As South Dakota’s First Lady, Linda Daugaard is an advocate for children and families. She travels the state to encourage reading, chaired a task force on reducing infant mortality, and is inviting South Dakotans to consider becoming foster parents. Learn more about Linda’s priorities:
Linda grew up in Dell Rapids. She was the third of twelve children in the Schmidt family; today, ten of the twelve still live in the Dell Rapids-Sioux Falls area. Linda graduated from Dell Rapids St. Mary's High School in 1971.
Linda attended South Dakota State University, where she obtained her degree in physical education and a teaching certificate. The Schmidt Family has strong ties to SDSU. Linda's dad, "Sunny Jim" Schmidt, was a standout basketball player for South Dakota State in the 1940s. Twenty-one members of the Schmidt family, including Linda's brothers and sisters, attended State, and the Schmidts were the SDSU Family of the Year in 2006.
After graduation, Linda returned to Dell Rapids, where she taught at St. Mary's and coached the school's first girls basketball team. She then worked for several years in university student life, first at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN and then at University of California-Davis in Davis, CA.
In 1981, Linda and Dennis both returned to South Dakota and were married. She worked for three years in the Minnehaha Clerk of Courts office. In 1983, their daughter Laura was born, followed by Sara in 1985 and Chris in 1987. Dennis and Linda raised their family on the Daugaard farmsite, located between Dell Rapids and Garretson.
After staying at home with their children for several years, Linda returned to work as a school librarian, first at Dell Rapids Elementary and then at St. Mary's. During this time, she developed a keen interest in encouraging reading, and served on the Minnehaha Rural Library Board and the Siouxland Library Board. In 2003, Governor Rounds appointed Linda to the State Library Board; she completed her term in 2009.
Linda left her job as a librarian after Chris graduated from high school in 2005. She began to join Dennis in Pierre for the legislative session, working as a committee secretary, and worked full-time for the Daugaard campaign in 2010.
Since she became South Dakota's First Lady in January of 2011, Linda has worked hard to promote several initiatives that stem from her background as a mother, educator, and librarian.