WIN in Workforce Summit 2020 Speakers

by Sioux Falls Development Foundation
Published 11/03/2020

Sanford leader’s work equips next generation with skills, STEM connection for future careers

Amy Baete’s job is as diverse as the students she serves.

From kindergarten through high school seniors, from fitness to STEM skills, her role at Sanford Health bridges them all.

As program director for Sanford’s K-12 education and outreach programs, Sanford FIT and Sanford Promise, Baete sits at the center of how the health system is connecting with the next generation.

“I like the ability to connect kids with resources they didn’t have access to before,” said Baete, who joined Sanford in 2010 as a research program manager and subsequently moved into multiple new roles.

“That’s the part that’s fulfilling. Parents and teachers can’t do it all, and these programs are a supplemental way to bridge a gap and provide all kids equitable access to extracurricular and academic opportunities.”

Baete was part of a panel discussion, “How to encourage and equip the next generation of employees with the skills your business needs them to have,” as part of the WIN in Workforce Summit October 27 from 12 to 5 p.m. at the Sioux Falls Convention Center, organized by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

Baete was supported by Dr. Brian Maher, executive director of the South Dakota Board of Regents; Chris Houwman, president of Malloy Electric; Dr. Jane Stavem, superintendent of the Sioux Falls School District; Kyle Gross, superintendent of the Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools; Dr. Benjamin Valdez, vice president of administration, Southeast Technical College, who served as co-panelists.

“I’m excited for this event, and to sit on the panel will be a really cool opportunity,” Baete said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Baete’s own story is a study in how skills can transfer throughout a career. A Waubay, S.D. native, she lacked exposure to the sort of STEM areas she now helps provide kids.

“STEM wasn’t a word back then,” she said. “I didn’t identify as a science kid, I didn’t think I was good at it, and now from working in this field I want to bring that perspective of equity for out-of-classroom experiences that give kids a chance to get close to STEM and ask questions and form an emotional connection.”

Her career led her first to law enforcement, where she started working for the Brown County sheriff’s office while completing her degree in sociology at Northern State University. She later worked for the department of corrections after college and then became a parole agent.

“It was a great career, but I was frustrated at the high incidence of recidivism and constantly sending offenders to prison for failing to be successful,” she said.

She became connected to Sanford Research through a family friend and applied to be a research project manager working on research around development of kids with fetal alcohol syndrome.