Tonnis H. Venhuizen is an Armour native. He is a graduate of South Dakota State University, where he earned his B.S. in history and political science, and the University of South Dakota School of Law, where he was an editor of the South Dakota Law Review. In 2021, Governor Kristi Noem appointed Venhuizen to the South Dakota Board of Regents; he had previously been appointed to the Board by Governor Mike Rounds, serving from 2003-08.
Venhuizen managed the successful gubernatorial campaign of Dennis Daugaard in 2010. He worked in the governor’s office throughout the Daugaard administration, including as chief of staff from 2014-19. Venhuizen stayed on in the administration of Governor Noem as a senior advisor in 2019, and then returned as chief of staff in 2020-21. Prior to that, Venhuizen worked on Mike Rounds’ successful gubernatorial campaigns in 2002 and 2006. Venhuizen also served with the Janklow-Rounds gubernatorial transition in 2002, the Rounds-Daugaard transition in 2010, and the Daugaard-Noem transition in 2018.
Venhuizen serves on the board of directors of the Trail of Governors Foundation, which is erecting life-size bronze statues of every former South Dakota governor throughout the capital city of Pierre. He has encouraged the placement of South Dakota State Historical Society markers to commemorate the lives of former governors, leading to the placement of ten new markers.
In 2012, Venhuizen led the effort to pass legislation, codified at SDCL § 1-27-1.19 to 1-27-1.22, that preserves the papers of former governors and ensures that all papers eventually become available for historical research. In 2018, he advocated for the designation of Peter Norbeck’s birthday, August 27, as a state working holiday. Venhuizen coordinated the commissioning of a bust of George S. Mickelson, which was placed in the lobby of the State House of Representatives to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Mickelson’s death. While in the governor’s office, Venhuizen was particularly honored to help coordinate the State Capitol memorial services for former governors William J. Janklow and Walter Dale Miller.
In 2014, Venhuizen’s essay, “Leaders in the Land of Infinite Variety: A Collective Portrait of South Dakota’s Governors” was included in The Plains Political Tradition: Essays on South Dakota Political Culture, Vol. 2, published by South Dakota Historical Society Press. In 2017, Venhuizen appeared on C-SPAN’s “American History TV” to discuss the Trail of Governors and the history of the South Dakota State Capitol. Venhuizen edited and annotated the autobiography of William J. Bulow, excerpts of which were printed by South Dakota History in its Spring 2021 edition.
Venhuizen maintains the “SoDak Governors” blog at https://sodakgovs.wordpress.com and an associated Twitter feed, @SoDakGovs, which are both dedicated to remembering the history of South Dakota and its governors. An attorney with Standard Services and a member of the Board of Regents, he lives in Sioux Falls with his wife, Sara, and their three children: Henry, Elizabeth, and Madeleine.