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Published on September 20, 2022

Angela Schoffelman

Avera Employee Is Changing the World One Life at a Time

Those who are unseen and unheard by most of society hold a special place in the heart of Angela Schoffelman.

This passion is a common thread that ties together a string of projects that may otherwise seem a bit random: She leads a Toastmasters group at the men’s maximum security prison. She and her husband, Chad, have fostered 16 rescue dogs, including the adoption of their pitbull, Tweety. And, she’s a Dress for Success career coach and mentor.

A Life-Changing Moment

While walking across the street in 2008, Schoffelman was hit by car going 40 mph. “Those who were at the scene thought surely I had died, due to the sound of my body hitting the car and the pavement,” she recounts.

A skull fracture and broken bones were among injuries she had to overcome. “I was told I probably would never work again. But I didn’t want that to be my life,” Schoffelman said.

Rather, she wanted to devote her future toward impacting the lives of others, just as her life had been impacted by caregivers at Avera. She went back to school and got her degree in health care management and then her MBA. Today she’s working as Practice Management Support Partner for Avera Medical Group Clinic Quality.

While hers is a behind-the-scenes role rather than direct patient care, Schoffelman joins in the Avera mission by taking a few minutes each morning to pray for the patients who are represented by the statistics she gathers, including current COVID hospitalizations and deaths.

Self-Improvement Leads to Self-Sacrifice

Schoffelman got interested in Toastmasters because she wanted to improve her own public speaking skills. Her role as instructional facilitator at the prison happened much by accident.

In 2019, she received an email asking her to come talk to a group about Toastmasters, and she quickly responded “yes.” It wasn’t until later that she realized she had committed to give a talk at the men’s prison among “lifers.”

Facing a room full of guys with tattoos, crossed arms and sullen faces wasn’t easy. It broke the ice when one of the guys asked, “Miss Angela, do you want to meet our dog?”

Grateful for this common ground, Schoffelman said, “I would love to meet your dog,” and she shared a few moments of joy with them. The next step of faith was agreeing to lead a twice-monthly group on Saturday evenings.

She devoted a week of vacation to take 40 hours of training – which included getting sprayed with mace so she’d know what it feels like if she ever had to do it.

“Now, I’d walk through mace a thousand times to experience getting to help these men feel seen and heard and know they matter,” Schoffelman said.

Her Pride and Joy

She describes herself as a proud “mama bear” who has high expectations, yet finds immense joy in the inmates’ achievements.

One man, for whom English is a second language, would come to the Toastmasters group from time to time. When it came time for his first speech, he practiced and practiced. “He was able to overcome his nervousness and delivered his speech so well, thoughtfully pausing as he needed to get the right words out,” Schoffelman said.

A standing ovation from the group brought her to tears. “Now, we engage in full-on conversation at every meeting.”

Schoffelman recently received the EmBe Tribute to Women Community Service award, and has taken part in Sioux Falls’ Leaders of Tomorrow.

In whatever she does, Schoffelman brings “a lot of heart” by allowing herself to be vulnerable. This helps create a safe space for trust and growth. “When I ask the guys why they want to be part of the group, they say they want to gain confidence when interacting with prison staff or the parole board, or when talking with their own children who, in some cases, may be afraid of them.”

She feels similar rewards when helping Dress for Success clients prepare for job interviews. “Often these ladies need to be told they’re worth it and they deserve to be happy.”

Read more about how Avera employees are moving health forward.

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