The late Richard P. Holm, M.D. - Co-Founder Dr. Richard Holm, raised in De Smet, S.D., was an internal medicine physician who believed that in this world of marketing and misinformation, it is important to offer science-based truth about health care. For twenty years, Holm in his role as the Prairie Doc®, emerged as a leader of health care education and communication in the region and the U.S. He worked tirelessly to persuade medical providers to volunteer many hours in support of the mission providing accurate healthcare information free to the public; especially to people who often have limited access to healthcare professionals. To support and continue this mission, Holm and his life partner Joanie established Healing Words Foundation as a 501c3 in 2011.
Joanie Holm, C.N.P. - President and Co-Founder Joanie Holm leads the Foundation as it serves as a funding mechanism, accepting donations for all Prairie Doc® programs. The Prairie Doc® team engages in various communication strategies including a weekly television program, radio programs, editorial essays, Facebook and YouTube programs and a hospice choir, all aimed at improving health, fitness, and well-being in an effort to enhance health and reduce suffering. Joanie led the Prairie Doc® student assistants on a medical mission trip to Nicaragua and works to expand the availability of pediatric care information via PlayEatSleep.org. Joanie was born and raised in Jacksonville, Fla. She and Rick met while they were both in school in Atlanta, Ga. She trained as a Registered Nurse in Georgia, and a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in Virginia. Joanie and Rick raised four children in Brookings, S.D. where she continues to reside.
Comfort Agaba, MD MPH Comfort Agaba MD MPH is an Internist in Avera Mckennan Hospital Sioux Falls, working in both inpatient and outpatient settings. She did her Residency training in Westchester NY and Medical School in Nigeria. She has worked in research at Yale University and taught students at various levels including Medical students, public health students, and resident doctors, both within and outside the US. She has a passion for preventive health and serving the indigent and underserved populations. She is married to her husband Bernard and they have 2 lovely children, Eunice and Joseph.
J.R. LaPlante, JD Leroy (J.R.) LaPlante is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and is a 2009 graduate of the University of South Dakota School of Law, with an undergraduate degree in Sociology from Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn. J.R. was formerly the Director of Tribal Relations for Avera Health in Sioux Falls, an Assistant United States Attorney and Tribal Liaison with the United States Attorney’s Office in Sioux Falls, the State of South Dakota’s first Secretary of Tribal Relations, Chief Judge for the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, an Equal Justice Works/Americorps Legal Fellow, and a Bush Foundation Native Nation Rebuilder.JR is married to Kathy and they have one daughter, Anisah. His Lakota name is Tasunka Waste.
Jennifer K. May, M.D. Joining the Healing Words Foundation board in July 2018 is rheumatologist, Jennifer May. She grew up in Rapid City, S.D. where she currently practices at Rapid City Medical Center.Dr. May attended Augustana University in Sioux Falls for undergraduate studies and the University of South Dakota School of Medicine for her medical degree. She completed Internal Medicine training in Milwaukee at the Medical College of Wisconsin followed by a Rheumatology Fellowship at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Kenneth Bartholomew, M.D. Dr. Kenneth Bartholomew currently lives in Pierre, S.D. practicing with Avera Medical Group Pierre. He specializes in family medicine with more than 40 years of experience. Originally from Lemmon, S.D., Bartholomew went on to attend premedical and medical school in Salt Lake City at the University of Utah. His postgraduate training was in family medicine and emergency medicine in San Bernardino California. Dr. Bartholomew joined the Healing Words Foundation board in September 2019.
Dr. Tad Jacobs Tad Jacobs is a retired family physician from Flandreau, South Dakota where he practiced for 28 years before joining the leadership team at Avera Health in Sioux Falls. He served as their Chief Medical Information Officer from 2006-2012 and then Chief Medical Officer of Avera Medical Group from 2012-2020. He has appeared as a guest with “On Call” on several occasions. He continues to live on the farm near Flandreau with his wife Kathy of 47 years where they enjoy spending time with their 3 children and 6 grandchildren.
Carter Holm, RN Following in my parent’s footsteps I decided in my early 20s to pursue a career in healthcare. I worked as a nurses assistant for six years while going to school for nursing. After becoming an LPN I worked at The Neighborhoods at Brookview nursing home. After returning to school I achieved the degree of a Registered Nurse, and have been working at Avera McKennan for the past three and a half years. Specializing in inpatient rehabilitation, I gained became a Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse. I continue to work with patients through their rehabilitation from strokes, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and trauma. I want to embrace this opportunity in order to expand my reach into community education, and health mentorship.
Thomas Dean, M.D. Dr. Dean is a retired family medicine physician from Wessington Springs, S.D. His training in medicine spans from coast to coast, first gaining his education at the University of Rochester School of Medicine in New York, then completing his residency at the University of Washington in Seattle. Born and raised in Wessington Springs, “Dr. Tom” moved back there with his wife Kathy, a midwife, in 1978 where they built a home, raised a family, and continue to serve the community. Among his many accomplishments, Dean served in the National Health Service Corps in Kentucky, he was a member of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), advising Congress on Medicare issues and he is currently a clinical professor of family medicine with the Sanford School of Medicine at the University of South Dakota. He joined the Healing Words Foundation board July 1, 2020.
BEV WARNE, RN Bev Warne is credited with transforming health care throughout her 50-plus years of service, providing a voice for diversity and support to American Indian nursing students across the globe. Warne was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and Lakota is her first language. After high school, she attended and graduated from St. John’s McNamara School of Nursing in Rapid City. She began her nursing career and continued her postgraduate work at Arizona State University where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Along with serving in hospitals and clinics, she served on the faculty at Mesa Community College for 17 years, teaching nursing courses and American Indian culture courses. She served as director of American Indian Students United for Nursing Program at Arizona State University. Her personal history helped her students better understand the challenges as well as courage and spirit needed to succeed in her chosen profession. In 2015, she was asked to create the same type of program for Native American nursing students attending South Dakota State University that she did at ASU. At the time, Native American nursing students had extremely low retention rates and improving student outcomes was a top priority for the university. Since the creation of NANEC, retention rates have improved and Native American students are thriving in the College of Nursing’s Rapid City based program. Over the course of her career, Ms. Warne has received numerous awards and recognitions for her excellence in nursing and mentorship: from the Arizona Public Health Association, Native American Alumni Association, the Phoenix Indian Center, and Rapid City Community Conversations. In 2005, she was inducted into the Nursing Hall of Fame, and received the mentorship award for the Global Nursing Foundation in 2006. More recently, Ms. Warne received the Spirit of Dakota award in 2018 Most recently Bev also was inducted into the South Dakota Hall Fame in 2022 and received her honorary Doctorate in Nursing from SDSU in 2022. The mayor of Rapid City declared May 5th, 2023, Beverly Stabber-Warne day.