Meet Rebecca Kiesow-Knudsen. Her Sioux Falls roots run deep — almost as deep as her work in the non-profit world. Rebecca’s worked at Lutheran Social Services for the past 21 years and now serves as the organization’s CEO. It was because of an LSS connection that Rebecca joined the Levitt board in 2016, and now she serves as the Chair of the Levitt Board of Directors.
Tell me about your family.
I married one of my good friends from high school, Greg. We actually sat next to each other in homeroom in high school – if you can believe that. We have four amazing children: Vivian, Emmett, Cecilia, and Graham. The kids would be upset if I didn’t also mention our dogs Milo, Hugo, and Nora, and our cat Tico.
After serving on the board for a few years, you took on the role of Board Chair. What other ways are you and your family involved with the Levitt?
I always say I want to be Nancy Halverson when I grow up, so it has been a true blessing to have the opportunity to work with her more closely [as board chair]. My first “big” role with Levitt was coordinating the 2018 Levitt National Tour with Paul Thorn and the Blind Boys of Alabama. We didn’t have the Levitt Shell that year, so I worked in partnership with DTSF to hold the concert at 8th and Railroad. I learned so much in that process, including how complex concert planning is, and that was only one concert! I have such great admiration for the staff at the Levitt and their ability to organize and carry out 50 amazing concerts during the season. My husband, Greg, volunteers his time to help put together the video elements for the season. This has also been a great gift for him to have the opportunity to give back to an organization that we love.
What’s something everyone should know about coming to the Levitt?
It’s free and all are welcome! Having access to high caliber musicians from across the country for the whole summer in the heart of downtown any Thursday, Friday and Saturday night is an amazing opportunity for our whole community.
Why is our mission of “building community through music” important to Sioux Falls, and what does that mission look like for you?
When I first joined the board, I don’t think I had a full appreciation for the community-building aspects of the Levitt. During my time on the board I’ve grown to appreciate that Levitt is truly focused on being a welcoming space for everyone. On any typical night on the lawn you have an opportunity to meet and interact with people from different backgrounds and experiences – all around the love of music. Inclusivity is a personal value for me and also for LSS. It’s this connection that has kept me as a board member and donor to the Levitt.
What do you love about the Levitt?
So many things. I love that it’s outdoors in the heart of downtown. I love that it is a space that is welcoming and inclusive. The staff are absolutely phenomenal and so dedicated to the mission of the Levitt. And maybe because of our particularly harsh winter, I love that it’s an opportunity to be in an outdoor space during the summer – enjoying the sun.
What are you most looking forward to this upcoming season?
LSS recently absorbed the Multi-Cultural Center of Sioux Falls as a program. As a result we have assumed responsibility for coordinating Festival of Cultures, which will take place on June 10th this summer. This year we are working in partnership with the Levitt to make Festival of Cultures even better than it has been in the past. It will be a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the work of both organizations and to build inclusivity and appreciation for cultural diversity.
Want to learn more about our upcoming concert season and events? Keep an eye on our schedule here.