The Governor’s Awards recognize contributions from individuals and corporations throughout South Dakota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 17, 2022

Contact: Kristen Kilmer, Communications Administrator, [email protected] or 605-291-5256


PIERRE, SD During the annual Governor’s Awards ceremony, Gov. Kristi Noem recognized and celebrated the achievements and contributions of businesses, people with disabilities and other South Dakotan residents who have worked to break down barriers to help people with disabilities find fulfilling employment .

The 2022 ceremony was held on Wednesday, October 26 at the Capitol Rotunda of the South Dakota State Capitol Building.

Awards were given to:

  • Helen Hartmann, Sioux Falls – Distinguished Person with a Disability
  • Kayley Shade, Sioux Falls – Outstanding Disabled Employee
  • JoDean’s Steakhouse & Lounge in Yankton – Great Place to Work Private (Small Place to Work)
  • Family Fare Supermarket on Mountain View Road in Rapid City – Excellent Private Employer (Large Employer)
  • Midco Aquatic Center in Sioux Falls – Public Employer of Excellence
  • Bev Petersen, Sioux Falls – Outstanding Transitional Services
  • John Hamilton, Sioux Falls – Excellent service

Helen Hartmann, Sioux Falls, received the Outstanding Person with Disability award in recognition of her more than 30 years of work with people with vision loss. Hartmann says she continues to volunteer as a peer support leader because she recognizes the importance of connecting people with others who are facing challenging lifestyle changes due to vision loss. Hartmann has provided peer support to individuals and groups in the southeast portion of the state since 1984, has helped develop grants for peer support activities for the Prairie Freedom Center, and founded the South Dakota Association of the Blind’s Gadgetry Program to help people to help with vision loss in finding adaptive equipment to achieve greater independence.

Kayley Shade, Sioux Falls, received the Outstanding Employee with Disability award in recognition of her outstanding achievements in competitive, integrated employment. Shade began working with Sioux Falls Storm with a part-time internship. After completing her internship, she was offered a full-time position and then promoted to Director of Media Relations. Her job responsibilities include developing and maintaining the team’s online social media websites, designing graphics and publications, writing press releases and providing live updates during games. In addition to her position at Storm, Shade also serves as Director of Media Relations for the Indoor Football League.

JoDean’s Steakhouse & Lounge, a locally owned restaurant that has been serving the Yankton area for more than 45 years, was recognized as a Private Employer of Excellence in the Small Employers category. According to the nomination letter, owner Jack Nielsen has created a positive and supportive work environment for people with disabilities. The letter also states that management leads by example, provides an inclusive work environment and embraces a team approach to recruiting and retaining employees while working with occupational rehabilitation consultants, ability building services and other providers.

Family Fare Supermarket on Mountain View Road in Rapid City was recognized as an Outstanding Private Employer in the Large Employers category. Family Fare employees, who have a long history of employing people with disabilities, work with community service providers and the vocational rehabilitation program to recruit and hire job seekers with disabilities. They have used work experience programs, job retention assistance and provide job accommodation. According to the nomination letter, “Family Fare engages in business practices that promote the long-term well-being of the environment, community and customers. They are committed to promoting a people-first culture.”

The Outstanding Public Employer Award was presented to the Midco Aquatic Center in Sioux Falls. This indoor water center is managed and operated by the City of Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Department. The center partners with Augustana University’s Access Program to provide internships for students with disabilities. Some of the internships have resulted in permanent positions for the students hired. According to the nomination letter, “Midco Aquatic Center builds inclusion into its culture. They have a diverse team and celebrate diversity by making everyone feel welcome and valued.”

Bev Petersen, liaison with the Transition Services Liaison Project (TSLP) in Sioux Falls since 2001, received the Outstanding Transition Services Award for her outstanding contributions to the development and delivery of a program to support students with disabilities in their school-to-adult transition. In her role as liaison, Petersen provides technical support to individuals, families, schools, teachers and providers and works with staff and students from 48 different schools. To help students transition out of high school, Petersen has developed two events – the Let’s Talk Work event and the Meet and Greet event at Yankton High School. She has also made significant contributions to numerous other transition activities.

John Hamilton, Sioux Falls received the Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes an individual or organization for exceptional contributions to the advancement of empowerment and employment for people with disabilities. Hamilton has worked for Disability Rights SD for more than 35 years. In his various roles, he has provided leadership in often challenging environments and shown a commitment to those he serves. According to the nomination letter, “John’s knowledge and skills in employment, education and independent living have benefitted countless people with disabilities. He uses his skills, knowledge and experience to create new ways to overcome challenging barriers for people with disabilities struggling to expand their employment opportunities, become truly independent and live in the communities of their choice.”

The Governor’s Awards have recognized individuals and companies for their contributions to the employment of people with disabilities since the early 1970’s. More than 300 individuals and companies from across the state of South Dakota were recognized. See for a list of past recipients of Governor’s Awards.

The Governor’s Award ceremony is jointly sponsored by the South Dakota Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Rehabilitation Services, the South Dakota Board of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Board of Service to the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the Statewide Independent Living Council.


About DHS

The mission of the South Dakota Department of Human Services (DHS) is to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities in partnership with its stakeholders. DHS serves South Dakota citizens of all ages through its five departments – Developmental Disabilities, Long-Term Services and Support, Rehabilitation Services, Blind and Visually Impaired Services, and the South Dakota Developmental Center.