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Meet the SiouxFalls.Business 2023 30 Under 30

Updated: Feb 24, 2023

With more than five nominations for every one spot available, choosing our inaugural SiouxFalls.Business 30 Under 30 was a definite challenge.

We ended up with an incredibly impressive, diverse group that illustrates how our city’s young professionals are growing their careers, getting involved and making a difference in ways that are defining them as a generation.

We ultimately chose people who showed clear early career achievements and promise for future leadership, strong engagement in the community beyond their workplace and innovative passion projects.

Watch for many stories featuring these rising leaders in the weeks and months ahead.

With thanks to our sponsor MarketBeat, we’re excited to introduce this year’s 30 Under 30.

Tom Bates

Age: 27

Role: Senior graphic designer, Fresh Produce

Education: Waverly-Shell Rock High School, South Dakota State University

In his words: “With my experience on the SDSU men’s track and field team, I found many connections between running a perfect hurdle race and working as a graphic designer in an advertising agency. It gives me a lot of energy knowing that these two parts of my life positively influence each other. Recently, I’ve been a volunteer hurdle coach at Sioux Falls Washington High School, and it has made me a better professional graphic designer and vice versa, without a doubt.”

From the nominator: “Tom has brought and continues to bring his competitive edge to all of his creative work. He’s worked on award-winning work here at Fresh Produce. He’s taking what he’s learned and sharing it with current college students through campus visits, presentations here at Fresh Produce, as well as one-on-one mentoring meeting and portfolio reviews with up-and-coming creatives. Outside of work, he has done branding work for Waverly, Iowa, designing a flag and creating esprit de corps for his hometown community. That sense of place extends to his new home in South Dakota, where he started a new business, Only Bird Art, selling geometric bird art largely inspired by our state bird, the ringneck pheasant. In 2021, he was accepted and competed in Command X with only seven other designers nationally. Recently, his branding and visual identity work was selected and featured in LogoLounge. It’s an incredible distinction. He has also shown his work at multiple galleries, most recently at the Bing-Davis Gallery at Upper Iowa University, where he uses the show to encourage and elevate students in the field. Tom is a leader inside and outside of Fresh Produce.”

Ally Brandner

Age: 25

Role: Senior legislative affairs specialist, Sanford Health

Education: Tea Area High School, South Dakota State University

In her words: “I enjoy being able exercise my passion for advancing health care initiatives in my work each day and combining that with government policy. I am thankful for the opportunities and encouragement our business community provides to young professionals.”

From the nominator: “Not only has Ally made a strong name for herself in government, she has a history of community involvement. She currently serves on the Young Professionals Network steering committee, the Furniture Mission capital campaign steering committee and previously served as the VP of State College Republicans Federation. Ally has a can-do attitude with a servant heart, which will serve her well for many years into her career and personally. She always jumps at the chance to get involved and stretch her skill set. Look for Ally to continue to be a force not only in our community, but within government locally, statewide and beyond. It is rare for young people to want to advocate in government, so thank you, Ally, for your leadership!”

Andrea Carstensen

Age: 26

Role: Business development and cash management sales officer, Minnwest Bank

Education: Bachelor of business and management information systems from Augustana University, MBA from University of Sioux Falls

In her words: “I am incredibly thankful for all who have helped shape me into who I am today and how the path of different industries — health care, fundraising, banking — has led me to experience the blessings of Sioux Falls. It’s a true joy being involved with many great organizations — chamber, SME, nonprofits, etc. — and with such great people, always happy to have conversations or coffee to expand/deepen connections. I’m eager to see what the next years have in store for impact and growth, including but not limited to Leadership SD, a board seat and internally set Minnwest goals.”

From the nominators: “Typically, young professionals are not the first to be asked to join a campaign or be involved with fundraising because of experience and comfortability. Andrea wanted to break the mold and so that we can build up the next generation of philanthropic leaders in Sioux Falls.”

“Andrea plays a critical role in evolving Sioux Falls to the next level. Andrea is responsible for growing commercial lending and deposits within her place of business — at age 26! She’s extremely passionate about the Sioux Falls nonprofit landscaping, including volunteering for Forward Sioux Falls; Active Generations; Junior Achievement; United Way, emerging leader and loaned executive; South Dakota Bankers Association; SME, connections committee; YPN-Chamber of Commerce, diplomat committee; GoServ Global; Home Builders Association. In addition to Andrea’s extensive volunteerism, she also successfully co-led a capital campaign for Furniture Mission of South Dakota, raising more than $5 million collectively.”

Siera Christianson

Age: 26

Role: Executive assistant to the CEO, Central Payments

Education: Washington High School, Southeast Technical College associate’s degree, pursuing bachelor’s degree

In her words: “I am incredibly passionate about the work I do, primarily because I get to serve others and carry some of their load, but also because I have the opportunity to interact with and contribute to every part of the business. No day is ever the same other than that it’s different. I am a firm believer that one of the best ways to give back to the community is by mentoring. I am proud to be a mentor in the Sioux Falls School District and to have many mentors myself. Helen Keller said it best: ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.'”

From the nominator: “Siera Christianson-Michael is an enterprising executive assistant eager to contribute to team success through hard work, attention to detail and excellent organization. She is skilled in providing comprehensive support to multiple executive leaders simultaneously and dedicated to excellent customer service, client satisfaction and team communication. Siera has been working since a young age gathering experience and leadership skills in large organizations in Sioux Falls such as First Premier Bank/Premier Bankcard,, Sanford Health and currently at Central Payments. She found her career calling as an executive assistant at Sanford Health and since has supported and been the right hand for more than five executive leaders in Sioux Falls. If you think that executive administration assistants don’t contribute to organizational strategy and success, I dare you to spend some time with Siera. She will surely change your mind. Siera gives back to our community and outside of our community in several ways. She has taken part in two separate mission trips to aid in disaster and humanitarian relief to Puerto Rico and Costa Rica. She has also served the youth in Sioux Falls as an EmBe Girls on the Run coach as well as currently is a TeamMates mentor. She is a 2022 graduate of the EmBe Women’s Leadership Program and certainly shows great potential to continuing down this road of self-reflection and authenticity to further grow her leadership skills and organization contributions. I can’t tell you how much I admire that Siera shows up authentically as herself each and every day, and it inspires others to do that same.”

Jake Danielson

Age: 25

Role: Youth success manager, South Dakota Afterschool Network; CEO, WeCan

Education: Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, bachelor’s degree from the University of South Dakota

In his words: “I am passionate about changing the stigma surrounding mental health. My biggest hope is that we can change the way society views mental health in order to cultivate a healthier community. There is a great deal of positive energy surrounding making mental health a priority. Unfortunately, the long-standing negative stigmas where mental health is often seen as a weakness or defect has made the process for creating change slow. I believe this is truly the beginning of large, positive changes as more people are embracing the importance mental health plays in all of our lives. Vulnerability is the cornerstone of resilience, but being vulnerable starts with us as individuals. If I, as one person, can be vulnerable in order to positively affect the lives of others, then we are that much closer to a better place for everyone.”

From the nominator: “Jake has made it his mission to make an impact on mental health and change the way we look at it. After multiple suicide attempts and being diagnosed with depression, anxiety and psychosis, Jake looked to create new programs and spaces to help others not feel so alone. He works to actively change the stigma surrounding mental health through hosting the ‘Destroying Depression’ podcast and co-founding the WeCan Movement. The WeCan Movement is a mental health organization that aims to share resources and provide safe community spaces to young adults throughout South Dakota, building a network of supportive individuals. Through Jake’s leadership and passion, he was offered a position at South Dakota Afterschool Network, where he is helping to integrate a well-being focus for youth. Mental health is top of mind of anyone working with children and youth, and Jake lends not only a first-hand experience lens to the mindset of today’s youth but a fresh insight into ways adults can support the overall well-being of kids, particularly in the the after-school arena. Beyond his day job and operating the WeCan Movement, Jake is supporting the work of other area organizations such as Lost&Found, looking to make an impact and create more awareness around the importance of mental health. Through his completion of multiple tracks of the programs offered by Think 3D, Jake has helped to lead conversations regarding actionable ways the community, organizations and people can help to reduce the stigma associated with mental health. It’s hard to quantify just how many lives have already been in someway touched or positively affected by Jake’s empathy and passion. One thing is certain that his potential is great, and I, for one, am grateful to be a bystander and supporter of his immense growth.”

Gabe Dannenbring

Age: 25

Role: Teacher, entrepreneur

Education: Yankton High School, Minnesota State University Moorhead

In his words: “I hope I can continue to show my students and young people in the community that you can be successful in any career if you recognize where your skills are. Since I was encouraged to find where my skills are, I’ve been lucky enough to work as an educator, tech consultant, book consultant, writer, actor and podcast host.”

From the nominator: “I’ve seen Gabe successfully leverage his creativity and teaching acumen to engage — literally — hundreds of millions of people. His time and effort to grow a personal brand is matched by few in general, let alone South Dakota. As he’s excelled on social media, he’s continued to function as a full-time teacher and has made an appearance in a Netflix show that will air spring 2023.”

Kellen Erpenbach

Age: 23

Role: Financial analyst, Lloyd Cos.

Education: Central High School in Norwood Young America, Minnesota; bachelor of business management and finance, MBA, Dakota Wesleyan University

In his words: “I am honored to receive this award; the Sioux Falls community is an amazing place to live and work for young professionals. At this point in my career, I feel fortunate to have a handful of mentors as well as a team at Lloyd Cos. that loves coming to work every day with a positive mindsight in a flourishing culture! My main career goal right now is to keep working on my professional skills, which will lead to more experience, allowing me to provide a greater impact on people around me as well as the communities we serve.”

From the nominator: “Since joining the Lloyd Cos. team, Kellen has taken on progressively greater responsibility. He took on leadership of applying for affordable housing projects in 2022 and continues to lead the process of ensuring our community continues to get the housing it needs. He has also taken the initiative to grow his skill set, developing a proficiency in understanding deal structures and working to develop his skill set to pro-forma deals. In 2023, he is pursuing securities licensure.”

Olivia Essig

Age: 29

Role: Campaign director, Sioux Empire United Way

Education: Mitchell High School, Briar Cliff University

In her words: “After graduating college, I realized my desire to have a role that allowed me to be deeply involved in my community. I feel fortunate to work for an organization that prioritizes making real, impactful change and to live in a city where we put our neighbors and the overall good of the collective first. There is no place else I would rather put down roots than Sioux Falls.”

From the nominators: “Olivia is a fundraising powerhouse. She is the main driver behind each successful United Way campaign, raising more than $10 million each year benefiting a collective of community nonprofits. She’s an active member of YPN, the Downtown Rotary, EmBe’s Let Me Run volunteer coach and SME, where Olivia was Women of Excellence chair 2018-2021 and Women In Business event chair 2022. Olivia’s a participant in Leadership Sioux Falls and takes on an active role public speaking at rallies, media and public affairs for several volunteer and employment roles. She’s outspoken and an advocate for female empowerment. I see no slowing down in her future.”

“She is a true community leader. …I believe Olivia is one to watch. She has a deep passion for Sioux Falls, a mind for solving challenges and the ability to connect with people at all levels. I am well into my career and have never met a young person as smart, resourceful and capable as Olivia.”

Cole Frankman

Age: 26

Role: Chief operating officer/dealer principal, Frankman Motor Co.

Education: O’Gorman High School, USD Beacom School of Business

In his words: “My passion is process design and people. I am a second-generation family business operator who is determined to push forward and never settle. I have the mindset to always leave something better than I found it and to always hold focus to my employees and customers rather than myself.”

From the nominators: “Cole owns and operates a very success car dealership and has really set the gold standard for how to run a business in that industry. Very forward-thinking and truly passionate about the industry, which really shows in his success.”

“He stays on top of all the dealer tech and is the king of optimizing. He once told me his process is so dialed in that every deal has even the stamp cost to send the title built in. He’s also constantly evolving and growing professionally and personally. On top of having a successful car dealership, he also co-owns a ton of commercial property. Very humble guy who doesn’t get the recognition he deserves.”

“He is an innovative leader that led his store through COVID and made sure all his employees and customers were safe and able to provide for their families.”

James Gaspar

Age: 28

Role: Vice president, Interstate Office Products

Education: O’Gorman High School, University of Nebraska Lincoln, MBA from University of Sioux Falls

In his words: “I was inspired to excellence from childhood by my family. My dad, Gary Gaspar, and my aunt, Sheila Casiello, were second-generation owners of Interstate Office Products. As a third-generation leader at IOP, I’ve had the honor and privilege of helping shape the future of this company and its impact on Sioux Falls. I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by great leaders within IOP and in the Sioux Falls community that have helped me to develop as a young professional and leader.”

From the nominators: “James joined IOP in 2017 and was responsible for community and new business development activities. Additionally, he filled multiple roles as needed across administration, including human resources and accounting, during this time. In March 2022 after the loss of IOP’s CEO, James immediately stepped up and collaborated alongside the current CEO and leadership team to guide the organization. James serves as the primary community-facing member within IOP, including maintaining executive relationships with key accounts and supporting the sales team in new-client acquisition. James’ potential for future leadership includes working to bring Interstate Office Products into its third generation as a family-owned business, along with a variety of other community-involvement activities. James’ commitment to his family, our company and our community can be seen in most everything he does.

“I am nominating James Gaspar because of his incredible potential in business and leadership. James’ vision of Sioux Falls is clear and driven. He has grown tremendously in the last seven years I’ve known him through his engagement with the Young Professionals Network, where he is now the vice chair. He continues to develop his leadership skills through being a graduate of Leadership Sioux Falls and Leaders of Tomorrow. Not only does James focus on business and leadership, he cares about giving back to the community. James has devoted time to the Forward Sioux Falls campaign, Taste of Goodness benefiting the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House and the Sioux Empire United Way.”

Noah Greble

Age: 20

Role: Political consultant

Education: Currently a student at Augustana University

In his words: “In addition to working in politics and media, I am also a full-time student, studying government and marketing.”

From the nominator: “Noah is an independent contractor currently lobbying in Pierre, South Dakota. He has previously worked on multiple campaigns, including running Marty Jackley’s campaign for attorney general. This last spring and into the summer, he interned at L&S (Lawrence & Schiller). At only 20 years old, Noah has become an integral player in the legislative sphere. During the primaries, Noah ran or worked on more than 20 campaigns and on election night saw many victories he personally had a hand in attaining. It cannot be overstated how highly legislators across this state regard Noah’s campaign work and knowledge. It is truly impressive for a 20-year-old. Today, he is in Pierre lobbying and doing legislative research for various groups. Noah also represents South Dakota regularly at national conferences for lobbying and campaigning. In the future, Noah will be running more campaigns and, per him, intends to have a heavy focus on emerging marketing technologies to better reach voters.”

Katie Herrmann

Age: 28

Role: Co-owner, South Dakota Aerial & Arts and Cirka Performance Arts; marketing director at Profile Plan

Education: Bachelor of arts in journalism with certificates in entrepreneurship and digital studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison

In her words: “Giving the sport of aerial arts and fitness a voice in the Sioux Falls community and beyond has brought me so much happiness and fulfillment. I strive to continue to lift up adults, grow their confidence and empower them to do things they never thought they were able to do.”

From the nominators: “Katie has achieved so much in her tenure. This past year, she founded the new performing arts, entertainment and exercise organization in Sioux Falls: Cirka Performance Arts. She has also received many awards for her expertise in digital marketing, including Pineapple Awards for Business Initiative of the Year and the Fast Starter award. She also received the Brat and Brau Award issued by Hiebing in 2016. Katie is an overachiever with too many professional licenses and certifications to list. She volunteered as an English teacher for the International Friendship Center and was on the DoIT Advisory Board at the University of Wisconsin, and she takes care of rescue dogs in her free time. Katie is one of the hardest-working young people in our community and deserves to be on the 30 Under 30 list.”

“Katie has been a phenomenal asset to the business and arts community in Sioux Falls. At only 28 years old, she has been the co-founder of two businesses geared toward bringing her passion for aerial fitness and art to our community. After seeing a need for a safe environment for adults to learn and grow with aerial arts, she left her former aerial coaching position and started South Dakota Aerial & Arts, which officially opened its doors in January 2023 and is already gaining a following. Katie has a passion for health, fitness and general well-being. She found her love of fitness through aerial arts, but also found how it helped mental wellness and created a community. Her goal is to continue to bring her passion of a unique art form to the community through entertainment, as well as help, support and mentor others in their physical and mental health journey.”

Shelby Hogue

Age: 29

Role: Director of corporate accounting, Sanford Health

Education: Deubrook High School, bachelor of business economics from South Dakota State University, master of professional accountancy from University of South Dakota

In her words: “I discovered my love for accounting during my sophomore year at college at SDSU, and I’ve never looked back! I’ve always loved numbers, but accounting is so much more than that. It tells the story of an organization, and there are so many opportunities in this profession. Sanford is a great company to work for, and we have an incredible accounting team! Sioux Falls has blessed me in so many ways, both personally and professionally. In the future, I’d like to get more involved with other nonprofits in the community and find ways to give back.”

From the nominator: “Shelby’s potential is endless as she plays such a huge role on the corporate accounting team at Sanford. I have no doubt there is potential for much larger leadership roles in the future. Not only is she intelligent, gifted and an amazing leader at work, she is an amazing mother to the most beautiful 9-year-old daughter, Macy, a wonderful friend to so many, a sister, a daughter and a girlfriend. Shelby truly does it all and amazes me every day. I can’t think of anyone more deserving than her!”

Jake Hult

Age: 24

Role: Financial adviser, Northwestern Mutual

Education: Undergraduate degrees in finance and business management, Dakota State University

In his words: “I chose a career in financial planning with Northwestern Mutual to provide impact and value to individuals and business owners within the community. My vision is to build an enduring firm that provides comprehensive and generational planning. In my free time, I enjoy connecting with others in the community through sporting events and social activities.”

From the nominator: “Jake is an award-winning, record-shattering, industry leader already. He is the future of our company, the future of our industry and the future of our community. Through hard work, long hours, determination, intelligence and grit, Jake has accomplished more in 4.5 years that most people accomplish in many more, but he stays humble and hungry. Jake consistently seeks opportunities to lead, mentor and take on additional responsibility while breaking records year after year in his personal financial planning practice. Jake joined the Northwestern Mutual internship in 2018. At the time, he was a sophomore at DSU. Wanting to marry his love for finance and entrepreneurship, he pursued an internship career at NM. We don’t typically accept sophomores into our program, but he was exceptional. Jake had a history of success. He was excelling academically and as a college athlete while starting two business ventures that were profitable, so we accepted him into our program. He has been able to scale his business, hire and develop team members and is currently ranked in the top 10 for all financial advisers in the central region in their year of business. Jake is much younger than most other top 10 qualifiers. He also took the initiative to form and lead a national study group to continue leveling up his education.”

Moses Idris

Age: 28

Role: Community outreach consultant, Avera Health

Education: Originally from Eritrea; Roosevelt High School, University of Sioux Falls

In his words: “I primarily help Avera connect with the refugee and immigrant populations so we can best support them and help them over some of the barriers that are in health care, as well as in our other social systems, so we can make it easier for them to live, thrive and contribute to our community! But the reason why I chose my career in this area is becauseb as a refugee, I’ve experienced a lot of struggles but also learned a lot, which helped me overcome a lot of obstacles! But I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for God, my family, mentors, my Kunama community and the amazing community we have in Sioux Falls! So I’m just trying to give back in some of the ways that I can, so we can all work together to create new things and improve quality of life in Sioux Falls. I believe if we are all open-minded, compassionate towards each other and have the willingness to work hard, we can build a great community and be the leaders in our state and country.”

From the nominator: “Moses is a refugee from the East African country of Eritrea, and he has developed a youth soccer league to help other immigrants and refugees find a community in Sioux Falls. He works tirelessly to support the immigrant and refugee community in Sioux Falls, not just his own Kunama community but all communities. He mentors students in the high school and has participated in the Feria de Salud for Hispanic populations in the city, as well as working with the Multi-Cultural Center to promote various cultural events. His potential for future leadership is limitless based on how much he leads already, but beyond his own potential, the work he does will have a ripple effect in our community, developing other young leaders.”

Abby Johnson-Youngquist

Age: 29

Role: Family business owner/director of marketing and communications, Auto Body Specialties Inc.

Education: O’Gorman High School, bachelor of fine arts from University of South Dakota, MBA from Capella University

In her words: Having grown up in a family-owned business, I am passionate about supporting our local businesses. I love watching Sioux Falls develop from the creativity, culture and talent we have within our city. As an active LSS mentor, it is exciting to see our mentoring community prospering through initiatives such as Sioux 52.

From the nominators: “Abby is a young, highly respected partial owner of her family’s business. She is passionate and invested in the issue of solving Sioux Falls’ child care crisis, she actively seeks out and is more than capable of taking on leadership roles both inside and outside of her business, and she is an active member of the Prairie Family Business Association, where she has attended their Next Gen Retreat and served as the chair of her Affinity Peer Group. Abby’s work is actively paving the way for the next generation of her family’s business. She is an unsung hero, pouring in countless hours for the betterment of her family, her business, her peers and her community.”

“Abby is a worthy nominee for this recognition because of her dedication to sales and marketing in the male-dominated industry of automotive aftermarket parts. She started working in the family business while in college pursuing a printmaking degree, learning the ropes of the business both in the warehouse stocking shelves and pulling orders and in the office helping with bookkeeping. While working full time, she earned her MBA degree from Capella University in less than a year. She now serves as the director of marketing, while also remaining responsible for the company’s IT and security needs. When the opportunity arose, she invested in the company as a partner and became the youngest of the ownership group at only age 27. Outside of work, she volunteers as a student mentor for Lutheran Social Services and is currently working on illustrations for a book with a local author. She is passionate about purchasing from locally owned businesses, as well as finding the best deals. This led her to start her Instagram page Savings605 in 2021. This page is dedicated to sharing deals going on at local businesses, tips for those looking to save money, and events or giveaways in the area.”

Cole Jorgensen

Age: 27

Role: Aircraft maintenance officer — equipment maintenance flight officer in charge, South Dakota Air National Guard

Education: West Central High School, South Dakota State University

In his words: “I hope through this publication I can serve as a representative for the outstanding men and women of the Sioux Falls area serving in our National Guard. There are many people working in Sioux Falls businesses that have also taken on the commitment of military service.”

From the nominator: “Cole is not only a rising young leader for the Air Guard who has continuously been recognized for his outstanding performance, he is also a model citizen-airman, with strong community ties. Raised in Hartford, Cole attended South Dakota State to study engineering, where he graduated and was commissioned as the Distinguished Graduate. He was selected to attend the highly competitive Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training school and planned to fly for the Air Force. He was unfortunately unable to complete that training after a medical disqualification but demonstrated his resilience and desire to serve by transitioning to service as a civil engineering officer. He was recruited by our unit to return to South Dakota and was hired as the officer in charge for our maintenance squadron. He was once again the Distinguished Graduate of that training program and made an immediate impact with the South Dakota Air National Guard. Using his engineering background, he has been able to apply his unique skill set to improve processes and systems, and analyze complex problem sets. Cole is responsible for the training, equipping and readiness of 60 airmen in his section. He has recently returned to his civil engineering roots, splitting time to fill a need in that portion of our organization and assumed responsibility for facility sustainment, restoration and modernization with a $700,000 annual budget. He is now the director for a $1 million airfield upgrade project, addressing compliance issues and manages the basewide infrastructure and real property planning actions. His community involvement includes volunteering with veterans advocacy groups, supporting wounded warriors and coordinating projects with The Banquet and Habitat for Humanity. He also farms with his in-laws on their family farm in Hartford. Cole is already well positioned ahead of his peers and has an outsized impact on our organization despite his young age. He is being groomed to take command of our organization and will no doubt continue to build on his legacy of excellence.”

Marcus Mahlen

Age: 29

Role: Partner, senior vice president, NAI Sioux Falls

Education: Bachelor of business, University of South Dakota

In his words: My career goal was to go into economic development. After doing that for a while, I went into sales. That’s what led me to commercial real estate because I think of it as a perfect marriage of sales and economic development. We are the behind-the-scenes sales crew for the city of Sioux Falls, all working to grow and develop the business community. My goals have always been to continue to develop as a local leader in the business community to improve the lives of everyone I work with on a daily basis. I look forward to being a very active leader at NAI Sioux Falls and in the city for years to come.

From the nominator: “Marcus has an impressive list of accomplishments since joining our firm five-plus years ago. Rising up from a broker associate to senior vice president in that short time, he has received Deal of the Year in 2018 and Broker of the Year in 2022. In his short tenure in commercial real estate, Marcus has earned and received the CCIM and SIOR designations. At NAI Sioux Falls, he is a respected leader among our 14 agents. His wisdom and maturity go well beyond his 29 years of age. My prediction is that before Marcus turns 40, he will be president of our company. Marcus is a 2019 graduate of Leadership South Dakota and also serves on several boards within the community.”

Wendy Mamer

Age: 28

Role: Suicide loss and support coordinator, Helpline Center

Education: Russell-Tyler-Ruthton High School, Southwest Minnesota State University

In her words: “The youth and diversity in the Sioux Falls community have played a significant role in helping mold the foundation and framework of leadership that I aspire to. Leadership and learning are intergenerational; I am thankful for those who have paved the way for us, and I look forward to continued collaboration that propels Sioux Falls towards a future of inclusivity and continued innovation.”

From the nominators: “As an award-winning advocate, candidate for public office and accomplished professional in more than one field, all by the age of 28, Wendy absolutely embodies what is possible as a leader under the age of 30. Her leadership path is on a trajectory that will benefit our community for decades to come.”

“Wendy has made a significant imprint in our community through her professional work, her interest and run for public service, as well as volunteering for several worthy causes. After tragedy impacted her life, she has worked diligently to help raise a level of healthy conversation about mental health and suicide prevention. She is definitely someone that already has and will continue to make her mark.”

Destinie Marshall

Age: 27

Role: Owner/Realtor, Discovery Real Estate Co./Keller Williams Realty Sioux Falls

Education: Lincoln High School, bachelor and master’s degrees from South Dakota State University

In her words: “When I ask those in my community closest to me, three words that come to mind when thinking of myself include: Passion. Education. Strength. As a native of Sioux Falls, I am passionate about the continued development of my city. Education, because I’m consistently attending trainings and conferences and educating others in all things real estate and wealth building. Lastly, strength, because of the obstacles I’ve overcome — and my casual past time of powerlifting.”

From the nominators: “Destinie is growth-minded, always educating herself and others on how to grow personally, in business and in wealth. She has a passion for building relationships and educating buyers and sellers. Destinie has grown her business and database by networking, getting involved in the community and creating events to educate the community on homeownership and investing.”

“Destinie is a leading Realtor in the Sioux Falls market that has built her personal brand and business on a combination of hustle, expertise and grit. She’s incredibly skilled at navigating the real estate world — I’ve had the pleasure of working with her on both a sale and purchase! As a fresh college grad from SDSU, she came to Sioux Falls and worked tirelessly to establish her name as a reliable partner in residential real estate. She’s built and leads a real estate team with four brokers and two additional staff working underneath her. Her team follows Destinie’s example by working tirelessly for their clients and by delivering a high quality of service.”

Ellie Naasz

Age: 28

Role: Director of community impact, Dakota Resources

Education: Elk Point-Jefferson High School, bachelor of economics from University of South Dakota, master of agricultural and resource economics from Colorado State University

In her words: “I’m a young professional with a passion for organizational operations, data and execution. I enjoy optimizing the inner processes of an organization by looking for efficiencies and using data to inform decisions. I’m also a lifelong learner who derives great satisfaction from learning new skills and concepts, and applying them to my work.”

From the nominator: “Hiring Ellie was truly a transformational move for our mission and the 50-plus rural communities we serve every day. After starting as our program evaluation coordinator, she was promoted to director of community impact after her first year. In her work, Ellie has led us in building a strategy and evaluation program that has lifted our impact and fundraising significantly. She helps make it possible for our field team to do their work in a more focused, efficient and effective way. She has also made our marketing efforts better and much easier for our whole team to live our brand and contribute to building it. Both areas are now leaps better than we’ve ever had in the 24 years before she arrived on our team. She’s a star in our org, but more importantly, she is shifting the way rural communities create opportunities, share their stories and make things happen by showing us how to use data and economic forecasting to know which activities are actually making a difference. That’s a major impact from her seat behind the out-front team. Ellie’s leadership style is not an out-front visionary who persuades people to follow her ideas. She is the practical, example-leading type of leader. She does her work at a high level consistently, while also offering her expertise and ideas to most projects in our program delivery and our internal operations. She helps all of us make things happen and leads by example to set a standard for all of us. She is the kind of leader that everyone can count on and that everyone she works with quickly recognizes her brilliance and her bright future.”

Jacob Ricke

Age: 28

Role: Architect, JLG Architects

Education: Madison High School, bachelor and master of architecture from South Dakota State University

In his words: “I was born and raised in South Dakota, and after graduating with my Master of Architecture from SDSU, I decided to build my career in Sioux Falls, recognizing the strength and support that the community provides. I really enjoy watching our city grow and love that my career as an architect at JLG empowers me to be active in Sioux Falls — through volunteering, mentoring, designing and ultimately helping our community envision and build new opportunities for future growth. Sioux Falls is a special place, and I continue to feel blessed to work, live and raise a family with my wife in our wonderful community.”

From the nominators: “Jacob is an extraordinary design specialist and passionate advocate for the Sioux Falls community – dedicating his time and talents to developing lasting relationships with clients, communities and organizations, all while delivering award-winning projects that meet complex community needs. Jacob understands the art of streamlining the process, focused on successful project execution from initial planning to documentation and construction. His design and execution skills have already made a memorable impact on the Sioux Falls community, including residents’ quality of life, recreation, education and well-being. Jacob’s passion for our community and his future at JLG is extremely bright; we cannot wait to see what he is capable of achieving in the coming years.

“Within the community, he has been an active Boy Scouts Explorer Program volunteer, helping to establish and lead an Explorer post in the JLG office – a program aimed at educating youth about the field of architecture; work he also does within many local schools. Last year, Jacob spent five weeks visiting the John Harris Elementary School in Sioux Falls, where he helped mentor a classroom of fourth grade students, leading groups through the adventure of designing their very own dream treehouse. Jacob worked closely with faculty to advise students through design-process activities that included teaching the design and presentation process, then meeting individually with each group to discuss ideas. Working together, Jacob helped the students learn to collaborate and think critically about the function and aesthetics of their designs and final juror presentations.”

Austin Ridl

Age: 28

Role: Tax manager, Eide Bailly LLP

Education: O’Gorman High School, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

In his words: “I was influenced to be a CPA since I was little, following in my mother’s footsteps, who has been a CPA in the Sioux Falls community since 1999. Even after leaving Sioux Falls for my four years of school in Minneapolis, I was always ready to come back home if the opportunity presented itself as I could not think of a better place to raise my family — currently two daughters: Lucy, 3 years, and Elise, 10 months. I am a big golfer, though not very good, and I love participating in all the charity golf outings local organizations put on in order to support our community.

From the nominator: “After starting as an intern, Austin quickly advanced his career and is currently a manager in the tax department for the Sioux Falls office. Austin was recognized as a Rising Star in 2021, which recognizes the top performing employees within Eide Bailly and those who live the Eide Bailly culture. Austin performs tax compliance, planning and consulting services for businesses and individuals, specializing in the construction and closely held businesses. He is always willing the help develop staff and provide opportunities for others. Austin serves on the board for Helpline Center, which is a nonprofit in the Sioux Falls area. He is active with the Sioux Falls Young Professional Network. Austin has a bright future at Eide Bailly and continues to provide value to our clients and to our internal staff. His dedication and knowledge will continue to provide great opportunities and advancement within the firm.”

Milana Semmler

Age: 27

Role: Director of sales and marketing, ART Vision and ARTisan Skin and Laser Center; founder and owner, Arambasic Marketing

Education: Roosevelt High School, Southeast Technical College, undergraduate and graduate degrees from University of Sioux Falls

In her words: “Our Sioux Falls community is phenomenal, and I am honored to be part of it. My goals are to connect with and help local businesses tell their brand stories through social media and content marketing. I love showing others in our community how a product or service from a local business can help impact their life and lead them to discover local, hidden gems.”

From the nominator: “Due to war happening in her home country, Milana, her sister and mother migrated to the United States/Sioux Falls from Serbia when she was in elementary school. English was a second language for her, and her mother knew little English. So Milana was tasked with translating important immigration and legal documentation for her family at a young age. Milana was a leader from the get-go. As she grew, she focused on school, church, work and community activities. Milana was part of Leadership Sioux Falls Class 36 and has received several certifications in her area of expertise. She was on the Furniture Mission of South Dakota board of directors from 2018-2020 and currently serves on the advisory board for the Sioux Falls School District Academy of Finance. She started a marketing consulting business and currently serves as the director of sales and marketing at ART Vision. Milana is far beyond her years in accomplishments and has a bright future ahead of her.”

Jonah Snyder

Age: 28

Role: Senior project manager, Vikor Teleconstruction; president, Elevated Towers

Education: Lincoln High School, Brigham Young University

In his words: “I’m a big believer that with vision, a problem-solving attitude and the right amount of grit that success is inevitable. As an entrepreneur both within Vikor and at Elevated Towers, I’ve learned to get comfortable living in that tenuous space between crushing failure and transformational success. I keep my fire extinguisher close by my desk, but I wake up each day with a renewed belief that I’m on the cusp of the next breakthrough. When I need to catch my breath and reset, you’ll often catch me chasing my PR (personal record) on the Sioux Falls bike trails.”

From the nominators: “Jonah is at the forefront of the 5G wireless rollout in South Dakota and beyond — designing the “densification” of wireless infrastructure required to produce 5G’s reliable signals, faster load times and greater wireless access for communities in more than 30 states. As a Gen 2 member of the closely held business, he will help lead the company into the future. Jonah is also president of Elevated Towers, a teleconstruction business he started as an undergrad, which builds and leases telecom towers in South Dakota and Wyoming. Away from the office, Jonah dedicates five to 10 hours each week volunteering in the community through his church.”

“After starting a successful company in tower real estate while in college, which he still owns and runs on the side, Jonah came on as a project manager at Vikor, starting and heading up their brand-new fiber infrastructure installation division. He quickly ascended to a divisional director and was recently promoted to vice president of operations, overseeing half of the company’s field operations. Jonah also loves cycling and has traveled the world cycling and hiking. In his summer months in college, he led at-risk youth in eight-week wilderness therapy sessions in the Arizona desert.”

Tanner Solberg

Age: 27

Role: Project manager, Journey Construction

Education: Dell Rapids High School, South Dakota State University

In his words: “I chose my career because of the impact it makes on the community and being able to provide a product that will benefit the end user. Living in Sioux Falls and being able to see firsthand how the projects I’m involved in affect our city and its people is really rewarding.”

From the nominator: “From the start of his very first internship to his current position at Journey Construction, a division of Journey Group, Tanner has advanced quickly in his career. Throughout the years, he has immersed himself well in the culture of Journey Group, getting to know and support each department and division on a personal and professional level, while also living out Journey Group’s core value of positively impacting lives by building community. Tanner consistently builds that community through his desire to help others and by collaborating with other Journey Group departments. For example, Tanner has worked closely with human resources to redesign their project engineer internship program, which was launched in 2022. As a result, two interns followed the program, and two of Journey’s divisions, Black-Top Paving and SFC Civil Constructors, also modeled their internship programs after the one Tanner and human resources developed. Tanner is passionate about interacting with those who have graciously impacted their organizations throughout their careers by showing initiative and bringing in innovation where he can, which is evident in his work and volunteer activities.”

Katherine “Kat” Cedeño Torres

Age: 28

Role: Nurse manager, The Link via Avera McKennan

Education: T.F. Riggs High School, Pierre; bachelor of nursing, Augustana University; MBA, University of South Dakota

In her words: “Human connection energizes me, and I enjoy empowering others to maximize their individual strengths and achieve their goals. I’ve been to 23 countries, and I’m currently learning Spanish and Swahili to communicate with my family and neighbors more easily. Bucket-list adventures recharge my batteries, and I recently returned from a solo adventure to Tanzania, where I summited Mount Kilimanjaro on Feb. 11.”

From the nominator: “Katherine has traveled to 23 countries and lived in Spain, Australia, Romania and Scotland. During her time abroad, she encountered boundless generosity and kindness from locals. Inspired by this, she and her husband volunteered to become a Friendship Family to an Augustana international student two years ago. They have since become a Friendship Family to two students: one from India and one from Kosovo. Being the wife of a Venezuelan immigrant, Katherine is an advocate for immigrants and those who do not speak English as their first language. After completing her Master of Business Administration through the University of South Dakota in December 2022, she launched right into taking Spanish classes through the Multi-Cultural Center. Her focus is to better serve Spanish-speaking patients at Avera and volunteer to work with individuals throughout the community who speak Spanish. Potential for future leadership: Katherine strives to continually grow and improve herself and has accomplished impressive feats in her 28 years. Individuals she supports at Avera OB/GYN say she is a trusting, approachable and authentic leader. She is consistent and fair in her responses and leads by example. She is a servant leader and not afraid to speak up for what is fair and just. Fellow leaders describe her as someone who speaks thoughtfully and with poise, who exhibits empathy in her decision-making and who follows through on her word. Katherine has a knack for connecting with others, encouraging and empowering them to be their best self. As evidenced by her willingness to develop new skills and knowledge, and accept and support residents of Sioux Falls, she will continue to seek ways to positively influence her community.”

Emmie Uitts

Age: 23

Role: Owner/founder, The Playground — Indoor Softball Facility

Education: Elkhorn High School, University of Sioux Falls

In her words: “My job/business gives me the opportunity to help young athletes learn how to set goals, work hard, be leaders and put their all into everything they do. I chose my career not only for my love of softball and entrepreneurship, but for my passion towards helping passionate people. These kids are our future, and I am confident that the life lessons they can be taught through softball will make the world a better place.”

From the nominator: “Emmie has taken her business from operating in otherwise empty gyms, other training facilities and in outdoor softball fields to opening her own 8,000-square-foot facility in Tea. In that time, she has built a rabid and growing fan base of girls looking to improve their softball skills and overall well-being. She continues to build these relationships during the summers by coaching and supporting girls travel softball teams. The Playground has been an agent of change in this area, bringing high-level and high-velocity softball training for the young women in the area. Spend a half-hour at The Playground some evening and see how much her clients adore her.”

Loghin Welch

Age: 28

Role: Co-owner, lead event producer, Serendipitous Events

Education: O’Gorman High School, Minnesota State University Mankato

In her words: “My favorite part of my career is the collaboration with my clients and vendors. What starts as a dream can become a reality, and it’s truly incredible what we can bring to life. Going forward, I’m excited to form new connections in the community, both with corporate and personal clients.”

From the nominators: “Loghin has a huge zest for life. I have never known her to turn down an idea. She is a go-getter with a huge heart. No task is too big for her. She began her career in event planning while still attending college and just a few short years later bought into the business that she is now part-owner of. Alongside of that, she expanded her portfolio with her degree and opened The Factory, a full-service salon in downtown Sioux Falls. Owning and operating two successful businesses in our community and also volunteering her time at such a young age is empowering to see. She is also very supportive and rewarding to those she employs, which makes her a wonderful role model as well. She is on the board for the Teddy Bear Den and gives back to several different causes in our community.”

“If you haven’t worked with Loghin, I would be shocked. Loghin knows everyone, and everyone knows her. She is the jack-of-all-trades. I would list all of her contributions to Sioux Falls, but I think I would max out your system. She owns multiple businesses in town, but I believe the one that keeps her busiest is her event planning company. Loghin makes your vision a reality, whether it be a wedding, corporate event, small party — you name it. The network she has built is infinite. She is kind-hearted, generous, organized and devoted to making our community better.”

Matt Wittrock

Age: 29

Role: Planning and analysis manager, Weisser Distributing

Education: South Dakota State University

In his words: “I tend to gravitate toward problems or issues that need solving, and my career thus far has allowed me to do that. I’m always looking to gain and share new perspectives and insights with community leaders to advance the community for the betterment of generations to come.”

From the nominator: “Matt joined Weisser Distributing over two years ago as a financial analyst and quickly established his ability to add value with forward-looking analysis and forecasts. Ours is a fast-growing firm handling millions of transactions. Understanding how each transaction is performing is a daunting task, and Matt handles the challenge with calm and thoughtful steadiness. He joined us during the first year of COVID and our work-from-home response, so the more collaborative opportunities found in the office environment were missing. He put in the extra effort to attend all the department meetings, not only learning from each area’s focus but adding to each team’s dashboards and data managing. Matt has worked his way from keeping notes in our leadership meetings to contributing issues and strategy alternatives. He has earned the respect of team members in every corner of the company and our leadership team. We pride ourselves on our values — we hire to them, reward and celebrate to them and promote based on them. Matt lives our values, especially showing autonomy, problem-solving and teamwork. As we’ve grown and have opportunities for acquisitions and partnerships, we promoted Matt to manager — planning and analysis team. Matt is already leading our focus on how to best improve the business and grow the company. We are excited about the contributions to come and the impact we know he will have not only on results but on our strategy and team member development.”


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