Cindy Elifrits Peterson, Founder & CEO

Cindy Elifrits Peterson, MSW, CFRE, is a proven expert in resource development and nonprofit capacity building with 19 years of experience in fundraising, volunteer management, strategic planning, board development, facilitation, program design, and outcome measurements. In 2010 she founded Maximizing Excellence, LLC that partners with organizations that want to improve their effectiveness and achieve high impact.

Before founding Maximizing Excellence, Cindy directed the annual fundraising effort for the Sioux Empire United Way. Already boasting the second highest per capita of giving in the nation, under Cindy’s leadership the Sioux Empire United Way raised $44 million, producing a five-year increase of 20%. Prior to this role, Cindy worked at United Way of the Midlands in Omaha, Nebraska, and the United Way of Central Minnesota in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Holding a Masters of Social Work degree from the University of Nebraska-Omaha, Cindy has a unique way of bringing people together by identifying personal motivators and incorporating them into a common objective. At Maximizing Excellence, Cindy customizes each project specific to the strengths, mission, and goals of the organization and its individuals. Cindy is most known for being a catalyst of change while empowering and mentoring those involved in sustaining success.

Cindy lives in Salem, South Dakota, with her husband Kent, who farms in the area, and their children Alex and Maddie. In Sioux Falls, she is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ South Dakota Chapter, serves on the Levitt @ the Falls Board of Directors, and volunteers for the Sioux Empire United Way. Cindy is also a member of Downtown Rotary, serving on the board and recently chaired its Centennial Fund and Engagement Committee. Prior to these roles, Cindy served on the Kilian Community College's Board of Trustees and most notably in 2006 founded Sioux Falls Synergy, a volunteer-led, young professional’s organization providing those in their 20’s and 30’s social, civic, and professional development opportunities.

Cindy is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and is certified in Capital Campaign Fundraising through the Institute on Charitable Giving. Her commitment to community has been celebrated with numerous nominations and awards. Highlights include EmBe’s annual Tribute to Women event, the Sioux Falls Business Journal’s Top 10 Under 40, and the Sales & Marketing Executives’ Champion Award in Community and Educational Services. Cindy is an alum of Leadership Sioux Falls and in 2015 graduated from the inaugural class of Leadership South Dakota.

Kacey McCarthy, Consultant & Director, SME Sioux Falls

Kacey McCarthy joined Maximizing Excellence, LLC in May 2017 as the Project and Brand Director. Part of Kacey's role is serving as the Executive Director for Sales & Marketing Executives, Inc. of Sioux Falls. Kacey is a Sioux Falls native, graduated from Washington High School, and attained an Associate’s Degree from Southeast Technical Institute.

Kacey brings with her many years of fundraising campaign management and volunteer management experience, having spent the past 14 years at Sioux Empire United Way, most recently as the Campaign Director. During her time at United Way, Kacey was a part of developing and implementing fundraising strategies for a $7.1 million annual campaign that increased to over $10.3 million in 2016. With each campaign she worked with hundreds of volunteers training, motivating, and assisting them to achieve their individual goals to ensure overall campaign success.

Kacey is passionate about the Sioux Falls community and the opportunities that are offered for all residents. She serves on the board of directors for Lost & Found Association, has been a volunteer coach for Girls on the Run since 2005, was a mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sioux Empire, served as part of a mentor team through the Genesis program, and has helped to coordinate Henry’s Run, an annual 5K for child abuse prevention, since its inception in 2012.

She is a member of Sales and Marketing Executives of Sioux Falls, serving on the Scholarship Committee and previously co-chairing the Youth Benefit Auction. Kacey is a graduate of Leadership Sioux Falls 27 and has completed the Leadership Development Program through the Center for Creative Leadership.

Rika Peterson, Consultant

Rika Peterson joined Maximizing Excellence, LLC in September 2013 and currently serves a Consultant. A Sioux Falls native, Rika graduated from Augustana University with her B.A. in Psychology and Sociology in 2012. She went on to pursue her Master of Social Work (MSW) at the University of South Dakota, graduating in 2014.

Rika is committed to the health and wellbeing of a community through practicing social work on the macro level, engaging data, volunteers, strategy, and planning for the greater good. She likes to say she does therapy on organizations, guiding them toward effective and impactful operation.

She is skilled in data collection and analysis, facilitation, and developing program outcomes. To date, Rika has been part of more than 20 strategic plans with the firm and has facilitated nearly 50 focus groups. Rika has been certified in facilitation through Sioux Falls THRIVE’s Effective Team Manager Training, has completed The Science and Art of a Supremely Successful Capital Campaign training twice through the Institute for Charitable Giving, and recently completed a University of Minnesota course titled Qualitative Data Analysis: Strategically Eliciting the Meanings in Qualitative Data to Inform, Advocate, Intervene and Evaluate.

She sees philanthropy and volunteerism as agents of change that have the potential to better the individual and society. Rika co-chaired the American Cancer Society’s 9th Annual Lights, Camera, Action! Gala in 2016 and is an active member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, South Dakota Chapter. She is currently serving on Habitat for Humanity Sioux Falls' fund development committee.

Sandy McKillop, Administrative Assistant

Sandy McKillop joined Maximizing Excellence, LLC in January 2019. Sandy is a Sioux Falls resident and is a graduate from the University of Sioux Falls with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Sandy brings a variety of talents in the areas of database development and management, leadership and training, organization and process improvement, development of effective financial reporting tools, strategic planning tracking tools, event logistics and planning, and customer relations. Sandy excels at office management, resolving challenges with innovative solutions, systems and process improvements that increase efficiency. She is forward thinking and works smarter through maximizing use of software and other systems while constantly finding ways to streamline office operations.

Sandy is thrilled to be part of the Maximizing Excellence, LLC team where effecting change and helping others in our community through philanthropy and fundraising is the greatest honorable and eloquent inspiration.