Cheri Rath is a dedicated leader in the field of agriculture and rural development, serving as the Executive Director of the SD Value Added Agriculture Development Center (VAADC). With a passion for fostering rural enterprise and improving the quality of life in underserved areas, Cheri manages this nonprofit entity, providing invaluable technical assistance to agribusinesses across South Dakota.
Cheri’s unique strength lies in her ability to forge strong partnerships, allowing VAADC to seamlessly integrate professional business services with a wide array of local, state, regional, and national incentive programs. This collaborative approach leads to the creation and expansion of successful agribusinesses throughout the state, driving economic growth and prosperity in rural communities.
Cheri’s commitment to underserved individuals and economically distressed rural areas is deeply rooted in her personal journey as a foster parent for Native American families for over two decades. Her dedication to making a positive impact is reflected in VAADC’s impressive track record, with 46% of their recent work focusing on underserved, economically distressed, and persistently impoverished clients.
Cheri’s agricultural expertise is built on a foundation of lifelong experience working with her family’s grain farm and ag equipment business near Aberdeen. Her academic credentials include a General Agriculture degree from South Dakota State University, and she has held pivotal roles within the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
Cheri’s commitment to continuous learning and leadership is demonstrated by her alumni status with the South Dakota Agricultural & Rural Leadership and Leadership South Dakota programs. She is also a Certified National Development Council Economic Development Finance Professional and a practitioner of The Art & Science of Starting a Cooperative Business.
In addition to her responsibilities at VAADC, Cheri actively participates in various state, regional, and national agricultural and economic development boards, further contributing to the growth and vitality of rural communities in the Dakotas and beyond. Cheri Rath is a true advocate for rural development, agriculture, and improving the lives of underserved individuals, making her a driving force in the region’s progress.