What is the OTA Trailblazers Program?

After reviewing over 50 applications, we are excited to introduce to you our six OTA Trailblazers, who will participate in our micro-grant program sponsored by Midco®.

The regional provider of business and residential internet and networking, cable TV, phone and commercial IT services has stepped up to sponsor our second go-around of a mentorship program, which we are calling our OTA Trailblazers. Over the next few months, Midco will work with us hand-in-hand to empower and equip the chosen Trailblazers of our region.

For this second cohort, we sought out creatives from the OTA region who had innovative ideas and a willingness to experiment for the betterment of their community. They blaze their own trail with their community always in mind.

As part of the OTA Trailblazer program, we’ve been hosting OTA conversations in each community our Trailblazers reside. These visits have been an opportunity for our Trailblazers to curate a group of people and openly discuss their work and ideas to improve the places they call home.

We also have been writing features on each of our participants and published their Trailblazer applications as OTA Spotlights. We will encourage them to give us updates on their progress as well, be it stories, photos or video that we will publish on our website.

Each participant will be supported by the OTA team and extended community over the course of three months, culminating at OTA’s final two events in the fall. OTA: Black Hills on Oct. 21 and The OTA Finale on Nov. 12. Both of these events will somehow feature each of our Trailblazers and their ideas alone in the spotlight.

You can read our press release here!

Congratulations to our Trailblazers! We cannot wait to celebrate their work and share their ideas with you, and we thank Midco® for being a great part of this endeavor!

Kimberly Tilsen-Brave Heart

Kimberly Tilsen-Brave Heart

City: Rapid City

Vocation: Owner of Painted Skye Management

Trailblazer Project: Develop a leadership institute for women and girls in Western South Dakota

Peter Strong

Peter Strong

City: Rapid City

Vocation: Owner of Racing Magpie, a local gallery and art studio

Trailblazer Project: Create access in the arts to all different types of people


Read Feature

Linsey Prunty

Linsey Prunty

City: Pipestone

Vocation: Owner of LC Design, a local design shop

Trailblazer Project: Bridge the generational gap in her community

Emily Firman Pieper

Emily Firman Pieper

City: Flandreau

Vocation: Owner of creative community studio, Studio 52

Trailblazer Project: Open a business incubator for fellow entrepreneurs in the community


Read Feature

Naomi Even-Aberle

Naomi Even-Aberle

City: Rapid City

Vocation: Martial Artist

Trailblazer Project: Use her martial arts teachings to leverage arts-based community development


Read Feature

Nick Engbers

Nick Engbers

City: Sioux Falls

Vocation: Musician

Trailblazer Project: Open a mid-sized music venue for downtown Sioux Falls


Read Feature