Name: Tony Burke
Employer: American Heart Association
Position/Title: State Government Relations Director - South & North Dakota
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
Although I was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, at 4 months of age, we moved to River Bourgeois (French Acadian fishing village of approximately 500 people) on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. After 34 years in Canada, returned to the US with an appointment to the International Association of Fire Fighters Burn Foundation in Washington, DC.
My daughter, Ava, our Bernadoodle, Cub, and I love to explore and travel (road trips are very common), along with regular visits to plays/theatre productions and hockey games. When we are not out and about, movies, puzzles, friends, family, and quiet time are important to us.
My personal hobbies are hiking, reading, camping, water activities, strength conditioning, and volunteering.
Why did you join Rotary Club of Downtown Sioux Falls?
Rotarian Jim Wilcox was a board member of an organization that I worked for which brought me to Sioux Falls. He helped mentor me into the community and insisted Rotary was a place to start. To this day, I’m honored to call Jim a friend and mentor.
How has joining Rotary helped you develop/grow in your career?
The opportunity to mix, mentor, and be a mentee, from engaging with varying generational members on a regular basis, helps create an open and growth mindset. Rotarians care about Rotarians! They open doors for each other and provide kind, clear advice with a sense of encouragement to always push each other using the 4-way test as a compass.
Are you on any Rotary committees? If so, explain the value you have gotten from joining a committee.
As a past president, I sit on the Club Membership Qualification committee.
For Rotary District 5610, I sit as an advisor for the newly forming Augustana University Rotaract Club and was recently elected to the Nominating Committee for recruiting and recommending the District Governor for 2026/27.
At the International level, I participate in the Rotary Action Group (RAG) for Mental Health Initiatives.
The value of joining committees within Rotary is it continues to broaden your passions or find new ones. There truly is something for every Rotary member and by stepping up, somewhere along the way you will become a Rotarian.
What other clubs/boards/nonprofits are you involved with?
City of Sioux Falls Human Relations Commission
Khow Wakow School Project – South Sudan
Do you currently mentor as part of the Sioux 52 Initiative? If so, what has your experience been like?
Seven years ago, I had the opportunity to assist several club presidents to seek out the Club’s “One Relevant It”. Through a robust Club engagement and community assessment we selected, by way of a full membership vote, mentoring as “The Relevant It”. Up until last year, I had the opportunity to Chair the Sioux 52 Mentoring Initiative along side Mayor Paul TenHaken, several past presidents, members of the Club and community members.
Since passing the Sioux 52 Mentoring Initiative torch to Rotarian Eric Erickson, I’ve had the honor to mentor several young professionals who I meet/communicate with on a regular basis, providing kind and accountable guidance.
What would you tell someone that is considering joining Rotary Club of Downtown Sioux Falls?
The Rotary Club of Downtown Sioux Falls is a very special group of people who are striving for one thing, to make the City of Sioux Falls, and beyond, a better place, by engaging in being the inspiration for all who are in their networks of influence.