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Posted on: July 7, 2017


Thomas M. Fishback

Thomas M. Fishback will be awarded the 2017 Mayor’s Generational Leadership Award.  Former Mayor Tim Reed created the award to recognize the importance of young leaders who make a community vibrant and dynamic. The physical award shows the creativity of the community and was created by artist Heath “Tad” Bradley. 

Tom graduated from Brookings High School in 1999, and attended the University of Colorado Boulder where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in 2004.  After graduating, Tom was a special education teacher at Walter L. Cohen High School in New Orleans and worked in the office of one of South Dakota’s senators.  He returned to South Dakota in the fall of 2007 in order to join First Bank & Trust’s Vermillion branch.  Tom moved to Brookings permanently in 2009 and presently serves as a Trust Officer at First Bank & Trust’s Brookings Main location.  Since joining First Bank & Trust, Tom has earned a masters degree in economics from SDSU, completed the Graduate School of Banking at Colorado, and passed the Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA) exam after graduating from Cannon Trust School with an honors designation.  He feels extremely lucky to work for an organization that encourages and supports its employees to get involved in the community. 

Tom invests impressive amounts of time, energy, and heart in a range of organizational efforts, which strengthen and enrich the Brookings community and region. He is the founder of the $10 Lunch Club, and he serves on the Brookings Reconciliation Council, the SDSU Tiospaye Council, South Dakota Humanities Council, SDSU Honors College Advisory Council, and he is also a mentor in the Boys & Girls Club STEM mentoring program.

Thanks to Tom’s leadership and initiative, the $10 Lunch Club has met for several years and provided financial support for hundreds of local individuals and families with urgent needs for rent, utilities, food, school supplies, transportation and various other purposes. The club has also contributed significantly to expanding the network of concerned people who want to respond to the needs of others. Thanks to Tom’s efforts, the group is an exemplary model for other communities in the state and region.

On behalf of diversity in our community, Tom’s efforts have been equally impressive. As a member of the Brookings Reconciliation Council, Tom has recruited new members and provided significant support for the annual Oak Lake Tribal Writers’ Retreat and for various campus-related programs and activities, including the offering of especially helpful personal finance presentations for SDSU’s tribal students. As a member of the Tiospaye Council, Tom has been additionally responsive to the needs of SDSU’s tribal students via support of the American Indian Education and Cultural Center. He recently proposed the organization of a fall conference on campus, which is likely to contribute significantly to SDSU’s much-needed Wokini Initiative.

Tom has also contributed impressively to the humanities and the arts in our community and state as a member of the South Dakota Humanities Council, traveling frequently to meetings and investing many hours in reviewing and discussing project proposals and related activities and representing the Council at various functions. He has also contributed to the quality of education at SDSU as an active and involved member of the SDSU Honors College Advisory Council and as a supportive presence at Honors College events.

Finally, Tom’s efforts as a community youth mentor have also been laudatory. He spends significant amounts of time weekly at the Boys & Girls Club, mentoring young people ages 7 to 9 to develop skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), as well as providing personal counselling and warm and reassuring friendships.

In short, Tom’s contributions to our community have been exceptionally pervasive and far-reaching. Tom is an uncommonly strong role model for community involvement and leadership.

Tom lives in Brookings with his wife Mary Beth, and their daughter Mary Margaret “Mae.” 

The award will be presented to Tom on Wednesday, July 19 at the McCrory Gardens Education & Visitor Center from 5:00 – 7:00 pm in conjunction with the ABLE Awards for Accessibility, the Butler Human Rights Award and the Mayor’s Awards for Historic Preservation. The event is open to the public.

The Mayor’s Generational Leadership Award is given to a community member who has affected the community in the following ways:

  • Positively changes how we think about our community and city
  • Helps Brookings attract and retain young professionals and families
  • Motivates new generations to be active in their communities
  • Contributes to the advancement and well-being of the community through service in areas such as:  education, sports, fund-raising, charitable and voluntary service, economic development, arts, and the environment.

Nominations open July of each year. Individuals must be nominated before their 36th birthday and all nominations will be kept on file and active for the award for two years.

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