Sanford names Severson VP of marketing

Feb. 6, 2018

Marketing veteran Kimber Severson is the new vice president of marketing at Sanford Health.

Severson, who was vice president of marketing at DocuTap before launching her own business last year, started her new role this week.

The connection to Sanford began while working on an office redesign through her design and branding business HarlowMarie.

She previously had crossed paths with the health system while at DocuTap when the two worked together on software at Sanford’s clinics in Ghana.

After Micah Aberson, Sanford’s chief global brand officer, reached out about the marketing opportunity, “I just thought I needed to go listen, and after a long conversation my head was spinning,” Severson said.

“There’s so much going on and a wonderful, growing story to tell, and I’d love to help tell that story. It’s a local, regional, national and global story and to be part of something like that is really cool.”

A Sisseton native, Severson graduated from the University of South Dakota and went on to receive a master’s degree in organizational communication there.

She previously held marketing roles at the Sioux Empire United Way and Avera Heart Hospital before becoming a stay-at-home mom. She became a consultant with Arbonne International and rose to the top level of national vice president before returning to the marketing workforce doing freelance work.

She will lead a team of five managers and an overall marketing department of 140 people split among Sioux Falls, Fargo, Bismarck, N.D., and Bemidji, Minn.

“I just think marketing and communications is such an integral part of an organization and should be such an invigorating and fun place,” she said.

“I love to form great teams. There’s nothing I’m more proud of than seeing team members do wonderful things and taking pride in their work. I’m a believer that it’s important to love what you do. You won’t love it every day, but we have to find the good in it, and I tend to bring out some of that in places that I’ve been.”

Her leadership comes at a pivotal time for the department, which recently reorganized many staff into new roles.

“We had a lot of duplication in efforts, and the whole goal is to streamline everything,” she said.

Small teams will be assigned to different areas of the enterprise. So Sanford Heart, for instance, will have the same designer and copywriter work on each of its marketing campaigns.

“So the teams will build a little muscle memory and have a little more ownership over certain areas,” Severson said. “And I’m excited because it completely makes sense to me as an outsider coming in, and I think it will be more efficient and people will be more passionate about what they’re doing, which will create even better work.”

Leaving a small business just getting started was somewhat difficult, she acknowledged, but the move allows her to use one of her strengths in leading a large team.

“No matter how big HarlowMarie got, it wasn’t going to be  a Sanford,” she said. “ And that opportunity is always there. You can always do your own thing. But this kind of a door opening with a team and being able to bring some of my strengths to help at a very pivotal time where Sanford is at made sense.”

One of her employees from HarlowMarie came with her to Sanford and another is in the process of transitioning. The third, Sarah Lavin, will continue the company’s design work under her own business, Sarah Lavin Design.

For Severson, the move accomplishes a goal she almost forgot she set back in college but remembered recently.

“I said I hope to lead marketing in a health care setting because I love to do good,” she said. “The work we’re doing to me is more motivating … because there’s that element of feeling good about the work you do.”

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Sanford names Severson VP of marketing

Marketing veteran Kimber Severson is the new vice president of marketing at Sanford Health.

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