VERMILLION, S.D. – Four alumni are set to be recognized for their contributions to the university, local communities and state with Alumni Achievement Awards at the Unleash Your Legacy reception Friday, Oct. 1, at 5:30 p.m. at the Muenster University Center. This annual Dakota Days event is complimentary for all to attend this year; hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be provided.
While the event is free, registration is requested (available online). Attendees can request to reserve a table, though tables are not guaranteed, and priority will be given to those with accessibility and mobility concerns. The University of South Dakota Alumni Association will confirm table reservations closer to the event.
This year’s recipients include the following.
Scott Jones of Pierre, South Dakota, (B.S.B.A. ’75) for Service to the University. Jones has served as CEO of Delta Dental of South Dakota for more than 30 years and has overseen the company’s significant growth to provide dental coverage and access across the state. The Delta Dental of South Dakota Foundation made a transformative gift to USD to support the university’s dental hygiene program. Earlier this year, USD broke ground on its new School of Health Sciences building that will feature the Delta Dental Oral Health Center in recognition of the gift. Jones said the expansion will help ensure future access to oral healthcare in the state and also give other healthcare professionals exposure to oral health learning opportunities. Jones also serves as a trustee for the USD Foundation.
Kent Peterson of Salem, South Dakota, (B.S.B.A. ’03, M.B.A. ’04) for Public Service. Peterson currently serves as Majority Leader in the South Dakota House of Representatives. In the most recent legislative session, Peterson led the charge as one of the prime sponsors for legislation to create the South Dakota Freedom Scholarship, which appropriated $50 million of state funds to help create need-based scholarship programs for USD and other public and private universities in South Dakota. He also advocated for improving the National Music Museum, establishing a nurse anesthesia program and providing grants to support economic development across South Dakota. In addition to serving as a state representative, Peterson is a fifth-generation farmer and previously worked as a financial advisor.
Russell Olson of Wentworth, South Dakota, (B.S. ’94, M.P.A. ’96) for Professional Achievement. Olson serves as CEO for Heartland Consumer Power District. Through his work with Heartland since 2005, Olson has led efforts to create economic growth and prosperity in our communities and rural areas. Olson was recently appointed to the American Public Power Association Board of Directors and previously served as chair of the Coalition to Preserve Consumer Choice. He served as a state representative and senator for eight years, three of which as the Senate Majority Leader, and worked for the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the Lake Area Improvement Corporation. He is also the chairman for the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission. Olson also serves as a trustee for the USD Foundation and on the boards for USD’s Discovery District and Farber Fund’s Chiesman Foundation and the South Dakota Development Corporation.
Tamara Nash of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, (J.D. ’13) for Emerging Leader. Nash is currently a prosecutor focused on firearm and narcotics offenses. She previously served as a Deputy State’s Attorney in Union County – prosecuting misdemeanor and juvenile offenses – and clerked with the Second Judicial Circuit of the South Dakota Unified Judicial System. She represents South Dakota on the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division – serving in director positions that allow her to help shape its strategic plans. She currently serves on the South Dakota State Bar’s Law School and Lawyers Assistance committees, and previously served as president of the South Dakota Young Lawyers Section.