Meet the leaders championing Sanford Health’s nursing team. Our leadership is here to provide unparalleled strategy, unique insights and valuable guidance to support nurses in all roles.
Erica DeBoer, RN, MA, CCRN-K, CNL, Chief Nursing Officer
Erica DeBoer, RN, MA, CCRN-K, CNL, serves as Sanford Health’s chief nursing officer. A member of the organization’s executive leadership team, DeBoer provides clinical expertise for Sanford Health’s work in quality, safety, research and care management. She also oversees the integration of clinical initiatives.
DeBoer has more than 20 years of experience as a front-line registered nurse, including roles in critical care, clinical leadership and education. She most recently served as Sanford Health’s senior executive director of nursing and clinical services and clinical informatics. DeBoer has also served as adjunct faculty for nursing programs at South Dakota State University and the University of Sioux Falls.
Active in several professional associations, DeBoer holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from South Dakota State University and a master’s degree in nursing from Augustana University.
DeBoer resides in Lennox, South Dakota, with her husband, Shane, and their two children.
Wendy Kopp, PhD, MSN, RN, Vice President, Nursing & Clinical Services, Sanford Bismarck Medical Center and Clinics
Wendy Kopp, PhD, RN, serves as vice president of nursing and clinical services for the Sanford Bismarck region. She is responsible for nursing practice and clinical services for ambulatory and inpatient care units within a shared governance model. She promotes an environment that empowers nurse to provide safe, reliable, patient-centered nursing care. She also provides leadership and vision for the philosophy, development and advancement of nursing to measure, assess and improve the quality of nursing care delivered to patients.
Kopp began her nursing career as a float pool/telemetry unit RN in 1989. Kopp’s nursing experience in both the clinical and academic environment helps her ensure the necessary training and education of staff, patients and families in accordance with all regulatory agencies to deliver a consistent level of nursing.
She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of North Dakota, her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Mary and her Doctor of Philosophy in Occupational and Adult Education from North Dakota State University.
Kopp enjoys biking, kayaking, running and spending time outdoors. She and her husband, Bill, have five children and three grandchildren.
Renee Axtman, BSN, RN, MBA, Vice President Nursing & Clinical Services, Bemidji
Renee is the Vice President of Nursing and Clinical Services for Sanford Health in Bemidji.
Renee earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, ND, and her master’s in business administration management from the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND.
With more than 30 years of experience in health care at the bedside and leading both hospital and ambulatory departments, Renee began her career in Bemidji as a nursing assistant when she was in high school. She joined Sanford Health in 2018 as the director of Sanford Bemidji Medical Center’s emergency department.
In 2019, she expanded her role to oversee all of Sanford Bemidji’s regional emergency/trauma services; telemetry, observation and medical surgery units; Direct Connect; and behavioral health services. During her tenure as executive director, Renee lead the expansion of multiple services and facilities, including the Sanford Bemidji Crisis Center, as well as provided integral leadership throughout Sanford Bemidji Medical Center’s COVID-19 response. In 2022, she took on her current role as Vice President of Nursing and Clinical Services for Sanford Health’s Bemidji region.
Calling Bemidji home, Renee and her husband appreciate spending as much time as they can with their three sons and spoiling their three grandchildren. In addition to her passion nursing and her family, she also enjoys traveling and photography whenever she gets the chance.
Theresa Larson, MSN, BSN, RN, Vice President, Nursing & Clinical Services, Sanford Fargo Medical Center and Clinics
As vice president of nursing and clinical services at Sanford Fargo, Theresa Larson is responsible for the development, execution and continuous improvement of nursing and clinical services in the Fargo market for Sanford Health.
Larson began her career as a licensed practical nurse. After 10 years, she became a registered nurse, working in critical care areas and at Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center. Larson served as director of the infusion center, gastroenterology clinics and pulmonary clinics before moving her focus to the nurse navigation and survivorship programs at Edith Sanford Breast Center. She went on to serve as the director of endoscopy, gastroenterology, reproductive medicine and intensive care before becoming the executive director of Sanford Fargo’s pediatric, nephrology and gastroenterology services.
Larson has an associate’s degree in practical nursing from the North Dakota State College of Science and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from North Dakota State University. Larson has a master’s degree in nursing administration from the University of Mary. She and her husband, Jim, have two children.
Kelly Hefti, MSN, RN, CNP, COHN-S, Vice President, Nursing & Clinical Services, Sanford USD Medical Center and Clinics, Sioux Falls
Kelly Hefti, MSN, RN, CNP, COHN-S, is vice president of nursing and clinical services for Sanford USD Medical Center and Clinics. She is responsible for nursing practice and clinical services for ambulatory and inpatient care units within a shared governance model. She provides leadership and vision for the philosophy, development and advancement of nursing to measure, assess and improve the quality of nursing care delivered to patients.
Hefti also is a member of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners and serves on the Sioux Empire United Way Board of Directors.
She began working at Sanford Health as a summer extern in 1991. She has since served as a registered nurse and clinical care leader in the cardiovascular surgical department and as senior director and certified nurse practitioner in employee health and occupational medicine. Hefti was also the executive director of heart and vascular services.
She earned her Bachelor of Arts in nursing from Augustana University and her Master of Science in nursing from South Dakota State University.
Hefti enjoys reading, watching hockey and spending time with family. She and her husband, Brian, have one son and one daughter.
Amy Thiesse, PhD, RN, Vice President, Nursing & Clinical Services, Sanford Health Network, South Region
Amy Thiesse, PhD, RN, is vice president of nursing and clinical services, Health Network South for Sanford Health. She is responsible for the development of projects, strategies and business ventures for nursing and clinical services. She works closely with enterprise and market leadership, as well as network facility and medical staff leaders, to ensure the integrated delivery of clinical services across the continuum of care.
She joined Sanford Health in 2000 as director of nursing at Sanford Vermillion Care Center. She has previously served as a nursing and clinical services consultant for Health Network South – Sioux Falls.
Thiesse is serving her fourth term as Aging Services board member for the South Dakota Organization of Nurse Leaders and is an active member of the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations council on post-acute care. She has been a licensed nursing home administrator since 2009.
She earned her nursing degree from St. Luke’s School of Nursing, a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Mount Marty College, a master’s degree in nursing leadership and management from Walden University and a PhD in nursing health care administration from Walden University.
Thiesse enjoys spending time at the lake, traveling and creating memories with family and friends. She lives in Vermillion, South Dakota, with her husband, Dave. She has two daughters and five grandchildren.
Hear From Our Leaders
Erica DeBoer, RN, MA, CCRN-K, CNL
Take a deep dive into the scope of nursing at Sanford Health with Erica DeBoer, chief nursing officer. Person-centered holistic care is at the core of what we do and how we deliver nursing excellence.
Wendy Kopp, PhD, MSN, RN
Wendy Kopp, vice president of nursing and clinical services at Sanford Bismarck, discusses how our commitment to nursing excellence leads to better patient care. Learn about our nursing culture.
Theresa Larson, MSN, BSN, RN
Sanford Fargo offers the highest level of care to a variety of patients – from the youngest patients in our NICU to the most serious cases in our trauma bay. Learn how nurses push care forward from Theresa Larson, vice president of nursing and clinical services in Fargo.
Amy Thiesse, PhD, RN
Rural communities depend on the expertise and compassion of nurses. Amy Thiesse, vice president of nursing and clinical services for the south network, talks about the unique specialty of rural medicine.