Interim Executive Team

To Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship tenants and members, the startup community and community stakeholders of Zeal:

I am writing to share with you the news of some important leadership changes for the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship. The Zeal board of directors has established an Interim Executive Team to lead the Center, following the resignation of Michelle Gjerde as Executive Director. There are three things I would like to make you aware of as we continue through the transition process:

First, a three-person Interim Executive Team will oversee Zeal’s operations until a new executive director is named. The Interim Executive Team is composed of three members of the Zeal board acting as volunteers and includes an experienced team of entrepreneurs and organization managers. They are: Will Bushee (technology educator, author, and Vice President of BrightPlanet), Laurie Knutson (former CEO of EmBe), and Matthew Paulson (angel investor and founder of MarketBeat).

Second, Zeal Center Executive Director Michelle Gjerde resigned effective Wednesday, August 22. We appreciate that Michelle brought a renewed focus to fundraising efforts and increasing the visibility of Zeal in the business community. We wish her well in her transition.

Finally, our focus remains unchanged in the pursuit of Zeal’s mission to foster entrepreneurship and our vision to create a thriving epicenter of emerging rapid growth businesses in Sioux Falls. To that end, the focus of the Interim Executive Team and Zeal staff will be:

  1. To continue to provide programming in support of the startup community, our tenants, and Zeal participants

  2. To communicate with stakeholders and business community leaders, and

  3. To complete the strategic planning process which has just begun.

Our leadership and the staff are united in pursuit of these goals.

Change can create uncertainty, and it’s for this reason that I wanted to communicate directly to the Sioux Falls startup community, Zeal Center tenants and members, and our other community stakeholders at the earliest opportunity. If you have questions or concerns, I hope you will not hesitate to contact me, or a member of the Interim Executive Committee.

This is an important and pivotal time for the Zeal Center and one which I fully believe will propel the startup community in Sioux Falls to a greater future. However, we recognize it is important that we listen to the voices of that community as we develop our next steps. We look forward to working with you all during that process. Thank you.


Mike Vetter, Board Chair


UpdatesBrienne Maner