MEET OUR TEAM
Roger spent 18 years mastering the insurance industry for another large company before setting out to pave his own path founding Risty Benefits Inc. in 2004. He hasn’t looked back.
Employer and employee communication is a key part of the success of Risty Benefits. Roger understands the importance of employee education in regard their benefits. Roger enjoys holding employee communication meetings and working with employees. He makes sure he provides his clients with the best possible service as quickly as possible.
Roger is active in four different units with the El Riad Shrine serving as President on several. His past civic activities included 15 years on the Sioux Falls School Board, Rapid City School Boards, and the Associated Schools of SD. This knowledge helps him pay a vital role Roger specializes in non-profit and governmental work. But our clientele includes all sizes and types of employer groups, with clients covering almost every corner of the State of SD and the tri-state area.
Roger’s passions are gardening, walking his dog (our internal office corgi mascot), reading a good book and smoking a cigar with friends.
A native of South Dakota, Sonja Nordbye was raised on a small farm with her seven siblings. Learning the accomplishments of hard work and the importance of neighbors and community, she incorporates those values into her everyday life with her clients at Risty Benefits.
Sonja worked in the investment industry before being provided the opportunity to join Risty Benefits. Discovering her true passion, she dove right into the group benefits insurance world. Integrating over twenty years of sales and customer service background, Sonja has the knowledge and details of what it takes to offer world class service. She relishes the everyday challenges of being able to help protect people through customized insurance options.
In 2020, Sonja took the position of CEO at Risty Benefits. She enjoys traveling across the state of South Dakota and tri-state area educating clients and their employees about group insurance. Her everyday goal is to educate, protect, and provide peace of mind for clients when it comes to group benefits.
Sonja is passionate about helping others outside of work as well. She is a current board member for Volunteers of America (VOA) who strides to help people live healthy and fulfilling lives.
Sonja is a proud mother of five boys. Her husband and her share the responsibility between their sons, two dogs, four cats, and 12 chickens! She loves the great outdoors, traveling, and trying exotic dishes.
Jamelle is the office manager and a co-owner of Risty Benefits. Jamelle joined the company in 2007 to help Roger Risty, her father grow the business. Jamelle’s multiple skillsets are invaluable at Risty Benefits! As an SDSU graduate she comes with many talents! Her engineering major brought us technical writing, marketing, design, custom animation creation, and programming just to name a few!
Working behind the scenes, it’s Jamelle’s care of the details that keep our office running smoothly. She managers all aspects of software, technology updates, compliance, certifications, and streamlining of processes and procedures. She oversees the day-to-day running of the office.
Also, as a licensed insurance agent, Jamelle specializes in helping clients looking for individual health insurance policies and Medicare supplements. She builds custom benefit summaries for our healthcare clients to distribute to their employees. These booklets include mandatory notices from the DOL, keeping our clients compliant with federal regulations.
Jamelle finds the greatest joy in assisting her coworkers/employees as needed and serving our clients by helping them understand their options and teaching them how their insurance policies work.
Some highlights of her previous careers include going to Atlanta in 1995 to run the scoreboard for the Paralympic Swim Trials in preparation for the 1996 Paralympics. While with a previous employer, Jamelle did a complete redesign of the standard swimming touchpads which went on to be a popular product. Seeking to do more, Jamelle transitioned into the transportation and government sales markets. Working with software engineers she helped to develop standard legislative voting software for small governments. Unfortunately, this software was not fully realized as that employer ultimately sold that part of the company!
When not at work, Jamelle enjoys spending time with her family (two adult daughters) and walking her dachshund.
One of the items on her bucket list is to visit every state in the continental US (only 11 more to go!) Jamelle enjoys baking (and bringing the leftovers to the office, yummy!), crochet, Sioux Falls Stampede hockey games, crafting, camping and Dutch oven cooking. She stays active in her church volunteering on the media/production team.
Mike Emery, CLTC
Mike joined Risty Benefits in 2019 as a benefits consultant. His stops along the way to us included New York Life, Sutherland Financial, Bandazian & Holden, and Keller Williams where he has gleaned over 20 years of experience in group, business, and individual customer service.
Mike is also our Certified Long Term Care Specialist (CLTC) and manages employees across the state. He also assists counties, businesses, and individuals with Health, Vision, Dental, Disability, Worksite, LTC, and life insurance. He is of gracious and humorous character bringing a smile to everyone in the office along with our clients with his willingness to help and go the extra mile.
Mike grew up in the Washington, DC area (Annapolis, MD) where he served in the United States Navy as an Electrician’s Mate. Mike resides with his wife (Karin) in Brookings, SD where Karin is Assistant Dean of Nursing at SDSU. Their son Cooper currently attends the School of Mines and daughter Sydney is making waves at SDSU.
Along with his passion for maximizing his clients’ benefits at the lowest cost possible; Mike enjoys sports, traveling, family, and friends.
Donna joined Risty Benefits in June of 2014. A native of Nebraska (Go Huskers!), she is a farm girl at heart who developed a hard work ethic being raised in a family of 9 siblings. Donna mastered customer service through her previous careers in restaurant management, manufacturing production specialist and working as a loan office support personnel. She joined the insurance industry this time to provide customer support to the Risty Benefits team. Today, Donna says “the most fulfilling aspect of my job is the client support we provide, whether it is answering the phone, reviewing employee applications, renewing company policies or, just sending an email to our client. I absolutely love being a part of a team that goes above and beyond for their clients!”
What our clients have to say about Donna:
“Thank you sooooooooooo much Donna. Roger and Myrna are very fortunate to have you on our team!!!”
After a thirteen-year career with a corporate insurance company assisting people with their benefits and specialty medications, Erica began her position as a Customer and Sales Support Benefit Specialist with Risty Benefits in 2020. She is helping to make an impact by educating Medicare beneficiaries about supplements, providing licensed brokerage assistance to the Risty Benefits team, and executive assistance to the company principals. She truly invests herself in her client’s success. Her organizational and communication skills help provide superior service to our clients.
Erica is most passionate about helping each client find a solution that best fits their needs. She has been told that not only has she helped save them money, but also that she has improved their lives.
In her free time, Erica is an avid reader and fitness fanatic, and enjoys trying new restaurants and hanging out with her friends and family.
Dan joined the Risty team in early 2023. He grew up on a farm outside of Lake Preston, SD and after college at Dakota State, Dan made Sioux Falls his home. He has been building relationships across South Dakota for the last 39 years. Experienced in sales and customer service, Dan is very astute to the needs of clients. His ingenuity and forward-thinking help employer groups keep their employees happy and stay ahead of the ever-changing insurance landscape.
Dan likes to stay very active in the Sioux Falls Community. He is a past member of the Sioux Falls Mayor’s Downtown Public Parking Advisory Board, a former (volunteer) Diplomat and Ambassador with the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, and a member of Sales and Marketing Executives (SME) just to name a few.
A friend of school and church, Dan is currently a member of the Bishop O’Gorman Catholic School Board, is on the Finance Council of St. Lambert’s Catholic Church, and provides guidance as a State Officer with the South Dakota Knights of Columbus.
When he has free time, Dan enjoys watching all sports especially the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, (Go Irish!) and spending time with his wife of over 30 years, Jeannie, his three adult daughters, Maggie, Maria and Molly Jo, and his two precious grandchildren, Blake and Charlie. He is known to never turn down an opportunity to have a cigar with friends!
Sonja has amazing customer service and sets the bar high!
I have worked with Sonja several years with our employee benefits for Thornton Flooring. She has always made herself available to help not only the company navigate the health insurance needs, but also to our individual employees. She has done a great job giving an annual presentation to our employees with updates on our benefit package. She takes the extra time to make sure all questions are answered.
When there are questions from employees on the coverage or questions about a billing situation she follows thru until the issue is resolved.
Sonja is a joy to work with and we are happy that we made the switch. I highly recommend you have Sonja review your benefit needs! She will not disappoint on service!
* We do not offer every plan available in your area. Any information we provide is limited to the plans we do offer in your area. Please contact Medicare.gov or call 1-800-Medicare to get information on all of your options.