Dr. Priscilla Romkema, dean of the College of Business and Technology at Black Hills State University, was named the Women in Business Champion of the Year, a distinction that is presented to someone who has fulfilled a commitment to the advancement of women’s business ownership.
Leigh Kamstra, chef/owner of Roma’s Ristorante and Black Hills State University, alumnus was named Small Business Person of the Year for 2011.

Dr. Priscilla Romkema, dean of the College of Business and Technology at Black Hills State University, and Leigh Kamstra, chef/owner of Roma’s Ristorante and BHSU alumnus, were recently honored by the South Dakota Small Business Administration (SBA) with statewide awards.

Join us to celebrate these exceptional women May 12 at the Celebrating Women in Business Luncheon in Spearfish.

Romkema was named the Women in Business Champion of the Year, a distinction that is presented to someone who has fulfilled a commitment to the advancement of women’s business ownership.

Kamstra was named Small Business Person of the Year for 2011. As South Dakota’s top small business person, Kamstra will be competing against entrepreneurs from across the nation for the title of National Small Business Person of the Year.

We are honored to have two BHSU graduates selected for these prestigious awards,” BHSU President Kay Schallenkamp says. “Dr. Priscilla Romkema is known for her positive leadership style, her successful goal oriented mission, and her personal communication skills that have created numerous opportunities for her to be a strong advocate for students and faculty as well as entrepreneurs. We are delighted that Leigh Kamstra decided to return to the home of her alma mater to establish her highly successful Italian restaurant that continues to earn praise from across the nation.”

A Spearfish native, Dr. Priscilla Romkema earned an undergraduate degree from BHSU in instrumental music and later a master’s degree in business education and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Wyoming. Her teaching background includes faculty positions at the University of Wyoming, Northern Michigan University, and the Independent Institute of Russian Entrepreneurship in Moscow, Russia. She served as a training advisor with the Environmental Policy and Technology Project in Russia and as an office manager in London, England.

Romkema joined the BHSU faculty in 1997 and was promoted in 2007 to her current position as dean of the College of Business and Technology which consists of two departments (business and industrial technology) with 25 full-time faculty members and 650 students. She is leading the faculty in their collective pursuit of the prestigious AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accreditation, which will allow BHSU to be recognized as one of 596 member institutions in the U.S. and 37 countries. Romkema is known for her strong support of faculty members in their continual efforts to be actively engaged in entrepreneurial applied research, publications, and presentations.

Under Romkema’s leadership to advance the research and public service elements of its mission, the College of Business and Technology also supports:

  • SD Center for Enterprise Opportunity (SD CEO)--the new Women’s Business Center at BHSU that provides business assistance and training to current and prospective entrepreneurs. While services are available to all those interested in entrepreneurship, there is an emphasis on women, women veterans, Native Americans, socially and/or economically disadvantaged individuals and youth entrepreneurs. Funded by an SBA grant, the SD CEO has provided 32 training sessions, seminars, events, and/or collaborative opportunities with 739 participants: 341 women, 66 veterans, and 114 minorities from 18 communities in South Dakota.
  • Center for Business, Entrepreneurship and Tourism (CBET) – the Center which conducts research for and provides technical assistance to South Dakota’s tourism industry to help entrepreneurs and established business owners who looking for new avenues of growth.
  • Center for Economic Education (CEE) – a Center focused on economic literacy for South Dakota K-12 teachers and students. Their main economic education program is the South Dakota Stock Market Game program. In addition to that, they provide teacher training workshops and economic education resources to integrate economic lesson plans in a variety of grade levels and subjects.

Giving back to one’s community, region, and profession is one of Romkema’s core values. She is a member and past president of the Zonta Club of Spearfish as well as the current president of the Spearfish Area Community Foundation. She is a former member and president of both the Spearfish Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) Board of Directors and the Spearfish Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Nationally, she serves as the National Association for Business Teacher Education (NABTE) director and serves on the National Business Education Association (NBEA) executive committee.

Romkema and her husband, Fred, are enthusiastic runners and have competed in many marathons. She has qualified for seven Boston Marathons.

Spearfish businesswoman and chef Leigh Kamstra, who was named the Small Business Person of the Year, returned to the home of her alma mater to establish a restaurant. Kamstra, who graduated from BHSU in 1982, grew up in Brookings.

After graduating from BHSU, she spent 10 years in the banking industry, three years in California and another seven years in Denver before deciding to follow her passion as a cook and eventually a successful entrepreneur.

Kamstra’s business, Roma's Ristorante, draws patrons from all over the Black Hills and across the region. Roma's has earned a reputation for an exceptional atmosphere along with outstanding food and service. She created a unique restaurant to fill a specific niche in the community and has enjoyed a decade of success.

After nine years in downtown Spearfish, Kamstra had outgrown her rented space and moved her successful restaurant to a new building that doubled the seating capacity while maintaining the warmth and atmosphere. Roma’s seats 170 people indoors, including 50 seats in a private room, plus 30 on the back deck and 15 on each of two patios.
Before the move from the leased location downtown, Roma’s had 11 employees. Now, in the new building, Kamstra has increased her employee number to 35.

Kamstra’s restaurant serves high quality, consistently good Italian food in a unique atmosphere. A beautiful wooden bar is the focal point of the dining room. An open kitchen (the first open kitchen in the Black Hills) allows customers to see their food being cooked, and a unique menu offers a variety of excellent Italian dishes, all Kamstra’s personal creations. The new building has outdoor seating and a scenic view of Crow Peak out large picture windows.

Kamstra is active in the Spearfish community. She has donated the restaurant on several occasions to host fundraisers for various non-profit organizations in the community, including the CASA fundraiser, Relay for Life fundraiser, and Ruby’s Garden Fundraiser. She is also a member of several community boards and volunteers at the at the wildlife sanctuary near Spearfish.

Romkema and Kamstra will be joined by Jenny Behling, 2009 SBA Women in Business Champion, as presenters at the second annual Celebrating Women in Business Luncheon, Thursday, May 12 at the Spearfish Holiday Inn hosted by the SD CEO. Sandy Burns, who serves on the SD CEO board of directors, will be recognized as a distinguished guest. These exceptional women receive the SBA awards the next evening, Friday, May 13 in Rapid City at the BH Economic Development annual meeting and will also be honored at a presentation in Sioux Falls.

Other top South Dakota entrepreneurs and small business champions selected for Small Business Week Awards include:

  • The Sejnoha Family, Catering by Marlin’s, Inc./Hungry’s Restaurant, Inc., Sioux Falls, Jeffrey Butland Family-Owned Business of the Year. The Sejnoha Family was also named the Regional Award Winner and will represent Region Eight which consists of Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming during National Small Business Week.
  • Lori Finnesand, Inc., Northeast South Dakota Economic Corporation (NESDEC), Sisseton, Financial Services Champion of the Year.
  • Sandy Burns, Project Solutions, Rapid City, Minority Small Business Champion of the Year.
  • Charles Pleskac, Dell Rapids Dairy Queen, Dell Rapids, Young Entrepreneur of the Year.