Dr. Pam Lange
BHSSC Deputy Director and SFEC Principal Investigator
Dr. Pam Lange received her Doctorate in Education Administration from the University of South Dakota. She was named Deputy Executive Director of Black Hills Special Services Cooperative (BHSSC) in January 2018 and serves as Director of the Community, Family, and Special Services Division. She works closely with the five BHSSC Division Directors to coordinate efforts, build capacity, develop programs, and identify funding sources for extensive projects that span the state of South Dakota.
Dr. Lange is considered a change agent among South Dakota’s education community and has served on various South Dakota Department of Education work groups. She was one of 41 individuals selected for the inaugural Leadership South Dakota cohort (2015), serves as an AdvancED Lead Evaluator for national and international schools, is a grant reviewer for the U.S. Department of Education, and serves on various community organization boards.
In her free time, Pam enjoys spending time with her husband, also an educator, her three adult children and their partners, and her grandchildren. She also belongs to a book club made up of current and retired educators and enjoys reading and bantering with her friends about the diverse books they read.
BHSSC SFEC Co-Project Director
Morgan VonHaden holds a Masters of Science in Strategic Leadership, graduated from Leadership SD 2016 and from Leadership Rapid City 2010, and has worked extensively with non-profit agencies for the past 20 years, specifically in high poverty/high needs areas. VonHaden is the BHSSC South Dakota Statewide Family Engagement Center Director. VonHaden lives by the following statement: “It is said that every child should be held to the same standards; I also believe all children should have a safe place to sleep at night, a warm bed, food, and a loving parent or caregiver. Children should not have to worry if they have to share a blanket with their sibling or cousin. Children should not have to worry about if they are going to get to eat supper, or just wait until they get back to school. All children should be held to the same level of standards, but they should also have a fair start to get there.”
In her free time, Morgan enjoys spending as much time with her husband and three children. Two boys who actively play baseball and little girl who tries to keep up with the brothers. They also enjoy hiking, camping, and spending as much time outside as possible, no matter the weather!
West River Foundation SFEC Co-Project Director
As the director of BHSSC’s Community and Family Services division from 2013-2017, Laughlin provided technical assistance and support on parent and family engagement to all SDDOE priority and focus schools. She also supervised and supported the 21st Century Community Learning Center programs in three elementary schools; the Foster Grandparent, VISTA and SDDOE Birth-3 programs for western SD; and the AmeriCorp program in North Rapid City.
From 2002-2013, Laughlin served as the Project Coordinator (2002-2009) and Project Director (2009-2013) for the SD Parent Information and Resource Center (PIRC). In these roles, she developed and disseminated training materials and resources designed to empower parents to be actively involved in the education of their children. Services focused on assisting families and educators to improve and support engagement that worked to improve the academic achievement of all students. Additionally, Laughlin led the SDDOE’s Family and Community Engagement work from 2011 to 2017. She holds a Master of Science in Administration, University of South Dakota, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Augustana College
Tori Lange is excited to join the Black Hills Special Services Cooperative team as the Learning Associate for the Community, Family & Special Services Division. Tori lives by the famous words of The Iron Giant, “You are who YOU choose to be.” She believes each person plays an important role in the world, and it is up to us to choose who we are and what we contribute. In her free time Tori enjoys cleaning and doing any project that deals with organization. She enjoys living a healthy lifestyle and inspiring others to do the same. In Tori’s mind, life is about balance and everything in moderation. She enjoys playing volleyball at her local Rec Center and softball during the summer. Tori can usually be seen with a smile on her face and a cup of coffee in hand.
K-12 Projects Lead
Dana Livermont grew up knowing she wanted to be a helper, like the kind Mr. Rogers would refer to. She attended Montana State University–Billings where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. Wanting to focus on using her talents to help children and young adults, she returned to MSU-B to earn a Master’s Degree in Education for School Counseling.
Dana returned to her home state of South Dakota in 2010. She has served students and families as a professional school counselor for 10 years, as both an elementary school counselor and Lead Counselor for Rapid City Area Schools.
Through her work in schools, Dana Livermont has learned that she is passionate about helping educators grow and reflect on their professional practice. As a school counselor, she has seen the power of relationships—among school staff, with students, and with families. Now as a member of the South Dakota Statewide Family Engagement Team, she works with districts across the state to leverage relationships to support the academic, social, and emotional needs of students.
When she’s not zipping across the state of South Dakota from district to district, you might find Dana at her home in Sioux Falls snuggling with one of her adorable fur babies, curled up with a great read and a cup of coffee, or slinging cards at a poker table.
Birth-5 Projects Lead
Darbi Hunt began leading the Birth to Five pillar of the Statewide Family Engagement Center (SFEC) in 2018, when Black Hills Special Services Cooperative received the grant. She is also teaches and coordinates Common Sense Parenting. Darbi has always been passionate about every child having a good start in life and her work supports this passion. Her day to day activities varies – planning and developing projects, teaching and presenting, meeting with amazing professionals across the state, and doing the necessary paperwork to keep things in order and moving forward.
Darbi graduated from Black Hills State University with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Psychology in 1997 and started at Black Hills Special Services Cooperative in 1998. She has had the opportunity to work in many programs throughout BHSSC; each one has taught her something new and contributed to her personal and professional growth. She started with the Developmental Disabilities Division where worked as an Individual Program Coordinator, Foster Care Coordinator and Residential Coordinator. She served as the Director of the Black Hills Foster Grandparent Program for 10 years, then worked with a few other programs before becoming the Birth-Five Learning Specialist. Darbi serves on several boards and committees including the United Way of The Black Hills.
As a High School Senior, Darbi quickly penned the quote “Use your head to follow your heart” for her yearbook picture. The idea of following ones’ passion in a well thought out and purposeful way continues to ring true to her.
Being a mom to boy-girl twins is the most important part of Darbi’s life. She enjoys spending time with them, her husband and many other family members. Darbi is an advocate and friend to a woman who receives services in Lemmon, SD. Darbi’s hobbies include reading, hiking and cooking.
Dr. Peg Diekhoff
K-12 Family Engagment Specialist and Tribal Liaison
Dr. Peg Diekhoff is ecstatic to join the BHSSC Team. She has spent the last 34 years involved in education as teacher, coach, and administrator. In addition to being a part of the BHSSC Team, Peg is also an Adjunct Professor for Black Hills State University.
Peg was the 2014 Secondary State Assistant Principal of the Year. She is a highly motivated professional who seeks to do meaningful work within the educational community.
In her free time, Peg loves spending time with her family and her four-legged boys Zeus & Mato. She captures their time together with digital photography. She is a sports nut and loves playing Fantasy Football.
Lindsay’s work with multilingual students and families in rural areas began while teaching English in Hokkaido, the north island of Japan. Later as an ESL teacher in South Dakota she welcomed, taught, and advocated for students and families who spoke Japanese, Korean, Georgian, Turkish, Spanish, Tagalog, German, Farsi, and Vietnamese. Now she teaches online courses, manages digital media for two federal grant programs, and consults rural school districts as a learning specialist for TIE. She holds an M.A. in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from University of Colorado, a South Dakota K12 Teacher License, English as a New Language Endorsement, Reading Recovery certificate, and is a Nearpod Certified Trainer. Along with this education experience she was a reporter for South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) radio for five years; operates a freelance website development business; and co-founded Startup Weekend Black Hills – now in its fourth year.
Celina Frear attended college at Chadron State where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She joined Black Hills Special Services (BHSSC) in January of 2019 and has enjoyed being a part of the team ever since. She is a Learning Specialist for the Statewide Family Engagement Center (SFEC) at BHSSC.
Celina’s work is focused on the K-12 pillar of the SFEC grant. She enjoys how creative working for the grant can be, and looks forward to the connections made every day with different people throughout this work. As a part of the team, she helps out in any area that is needed to continue supporting families, educators, and schools in South Dakota.
During her free time, Celina loves to spend time with her family. She also enjoys playing the piano, spending time in the mountains, and doing anything artsy and crafty. She travels frequently to visit her family in Wyoming and to watch her husband, Tom, musically perform around the Black Hills and surrounding states. They often go on fun adventures with their two dogs, Millie and Banjo. She comes from a large, growing family in Douglas, Wyoming, and loves being an auntie to her nephews and niece.
Birth-5 Family Engagement Specialist
Megan Handshue joined the BHSSC team as a birth-5 family engagement learning specialist in 2021. She holds a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology and Bachelor’s in Child and Family Studies. Before joining the SDFEC team she worked as a behavior specialist, K-12 substitute teacher, Montessori teacher, preschool teacher, family, and executive functioning coach, and was the founder and executive director of an early learning center. Megan’s specialties include helping families better understand their child(ren) and creating community programming that honors the whole human- mind, body, and spirit. An entrepreneur and avid lifelong learner, she’s traveled the world with her tween son worldschooling, studying how other cultures do family, community, learning, and life, and can attest that there is no one size fits all path to success or education as long as we have a village helping us along the way.
Megan loves partnering with families and strongly believes that parents are a child’s first teacher and most valuable resource. When she is not empowering families to be their child’s strongest advocate or geeking out over brain development, she is either traveling to keep her sense of awe, wonder, and joy or trying to keep up with her son’s constant quest for adrenaline and adventure.
K-12 Family Engagement Specialist
Julie King has joined the Statewide Family Engagement Center as a 22 year veteran of public education in South Dakota. She holds a Master’s of Science in School Counseling from SDSU, and a Bachelor of Arts from Augustana University where she studied Social Work, Psychology, Sociology, and Native American Studies. Her expertise lies in the areas of Trauma-Informed Education, SEL, and Cultural Competency.
Julie’s life and work philosophy come from the Dalai Lama: “The task of man is help others.” When she’s not at work, you can find Julie at her kid’s sporting events, or spending time outside in the beautiful Black Hills.
Dr. Ryan Young
BHSSC Internal Evaluator and Data Collection Specialist
Dr. Ryan Young joined BHSSC as a Learning Specialist in 2018. He specializes in providing support to area teachers, administrators, and districts in many disciplines. Prior to coming to BHSSC, Ryan worked as a principal, school counselor, agency counselor, and university instructor. He obtained his BS from Black Hills State University, MS in Counseling from South Dakota State University, Ed.S. in Educational Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Doctorate in Educational Administration from the University of South Dakota.