Get To Know Us
The Highmark Lobbies closed March 20, 2020. We just recently reopened four of our branches. These are strange times we are in, and we wanted to take this opportunity and this web page to tell you a bit about us. This is intended to be a fun, light-hearted way to get to know a bit about who Highmark is made up of, and what makes us unique. We hope you enjoy. We will add a few employees each week, and will be kicking it off with one of our most recent hires.
Laurna Boland, Universal Teller (Spearfish)
Most prized collection: I do collect clowns. I have a lot of Emmitt Kelly’s. They just make me happy. I also have a collection of stuff my son made when he was little. The one I am most attached to is a Christmas gift he made. It is a Christmas bell with the paper rings to count down to Christmas. He made it when he was 4 years old. He is now 37.
The first job I wanted when I was a little kid was to be a 3rd grade teacher.
My last meal on earth would be anything Mexican and a blizzard from Dairy queen.
Celebrity crush is Trace Adkins and Blake Shelton
A trip I would most want to take would be to Italy or Greece.
Gary Sortland, Collections Manager (and Volunteer Firefighter), Rapid City
- Something you are proud of: Being able to work hard and even giving back to the community has really been a big accomplishment for me. Being able to help those when they need assistance.
- Most prized collection. Have you seen my office with all the “Fire Collectibles” all given to me by my coworkers?
- The first job you wanted when you were a little kid? Police officer. Guess that didn’t work out LOL.
- Last meal. Steak with Baked Potato and fresh veggie of any kind.
- Trip you'd like to take: I’ve been to several countries out of the US. I'd like to see Great Britain and other parts of Europe.
Gaby Burke, Personal Financial Associate (Rapid City)
Fun Fact: Its physically impossible to lick your elbow
The first job I ever wanted as a kid, was to be a lawyer.
My last meal on earth would definitely be Mexican food.
The only trip I am dying to take is to Ireland, someday!
I have always lived in SD but I am afraid of sharks!
Welcome, Gaby! She is one of our newest employees on the Highmark Team!
Tiffany Phelps, Operations Specialist (Rapid City)
- Your most prized collection: Thousands of books
- The first job you wanted when you were a little kid: Dancer
- A superstition you have. I ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS have to put on my left sock/shoe first…
- Your biggest fear or phobia: Snakes
- Your most unusual pet. 3 crazy dogs
- A contest you have won. Multiple spelling contests.
Note: I can vouch for this. She is our in-house editor!
Mark Posthumus, Special Projects
- Your proudest atypical accomplishment: Designed and supervised building of the Rapid City branch and the Custer Branch.
- The first job you wanted when you were a little kid: To fly airplanes.
- The trip you most want to take, but haven’t yet: Panama Canal.
- Your favorite go-to quarantine adult beverage: Wyoming Whiskey (as seen on the Walt Longmire series on FX)
- A contest you have won: When I married my bride 44 years ago.
Luke Wilkins, Market Manager (Gillette)
- Your proudest atypical accomplishment: I was able to hitchhike to the Pacific Ocean from Laramie after graduating college….and made it alive.
- Your most prized collection: Super Bowl 50 Broncos jersey signed by all of the members of the defense.
- The first job you wanted when you were a little kid: Professional Basketball Player
- The trip you most want to take, but haven’t yet: Hike to Machu Picchu
- Your biggest fear or phobia: Afraid of heights, and in spite of that liked to rock climb and bungee jump.
Makailah Hartmann, Universal Teller (Gillette)
The trip you most want to take, but haven’t yet: Somewhere I can be a beach bum and lay in the sand and nap all day.
- A superstition you have: Every single time I wash my car it rains or snows. (HAHA) just my luck.
- Your most unusual pet: I had a pet Ball Python named Kahlua that got loose for three months then was found hanging out on my bedroom floor one day.
Your biggest fear or phobia: I have a massive fear of heights and I’m claustrophobic.
The first job you wanted when you were a little kid: I always wanted to be a mother, more than anything else. Otherwise I wanted to be a Pediatrician.
LouAnn Burrow, Training Director
Fun fact: I have been to Disney World Orlando 18 times throughout my lifetime.
What your last meal on Earth would be: This is hard. I really like food. Either cheesecake, ice cream, any Mexican food, or good ole steak and loaded mashed potatoes.
The trip you most want to take, but haven’t yet: Belize or Germany. Very different destinations, I know, lol.
A superstition you have: I don’t know if this qualifies as a superstition, but I don’t like walking over the metal grates on sidewalks, it’s scary!
Your biggest fear or phobia: Birds. I do not like birds at all!
Tony Pannone, Chief Information Officer
- Your proudest atypical accomplishment. My Cooking skills
- The first job you wanted when you were a little kid: A Hockey Player
- The trip you most want to take, but haven’t yet: Italy
- Your biggest fear or phobia: Glitter
- A contest you have won: Name that song played backwards on a radio station when I was 13.
Pamela RedLeaf, Personal Financial Associate
Meet Pamela, one of our newest employees.
What your last meal on Earth would be: Carne Asada Tacos
A superstition you have: When your hands itch, it means you are going to receive money in the near future.
Your most unusual pet: My dog max. He is unusually obsessed with me.
Your biggest fear or phobia: I fear moths
Your favorite go-to quarantine adult beverage: Bud Light Seltzers
Jim Guptill, Commercial Loan Officer
Your most prized collection: Fishing boat and tackle.
The trip you most want to take, but haven’t yet: Australia and New Zealand
Your most unusual pet. My cat – he used to play fetch with me…
Your biggest fear or phobia- Scared of heights
Cassie Pannone, Chief Financial Officer
The first job you wanted when you were a little kid. Circus performer
What your last meal on Earth would be. Popcorn
The trip you most want to take, but haven’t yet. Bora Bora
Your most unusual pet. Chinchilla
Your favorite go-to quarantine adult beverage All of the things
A contest you have won. Drinking a beer on my head
Chad Hofkamp, Commercial Credit Analyst
Did you know that....
I have a collection of reusable metal lighters, with a couple dating back to pre-WWII. I also have a collection of alcohol-themed paper coasters that is constantly growing and well into the triple digits.
When I was a child, I wanted to be a Police Officer, just like my father.
My last meal on earth would be fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and steamed asparagus.
I am terrified of heights, and falling off of tall objects like ladders, or upper-floor balconies.
I was the South Dakota state title holder in the Men’s 100m Dash for 2009, and 2010. I was also the Howard Wood Men’s Invite-Only Special 200m Champion in 2010, which is held every four years and features athletes from the United States and Canada.
Crystal Boyce, Personal Financial Advisor (Gillette, WY)
Your proudest atypical accomplishment: I make some stellar homemade donuts
Your most prized collection: I have a amassed a collection of children. I’m up to 4 boys
A contest you have won: National Choir Competition in Dallas as a senior in high school
Your favorite go-to quarantine adult beverage: Orange beers
The trip you most want to take, but haven’t yet: Either Machu Picchu or The Valley of Kings.
Mindy Howard, VP Operations
What you didn't know about her: Handbell ringer for over 30 years
Collections: Angels (I collect figures, clocks, paintings, Christmas tree decorations whatever with angels on them)
What did she want to be when she grew up: Singer – I wanted to be a famous singer – not enough talent and huge stage fright issues changed that for me.
Best meal: Old fashioned canned meat and noodles, with cream peas and new potatoes. My grandma used to make that meal and it will always be one of my favorites.
Where will she travel when the craziness is over: Australia and New Zealand - hoping to go either there or Italy in the next 3 years.
Vonnie Wackel, Market Manager, Rapid City
Proud Accomplishment: Took the Magnum PI Extreme Helicopter Ride in Oahu Hawaii, no doors and flying all sorts of directions.
First Job I wanted as a kid: Journalist or Fake News Correspondent
Trip I want to take: Scotland and Ireland
Superstition I have: Walking under ladders
Phobia: Fear of Frogs or toads
Tori Chasing Hawk, Teller
First Job: Elementary teacher. Now, not so much
Last meal/guilty pregnancy pleasure: Pizza
Superstition: Knocking on wood
Favorite thing about my job: The members, I miss the members
Favorite go-to quarantine adult beverage: Iced water because I’m with child
Tim Palmer, Commercial Lender
Your most prized collection: A Baseball Signed by Milton Bradley
The first job you wanted when you were a little kid: I wanted to be a Doctor!
What your last meal on Earth would be: It’s a tie between a Hot Granny Burger from Black Hills Burger and Bun and a Steak, potato, and lettuce wedge from Alpine Inn!
The trip you most want to take, but haven’t yet: New Zealand, its so beautiful but so far away.
A superstition you have: Cool Ranch Doritos when the Eagles play, I swear it works! Most of the time….
Aaron Prochazka, Senior Accountant
The first job you wanted when you were a little kid. – As a kid I always knew I would be a Pilot, until about 3rd grade when I realized I was blind as a bat, and who would want a blind person flying their airplane?! Probably no one, so I became an accountant!
What your last meal on Earth would be – Being from the Midwest, I love steak, burgers & all types of BBQ. But then I visited my wife’s family in Rhode Island for the first time 5 years ago they introduced to this thing called a Baked Stuffed Lobster, and it is amazing to say the least! Maybe throw in an appetizer of Clam Cakes or stuffies too…
The trip you most want to take, but haven’t yet – I have always wanted to travel to Europe but haven’t made it that far yet, specifically I would like to go to Czechia, Germany, Poland, Italy, Ireland, France and Spain.
Your biggest fear or phobia) – My biggest fear is Mice! My family always called me a big elephant scared of a mouse.
Your favorite go-to quarantine adult beverage - My Go–to quarantine adult beverage is a nice cold Busch Latte, or If it is a Friday evening I will go for a nice whiskey on the rocks like Pendleton.
The first job you wanted when you were a little kid: Airline Stewardess (although she says she was 21 years old when she first flew in an airplane.
The trip she most wants to take, but hasn't yet: an all inclusive resort or to go someplace warm and stay on a houseboat.
Favorite go-to adult quaratine beverage: sweet wine or vanilla rum and coke.
Proudest atypical accomplishment: Her own NY cheesecake
Prized collection: Vintage pyrex dishes and crystal glassware
Patti Bailey, Teller
The first job you wanted when you were a little kid: TO BE A “BANKER” LIKE MY DAD
The trip you most want to take, but haven’t yet: HAWAII
Your most unusual pet: RESCUE BASSET HOUND
Your biggest fear or phobia: SNAKES AND SPIDERS
Your favorite go-to quarantine adult beverage: WINE
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