2017 SME Women of Excellence Recognized

Excellence in Marketing – Trish McCann, Chief Marketing Officer – Midco

Excellence in Sales – Julie Nelson, Sr Vice President – American Bank and Trust

Supporting Excellence – Gwen Arechigo, Avera Health

Entrepreneurial Excellence – Laura Benson, Filly Flair

Excellence Through the Decades – Diana Berkland, Vice President of Nursing and Clinical Services, Sanford Health

Excellence in Marketing –  Trish McCann, Midco

Trish has been a marketing leader for years, serving in retail businesses until she joined Midco in 2001. Since then, she’s advanced her role and responsibility in the company to her current position as Chief Marketing Officer. Over the years, Trish has grown the internal marketing team from a team of one direct report to a team that now includes functions for creative services, communications, events, and public affairs, as well as marketing analytics, insights and consumer sales. This combined marketing team now includes over 160 employees!

Trish is dedicated to providing support to the communities the company serves.

She is the key driver of the company’s sponsorship of JazzFest, including bringing in leading performers. She served on the Board of Directors for Active Generations. She is a graduate of Leadership Sioux Falls, completed the Strategic Marketing Management, Chicago Booth from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in 2010, and this year completed Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) Senior Executive Summit from the Stanford School of Business.


Excellence in Sales – Julie Nelson, American Bank and Trust

From her exceedingly vibrant character to her compassionate heart, Julie exemplifies the empathy of a leader in every sense of the definition.  As a Senior Vice President of American Bank and Trust, she’s responsible for discovering new accounts and helping customers through financial decisions.   She is also spearheading the opening of two new branch locations in the Sioux Falls area.  She is not afraid of a challenge and her performance mirrors just that.  She is respected and celebrated for her previous accomplishments, and continues to bring a new wave of vision to our community. Julie promotes her community before herself and truly has an unwillingness to never stop wanting better things for those who reside in Sioux Falls. She has an impeccable aptitude for giving back to our wonderful city, and perfects this act through her multiple projects and boards she selflessly serves on.    However, nothing tops her ability to brilliantly transform a young dreamer into succeeding with their passion through her art of mentoring and motivation.  She carves out time and travels out of her way to offer encouragement and direction to those breaking into the banking and finance industry.  That’s what makes Julie a Woman of Excellence!


Supporting Excellence – Gwen Arechigo, Avera Health

Gwen supports the executive vice president of Human Resources and multiple other leaders at Avera. She manages calendars, sets up meetings, secures needed supplies, researches and assembles PowerPoint presentations, along with numerous other duties as assigned. One of her roles is coordinating details for interviews of potential administrators. This may involve setting up a meeting with a local realtor, hotel reservations, plane tickets, and anything else needed to ensure the visit is a positive experience. She is highly trusted to keep sensitive information confidential, and takes care of any snafus immediately.

The word “no” isn’t part of her vocabulary. One HR administrator said, “She is one of the most selfless individuals I have ever worked with. She does incredibly valuable work and has great ideas that would rival those of any leader on our team. But she would never think of taking any credit. She has made me a better person because of her example.”

She is exceptionally competent in her professional role, but the most impressive thing about her is her approach toward others. Always putting others first, she has a gracious manner, and is warm and welcoming to everyone who comes into the office. Her motto is “adapt and overcome” when it comes to the unpredictable events that come up on a daily basis.

Entrepreneurial Excellence – Laura Benson, Filly Flair

At the age of 22, Laura started selling accessories at rodeos as a way to pay for rodeo fees, and help with college.  Not living near most of the customers, she knew she needed to make the items available online.  The next couple years, turned into a basement full of inventory, and the need to hire people to help complete orders. By the following year, she needed more space, this was not a basement business anymore.  She rented some warehouse space, and was able to sell the clothes in a small retail space on the weekends.  After 6 years, of gradually moving to bigger warehouse locations, and needing bigger retail space, it was time.  She now resides in a 6500 square foot warehouse, a 3000 square foot retail space, with a staff of 20.  A company that started with purchasing a $150 domain name, using her parent’s computer, has turned into a nearly 4-million-dollar yearly revenue business.  The business was named the largest social media company in the state of South Dakota.  All from the passion of one person.  Laura taught herself photography, and how to take beautiful pictures that draw people to her website and retail location.   She’s involved in her business daily, continues to do all the buying herself, and takes an active role in her social media and online marketing.  This business has become one of the largest online boutiques in the Midwest.


Excellence Through the Decades – Diana Berkland, Sanford Health

This nominee is a lifelong learner and strong leader. She has earned her bachelors’, masters’ and PhD degrees in Nursing. With more than 30 years of progressive nursing and leadership experience, she has practiced at the bedside as a nurse and as a Nurse Practitioner. She has since moved into leadership roles, first as Chief Nursing Officer for Sanford and most recently as Vice President of Nursing and Clinical Services. 

In her current role, Diana is responsible for clinical and operational decision making. In this role, she holds the accountability for the practice of nursing across the entire organization. She focuses on supporting clinical staff through efforts to expand healthy work environment initiatives in an effort to deliver safe, reliable patient-centered care. Her history, experience, knowledge and strong leadership skills serve her well in her role and provide her the autonomy and positional authority to make important decisions that affect our organization. 

She is well respected not only by her superiors and peers, but staff at all levels.  She actively pursues understanding others’ point of view.  She is a good listener and she engages staff as much as possible in decision making. She is a true mentor, leader, educator and champion for the profession of nursing.