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Benjamin Aaker, MD is a physician and has been practicing emergency medicine since 2008. He has been a physician leader as the president of the South Dakota State Medical Association and has been featured on CNN and BBC's Channel 4. An active blogger, he has also written for The Washington Post and has published a self-help book, Your Authority Problem. He enjoys teaching medical students at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine, where he has been awarded the Anton Hyden Memorial Award by the students.

Benjamin Aaker


Emergency Medicine Physician

Avera Sacred Heart Hospital 


Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine 

Sanford School of Medicine, University of South Dakota

Kristin Malek is an expert in designing transformational experiences. After 10 years in higher education, she realized that engagement without behavior change is useless at best, and dangerous at worst. The only way to enact real change and inspire action is to first design a transformational experience that would inspire change from within. Kristin has won international, regional, and state awards to include international Educator of the Year and Excellence in Teaching and Training. She has received recognition from both the meeting and events industry and within higher education for her transformational design work. Kristin is an award-winning leader in the industry, recognized as a two-time Hospitality Hero during National Travel and Tourism Week and Top 20 Meetings Industry Trendsetter - among many others. She has been featured in major industry publications including Meetings Today Magazine and is a sought-after speaker bringing her passion and practicality to every talk she gives.

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Kristin Malek



Edvance Hub


Event Management Extension Specialist

Assistant Professor

University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Dr. Mo, (Melissa Dittberner), PhD, CPS, PS, LMT, is a lecturer in the Addiction Counseling and Prevention department at the University of South Dakota. She has a Ph.D. in Counseling and Psychology in Education, a master’s in Addiction Studies and a bachelor’s in Health Sciences. Dr. Mo is also a public speaker, prevention specialist and peer support. She is the president of Straight Up Care, a telehealth platform for peer supports. Dr. Mo is a co-author of the book Shift Mindset. She does research on college students’ substance use, pedagogy, addiction, trauma, body brokering, tattoos and healing and harm reduction. Dr. Mo is a person in long-term recovery and her mission is to help people learn to help themselves.

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Melissa Dittberner


Lecturer, University of South Dakota

President of Straight Up Care

Kory Zimney

PT, DPT, Ph.D.

Kory Zimney, PT, DPT, Ph.D., has been practicing physical therapy since 1994 after graduating from the University of North Dakota with his Master's in Physical Therapy. He completed his transitional DPT graduate from the Post Professional Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program at Des Moines University, Class of 2010. He also earned his Ph.D. in Physical Therapy from Nova Southeastern University in 2020. Dr. Zimney is an Associate Professor within the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of South Dakota and the Director of the Ph.D. in Health Sciences program at USD. He also serves as a Senior Faculty member with Evidence in Motion, a post-professional continuing education company, and is a researcher with the Therapeutic Neuroscience Research Group and USD Center for Brain and Behavior Research. He has treated thousands of patients in pain, published multiple peer-reviewed research articles, and co-authored books in pain neuroscience education.

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Associate Professor, Department  of Physical Therapy


Director of the Ph.D. in Health Sciences program 

University of South Dakota

Jamie is the Clinical Director for The Battle Within, a non-profit dedicated to helping Veterans, First Responders, and Frontline Medical Staff begin healing from the traumatic injuries they’ve experienced. . Jamie is the owner of Jamie Wehmeyer, LLC, and co-founder of MJM Consulting: Our Journeys Matter, where she conducts seminars, training, and consultation on trauma, traumatic loss, trauma-informed practices, and resilience. Throughout her career, she has studied trauma’s impact on health and wellness. Trauma-Informed Practices provide a clear lens for her work in helping individuals heal from trauma. Jamie received her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Kansas and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Jamie Wehmeyer


Clinical Director, The Battle Within

Owner, Jamie Wehmeyer, LLC.


Cofounder, Executive Director: MJM Consulting: Our Journeys Matter

Marcus Destin has called Vermillion home for seven years. Born in Aurora, Colorado to Myesha and Lamont Sellers and raised in Houston, Texas with his siblings Mason, Mea, and Myles – along with a spoiled spring spaniel named Lily, Marcus’ journey had stops in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado, and North Carolina before putting down roots in Vermillion. This young man has made a big splash in his short time in Vermillion. Marcus is the Coordinator for the Office of Multicultural Affairs at USD. His commitment to making a difference has been recognized as he has received many accolades such as The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Region IV- West Undergraduate Rising Star 2020 Award; South Dakota Board of Regents (SDBOR) Organizational Leadership 2019 Award for the Union of African American Students; and the 2018 USD President’s The Champions of Inclusive – University Leadership Excellence Award.



Coordinator for the Office of Multicultural Affairs

University of South Dakota

Kendra is the marketing communication specialist at the Center for Disabilities at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She is an author and spokesperson on living a life with a rare disease and disability. Kendra is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit organization, Rare by Design. She is an Augustana University graduate with a double major in Sociology and Psychology. Her career blends the two worlds in which she grew up: medicine and education. Kendra’s memberships on numerous boards, advisory groups and professional societies keeps her actively engaged locally, state-wide and nationally.


She has defined her life by a positive outlook and success in overcoming obstacles. Kendra refuses to be defined by Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS)—the rare genetic condition she has had since birth. Kendra enjoys a stylish outfit and shoes to match as she strives to make a difference. One of her favorite colors is yellow which embodies her life motto: When life hands you lemons, make the BEST lemonade possible!



Marketing Communication Specialist, USD Center for Disabilities

Founder & Executive Director, Rare by Design

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