South Dakota Governor's Conference


Thanks to everyone who helped to make the 2018 South Dakota Governor's Conference on Tourism a tremendous success!

We look forward to seeing you at next year's conference. Mark your calendars now for January 15-17, 2019.

Attendees: Please share your feedback and ideas about this year's conference
via the online conference evaluation. We value your input.

Governor Dennis Daugaard
Dennis Daugaard

Dennis Daugaard is the 32nd Governor of South Dakota. Daugaard and his running mate, former house speaker Matt Michels of Yankton, were elected in 2010 and sworn in on January 8, 2011. The Daugaard/Michels gubernatorial ticket was reelected in 2014 by the largest margin in South Dakota history.

Governor Daugaard has emphasized job creation, sound fiscal management, and efficient government operation. Days after taking office, Daugaard proposed and the Legislature passed a state budget that eliminated a $127 million structural deficit, without raising taxes. 

Daugaard joined with the Chief Justice and legislative leaders to conduct inter-branch, bipartisan studies of the state’s adult and juvenile criminal justice and corrections systems. This led to bipartisan passage of comprehensive reform legislation for both systems. The intent of the legislation is to increase public safety, hold offenders more accountable, and control escalating costs. 

In 2015, Governor Daugaard assembled the Blue Ribbon Task Force to propose solutions to improve education in South Dakota. The task force put forth recommendations which Daugaard then brought as legislation the following session. The package of bills raised new revenue for teacher pay, provided for property tax relief, reformed the school funding formula, and included measures to create efficiencies and retain teachers. As a result of the Governor’s proposals, South Dakota’s average teacher salary increased by 11.9 percent for the 2016-2017 school year. 

The Governor has prioritized sound stewardship of the state’s resources, including adequate funding of transportation infrastructure, prudent management of the state pension plan, and maintenance and preservation of state buildings. Under his leadership, South Dakota was named “Best Run State in America” and obtained the highest bond rating of AAA from all three rating agencies.

In the fall of 2011 Daugaard launched the Better Government Initiative to improve efficiency and openness in state government. Daugaard opened the Governor’s Mansion to the public, released invitation lists of Governor’s events, and partnered with state agencies to move many government services online. The initiative is a continuing effort to cut red tape, and has eliminated 4,000 sections of obsolete or unnecessary laws and rules, accounting for nearly 470,000 words. 

Dennis Daugaard
Lt. Gov. Matt Michels
Matt Michels
Lieutenant Governor

Matt Michels is South Dakota’s 38th Lieutenant Governor. He was elected on a ticket with Gov. Dennis Daugaard in 2010 and took office in January 2011. The Daugaard/Michels team was reelected in 2014.

As Lieutenant Governor, Matt is the President of the Senate and a member of the Governor’s Executive Committee. In 2011, Matt led the state’s flood preparations in the area from Yankton to Dakota Dunes. Matt has been a leader in the construction of the new State Veterans Home in Hot Springs and served for a time as the interim Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He also works closely with the National Guard, Tribal Relations, and serves on the Board of Trustees of the South Dakota Retirement System.

Matt Michels was born in Pierre and grew up in Vermillion. After graduating from Vermillion High School, Matt attended the University of South Dakota where he worked as an orderly and EMT and earned a nursing degree in 1980. He worked as a nurse while he obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in health services administration in 1982 and his juris doctorate in 1985, both from the University of South Dakota.

While Matt was in law school, he became interested in the prospect of serving his country and both applied and interviewed with the United States Navy Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corp. He was commissioned a United States Naval Officer and has served on two temporary assignments and active duty in the Philippines. He was later transferred to Mayport, Florida. While in Mayport, he married his wife Karen Lindbloom of Pierre, and she worked as a registered nurse in Jacksonville, Florida. For his service he was awarded the U.S. Navy Achievement and Commendation Medals.

In 1989, the Michels moved to Yankton where Karen worked as an OB nurse and Matt joined a law practice with Don Bierle. Prior to being elected Lt. Governor, Matt was partner in what is now Michels & Associates, Prof. LLC and served as General Counsel for Avera Health. Matt and Karen are blessed to have a son, Collin, and a daughter-in-law, Jill.

Matt was honored to represent District 18 as a member of the South Dakota House of Representatives for eight years from 1999 to 2006. While in the legislature, Matt served for two years as Speaker Pro Tempore and as Speaker of the House for four years. He was the first person to serve two terms as Speaker since the 1950s.

Matt Michels
Lieutenant Governor
James D. Hagen
James D. Hagen
Secretary of Tourism

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

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. In this role, he oversaw the Offices of Tourism, Economic Development, the South Dakota Arts Council, the South Dakota State Historical Society, the South Dakota Housing Authority and State-Tribal Relations. From 1995-2002, he served as Chief of Staff and Special Advisor to Governor Bill Janklow.

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

In March 2014, Jim 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 country and each of the 50 states. In March 2016, he was reappointed by Secretary Pritzker to another two year term on the TTAB. He also serves on the Executive Board of the U.S. Travel Association and chairs the Membership Governance Committee. In January 2017, he was elected Chairman of the National Council of State Tourism Directors.

Jim grew up in the northeast corner of The Mount Rushmore State. He is a graduate of Aberdeen Central High School and an alumnus of the University of Southern California.

James D. Hagen
Secretary of Tourism
Simon T. Bailey
Simon T. Bailey
Keynote Speaker

Simon T. Bailey is the founder and CEO of Simon T. Bailey International, an innovative education company specializing in creating original learning and development content for individuals and organizations. As an author, speaker, and creator, Simon derives great joy by inspiring men and women with a simple framework and the tools needed to create a purposeful life and a meaningful, profitable business.

Simon is one of America’s top 10 most-booked corporate and association speakers on Change, Leadership, and Customer Experience and was selected one of the top 25 “hot speakers” shaping the profession by Speaker magazine.

He has worked with more than 1,500 organizations and has impacted more than 2 million people through his presentations and seminars in 45 countries worldwide. As a Hall of Fame keynote speaker, he addresses more than 100,000 people each year. Some of his clients include AT&T, IBM, MasterCard, Microsoft, and Toyota.

His popular Building Business Relationships course for LinkedIn (via has been viewed by more than 500,000 professionals in 100 countries. His new course, Finding a Sponsor, is receiving rave reviews and has been viewed more than 15,000 times. Simon is the best-selling author of nine books and creator of the Shift Your Brilliance system, a personal development program that takes individuals and organizations on a transformational journey to create a brilliant life and business. A percentage of the revenue from system sales benefits the U.S. Dream Academy, a nonprofit organization that positively impacts urban youth.

Prior to founding his company, Simon worked in the hospitality and tourism industry for 20 years and was sales director and new business development director for the world-renowned Disney Institute based at Walt Disney World Resort.®

Simon holds a Master’s degree from Faith Christian University and was inducted as an honorary member of the University of Central Florida Golden Key Honor Society. He is a former member of the advisory council for Management and Executive Education at Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business, one of the top 25 best private graduate business schools in the United States.

Simon T. Bailey
Keynote Speaker
Tami Evans
Tami Evans
Keynote Speaker

Motivational Speaker Tami Evans shares her energy, passion and humor to create an unforgettable experience for audiences.

Recently appearing on The Dr. Oz Show (where she taught him to chair dance) Tami lives her belief that laughter is a vital part of learning. Her entertainment-based content celebrates and motivates participants, engages and empowers employees, creates communication cohesion, boosts confidence and busts stress!

Genuine & funny, Tami is a professional speaker who specializes in fast-paced, interactive programs, filled with lots of learning and laughter. She has a broad professional history which includes working as a; University Professor, Communications Specialist, Professional Actress in NYC, Fashion Designer for Banana Republic, Personal Assistant to Nell Carter, Every kind of Waitress you can imagine, Stand-in for Melanie Griffith (pre-Antonio), accidental illustrator, and author of “Half Full of It: Activating Optimism and Other Hard Core Soft Skills.

Tami is an energetic motivator and performer, with both corporate and independent experience. She holds an MFA, and BAA in Broadcasting Communications, and Theatre.

Tami shares important communication and leadership tools along with fresh ideas like Personality Upstages Perfectionism, you can Fail with Flair, and we all need to Embrace our Inner Dork!

Serving on the Board of Directors for the National Speakers Association, and President of the New York City Chapter 2015-2016, Tami was also recently honored with the distinction “Best Avocado Sandwiches on the Planet” by her young son. 

Originally from the beautiful state of Michigan (show me your Hand Map!) Tami now lives just outside New York City.

Tami Evans
Keynote Speaker
Jay Baer
Jay Baer
Keynote Speaker

Jay Baer, CSP, has spent 23 years in digital marketing and customer experience, consulting for more than 700 companies during that period, including 32 of the FORTUNE 500. His current firm – Convince & Convert – provides digital marketing advice and online customer service advice and counsel to some of the world’s most important brands like The United Nations, Allstate, Cisco, and Cabela’s.

His new book, Hug Your Haters, is the world’s first modern customer service manual, showing how companies large and small can benefit from the enormous increase in online complaints and customer feedback.

His second book, Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype, was #3 on the New York Times business best seller list, and a runaway #1 Amazon best seller. Jay speaks approximately 65 times per year world-wide, often with lessons about how businesspeople can use today’s shifts in technology and consumer expectation to gain or keep more customers.

Jay’s Convince & Convert blog was named the world’s #1 content marketing blog by the Content Marketing Institute, and is visited by more than 250,000 marketers each month. Jay also hosts and produces the Social Pros podcast, which is downloaded 65,000 times monthly and was named 2015’s best marketing podcast by the Content Marketing Awards.

A fixture in social media, Jay is the most retweeted person in the world among digital marketers, and the second most retweeted person in the world among B2B marketers. He is also an active venture capitalist, and is an investor or advisor to 15 early stage technology and social media companies.

Convince & Convert is the fifth multi-million dollar company Jay has started from scratch. Before his move into digital marketing in 1994 he was a brand marketer and a political consultant, with major roles in state, federal and presidential electoral campaigns.

Befitting his roots in Arizona, Jay is a tequila collector and maintains his allegiance to the teams of his alma mater, the University of Arizona.

Jay lives in the idyllic college town of Bloomington, Indiana with his wife and children, and travels from Indianapolis to speaking opportunities world-wide.

Jay Baer
Keynote Speaker
Katy HIldman
Katy Hildman
Breakout Speaker

Katy Hildman is the National Travel Manager for Meredith Travel Marketing and Midwest Living.  As an industry leader in tourism content marketing, Katy and her team consistently deliver public sector tourism partners best-in-class marketing programs that encompass every media platform—print, web, mobile and social media.

Katy started out with Midwest Living magazine and the Meredith Travel Marketing team nearly 12 years ago as an advertising operations manager, and has loved every minute of it. In 2015, she moved over to an integrated account manager where she took pride and pleasure in serving hundreds of clients who quickly became friends. Katy was recently promoted to National Travel Manager where she now has the opportunity to play a key role in some of the country’s most respected tourism campaigns for local CVBs and attractions, as well as state and international tourism destination marketing organizations.

When Katy is not traveling for business and sharing this fascinating insight into women’s travel trends, she loves to cuddle and travel with her adorable six-year-old daughter, three-year-old son and husband.

Katy Hildman
Breakout Speaker
Jon Schmieder
Jon Schmieder
Breakout Speaker

Jon Schmieder has over 20 years of direct experience in the sports tourism industry having held senior leadership roles with three different sports commissions; Phoenix, Tulsa, and Denver. Schmieder brings a wealth of experience in sports tourism and economic development having also served in lead staff positions for the Senior Olympic Games and Pop Warner Football and Cheerleading. Schmieder served as Chairman of the National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC) and was on the organization’s Executive Committee for six years. While Schmieder served as the President of the Phoenix Regional Sports Commission, the NASC chose the organization as the 2012 Large Market Sports Commission of the Year. Schmieder was also named 2012 CEO of the Year by the Phoenix Chapter of the Organization of Non-Profit Executives.

During his sports industry career, Schmieder and his work teams hosted events that generated over $1.3 billion in direct visitor spending.

Schmieder holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Arizona. He also holds a master’s degree in higher education leadership from Northern Arizona University.

Unique Fact: Schmieder is one of only two, two-time Chairmen of the NASC.

Jon Schmieder
Breakout 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!

Governor Sponsors

Meredith Travel Marketing/MidwestLiving
Meredith Travel Marketing/MidwestLiving
Lawrence & Schiller
Lawrence & Schiller
Miles Partnership
Miles Partnership

Gold Sponsors

MMGY Global
Custer State Park & Resort

Granite Sponsors

Visit Rapid City
Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association
Crazy Horse Memorial
Xanterra Parks & Resorts
Rush Mountain Adventure Park
Sturgis Buffalo Chip
Deadwood Chamber & Visitors Bureau/Deadwood Historic Preservation

Copper Sponsors

Wall Drug
Tourism Economics
Regency Hotel Management
Lewis & Clark Recreation Area, Marina & Resort
Expedia Media Solutions
Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History
Children's Museum of South Dakota
Mount Rushmore Society
Ingalls Homestead
Mt. Rushmore Resort & Lodge at Palmer Gulch
Aberdeen Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
Venerts Hotel Management
National Park Trips Media
Sioux Falls Convention & Visitors Bureau

Quartz Sponsors

Watertown Convention & Visitors Bureau
Black Hills Parks & Forests Association
Maly Marketing
Redlin Art Center
1880 Train
South Dakota Missouri River Tourism
Brookings Convention & Visitors Bureau
Yankton Convention and Visitors Bureau
South Dakota Art Museum
Glacial Lakes & Prairies Tourism
Rocky Mountain International
Keystone Chamber of Commerce
Southeast South Dakota Tourism