Value Added Finance Authority Members | South Dakota Department of Agriculture

Value Added Finance Authority Members


The powers of the Authority are vested in its Board of Directors.  These seven individuals appointed by the Governor, consist of the following:

Robert Hull -Chairman
Mr. Hull served as the Executive Director of the Northeast South Dakota Community Action Program for 30 years prior to semi-retiring in 2004 and then served the agency as an advisor through 2009. Three years prior to becoming Executive Director, he was the Head Start Director. Mr. Hull also served as the Executive Director of a sister organization, the Northeast South Dakota Economic Corporation for 26 years. He was an instrumental advisor in the organization of the Beadle and Spink Enterprise Community (BASEC). In 1998 he was recognized as the Small Business Advocate of the Year for South Dakota and Region VIII by the Small Business Administration. Prior to 1971, he taught school for two years in Herreid, SD. Since January of 2010 Bob has served as a Loan Originator (covering SD) for the Community Development Bank, Ogema, MN.  He served as the Acting Director of BASEC in late 2011 and early 2012.  He currently continues to serve the bank.

Mr. Hull is a past Chairman and board member of the Dakota Resources, Inc. (fka SD Rural Enterprises Inc.). He served as a member of the board for the Rural Learning Center. Mr. Hull also serves on a number of other boards and committees too numerous to mention. He has served on the Value Added Finance Authority Board since inception in the mid-90's,   serving as Chairman for most of his term.

Mr. Hull graduated from Sisseton High School at Sisseton, SD and was honored as Alumnus of the Year in 2006. He received a B.S. Degree from Northern State University, Aberdeen, SD in 1968. Mr. Hull and his wife, Colette, are life-long residents of Sisseton, SD. They have two daughters, Andree Hull and Dawn Horner, and three grandchildren, Trey, Tyler, and Abby.

Jim Doolittle
Mr. Doolittle recently served thirteen years as the Executive Director of Black Hills Community Economic Development and currently is an economic development consultant. He was formerly a K-12 School Administrator in Western South Dakota for 30 years. He has, along with his wife Karen, been lifetime owners/operators of a family cattle operation in Harding County near Buffalo, SD.

Mr. Doolittle is a high school graduate from Buffalo, South Dakota. He continued his education at Black Hills State University, where he graduated with a B.S. and M.S. in Education and Education Administration.   Mr. Doolittle is a member of Harding County Stock Growers and S.D. Grasslands Coalition.  He is a former member of the South Dakota Rural Enterprise Board of Directors, Phi Delta Kappa (professional education group), and the Rural Learning Center Advisory Board.

Mr. Doolittle currently resides in Belle Fourche with his wife Karen. They have three children Charles, Leslie, and Samantha. Mr. Doolittle was appointed to the Value Added Finance Authority in November of 2008.   Mr. Doolittle’s personal and professional interest is to help strengthen the economy of South Dakota so more opportunities are available for young people to stay in the state.

Mark Gross-Vice Chairman
Mark Gross is a fourth generation producer on his family's diversified crop and livestock farm located in Hutchinson County. The operation consists of corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa, grass hay, a cow/calf beef operation and custom spraying. In addition to farming Mr. Gross is a seed advisor for Golden Harvest Seeds and is the owner of the Seed Mill in Bridgewater.

Mr. Gross joined the South Dakota Corn Growers Association Board of Directors in January of 2007, was elected Vice-President in 2010, and has been serving as President since February 2012. Mr. Gross has been a member on the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council since 2009 and currently serves as Vice President.  He previously served as president of the Bridgewater Farmers Union Coop, and serves as the Township Clerk.  He was appointed to the Value Added Finance Authority in 2001.

Mr. Gross obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from Augustana College and in his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, and playing trombone with the Sioux Empire Brass Society.  Mark and his wife, Stacy, have four children: Kaylee, Alexis, Landon and Allison.

Marcia Hendrickson
Marcia Hendrickson is a partner with Val Add Service Corporation where she is involved in starting new businesses including innovative companies. She brings the tools and networks needed to launch a successful high growth company including: intellectual property assistance, competitive intelligence, market analysis, financial analysis, strategy development, business planning and capital sourcing. Ms. Hendrickson was the founding Executive Director of the Enterprise Institute which served as a virtual incubator for commercialization of research and growth oriented startup businesses.   
Ms. Hendrickson increased the profile of angel investing in South Dakota. During her tenure as Executive Director of the Enterprise Institute, she developed an extensive angel network and started three formal angel funds.  She was appointed by SD Governor Rounds to the Value Added Finance Authority in 2007. Marcia graduated from South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD, with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and is also a Certified Public Accountant.

Charles (Chuck) Jepson
Chuck Jepson and his wife Ginger reside in Fort Pierre, SD. Over the past 15 years, Mr. Jepson has started several agriculture ventures including Harrold Grain Company, Hi-Plains Agronomy, and Global Harvest Birdfood of South Dakota. Mr. Jepson is currently CEO of Liberty Grain, a grain shuttle loading facility located between White Lake and Kimball South Dakota.  As CEO, Mr. Jepson has an interest in the development of grain shuttle facilities that can offer South Dakota producers access to the Pacific Rim export market.  Mr. Jepson is also a member of Iron Horse, LLC which is currently developing several agricultural business models served by the Dakota Southern Railroad.
Mr. Jepson grew up on the family farm near Tea, SD. He graduated from Lennox High in 1975 and University of Sioux Falls in 1979 with a degree in Economics. Chuck Jepson was appointed to the Value Added Finance Authority Board by Governor Daugaard in July 2011.

Nathan Jensen
Nathan Jensen is a Beresford, South Dakota native. He attended South Dakota State University and graduated from Cal Poly with an undergraduate degree in Food Marketing and Agribusiness Management as well as a Master’s in Business Administration.  Previously, he spent twelve years in agribusiness lending with the Farm Credit System and a commercial bank.  Today, Jensen is serving as the Chief Financial Officer for Meadowvale Dairy, LLC, a commercial dairy operation located between Canton, SD and Rock Valley, IA.  He provides financial leadership for the company and oversees the finance function for the organization.  He is a board member of the Central Plains Dairy Association, Watchdog Education Foundation, Beresford Economic Development Corporation, Governor’s Ag Advisory Committee, and past Finance Officer for Emmanuel Lutheran Church. Nathan is also a member of Class VII South Dakota Ag and Rural Leadership Program.

He, his wife Kristin, their son, Grant and daughter, Addison reside in rural Beresford where they farm with his parents, Terry and Judy Jensen. Jensen was appointed to the Value Added Finance Authority Board by Governor Daugaard in January 2014.

Jim Schmidt
Jim Schmidt was appointed to the VAFA board on January 20, 2016.  Mr. Schmidt currently serves as chairman of the Lincoln County Commission.  In addition, he serves as the East River representative on the South Dakota Association of County Commissioners.  Jim is a new member on NACO’s board of directors where he is vice chair of the Economic Development and Workforce Development Committee.  Commissioner Schmidt holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Augustana College and a Master’s Degree from the University of South Dakota.  He grew up on a family farm near Lennox, South Dakota in Lincoln County which he still farms today.  The farm has been in the family since 1891.  Jim has been extremely active in the Sioux Falls community having served on a number of boards:  President of the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, president of the MultiCultural board, president of the Glory House board, past chair of the Affordable Housing Board of the Federal Home Loan Bank, Southeastern Council of Governments board member, and Interlakes Community Action board member.  Besides his duties as commissioner, he is the executive director of the Sioux Empire Housing Partnership.  Prior to that he was president of Kilian Community College and an area vice president of the American Cancer Society.  He has been a teacher, counselor and administrator.

Jim is married to Teri, who is the director of the Sioux Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau; one son, Anthony, a vice president at Raven Industries; a daughter, Brittany who works in Washington D.C; and daughter Brianna who is employed in Sioux Falls.  Jim has two granddaughters, Danielle and Madisen.

For information on Financial and Loan Programs contact:

Terri LaBrie, Finance Administrator

P: 605.773.5436