My name is Elli Wicks Haerter, and I’m the Bush Foundation’s liaison for its activities in North Dakota and South Dakota (a new position) based in Rapid City, South Dakota. I’ve lived in South Dakota all my life, unless you count the year I lived abroad as a Fulbright Fellow in Dresden, Germany. I grew up in Watertown and graduated from South Dakota State University in Brookings. If you want to know more about me, check out my profile.
Before starting at the Foundation, I had the great privilege of working for United States Senator Tim Johnson for more than eight years. In that work, I handled the outreach and casework for seven western South Dakota counties, as well as the nine Native nations that share geography with South Dakota. I connected daily with community leaders working to solve tough problems (just like I’ll be doing on behalf of the Foundation). I often linked communities with federal, state or local government agencies that may have had resources or that were assessing the same problems. I learned the nuisances and challenges elected tribal leaders face while working to strengthen their nations. Though each community and Native nation is unique, a common thread running among them is courageous leadership—an element that is crucial in creating (and recreating) vital communities.
In my new work I expect I’ll continue to witness the emergence of leaders who, whether they are in positions of official authority or not, bring people and communities together to get things done. The Bush Foundation is a catalyst for this type of courageous leadership, especially when it’s focused on solving tough public problems and ensuring community vitality. I am proud to join them in this work.
In the coming months, I’ll be connecting with many community leaders and tribal nations across the two states. I look forward to introducing myself to you in person, learning about your community and sharing the Bush Foundation’s goals for this decade.
Talk Back to Bush
What tough problem is your community facing, and what can you do to work toward a solution? Where is leadership potential in your community underutilized? Tell us about your own experience of working to bring change through courageous leadership. We want to know what you think.