Retirement Forces Reluctant Farewell

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Retirement Forces
Reluctant Farewell 
Charlotte Conway and Sylvia Moisan  announce retirement plans


Charlotte Conway joined the staff in December, 1972 when she was offered a job although she wasn’t seriously seeking employment.  Following marriage in 1954, she was an elementary teacher for two more years, retiring in 1956 to raise a family with her husband, Don.  Sixteen years and three children later, she decided to expand her horizons and accepted a part time position with the State Chamber, then known as the Greater South Dakota Association (GSDA).


An opportunity to work full time as the organization’s program director came in 1976, along with a name change for the organization to the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce.  Until 1996 she was responsible for setting up seminars, board of directors’ meetings and retreats, managing the annual Soil & Moisture Clinic, interviewing and managing the secretarial staff and managing the annual Business Day at the Legislature event.


In 1980 she worked with the late Jerry Simmons of Sioux Falls and co-worker, Joan Likness, to implement the first Youth Business Academy (YBA) program (now known as Youth Business Adventure).  During the past 30 years the program has served 5,650 students and numerous educators by helping them have a deeper knowledge of the business world.  In 1997, she managed the expansion of the YBA program to a second campus at Black Hills State University. She served as director of the YBA program until 1998 when she moved to her current part time position as executive assistant to YBA.


In 1985, Charlotte was appointed interim director of the State Chamber for one year.  In that role, she worked with persons instrumental in merging the State Chamber with the South Dakota Manufacturers Association, resulting today as the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce & Industry.  Also at that time she helped institute and manage the details of the first ABEX (Achievement in Business Excellence Awards) program and continued in the role until 1996.


Charlotte says the highlight of her career has been the opportunity to meet and work with highly motivated business people who are straightforward, honest and caring individuals.  Her passion for the YBA program has kept her working for its continued success.  According to Charlotte, the staff she has been privileged to work with has been an important reason for her 36 year career. 
Sylvia Moisan, in her own words.
Although the mission and purpose of Youth Business Adventure have remained the same, the program has undergone many updates, improvements and changes over the past twelve years.  Having Charlotte Conway, the “historian” of the YBA program, work along side me has been a treasured gift.


As the Executive Director of the YBA program, I have felt very blessed to have had a YBA Board Chair as involved and dedicated for 20 years as Pat Wingen.  So many of the other YBA Board members have remained involved with the program and are dedicated to its yearly successes, as well as making sure it remains current and fresh.  They are very involved and either serve as Company Advisors or provide someone from their company to serve as CA’s, event judges, scholarship essay judges or helping to fundraise.  These board members also come from sponsoring businesses throughout the state.


After several board members and Chamber staff met with the Sales and Marketing Executives of Sioux Falls in the spring of 1999, that organization selected YBA as the recipient of the proceeds from their fall Benefit Auction.  With the help of YBA and SD Chamber board members donating items for their auction and attending the event, they have been able to raise significant dollars to benefit the YBA program.  This partnership with SME has netted $146,332 over the past nine years, an extraordinary contribution to the YBA program.  The 2009 SME Benefit Auction, to be held on Sept. 25th, will be their 10th annual event on behalf of YBA.  SME members have also been involved as judges for the Emerging Entrepreneur presentations that the students do when they are on campus in June. 


When I arrived in 1998, YBA was in its 4th year on the campus of SDSU and its 2nd at BHSU.  The YBA board accepted the campus proposal from USD in 1999 for the program to move to that campus in June of 2000.  With a change in the east river campus, and a change of the month for that camp from August to June, finally an entire program year could fall within the YBA fiscal year, making financial reporting much simpler.  With each campus change came new opportunities for the program and new ideas from the campus itself.  Since that first move in 2000 to the USD campus, YBA has also accepted invitations to hold the YBA camps at Mount Marty College, and most recently at DSU in Madison. 


Pat Wingen and Ron Williamson had a vision for an endowment fund for the YBA college scholarship program.  That project came to fruition as the YBA Educational Endowment Fund was set up to receive the first contribution from Pat & Theresa Wingen on December 31, 2003.  Since that date, contributions totaling $45,000 from the Wingens, Tony Bour (Showplace Wood Products, Sioux Falls), Kevin Kouba (Otter Tail Power Co., Milbank), and the Sales & Marketing Executives of Sioux Falls have been received by the SD Community Foundation for the YBA Endowment Fund.  Over the last 5 years, twelve $500

scholarships have been paid from endowment fund earnings, beginning with just one in August, 2005 until this August when 4 scholarships were paid.


The first year YBA was on the USD campus, their Students in Free Enterprise Chapter (SIFE) helped YBA set up a website.  Over the years, YBA’s webmaster has changed many times, as has the website design.  Our current webmaster is working with our new Executive Director so that soon we will be able to register students on-line.  She will also be capable of making changes to specific items on the website, updating the latest brochures and application forms on her own.


The year prior to my arrival as YBA Director, a former Teacher Assistant at YBA had been asked to do some daytime and evening activities with the students.  Since that time, we have honed that position and have made several activity adjustments at the urging of that person and members of the YBA Curriculum Committee.  We now have a YBA Student Activities Director on campus with us each year and have been fortunate to have had three really wonderful people hold that position, Nancy Kennedy, Beth Schroeder and currently Jodi Zeller.  During YBA week, they work closely with our chosen few returning students called Student Assistants.  The Activities Director begins activities with the students at the opening ceremonies getting students to make new friends as quickly as possible.  She also makes sure the students TV commercials look as professional as possible after the taping session.  She helps with supervising nighttime activities at the dorm and keeps a watchful eye chaperoning them during the graduation dance on Thursday evening.


Not infrequently, we have had difficulties finding enough educators for the two campuses each summer.  Fortunately we had a person who gladly would fill in for that last minute cancellation, sometimes on both campuses.  Because he was such a huge supporter of the YBA program and a fantastic help to the Campus Chair and the Director, we finally asked Kim Beck, now a retired teacher, to help the educators we had on campus and named that person to the Teacher Assistant Mentor position.  Kim too has brought a lot to the table for YBA, fine tuning the Total Quality Awards program, helping to set up the networking portion of the TQA, and especially helping with CEO morning meetings on campus with the Campus Chair. 


For 30 years YBA has gained and shared so much with a group of directors for their states’ business week programs, each year traveling to a different state.  Last fall it was South Dakota’s turn to host the International Business Week conference.  Many of our local SD sponsors and board members helped with gift pack items and with hosting the program.  YBA Board members Pat Wingen and Brenda Waage attended the entire conference picking up information from the other states.  Jeff Parker made arrangements for our out-of-state guests to get a bird’s eye tour of Crazy Horse and to dine at the Laughing Waters Restaurant.  Both Ruth and Viga visited with our guests and handed out packets of information about the monument.  What a truly great experience we provided for our guests, all never having been to South Dakota before! 


Certainly there are many other changes that have occurred since I began in January, 1998, but these are the ones that stick out most in my mind.  I have truly enjoyed working with such wonderful people as the SD Chamber staff, and the board members, both YBA and Chamber. 


Sylvia Moisan

YBA Executive Director

South Dakota Website Design and Development