Cindy Elifrits Peterson, Founder & CEO

Driven by her passion for making a difference, Cindy Elifrits Peterson, MSW, CFRE, has dedicated her twenty-year career to impacting the lives of those she has never met.

In 2010, Cindy founded Maximizing Excellence, a consulting firm that helps organizations realize their full potential. By leveraging her proven fundraising tools and methodologies, she helps these organizations with efficient resource development and nonprofit capacity building, allowing them to improve their effectiveness and achieve high results. Through Cindy's vision, she and her team have led over 100 organizations to fulfill their mission and multiply their impact.

At home, Cindy's husband, Kent Peterson, is a farmer and Cindy's greatest supporter. Together, they live in Salem, South Dakota, where they raise their two children, Alex and Maddie. Living in a small town gives Cindy an appreciation and understanding of rural economic development, where her work can have the most significant impact in the shortest amount of time.

In addition to being a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), Cindy has a certification in Capital Campaign Fundraising through the Institute on Charitable Giving, as well as a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Most recently, Prairie Business magazine selected Cindy as one of their Top 25 Women in Business. These achievements, along with her creative problem solving and a never-quit attitude, have allowed Cindy to modernize the science behind the services her team provides.

Her direct, often bold approach combined with her unique ability to unite people with a common goal, has not only earned Cindy a reputation as the "go-to" for fundraising in eastern South Dakota but as a thought leader and sought-after keynote speaker in her field. If you ask Cindy what drives her continued success, her answer is simple: She gets up every day to change lives.

Kacey McCarthy, Consultant & Executive Director, SME Sioux Falls

Kacey McCarthy joined Maximizing Excellence, LLC in May 2017 and currently serves as a Consultant. Part of Kacey's role includes 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 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 has been a member of Sales and Marketing Executives of Sioux Falls since 2011. While an SME member she served on the Scholarship Committee and co-chaired 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 as 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.


Jen Kolb, Project Specialist

Jen Kolb joined Maximizing Excellence in May of 2021 as a Project Specialist. Jen is a born and raised Sioux Falls native and has dedicated much of her working life to improving the professional lives of women in the community. She graduated from O’Gorman High School, and attended the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications with a specialty in Advertising and Public Relations.

Jen has used her background in marketing and design to help elevate local brands and businesses that are impacting the Sioux Falls business landscape. She is passionate about supporting working women and parents and created a coworking space, The Kitchen, in 2019. During her time at The Kitchen, she was able to serve many women looking to grow and nurture their work through a supportive network, creating numerous business and personal connections and partnerships.

Outside of work, Jen is the head of a busy household with two children, Harlen and Ari. Her experience as a working mother enables her to bring a strategic perspective to processes and to find unique ways to optimize success. She is encouraged by the opportunity to use her unique business experience to continue to serve the Sioux Falls community as a part of an established team that has found incredible success in serving their clients.