Joni Ekstrum, executive director
Joni Ekstrum serves as executive director of South Dakota Biotech. She oversees its advocacy, communication, education, and membership services, representing more than 60 members in industries from food and agriculture to human health and renewable energy.
Since she assumed this role in 2012, Ekstrum has grown the membership and increased gross profit while maintaining and expanding membership benefits. Her collaborative approach has provided connections for networking and led to new business and partnering opportunities for both members and individuals. Her passion for the industry and charismatic personality have helped build relationships with other states and parent organization BIO, legislators, other advocacy groups, venture capital, economic development, and other industry partners.
During her tenure, Ekstrum has made a significant impact on the biotech industry in South Dakota and energized the association. She is a tireless advocate and enthusiastic promoter for the association, its members, and affiliates. She has brought attention to the significant economic impacts of an innovation-driven economy and served as an effective liaison in advocacy issues to keep the progress of biotech moving.
As executive director of South Dakota Biotech, Ekstrum represents the interests and provides input on behalf of the biotech industry on many boards, including:
- Council of State Bioscience Association Board of Directors;
- Sioux Falls Downtown Rotary Board of Directors;
- Sioux Empire Boys & Girls Club Board of Directors;
- South Dakota Development Corporation Board of Directors;
- South Dakota State University Institutional Biosafety Committee
Ekstrum remains active in the business community by attending various events across the state and volunteering as TeamMates mentor and EmBe Women's Leadership Mentor.
Before South Dakota Biotech, Ekstrum served as POET's political action committee administrator. In that role representing one of the world's largest ethanol producers, Ekstrum grew PAC membership from 100 to 700 members, making it the largest PAC in the renewable fuels industry. She also is a veteran of many statewide political campaigns.
Ekstrum has a B.S. in Psychology from South Dakota State University and has three children and two step-children.
Shannon Van Buskirk, member relations specialist
Shannon Van Buskirk began her role as member relations specialist in 2021, building on a career that includes experience in broadcast journalism and sales in addition to more than a decade in the pharmaceutical industry.
Her multiple roles at Pfizer most recently included serving as a senior professional pharmaceutical consultant.
Van Buskirk has a passion for building trusted relationships, establishing a positive environment and keeping consistent communications.
Her role as member relations specialist includes growing new membership for South Dakota Biotech in addition to supporting existing membership with a variety of resources and communications. She assists executive director Joni Ekstrum in programming and industry outreach along with supporting South Dakota Biotech's external communications and public relations.
Van Buskirk earned her undergraduate degree in mass communications at Augsburg University and is working toward her MBA at the University of Sioux Falls.
Van Buskirk is a mother of two who enjoys cooking, Pilates, swimming, traveling and reading in her spare time.