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.
Jon Farris, Chair
Jon Farris joined BankWest in 2016 as Lending Programs Specialist, where he provides administration of external lending programs. Previously he had worked for DuPont Pioneer as an Account Manager in east central South Dakota leading the sales efforts of Pioneer brand products. He worked for the South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA) from 1994 to 2013, serving as Deputy Secretary, Acting Secretary and Director of the Agricultural Development Division. 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.
Ruth Christopherson, Vice Chair
Ruth Christopherson is the Senior Vice President of Community Development at Citi. Ruth is a 20-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 received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota. She currently serves as a director on four community boards and one advisory board, as well as serving in numerous other volunteer activities.
Jeff Lakner, Secretary/Treasurer
Jeff is the owner-operator of a 5,000 acre diversified livestock farm in East Central South Dakota. He is a current corporate board member of the Land O Lakes and SD Wheat Growers Cooperatives. He has served as a member of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank’s Advisory Council for Agriculture and is currently serving as an advisor for AgriCapital Corporation, a New York investment bank. Jeff is a board officer of Dakotas America, a community development entity that helps flow capital into underserved areas by means of New Market Tax Credits.
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.
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.
Marty was born in Quinn, SD and raised on the family ranch in the heart of the Conata Basin, surrounded by Badlands National Park in three directions and by Buffalo Gap National Grasslands to the south. He has five children and three grandchildren and is married to his best friend, Susan. Marty graduated from Wall High School in 1983. He spent 3 1/2 years in the Army stationed in Georgia, Greece, and Washington State. During that time, he received two Army Commendation medals, an Army Achievement Medal, and was Honor Graduate of Basic Training, Unit Armorers Course, and a Non-Commissioned Officer training course. While stationed in Greece, he received the distinction of Soldier of the Year. After an honorable discharge from the Army, he attended South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD majoring in History and minoring in Spanish and Geography. He was hired at Golden West Telecommunications in 1996 as an outside plant technician. Currently, Marty holds the position of Outside Plant Engineering Manager at Golden West. He was a member of the Wall School Board of Education for 9 years and the Board President for 5 years. During that time, he was passionate in the development of Wall’s new school. He researched and informed the board on Impact Aid and traveled to Washington, D.C. on several occasions to meet with South Dakota’s Congressional delegation and with the Department of Education to help maximize Impact Aid payments. Marty previously owned and operated “Badlands Personal Tours” which gave tours and offered guided hiking within Badlands National Park. His interests include hiking (in the Badlands), photography, camping, golf, and most recently kayaking.
Jason was born in Kansas City, MO and, as an adult, has lived in various communities, including St. Louis, MO; Dallas, TX; Kansas City, MO; and Cedar Rapids, IA. He has an Undergraduate Degree in History and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. Jason’s career has included business development for a weather derivatives trading desk, online program management, technical evangelism for a technology start-up, investor relations and communications for two NYSE trade companies, and business development for an energy company that serves over 700 communities across 8 states. He has been married for 21 years and has three children.
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.
Kelly Melius is founder and owner of a company he built out of necessity called Common Sense Mfg. He has been involved in agriculture his entire life and used that knowledge to create and patent his first product, the Common Sense balefeeder. Being involved in farming and ranching his entire life, Kelly had experience working hard and taking calculated risks. As he continued to create products that made sense to him for his own operation, Common Sense Mfg grew to become a viable business and one of the largest employers in the county. Kelly believes in giving back to his community, which has been acknowledged locally by awards, such as the Lion’s Club Community Leadership award and Friends of 4H. In 2012, he was awarded the Dakota Rising Fellowship and, after completing his three-year commitment as a Dakota Rising Fellow, he has continued his involvement by volunteering as a mentor for this entrepreneur program. Being involved with Dakota Rising, his vision and understanding of the benefits and necessity of being involved in making a community thrive became apparent, not just from a business perspective, but from a broader community perspective. He now sits on the Faulk County Economic Development Board, which is very active in strategically guiding their community to continue to grow and thrive.
Brad was born and raised in Gettysburg, SD. He attended Northern State College and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Business Administration in May 1978. Brad has served the banking industry for 40 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, Bison, Cresbard, Faulkton, Lemmon, Mobridge, New Effington, Roslyn, Sisseton, Webster, and Hettinger, ND.
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 and Chairman of the Board of the Aberdeen Development Corp.; Presentation College Trustee; and Past President 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.
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.
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 Senior 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. Heidi is also co-owner of Brown County Choppers, a professional land and tree belt clearing service. She currently serves on the Safe Harbor Foundation Board of Directors.