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Majors & Degrees

Berry chosen for SD Change Network cohort

October 10, 2017

Dr. Stacey Berry“Creating change can be a daunting experience,” said Stacey Berry, associate professor of English for new media at Dakota State University.

Berry has worked with campus and community groups for eight years to effect change. While it’s good for people to have their own convictions, she has seen that some feel alienated if others hold a different view, and are unable to see what there is to be gained from a variety of opinions. This can result in discouragement on the part of a change agent.

“You can get to a point where you think you should just give up.”

A new opportunity with the South Dakota Change Network is reinvigorating Berry to continue her work as a change agent. She has been chosen as a fellow with the network, part of a new program created by the Bush Foundation. This program offers a cohort of 15 forward-thinking South Dakotans an opportunity to build their self-awareness, leadership abilities and systems-change skill sets.

“This fellowship appeals to me personally and professionally,” Berry said, as it “provides a chance to learn about the kinds of things a person can do to create effective change and create networks,” she explained. “I’ll also be able to find out what other like-minded people are doing to create change.”

Berry’s cohort includes members from a variety of professions, a finance manager, public defender, journalist, economic developer, youth director, tribal representatives. The members come from all parts of the state, and will have face-to-face meetings, remote interactions, and establish mentors. Dr. Judy Dittman is her DSU mentor for this project. Dittman, associate vice president for academic affairs/director of student retention at DSU “is an important and inspirational figure to me at DSU and in the community,” Berry said.

At the conclusion of the year-long fellowship, the members will also be able to apply individually for $5,000 grants. Berry has not determined a grant project idea yet. “I’m excited to see what Stacey’s going to do [for a project],” said Dr. Ben Jones, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“Many of the faculty and students have grown accustomed to Stacey’s wonderful work on campus,” Jones said, “and now the Bush Foundation has recognized her potential to continue that work in Madison and potentially across South Dakota.”

Berry agrees that the fellowship will have a positive effect on DSU and Madison. “These are valuable lessons I can bring back to the campus and community,” she said, effective ways of being a change agent in the classroom, in the community, as a mentor for students and as a more effective leader as a woman in academics.

“The fellowship has inspired me to pursue more grant opportunities and push students to do more, to connect with more people,” Berry said, because “we have a lot to gain together, even if we disagree.”

Berry’s cohort members include:

  • Jill Baker, Sioux Falls, human services with a focus on veterans;
  • Amy Hofer, Doland, finance manager interested in rural community involvement and volunteerism;
  • Jared Hybertson, Centerville, economic developer focused on rural community inclusion;
  • Kelsea Kenzy Sutton, Burke, attorney with interests in food security and public health;
  • Patti Martinson, Rapid City, focusing on social change through the arts;
  • Billy Mawhiney, Sioux Falls, youth director working on nonprofit connections;
  • Carla Miller, Sioux Falls, serving families and individuals with disabilities and chronic health issues;
  • Alli Moran, Eagle Butte, interested in secondary education for tribal youth;
  • Andrea Powers, Hot Springs, economic developer focused on bringing young people to rural areas;
  • Traci Smith, Sioux Falls, interests in changes in the judicial system as a public defender;
  • Adam Strenge, Sioux Falls, SE Tech work on increasing student success in post-secondary education; 
  • Peter Strong, Rapid City, gallery owner with interests in the arts and Native American culture;
  • Viola Waln, Parmelee, journalist interested in affecting people through writing; and
  • Ernest Weston, Porcupine, assisting first-year Native American students in colleges.

The South Dakota Change Network is executed through a partnership of National Arts Strategies, SDSU Extension Community Vitality and Vision Maker Media. Applications for the second round of Change Network will open in April 2018. For more information contact Kari O’Neill, SDSU Extension, at 605-685-6972 or kari.oneill@sdstate.edu.