OCT. 7, 2015 - VOL. 52 No. 1

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Kapaska ready to lead Chamber through transition year

By Amy Smolik
Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce

"I´m a Millennial, Dr. K, so I need some feedback."

This conversation between the student fellow who is following Dr. Dave Kapaska around Avera McKennan Hospital & University Center for the next year epitomizes some of the conversations taking place in workplaces across the community as multiple generations make up today´s workforce.

Workforce development challenges are not new to this area or across the country, however the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce is among the many community organizations banding together to make an impact and improve retention and recruitment efforts. Kapaska became the Chamber´s 2016-17 Chair of the Board on Oct. 1, a position he will hold for the next 12 months.

As Kapaska´s Chamber year kicks off at the 110th Annual Meeting workforce will be a major topic with the keynote presentation given by BridgeWorks, the leading experts on generations. There are five generations working today. Perhaps the single most limiting factor to the Sioux Falls area´s growth and future development is workforce.

"The Forward Sioux Falls workforce initiative is huge. We need to maximize the capabilities of all people – in our diverse population, those with disabilities and all different entry points," Kapaska said.

BridgeWorks will provide "edu-tainment" to those who attend the Annual Meeting on Oct. 18. Through humor and video, they will help all generations better understand one another as well as how to better engage with each other and with their customers. It seemed a fitting topic to cover.

The Forward Sioux Falls 2021 program incorporates four key initiatives from the 2015 Strategic Workforce Action Agenda. Forward Sioux Falls is the successful joint venture management partnership between the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. FSF 2021 is the seventh program. The campaign wrapped up earlier this year with program initiatives kicking off in April 2016.

OCCUPATION: Regional President, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center


EDUCATION: U.S. Air Force Academy (B.S. in Engineering Management), Southern Illinois University (MBA), University of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)

FAMILY: Wife, Mary Ann; three children: Tom, a pilot with Southwest Airlines in Las Vegas; Carolyn, a school psychologist with the Los Angeles School District; Katie, a midwife in Worthington, Minn.; six grandchildren

CHAMBER INVOLVEMENT: Forward Sioux Falls Joint Venture Management Committee, Board Liaison to the Military & Veterans Affairs Committee and Chairman of the Air Service Committee

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Visual Arts Center Board of Directors, McCrossans Boys Ranch Board of Directors, Sioux Empire United Way Professional Committee

"Every person who moves here is an opportunity. We want to maximize the capabilities of all people and all of the different entry points to help with our workforce needs."

Like many businesses, Avera is also facing workforce challenges, from frontline jobs to technical positions. He said for physicians and specialized practices, recruiting is a national and international marketplace. And convincing potential employees to come to Sioux Falls when they aren´t familiar with the area is a challenge – until they arrive. "Once we get them to come for a visit, they will choose Sioux Falls."

The national marketing efforts through Forward Sioux Falls have helped elevate Sioux Falls. The work being done in the medical community – like Sanford´s worldwide clinics and Avera´s twins study with the Netherlands, for example – also helps, he said.

"Now people pick a place to live and then find a job. Before, we´d find a job and then learn to live there," he said.

Kapaska´s career has taken him across the country. He played basketball and graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado, where San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was one of his teammates and remains a lifelong friend. Following graduation, Kapaska was an assistant basketball coach and nationwide recruiter for the Air Force Academy. He earned his MBA from Southern Illinois University and also completed his pilot´s training and flew more than 2,500 hours as a pilot and aircraft commander worldwide.

In the early 1980s, Kapaska spent three years as the district sales manager and sales representative for Mobil Chemical Company in Woodland, Calif. From there he went on to earn his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from the University of Osteopathic Medicine in Des Moines. Kapaska completed his family practice residency at Iowa Lutheran Hospital in Des Moines. He went on to practice in Sac City, Iowa and Ankeny, Iowa before arriving at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center in 1999. His first role was the Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs. He then spent one year as the Senior Vice President Medial Affairs at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines and returned to Avera as the Senior Vice President/Chief Medical Officer. In 2010, Kapaska was named the Regional President of Avera McKennan.

Kapaska´s engagement with the business community through the Chamber has been eye-opening. It´s important to be visible and engaged in the community, he said. It´s easy to get wrapped up in the small circle of what you do and not engage outside that – that perspective has been a gift, Kapaska said.

"The Chamber´s ability to engage with our community and state through our government relations has been an interesting process for me to learn about," he said. "It´s a very valuable tool for members. The Chamber represents them and helps them learn the depth of the issues – much more than just the headlines."

In addition to implementing some of the workforce initiatives for the community, Kapaska is mindful of the Chamber Board´s responsibility in selecting its new leader. At the end of 2016, Chamber President/CEO Evan Nolte will retire after 37 years in this role. Picking the right person will help maintain membership value and membership strength within the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, Kapaska said.

"We have had amazing stability over the last 37 years with the experience of Evan Nolte – the history he carries and the knowledge of where we´ve been and where we´re going. We need to look to a person who can do that. It will require the Board and the staff to re-engage. We´ve taken some things for granted because Evan just knew," Kapaska said. "This is a new adventure. We are working together to ensure the vibrancy of the business community."

A search committee was formed in the spring and has been working with Waverly Partners, a company that specializes in placing leaders in organizations like chambers of commerce, to find the next Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce President/CEO. But first, Nolte´s efforts will be celebrated. The Oct. 18 Annual Meeting includes time to reflect on Nolte´s successes and his thoughts about 37 years at the helm of the region´s pre-eminent business organization.

"I´ve been all over the world as a pilot and people are so much the same. They want to be safe, have opportunities, have good things happen for their family and friends. It´s consistent wherever you go," he said. "Sioux Falls is a wonderful place. We care for, hope and support one another."

And the Chamber of Commerce is part of what helps build a strong community where that can continue to happen.

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