From the time Phyllis Whitcomb Packard was young, she dreamed of a career in the arts. She worked hard to make that dream a reality, and eventually became a fiber arts instructor at the University of South Dakota. With her foot in the door, Ms. Packard wasted no time in proving her aptitude in the field. She quickly advanced to positions in the Art Department at Yankton College and Worthington Community College, art consultant with the South Dakota Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, originator and manager of prison industry Tapestry Weaving of Black Sheep Weavers, and executive director of the Vermillion Area Arts Council. She has also participated in more than 75 invitational shows thus far. Today, she works out of her own studio, Packard Fiber Originals.
Outside of art, Ms. Packard was a trailblazer in the waste management field. She worked as a senior planner and solid waste specialist for the Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council, and was one of the only women in her field. Those working in the solid waste field knew their basics while Ms. Packard knew how to work with government regulations. The balance allowed for the initiation of new working systems. As the solid waste director for the City of Vermillion, South Dakota, she was instrumental in the regional landfill and recycling facilities’ redesign. She furthered her place in the industry by joining prominent organization; she was a board officer in the South Dakota Solid Waste Management Association (SDSWMA), the Mid-Continent Recycling Association, and the Iowa Society of Solid Waste Operations (ISOSWO). She also became MOLO certified.
Ms. Packard prepared for her endeavors by earning a diploma in art from Wellesley High School in 1963, a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the College of Visual Arts and Crafts at Syracuse University in 1968, and a Master of Public Administration from the University of South Dakota in 1988.
In recognition of her hard work and dedication, Ms. Packard has received a number of accolades over the years. She was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the SDSWMA in 2017, and was honored with the Career Achievement Award from the same organization in 2010, an Emerging Artist Grant from the South Dakota Arts Council, and numerous arts & solid waste grants from the SD Arts Council, SD DNR, Iowa DNR, Nebraska DENR and EPA. She has been elected as Clay County commissioner for three four-year terms. Her achievements were highlighted in Who’s Who of American Women.
When Ms. Packard isn’t working, she enjoys kayaking, oil painting, and gourmet cooking.