Longtime trustee passionate about Sioux Falls community

Don Jacobs brings communication experience and personal drive to help others

Longtime trustee passionate about Sioux Falls community

Don Jacobs wants to make the world a better place, and through his decades-long involvement in nonprofit boards including Sanford Health, he’s proving that.

“I was very blessed to serve alongside experienced board members, including some physicians,” Jacobs told Sanford Health News. “It was real education for me about health care and I developed a greater passion for learning more.”

Jacobs served for 10 years on the Sioux Falls board, including two as chairman, before he was invited to join the Sanford Board of Trustees in 2014.

“Like everything else, health care was changing really, really fast and I wanted to be a part of that.”

Jacobs in the community

The broadcast, media and communications executive is general manager and vice president for Results Radio/Townsquare Media based in Sioux Falls.

Through his career, he’s helped raise money and awareness for countless organizations including the Children’s Miracle Network’s Cure Kids Cancer Radiothon supporting the Sanford Children’s Hospital.

In 14 years, the annual two-day event has surpassed $4 million raised – every dollar of which helps care for kids fighting cancer at Sanford Children’s.

“When Sanford Health first came to (Results Radio) and asked about the possibility of doing a radiothon for the Sanford Children’s Hospital, I knew it would be a team effort,” he said. “The benefit is huge.”

Having spent time in the hospital with his own daughter many years ago, he understands the struggle and the toll a critical illness can take on families.

“I feel for parents who have kids with an illness – whether it’s cancer or anything else they’re struggling with – because you deal with that emotion but then you have the financial part of it when insurance doesn’t cover everything,” he said. “So, the little bit that we do here, we’re going to hopefully relieve some of that stress and financial burden.”

What it’s meant to serve

With his leadership in business and the community, he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Sanford Health Board of Trustees.

“I do think that marketing and business and health care have a lot in common,” Jacobs said.

“I’m a good listener and ask a lot of questions without drawing conclusions too quickly but instead research, dig deeper and read a lot to have a better understanding of a particular topic or issue.”

Together, he said the other board members make up a diverse, committed group to move Sanford’s mission forward.

“We have people of different ages, different backgrounds and experiences, and that’s what makes it work and makes it unique,” Jacobs said.

“Somebody’s going to have a different perspective, ask a different question and it challenges all of us to do better and to dig deeper. Sometimes we don’t always agree, but that’s OK. That’s fine. That’s why you have a board.”

Making rural health care accessible

Jacobs grew up on a dairy farm near Albert Lea, Minnesota, and is eager to see Sanford’s investments in rural and virtual care improve access for the many rural residents of the large Midwestern footprint.

“It’s hard to find the words because it’s a relief to see what we’re doing,” he said. “People who live in Sioux Falls have access to good health care and we underestimate the number of people who are out there and are not getting the best possible access to care.”

Investments in health equity are critical, Jacobs said. As a board member, every question he tackles comes down to the belief that everyone should have access to world-class care no matter their ZIP code.

“The people are going through a lot, with a lot of stress in some cases and they’re concerned about the outcome,” he said. “But what really impressed me about the Sanford Health mission is how we improve that outcome through treatments, clinical trials and so forth, constantly innovating to create that better, faster outcome.”

The Sanford Health Board of Trustees members are each elected by the full board and currently serve up to three, three-year terms. The Board of Trustees Nominating and Governance Committee is responsible for identifying, evaluating, and recommending potential new members based on their qualifications and experience. Trustees represent a broad range of backgrounds, with extensive experience in business and finance, health care, technology, and the nonprofit sector.

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Posted In Community, Corporate Services & Administration, Leadership in Health Care, Sioux Falls