Major: Human Services & Sociology
Hometown: Rapid City, SD and Hemet, CA
Current Town: Spearfish, SD
Profession: Executive Director of Community Support Providers of South Dakota CSP of SD
What is your current professional role?
My current position is Executive Director of Community Support Providers of South Dakota (CSP of SD). The organization is a business association of 20 developmental disability providers across South Dakota. Each member provider is a private non-profit organization and provide an array of services to people with developmental disabilities. Services include residential (group home, supervised apartment, and independent living), vocational supports and services, day habilitation services, and nursing services.
Major responsibilities include:
- Assisting the association executive board in implementing, evaluating, and developing short term and long term plans.
- Providing technical assistance to association members.
- Maintaining effective relationships with governmental departments related to our services.
- Maintaining effective relationships with other advocacy organizations and professional associations on the national, state, and local level.
- Monitoring legislative and governmental issues and activities that affect association members and providing assistance to legislators and governmental departments in support of association goals.
- Lobbying on behalf of association members during the state’s legislative session.
- Providing public relations, fundraising, and grant writing in support of the association’s goals and interests.
- Coordinating and conducting regular association business
How did the BHSU Human Services program help to prepare you for your career?
What helped the most was the program’s emphasis on human service practice. Courses such as Crisis Interviewing and Intervention, Program Planning and Evaluation, and Research Methods were extremely useful in my career path. This is not to say that courses with a more theoretical focus are not important, but the practical nature of these courses really set the stage for career success. Overall, the program had the right fit of theory and practicum focused on helping students get the knowledge they need for a human services career. The experience was excellent!
What is one piece of advice you would give current undergraduates?
Human services is all about working with people regardless of what emphasis area one is pursuing. The best advice I have for a student seeking a career in human services is to get involved with local organizations. Whether this is by volunteering, participating in events, or working at a human service organization – it’s importance cannot be understated. Getting this experience now, along with course studies, not only prepares you for the work you will do but also significantly increases the likelihood of career advancement.
When prospective students are considering their college plans, what do you think makes BHSU stand out among other possible options?
There are many things that make BHSU stand out. However, the things that stand out the most to me were the quality of professors that I had during my tenure, class sizes that encouraged discussion and exploration, and the quality of courses.
Anything else you’d like to add?
The demand for human service workers of all kinds is growing exponentially. In the developmental disabilities field alone, the demand for workers is expected to increase 48% over the next decade. As with any career field there are challenges, but the potential for students to achieve long lasting good careers is excellent. With this in mind, I encourage all human service students to stay the course and become a part of the solution in helping our communities across the nation.