South Dakota Governor's Conference on Tourism

Crazy Horse Monument Close-up
Beaver Creek Bridge Photo
Train Engine Photo
Photo of Wall Drug Donuts
Redlin Art Center Photo
Mount Rushmore
Arc of Dreams Sculpture
PHoto of a Buffalo
Hiking Photo
Badlands Landscape
2020: Great Faces Great Places - Vertical Orientation 2020: Great Faes Great Places - horizontal orientation

We are excited about the broad spectrum of speakers we have joining us for the 2020 Governor’s Conference on Tourism.
Learn more about them and their areas of expertise, below, and on the SPEAKERS page.

Governor Kristi Noem
Kristi Noem

Governor Kristi Noem was elected in November 2018 as the 33rd Governor of South Dakota. She is a wife, a mother, and a lifelong rancher, farmer and small business owner.

Governor Noem was born and raised in rural Hamlin County in northeastern South Dakota. After a family tragedy, she took over the family's farm and ranch, stabilizing the operation and providing leadership when it was needed most. An avid hunter, she later started a hunting lodge and restaurant. Now bringing her experiences to Pierre, she is improving education and workforce training, taking on the drug crisis, improving mental health, bringing awareness to the shortage of foster care families, fighting human trafficking, enhancing tribal relations and increasing transparency - all without raising taxes.

In 2006, Noem was elected as the 6th District Representative to the South Dakota House of Representatives. During her second term, she was elected to leadership by her peers, serving as Assistant Majority Leader.

By 2010, the day-to-day challenges South Dakotans faced were primarily at the hand of a broken federal government. Driven by her commitment to common sense values, Noem earned the opportunity to serve as South Dakota's lone Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. During her time in Congress, she helped to pass a Farm Bill, crack down on human trafficking, improve school meal regulations, and fight back against an overreaching federal government. Her work helped to triple the size of the Black Hills National Cemetery, increase support for the Lewis & Clark Rural Water Project, and protect the Hot Springs VA from closure. In 2015, she earned a seat on the Ways & Means Committee, largely considered the most powerful committee in Congress. There, she played a key role in writing and passing historic tax cut legislation that put $2,400 back in the pockets of the average South Dakota family.

Governor Noem and the First gentleman, Bryon, have three children: Kassidy, Kennedy, and Booker.

Kristi Noem
Lt. Governor Larry Rhoden
Larry Rhoden
Lieutenant Governor

Lt. Governor Larry Rhoden is South Dakota's 39th lieutenant governor. Lt. Governor Rhoden is a lifelong West River rancher, a dedicated husband and father, and a proven leader with a record of service for South Dakota.

Growing up, Rhoden understood true service at a young age. After graduating high school, he joined the South Dakota National Guard, serving six years and carrying on a family legacy of military service that began in the Revolutionary War. While his children were young, he served as a church trustee, earned a seat on the local school board, and led the Board of Directors for the area Cenex.

In 2000, Rhoden was elected to the state legislature. During his time as a citizen legislator, his peers repeatedly selected him to serve in leadership, and he's shown an aptitude for getting things done. Rhoden has served as House Majority Leader and has chaired both the Senate and House State Affairs Committees. Rhoden worked with Noem to reform South Dakota's tax code, led efforts to repeal the so-called "Trucker's Tax," and shaped legislation to limit the government's eminent domain authority. His work earned him the American Conservative Union's highest ranking in 2017.

Lt. Governor Rhoden, who currently runs a cow-calf operation and custom welding business, continues to live on the ranch where he was born and raised. He and his wife, Sandy, have four boys, three daughters-in-law, and two grandchildren.

Larry Rhoden
Lieutenant Governor
James D. Hagen
James D. Hagen
Secretary of Tourism

Jim Hagen has served as South Dakota’s Secretary of Tourism since 2011. He has a passion for seeing the tourism industry grow to new heights in all corners of the state.

Before becoming the Secretary of Tourism, Jim served four and a half years as the National Fundraising Campaign Director and Public Relations Director for the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. From 2004-2006, he served as South Dakota’s Secretary of Tourism and State Development. From 1995-2002, he served as Chief of Staff and Special Advisor to Governor Bill Janklow.

Jim was named the National State Tourism Director of the Year in August 2014. He was chosen by his peers in the National Council of State Tourism Directors and the U.S. Travel Association. Under his leadership, and in close partnership with the tourism industry in South Dakota, the state has set new economic impact records every year over the past eight years, including all-time spending and visitation records every year. During his tenure as secretary, the Department of Tourism has been the recipient of numerous regional and national marketing and public relations awards.

In March 2014, Secretary Hagen was appointed to the 32-member National Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (TTAB) by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. The board is charged with advising the United States Secretary of Commerce on travel and tourism issues affecting our nation. In March 2016, he was reappointed by Secretary Pritzker to an additional two-year term on the TTAB. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross reappointed Secretary Hagen to the board in September 2018. The secretary also served five years on the Executive Board of the U.S. Travel Association, chaired the association’s Membership Governance Committee, and recently completed a two-year term as Chairman of the National Council of State Tourism Directors.

Secretary Hagen grew up in the northeast corner of The Mount Rushmore State. He is a graduate of Aberdeen Central High School and a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Southern California.

James D. Hagen
Secretary of Tourism
Anirban Basu
Anirban Basu
General Session Speaker

Anirban Basu is Chairman & CEO of Sage Policy Group, Inc., an economic and policy consulting firm in Baltimore, Maryland. Mr. Basu is among the most recognizable economists, in part because of his consulting work on behalf of numerous clients, including prominent developers, bankers, brokerage houses, energy suppliers, law firms and business associations.

On behalf of government agencies and non-profit organizations, Mr. Basu has written several high-profile economic development strategies, including co-authoring economic development strategies for Baltimore City and Baltimore County, Maryland. Among other things, Anirban serves as the chief economist to Associated Builders and Contractors (national) and as chief economic advisor to the Construction Financial Management Association.

In recent years, he has also focused upon health economics, the economics of education and economic development. He currently lectures at Johns Hopkins University in micro-, macro-, international and urban economics.

In 2007, Mr. Basu was selected by the Daily Record newspaper as one of Maryland’s 50 most influential people. The Baltimore Business Journal named him one of the region’s 20 most powerful business leaders in 2010.

Over time, Mr. Basu has had occasion to serve on many boards, including the boards of First Mariner Bank, the Baltimore School for the Arts, the Baltimore City Public School System, and Union Memorial Hospital. He is presently chairman of the Baltimore County Economic Advisory Committee and economic advisor to the Baltimore-Washington Corridor Chamber of Commerce. He was appointed to the University System of Maryland Foundation Board and is also on the Board of the Archdiocese of Baltimore School System.

Mr. Basu earned his B.S. in Foreign Service at Georgetown University in 1990. He earned his Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and his Master’s in Economics from the University of Maryland, College Park. His Juris Doctor was earned at the University of Maryland School of Law in 2003.

Anirban Basu
General Session Speaker
Steve Gross
Steve Gross
General Session Speaker

Steve Gross, M.S.W., is the founder and chief playmaker of the Life is Good Playmakers, a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose mission is to harness the power of optimism to help kids heal. Life is Good Playmakers partner with leading childcare organizations to strengthen their capacity to build healing, life-changing relationships with the children in their care.

Steve’s teachings have been utilized across the country and throughout the world in response to the social and emotional needs of communities deeply impacted by poverty, violence and neglect. Steve helps others discover their own sense of optimism so that they can inspire the people around them to focus on the good and overcome life’s most difficult challenges.

Steve Gross
General Session Speaker
Carroll Rheem
Carroll Rheem
General Session Speaker

Carroll Rheem is vice president, research and analytics for Brand USA, the nation’s publicprivate partnership dedicated to increasing international visitation to the United States through marketing and promotional efforts. In this role, Carroll leads Brand USA’s intelligence function, which serves as the foundation for global marketing strategy, as well as the company’s performance metrics.

The research & analytics department she heads is responsible for market research – including consumer insight, market sizing and projections – and quantifying marketing effectiveness. Prior to joining Brand USA in May 2013, Carroll was with PhoCusWright, a wholly owned subsidiary of Northstar Travel Media and the global travel industry research authority on how travelers, suppliers and intermediaries connect. During her five years with PhoCusWright, Carroll held positions of increasing responsibility, culminating in her being named principal analyst overseeing the organization’s consumer research practice. Prior to PhoCusWright, Carroll spent six years working for Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide in various positions encompassing hotel operations, sales and global online distribution.

A noted industry expert, Carroll is a sought after speaker and is quoted frequently in trade and consumer media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, TIME Magazine and Conde Nast Traveler. Carroll’s extensive background in travel distribution and marketing combined with her research expertise has established her as a trusted authority on global traveler and commercial trends. Carroll earned her Master of Management in hospitality from Cornell University and her BA in economics from New York University.

Carroll Rheem
General Session Speaker

View the schedule online, add sessions to your calendar, and print a copy of the full schedule.

Sponsors & Exhibitors

The annual South Dakota Governor's Conference on Tourism is fully supported by sponsorships, registration fees and exhibitors. These businesses and organizations offer valuable information, expertise and opportunities for conference attendees. We appreciate their participation and support!

Platinum Sponsors

Miles Partnership
Miles Partnership
Lawrence & Schiller
Lawrence & Schiller
MMGY Global
MMGY Global

Gold Sponsors

Meredith Travel Marketing/MidwestLiving
My Place Hotels
Custer State Park & Resort

Granite Sponsors

Deadwood Chamber & Visitors Bureau/Deadwood Historic Preservation
Visit Rapid City
Mt. Rushmore Resort & Lodge at Palmer Gulch
Crazy Horse Memorial
Sturgis Buffalo Chip
Sturgis Rally & Events Department
Xanterra Parks & Resorts
Rush Mountain Adventure Park
Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association

Copper Sponsors

Lewis & Clark Recreation Area
Prairie Berry Winery & Miner Brewing Co.
Mitchell Convention & Visitors Bureau
Sioux Falls Convention & Visitors Bureau
Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History
Liv Hospitality
Matador Network
Destination Analysts
Tourism Economics
South Dakota Association of CVBs
Ingalls Homestead
Wall Drug
Rapid City Regional Airport
Rushmore Destinations
Children's Museum of South Dakota
Aberdeen Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
Longwoods International
Watertown Convention & Visitors Bureau
Regency Hotel Management

Quartz Sponsors

Keystone Chamber of Commerce
Dakota Sioux Casino & Hotel
Hot Springs Area Chamber of Commerce
Yak Ridge Cabins and Farmstead
Venerts Hotel Management
Southeast South Dakota Tourism
Redlin Art Center
Yankton Convention and Visitors Bureau
Mount Rushmore Society
South Dakota Missouri River Tourism
Glacial Lakes & Prairies Tourism
Huron Chamber & Visitors Bureau
Vermillion Area Chamber & Development Company
Rocky Mountain International
Deadwood-Lead Economic Development Corporation
The Mammoth Site
Pleasant Valley Farm & Cabins
Wes Eisenhauer Photography
Embroidery & Screen Works
Dakota Resources
East River Electric
ARTS South Dakota
Pierre Convention & Visitors Bureau
Brookings Convention & Visitors Bureau
Freeman Community Development Corporation
Exhibitor Booths