After five years as CEO of South Dakota Agriculture and Rural Leadership, Don Norton has retired. His last official event was the Agtergra Seminar on Rural Vitality and Entrepreneurs in Aberdeen on November 15-17. And his final board meeting as CEO was on November 21 in Pierre. Board members, alumni, and friends gathered in Brookings for a celebratory brunch in his honor on December 4, 2022.
There were a number of responsibilities Norton had in his role as CEO. Two of the biggest impacts and changes made were in the organizational structure and fundraising. Prior to Norton’s arrival, there were two entities representing SDARL, one was the alumni organization and the other was the foundation, each with its own nonprofit status, structure, and governing body. Norton combined the two into one organization. Additionally, in his tenure, Norton secured endowed sponsorships for five of the 12 SDARL seminars. This makes a big impact on the program and provides great security for the continuation of the program for years to come.
When asked about his time with SDARL Norton said, “It has been a privilege to be the CEO of a leadership organization where program graduates, indeed, have stepped up to be leaders in agriculture and our rural communities. The equity of SDARL is in the leadership service of its graduates who continue to step outside their comfort zones and intentionally seek personal growth.”
Prior to coming to South Dakota, Norton served as CEO of the Illinois Ag Leadership Program. Between the two organizations, Norton saw seven classes of ag leaders go through their respective programs. Thank you Don for your impact and service.