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Governor Noem Appoints First Members to Freedom Scholarship Board

PIERRE, S.D. — Governor Kristi Noem today announced the appointment of five board members for the Freedom Scholarship endowment. The appointments set the stage for the state to begin delivering awards for its first-ever needs based-scholarship program. Dana Dykhouse, Miles Beacom, Phyllis Heineman, Diana Vanderwoude, and Chris Houwman will serve as the inaugural board members for the Freedom Scholarship endowment.

“I am grateful to these five South Dakotans for volunteering their experience and talents to help us launch the Freedom Scholarship. This endowment will allow us to tap into a network of students who are eager to excel in their studies and professional pursuits,” Governor Noem said. “This scholarship will ensure that South Dakota is securing some of the top talent in our colleges and universities. As more and more companies move to our state, we need today’s workforce ready to take on tomorrow’s jobs.”

Dana Dykhouse is the CEO of First PREMIER Bank and currently serves on the board of the Build Dakota Scholarship Fund. Miles Beacom is the CEO of PREMIER Bankcard and has a strong record of community service, including as a member of the Board of Governors of the University of South Dakota Beacom School of Business. Phyllis Heineman is a former educator, South Dakota State University alum, and has previously served on numerous boards, including the South Dakota Partners in Education. Diana VanderWoude has 40 years of experience in healthcare administration and education and is currently the Vice President of Learning, Education, and development for Sanford Health. Chris Houwman is CEO and President of Malloy and currently serves on the South Dakota Workforce Development Council.

The Freedom Scholarship endowment was created in the 2021 legislative session. Senate Bill 171 initially authorized $50 million to be allocated to the Freedom Scholarship endowment. In partnership with First Premier Bank, T. Denny Sanford, and other private donors, the fund is now at more than $175 million in commitments.