top of page

Board of Directors

South Dakota Blockchain Institute is comprised of thought leaders and experts in industries that are, or will be, directly impacted by by blockchain and the development of Web3 technologies. They are passionate about protecting our already established industries and laying the groundwork for accepting and advancing this technology in our state.

portrait photo of Barry Sackett

Barry Sackett

Chair

 

Barry Shaw Sackett is a Managing Partner at Goosmann Law Firm. He is a trusted advisor, helping business leaders find solutions and engage in business opportunities by fostering trust and promoting action. Barry’s business and legal experience stems from years as a business owner, chief financial officer, in-house counsel, assistant county attorney, and legal consultant. His current business involvement and past experience provides him perspective into the clients and leaders he interacts with in his work.

 

Barry’s formal and informal education lends him the language and structured thinking to handle pressure and complexity. His practice areas include blockchain, development, mergers and acquisitions, real estate, tax, estate planning, probate, and mediations and is licensed to practice in Iowa, Minnesota, California and South Dakota. 

Barry is curious and fluid in everything he does. He loves seeing visions become a reality, and this is the reason he became an attorney. 
 

He is a founding member of the South Dakota Blockchain Institute and a member of the States Blockchain Association and the Crypto Valley Association. Barry is active locally, nationally and globally in policy and regulatory issues in the blockchain industry.

portrait photo of Chris Hmielewski

Chris Hmielewski

Executive Director

 

Chris Hmielewski provides administrative leadership across all Benaiah Holdings, Inc. companies. Chris possesses over 25 years of experience in administration, leadership and staff development, fiscal management, operations, and client relations. During his 16 years as Director of Athletics at Southwest Minnesota State University, Chris fostered a culture of hard work, success, and teamwork while achieving financial and organizational growth. As Chief of Staff, he oversees the executive leadership, business development, operations, and client success across the business entities. Chris holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Secondary Education and a Master’s in Higher Education Leadership and Administration.

portrait photo of Dr. Ashley Podhradsky

Dr. Ashley Podhradsky

Vice-Chair

 

Dr. Ashley Podhradsky is the Vice President for Research & Economic Development at Dakota State University. She is also a member of the First Bank & Trust Board of Directors. Dr. Podhradsky is a sought-after speaker and keynote for cybersecurity events around the country. Her research teams have received over 15 million in competitive grants from the National Security Agency, National Science Foundation, Small Business Administration, and others.

 

In addition to her academic and professional work, she has a strong passion for increasing gender diversity in cybersecurity. She is the co-founder of CybHER, a cyber outreach program which has reached thousands of people from K-12 to college age and beyond. As a fundraiser, Ashley has received nearly 2 million in gifts for CybHER.  Dr. Podhradsky was the recipient of the EmBe 2017 “Young Woman of Achievement,” The 2017 Merrill Hunter Award for Excellence in Research, was a 2017 and 2018 New America Cybersecurity Fellow. She was also named an American Association for the Advancement of Science IF/THEN Ambassador in 2019. Through this program, she is one of 120 women in STEM featured around the country with a life-size statue, which was featured at the Smithsonian.

portrait photo of Ben Wiener

Ben Wiener

Treasurer

 

Ben Wiener is the CEO of Benaiah Co. and Chairman of the Board for Benaiah Holdings, Inc., a family of service companies. Ben has over ten years of demonstrated success leading multiple businesses with a focus on efficiency, growth, and revenue generation. Ben’s studies in economics and finance along with his entrepreneurial skillset and value-focused mindset position him well to lead Benaiah Management, Benaiah Capital, and Benaiah Custody Solutions.

portrait photo of Kyle Pickner

Kyle Pickner

Board Member

 

Kyle Pickner recently joined Crypto.com as its Public Trust Compliance Officer. Kyle began working in the trust and banking industries in 2013 and gained a wealth of experience working with various organizations in roles such as Chief Trust Officer, Compliance Officer, and Director of Trust Operations. In 2018, Kyle began consulting and advising trust companies on compliance, operations, and administrative matters.

Kyle recently led the financial operations for one of the world’s largest digital asset custodians, taking them from a start-up to a multi-billion-dollar institution. Thriving on a challenge, Kyle was tasked with the idea of combining Silicon Valley tech and Wall Street finance. He was instrumental in their success, helping build their financial operations and compliance program from the ground up. Kyle’s role touched nearly every aspect of business from security to product management engineering to legal and compliance.

Kyle also spearheaded the creation of the trust and wealth management department at a South Dakota chartered bank to bridge the gap between traditional finance and digital assets. He understands that financial services are changing right before our eyes.

With his extensive expertise in blockchain technology and digital assets, Kyle aims to instill a mainstream public confidence in cryptocurrency and to ultimately help usher in a new era of innovation and efficiency.

portrait photo of Jody Mettler

Jody Mettler

Board Member

 

Jody Mettler is the President of BitGo Trust and is responsible for managing BitGo's US based Trust companies to meet high standards of customer care and to ensure the safe and secure custody of their assets.

 

Jody joined BitGo as Chief Operating Officer of BitGo Trust in 2021 and assumed the position of President in 2022. Prior to joining BitGo Trust, Jody spent two decades in traditional finance with Citicorp in various capacities ranging from corporate accounting to operations management. Prior to departing Citi, Jody was the Director of Global Digital Transformation servicing large corporations to develop payment facilitation methods. Jody also served as a member of the Board of Directors for Citicorp South Dakota Trust Company.

 

Jody attended the University of South Dakota for a Bachelors in Accounting.

IMG_0692.jpeg

Brittany Kjerstad McKnight, J.D.

Board Member

Brittany McKnight is an assistant professor of business law at the Ness School of Management and Economics at South Dakota State University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from South Dakota State University and a Juris Doctor from the Knudson School of Law.

With a robust educational foundation, McKnight embarked on a dynamic legal career that spanned various domains. Her professional journey saw her practicing law in a diverse range of areas, including criminal prosecution and defense, real property law, and corporate law. 

Today, McKnight's influence extends beyond the courtroom as she assumes the role of Assistant Professor of Business Law at the Ness School of Management and Economics. In this capacity, she imparts her knowledge to students, teaching classes that cover business law and real estate. McKnight's teaching philosophy is grounded in her rich practical experience, providing students with a unique perspective that bridges theory and real-world application. Her research interests include real property law and the intersection of law and technology. 

bottom of page