John T. Vucurevich Foundation  
Emerging Leaders Program

“We talk about leadership in terms of an action one takes, not in terms of a position one holds. Leadership is about taking responsibility – both personal and social – for working with others on shared goals.” – Paul Schmitz

Each of us has the power to contribute to real systems change, an untangling of the programs, perspectives, and issues that create an environment that holds problems in place. The John T. Vucurevich Foundation Emerging Leaders program immerses Fellows in key issues facing our Rapid City community and the organizations dedicated to addressing them. In 2023 we welcome our 5th cohort. Our quarterly meetings immerse participants in what it means to become leaders who are poverty, trauma, and Lakota culture and history informed. Our Emerging Leaders are also tasked with participating in a learning lab this year. The purpose of a learning lab is not to accomplish a project, it’s more about the process of working as a team to learn about community partners already working on the issues at hand. By the end of the year, each lab will deliver a hypothetical project pitch to address their community issue.

This program empowers participants to discover their role in addressing community issues and build the lasting, cross-sector relationships needed for systems change. Our 2023 cohort is a diverse group of motivated individuals from all sectors including government, nonprofits, faith-based communities, businesses, and grass roots citizens who share the common goal of improving the quality of life in Rapid City.

2023 Emerging Leaders

  • Abby Sharp, Children's Home Society
  • Adonica Little, Monument Health
  • Amanda Prines, Homemaker
  • Amber Tilberg, Rapid City Area Schools
  • Andrew Ley, Teaching Innovation in Education
  • Ashleigh Young, OneHeart
  • Audrea Amstutz, Klein Visioneering Group
  • Bobbie Koch, 7 Directions Architects
  • Brian Hill, SD Mines
  • Bryan Mitchell, Western Dakota Tech
  • Caitlin Senesac, SD Unified Judicial System
  • Chris Erickson, SHIFT Garage
  • Emily Hamling, Behavior Management Systems
  • Erin Grant, Black Hills Special Services Cooperative
  • Hanna Glissendorf, United Way of the Black Hills
  • Hannah Furchner, Avera Research Institute
  • Jillian Smith, Supreme Court of South Dakota
  • Joanna Wiseman, Monument Health
  • John Perkins, United States Airforce
  • Jordan Reed, Black Hills Energy
  • Julia Kelly, Career Learning Center of the Black Hills
  • Kara Nesbitt, Pennington County Housing and Redevelopment Commisssion
  • Kayleigh Johnson, SD Mines Museum of Geology
  • Kendra Magelky, Rapid Transit
  • Krystal Bresnahan, Visit Rapid City
  • Leslie Hill, SD Mines
  • Maryann Leanna, Cornerstone Apartments
  • Melissa Cline, KNBN-NewsCenter 1
  • Rachel Paulsen, Oyate Health Center
  • Samantha Sauer, Western South Dakota Community Action
  • Sarah Glynn, Care Campus
  • Savannah Youngman, WAVI
  • Sunni Toczek, Early Childhood Connections
  • Vikki Swallow, Wellfully
  • Whitney Bischoff, Western Dakota Tech

Expectations of a Emerging Leader

This program lasts 12 months with an initial two-day retreat and quarterly gatherings. There are smaller learning lab meetings in between the larger quarterly gatherings. Estimated time is approximately 3-6 hours per month. A $1,000 stipend is distributed in two increments to each participant during the year-long fellowship. 



  • January 26th 3-8pm
  • January 27th 8-3pm
  • March 30th 3-8pm
  • June 22nd 3-8pm
  • Sept. 14th 3-8pm


  • January 12th 5-8pm

For questions regarding the fellow program, please email Callie Tysdal or call 605-343-3141. Applications for cohort 6 will be announced by October 2023.