Nate White: ‘Take care of the little things’

Nate White

Nate White was initially raised in Wakonda, South Dakota, on a farm his great-great-grandfather homesteaded, a man who also happened to be a member of one of the first legislatures in the state.

From a young age, Nate’s parents, his father a teacher and coach and his mother who cared for the home while running a seamstress business, instilled the value of hard work. The family didn’t have a lot themselves, but Nate and his three sisters were taught to serve something beyond themselves, whether that be their community, their church or some other group or cause.

His father also handed down advice that Nate adheres to today. For example, “Take care of the little things, and the big things will take care of themselves.”

Eventually, Nate’s family moved to Colton, and he attended Tri-Valley. Ultimately, they ended up in Sioux Falls, and Nate graduated from Roosevelt High School. He then went to Augustana on a basketball scholarship. Nate served as captain of the team and made the dean’s list every semester.

It was as an undergrad that Nate White first met Kelby Krabbenhoft, president and CEO of Sioux Valley Hospitals and Health System. He was playing in the Sioux Valley Summer League and was asked to be an intern and fellow for Sioux Valley. This afforded Nate the opportunity to work all over: in public policy, operations, human resources and more.

Kelby offered Nate a scholarship through law school if he agreed to eventually return and work at Sioux Valley.

Nate attended law school at the University of Kansas. He initially doubted whether the legal practice was right for him; however, he ended up receiving the Samuel Mellinger Award at commencement, the highest award bestowed upon graduation.

From there, he joined WilmerHale law firm, in Washington, DC, representing Wall Street as a securities enforcement lawyer.

He made good on his agreement to return to Sioux Valley, starting on Jan. 1, 2006, as only the second attorney after Kim Patrick, effectively doubling the size of the legal department. He was there when Sioux Valley became Sanford Health and for all of the mergers, growth and integration since then.

In his current role, Nate is president of Sanford Fargo, which recently opened a $500 million medical center. He describes it as a “once in a lifetime opportunity”—opening a hospital of that magnitude that serves so many people.

There are two things Nate most enjoys about his current work: the ability to make a difference for patients and their families and the opportunity to build and nurture leadership teams. To the latter point, he emphasizes that it’s not about a single leader but about teams. And he feels he really has the opportunity to do that kind of work in Fargo.

Nate recognizes that a person is only as good as those they work with. He encourages others to take on leadership opportunities. Starting as an intern, he knows there’s a vast array of possibilities at Sanford Health, and he encourages everyone to take advantage of this by talking to their supervisor about the openings that are out there.

When asked what he is most proud of during his time at Sanford Health, Nate points to two things. First, under Kelby’s leadership, he feels that the Sanford Family has exceeded the expectations that were placed on us with Denny’s Gift, and this has taken numerous forms. Second, he is proud of the team that opened the new Fargo medical center, which has delivered on its promise to the community and exceeded its five-year plan in just one.

Alongside all of this, Nate manages to have a very fulfilling personal life. He met his wife, Annette, at law school in Kansas, and she serves as general counsel for Sanford. They have adopted two twin boys, Jackson and Lucas, who will turn 6 in September.

In their free time, they enjoy basketball and golf, though Nate also notes that he has a new passion for NDSU football. In the winter, they root for KU, Augustana, Summit League teams and others. They find one or two basketball games a week, and according to Nate, “We’re starting to indoctrinate our children.”

In the summer, Nate and his wife golf at least once a week and find it’s a good way to meet people. They also spend a lot of time with their kids and are involved in their kids’ activities.

Looking toward the future, Nate would like to see the next 10 years at Sanford Health be as dynamic as the last 10 have been. He hopes that the health care organization Sanford Health has built ensures the stability of the communities it serves, is able to navigate the ever-changing health care environment, can continue to make health care more affordable and will proceed in its emergence on the national and global platform. And he wants to be a part of guaranteeing all of that happens.

Posted In Faces of Sanford Health

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