Join Sioux Empire Women Connect for an exclusive event to hear from female community leaders in Sioux Falls on their perspectives on workplace culture, empowering women, and community engagement, and more.
Karla Abbott, associate professor at Augustana University, is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe from both German and Native American heritage. A product of a bicultural family, Karla has always viewed issues from two perspectives. Dr. Abbott, a registered nurse for 35 years, believes it is important to educate new nurses who are ready to tackle the strong issues in healthcare today with superb problem solving skills and critical thinking. A former leader once told Karla that if you carve out 10 minutes of every hour to assist others in the workplace it builds a cohesive workforce, better nurses, and produces better patient outcomes.
Melissa M. Johnson is the founder and CEO of Oh My Cupcakes!, Sweet Cream Candle Co., and Melissa J. Creative. With a background in broadcast media and communications, Melissa is a sought-after keynote speaker with both Melissa J Creative and the Jon Gordon Companies, where she is a Power of Positive Leadership Certified speaker and trainer. People have said Melissa “just has a presence about her.” Her genuine desire is to inspire and uplift, leaving people better than she found them. She currently serves on the Volunteers of America Foundation board, the Children’s Home Society of SD Programming board, and the Avera Philanthropy Council.
Marla Meyer serves as the CEO for Girl Scouts Dakota Horizons, the preeminent leadership development organization for girls. She also contributes to the Girl Scout movement as Co-Chair of the National Steering Committee for the Cookie Program. Before joining the Girl Scouts in 2016, Marla shared her wealth of business knowledge with Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, as a multi-functional Senior Executive with extensive accomplishments in multi-state, international and turnaround situations. She serves on the Faith United personnel committee, the SF Chamber Business Leadership Council, and as a Mentor in the EmBe Women’s Leadership Program.
Natasha Smith is the Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Sanford Health and brings an abundance of experience and lenses to the table to create equitable programing. From Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy work to living day to day as a working Latina mother, Natasha’s journey has brought her to the current role that she is in, where she oversees the diversity, equity and inclusion strategy for Sanford Health aimed at removing barriers to achieve equitable clinical outcomes and access and belonging for the workforce. She serves on the board for Embe and is a founding member of the non-profit, Pathways to Equitable and Inclusive Workplaces. She is a community organizer and advocate and serves in an advisory capacity for the statewide day of giving, South Dakota Gives.
As a proud lifelong South Dakotan, Sadie Swier is still learning and living in the state and city of Sioux Falls. Growing up surrounded by friends and family in Hartford, SD, started her off with a foundation of hard work and love for community. She stayed in South Dakota to Vermillion, SD as a University of South Dakota Coyote. After completing her Communication Studies major, Psychology and Social Media Marketing minors in 2018, she became the Community Outreach Manager at Downtown Sioux Falls Inc. She’s recently landed her dream job that perfectly fits her skillset and passion as the Director of a new women’s business center, SD CEO East Women’s Business Center. When she isn’t living, working, or playing in DTSF you’ll find her volunteering or traveling with friends and family!
Ann Nachtigal has spent the past three decades creating and curating content. She currently leads a team of eight Emmy-nominated storytellers with Sanford Health News, the owned-media arm of Sanford Health. In addition to her role at the Sioux Falls-based health system, Ann is an active member of the community. She currently serves as Chair of the Sioux Falls Parks & Recreation Board, an ex-officio member of the Parks Foundation, and was recently appointed to the 2035 Downtown Advisory Board. Ann has three adult children who she visits regularly as they all live in some of the best getaway locations in the U.S.