Board of Directors
The Dakota Resources’ volunteer Board of Directors guides our work to carry out our mission of connecting capacity and capital to empower rural communities. In addition to the affiliations set forth below, the board members are active in many community, trade, charitable, educational and religious organizations.
Ruth Christopherson, Chair
Ruth is the Senior Vice President of Citi Community Development with 20+ years of experience in the financial services area—ten of those focusing on community development. Her skillset is a direct benefit to the Dakota Resources board, made even stronger by her desire to help shape the future of rural. Through her work at Citi and 30+ years in the military, Ruth understands the impact strong communities have on youth and families and is proud to be part of an organization that helps build those impacts. She lives on an acreage near Garretson where she connects to the rural landscape through organic gardening and is a proponent of sustainability and giving back. In her words, taking care of each other is what rural people do.
Heidi Zeller-Crawford, Vice Chair
As a successful Independent Sales Director for Mary Kay Cosmetics and co-owner of Brown County Choppers, LLC, Heidi’s ambition, enthusiasm and genuine love of South Dakota provides the Dakota Resources board with unique ideas and the perspectives of a home-based business owner. She grew up in South Dakota and her love of the state led her to pursue a job with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and an internship with the SD Department of Tourism. Her roles on the Dakota Resources board and RuralX Design Team allow her to be part of something bigger, where she can feel like her efforts are directly making a difference. Her experience as a successful home-based entrepreneur is a great asset to Dakota Resources, as working from home is a rapidly growing option for people in rural communities.
Mark Litton, Secretary/Treasurer
Mark was born in Breckenridge, MN and attended Moorhead State University where he graduated with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Finance. He served the banking industry for 35+ years within the states of SD, ND, NE, CO, and MN. Mark retired in 2018 as the Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer of BankWest, Inc., in Pierre, SD. He held this position since 2004 and was elected as a Director in 2011. Mark supervised 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.
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.
As a Mitchell resident and Director of Commercial and Agribusiness banking for First National Bank, Jacqson has a unique perspective when it comes to the challenges and opportunities available to rural businesses and agriculture operations. He is connected to rural people and places through his job and is dedicated to helping them succeed. His financial and lending expertise are an asset to the Dakota Resources team, while his connections across the region allow him to spread the word about the valuable programs and resources available to the people living here.
Justin is the Market President with MetaBank in Brookings, With more than 22years of experience in the financial services industry, Gray assumed his current role in 2019. Prior to MetaBank, he was employed with Wells Fargo. He joined Wells Fargo in 1997 with their Management Development Program. He has held leadership positions within Wells Fargo Wholesale 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.
Rural South Dakota is in Connie’s DNA. Her dad was on the economic development board for many years in her hometown of Lemmon, and Connie was able to witness the challenges and rewards of his work. She spent eight years in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and is now the Vice President of Public Benefit for Delta Dental of South Dakota. Her background and experience in board governance, grant writing and rural healthcare brings a valued perspective to the Dakota Resources Board. Through her job, Connie has also managed a program that serves several SD reservations. She understands the importance of healthy rural communities to the overall economic well-being of our region.
With experience as Mayor in his rural community combined with his job as Plant Engineer for Golden West Telecommunications in Wall, South Dakota, Marty brings extensive budgetary knowledge and leadership skills to the Dakota Resources board. Growing up on a ranch and working for a company that serves 60 rural communities helps him appreciate the importance of rural relationships and people who look out for one another. He enjoys networking with board members who share his passion for impacting small towns, and is committed to thinking outside the box in helping those communities gain access to the resources and connections they need to achieve success.
Kelly is a farmer, an inventor, a business owner, a former Dakota Rising Fellow and is involved in economic development for Faulk County, where he was born and raised. His love of rural brought him back to his family’s farm after moving to Minneapolis to pursue a career as an electrician. After moving back home, he began designing and patenting farm equipment to help make feeding cattle easier. His products eventually grew into Common Sense Manufacturing, one of the largest employers in the county. His experiences as a “rural risk taker” make him a valuable asset to the Dakota Resources board, where he offers his insights as farmer and rancher, a Dakota Rising alumni and a mentor for other business owners. He believes in giving back to his community and knows that it takes a village to help rural communities thrive—something he has been able to witness first-hand through the significant economic and community growth in Faulk County–considered a “poster child” of success for Dakota Resources.
As the Mid-Dakota Region President for Dacotah Bank, an investor with Dakota Resources, Brad has a committed interest in helping the organization improve the lives of people living in rural communities. After 40 years in banking for the rural Redfield and Aberdeen communities, he has a solid understanding of the challenges small towns face, and the opportunities available to help them. He was born and raised in Gettysburg, South Dakota and appreciates Dakota Resources’ mission of enriching communities and empowering people. His involvement in the banking industry and other non-profit boards and service organizations allows him to make important connections and build relationships across the state.
In addition to living in rural places her entire life, Linda serves as the Economic Development Manager for East River Electric Power Cooperative. She believes rural communities are vital to South Dakota’s economy and values them for their ability to dig in and make things happen. Her involvement with rural community and economic development provides her with many local connections across the region as well as deep credibility and experience. She works for an organization that supports Dakota Resources as a Leadership Partner and is vested in its long-term success. Linda is a rural shaper through and through is excited to make a positive impact as a Dakota Resources board member.
Having been raised on a farm near Lennox, Jim knows firsthand the importance of rural communities in South Dakota. He joined the Dakota Resources board in 2019 because he wanted to contribute and give back to an organization dedicated to sustaining the rural way of life. His years of experience doing public service include serving and chairing state and national boards, directing nonprofits, establishing a Hispanic business network and working as a County Commissioner—all positions that bring immeasurable skills and expertise to the Dakota Resources board. His passion for service and commitment to the mission Dakota Resources are invaluable.
Rachael Sherard, Immediate Past Chair
Rachael’s role as Senior Vice President of Rural Health Services for Avera Health brings a vital perspective to the Dakota Resources board, as healthcare is a critical economic partner of any rural community. She is an engaged Dakota Resources board member, providing experience with community facilitation, grant writing, management and the ability to quantify and document outcome data. Rachael still lives in the same small town where she was born, choosing to commute from her rural community to Sioux Falls each day because of her deep love of the rural lifestyle. She finds it a privilege to serve on a board dedicated to helping rural communities succeed and is proud of the positive influences Dakota Resources has on South Dakota.
A member of the Hot Springs community and a small business owner, Brian has watched Dakota Resources make an impact in his town over the past few years and was eager to join the Board of Directors. His decades of experience as the president of Spitzer Construction provides him with the ability to understand small businesses and the challenges they face. Brian brings fresh ideas and insight to the board and is proud to be part of a growing, strong and stable nonprofit.
Julie Stevenson joined the team at Lake Area Technical Institute in July 2015 as the Foundation Director and moved into the role of Business Partner Specialist in 2017. In her role, Julie works side-by-side with industry partners through various workforce development strategies. Julie has worked in collegiate and healthcare marketing/public relations and Foundation Director roles in Minnesota and South Dakota for more than 25 years. She has taught Political Science courses at the collegiate level for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system for 17+ years, both on campus and online. Julie has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from the University of Minnesota, an MS degree in Education from Southwest Minnesota State University and in Political Science from Fort Hays State University in Kansas.