Ms. Jessica Castleberry is an entrepreneur, mentor, leader, and advocate for early childhood education from Rapid City, SD. Jessica instructed preschoolers for ten years prior to opening her own center, Little Nest Preschool, in 2010. Jessica is a regional early childhood education conference presenter, author of the blog Early Education Plantation and contributing writer to the blog, Fractus Learning, London, UK. In addition to her National CDA credential, Jessica holds a Director Certificate, and is a graduate of the 2015 Women in Leadership series from Black Hills State University. Jessica was awarded the South Dakota CEO Young Enterprising Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2016 and graduated from Leadership Rapid City, Class of 2016. Jessica is the head of the committee for the Rapid City Early Childhood Educator of the Year Award. She also serves on the Board of Directors for both the South Dakota Association of Child Care Directors and the SDAEYC. Jessica is dedicated to mentorship, professionalism, and early education leadership. Jessica served as the SD CEO Women in Leadership Blog Moderator in 2016, and is thrilled to return in 2017!
Dr. Mary Caton-Rosser is an associate professor of Mass Communication at Black Hills State University. She advises the school’s student newspaper, Jacket Journal/BHSUmedia.com, and the BHSU PR Club. Dr. Caton-Rosser also teaches classes in mass media law, mass communication theory and interviewing/newswriting/editorial, as well as business communication. She has a Ph. D. in Communication from the University of Colorado-Boulder, a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree from the University of Colorado-Boulder. Dr. Caton-Rosser also has several certifications in leadership, including one from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and from Viterbo University.
Dr. Rachel MK Headley is the owner and principal of Project Leadership Secrets, a company that specializes in providing premium leadership and management training to high-achieving women so they can reach their highest financial, career, and intellectual goals. She also owns Cobblestone Science, a 6-figure management consulting company. She works with a wide range of organizations, from nonprofits to large corporations and Federal agencies. Headley is a certified project management professional with the Project Management Institute, which sets the gold standard for project management. She has 20 years of experience with earth-imaging satellite science and systems management. Dr. Headley is a professional speaker, whose largest audience was a 10,000+ attendee conference plenary. She has briefed the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Deputy Secretary on her team and their accomplishments.
Dr. Barbara Looney is an assistant professor at the BHSU School of Business, where she teaches Managerial Communications; and at the BHSU School of Liberal Arts, where she teaches Humanities. She also co-advises the BHSU enactus Team. Dr. Looney has a PhD in English from the University of Southern Florida, a Master’s in English from Rutgers University, and a Bachelor of Science in Education from BHSU. She also holds paralegal certification from the University of Maryland. Prior to her collegiate academic career, Dr. Looney worked in private industry as a Customer Service Representative for the Sheraton Hotel Corporation in Boston, as a Congressional staff assistant in Washington, D.C., as a corporate paralegal for law firms in Washington, D.C. and Charlotte, NC, and as the assistant manager of a bar supply company in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. For three years in Copenhagen, Denmark, she held leadership positions with both the American Women’s Club and International Women’s Group, for whom she organized events and projects that benefited women from around the globe.
Ms. Meg Manke is the Human Resource and Training Manager at Coeur Wharf, a gold mine, near Lead, SD. She earned her BSBA at Creighton University in Omaha, NE and her MS in Strategic Leadership at Black Hills State University. She has several years of experience in human resources and communication. Ms. Manke finds employment law fascinating and also has a passion for designing organizational and individual development training. She has developed mentorship programs, safety culture programs and is currently working on a project to utilize technology in order to effectively measure a perspective employee’s ability to perform physical tasks without injury. Meg serves on the advisory board for the SD CEO, teaches for Junior Achievement and volunteers within the Spearfish community. Outside of work and career, Ms. Manke has taken up running, finishing three half marathons in the last two years. She has three planned for 2017 – the training must begin soon! Meg has two beautiful daughters, Jobie (8) and Peyton (7) – they are her inspiration and driving force. The three amigos spend their time helping on the family ranch, golfing, hiking, biking and laughing!
Ms. Helen Merriman has served as the founding director of the SD CEO since its opening in November 2009. During that time participation has grown from 425 participants to over 1400, statewide. Additionally, she was an invited participant at the 2015 National Security Forum at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. and has served as an Honorary Commander for the Ellsworth Air Force Base 28th Contracting Squadron. She was awarded the 2013 SBA Region VIII Women's Business Center of Excellence award. In 2001 Helen and her husband Roger sold their commercial printing and publishing business in Pierre that they had operated for 24 years giving her valuable experience of a "startup business" to the selling of a successful business with 40 employees. Prior to joining SD CEO, Helen served as communications and development director for Catholic Social Services. She also has experience as a sales manager for two regional publications, as a coordinator of social services for a long-term care facility and in leading both non-profit and for-profit entities. Helen is originally from the Sioux Falls area and earned a bachelor’s degree from Northern State University. She currently lives in Spearfish with her husband. She has two adult step children, six grandchildren, and two great grandsons.
Dr. Sonya Pagel is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Black Hills State University. She teaches teaches courses in organizational and interpersonal communication, public speaking, and conflict management. She earned her Ph.D. in Organizational Communication from Ohio University and went on to teach at various universities including the University of Rio Grande, Letourneau University, and Seattle Pacific University. Sonya’s research interests include the communication processes involved in organizational change and management development. This led her to study the rhetoric of company executives, and to conduct interviews with middle and senior managers to learn how they select, read and implement popular management theories. She has also worked in government and industry where she designed and delivered workshops on topics such as coaching, presentation skills, and leadership.
Ms. Laura Prosser has been an accounting professor at Black Hills State University since 2002. In addition to teaching accounting in both Spearfish and Rapid City, she is the program chair for the BHSU accounting and business programs at the University Center in Rapid City. Laura also serves on the board of directors at Northern Hills Federal Credit Union in Sturgis. In 1988, Laura earned her CPA certification and in 2011 she completed the requirements for her CMA certification (Certified Management Accountant). Prior to teaching at BHSU, Laura taught accounting and business courses at National American University in Rapid City where she chaired the accounting assessment committee. Laura was also the assistant controller at Washington Federal Savings Bank in Hillsboro, Oregon for three years. Laura earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting and an MBA from the University of South Dakota. Working with finances and budgets in personal and business applications are some of Laura’s favorite parts of accounting and financial management. Laura and her husband David reside in Sturgis, SD and have three grown children.
Dr. Priscilla Romkema is the Dean of the College of Business and Natural Sciences at Black Hills State University. She was born and raised in Spearfish where she earned her undergraduate degree in instrumental music at BHSU and later attended the University of Wyoming where she earned a master’s degree in business education and a Ph.D. in education. She taught at various universities including Northern Michigan University, the University of Wyoming, and the Independent Institute of Russian Entrepreneurship in Moscow, Russia. Dr. Romkema currently serves as the 2016-2017 President of the National Business Education Association (NBEA), as a member of the Zonta Club of Spearfish, and as Vice Chair of the Regional Health Board. An avid runner, she has completed seven Boston Marathons and the New York City Marathon. Dr. Romkema was awarded the South Dakota Small Business Administration Women in Business Champion of the Year in 2011.
Ms. Kathy Sazama is an established licensed Marriage and Family Therapist working in the field for over 30 years. She has had the opportunity to work with individuals, couples, and businesses. Working with Business and providing employee assistance has always been an interesting part of her work. Enjoying the process of problem solving and finding effective ways to function. In addition, discovering how important Image is to promote business. In the 90’s she began training on Image Development. She received training from Sue Cappelan/Image resources. At that time, she and a co-owner began a personal style business called Style U. They provided training and consultations to individuals and college students. In 2013 Kathy relocated to Rapid City, SD. She expanded her services to incorporate eye glasses to personal style. Furthering her skills, she enrolled in Studio for Professional Image and completed Corporate Image Consulting and Menswear. In addition, she received training with Alyce Parsons on the 7 Universal Styles. As a result, An Image of Excellence was launched in 2015. She has trained and spoken to multiple business, college students, and professionals on Professional Image. Recently she spoke for GE Women’s Health on the importance of Professional Image in the work place. “Image is so much more than what your wear,” is the building block of her Image of Excellence business. She provides training on appearance, behavior, communication, and social media presence. She believes having confidence and presenting well allows your professionalism to shine. This will earn you respect and value in the work place. Why not present your personal best?
Dr. Wei Song received her Ph.D. in Marketing/Management from the University of Edinburgh, UK. Dr. Song has solid international experience in the business world. She has worked for a major US corporation as a senior facility analyst. She has also taught classes in a range of universities, including USA, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada and China. Currently, she is a Full Professor of Marketing at Black Hills State University, USA. Her research interests are in the areas of marketing strategy, consumer behavior, social media marketing and Chinese own brand strategy. She is also a respected scholar in the area of teaching business ethics and international cultural comparative studies. She has chaired various sessions at the international conferences and publishes papers regularly. In addition, Dr. Song served as an external examiner for Ph.D. dissertation and a reviewer for the multiple international journals.
Dr. Helen Usera is the owner and president of Aspiring Business Consulting, a consulting company focused on leadership development, organizational development and team building. She is a certified John Maxwell Team coach and mentor and is also certified with Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Helen received a Bachelor of Science, Elementary Education from Pittsburg State University; a Master’s of Science, Special Education from Pittsburg State University; and a Doctorate of Education, Educational Administration from the University of Kansas. She currently serves on the boards of Black Hills Leadership, Summer Nights on 7th Street and Rapid City Chamber of Commerce. Her greatest accomplishment is being the mother of two sons and now a grandmother to one granddaughter.
Ms. Lorie Vega is the Deputy Director, Force Support Squadron, Ellsworth AFB. She oversees all child, youth and family services, education, library, marketing, hospitality, human resources, and recreation programs for Ellsworth AFB. Her 30 year career in federal service began in 1985 as the first AF Child Development Center (CDC) Intern. She has held positions in CA, VA, GE, HI and MA including CDC Director, Youth Director, Recreation Services Chief, Airmen and Family Programs Chief, Director of the Child and Youth Services Branch for Headquarters Pacific Air Force, and Force Support Squadron and Mission Support Group Deputy. Ms. Vega has a BS in Psychology from Cornell University and a MBA in Public Administration from Trinity College. She is also a graduate of the Air Force Air Command and Staff College, as well as Leadership Institute of Virginia Peninsula and Leadership Rapid City. She is currently on the Board of Directors for Destination Rapid City, Women’s Networking of Rapid City, is a member of the Rapid City Cultural Plan Steering Committee and a Rapid City Chamber Ambassador.