James Payer II: ‘There’s something special about this community’

He’s director of development for Girl Scouts – Dakota Horizons and definitely sold on Sioux Falls. Meet this week’s Up-and-Comer, James Payer II.

James Payer II

Name: James Payer II

Age: 27

Hometown: Wagner in south-central South Dakota

What brought you to Sioux Falls?

Growing up in a small community, I knew I always wanted to try something bigger. In order to branch out and continue to broaden my career, I turned to Sioux Falls. There’s something special about this community I cannot fully describe in words. Of course, the neighborly people, the picturesque bike trail, the refined culinary scene and robust entertainment industry all have a pull, but there is just something else, that extra something, that continually fascinates me about this majestic city, which I call home.

What keeps you in Sioux Falls? 

Oh, so much.  The community continues to evolve and thrive with so many lifting up their visions and dreams; it is truly inspiring. There is always something to do in Sioux Falls from Hot Harley Nights, the Butterfly House & Aquarium, DTSF Riverfest, Parade of Lights, JazzFest, SculptureWalk; the list is endless!

But personally, I have the unique privilege of working with so many talented individuals both with the Girl Scouts – Dakota Horizons as well as my other involvement of being a diplomat on the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, helping on a Sioux Emire United Way committee during campaign season, volunteering with my Sioux Falls Up & Coming group and being a voice on the Washington Pavilion HPAC board. With a pulse on my community, I aim to continually make it better for all residents and visitors. And, of course, as a self-proclaimed “foodie,” I cannot leave out the plethora of unique restaurants right down the street. They make eating in so hard to consider.

What’s your favorite thing about your job?

I love meeting people. As a high extrovert, I gain much of my energy through surrounding myself with others. So many in our community, both young and seasoned professionals, have such a story and journey, and I’m grateful to be able to sip on coffee while hearing their career compassion and expedition in life. However, the best part of my job is connecting people with our mission. I have the personal and professional privilege of weaving together their passion with programs and services we offer year-round. Even better is when I can see the look on a donor’s face when they see how their contributions have significantly changed the lives of so many in our community. That look, to me, makes all the late nights, hard work and research possible.

How did you get connected to your industry?

I fell into it, actually. I obtained a Bachelors of Business Administration in Human Resources from USD, and quickly moved to Watertown to work as an HR generalist for a manufacturing firm. I knew Watertown isn’t where I truly fit, so I moved to Sioux Falls, landing a job at Volunteers of America, Dakotas in their HR department. Within the first year, VOA crafted some internal changes, landing me in fund development. As such, Dennis Hoffman, president and CEO, allowed me the opportunity to advance my fundraising knowledge by attending the Lilly Family School of Fundraising from Indiana University while simultaneously obtaining my MBA from USF. I had an chance to progress my career by becoming the director of development with the Girl Scouts – Dakota Horizons council headquarters, where my development responsibilities include communities in the eastern region of North Dakota and South Dakota.

I continually refine my professional skills through my involvement with Association of Fundraising Professionals, Young Professionals Network and was a recent graduate of Sanford Institute of Philanthropy. Additionally, I am fortunate to be found at most seminars and educational opportunities sprinkled throughout the calendar year such as Leadercast, YPN Summit, United Way sessions and Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation events.

Describe working at Girl Scouts Dakota Horizons in three words.

Fun, adventure, dedication.

What’s one business you’d like to see in Sioux Falls that isn’t here now?

Sioux Falls is a business-savvy metropolis. Visionaries have put Sioux Falls on the map with some of the best stores from across the nation, right in our backyard. However, I would love to see Uber or Ikea be the next to land in our community.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

As I look back on my past five years, it’s been a wild ride. I’ve achieved so much but yet have so far to go. I never want to box myself in and say, “This is where I want to be by 32.” I believe if I do walk that focused line, I will shut off opportunities along the way. On the other hand, and don’t get me wrong, I do have personal and professional goals, including obtaining my Certified Fund-Raising Executive, or CFRE, designation, being selected into Leadership Sioux Falls, Leadership South Dakota and maybe one more board service commitment, but I never want to define where my path might lead. Adventure is calling. It might take me some time to get there, but I’m on my way.

James Payer II: ‘There’s something special about this community’

He’s director of development for Girl Scouts – Dakota Horizons and definitely sold on Sioux Falls. Meet this week’s Up-and-Comer, James Payer II.

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