2013 Innovation & Leadership Awards – Outstanding Commissioner
Nominated by South Dakota Nonprofit Association
Tom Katus is President of TK Associates International and Chairman of the South Dakota Commission for National & Community Service. Tom was raised on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation, attended SDSM&T in CE and earned a BS degree at UWM in Political Science, completed graduate studies at UWM and UCLA.
Tom Katus is the epitome of volunteer service. He has spent his life in volunteerism and public service. He volunteered for the US Army Combat Engineers right out of High School. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in President Kennedy’s first group, and later trained 2,000 Peace Corps volunteers. He served as an SD Senator and currently serves on 5 nonprofit boards.” – Michael Saba, Vice Chair, South Dakota Commission for National and Community Service
While still a State Senator, Tom Katus worked with the then Governor’s office and CNCS to begin the negotiation for South Dakota to attain the last State Commission in the US. During the transition to the current Governor, he worked closely with the Chief of Staff and CNCS Senior Staff to name the South Dakota Nonprofit Association, on whose Board he served, to be the Administrative Agency for the State Commission. The day he was elected Chairman, a State Legislator approached him to see if the newly formed SD Commission could provide personnel to support the eradication of Pine Beetle epidemic in the BH National Forest. Within five months, a team of AmeriCorps NCCC members joined the SD Forestry Department’s efforts to eradicate Pine Beetles.
Katus subsequently met with Senior Leadership of CNCS and the SD Governor’s Office to initiate the development of a State Conservation Corps and a separate Veterans Corps. He has led the Rapid City USCM/CNCS sponsored
Mayor’s Day of National and Community Service Recognition. In addition to a press conference and proclamation by the Mayor on April 9th. Katus is currently leading negotiations with the SD Governor’s Office to launch planning grants, which could lead to the establishment of the respective SD Conservation Corps and SD Veteran’s Corps.
When the Commission was first announced the Governor acknowledged and thanked Tom Katus for his leadership role in assuring that South Dakota finally had secured the last State Commission in the US. Katus was very instrumental in nominating various Commissioners for the Governor’s consideration. As a community activist and leader for Tribal Rights in the South Dakota Senate, Katus insisted that a significant number of Commissioners be Native American. South Dakota has one of the largest Native American populations in the US (11%). The Governor named six Native Americans to the original 25 member Commission. Katus nominated or co- nominated all six of these members, and has established a Native American Task Force within the Commission to work closely with Ron Lessard, Strategic Advisor for Native American Affairs, CNCS. Lessard has complimented Katus for his advocacy for Native American engagement on the Commission. At the launching meeting, Katus challenged all his fellow Commissioners, stating “While we are the last Commission formed; we will become the best—the last shall be best.”