Aberdeen girls among those selected for South Dakota Change Network

BROOKINGS, S.D. (Press Release) – A group of 18 South Dakotans has been selected to participate in the 2020-2021 cohort of South Dakota Change Network. Started in 2017 and funded by the Bush Foundation, the network is a partnership between 3E Productions, CommonSense Consulting@Work, National Arts Strategies and SDSU Extension that provides a yearlong fellowship program for individuals to gain experience driving equitable and inclusive change in their respective organizations and communities.

“Strong communities are critical during times of uncertainty and need thoughtful leaders who can facilitate inclusive change,” said Kari O’Neill, SDSU Extension Community Vitality Field Specialist. “The cohort model of the South Dakota Change Network promotes connections among leaders with diverse backgrounds and ideas, sparking meaningful conversations on how to follow through on making positive change.”

The 2020-2021 cohort will include Sydney Bartunek of Sioux Falls, Amy Fill of Volin, Anthony Firman of Flandreau, Annicka Gunderson of Vermillion, Kayla Herman of Aberdeen, Laura Hoiten of Watertown, Kenton James of Flandreau, Kaitlyn Johnson of Spearfish, Sarah Larson of Sioux Falls, Jessica Lewis of Rapid City, Elizabeth Lone Eagle of Howes, Emily Meier of Aberdeen, Jessica Meyers of Sioux Falls, Tamera Miyasato of Rapid City, Patrick Pope of Sioux Falls, Peggy Schlechter of Rapid City, Anita Shrestha of Vermillion and Marla Thunder Bull of Wounded Knee.

Participants will have access to a supportive learning environment that includes an online curriculum, one-on-one coaching and mentorship from professionals, collaboration opportunities with South Dakota Change Network alumni, virtual meetings to build strong connections among each other, and access to a small grant and other resources.

The 18 individuals were selected from communities and Native nations throughout South Dakota for their passion to make a difference in the places they work and live and will develop various projects focused on changing their communities and organizations. Example projects include strengthening Lakota language and culture on the Pine Ridge Reservation, educating the community of Aberdeen on the town’s diverse cultures and advocating for more female leaders in science-based careers. Together, the individuals will embrace their authentic leadership capacities, examine opportunities to advance their projects and become stronger leaders in their regions.

At the program’s conclusion, the 2020-2021 cohort will join a network of nearly 100 leaders from the South Dakota and North Dakota Change Networks who continue to work toward creating a more equitable and inclusive world.

For more information regarding the South Dakota Change Network, contact Kari O’Neill, SDSU Extension Community Vitality Field Specialist, at kari.oneill@sdstate.edu or 605.685.6972.