James Payer II

James Payer II

Director of Development, Girl Scouts - Dakota Horizons
Sioux Falls, SD
Business Administration in HR Management, 2012

"Find a passion in life and build your fire around it. Take the time to identify and build a relationship with someone who you view as a mentor. And finally, never say no to an adventure. You never know where it might take you."

Q&A with James:

Describe your current educational or professional pursuits.

I am always looking to progress my formal and informal education through a variety of seminars, conferences and classes. I am striving to achieve my certification in fundraising, as well as finish my fundraising certificate at the Lilly Family School of Fundraising.

Additionally, 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. In the future, I will push myself to continue with a formal education path, but I have yet to define what that path looks like and the time frame in which I wish to complete this journey.

How did your USD experience influence your career path?

The impact is immeasurable. I had and continue to have profound opportunities thanks to USD. My alma mater gave me the tools to shape my own career path and equip me with the "business know-how" in each of my professional and volunteer environments. Today, I get to work shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the greatest business professionals within my community through my in-depth involvement in the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, Sioux Empire United Way, The Washington Pavilion, and Downtown Sioux Falls, to name a few. USD prepared me for every step along my life adventure.

Tell us about your proudest achievement.

My proudest achievement stems back to USD. While I cannot recall exactly what happened as it was a blur, I remember standing out on the 50-yard line of the Dakota Dome during our annual homecoming celebration in 2011. I was hearing the announcer call my name with thousands of cheering fans, friends and family, and I remember thinking to myself no small-town kid will ever win this. But it happened: “Mr. Dakota is James Payer II, from Wagner, SD.”

It was such a rush, full of emotions. How does a small-town kid of 1,200, an average classroom size of 36, become the homecoming king at a D1 school not knowing anyone when first arriving at USD? To this day, I do not know. But I still get goosebumps and a little smile every time I think about it.

What was your USD experience like? Were you involved in any campus organizations or activities?

My USD experience was amazing! During my USD days, I had a plethora of opportunities to become immersed and involved on campus, through volunteerism and educational leadership organizations. During my tenure, I was involved with Student Ambassadors, The O-Team, Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE), Resident Hall Government Association, Society of Human Resource Management, Leadership U., the Dakota Days Committee, and was president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. I also had the opportunity to work all four years for USD within the Admissions Office.

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