Meet Val Simpson! A Mom to 2 teens, 4 cats and 1 dog and Wife to Dave. When asked what was her favorite thing about our community, Val responded: “Just one thing? Quiet, fresh air, blue skies, access to the activities of both the Hills and plains.” When I spoke to Val, she told me she & her family are big History buffs and living in the Black Hills, there is SO much history! Val and her ancestory are also a part of the Mayflower Society!! To learn more about Miss Val, read below!
Q. Please tell us a little bit about your family.
Husband of nearly 30 years (Dave), 2 teen-aged kids- Josh (19) and Joelle (16), Pets: 4 felines and one 85-pound canine who fears them
Q. Please tell us about your current career. Thing you love most about what you do.
My role at Black Hills Energy focuses on corporate citizenship and more specifically, the community impact we have in the hometowns we are privileged to serve. I work with the tools, processes and resources to allow Black Hills Energy to be a good community partner, not only in our SD territory, but also in the 824 communities we serve across 8 states. This includes investments in quality nonprofits serving critical needs as well as employees sharing their energy through volunteerism and board service. Specific examples – I am the President of our corporate Foundation, led the company-wide United Way campaign that raised over $750,000 last year to benefit 50 United Ways, and my next area of focus is revitalization of our internal energy assistance charity called Black Hills Cares.
Q. What inspired you or led you to your current career?
I have a diverse background primarily anchored in financial and marketing functions. I have worked both with/for small businesses and now a large publicly traded utility for 9 years. Both sides of my brain are equally dominate and I frequently have found myself in an “interpreter” role, helping to make sure the finance/accounting team and the communications/marketing teams are REALLY understanding each other. Honestly, the financial meltdown of 2009 led to me Black Hills Energy, 24 years after serving as a summer intern for the Corporate Affairs department. I am in my 4th role at Black Hills Energy, which was really a result of aligning my passion for the community with a need the company had for someone to really focus on improving our corporate citizenship and community impact efforts.
Q. What are a couple of your favorite restaurants in our community?
Skogen Kitchen in Custer is amazing!
Q. How long have you lived or worked in our community?
My family moved back to the area when I was 6 weeks old, so I consider myself a life-long resident, with the exception of 4 years of college on a full academic scholarship at Baylor University in Waco, TX. It was in college in TX that I met my future husband, also a Rapid City native.
Q. Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in our community?
It’s not just one person, but a group of people. My fellow comrades in the support of public education. I admired their tireless dedication and commitment to the children and teachers in our public schools. I hope to work with them again after we fully understand the impact of COVID on our traditional educational settings.
Q. If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
I would take our kids to the Cotswold region of England – this is the picturesque area complete with stone walls, sheep and ancient stone churches scattering the countryside.
Q. What is one of your favorite movies? TV shows?
The Sound of Music. We like almost any historically based documentary or series – The Reign, Poldark, Vikings, Outlander
Q. What advice would you give to people?
To those whom much is given, much is expected. (my guiding principle) If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.
Q. What is something on your bucket list?
Oh my gosh – I have SO many! They include: Have our garden/yards featured on the garden walk. Play my clarinet in the municipal band. Run for public office, Do a Ted Talk on Resilience. Learn to ballroom dance.
Q. What is your go to band when you can’t decide what to listen to?
Fire to the Masses – local boy band that my son Josh is the lead guitarist for
Q. What current or former local business makes you the most nostalgic about our community?
The Elks Theater – I remember fondly attending the summer movie program there as Cleghorn Elementary student. Always loved their popcorn!
Q. If you could choose anyone that is alive today and not a relative; with whom would you love to have lunch? Why? And where locally would you all meet for this lunch?
Jimmy Carter- I love his work with Habitat for Humanity and believe he is an example of a US President that was far better as an ex-President, using his time to support important causes that have impact.
Q. What is your favorite thing or something unique about our community?
Just one thing? Quiet, fresh air, blue skies, access to the activities of both the Hills and plains
Q. Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?
Leading something that is impactful in the state of South Dakota – the home that I love.
Q. (Even for friends or family), what is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
As a 7th grader at Dakota Junior High, I almost burned down the historic theater (now called the Performing Arts Center) during my fire baton twirling act in the school talent show.
Q. What is the most beautiful place you have ever been?
The Big Horn Mountains when the vibrant blue, red and white wildflowers are in full bloom. The falls off the Niobrara River near Valentine, NE.
Q. If you were cast in a movie and could choose your costar, who would it be?
A young version of Mel Gibson
Q. Favorite month? holiday? and best single day on the calendar?
May and June flowers! Love the first crocus, iris and lilacs, especially!
Q. What would you rate a 10 out of 10?
Spearfish Canyon- Community Caves hike and Rough lock Falls…it doesn’t get any better than this! Homestake Opera House; Black Hills Playhouse has been a part of our lives since childhood.
Q. Who inspires you to be better?
Those who serve our community members every day with love and compassion. So many examples – One Heart, Cornerstone, Fork Real as well as those who pursue their passions
Q. What is one or two of your favorite smells?
Lilacs and Cinnabon’s
Q. If a movie was made of your life, who would you want to play you?