President's Blog

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  • 08/12/2021 8:50 PM | Anonymous member

    The last time SESHRM members met in person for a monthly meeting was February 2020.   It’s crazy to think of the impacts COVID has had on our personal and work lives.  The SESHRM Board has made the decision it’s time to come back and enjoy the networking that really only happens in person.  As I mentioned last month, you are able to attend virtually if attending in person doesn’t work.    It will be our first real test drive so please be patient with us. 

    Our August meeting will be presented by Rachel Gackle, Employee Benefits Consultant with Marsh & McLennan Agency.   She will discuss the importance of effectively managing out benefit packages.  And to do so we need to keep a pulse on current business trends and advancements in the health care delivery system, and how this impacts our employers. As health plan costs continue to outpace inflation, strategies shift toward cost containment: Uncertainty appears to be at an all-time high—about the ACA, about COVID and vaccinations, about access to health care and affordability. What are some smart ways for employers to contain health care costs? How can technology and digital health be used to improve access and drive down costs? 

    Keep in mind….there will be no monthly meeting in September because of the State Conference being held in Sioux Falls on September 15th – 17th.  I am super excited for all of the keynote and breakout sessions!   Get registered today!

    I hope everyone is having a nice summer and have had a chance to take time with your family. 

    Mary Jo Vance, SHRM-SCP

    SESHRM President

  • 07/11/2021 9:21 AM | Anonymous member

    The decision has been made…..we will do our first ever in-person/zoom meeting for our monthly meeting in August. Our monthly meeting attendance during the last year of being virtual has been strong so our thought is that members like the flexibility of attending from their home/office. However, we also believe there are members that want to attend in-person. The one ask the SESHRM Board has is to be patient with us! During our first month we may experience some bumps but we won’t know if it works unless we try it! Watch for more details in the next few weeks!

    The State Conference is being held in Sioux Falls on September 15th – 17th. The registration link is on our home page. Be sure to get registered because we have a great variety of speakers, vendors and a chance to network with HR professionals from all over the state!

    And even though this year State Conference hasn’t even been held yet, the Watertown Chapter has started planning for the 2022 State Conference. They are in the process of forming subcommittees, and need representatives from each chapter to sit on the speaker and vendor committees. If you are interested in being a part of this, email me at  

    The July Monthly Meeting will be packed with great information on “Reinforcing the Basics of Compensation”. The meeting will be facilitated by Alternative HRD, LLC Consultants Karen DeLange, Julie Nelson, Kayla Johnson and Sarah Meusburger where they will outline:  Compensation Philosophy, Job Classification, Wage Analysis and Compensation Systems.

  • 06/14/2021 8:49 AM | Anonymous member

    June is here but it feels more like a Hot July! As I mentioned last month, SESHRM has a lot going on behind the scenes. This month we were able to host a New Member Orientation. This is a great way for our members to hear more about SESHRM and “meet” other new members. Especially since they have not had the opportunity to meet any of us in person. I don’t know about you, but I am ready for that.  And that’s one of the items we have been working on. Currently trying to work through the technology issues of having a Zoom call and in person event at the same time for our monthly meetings. I should have a solid update for you next month. Thanks to J.R. Rowenhorst and the rest of the Technology Sub-committee for moving this forward.

    Thanks to everyone that expressed an interest in the SESHRM Board Positions. I am excited to announce that we have filled both positions.

    Christina Cota has accepted the Co-Programs Director position. Christina has worked in Human Resources for over 20 years. I have had the pleasure of being on a few Spring Conference Committees with her and know she will bring great ideas to the group! I want to take this time to thank Kayla Johnson from Alternative HRD who has been in this position since the beginning of the year. She quickly jumped into things and has brought some great energy.

    Ashley Donley has accepted our newly created Communications Director position! Ashley has been working in Human Resources the last several years and is currently the HR Director at South Dakota Innovation Partners, LLC. She is already thinking about new and creative ways to communicate to our members and I know will make a great addition to our SESHRM Board. Please help me welcoming both of these ladies!

    The State Conference will be here before we know it…. September 15th to 17th. I am on the speaker committee and we have a great line up for everyone! Be watching for registration information soon.

    Our June meeting is an Employment Update with Nicole J. Mohning, Partner with Cutler Law Firm, LLP in Sioux Falls presenting. She will be providing some important legal updates which is always helpful for our members. Have a great month!

    Mary Jo Vance, SHRM-CP

    SESRHM President

  • 05/17/2021 11:34 AM | Anonymous member

    This year is not slowing down for the SESHRM Board. I continue to be amazed by all of our Board Members with their attitudes of “Getting Things Done!” I like one of Steve Jobs quotes, “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a TEAM of people.” We have a great team of people that are passionate about the success of SESHRM. So…. who would like to join in our success!?   We currently have two Boards positions available. The first one is a Programs Co-Director and the second one is a newly created Communications Director. Look on the front page of our website for more details and send me an e-mail at if you are interested!

    Let’s also talk about the other things we are getting done:

    • Our 7 Member Resource Groups have had their initial meetings in April. I was able to attend one of the Senior Leadership group and am excited to network with other HR professionals in a more intimate environment that will allow for more collaboration.
    • Let’s talk Technology:
      • I informed members that we will be introducing texting. Please go in and update your profile to include your cell phone numbers. Our plan is to text twice per month and members can opt out at any time.
      • Our plan is to continue to utilize Zoom for our monthly meetings for the time being.  We are researching if zoom and in-person can be offered simultaneously. Our monthly attendance continues to be strong while offering zoom; however, we believe there are members that would like an in-person option. The SESHRM Board will be conducting a test run and iron out any bugs prior to offering it at a monthly meeting.
    • Sarah Hanson, President Elect, is working with the Salary Survey committee to ensure we are offering some valuable salary information in a continued tight labor market.
    • Krysta Widman, Certification Director, met with the current SESHRM members that are participating in the Certification Preparation Course. Be watching for new Certified Members soon.  Good luck to all!
    • Alex Clark, Legislative Directive, attended the SHRM Legislative Conference virtually. He also was chosen to be the member daily host on one of the days. Thanks for your work on this Alex!

    Our May monthly meeting will be one you won’t want to miss!! Elisa Garn is a VP of Thought Leadership & Brand Marketing – GBS Benefits and Utah SHRM Executive Director. Elisa will be discussing How HR can transition from a tactical operator to a strategic partner.

    Hope everyone has a great May!  

    Mary Jo Vance, SHRM-SCP
    SESHRM Chapter President

  • 05/17/2021 11:21 AM | Anonymous member

    We have a great opportunity to join our SESHRM Board.  The SESHRM Board has made the decision to add an additional Board Position…. a Communications Director Position.  This position will be responsible for evaluating communications channels that SESHRM should utilize.     They will also be responsible for posting all social media posts and updating the SESHRM website.  

    In addition, we have an opening for a Co-Programs Director Position.  This position facilitates the program committee and hold primary responsibility for administering all programming activities for the monthly meetings.

    Please reach out to Mary Jo Vance, SESHRM President, at if you are interested and for a copy of the either job description!

  • 04/09/2021 9:28 AM | Anonymous member

    Wow first quarter 2021 is complete…. we continue to make great strides at SESHRM, and we are excited for what is yet to come! 

    Did you register for one (or more) of our Member Resource Groups? If so, watch for more information soon about our first meetings. THANK you to all of the volunteers who signed up to be facilitators. Keep in mind, our intention is not for these groups to be separate from SESHRM, but more of an extension for deeper learning and more networking!

    Do you recall me mentioning in January that SESHRM was getting creative on how we communicate to our members? Next up…. texting to our members!  We will utilize this to inform members of events, surveys, or when we are looking for nominations for Professional of the Year, Employer of the Year Award, etc. or when we are seeking volunteers for Board Positions! See link on the Board Positions that will be available in 2022…. never too early to start thinking about it. Look for more information on this in the newsletter.

    The South Dakota SHRM State Conference is being held in Sioux Falls on September 15– 17, 2021. The committees are busy planning for this event. If you haven’t attended a state conference it is an awesome time to network, gain new insights and rejuvenate. We have some amazing speakers on deck to help do just that!   Speaking of State Conference…. who would like to win a State Conference registration??!! I will be announcing the names of two members at the April meeting that will be randomly drawn from our membership.

    Our April meeting is indeed on 4/20 and we will be discussing marijuana, CBD Oil & Opioids:  Employer Rights and Responsibilities. The 4/20 was not intentional but seems fitting.  J  Employment law attorneys, Jeff Shultz and Seth Lopour, from the Woods Fuller law firm will help clarify how employers can handle the complicated and controversial issues that arise in the workplace with employee use and misuse of legal/illegal substances. They will give us the latest updates on marijuana legislation in South Dakota.

    Mary Jo Vance, SRHM-SCP
    SESHRM Chapter President

  • 03/03/2021 6:14 PM | Anonymous member

    I am so thankful that we made it to March, and I am positive spring is coming!  Plus, I am super excited for the launch of our new Newsletter template! Thanks to all the SESHRM Board members that have worked on this!

    As I write the March newsletter, I think back to what our world looked like a YEAR ago. When all this craziness started, I never thought this is where we would be today, and we have definitely had to adapt. As HR Professionals, we need to be leaders in the transformation of what our workplace will look like in the future. Our March session will be on the 5 principles that employers can use for caring for employees during COVID: Gratitude, Generosity, Patience, Communication and Restraint (or Pace). These principles can be used by HR to facilitate conversations with leaders and managers in their own organizations. Tim Heerts, EAP Clinical Specialist at Avera EAP will be presenting this informational session. Come prepared to not only gain understanding of these principles, but to also share and exchange best ideas with attendees.

    And speaking of sharing best practices…. we have had a great response to our Resource Groups. If you have signed up, be watching for more information coming soon. And if you didn’t get a chance to sign up and are still interested, please reach out to Kerry Bamsey at

    SESHRM will be hosting the State Conference in September 2021 which is a huge undertaking and planning. If you are interested in helping, please contact Jen Adix at

    Hope to “see” everyone during our March Meeting.

    Mary Jo Vance, SHRM-SCP

  • 01/14/2021 7:30 AM | JR Rowenhorst (Administrator)

    Happy New Year! What a year 2020 was….both professionally and personally! I am proud of the SESHRM Board for pivoting quickly to a virtual environment to offer timely and important programs. The Board held their Annual Strategic Meeting to determine initiatives for 2021.

    • Technology/Communications – This initiative will examine what can be utilized to ensure we are offering state of the art technology. In addition, there is consideration of making changes to the newsletter and different ways of keeping in touch with the members.
    • Chapter Experience – We want to continue to review program offerings and also if there are different avenues that could be created such as special interest groups, book clubs and/or networking opportunities.
    • Membership/Emerging HR Professionals – This initiative will be centered on recruiting and retaining SESHRM members. Also, we want to collaborate with SESHRM members who are early in their career and provide tools for them to be successful.

    The Board had lots of discussion on the challenges of the year and not being able to meet in person. We MISS seeing everyone and MISS hearing from you. One of the first things I would like to do is meet with some members via zoom and facilitate focus groups. I will be randomly picking members but if you are interested in participating, please e-mail me at

    On January 19th, we will be holding our January half-day session. Brandon Schaefer will be presenting The Prioritized Leader. This seminar is designed to help leaders to identify their current priorities, obtain guidance on how to correctly order those priorities, and spread the impact of the priorities throughout their organization. Every registrant will have the opportunity complete a Prioritized Leader Assessment and receive a personalized TPL report. Watch for in your e-mails to complete!

    Lastly, we would like to extend a special Thank You to our outgoing SESHRM Board Members; Tammy Loos and Karen DeLange. A warm welcome to Kayla Johnson and Krysta Widman as our newest Board Member.

    Thank you for the opportunity to serve as the SESHRM President!

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Sioux Empire SHRM is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization. | PO Box 1302 | Sioux Falls, SD 57101 | Chapter #217

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