Breakout Sessions: Speakers, Topics & Biographies

"Women in the Law"

Circuit Court Judge Janine Kern, Soiuth Dakota Seventh Judicial Circuit. Janine Kern has served as a Circuit Court Judge of general jurisdiction for the Seventh Judicial Circuit in Rapid City South Dakota for the last 17 years. Janine was the first woman to serve as a Circuit Court Judge in the Seventh Judicial Circuit since its inception.

 Karla MacArthur Harris,  Pennington County Deputy State's Attorney & Judge Advocate, SD Army National Guard. Karla prosecutes misdemeanor level offenses on behalf of the State for Pennington County during the week. She investigates, prosecutes, and defends those charged with crimes in the military and provides legal and estate planning advice to Soldiers for the National Guard during the weekend.

"History of Women in Engineering

Stacy Langdeau, PE, Engineering Manager, SD Department of the Military. Stacy is the Engineering Manager for the South Dakota Department of Military and supervises the full time engineering staff. She has previously worked for the Federal government as a certified instructor, Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR) and Civil Engineer as well as a Design Engineer for private industry.

"Wanted: Women Owned Businesses"

Sandy Burns, CEO, Project Solutions, Inc. Sandy Burns manages 19 projects and employs 37 people throughout the US and in Italy. She assists women and minorities with technical assistance in bidding with the government and running successful businesses in 14 states from Missouri to Alaska.


"Women, Money and the Law"

Erika Kroetch-Campbell, Attorney, Estes-Campbell Lawfirm.
A Rapid City native, Erika received her J.D. from the William and Mary School of Law.  Prior to joining the Estes Campbell Law Firm, Erika worked as a Financial Advisor for Piper Jaffray & Co. and the Commerce Trust Company of Kansas City.

"Women's Health-Stress"

Jessica Drenning, Women Veterans Program Manager, VA Black Hills Health Care System. Jessica has an extensive history in the medical field starting as far back as a sophomore in high school. She served active duty Army for six years just out of high school. Jessica earned a BS in Mortuary Science at the University of Minnesota and an MSN degree at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Jessica is also a Certified Public Health Nurse. Her current position is as the Women Veterans Program Manager for VA Black Hills Health Care System.

"How to Succeed in Business Even if it's not for Profit"

Sandra Diegel, Executive Director, John T. Vecurevich Foundation. Sandy Diegel has 30 years experience in business and nonprofit administration. She has been in leadership positions on the boards of a variety of local and statewide organizations and currently serves as a Diplomat for the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce.


"Women in Nature"

MIchon Holt, Volunteer, SD Game, Fish and Parks. Michon Holt is a volunteer with SD Fish and Games' Outdoor Campus - West since 2012. Prior to becoming a State Employee, Michon has over 15 years of purchasing experience with multi-million dollar companies in industrial and automotive procurement with a key emphasis in inventory control.


"The Power of Resiliency"

Kristi "Cricket" Palmer, Suicide Prevention Coordinator, SDNG Accenture Federal Services. Cricket has been a member of the South Dakota National Guard for 24 years and currently serves as the Senior Chaplain Assistant for the National Guard.  Recently, she has taken on the role as the Suicide Prevention Program Manager for the South Dakota National Guard as a contract employee with Accenture Federal Services.                                 

"Women Mentoring Women"

Cheryl Chapman, Vice President, RESPEC Consulting and Services. Cheryl is a former Pennington County Commissioner and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations and Environment.  She serves on the Chamber, Black Hills Works, Lifeways, Dakotas Americas and Thrivent Regional Boards. 

"Empowerment of Women Around the World"

MAJ Kathy Dirk, SD Army National Guard. MAJ Kathleen A. Dirk joined the South Dakota Army National Guard in March 1993 as a logistic specialist with the 109th Engineer Group. She was the only female to graduate Class 43. She also holds additional functional area qualifications, one in Human Resource and the other as a Public Affairs Officer. 

1SG Lorissa Wetzler, SD Army National Guard. Lorissa Wetzler has 23 years of military service with the South Dakota Army National Guard and is the 1SG for the 129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.  She is currently employed full-time with the SDANG as a Procurement Technician. 

"Work and Life Balance"

 Leah Braun Life Coach | Professional Trainer ​has 20 years of teaching and public speaking experience.  Leah spent 22 years in the SD Army National Guard before she retired at the rank of Master Sergeant. She has an education degree from BHSU and a Master’s Degree from USD. She earned a life coaching certification from the International Coach Academy and is a member of International Coach Federation.

"Women's Education and Scholarships"

Cathy Payne, Veterans Resource Center Director and Scholarship Coach, SD School of Mines & Technology. Cathy specializes in managing college Veterans’ programs, helping Veterans with the development of their writing skills, and assisting all Mines students with locating and applying for scholarships. Ms. Payne holds a master’s degree in Counseling and Human Resource Development from South Dakota State University, and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley.