Skip to main content

Thank You Event

2018 Thank You Event


David Birkeland Memorial Award - This award is given to the business or professional leader who most exemplifies David Birkeland’s involvement in United Way and our community.  A tribute to David reads: His smile invited conversation, his manner put strangers at ease, his style engendered trust and his humor broke down barriers.  Dave was a servant leader whose example was an expression of his spirit.

Presented to: Jeff Scherschligt - The dedication that Jeff has displayed to Sioux Empire United Way and to the community of Sioux Falls is remarkable. For nearly three decades Jeff has not only supported United Way financially but his volunteer involvement is extensive. He has volunteered as the 1996 Campaign Chair, served as a Corporate gifts campaigner, a Heart Club Coordinator, cabinet member, Alexis de Tocqueville Society campaigner, Broaden the Base committee member, Bullpen member, and is a founding member of Sioux Empire United Way's  Legacy Heart Club. Jeff and his wife Katie have been members of the Alexis de Tocqueville Society for 21 years, supporting our annual campaign with a tremendous financial gift. Using his leadership and fundraising skills, Jeff led the private fundraising effort that resulted in Good Earth State Park, the first new state park in a decade. In addition, he was the Chamber Drive Co- Chair for the Great Bear Recreation Park in 1997. His passion for giving back has been recognized with his recent induction into the South Dakota Hall of Fame, and the Spirit of Augustana Award in 2011. Jeff represents what David Birkeland believed in for our community. He is a passionate advocate for the citizens of Sioux Falls and for South Dakota, and is known for his inspiration to continually make a difference.



Larry Oppold Memorial Award - This award is given to a human services professional for outstanding dedication to his or her work and for demonstrating the qualities that Larry believed in during his life.  Larry was a thoughtful, caring, and compassionate person who acted as an advocate for those in need.

Presented to: Rebecca Kiesow-Knudsen - Rebecca Kiesow-Knudsen has spent her entire professional career serving the people of Sioux Falls through the many programs she oversees at Lutheran Social Services. Since getting her first job after college 17 years ago as director of LSS’s mentoring program, she has been at the forefront of Lutheran Social Services' expanding community partnerships. Over the past five years, Rebecca has collaborated with Sioux Empire United Way in developing three new initiatives: USucceed, Better Together, and this year’s initiative, PATH. Rebecca has also led the growth of: prison re-entry services; telehealth counseling services; in-home therapy for families involved in the juvenile justice system; expanded after-school programs; and citizenship education for new Americans. In addition to her work, Rebecca has served in many community and state roles, including: Sioux Falls Tomorrow, local juvenile justice reform, Levitt at the Falls performance venue, the state’s Crime Victims Compensation Commission, and she serves on a workgroup for the Department of Corrections’ Criminal Justice Initiative. 



Helen E. (Oppold) Blair Memorial Award - This award is to be presented to an individual whose work in human services, law enforcement, education, or church based fields towards child abuse prevention and early intervention is exemplary. 

Presented to Diane Bauch - Diane Bauch has been a Court Appointed Special Advocate since March 2007. In her role as a CASA Volunteer, Diane advocates for abused and neglected children in our community. Diane spends on average, 12 to 15 months on each case, learning about each child from parents, educators, therapists and other service providers. She then compiles a report for the judge whom will determine if it's safe for a child to return home or if the parental rights need to be terminated. Diane has said being a CASA Volunteer is ‘what she was meant to do’; it is her ‘purpose in life’.  She credits her employer, The First National Bank in Sioux Falls, for providing opportunities for volunteering. Since joining CASA, Diane has worked with nine different families, given a voice to 23 children, and volunteered over 2000 hours.




Heart Club Philanthropist Award - This award is given to a Heart Club member or company who has demonstrated active involvement and has also encouraged or influenced others to contribute. 

Presented to: Shelly Johnson - Shelly has been volunteering in various roles within the campaign and allocations committees for over 20 years. Shelly has a true passion for United Way and a self-proclaimed “love” of our Campaign Cabinet. This most likely comes from her work in making funding decisions as a member of the Seniors allocations committee. This year, Shelly served as our Heart Club Chair for the 2018 Campaign. She had an early strategy and was determined to communicate the Heart Club message to as many people as would listen to her. She spoke at numerous trainings and rallies. Whether she was talking to part-time support staff or the CEO of a company, Shelly stressed the significance of Heart Club, often citing that many Heart Club givers make the decision to give because they have used United Way services in the past. In addition to her work as Heart Club Chair, Shelly became an honorary member of Team 2, picking up accounts that needed help and making last-minute calls to secure the goal.



Brent Weiler Bulldog Award - Awarded to a Team 2 Sioux Empire United Way volunteer who has shown determination and persistence in working with small businesses to achieve campaign success. 

Presented to: Nicole Burns - When it comes to being an advocate for the United Way, putting in the extra effort to make a difference and NEVER taking “no thank you” for a response, Nicole Burns truly exemplifies the spirit of the Brent Weiler Bull Dog Award! Brent would have appreciated her efforts working with a couple smaller businesses, ones that she called on for three years until she got through to the right contacts.  Her persistence paid off this year: one held an employee rally for the first time and both made financial contributions totaling $650 in new money, and more importantly, she now has established a foundation for future growth with those businesses. As an experienced campaigner and section chair for Team A, Nicole oversaw a small but fierce team of campaigners.  Her team pulled in a combined gift of $74,302, a 6.8% increase from last year.  


Rich Garry Rookie of the Year Award - This award is given to a first-time Sioux Empire United Way volunteer who has stepped up and made a tremendous impact in their role, helping to fulfill the mission of Sioux Empire United Way. 

Presented to: Vicki Nelson - Vicki jumped into her new role as State Government Division Chair with confidence and determination. From day one, her organizational skills were amazing. She had her departments all lined up and ready to call right away. She made sure she had all the information she needed to be successful with her campaign. She kept an upbeat attitude and not once shied away from a challenge. She used her skill set to line up department reps in a timely manner and was a key leader in the combined government bean bag tournament with great success. Vicki proved to be a valuable asset to our team through her great organizational skills, fun attitude, and ability to learn on the go.




Volunteer of the Year Award - This award is given to the volunteer who selflessly and generously gives of his or her time and talents to help fulfill the mission of the Sioux Empire United Way. 

Presented to: Kate Kotzea - Kate volunteers in many ways within United Way, on both Campaign and Community Impact sides. She first began her involvement with United Way in the 2011 Campaign as a Loaned Executive. Since 2013, she has been helping as a Division Chair in Team 1 employee gifts, a team that raises over 50% of the overall campaign goal. In addition to her Campaign work, she has been volunteering on the Success By 6 Community Impact Team since 2015, where she helps in making funding decisions for various agencies. Kate also served on the Steering Committee for when United Way's new young professionals group, Emerging Leaders, was started. Kate helped to plan the group’s launch in 2015 and served on the committee for 3 years. In addition to her multiple roles within United Way, this year she was also tasked with leading Click Rain's United Way campaign, working to increase involvement in United Way giving.



Business of the Year Award - This award is given to the company or organization that has greatly benefited Sioux Empire United Way through its generosity and/or its employee’s involvement.  Businesses are broken down into three categories that correlate with their employee #s: 1-100 employees, 101-500 employees, and 500+ employees. 

Business of the Year, 1-100 Employees: ReliaMax - ReliaMax has consistently increased their employee giving for the past several years. In the past five years, their campaign has more than doubled. This year alone was a 15% increase in employee giving.  This growth included an increase in Heart Club members from 26 to 34 and they achieved 92% participation. This company always makes their campaign a fun and inviting opportunity for their employees to donate.  This year they did a Harry Potter theme and created an experience just like being at Hogwarts in person! The Employee Campaign Manager, Terri Fisher, has a great relationship with United Way and always keeps the organization looped in with their campaign each year.  This business is a shining example of what it means to donate a difference!


Business of the Year, 101-500 Employees: Five Star Call Centers - For over 30 years, Five Star Call Centers has been heavily involved in participating and raising money for Sioux Empire United Way and this year was no exception. Five Star’s employees set the bar once again in all statistics that they were hoping to, which includes a 13% increase in participation. The 152 Heart Club and Rising Heart Members contributed to raising $76,671. During rally week, there was lots of food and a companywide drawing which involved prizes like a Nintendo Switch, an Amazon Echo, and Paul Schiller prints. Every employee was given time to go to a rally led by one of our 12 campaign volunteers while on the clock. In addition to their own employee campaign, 14 Five Star Call Centers team members volunteer within the community campaign, their combined campaign accounts raised more than $150,000. An additional employee also serves on the Steering Committee for Emerging Leaders.


Business of the Year, 500 + Employees: First PREMIER Bank/PREMIER Bankcard - When it comes to philanthropy, this company goes big (and not just in the size of the checks they present). First PREMIER/PREMIER Bankcard has been a critical component of United Way for many years, and continues to raise the bar. This year, employees set out to reach a goal of one million dollars, nearly 10% of the overall Sioux Empire United Way goal, and they did just that. In fact, when they were just shy of where they wanted to be, T. Denny Sanford stepped in to make sure they hit it. Their success stems from a number of components; in particular the tremendous support they receive from leadership in Dana Dykhouse, Miles Beacom, and Dave Rozenboom, to give back to the community in various ways. The spirit of philanthropy is instilled in the company’s culture, with more Heart Club Members than any other organization in Sioux Falls. In addition to their financial contributions to the campaign each year, employees also volunteer in various roles from assembling Coins for Kids supplies, to passing out pledge cards and campaigning in businesses around the Sioux Empire, and serving in community impact, making funding decisions for agencies.





Previous Award Winners