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Governor's Awards Recognize Contributions of Individuals and Businesses across South Dakota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  November 17, 2022

Contact:  Kristen Kilmer, Communications Administrator, Kristen.Kilmer@state.sd.us or 605-291-5256



PIERRE, S.D. - During the annual Governor’s Awards Ceremony, Gov. Kristi Noem recognized and celebrated the accomplishments and contributions of businesses, individuals with disabilities, and other South Dakotans who have worked to break down barriers to help those with disabilities find fulfilling employment.


The 2022 ceremony was held Wednesday, Oct. 26, in the Capitol Rotunda of the South Dakota State Capitol Building.


Receiving awards were:


  • Helen Hartmann, Sioux Falls - Outstanding Individual with a Disability
  • Kayley Shade, Sioux Falls - Outstanding Employee with a Disability
  • JoDean’s Steakhouse & Lounge in Yankton - Outstanding Private Employer (Small Employer)
  • Family Fare Supermarket on Mountain View Road in Rapid City - Outstanding Private Employer (Large Employer)
  • Midco Aquatic Center in Sioux Falls - Outstanding Public Employer
  • Bev Petersen, Sioux Falls - Outstanding Transition Services
  • John Hamilton, Sioux Falls - Distinguished Service


Helen Hartmann, Sioux Falls, received the Outstanding Individual with a Disability award in recognition of her 30+ years working with individuals with vision loss. Hartmann says that she continues to volunteer as a peer support leader because she realizes the importance of connecting individuals with others who are facing challenging lifestyle changes due to vision loss. Hartmann has provided individual and group peer support in the southeast part of the state since 1984, has been involved in writing grants for peer support activities for the Prairie Freedom Center, and founded the South Dakota Association of the Blind’s Gadgetry Program to assist people with vision loss in finding adaptive equipment so they can achieve greater independence.


Kayley Shade, Sioux Falls, received the Outstanding Employee with a Disability in honor of her outstanding achievements in competitive, integrated employment. Shade began working with the Sioux Falls Storm with a part-time internship opportunity. Upon completion of her internship, she was offered a full-time position and was then promoted to Director of Media Relations. Her job responsibilities include developing and maintaining the team’s online social media sites, designing graphics and publications, writing press releases, and providing live updates during games. In addition to her position with the Storm, Shade also works as Director of Media Relations for the Indoor Football League.


JoDean’s Steakhouse & Lounge, a locally owned restaurant that has been serving the Yankton area for more than 45 years, was recognized as the Outstanding Private Employer in the small employer category. According to the nomination letter, owner Jack Nielsen has developed a positive and supportive work environment for individuals with disabilities. The letter also stated that management leads by example, providing an inclusive work environment and welcoming a team approach to finding and retaining employees while working with Vocational Rehabilitation counselors, Ability Building Services, and other providers.


Family Fare Supermarket on Mountain View Road in Rapid City was recognized as the Outstanding Private Employer in the large employer category. Family Fare staff, which have a long history of employing people with disabilities, partner with community service providers and the Vocational Rehabilitation program to recruit and hire job seekers with disabilities. They have utilized work experience programs, on-the-job retention supports and provide workplace accommodations. According to the nomination letter, “Family Fare engages in business practices that promote the long-term wellbeing of the environment, community, and customers. They are committed to fostering a ‘people first’ culture.”


The Outstanding Public Employer Award was presented to Midco Aquatic Center in Sioux Falls. This indoor aquatic center is managed and operated by the City of Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Department. The Center partners with Augustana University’s Access Program to facilitate internships with students with disabilities. Some of the internships have led to permanent positions for the students that they have hired. According to the nomination letter, “Midco Aquatic Center builds inclusion into their culture. They have a diverse team and celebrate diversity by making sure everyone feels welcomed and valued.”


Bev Petersen, a liaison with the Transition Services Liaison Project (TSLP) in Sioux Falls since 2001, was presented the Outstanding Transition Services Award for her extraordinary contributions to developing and providing a program to assist students with disabilities as they transition from school to adult life. In her role as liaison, Petersen provides technical assistance to individuals, families, schools, teachers, and providers, working with staff and students from 48 different schools. To assist students in their transition out of high school, Petersen developed two events - the Let’s Talk Work event and the Meet and Greet event at the Yankton High School. She has also provided significant contributions to numerous other transition activities.


The Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes an individual or organization for extraordinary contributions in advancing the empowerment and employment of people with disabilities, was presented to John Hamilton, Sioux Falls. Hamilton has worked for Disability Rights SD for more than 35 years. In his various roles, he has provided leadership in often challenging environments and has shown dedication to those he serves. According to the nomination letter, “John’s knowledge and skills in the areas of employment, education and independent living have helped countless individuals with disabilities. He utilizes his skills, knowledge and experiences to develop new ways to address challenging barriers for those with disabilities struggling to improve their employment opportunities, become truly independent, and live in the communities of their choice.”


The Governor’s Awards have recognized individuals and businesses for their contributions toward the employment of people with disabilities since the early ’70s. More than 300 individuals and businesses from across the state of South Dakota have been recognized. See dhs.sd.gov/rehabservices/govawards.aspx for a list of previous Governor’s Awards recipients.


The Governor’s Awards ceremony is co-sponsored by the South Dakota Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Rehabilitation Services, the South Dakota Board of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Board of Service to the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the Statewide Independent Living Council.




About DHS

The mission of the South Dakota Department of Human Services (DHS) is to enhance the quality of life of people with disabilities, in partnership with its stakeholders. DHS serves South Dakota citizens of all ages through its five divisions - Developmental Disabilities, Long-Term Services and Supports, Rehabilitation Services, Service to the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the South Dakota Developmental Center.