Talent Thursday with Avera

Talent Thursday is a weekly social media livestream event that spotlights talent and workforce in the Sioux Falls area by sharing the stories of young professionals in our community.

For Thursday, February 15, 2024, we caught up with Rebecca Spykerboer, who is a Talent Acquisition Sourcer with Avera Health. She shares about the career openings at Avera and how applicants can navigate changing careers within the health system.

Talent Thursday is held weekly on Thursdays at 3 p.m. CT on the Sioux Falls Development Foundation’s Facebook page. Follow here: https://www.facebook.com/developsf

Talent Thursday

POWERED BY:

Forward Sioux Falls is a unique, innovative program designed to grow and improve the Sioux Falls region. Created through a joint venture between the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, we work to outline strategic initiatives to grow jobs, businesses and quality of life.

SFPD attracts new police officers nationwide – like this one, who moved to S.D. to begin a career

Garrett McCarthy tried working in financial services after college in the Omaha area but quickly realized like others in his family that he might be destined for a different path.

So with a business degree in hand, the northeast Nebraska native decided to seek additional training – in law enforcement.

“I’d always thought about law enforcement growing up – my dad is in the profession, and I looked up to him growing up, and my brother is a deputy sergeant in Nebraska,” he said.

For his own career, though, McCarthy wanted to experience somewhere different, which led him to Sioux Falls.

“I liked the city,” he said. “I thought it was a good size and wanted to move somewhere. I had never even lived outside of Nebraska at that point.”

He began training with the Sioux Falls Police Department last August.

SFPD Officer Garrett McCarthy stands in front of a Sioux Falls police cruiser

“I had actually never been here before the academy,” he said. “I had some family who had been through and said it was a nice town that was growing. It seemed like the department itself offered a lot of opportunities and trajectories for a career in law enforcement, and that really interested me. That in itself is a big advantage over a big-city or a small-town police department.”

McCarthy joins a growing number of out-of-state law enforcement professionals drawn to work in the Sioux Falls area. In 2023, the Sioux Falls Police Department hired 28 recruit officers among three hiring classes. Of those, 11 had non-South Dakota addresses when receiving their final job offer.

“We were fortunate enough to attract candidates and hire candidates from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois,” said Ethan Beck, a talent acquisition coordinator for the city of Sioux Falls.

SFPD officer Garrett McCarthy in a police cruiser

“To start 2024, our 10-recruit February class will have two new hires from California and one from Washington state. Not only that, but we also just secured our first recruit for the June 2024 class who currently resides in New Hampshire.”

Sioux Falls Police stands out for its unique combination of strengths, Beck said.

“Not only do we offer streamlined pathways towards growth opportunities both specialty based and promotional based, but an incredible benefits package via the city at large and within SFPD specifically,” he said. “Plus, Sioux Falls sells itself. We are a top-ranking city for young adults, professionals, retirees and many demographics, leading to a competitive and diversified applicant pool without a lot of hand-holding.”

The community supports law enforcement in a multitude of ways, including with major investments.

City of Sioux Falls public safety campus

Some of McCarthy’s early emergency driving training was among the first to occur at the city’s new Public Safety Campus, a state-of-the-art complex unlike any in the region.

City of Sioux Falls public safety campus

“That was a lot of fun, definitely a new experience and very instructional,” he said. “The culture of the department, I would describe as very personable. I already feel like I know so many people and have great relationships, and there’s a good sense of camaraderie. That’s a big deal to me. You want to be able to trust the people you’re working with and get along, and it’s been great so far.”

The department “offers an incredibly low vacancy rate for as large of an agency as we are, as well as community support that is not commonly found around the country for metros either our size or larger,” Beck added. “We are incredibly appreciative and proud of those community relationships.”

police officer working on computer in car

As part of the department’s commitment to finding the right people to serve and protect, a dedicated talent acquisition coordinator was added to the team in late 2022, with a focus on high-level sourcing, recruitment tactics and workforce planning. Additionally, Sioux Falls Police is working with other city departments to bring forward innovative and strategic approaches to hiring and retention.

“Whether it is our advertising tactics, our modern recruitment website and interface or consistent engagement in career fairs and events, the SFPD takes proactive steps to engaging with candidates and attracting talent to the agency,” Beck said. “Our applicant numbers improved by almost 43 percent from 2022 to 2023, and we’re hoping to see even more quality growth in 2024 and beyond.”

For new hires like McCarthy, becoming part of the team has felt seamless.

“I’ve had great training officers. They’re very knowledgeable,” he said. “They’re very good at helping you learn how to answer your own questions and improve yourself, making sure you’re doing well and progressing because they want you to succeed. It feels tight-knit here. Even the officers I’m on call with know a number of people in the area – they’re talking to people they know at the gas station, for instance, so it has a bit of a small-town feel with a lot of opportunity.”

Sioux Falls police officers talking

The success of Sioux Falls Police in managing workforce development is a benefit to the entire community, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“A well-staffed, well-trained public safety department with an outstanding culture is something that sets us apart in such meaningful ways,” she said. “Like anyone in the workplace, law enforcement wants to feel supported and valued. And in return, this leads to a safer community, which allows us to continue to be the sort of place where people want to live and work in all occupations.”

When McCarthy isn’t on the job, you’ll find him enjoying living in downtown Sioux Falls, surrounded by parks, the citywide bike trail and dozens of restaurants, breweries and cocktail bars.

“When I was in Omaha, I had a 45-minute commute to work across town, and my downtown apartment is now very close to the police department,” he said. “I’m just finding it’s a great town and a great department.”

To explore how to grow your law enforcement career in Sioux Falls, click here.

And to connect on opportunities in additional industries, email deniseg@siouxfalls.com.

Talent Thursday with Costello Companies

Talent Thursday is a weekly social media livestream event that spotlights talent and workforce in the Sioux Falls area by sharing the stories of young professionals in our community.

For Thursday, February 1, 2024, we caught up with Joan Christopherson who is the HR Manager for Costello Companies. She shares about the types of careers and culture that Costello offers – the variety may surprise you!

Talent Thursday is held weekly on Thursdays at 3 p.m. CT on the Sioux Falls Development Foundation’s Facebook page. Follow here: www.facebook.com/developsf

Talent Thursday

POWERED BY:

Forward Sioux Falls is a unique, innovative program designed to grow and improve the Sioux Falls region. Created through a joint venture between the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, we work to outline strategic initiatives to grow jobs, businesses and quality of life.

Remote workers from New York choose Sioux Falls as new home, with big benefits for family

Some people move because the family outgrows the house; Chris and Kristin Giglio knew it was time for a change when their family of six outgrew a log cabin.

log cabin surrounded by fall trees

“It was as close to paradise as we were ever going to get, but with four kids, we were going to start needing room,” Chris said. “You can’t just add on to a log cabin.”

inside of log cabin

After living in the city of Buffalo, New York, in their 20s, the couple opted for the more rural lifestyle. Their love of motorcycling took them across the country on trips, with stops in 28 states along the way. So when they decided to make a move, they drew on all that life experience – and made a long list.

“We were tired of New York for a lot of reasons, and there weren’t really any towns we wanted to live in. We like three seasons, but 100 inches of snow a year gets annoying – plus the mud when it melts,” Chris said. “We looked out west first and checked out Montana and Wyoming but realized the towns were too small and our kids would need more. So we kept looking.”

They’re both remote workers – she works for a defense contractor, and he works in IT – so the options were unlimited. But the criteria quickly narrowed down potential locations.

Chris and Kristin Giglio family

“Some places were super expensive. In some cases, air quality was an issue. We like a change of seasons,” Kristin said.

They’d only been to South Dakota once – when a storm stranded them and their bikes in Murdo. But they began honing in on the state.

“We didn’t know if we wanted to do Rapid City or Sioux Falls,” Kristin said. “We looked at weather, schools, crime, and our daughter was in gymnastics at the time, so we looked at kids’ activities.”

Their pre-teen daughter lobbied hard for Sioux Falls after watching YouTube videos on both communities.

“We looked at things like what there would be to do – bowling alleys, miniature golf, certain stores, is there a zoo, all the activities we would do in a weekend – and it had everything we would do in New York and honestly more,” Kristin said.

Chris and Kristin Giglio family

“For us, the population was good,” Chris added. “Going from a metro area of 2.5 million to 250,000 really isn’t that big of a difference, and that mattered to my daughter. She didn’t want to be stuck in a small town. But she is a little worried about being safe, so that was all part of our thinking.”

They moved to south Sioux Falls in the summer of 2022 and enrolled their older kids in the Harrisburg School District. They now have one in middle school and two in elementary school.

“Everything is so hands-on,” Kristin said. “They teach kids through projects and experiences rather than just on a computer or lecturing them. It’s all interactive. The kids actually look forward to going to school every day and were sad when there was a snow day.”

robotics competition

The activities offered in the Sioux Falls area “are honestly more opportunities than we had in New York,” she added.

girl with boxing gloves

“Our daughter is now in volleyball and absolutely loves it. Our kids are in boxing at 605 Boxing and MMA, and I cannot say enough wonderful things about the coaching staff and adult fighters that are there. And our son is on the robotics team at school, and it is an amazing opportunity for kids to engage in and challenging and rewarding for them to see their robot in action.”

volleyball game

And that’s just the start. The family’s kids also have done baseball and soccer, and Kristin is part of a parent group helping bring meals to middle school teachers.

“I was invited to a meeting at the school to meet with the principal and teachers, and everyone is so welcoming and inviting,” she said. “They are genuinely happy to have you there to help.”

While they were newcomers with no connections, anyone they met stepped up to help, she added.

boy at boxing practice

“I had to put our Realtor, Sam Adams, down as our emergency contact on school paperwork because I didn’t know anyone,” Kristin said. “We had to put our mortgage team at Plains Commerce as emergency contacts. And you know what? All of them were happy to do it, and I would trust them with my kids!”

Chris and Kristin Giglio family

Sioux Falls’ health care community also came through for the family when their daughter began complaining about leg pain shortly after the move.

“The medical field here genuinely cares about you as a patient. We went to urgent care on a Saturday, she met with orthopedic the following Tuesday and had surgery the Tuesday after that,” Kristin said.

girl with cast on leg and foot

“The whole process couldn’t have been more wonderful. There are short wait times, they explain things to you, and you never feel rushed. Even my son needs some dental procedures, and we were given options. This is not the case in New York. You wait in doctors’ offices for at least an hour to be seen, you are rushed through and not given options.”

As a remote worker, she appreciates the small-town friendliness she has encountered in Sioux Falls.

“It is a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and being a remote worker, it’s nice because I don’t have that co-worker connection,” she said. “You go to even Walmart or Scheels, and the people that work are always pleasant and talk to you. My kids joke it’s perfect for me because I like to talk to random strangers, and people here are receptive of that.”

Chris and Kristin Giglio family

Overall, “here is like it used to be in New York,” Chris said. “The schools used to be hands-on. The people used to be outside, and we wanted more of that. That’s what it is here. It feels like 15 years ago.”

The family’s experience is a model of what others can expect with a move to Sioux Falls, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

Chris and Kristin Giglio family

“We welcome remote workers, and we know many like the Giglio family who have found this community to be a perfect fit,” she said. “If Chris and Kristin ever want to make a change, they’re also going to find many employers in this community who will embrace their skill sets. And their children absolutely are going to thrive growing up in this community.”

Life here is like moving back to “simpler times,” Kristin said. “It’s more family-centric. I feel like New York was go-go-go and very cutthroat, and here it’s more laid-back and enjoyable. Everyone is so nice here, and it’s all-encompassing. It’s just different here.”

To learn more about making your move to Sioux Falls, email deniseg@siouxfalls.com.

Talent Thursday with POET

Talent Thursday is a weekly social media livestream event that spotlights talent and workforce in the Sioux Falls area by sharing the stories of young professionals in our community.

For Thursday, January 25, 2024, we caught up with Wendy Alexander, a Talent Scout with POET. She shares about what it’s like to work at POET (the world’s largest producer of biofuels), and about jobs, internships, and even scholarships they have available.

Talent Thursday is held weekly on Thursdays at 3 p.m. CT on the Sioux Falls Development Foundation’s Facebook page. Follow here: https://www.facebook.com/developsf

Talent Thursday

POWERED BY:

Forward Sioux Falls is a unique, innovative program designed to grow and improve the Sioux Falls region. Created through a joint venture between the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, we work to outline strategic initiatives to grow jobs, businesses and quality of life.

Talent Thursday with Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office

Talent Thursday is a weekly social media livestream event that spotlights talent and workforce in the Sioux Falls area by sharing the stories of young professionals in our community.

For Thursday, January 18, 2024, we caught up with Lt. McGovern and Officer Martin of the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office for a conversation about careers in law enforcement.

Talent Thursday is held weekly on Thursdays at 3 p.m. CT on the Sioux Falls Development Foundation’s Facebook page. Follow here: https://www.facebook.com/developsf

Talent Thursday

POWERED BY:

Forward Sioux Falls is a unique, innovative program designed to grow and improve the Sioux Falls region. Created through a joint venture between the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, we work to outline strategic initiatives to grow jobs, businesses and quality of life.

Lifelong Kentucky residents looking for a change find Sioux Falls on a road trip – and decide to move

There’s nothing obvious to connect northern Kentucky with southeast South Dakota – other than it happened to be the route of a road trip that led to a life-changing move.

“My daughter and I only spent one night here, but it was extremely welcoming, and everyone was very happy to help, whether we needed directions or to offer food options,” said Michael Norris, who visited the city in March on his way to Montana.

“I felt like it was small, but it was beautiful, and the Falls were a natural attraction that really pulled me in. I just felt like it had a lot to offer.”

Norris grew up on the Kentucky side of the Cincinnati metro area. At 43 and after spending his whole life in one place, “you start to kind of get burned out on the same things,” he said. “I love that area and everything it has to offer, but it was time for something new and different, so I was very excited to make the move and just see what the city had to offer.”

He convinced his significant other, Jamie Lameier, to consider Sioux Falls too.

Michael Norris and Jamie Lameier

“He just said how much he loved the area, and we continued to have the conversation until I said ‘Let’s just do it.’ There’s nothing holding us back; there’s no reason why we can’t,” she said. “It’s a new challenge, and I was very up for it. You only live once, and there are more people to meet and things to experience.”

A master electrician, Norris easily found job opportunities and accepted an offer at Harvard Integrations.

“When I interviewed, it felt like home – welcoming right away,” he said. “They had the ability to make this entire move as easy and simple a transition as possible. They were behind me every step of the way.”

Lameier’s background is in nonprofits, most recently as director of advancement at a private high school. While still in Kentucky, she connected with Canfield Business Interiors, which was looking to add to its business development team.

Canfield building in Sioux Falls, SD

“The company resonates with me personally,” she said. “My grandfather started a business, and my father became president, so I understand the ‘why’ behind the business and what they’re trying to do. When you feel good about a space, whether it’s your home or office, it makes a big difference. And the people here were very welcoming. I just had a good feeling from the start.”

The couple’s experience illustrates the variety of opportunities available in Sioux Falls, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

Michael Norris and Jamie Lameier

“We can never underestimate the value of a positive first impression,” she added. “This couple’s Sioux Falls journey began with travel and continued with their initial job interviews, where they felt welcomed every step of the way. It’s a great example for mid-career professionals who just feel like they need to make a change that there are so many opportunities to do that here and become connected to our community.”

The couple visited in July – “for maybe 24 hours,” Lameier said. “So we didn’t see a lot, but we found a place to live at The Blu, and everything was right there that we needed with being new to the community.”

Lake Lorraine in Sioux Falls, SD

They now live alongside Lake Lorraine, within an easy walk to groceries, shopping, dining and entertainment.

“It’s been an easy transition,” Lameier said.

“We’ve explored downtown, so that’s been fun, and we like hitting up new restaurants, so I’m always asking for recommendations. We’ve been to two hockey games, which is one more than we ever went to in Cincinnati, and even the networking has been good. I realized I can make connections. I used to feel like I knew everyone, but we went to a hockey game recently, and I already knew someone, so it’s been good.”

Michael Norris and Jamie Lameier

Her adult children also have been supportive of the move.

“I told them we were going on a new adventure probably somewhere you’d never guess, and my son actually guessed South Dakota,” she said. “My daughter even thought it would be nice to move west, so I encouraged her. If you have the time and opportunity and it works out, you should do it.”

Norris also has decided his initial impression of Sioux Falls was the right one.

“I think the community has a lot to offer,” he said. “We try a new restaurant at least once a week. And my daughter is happy for me too. I’m excited for her to come back out and show her the city we’ve learned to love and embrace.”

Are you looking to make a change, grow your career and connect to a community? Contact Denise Guzzetta at deniseg@siouxfalls.com to learn more about what Sioux Falls has to offer.

Talent Thursday with Gage Brothers

Talent Thursday is a weekly social media livestream event that spotlights talent and workforce in the Sioux Falls area by sharing the stories of young professionals in our community.

For Thursday, November 30, 2023, we caught up with Joe Bunkers, who is the President and Chairman of Gage Brothers Concrete Products in Sioux Falls, SD. He shares about Gage’s workforce strategy and the successes they’ve seen.

Talent Thursday is held weekly on Thursdays at 3 p.m. CT on the Sioux Falls Development Foundation’s Facebook page. Follow here: https://www.facebook.com/developsf

Talent Thursday

POWERED BY:

Forward Sioux Falls is a unique, innovative program designed to grow and improve the Sioux Falls region. Created through a joint venture between the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, we work to outline strategic initiatives to grow jobs, businesses and quality of life.

Crowd shares workforce strategies at sold-out annual summit

From talent development to attraction and retention, a crowd came together recently for the sold-out annual WIN in Workforce Summit produced by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

Panel at WIN in Workforce Summit 2023

“For this year, I wanted people to take away that we all have a seat at the table,” said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“We need to grow together. We need to be very inclusive. We need to be very collaborative. Let’s keep the employees that we have. Let’s work to train them and skill them and upskill them but also let’s look at our youth and say what do they want? What do they need? And really bring them to the table and have this conversation.”

Nancy Kerrigan speaks at WIN in Workforce Summit 2023

Headlined by Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, who reminded the crowd about the power of persevering through challenge, the WIN in Workforce Summit brought together executives, human resources leaders and high school students from the Sioux Falls Development Foundation’s Career Connections program to look at the changing needs of the workplace.

Click below for a recap of the day:

WIN in Workforce Summit 2023

From high school class to job site, Career Connections program leads students to employers

If Kayla Galindo-Lemus had never been exposed to various workplaces while still in high school, there’s a good chance she might not be working at Muth Electric today.

Instead, the Southeast Technical College student is learning on the job and in the classroom as the recipient of a full-ride Build Dakota Scholarship and a future full-time job at Muth.

“A lot of people are craving to have opportunity like that,” she said. “You go to places, you see the management, you see the people working, you see things getting built. I feel like you need to visualize things for you to like it.”

In her case, an interest in electrical work led to the scholarship and the job. That’s the goal of Career Connections, a program administered by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation and supported through Forward Sioux Falls. It exposes students — often the first in their family to go to college and first-generation Americans — to different workplaces and opportunities for job shadows, internships and ultimately supportive scholarships.

Muth Electric Build Dakota Scholarship Recipients

With Galindo-Lemus, “this is such a bright kid with such a great attitude, such a great worth ethic, and it’s so rewarding to see this is her choice and she is in a company that has been with us since day one,” said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

To watch her career journey from high school through employment, click below.

Career Connections Spotlight: Kayla Galindo Lemus

From South Dakota Indian reservations to leading at Amazon, area leader returns home and makes big impact

From now until at least the end of the year, Alyssa Holiday’s workdays will have little downtime.

Holiday, an area manager for Amazon, oversees one of the busiest sections of the online retailer’s fulfillment center at Foundation Park. It’s known as the “pick to pack” area, where items are picked and packed into boxes without ever touching a conveyor until they’re packaged.

Alyssa Holiday working at Amazon Warehouse in Sioux Falls SD

“She will be at full capacity the entire time,” assistant Sioux Falls site lead Vincent Gardner said.

Learn even a little about Holiday, though, and it’s clear she’s up to this – or seemingly any – task.

Born on the Pine Ridge Reservation and raised on the Yankton Reservation, she became high school valedictorian at Marty Indian School. An enrolled of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, she left South Dakota in 2007 “to pursue better opportunities,” she said.

After beginning her adult life as a stay-at-home mom, she became a single mother in 2014 and began working retail jobs in Florida. She joined Amazon in 2015 in a suburb of Tampa to gain more hours and be employed somewhere she could work at night while friends watched her young daughter.

Alyssa Holiday working at Amazon Warehouse in Sioux Falls SD

After two years as an entry-level associate packing boxes, she wanted to learn more. It took her to a different Amazon location in Florida, where ultimately “I learned to problem-solve and was an ambassador and trained all the new hires they were bringing in and did something other than constantly scanning,” Holiday said. “I was able to use my mind a little more.”

Her manager showed her an option to gain career skills on-site, and she took classes to learn computer skills as she began applying for her next promotion. She moved to another location in Florida as a logistics specialist, learning to plan routes for drivers and then learned of the chance to relocate to Des Moines, where ultimately she applied as area manager.

“I just wanted to keep moving up. I wanted to keep going,” she said. “My previous managers coached me in how to interview, and I was given the position, so I went from hourly pay to a salary and got to learn a lot.”

Alyssa Holiday working at Amazon Warehouse in Sioux Falls SD

Not only that, she led the No. 1 problem-solve launch team for Amazon in 2020.

“I learned so much about configuring things and following standards and making network changes,” she said. “Some of the standards I set in my building are now in every fulfillment center. For me, it was a big thing. I didn’t get to graduate college, and being able to do things at this caliber is very exciting and exhilarating to me. I consistently learn something new every day.”

Now 37, she moved to Sioux Falls early this year, a city she used to visit from Wagner to shop and see family in the area.

Alyssa Holiday working at Amazon Warehouse in Sioux Falls SD

“I like it because it’s a city but not really a big city,” Holiday said. “I grew up here, but I lived in Tampa and Orlando, and Des Moines is bigger, but Sioux Falls still gives you everything a city has, but it has small-town vibes, and the traffic is amazing.”

Inside Amazon, Holiday now is doing her own amazing things. She formed an affinity group for Native American team members that has grown to 45 people.

Native American employees at Amazon Warehouse in Sioux Falls SD

“I had tried doing it in Des Moines, and I was dead-set on starting this Indigenous affinity group when I got here. One of the first things I did was get senior approval,” she said.

“We had a land blessing, brought some medicine men here, and they prayed for the building and said some prayers and blessed the site, and we gave a land acknowledgement speech. It was amazing. People were crying. It was very fulfilling for me to see that.”

Now, all of South Dakota’s tribal flags hang in the Amazon employee locker room.

South Dakota's tribal flags in a locker room at Amazon Warehouse in Sioux Falls SD

“I never thought I’d see that as a Native American,” Holiday said. “We’re represented at Amazon. To me, that’s unheard of.”

The group already has volunteered for efforts like supporting Feeding South Dakota and wants to enhance its skills in science, technology, engineering and math and has offered help with resume-building. Holiday is working with a similar Amazon group in Seattle for help with workshops.

“We’re all still learning how to run this group, but we have huge plans,” she said. “I want to invest in them and give them the opportunities I didn’t have.”

Alyssa Holiday working at Amazon Warehouse in Sioux Falls SD

From leadership’s perspective, “she’s awesome,” Gardner said. “She does a lot for our site. She’s done some amazing things helping with the building launch and has lots of initiative and drive.”

While her work at Amazon keeps her busy, Holiday is enjoying family events she used to miss by living out of state and is enjoying calling herself a South Dakotan again.

“What Alyssa has done in her career is nothing short of remarkable, and the fact that she’s now offering a path forward for other Native American professionals is so exciting to us,” said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

Indigenous at Amazon display boards

“Amazon has shown itself to be a model employer as far as offering opportunities for employee growth and skill development, ongoing promotional opportunities and unique ways to engage its employees. There’s so much to take away from this story on so many levels.”

For Holiday, a career at Amazon has been “a great opportunity,” she said. “I don’t have a degree, and now I’m leading and developing the people that I used to be. For me, that’s a huge thing, and I tell that to my associates all the time: I used to be in your shoes.”

Are you ready to continue your career journey in Sioux Falls? Email deniseg@siouxfalls.com to get connected, or visit siouxfalls.com to learn more.

From California to Sioux Falls, nurse who doubles as DJ calls move a dream come true

Ny Bradley will tell you her Sioux Falls move has been nothing short of a love story – on multiple levels.

“My now fiance, Donny, and I met seven years ago and were madly in love in Texas,” she began. “He decided he was going to go to trucking school and do well, and he went off and did that, and I was working as a nurse.”

Ny and Donny

Donny’s job led him to settle in Sioux Falls, but when he asked Ny if she’d be willing to move too, she said no.

“Sioux Falls is an excellent hub for truckers. The roads are very truck-friendly, and he’s right in the middle of the country, so he’s home every five or six days, which is unheard of for truckers,” she said.

Volvo Semi Truck

“It’s best for his balance, and I understood that, but I was only 25 or 26 years old and wanted to travel and learn music.”

Bradley’s path led her from her native Texas to Los Angeles, where she continued to work as a nurse and went to school for music production with training in audio engineering.

But the two stayed in touch and after reconnecting last year realized “we were each other’s person,” she said. “For both of us, it was something where there was no question.”

After visiting Sioux Falls twice, “it was enough for me to realize I loved it, to my surprise,” Bradley said. “I don’t feel a need anymore to experience the fast life and these big parties, not that Sioux Falls doesn’t have places for that, but I realized what I wanted was to be in a community where I felt connected. That’s why I love being here. I’ve been here like a month, but every time I visited, people were amazing and so friendly.”

Ny and Donny

It didn’t take her long to connect to a like-minded community. After posting a message on Reddit asking about the electronic dance music, or EDM, scene in Sioux Falls, a response immediately suggested she check out an event being held at Full Circle Book Co-op downtown.

She met the host, himself a transplant from New York, “and he said there isn’t much of a scene here, so we decided to partner in some way to bring forward more EDM here,” she said. “Me being a DJ and producer and him being in management event coordination, we just meshed, and we’re going to make it happen. I think a lot of people in Sioux Falls, especially the younger generation, will be interested in hearing electronic music and not having to go to Coachella or New York to hear something, so that’s what we’re going to do.”

Ny Bradley

Bradley also is far from leaving her nursing career behind. While music became her outlet working as a COVID nurse during the pandemic, she held onto a dream of being a pediatric nurse in labor and delivery or the neonatal intensive care unit.

“I’ve been in critical care and worked as a COVID nurse and did a lot of medical surgical pediatric, but in LA, every time I would apply, they would tell me I needed two years of NICU experience. Well, without getting hired, how would I get it?” she said.

While she moved to Sioux Falls without a job, she applied for two at Avera Health on the drive east.

“I applied to the mother-baby unit and the NICU, and I was offered both positions,” she said. “I’m now a NICU nurse, and I start in a few weeks. I’m over the moon. I can’t tell you how much I’m falling in love with Sioux Falls. I’ve had dreams where I’ve been a baby nurse, and now that dream is coming true. My family dreams are coming true as is finding that community where it feels like this is a great place to have kids or have a startup, depending on what I do with my music.”

In the meantime, look for her at the next House Dance Music Show at Full Circle Book Co-op on Nov. 18 when she’ll be DJing, beginning at 10 p.m.

Ny Bradley

In her free time, she enjoys meditating at Falls Park, where she’s inspired with ideas for songs, as well as discovering unique experiences like corn mazes. She lives just south of Sioux Falls in Harrisburg and is loving her shorter commutes.

“I’m used to it taking 45 minutes to go to work, and this is the best. It takes me no time,” she said.

Bradley’s experience in Sioux Falls might sound too good to be true, but it’s not outside the norm, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“Everything you’ve heard from Ny about her experience can be replicated and is reflective of what this community offers,” she said. “It is an outstanding place for health care, for trucking, for the arts and for those interested in starting a business and starting a family. It is as easy to get connected as Ny has found. We’re thrilled she and Donny will be starting their life together here and can’t wait to see how they continue to contribute to building our community for others.”

Ny and Donny

How does Bradley know the community is ready for her to put her unique spin on it? She thinks back to that first house show downtown, where she saw everyone from teenagers to people in their 70s dancing away.

“A man put his cane down and got on the dance floor. I didn’t even see this in Los Angeles,” she said. “It filled my heart with so much joy and confirmation that this is what I want. Sioux Falls ended up being literally everything I wanted, and I feel like one of the best things I can do is contribute something back.”

Are you ready to continue your career journey in Sioux Falls? Email deniseg@siouxfalls.com to get connected, or visit siouxfalls.com to learn more.

DSU’s Griffiths: AI-driven workforce disruption is coming fast

In a matter of weeks, Dakota State University President José-Marie Griffiths will speak to U.S. senators about workforce and economic disruption.

But you can hear her thoughts on the topic sooner than that in Sioux Falls.

Dr. Jose Marie Griffiths

Griffiths will help lead off the WIN in Workforce Summit on Nov. 1 as part of the panel Talent Talk: Get To Know the People Changing Our Workforce Landscape. The annual event will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sioux Falls Convention Center and will bring together thought leaders such as Griffiths for a look at what the future holds for talent development, attraction and retention.

“Clearly, we’ve got to talk about the role of technology, both the positive and negative, what you should and should not do with it,” said Griffiths, a leading authority on artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.

“It’s important to educate everyone about how these technologies work, and it’s becoming more important as AI is playing a role in so many people’s lives. The whole conversation around it has completely changed in the last six months. Many businesses are using AI without necessarily even realizing they’re using AI, and some are still thinking AI just began when actually it’s been around since the 1950s.”

The landscape is rapidly changing, however, and workforce will be disrupted because of it.

“Certainly within five years, maybe in three. It’s going to move quickly,” Griffiths said. “Everyone is concerned about it replacing jobs and how we’re going to retrain people who lose their jobs to something else. Some of these jobs will be doing very different things, and we’ll be learning how to work with technology rather than away from technology.”

While there will be the need to upskill in areas, Griffiths said the “power skills” – or what you might think of as soft skills – are going to be just as critical in facing the future.

“Your ability to communicate and adapt and work well and learn while doing, ask questions and be curious will be key,” she said. “It’s not about looking at your job as something with finality but looking at it as something with context and being open to working with different technology and systems and approaches. We’re all doing it right now. We’re just going to have to become a little more comfortable with change.”

For her own workforce needs at Dakota State, Griffiths said she has found success by casting out her recruitment efforts beyond her traditional geography.

“We’re targeting areas with people who have the qualifications we need and going beyond our normal range of locations,” she said. “Most recently, five of six people we brought in for interviews are from areas we wouldn’t have touched before. And additionally, we’re working closely with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and sending people to trade shows related to cybersecurity, so we have a presence together and can both talk about the benefits of locating in South Dakota.”

She also has a message for business leaders looking to hire DSU graduates: Get engaged early and often.

“We have career fairs, but we also have employers regularly visiting campus. They might visit a couple classes and talk about the interesting things they do or host a pizza reception for students to meet them and chat,” she said. “It’s not enough to pitch them a job. We have to pitch them a career. We have to talk about the opportunities available to advance and the pathways that exist to do interesting things.”

It’s the kind of insight attendees can expect all day at the WIN Summit, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“Dr. Griffiths is the perfect example of the thought leadership and actionable advice you’ll take with you at this event,” she said. “Even in the last year, the conversation around AI has completely evolved, and it’s critical to tap into what forward-thinking leaders are doing today to get ready for tomorrow.”

About the WIN in Workforce Summit

Sessions at the WIN in Workforce Summit are eligible for nine SHRM and HRCI recertification credits. The Sioux Falls Development Foundation is recognized by SHRM to offer professional development credits for SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP® recertification activities.

Space is limited for this transformative event, so register soon here to reserve your seat.

Nancy Kerrigan previews keynote address at WIN in Workforce Summit

Olympic figure skater and author Nancy Kerrigan knows what it takes to achieve big goals and career growth.

She’ll bring that message to Sioux Falls for the WIN in Workforce Summit, produced by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 1 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.

Kerrigan’s keynote address, “Stronger Than You Think You Are,” will inspire and challenge the crowd to tackle talent attraction, retention and development with a fresh perspective.

We caught up with her for a preview of what you can expect.

What’s the core message you plan to deliver at the WIN in Workforce Summit?

Preparation and perseverance allow you to keep pressure in perspective and deliver maximum performance.

As you travel the country speaking, what are some of the needs you see businesses facing in terms of talent attraction, development and retention? What are some things leaders can do to address that?

The most important thing in creating an environment that allows for preparation and performance is a strong support system. Putting people in place to provide the tools necessary for success and showing how that works in reality is critical. Have a good team around you and trust them.

Many in the workforce today and tomorrow will find they must continually upskill to evolve their career. You also have evolved your career multiple times and likely continue to look at new avenues. What are some strategies you’ve found to be successful in positioning your own career for the future that might be helpful to others?

Letting go of the past and having curiosity. While I will always be “the skater” to the rest of the world, for me, I have to evolve to keep growing. So putting the past in perspective and being curious about new things is very helpful.

In addition to your professional life, you’re a mother of three children navigating their middle school, high school and post-college lives. What are some generational characteristics you’re noticing in them related to education and career, and how have you been guiding them?

All the technology that they have access to means they interact with people in a different way than past generations. But face-to-face communication is still critical in my opinion. So I try to counsel them in the area of interpersonal skills, which I still think is the most important thing we can learn because we still have to live with each other.

Your career will be remembered for many reasons but certainly for your resilience – a critical element for success in the workplace today. What advice would you give to those looking to address their own resilience or lead others toward stronger resiliency?

When you fall down, which we all do, get back up. I have been told that an elite skater falls 40,000 times in their career, which means they also get up 40,000 times! We are all stronger than we think we are, so if you prepare well, you can handle just about anything.

About the WIN in Workforce Summit

Sessions at the WIN in Workforce Summit are eligible for nine SHRM and HRCI recertification credits. The Sioux Falls Development Foundation is recognized by SHRM to offer professional development credits for SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP® recertification activities.

Space is limited for this transformative event, so register soon here to reserve your seat.

Avera leaders to detail changing strategies to meet workforce needs

Despite a workforce of more than 20,000, every team at Avera Health essentially comes together in the same way every day.

It’s called Daily Line-Up, a daily huddle with a central topic, a question to get people talking and a daily prayer to provide a moment of fellowship.

“It’s a chance to come together, communicate and be reminded of our shared mission,” said Julie Lautt, interim CEO and chief financial officer. “But even traditions like these are being reimagined by hybrid departments as they look for new ways to engage both remote and in-office employees in these conversations.”

Julie Lautt Avera Health

The simple practice – and how it’s evolving – captures the spirit of workforce development today. It’s a blend of lifting up best practices while acknowledging even they often must evolve with the workplace’s changing landscape.

“Health care can be very hard work,” said Dr. Ron Place, who became CEO of Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center earlier this year. “We saw during COVID, locally and nationally, some people with long-term careers in health care chose to leave the profession. We need to think innovatively to support our workforce and harness technology to extend our workforce, especially in rural areas.”

Dr. Ron Place Avera Health

Both Lautt and Place will share some of Avera’s strategies at the upcoming WIN in Workforce Summit, produced by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. The event will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 1 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center, featuring speakers from a range of industries.

For Avera, those strategies are a long list that starts with the system’s mission.

“We hope to show just how important it is to fully walk the walk when it comes to our people being the vital piece of our organization they truly are, as well as how we strive to live and breathe our mission every day,” Place said.

Other approaches Avera plans to share include:

  • The streamlining of HR processes, from simplified interview scheduling to reducing barriers for job applicants.
  • Working with education partners on creative ways to fill critical needs.
  • The creation of an internal staffing organization aimed at filling jobs and improving retention, with opportunities to place both temporary workers and traveling nurses.

Avera leadership also plans to address communitywide issues impacting workforce, including affordable housing, transportation and building bridges for new American, immigrant and refugee populations to access career opportunities.

“I see that new doors are opening all the time in working with our diverse populations, but that’s an area of challenge,” Place said. “At Avera, we want to be the employer of choice for diverse populations.”

At the WIN Summit, Lautt will be part of the opening session titled Talent Talk: Meet the People Changing Our Workforce Landscape.

Dr. Ron Place Avera Health

“Leading in health care takes innovative thinking. Avera also has a unique approach because of our dedication to rural health and workforce,” she said. “We had the foresight to raise our minimum wage to $17 per hour and to improve benefits, despite national health systems shifting in the other direction. We could see this people-centered industry needed a workforce investment, and it’s that kind of thinking that has made Avera a leader for over a century.”

It also has helped with retention. Avera has more than 1,300 employees who have been part of the organization for at least 25 years, and many spend entire careers there.

“We will have critical workforce areas we are focusing on for the future,” Lautt said, adding some of the strategies being brought forward include streamlining the hiring process and partnering with university and technical schools to ensure students choose and understand areas of opportunity.

“Leaders will need to focus both on culture-building of people in the office with them and for remote employees,” she added. “This will take fresh ideas and a continual focus to keep remote employees engaged with a mission that will need to stretch beyond our facilities.”

Place will be part of a panel called New Leaders, New Rules, New Culture that will allow him to share the leadership philosophy he brought to Avera McKennan.

“I challenge my leaders to build, sustain and know their high performers and foster individual development,” he said. “It’s important to empower employees to encourage creativity. Strong leaders give credit for success, yet they take on responsibility and ensure accountability for failure.”

They also underpromise and overdeliver, he added.

“Outcomes matter. While our intentions are important, it is our actions that are critical,” Place said. “I encourage my leaders to challenge assumptions. Things don’t have to be the way they’ve always been, and, in fact, it’s impossible to keep everything the same and continue to experience success and sustainability. It’s why standardization and innovation are both key.”

About the WIN in Workforce Summit

Sessions at the WIN in Workforce Summit are eligible for nine SHRM and HRCI recertification credits. The Sioux Falls Development Foundation is recognized by SHRM to offer professional development credits for SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP® recertification activities.

Space is limited for this transformative event, so register soon here to reserve your seat.