Erik Gaikowski joined AARP as the South Dakota State Director in March 2016, representing over 106,000 AARP members in the state. Erik is a highly respected non-profit leader specializing in volunteer leadership development, strategic staff deployment, and community engagement since 2000. Previously, Erik led the development and coordination of a statewide advocate network and partner organizations to successfully influence health policy, and also developed strategic partnerships with medical, corporate, and public employers to advance organizational priorities to improve the health of all citizens. Erik’s upbringing in South Dakota drives his focus on improving livability in communities across the state, which was the impetus for convening statewide stakeholders to enhance livability and grow community and economic development for all South Dakotans. Erik holds a degree in Political Science from Northern State University. He lives in Sioux Falls with his wife Mandy and two daughters.