Dennis Daugaard was sworn in as governor of South Dakota on January 8, 2011, and was sworn in for his second term on January 6, 2015.
Daugaard has emphasized job creation, sound fiscal management and efficient government operation. During his first year in office, Daugaard worked with the legislature to eliminate a $127 million structural deficit, without raising taxes. In 2013, Daugaard joined with the Chief Justice and legislative leaders to conduct an inter-branch, bipartisan study of the state’s criminal justice system. This led to bipartisan passage of comprehensive reform legislation for both systems to increase public safety, hold offenders more accountable and control escalating costs.
After earning his law degree, Daugaard passed the Illinois bar exam and worked in the Chicago area for three years. In 1981, he returned to South Dakota and worked for what is now U.S. Bank in Sioux Falls. Nine years later, Daugaard left the bank and began working for the Children’s Home Foundation, the fundraising arm of Children’s Home Society of South Dakota. He worked for 19 years, first as development director and then as chief operating officer.
Daugaard was elected to the state senate in 1996. From 1996 to 2002 Daugaard served in the state senate and was a member of the State Affairs, Commerce, Education, Taxation, Judiciary, and Government Operations & Audit committees. In June 2002, Daugaard began his two-term period as the lieutenant governor of South Dakota. As lieutenant governor, Daugaard served as president of the Senate, was instrumental in the creation of the SD Ellsworth Development Authority and was a leader of the SD Honor Flight program.
Daugaard graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1975 and earned his law degree from Northwestern University.
Linda Daugaard grew up in Dell Rapids, South Dakota. She earned a bachelor’s degree from South Dakota State University in Brookings.
After graduation Mrs. Daugaard taught at St. Mary’s High School in her hometown, where she coached the girls’ first basketball team. She went on to work for the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the University of California-Davis. After staying home to raise her family, she resumed her career as a school librarian, serving on rural, city and state library boards. The first lady’s personal and professional background as a mother, educator and librarian influenced her decision to work in support of several initiatives, including promoting literacy by visiting all 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders in South Dakota schools, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, reducing infant mortality, soliciting foster parents and showcasing the governor’s mansion.
The first lady and Governor Dennis Daugaard have three children: Laura, married to Jay Mitchell and granddaughter Stella; Sara, married to Tony Venhuizen, and grandson, Henry; and Christopher, married to Emily.