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SDN Employees serve needs beyond company walls


SDN Employees Give BackSDN Communications believes in the principle that being a great company starts with being a good corporate citizen. And it practices its belief.

SDN employees give back to the region through sponsorships, volunteerism and donations.

The company’s commitment to community service starts at the top, with CEO Mark Shlanta.

“It’s good for all of our employees to be connected with the community they live in and work in,” Shlanta says. “I encourage our employees to be involved.”

Shlanta is the chairman of Forward Sioux Falls, a community-development program that is a joint venture of the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. He also is the chairman of the Education Telecommunications Board for South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

Shlanta also has served stints as a volunteer for the Development Foundation, Boy Scouts, Junior Achievement and his church.

Vernon Brown, director of marketing for SDN, recently completed a highly visible form of public service. He served on the Sioux Falls City Council for eight years.

“I always tell people there are two people who must be on board before you become a candidate: your spouse and your boss. I’m fortunate in that both were incredibly encouraging,” Brown says, referring to his wife, Tami, and his boss, Shlanta.

“The thing I most admired about Mark during my council tenure was that he never told me how he thought I should vote on an issue. I know there were times he probably didn’t agree with my stand on certain issues, but he never lectured, pressured or tried to put undue influence on me,” Brown says.

“Mark regularly says Sioux Falls is good to SDN, and we need to give back in our time, talent and treasures,” Brown says.

Cassie Baldwin, manager of SDN’s network surveillance center, is another example of the many SDN employees active in their communities. She has served as a loaned executive for the Sioux Empire United Way. She also has served as a campaign consultant and division chair.

Shlanta initially approached her about assisting with in-house fundraising for the charity.

“I think the United Way is such a good cause. It makes giving back to your community so easy,” Baldwin says.

SDN makes giving to the community easy to do, too, she says.

Baldwin is among SDN employees presently helping organize the fifth annual Kootie Big Ride, a motorcycle ride in memory of SDN employee Mike Kutz, who died in a motorcycle accident in 2006 while he was driving to work. The ride in his honor, to be held Aug. 25 this year, raises money for Special Olympics.

For more information about SDN’s commitment to community service, see