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USD law student named Presidential Management Fellow for 2014

VERMILLION, S.D. -- David Sahli, a third-year law student at the University of South Dakota School of Law, is the recipient of a coveted Presidential Management Fellowship.

Sahli, a native of Aberdeen, S.D. and a 2010 graduate of the University of South Dakota, is finishing his third year of law school. After his first year, he worked as the executive intern for the Department of Tribal Relations, and his second year interned with the Judge William D. Gerdes, Federal Magistrate Judge for the Northern District. Following graduation, Sahli is moving to Washington D.C. where he was selected as a Legal Honors Scholar for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. While serving as a Legal Honors Scholar, Sahli will be in the field of Civil Defense Litigation in Federal Court. Sahli graduated Suma Cum Laude from USD with degrees in political science and American Indian Studies. After graduation, he joined AmeriCorps VISTA where Sahli helped start a nonprofit in, at the time, the poorest county in America on the Crow Creek Reservation. The nonprofit is Hunkpati Inc., a Native Community Development Financial Institution.

“Since my freshman year of high school I knew that I wanted to go to the USD School of Law. I wanted to use the law to make a better and more just future,” said Sahli, who took active leadership roles at the School of Law the past three years, serving as president of the Native American Law Student Association, as president/site coordinator for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, and secretary of the Student Bar Association.

“I wanted to use the law, not to make money, but make significant and meaningful change. I wanted to be a voice that would be heard for people who had been silenced,” he added, “that’s why I knew that I wanted to go to law school to become the most effective public servant I could be.”

The Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program is administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Each year, candidates apply for the prestigious title of PMF Finalists. Selected Finalists are eligible for appointment as Fellows. The two-year fellowship includes career development and advancement, and at the end of the two years Fellows must be converted without further competition to a term or a permanent position.

PMF Program requirements include:

  • An Individual Development Plan (IDP) that includes the training and development plans for the next two years.
  • At least 80 hours per year of formal classroom training.
  • A minimum of one 4 to 6 consecutive month developmental assignment in the occupation or functional discipline in which you are most likely to be placed, with full-time management and/or technical responsibilities consistent with your IDP.
  • An annual performance plan as well as an annual performance evaluation in accordance with the agency's rules.
  • Participate in OPM/PMF Program and agency-sponsored career development activities to support and to enhance your career and continuing education goals.
  • Active participation in PMF training opportunities and accept leadership roles whenever possible.
  • Rotational opportunities with consideration to short and long range career goals.
  • Networking with other Fellows.

For more information about the PMF, please visit A photo of Sahli is also available for download at


USD’s Knudson School of Law prepares students for leadership in the administration of justice in South Dakota, including in rural areas where the demand is great, and for private practice, public service, business and other law-related endeavors anywhere. Its joint degree program allows students to also earn one of nine master’s degrees within the traditional three-year law curriculum, which includes course tracks in business, commercial, constitutional, criminal, employment, environmental, Indian, real estate and tax law as well as civil litigation and estate planning.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

This material is available in an alternate format upon request. Please contact University Relations at 605-677-5759. If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate in any university activity or event, please contact Disability Services at 605-677-6389 as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements may be made.


Hanna DeLange
USD News