Commerce, Past President of the Redfield Community Fund, Past Chairman of the Redfield Park and Recreation Board, Founding Board Member of the Community Memorial Hospital and Clinic Foundation, Past Chairman of the Peterson-Bahde-Coleman Homes Inc., Past President of the United Way of Northeastern SD, Co-Chairman of the Rails Club – United Way, Board Member of the Aberdeen Development Corp., Committee member of the Legislative Committee of the South Dakota Bankers Association, Past President and current Board Member of the Aberdeen Family YMCA.
Scott serves as Assistant General Manager for Member Services at East River Electric Power Cooperative, headquartered in Madison, South Dakota. He has worked for East River for 25 years. He served as staff assistant before being named to his current position in 1990. He is a native of Brookings, South Dakota and earned his B.A. degree from Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa. Scott serves on the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Board, is a past member of the Touchstone Energy® Board of Directors, serves as Vice-President on the Board of Directors of Consumer Federation of America, and is a past member of the South Dakota 4-H Foundation Board of Directors. He has also served a key role in the development of the PrairieWinds project. Scott and his wife, Valerie, have a son, Nicholas, and two daughters: Caitlin and Christina.
Gloria Pluimer began working for Black Hills Special Services Cooperative (BHSSC) in 1992. As Director of Education and Workforce Development for BHSSC, she administers and supervises a variety of programs providing education, training and employment services to individuals of all ages and walks of life throughout the Black Hills area. In this role, Gloria also serves as Director of the Career Learning Center of the Black Hills whose mission is “Empowering individuals to become self-sufficient through education, training and employment.” Gloria was the first Economic Director for Sturgis Industrial Expansion Corporation. During this time she coordinated and organized economic development efforts for the local board including marketing of the area, solicitation of primary, out-of-state businesses and planned and implemented monthly board and annual planning meetings.
Greg Von Wald
Retired Lt. Col. Greg Von Wald, USMC, is the recently retired president of Mitchell Technical Institute, a position he held from 2008 until 2015. He led the Institute through unprecedented growth, overseeing an enrollment increase of nearly 60%. Von Wald is the former CEO and General Manager of Golden West Technologies and Internet Solutions and prior to that served as CEO and owner of a telecommunications company in Aberdeen until its sale in 1999. Von Wald holds a B.A. from the University of South Dakota, an M.A. from Iowa State University and an M.A. from the Naval War College of Newport, RI. Von Wald’s military leadership experience includes serving as the head of the Operational Development Team and Faculty at the Marine Corps University. He was selected as part of the team that developed and implemented the Marine offensive plan during Operation Desert Storm; was a battalion commander and battalion executive officer; a military observer for the United Nations Military Observer unit in Lebanon; commanded several Marine infantry companies and was an instructor and operations officer in the NROTC program at Iowa State University. His public service affiliations include director, South Dakota Wind Energy Association; president, Mitchell Area Development Corporation; board member, Avera Queen of Peace Hospital; director, South Dakota Chamber of Commerce; director, Presentation Sister’s Development Advisory Board; president and director, Dacotah Prairie Museum and Foundation; vice-president and director, Aberdeen Airport Board; and director, Black Hills Vision Economic Development Group. Von Wald and his wife, Nancy, have one son, Ryan, Rapid City, SD, and a grandson, Jared.
Heidi is an Independent Sales Director for Mary Kay Cosmetics in Aberdeen, SD. She provides motivation and leadership for a team of over 60 women as well as setting strategies for implementation and development for sales. Her career in the marketing industry began when she was hired as a Special Projects Coordinator at BankWest in Pierre, and eventually moved on to be the Marketing and Communications Coordinator for Northern Electric Cooperative in Bath, SD. Immediately prior to her current role, Heidi was the Marketing Specialist for Healthcare Plus Federal Credit Union in Aberdeen for over 10 years. She currently serves on the Safe Harbor Foundation Board of Directors and the Roncalli Parent Teacher Organization.