by Shawn Marie Brummer, Communications Specialist
Dorothy Voorhees was born in Watford City, North Dakota, and her first home was in the small town of Mandaree. Her father was the high school principal there, and both of her parents worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) as educators. The family lived on several Indian Reservations over the years, including Fort Yates, where Dorothy attended kindergarten through eighth grade.
“Growing up in and around the Native American culture was enriching and my family developed many lasting ties with many in the Native American community,” she recalled. After her father retired, the family moved to Sturgis, South Dakota, her father’s hometown.
In fact, Dorothy has quite an interesting connection with the Rapid City area. She is the 5th generation of Black Hills Pioneers; her father’s family settled there in 1874 and helped develop the city of Sturgis and the surrounding areas. She is also the 13th generation granddaughter of Peregrine White – the first child born on the Mayflower in the harbor of Massachusetts.
“My dad was a WWII vet with an amazing work ethic, raised during the Depression on the family homestead just west of Bear Butte. After moving back, my dad ran for Mayor of Sturgis and held that elected position for eight years. He learned how to make the most out of nothing and he instilled in me a desire to be the best I can. He also knew that an education was something no one could take away from you and it would open doors to success both professionally and personally,” she shared.
After graduating from Sturgis high school, Dorothy attended Black Hills State University where she received a double major in Business Administration and Accounting. Later, she returned for her MBA, which she received in 2017 – also earning the Outstanding Grad Student Award and joining the Beta Gamma Sigma – an academic International Honor Society for Collegiate Schools of Business that recruits the top 20 percent of graduating students.
Her first job in the credit union industry began in 2003 when she was hired at Black Hills Federal Credit Union (BHFCU) as the Accounting Manager. Since she was already a member there, the job was a natural fit, and she made many lasting friendships. She also met one of her career mentors, Roger Heacock, former CEO of BHFCU, who taught her a variety of things – from how to read contracts to researching ways to save the credit union money and control costs.
In 2007, she left the credit union to work for a community bank and spent the next 11 years as their secretary/treasurer. However, she was eager for an opportunity to return to “Credit Union Land,” as she missed the member-owned philosophy and the founding principles that credit unions are built on. In addition, she now had her MBA – and was eager to see what doors that might open.
When an opportunity arose to become Sentinel Federal Credit Union’s first CFO in the spring of 2018, Dorothy knew she could help them reach their goals and objectives. Sentinel had also just hired a new CEO, Keith Robbennolt, and she was very supportive of Keith’s vision for the credit union. One of the first projects she worked on was Shared Branching, a real advancement in member service for their members. Currently, she is working on is streamlining their ALM program and formalizing a Branch Accounting system that will allow Sentinel to better track branch profitability.
In her role as part of the Executive Management Team, Dorothy helps to protect the assets of the credit union, providing input on the financial side, as well as brainstorming on new products and services. She oversees preparation of the financial reports, monitors liquidity and investment portfolios, and prepares the Asset-Liability Management and Budgeting reports, just to name a few of her duties. It’s now been just three years since she reestablished her credit union career path, but she says she is looking forward to many more years of service at Sentinel!
“The one thing I enjoy the most about working in the credit union industry is the comradery and networking I have with other credit union employees,” she explained. “You can pick up the phone or email someone at another credit union and they are always willing to help. It is a different mindset compared to working at a bank where profit goes to the shareholders – our profits are shared with our members and each employee shares the responsibility to be fiscally responsible with our members’ money. We really get to know our members and building relationships with them is very rewarding. Of course, we [employees] are members too, so we want to see our credit union succeed!”
Besides working hard for her credit union, Dorothy gives her time and talents to other organizations as well. Previously, she served as PTA Treasurer, is a past board member of the Black Hills United Way, and a past member of the Zonta Club. Currently, she is member of Beta Gamma Sigma; Board Member for Junior Achievement of South Dakota (Rapid City); member of the Black Hills Military Affairs Committee; Alternate Unit Anti-Terrorism Officer at Ellsworth AFB; member of the NAFCU CFO Council; Sentinel Cares Committee Member; and was recently nominated to serve on the board of the Dakota Credit Union Foundation.
She has a volunteering spirit and gives time to a variety of different causes. Besides serving on the Junior Achievement Board, she volunteers in the classroom, and is currently helping a high school class with an economics project, helping to teach part of a class over a three-week period. She also volunteers at her church and provided manpower for the United Way Day of Caring, when Sentinel FCU’s group helped to landscape Storybook Island.
In her personal life, Dorothy is the proud mother of two amazing sons: Matthew (24); and Jason (21), both in Rapid City. Matthew is employed as a teller at a local community bank and Jason works at Monument Health. She also has two cats: Shadow and Phoebe. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, knitting, hiking, bicycling, and enjoying the beautiful Black Hills. She is a pretty good chess player but says her golf skills could use a little work. Family is very important to her, and the past year’s struggle with COVID has kept them apart. However, she is very much looking forward to traveling soon, to visit her brother’s family in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and is also looking forward to more regular visits with her sister in Spearfish.
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