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Heartland Psychological Services

Heartland Psychological Services is a SD non-profit corporation founded in 1991 by Joe Blackinton, PhD. Our agency is dedicated to serving individuals from southeast South Dakota and northeast Nebraska.  Therapists are available to work with individuals, couples and groups. We work with children, adolescents and adults of all ages.

Meet Our Therapists

Each of our therapists is professionally trained and accredited according to both state and national levels. Please take a moment to meet our compassionate, caring team. 

Danelle Pennock, PsyD

Dr. Danelle Pennock

Danelle is the Director of Heartland Psychological Services. She has been employed at HPS since 2009. Danelle received her Master's Degree and Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology from Argosy University/Illinois School of Professional Psychology in 2007 in Schaumburg, Illinois.  Prior to being at HPS, Danelle worked for Liberty Healthcare Corporation as a Clinical Therapist.  Danelle enjoys facilitating individual and family therapy interventions with children and adults.

Mary Sternhagen, LPC-MH

Mary better (2).JPG

Mary received her Master of Arts in Counseling from the University of South Dakota in 2000. Prior to joining Heartland in March 2001, she directed the Women's Shelter and the Visitation Center in Yankton for six years. Mary enjoys working with veterans and their families. Mary's professional interests include eating disorders, victims of trauma, adjustment to physical illness including chronic and persistent pain issues, in addition to general practice using a very supportive approach with children through adult age individuals.

Tonja Koenigs, LCSW-PIP

Tonja Koenigs

Tonja received her Masters of Social Work degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1995. She has worked as a therapist at Lutheran Social Services in Sioux City, Iowa, and she has served as the Children Services Coordinator and later as the Executive Director of the West Iowa Community Mental Health Center in Denison, Iowa. Prior to joining Heartland in 2007, Tonja directed the Yankton Women's/Children's Center. Her strong background and experience were acquired by providing therapeutic services to adults, adolescents and children. 

Mikaela Campbell, LPC-MH

Mikaela Campbell

Mikaela received her Master's Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from the University of South Dakota in 2012. Prior to joining Heartland in 2016, Mikaela served as a therapist at Children's Inn, an agency serving survivors of interpersonal violence, by providing individual therapy, group therapy, and education surrounding domestic violence, trauma, child abuse, and sexual assault. Mikaela is currently an Associate Member of the American Board of Christian Sex Therapists. She is in the process of completing education requirements in the field of sex therapy and is pursuing a sex therapy certification. Mikaela is open to working with individuals and couples regarding sexual concerns, while seeking consultation and supervision from a certified sex therapist and supervisor. Mikaela enjoys a general practice at Heartland and provides a safe and supportive, nonjudgmental approach to children, adolescents, adults, couples and families. 

Sherry Gaskins, MA, LCSW-PIP

Sherry received her Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology from Minnesota State University, Mankato in 2013 and her Master's Degree in Social Work from the University of Iowa, Sioux City, in 2017. She completed her Clinical Psychology research internship at the Minneapolis Veteran's Affairs Hospital exploring difficulties National Guard soldiers and their families experienced during and after deployment along with exploring resiliency factors. She completed her Clinical Social Work internship at Lewis & Clark Behavioral Health Services in Yankton working with adult populations. Sherry has worked in various positions at South Dakota Human Services Center, Minnesota State University and the University of Minnesota. Before joining Heartland in 2018, Sherry was employed as a Youth and Family Services Therapist at Lewis and Clark Behavioral Health Services. She enjoys a general practice utilizing supportive approaches for individuals of all ages.  

Stephanie Kramer, LCSW-PIP

Stephanie Kramer

Stephanie received her Masters of Social Work Degree from the University of South Dakota in 2015. Over the years, she worked with Behavior Management Systems in Rapid City, Human Services Center in Yankton, and Here4Youth in Sioux Falls. Prior to coming to Heartland, Stephanie spent five years with Southeastern Directions for Life working with all ages to offer assistance with mental illnesses, addictions, outpatient therapy, and developmental challenges. Stephanie enjoys utilizing general practice to offer person-centered treatment when working with teens, adults and couples. 

Heather Salis, MSW

Heather Salis

Heather received her Master's in Social Work from the University of St. Thomas/St. Katherine's University of St. Paul, MN in 2012. She worked for Children's Home Society of Sioux Falls for 12 years serving children and families in various positions. She additionally has experience working with grief support groups, children of incarcerated parents, and survivors of rape and domestic abuse. She is currently employed full-time at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital working with patients in dialysis and at the Cancer Institute. She joined Heartland part-time in September 2019.

Courtney Ballard, LPC-MH

Courtney Ballard

Courtney received her Master's Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from South Dakota State University in 2018. Prior to joining Heartland in 2020, Courtney served as a clinical therapist at Summit Oaks Center in Sioux Falls, a psychiatric residential treatment facility for adolescents living with emotional and behavioral health challenges. Courtney enjoys the opportunity to walk alongside adolescents, adults, couples and families as they navigate life's challenges and celebrations. She works from a person-centered approach, promoting safety, non-judgment, and authentic connection in this brave and vulnerable work.

Diana Kautz Smallwood, MSW, LCSW

Diana Kautz Smallwood

Diana received her Masters of Social Work Degree from the University of South Dakota in 2021. Diana has extensive experience in leading grief support groups. She has also completed internships with Avera Sacred Heart Hospital and Heartland Psychological Services in Yankton where she gained experience working with individuals and families facing acute medical crises and supporting clients in individual and group therapy sessions. Diana enjoys a general practice, using an eclectic, person-centered approach to therapy, and she is honored to have the privilege of coming together with others to provide an empathetic and compassionate space for clients who are striving to improve quality of life.

Michaela Eskens, MA, LPC, NCC


Michaela earned her Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the University of South Dakota in 2022. Michaela interned at Heartland Psychological Services from 2021-2022 and has experience with children, adolescents, adults and families in both individual and group settings. She is honored to journey alongside individuals as they navigate life's triumphs and challenges. Michaela enjoys a general practice and promotes a safe, accepting and nonjudgmental environment for clients as they explore changes that can lead to a positive impact to their overall wellbeing. 

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