SDAHO Celebrates 11 Distinguished Service Awards During Annual Convention

The South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations (SDAHO) celebrated its 97th annual convention September 20-22, 2023, at the Sioux Falls Convention Center. During the celebration, an award luncheon was held to recognize recipients of affiliate society awards, in addition to SDAHO’s own Distinguished Service Awards (DSA). Recipients of the DSA awards are nominated by their peers for their dedication to the healthcare profession and who have or continue to make a difference in the healthcare world. This year, SDAHO added a new category to the DSA’s, the Quality Champion Award in addition honored our first therapy dog and therapy dog handler duo.


The Healthcare Hero of the year was presented to Marcia Taylor, Patient Experience Director with Monument Health.

Marcia began her healthcare career as a nurse’s aide in august of 1974. 48 years later Marcia has done everything from being a college instructor, clinic specialist, inpatient care, surgery, home care and hospice and most recently, patient experience.

Marcia’s focus has always been on giving the best care to those she and her team serve. Marcia has also served on a variety of local, state and national boards. She is a mentor to her peers and an advocate for nursing and advancing a healthy community. Those that work with her say Marcia leads with integrity, respect, and compassion and truly cares for everyone she encounters every day.

Tim Rave and Marcia Taylor

The first ever Honorary Healthcare Heroes of the year was presented to George Simpson a certified therapy dog and Johanna Simpson, a Certified Therapy dog handler both with Therapy Dog International.

George is a recently retired therapy dog, but over the last 6 years he and Johanna have volunteered over 1,200 hours across Sioux Falls.

A story shared during the award ceremony talked of a young girl at the Sanford Castle who needed additional motivation and encouragement to begin walking after neurosurgery. Her nurse knew the patient missed her own dog, and that she was scared. After trying all traditional means, staff decided pet therapy might be the extra incentive the patient needed. Within hours of being asked, Johanna and George came to the castle on a holiday to help. Johanna talked with the patient all about George and the patient shared stories of her dog at home. After snuggling with George on her bed, the patient happily helped take George for a walk around the PICU and through the castle to her new room.

Now that George is retired, he is looking forward to increasing his hours as pup-cup eater, treat sampler, sleeping, squirrel watching and going for car rides.

Tim Rave, George Simpson and Johanna Simpson


This year’s healthcare professional of 2023 was presented to Angela Schoffelman, the Community Program Manager with Avera Health.  Angela manages the community health worker program and the Avera Community Health Resource Center.

Angela has worked in healthcare for over 14 years, with a passion for volunteering, serving populations that struggle to be seen and heard and have overcome immense challenges. In 2022 Angela received the EMBE tribute to women community service award.

Tim Rave and Angela Schoffelman

The Media Personality of 2023 was presented to Jerry Oster of WNAX.

The recipient of this award is someone who strives to understand the issues surrounding healthcare and is committed to knowing and understanding the facts and then sharing that information with the public.

Jerry Oster, News Director with WNAX radio out of Yankton, began his broadcasting career in 1974, and just this past June he retired with 49 years of experience in the business, serving much of southeastern South Dakota, including part of Nebraska and Iowa.

Tim Rave and Jerry Oster

This year’s SDAHO Post-Acute Champion of the year was presented to Carla Van Dyke, who served as the Director of Patient Services with Avera@Home until retiring this past December.

Carla graduated from SDSU in 1979 with a bachelor in nursing, beginning her career with Dakota Midland Hospital in Aberdeen. She later earned her master’s degree in nursing in emerging healthcare fields with an emphasis in community health from Augustana.

Carla has dedicated 43 years to the nursing profession with 34 years in the post-acute realm of home health and hospice.

From Aberdeen to Spearfish to Sioux Falls and the various communities she has served, Carla truly has impacted thousands of people providing them care in their home.

Tim Rave and Carla Van Dyke

This year’s SDAHO State Legislator was presented to state Senator Mike Diedrich of Rapid City, District 34 in Pennington County. Sen. Diedrich also serves as the Assistant Majority Leader for the South Dakota Senate.

Senator Diedrich has spent his entire professional life advancing important initiatives for the Rapid City community, the state of South Dakota and beyond. His commitment to advancing quality healthcare is evident with his 12-year tenure in the legislature. Most recently the senator championed a human trafficking bill through the legislature focused on protecting South Dakotans. The bill was recognized and awarded by the United Nations as an exemplary standard of civil protection and human trafficking regulations.

Tim Rave and Sen. Mike Diedrich

The SDAHO State Official of the year was presented to Lynne Valenti, Deputy Secretary and Director of the Division of Licensure and Accreditation with the Department of Health.

Prior to joining the South Dakota Department of Health, Lynne held several key positions in South Dakota state government, serving as Secretary and Deputy Secretary of the Department of Social Services, general counsel for the Bureau of Human Resources and legal counsel for the Department of Human Services. Prior to working for the state of South Dakota Lynne focused her legal practice in disability law.

Lynne is a graduate of the University of South Dakota and the New England School of Law.

Tim Rave and Lynne Valenti

The SDAHO Trustee of the year was presented to Thomas J. Glover of Burke, South Dakota. Tom served on the Board of Directors at Community Memorial Hospital for 30 years.

Tom has served as a middle and high school science teacher, farmer and rancher, business owner, state lawmaker, baseball coach and a volunteer firefighter and EMT for 30 years.  Tom serves on various commissions and boards today and is currently the Mayor of Burke.

Tom is a true leader and, he has a passion when it comes to advocating for quality health care in the community, he calls home.

Tim Rave and Thomas J. Glover

in 2023 SDAHO added a new DSA award, the Quality Champion Award. This individual demonstrates a commitment to providing the highest level of quality within the organization. This individual communicates effectively, fosters an environment of continual process improvement, promotes transparency in all levels of healthcare organization and achieves improved sustainable outcomes through the implementation of a strong culture of safety. This year’s first Quality Champion award was presented to Sarah Wulff, Infection Preventionist and Improvement Advisor with Sanford Health.

Sarah has served as the improvement advisor for Sanford Aberdeen Medical Center and the clinic for the past 4 years and recently has taken a position in quality for the Sanford Health south network.

Tim Rave and Sarah Wulff

This year’s Young Professional was presented to Kristi Livermont, Administrator with Avera Missouri River Health Center located in Gettysburg and Vice President of Facilities at Avera St. Mary’s in Pierre.

Kristi received her undergraduate degree in health sciences from USD and a master’s in health administration at the university of Colorado Denver. After school she completed Avera’s administrative fellowship, in addition to completing administrator training through the state of South Dakota at Avera Brady Health and Rehab.

Kristi served as the interim administrator in Gettysburg before permanently assuming the role in 2020 and then earning her title as VP of facilities at Avera St. Mary’s.

Tim Rave and Kristi Livermont

SDAHO’S Larry Veitz Lifetime Achievement award was created to recognize an individual for their exemplary service to healthcare and accomplishments in advancing the goals and purposes of the association. This year’s recipient was Bob Sutton of Avera Health.

A South Dakota native earning his Bachelor of Arts in political science and Master of Public Administration from USD. He spent 25 years in Pierre serving as an association executive and lobbyist for county government, the energy industry, and the financial services industry, in addition to president of the South Dakota community foundation for 10 years.

Bob’s accomplishments in the healthcare community include 10 years at Avera Health, five as the president and CEO. Under his leadership, Avera opened numerous building projects, completed renovations in communities across Avera’s 72,000-square mile footprint.

Some of those projects include the campuses in Gregory and Gettysburg including a new hospital, clinic and long-term care facilities, the Avera Specialty Hospital in Sioux Falls and the opening of the Helmsley Center which brought radiation oncology to Pierre.

Bob’s vision has been instrumental in creating a culture of growth, accountability, collaboration and transparency.

Bob stepped down on August 4, 2023, to start care for a serious medical condition. The legacy he leaves behind stands tall for all who work for Avera, are served by Avera and the healthcare community.

Tim Rave and Bob Sutton
Congratulations to all of the 2023 SDAHO Distinguished Service Award recipients.