Podcast: SDCF's Legacy | South Dakota Community Foundation

Podcast: SDCF's Legacy

The South Dakota Community Foundation (SDCF) was created as a public, nonprofit corporation on November 11, 1987, driven by the imagination of former Governor George S. Mickelson. He believed that the state of South Dakota needed an organization that would promote statewide donations and provide financial assistance to nonprofits.

For the last 35 years, SDCF has been bringing philanthropy to life and has been led by dedicated leaders. Jeff Veltkamp, SDCF’s Director of Development, recently sat down with two leaders — current President & CEO Stephanie Judson and past President & CEO, and current board member, Bob Sutton to discuss their efforts to make a stronger South Dakota through philanthropy.

Bob Sutton speaking at the SDCF 35th anniversary celebration in October 2022.

Stephanie became President of SDCF in January 2013, after holding various positions within the foundation since 1997. Bob Sutton served as the President and CEO from 2003–2013 and shared that working for SDCF was the best job he has ever had.

Bob shared what it was like to work with the founding CEO, Bernie Christenson, to build the long-term vision of the Foundation and said, “it was a time of tremendous growth, and that growth was made possible because of the work that had been done by my predecessors.”

Stephanie Judson receiving 2022 Association of Fundraising Professionals-South Dakota Outstanding Fundraising Professional Award.

Stephanie touched on that growth as a blessing and also a challenge to ramp up internal capacities to meet the needs of donors and nonprofit partners. “It’s a good problem to have, and I’m blessed with a stellar team,” said Stephanie.

Bob and Stephanie both agree on the special bond the team at SDCF has shared as a tight-knit group over the last 35 years. Stephanie shared, “it’s transformative to me that in the 35-year history this organization has had just three leaders.”

Bob and Stephanie both feel it has made a big impact that they have each had the chance to work alongside one another and grow the organization together.

“The state of South Dakota is a better place, and we have a better quality of life because of the South Dakota Community Foundation,” stated Bob.

“The state of South Dakota is a better place, and we have a better quality of life because of the South Dakota Community Foundation,” stated Bob.

He goes on to say that the people making those investments into a better life for South Dakotans are incredibly generous donors who want to give back to their communities. Bob is proud of the ability of the SDCF to serve as a vehicle to facilitate that kind of giving.

“We are an endowment-based organization, so people are choosing to invest in the future of others,” stated Stephanie on the selfless belief in the future to come for South Dakota.

Listen to Sutton and Judson's podcast episode here.