July 26, 2022
The Board of Directors of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of Whitney A. Rencountre II, as the new Chief Executive Officer. He will assume responsibilities effective September 15, 2022. Until that time, to assure continuity over the remainder of the tourist season, Foundation Interim CEO Joseph A. Konkol will retain his current responsibilities and support a transition of CEO leadership, then return to his role as Chief Financial Officer of the Foundation.
“The Board conducted an extensive search for a new CEO and found Whitney’s leadership experience in operations, program management and development best suited to carry forward the mission of the Foundation -- to protect and preserve the culture, tradition and living heritage of North American Indians,” commented Foundation Board Chair, Steve Helmers. “Whitney often speaks of the importance of ‘building bridges’ and is widely known for his ability to establish strong relationships, forge alliances, and connect with advocates, supporters, and volunteers. Further, Whitney honors his heritage as a member of the Crow Creek Hunkpati Dakota Nation through his commitment to family, and to work that promotes respect and healing among people of diverse cultures.”
Rencountre has served as Associate Director of the Indian University of North America at the Crazy Horse Memorial since January 2021, and over the past five years has been associated with the Foundation in various roles relating to education and cultural programming. Prior to joining the Indian University of North America, he served for more than ten years as Development Director/Ateyapi Program Director for Rural America Initiatives, managing programming, grants, and staff in eight schools throughout the Rapid City School District. He has held several leadership roles within the greater community including Chairman of the South Dakota Humanities Council, Chairman of the Board of Visit Rapid City and is currently a Commissioner on the Rapid City Human Relations Commission. A graduate of Black Hills State University, Rencountre began his career at Marty High School, developing, implementing, and teaching curriculum focusing on Native American Culture and History, and remains a resource to organizations looking to build Native American cultural relations, including the South Dakota Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the National Park Service, and area South Dakota schools.
“At all times I am mindful of Henry Standing Bear and his fellow chiefs and elders, who asked
Korczak Ziolkowski to establish a place where people from around the world could learn about the culture and traditions of Native American people, and to preserve the history and heritage for future generations. I am honored to now step in and take the lead in advancing this vision,” Rencountre commented. “As well, I am fully aware of what makes this pursuit possible, the hard work and dedication of Korczak, his wife Ruth, and their family as they developed a global community of friends who believe in and support the mission. It’s truly an honor and privilege to work with the Board and our group of dedicated workers to continue the mission of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation into the future.”
Rencountre will succeed Jadwiga and Monique Ziolkowski, who transitioned from their roles as Co-CEO’s of the Foundation, but who can be found on the grounds each day as they remain committed to actively supporting and serving the mission and the legacy of their parents, Korczak and Ruth Ziolkowski.