Prairie Business Magazine announces its '25 Top Women in Business' for 2020
Meet 25 business leaders making an impact on their communities and professions.
Forum Communication Company's Prairie Business Magazine has announced its "Top 25 Women in Business" for 2020.
These women are leaders in their careers and communities, women who truly stand out in their professions, and we are happy to profile them here. Read all of the profiles below. Congratulations to everyone on this list!
For more business news from our region, visit Prairie Business Magazine .
Ann K. Henderson
Energy & Environmental Research Center, University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, N.D.
Ann Henderson has worked as a research engineer at the Energy & Environmental Research Center for more than 30 years. She works on pilot-scale combustion and gasification systems, not only writing proposals and reports, but operating the systems. She has worked with clients from all over the world, including Thailand, Japan, Australia, Turkey and South Africa.
Since Henderson started at EERC, the emphasis has shifted from coal combustion to gasification to biomass utilization. Some of her recent projects look at hydrogen production and emissions reduction, especially mercury and CO2. She loves the wide variety of projects, and the creative and talented people with whom she works every day.
Ann is actively involved in Boy Scouts, and is proud to be an adult leader for the first female troop in Grand Forks.
Executive VP, Retail Banking and Lending
Gate City Bank
Kim Settel has been working in the banking industry for 26 years and has a passion for creating a better way of life for Gate City Bank customers, team members and communities. As the EVP of Retail Banking & Lending, Kim currently oversees 43 Gate City Bank retail offices in addition to all of the bank's consumer lending (mortgage and personal), totaling more than 460 team members. She is known for her extensive expertise and experience in the banking industry and is making an impact as a woman in a male-dominated industry.
Kim is also known for her involvement in leading the implementation in the bank’s unique BetterLife Student Loan program, the only one of its kind for which Gate City Bank received national recognition. Kim has a strong commitment to the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo community and a passion for teaching financial education to youth through Junior Achievement. She also is passionate about helping community members receive affordable housing. She's worked with city leaders in Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo, Wahpeton and Fergus Falls to help provide Neighborhood Revitalization programs, and donates her time to various organizations throughout the community including women’s shelters, food pantries, homeless shelters.
Private Banking Regional Manager
First International Bank & Trust
Renee Daffinrud has been helping North Dakota families reach their financial goals for more than 35 years. She has worked in a variety of capacities in financial services, including mortgage and business lending, but found her true passion in private banking. Renee has established private banking programs at two community banks, including First International Bank & Trust, where she currently works. Over her 15 years helping clients grow their wealth, Renee commits herself every day to continue developing trusted relationships with each of her clients.
Born and raised in Bismarck, Renee believes in putting the community first and knows that the financial health of every individual client can have an impact on the community as a whole. Renee is currently on the board of the Bismarck Cancer Center, Zion Lutheran Church Stewardship, and Foundation Boards. She serves on the board of many annual fundraising events, including Sanford's Savor the Flavor and American Heart Association's Go Red for Women.
Senior VP, Business Development
American Bank & Trust
Sioux Falls, S.D.
Julie Nelson has more than 30 years of financial services experience. She has a double major in business and economics from Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, S.D., where she graduated cum laude. Since then she has developed a diverse background working with the financial needs of individuals as well as with businesses. As senior vice president of Business Development at American Bank & Trust, Julie works with all areas of the bank, including trust and wealth management, private banking, business banking and mortgage.
Locally, Julie served on the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce Board and continues to serve as a diplomat. She is a member and past president of Sales and Marketing Executives. She also has served or is currently serving as a board member for Junior Achievement of South Dakota, South Dakota Achieve (currently Lifescape) Foundation, Volunteers of America Dakotas and Dakota Wesleyan Board of Trustees. She also has worked on numerous Community Appeals campaigns to raise funds for non-profit organizations and served as co-chair of the VOA Dakotas HomePlace project, which provides apartments and life skills support for homeless teens.
Julie’s faith is the foundation that inspires her. She spends the majority of her leisure time with her children and grandchildren. Family and friends are her greatest blessing.
President and Managing Partner
Dale Carnegie of North Dakota & Minnesota
Bethany Berkeley is dedicated to helping individuals and organizations thrive by uncovering and maximizing their unique talents. She earned her degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a research fellow. Bethany has published articles in the American Journal of Public Health and spent the beginning of her career in social work research and nonprofit development.
She joined the Dale Carnegie team in 2016 and is now the managing partner and president. She leads the team, strategy and direction for the business in North Dakota and Northwest Minnesota, and is a Dale Carnegie Certified Trainer with a client base represented heavily in manufacturing, engineering, and agriculture.
Bethany is passionate about giving back and serves as the Board Chair for Creative Care for Reaching Independence (CCRI) and is on the board of directors for The Great North Pole. She also serves as a member of the Chamber Business Training Committee. She has been globally recognized annually as an award winner by Dale Carnegie and Associates for her achievements in the industry.
Bethany resides in Fargo with her daughter, two dog children, and husband and they will welcome a second child in April 2020.
Director of Advertising Sales
West Fargo, N.D.
Shauna Wimer began her career at Midco in 2014 as the regional sales manager for the Fargo/West Fargo/Moorhead area, responsible for managing the local advertising and business sales team. She became director of advertising sales in 2016 and is responsible for the full advertising sales team, concentrating on sports, digital, and cable TV sales across Midco’s footprint. As part of the Midco senior leadership team, she plays an integral role in building talent, encouraging women’s business leadership, and fostering strong relationships. Prior to her role at Midco, she gained 20 years of marketing and communications experience working for a variety of broadcast companies represented throughout North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and a minor in marketing from Minnesota State University, Moorhead, and is a member of the Women in Cable Telecommunications and the Fargo chapter of the Power of 100. She regularly volunteers for and currently serves as president of the Board of Directors for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Red River Valley as well as volunteers for Hope Blooms.
Shauna lives in West Fargo with her husband, Nick, and son Charles.
Eide Bailly LLP
Reggie MacMaster started her career at Eide Bailly as an intern in the audit department in 2011 while finishing the Master of Accountancy program at North Dakota State University. From there, she obtained her CPA license. During her time at Eide Bailly, Reggie has served clients in the not-for-profit and affordable housing industries.
Reggie is part of the Eide Bailly recruiting team, serves as a career advisor to staff, and partakes in the First Focus program that promotes a culture where women are as likely to succeed as men. She has also been an integral piece of the training and development of staff in one of the firm’s newest offices. Outside of Eide Bailly, Reggie has been involved in Junior Achievement for several years as well as serving as a mentor for college students through NDSU’s Business Connections program.
Reggie and her husband, Ryan, live in Horace, N.D., and enjoy traveling and finding anything to do outdoors.
Vice President of Finance
As a senior executive at North Dakota’s largest employer, Tiffany Lawrence optimizes the values of hard work, growing professionally and giving back to the community.
Lawrence held financial roles over the past 20 years for both MeritCare and now Sanford, working her way up to the top executive financial services position. Her scope of responsibility grew tremendously to where she is now responsible for all financial operations of the medical centers and clinics in the Fargo metro, as well as its network of hospitals and clinics in the region.
Lawrence recently concluded six years on the board of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Red River Valley, where she was treasurer and then president. She recently joined the United Way of Cass-Clay Board of Trustees and makes sure she takes time to stay involved with her church and school volunteering.
A married mother of three boys, Tiffany continues to be a mentor for other women striving for excellence in their professional and personal lives while serving her community.
Farmers Security Bank
Jamie Nelson has served as president and chief executive officer of Farmers Security Bank since 2017. She brings more than 20 years of experience, having started her career in banking and finance two weeks after graduating high school. She worked as a loan officer while going to North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, where she graduated in 2001 with a degree in business.
After many roles and 10 years in the finance industry, she moved to Washburn where she began her career with Farmers Security Bank. She graduated from Dakota School of Banking in 2011 and Graduate School of Banking Colorado in 2016.
Jamie serves as a board of director at Farmers Security Bank, McLean Bank Holding Company, Bank of Turtle Lake, Garrison State Bank & Trust, and North Dakota Bankers Association Services Board. During her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Mike, and their three kids.
Executive Vice President
University of Jamestown
Tena Lawrence grew up in Jamestown, N.D. and graduated from the University of Jamestown (formerly Jamestown College) with a Bachelor of Arts in business administration, history/political science, and secondary education. She completed her Master of Arts in leadership degree in December 2017, and has held various positions during her 25-year banking career, including vice president of Consumer Lending and Marketing when she left the banking industry. She joined the University staff in 2007 as director of Development.
In July of 2008 she accepted the position of Dean of Enrollment Management. Lawrence became the vice president of marketing and communications in spring 2014. In 2018 she became the senior vice president of public relations and marketing at the University of Jamestown. Her current position at the University is executive vice president.
Tena has served on the Jamestown Dollars for Scholars as an officer, ND Dollars for Scholars Board as president, Safe Shelter Board as president, the Safe Shelter Capital Campaign Committee chair, on the Trinity Lutheran Church Capital Campaign committee and the Southcentral Dakota Regional Council Board. Currently she serves as vice president on the Jamestown Tourism Board. Tena has two grown children, Megan and Jessica.
Marketing and Communications Manager
Network Center Inc.
Jenn Rothschiller is the marketing and communications manager at Network Center, Inc. (NCI). She is responsible for the vision, strategic planning and execution of all marketing activities. Serving on its management team, Jenn has been instrumental in the overall company growth plan.
Jenn has been involved in community and national ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) events and is an advocate for employee involvement and education in the ESOP at NCI, which allows our employees to share in the company’s success.
Before coming to NCI, Jenn began her career as a project manager at a start-up software company. She is a graduate of North Dakota State University with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and advertising and a minor in web design and journalism.
She serves as an alumni advisor for the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority at NDSU and volunteers on several event committees in the community.
Jenn lives in West Fargo and spends her free time traveling, teaching fitness classes and going on runs with her german shepherd.
Mandy B. Anderson
Chief Creative Officer, Certified Life Coach, Business Strategist, and Motivational Speaker
Mandy B. Anderson has distinguished herself as an innovative business woman and leadership trainer with a knack for product development and a trustworthy coach in the areas of life and business. She began her career as a speaker and coach more than a decade ago in Fargo, N.D., while working full time in the hospitality industry.
In 2011 she relocated to the Bismarck-Mandan area with her husband. It was here she co-founded a coaching company – now called RAYMA Team – with her business partner and best friend of more than 20 years.
Anderson is a 2018 graduate and alumni of the CTB Women’s Leadership Program. Her experience with this program led her to co-lead a Beauty & Dignity Drive in both the Bismarck and Fargo areas to raise awareness for survivors of domestic abuse.
Mandy was born with a life-threatening disease called Cystic Fibrosis, and she has actively been involved in the Cystic Fibrosis Association of North Dakota for many years. She serves as an Ambassador for the Minnesota/Dakota chapters of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Mandy enjoys going to the gym with her husband, coffee dates with great friends, books that teach her new skills or make her feel all the feels, and stiletto shoes that are usually not made for walking.
Security First Bank
Jenna Fleck started her career with a CPA firm in Wisconsin, primarily auditing community banks. While working with these banks, Jenna witnessed the integral role community banks play in the areas they serve. Ultimately, Jenna and her husband decided they wanted to move back to Bismarck, where they both grew up, so he could start his own business. Jenna knew she wanted to work at a Community Bank when she moved back to Bismarck.
She started with Security First Bank of North Dakota in 2012. Jenna wears many hats – she is responsible for financial reporting, compliance, employee training and whatever else needs to be done. She was promoted to COO in January of 2018. In addition to working in various roles at Security First, Jenna keeps up with two active children, and helps her husband out with the accounting side of his business.
Jenna serves on various committees for the Independent Community Banks of North Dakota and regularly volunteers with her church and other organizations that support the community. Jenna believes working at a community bank has taught her the importance of being an active part of the community you live in through contributions of your time and resources.
Visionary Eye Care
Dr. Candace Hoff began her optometry career in 2008 and purchased an eye care practice in 2013. She’s been dedicated to modernization since taking the helm including rebranding the business, updating product offerings, implementing new technology, and developing team recruitment and education tracks. She also donates time to the InfantSEE initiative, Head Start Advisory Board and Health Careers program.
Thanks to the incredible support of the community, Visionary Eye Care is currently constructing a new facility, which will nearly double the size of the practice to accommodate its growing patient base and team.
Candace thanks her parents for demonstrating the dedication required for successful business ownership and the incredible team that surrounds her; without them, she said, her success would be impossible.
With more than 12 years of experience in property management, Donna Block joined Lux Communities, an Enclave Company, as vice president in 2016. She overseas training and leads strategic planning for Lux Communities, and consults with Enclave’s development and construction teams to optimize building spaces, ensuring the resident-centric communities exceed customer’s expectations. From pro forma budgets, selecting finishes and amenities, property maintenance and everything in between, she understands all phases of a project and is an essential resource for the development, construction and property management teams.
Donna embodies the organization’s core values through her innovative and creative thinking. Always reaching further, her resourceful passion makes any project a possibility. Most of all, she is committed to the support and care for her team members, which fosters a unique culture and motivates Lux Communities to continuously evolve and raise the bar in their industry.
Donna serves as vice president of the Greater Red River Apartment Association Board and is a board member on the Landlord Risk Mitigation Fund Advisory Board. Additionally, she volunteers at her church, leading a weekly class for middle school students.
Co-owner, General Manager
Kelsch, Kriz & Associates, PC
Jodi Kelsch started her career as an intern in the tax department of a small accounting firm in Fargo, N.D., while attending North Dakota State University in 1998. Since then, she has built a career on providing income tax preparation services to clients in the tri-state region. Jodi is a certified public accountant and co-owns Kelsch, Kriz & Associates, PC. Over the past 10 years, she has helped grow the firm to eight employees in three locations throughout North Dakota and South Dakota.
When Jodi is not in the office, she is a volunteer in the small community in which she lives and lends her professional expertise to such organizations as the local industrial development corporation, where she has been a director for more than seven years, an instrumental member of a committee that organized and started a new community day care and a longtime member of the finance council at her church. She has also gone into the classrooms at the local high schools to educate students about income tax.
Jodi earned her accounting degree from NDSU and is a certified public accountant through the North Dakota Society of CPAs. She and her husband, Mike, spend many hours attending and enjoying their three children’s sports activities.
Senior Financial Advisor
With more than 26 years at Alerus, Sandy Korbel has built a career on understanding and serving the holistic needs of high net-worth clients. She has differentiated herself by the level of professional knowledge demonstrated through her experience as well as continuing education with her CPA and CFP (Certified Financial Planner) designations. She is passionate about helping her clients.
Sandy has always been committed to serving the Fargo-Moorhead community. She currently is serving her third three-year term as a board member of the MSUM Foundation and MSUM Foundation investment and finance committee member. She’s generous with her time and expertise as the president of First Lutheran Church Foundation and a trustee representative for FM Area Foundation since 1999, which is the longest running representative in the foundation’s history.
Sandy has shared her passion for learning and financial literacy in the classroom as a volunteer for Junior Achievement for over five years.
She enjoys staying active with outdoor activities that include her husband, Brian, and three children.
Companions for Children
Heather Cymbaluk has served as the executive director of Companions for Children since 2013. She is a graduate of Minot State University with bachelor degrees in both marketing and management information systems. She continued her education at the University of Mary, graduating with a master’s degree in business administration.
Heather is passionate about making a difference in her community, currently serving as president for both the Minot Optimist Club and the Minot Alliance of Nonprofits.
Founder and CEO
Sioux Falls, S.D.
Karla Santi is a founding partner and CEO of Blend Interactive, a website strategy, design, and development company founded in 2005 in Sioux Falls, S.D. Karla recognized the potential within the web development industry early and began working in web design and development in the 1990s. She owned her own firm, Santi Interactive, before merging with two partners in 2005 to create Blend Interactive. Fifteen years later, Blend has grown into a multi-million dollar company with an international client base.
In addition to running Blend, Karla is actively involved in the Sioux Falls business community, where she serves on the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, on the Chamber's Business Leadership Council, and Small Business Committee. She also serves on the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship board of directors, where she aims to support the changing needs of the startup community.
Karla is a mentor for Embe's Women's Leadership Program and, through public speaking, strives to encourage young women to explore STEAM programs and pursue careers in technology. She's also a participant in Leadership South Dakota's class of 2020.
When she's not running a business, Karla is busy running a family. Her other titles include wife to husband, Jayson, and mom to their two children.
Cindy Elifrits Peterson
Founder & CEO
Maximizing Excellence, LLC
Sioux Falls, S.D.
Cindy Elifrits Peterson, MSW, CFRE, is driven by a passion to make a difference for those she has not yet met. She has dedicated her 20-year career to helping organizations realize their purpose.
In 2010, Cindy founded Maximizing Excellence LLC, a consulting firm that partners with organizations to improve their effectiveness and achieve high impact. She leverages her fundraising tools and methodologies toward more efficient resource development and nonprofit capacity building. Through Cindy’s vision, she and her team have worked with more than 100 organizations, helping them fulfill their mission and multiply their impact.
Cindy’s creative problem-solving and never-quit attitude has allowed her to modernize the science behind the services her team provides. And her direct, often bold approach to
fundraising has not only earned her a reputation as the “go-to” for fundraising in eastern South Dakota, but as a thought leader and sought-after keynote speaker in her field.
Holding a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Nebraska-Omaha, Cindy has a unique way of bringing people together by identifying personal motivators and incorporating them into a common objective. If you ask Cindy what drives her continued success, her answer is simple: She strives to change lives.
Vice President of Processing and Systems
Darcy Volk has distinguished herself as a process and systems strategist and community leader. She has served as an accomplished senior leader in our organization, with expertise in multiple different capacities such as major financial transactions, large scale operations, and accounting controls.
In her current role, Darcy develops plans and design processes to implement strategies that deliver results with a keen focus on cost and quality. Her expertise in system and process design, accounting controls, financial transactions and change management has assisted the corporation on the path to continued success.
Volk is a life-long member of the Bismarck-Mandan community. She has served on the Board of Trustees and as Campaign chair for the Missouri Slope Areawide United Way. She has also been an incredible business leader, serving as a board member for both the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce and the Bismarck-Mandan Development Association. Additionally, she has served as a board member for the North Dakota Development Fund, Inc. since 2004. This is a highly coveted position as it is appointed by the Governor.
Darcy currently serves on the Disciplinary Board of the North Dakota Supreme Court.
Chief Financial Officer
Expansion Capital Group
Sioux Falls, S.D.
Brittney Newell is the Chief Financial Officer at Expansion Capital Group (ECG), a leading technology-enabled small business lender based in Sioux Falls, S.D. She is responsible for overseeing the company's finance, accounting, human resources, and underwriting departments.
Since joining ECG in 2015, Brittney has led the organization to increase its impact for America’s small businesses from $23 million to $400 million, and be named one of the Best Places to Work in Fintech by American Banker in 2019 and 2020 as well as one of America’s fastest-growing companies by Inc. 5000 in 2018 and 2019.
Throughout her 25-plus year financial services career, Brittney has worked to help thousands of Americans define and achieve their financial success goals. She has led large and small leadership teams, influenced industry stakeholders and thought-leaders, and built long-lasting relationships to ensure that men and women of all backgrounds are more aware and better served in building and managing their finances.
A former business-owner, Brittney founded Nico Consulting in 2009, focused on providing accounting and internal audit professional services to several multi-million dollar clients in South Dakota. She also held leadership positions with McGladrey & Pullen, LLP, MetaBank, and POET, LLC.
Sioux Falls, S.D.
Dr. Alison R. Tendler is a woman who leads change in her personal and professional life through embodying her motto: See the World Better. See Yourself Better.
Born and raised in South Dakota, she graduated from Dakota Wesleyan University and USD School of Medicine, and became a fellowship trained ophthalmologist. She returned to her hometown of Sioux Falls 14 years ago to practice medicine.
Understanding the importance and unique position of being a physician and a solo business owner, she furthered her leadership capacity by completing Physician CEO, a degree offered by the Kellogg School of Business. This helped support her decision in 2019 to open ART Vision and ARTisan Skin and Laser Center in Sioux Falls. In her personally designed boutique, she combines the art of two medical disciplines: superior surgical eye care and medical spa services. As a solo female business owner and entrepreneur, Alisonhas found strength in partnering with many other female leaders from multiple industries in her community, learning insights and truths.
Through her annual fall ARTisan Annual Appreciation event, she has held fundraisers for multiple charities, including EmBe’s Dress for Success, the Children’s Home Society, and Feisty Fighters. Alison is a member of the Dakota Wesleyan University Board of Trustees.
Brenda K. Foster
Chairwoman, President and CEO
First Western Bank & Trust
Brenda Foster began her career at First Western as a high school intern and hasn’t looked back. Over the past 39 years she has worked in all areas of First Western Bank & Trust and now serves as board chair, president, and CEO.
Brenda has experienced the evolution of the banking industry over the last four decades. One of the most dramatic changes has been in technology. Brenda reflects on beginning her career when computers were nonexistent in banking. Fast forward to today, when banking can be done from a smartphone. Brenda is grateful and feels blessed to be part of a wonderful organization with supportive owners, directors, employees and customers.
She remains passionate about participating in the success of customers, employees and the communities First Western serves.
Brenda was recently elected as a Class A director of the Federal Reserve Board of Minneapolis’ board of directors. She is chair of the Large Community Bank Council for the Independent Community Banks of America, a member of the Minot State University Board of Regents, volunteer for Junior Achievement, and past president of the Independent Community Banks of North Dakota. Brenda is a graduate of Minot State University. She and her husband, Wayne, have two children.
VP of Marketing
Capital Credit Union
Jillian Lagasse grew up in the small town of Oakes, N.D., and following high school graduated from the University of Mary in Bismarck. Much of her career has been spent as the Marketing Manager at Investment Centers of America in Bismarck. There she helped financial advisors across the county with their marketing, helping them to grow their business and gain more clients. Jillian also obtained her FINRA Series 7 and 66 investment licenses during this time.
After a brief stint working at the University of Mary, she joined Capital Credit Union in Bismarck as vice president of marketing, where she oversees all marketing strategy, communications, advertising, and public relations. She is a member of the senior management team.
She currently is chairperson of the Bismarck Mandan Young Professionals Network. She also has served as co-lead of the Professional Development Team, YP Day chair, vice president, president, and now chairperson. In 2018, she received the Theodore Roosevelt Award from the organization. She is a member of the Bismarck Optimists Club Board of Directors and sits on the Missouri Valley Credit Union Chapter Committee and the Ft. Lincoln Elementary Parent-Teacher Organization.
Jillian lives in Mandan with her husband, Ryan, and their three young daughters.