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Executive and Legal Advocacy Staff

Cole Uecker

Executive Director

“To obtain a bird’s eye is to turn a blizzard to a breeze.”
– Incubus

Cole graduated from Pierre‘s T.F. Riggs High School in 2000. After a four year enlistment in the Marine Corps, he returned to school and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Black Hills University. A year later, Cole went back to school to pursue a graduate degree in Law. In 2014, he earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of South Dakota.

Cole is a year 24 graduate of the Partners in Policymaking program. He sits on the South Dakota Board of Vocational Rehabilitation as well as the Board for the Service to the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Cole joined the team at DRSD in 2015 as the Director of the Client Assistance Program (CAP) and Disability Rights Advocate.

Cole says that he enjoys working at DRSD because it gives him the opportunity to help people work, play, and live fully integrated in the community whereas historically they may not have been able to do so. He truly appreciates the opportunity to work for an agency that protects the rights of people who may not have any other resource.

Cole is married and has two adult children. Cole is an animal lover and he and his family have two dogs, and four cats.

Cole spends much of his free time fishing Lake Oahe, Lake Sharp, as well as in whatever local fishing hole that he can get a bite. What time there is left in the day is filled with projects around the house and in the community.

Cole loves adventure and the outdoors. He enjoys free climbing rock walls when he gets the opportunity and is a certified SCUBA diver.

John Hamilton

Legal Director

John has a B.S. in Business Administration, USD, I.D., USD School of Law MBA, USD School of Business. Prior to working at DRSD, John was a Law Clerk in the Northern Hills for one year.

John has been part of many committees and has received many awards. Some of the committees and awards that John has been part of are Minnehaha County JDAI policy Committee in 2013, Minnehaha County Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI Facility Inspection Team, Co-Team Lead 2012), SD Voices for Children’s Champion for Children Award, 2009 South Dakota Parent Connection Board of Director, 2000-2006 (President 2001-03), Liberty Center/Here4YOUth Board of Directors, 1999-2008, 2009-2014 (President 2003-07), and South Dakota Advisory Panel for Children with Disabilities, 1988-1994 (Chairman 1992-03). John has also been involved in many significant court cases over the years.

John began working for DRSD in 1986. He is the Operations Director and works in the Sioux Falls field office. He says he enjoys the variety of work and constant challenges as the agency and the world we work in evolves. He also enjoys his co-workers.

John is married and has 1 daughter. He also has two Cairn Terriers. He enjoys playing softball, gardening, photography and golf which he seldom has time for. He enjoys singing with the Singing Legionnaires (Post 15) and spending time with his family. He has coached softball, soccer and basketball.

Jennifer Doubledee

Systems & Litigation / Staff Attorney

Jennifer has a B.A. from Augustana University and a J.D. from the USD Knudson School of Law, where she graduated with High Honors. She joined DRSD in 2022 as a Staff Attorney and Youth Team Lead. Some of her accomplishments include serving as Symposium Editor for the South Dakota Law Review and clerking for the South Dakota Supreme Court.  

Jennifer enjoys working at DRSD because she likes knowing that she can make a positive difference in the lives of others through education and advocacy.   

Jennifer is married with two college-aged children. In her free time, she enjoys doing anything outdoors such as gardening, hiking, camping, spending time at the lake, and downhill skiing. 

Elana Hicks

Adult Team Lead / Staff Attorney

“You deserve to be happy.”
– All on the Board

Elana received a B.A. in Criminal Justice from the University of South Dakota, with minors in Art History and Sociology. Elana attended the University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law, where she was an editor for South Dakota Law Review, a graduate assistant, and a member of NALSA and OUTLaws.  

After graduating with her J.D. in May of 2022, Elana was admitted to the South Dakota Bar in October of 2022. Elana worked as a Family Law attorney before deciding to pursue a different field and started with DRSD in June of 2023 as a Staff Attorney.    

In her spare time, Elana enjoys spending time with friends and family, reading, and watching British television. 

Peter Sommervold

Youth Team Lead / Staff Attorney

“And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.”
“"I've searched all the parks in all the cities and found no statues of committees." ”
– Gilbert K. Chesterton

Peter has a B.A. in Economics from Augustana College and a J.D. from the University of South Dakota School of Law. He joined DRSD in 2023 as a Staff Attorney and Youth Team Lead.
Peter is married with 4 children and 3 grandchildren. When not working or babysitting, Peter enjoys fishing, and powered paragliding. 

Dianna Marshall

Advocacy Services Representative / PAIMI Lead

Dianna Marshall is a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, born and raised on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. She is the Program Director for the Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Program. Dianna joined Disability Rights South Dakota in May 1987 working in the Pierre office for five years and then transferring to the Rapid City office. She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor‘s degree in criminal justice and a law degree. Dianna is married, has two children, and two grandchildren.

C.J. Moit

Advocacy Services Representative / PAVA Lead

“It is not our differences that divide us, it is our inability to recognize, accept and celebrate those differences.”
– Audre Lorde

C.J.  Moit began working as an Advocacy Services Representative at Disability Rights South Dakota (DRSD) on January 1, 2015. Ms. Moit works in the Pierre office as a client advocate and is the lead for the Protection and Advocacy for Voting Access (PAVA) program. Ms. Moit is a member of the State Independent Living Council and a Liaison for Bridging South Dakota. Prior to working at DRSD, Ms. Moit worked as an Early Intervention Service Coordinator for South Dakota’s Birth-to-Three Program for 13 years.  She is also a Year 12 graduate of the leadership empowerment course Partners in Policymaking. 

PAVA is a federally funded program created as part of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). PAVA works to ensure the full participation of people with disabilities in the voting process. Ms. Moit monitors polling sites for accessibility as well as provides individuals with disabilities voter rights education, training on the voting process, and provides voter registration opportunities. In her duties as the PAVA Lead, Ms. Moit collaborates with various agencies to stop the disenfranchisement of individuals with disabilities in the electoral process.  

Ms. Moit obtained a Medical Assistant degree, from the American Institute for Medical and Dental Technology in 1988. When not working, Ms. Moit enjoys camping, Trout fishing, gardening, attending concerts, playing with her grandchildren and dog.


Brian Poelstra

Advocacy Services Representative / PATBI Lead

Brian has a master’s degree in physical therapy and is a licensed Physical Therapist. Brian has worked as a certified Athletic Trainer, he has been an EMT, and he taught Physiology labs at the collegiate level.

Brian became a part of the DRSD team in 2017 as an Intake Specialist/Advocacy Services Representative. He says that he enjoys helping people and working to provide resolution to a problem that a person is dealing with.

Brian has 2 cats, Shadow and Dakota. He enjoys hunting, fishing, camping, riding his motorcycle and being with his family. He says he is an adrenaline junkie and that he has gone bungee jumping, rock climbing and hopes to someday cross skydiving from his list.


Heather Pelle

Intake Supervisor / DAD Administrator 

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald

Heather is a graduate of Spooner High School in Spooner, WI and is currently taking college classes. She joined Disability Rights South Dakota in 2019 as an Intake Specialist. 

Before coming to DRSD, Heather previously worked as a dispatcher for the local police department. She says that being able to do something, even just taking an initial call and getting someone the information they need, or connecting them to someone who can help, has always been a rewarding thing. 

Heather is married and has three children. She also has a dog, and her daughter is getting a bearded dragon this summer. Outside of watching her kids in their various activities, Heather enjoys woodworking, crocheting, sewing, baking, and traveling. However, with three kids, she doesn't really have time to do many of these activities! An interesting fact about Heather is that she is looking forward to someday owning a hobby farm and raising cows on a small acreage.

Amanda Martin

Advocacy Services Representative / PADD Lead / Investigator 

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only someone remembers to turn on the light.”
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Amanda was born in Omaha but moved to Pierre when she was in middle school. Following her graduation, Amanda jumped right into the work force and has since earned several different certifications throughout her professional career. Some of these certifications include Certified Emergency Medical Dispatcher and Licensed Real Estate Agent. While she was a 911/Law Enforcement Dispatcher, Amanda received several awards for her meritorious service in responding to 911 calls and dispatching officers to calls for service.

Amanda joined the DRSD team in 2021 as an Advocacy Services Representative / Investigator. She says, “It is such a privilege to be a part of a team whose priority is protecting and advocating for those who may not have anyone else to do so for them. Having been in the position of needing help and not knowing who to ask or where to turn myself in the past, I am so excited to be a part of the answer for others now.”

Amanda is married and has one child. Her family also has a sweet Golden Retriever named Doc, a very geriatric Corgi named Penny, and a huge Bearded Dragon named Phillip. In her free time, Amanda likes to hike, read, and draw. Her family also likes to play a lot of board games. In the warm months, she paints faces for children at her local farmers' market, which she says is a great way to spend a Saturday morning. Amanda and her son have also been drawing/writing a comic book about Godzilla for about a year now! 

Something interesting about Amanda is that she has complete and central heterochromia in her left eye. This means that her right eye is blue, but her left eye is green and has a hazel ring around the iris. It is a pretty rare genetic quirk that’s most obvious in direct sunlight. 

Devin Labbee-Darling

Advocacy Services Representative / PAIR Lead 

“I raise up my voice - not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.”
– Malala Yousafzai

Devin has a Bachelors in Sociology with a Minor in Criminal Justice from South Dakota State University. She joined DRSD in 2021 as a Sexual Assault Disability Liaison. Devin says she enjoys working at DRSD because it allows her to help individuals feel like they have a voice and are being heard.

Devin has two children. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, volunteering with JA and the Boy Scouts, and having adventures with her kids. Something interesting about Devin is that she served in the United States Air Force! 

Mollie Keating

Advocacy Services Representative / PAAT Lead 

“Don't be afraid to fail, be afraid not to try.”
– Michael Jordan

Mollie joined the DRSD team in 2021 as an Advocacy Services Representative and PAAT Lead. Before coming to DRSD, Mollie worked at Lifescape, first as a Direct Support Professional and then Lead Supervisor. She has experience instructing behavior classes and was Lead Instructor for a Professional Crisis Management course. Mollie has received training in Person-Centered Thinking, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), and as a Registered Behavior Technician.

Mollie has worked in the disability field since 2008. She enjoys working at DRSD because it allows her to teach youth with disabilities to advocate on their behalf for a quality education. 

In her free time, Mollie enjoys hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, jet skiing, and watching/playing sports. She has two pets—a Siberian Husky named Brie and an orange cat named Tigger. Something interesting about Mollie is that she has been to 42 out of 50 states in the US!  

Andi Schabacker

Advocacy Services Representative 

Andi joined DRSD in September 2023 as an Advocacy Services Representative. Before coming to DRSD, Andi earned a B.A. from California State University, Chico then went on to pursue a career in teaching. Andi possess both a Multiple Subject Teaching credential, and an Education Specialist Credential, along with certifications in Autism, Cross-cultural, Language and Academic Development, and Behavior Intervention Case Management. With nearly 20 years of teaching experience in general education, and special education, Andi has joined DRSD.

Andi enjoys helping others and making a difference in someone’s life. Her goal is to use her experiences and knowledge to help others.  

In her spare time, Andi enjoys spending time with her family, remodeling her home, traveling, and reading about real estate. She likes watching football and is a loyal San Francisco 49ers fan. She also loves sunset walks with her husband, and their 3 dogs.   

Allison White

Advocacy Services Representative 

“The beauty of children is in their adaptation, we must nurture their spirit and never put limits on their potential; the plan we have for them may never be the very thing that limits them. Never forget they are whole as they are, we are the ones that have to learn to listen differently.”
– Unknown Author

Allison joined Disability Rights in the fall of 2023 as an Advocate. She was born in West River in Hot Springs SD and was raised in Yankton. Shortly after graduating high school, she moved to Harrisburg. Wanting to continue her education, she pursued an Associate of Science in Business Administration Management from Colorado Technical University, obtaining that degree in 2013.

Her favorite part of working at DRSD is being able to promote and defend another person's rights, needs and interests.  

Allison is married with 4 children. She also has 2 dogs: Aries (a Pitbull-Lab mix) and Maggie (a Corgi-Chihuahua mix). She enjoys attending her children's activities such as competitive cheer competitions, show choir competitions, band and choir concerts! In her spare time she enjoys watching movies, listening to music, cooking and crafting!  

Mary Kay Budmayr

Partners in Policymaking Coordinator / Advocates for Change Coordinator 

“If we only see the challenges, we don't see the gifts.”
– Author Unknown

Mary Kay joined Disability Rights South Dakota in the Fall of 2021.  Ms. Budmayr works in the Pierre office as the Partners in Policymaking Coordinator, of which she is a Year 9 graduate, as well as the Advocates for Change Coordinator.

Before coming to DRSD, Mary Kay was a former family support coordinator, a business owner and administrative assistant.  She also served on the South Dakota Developmental Disabilities Council.  Mary Kay believes that all people have the right to live, love, work, make choices, and be happy in their life, and feels her role at DRSD helps individuals with these rights.  

Mary Kay has three adult children and two beautiful grandchildren.  She also has an eight year old golden doodle named Daisy.  In her free time, she loves to spend time with family and friends, traveling, baking and enjoys being on/near the water.  



Gail Thomas

Intake Specialist 

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
– Helen Keller

Gail has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Secondary Education, with an emphasis in History and Social Studies from Huron University. She joined DRSD in 2022 as an Intake Specialist. Before coming to DRSD, Gail taught at The Right Turn Alternative School, was a parent educator at Cornerstones Career Learning Center, and worked for the South Dakota Department of Social Services for over fifteen years as an Economic Assistance Regional Manager and then Deputy Director for Medical Services.

Gail enjoys working at DRSD because she likes interacting with others and is excited to listen and talk to people in need of guidance. She says that “every interaction is a chance to teach and learn.”  

Gail is married and has one child. She also has two dogs—one is a 13-year-old pug/Chihuahua mix, and the other is a one-year-old pure breed pug. In her free time, she enjoys walking her dogs, gardening, watching movies, and family meals. Something interesting about Gail is that she is known for her uninhibited laugh—it makes it easy to know when she is in the office!  

Dave Lavinger

Intake Specialist

“A thousand-mile journey begins with a single step.”

Dave is originally from Sioux City Iowa and now works as a member of the DRSD team as an Intake Specialist. Though he lives in Pierre these days, Dave is well traveled and has had a path full of adventure and distinction. As a sailor in the US Navy in the early 1990’s Dave served by providing humanitarian assistance in Somalia and then later supported coalition forces in Operation Gothic Serpent (the Battle of Mogadishu of which Black Hawk Down is based). Dave was awarded the Joint Meritorious & Armed Forces Expeditionary awards for his exemplary service. .

Dave values the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. He feels that DRSD provides him with this opportunity on a daily basis.

These days, Dave keeps very busy. When he’s not watching his Chicago Bears play on the gridiron, you might find him shooting pool at one of the local pool halls. However, his favorite things to do is to spend time with his wife of 17 years, watch his daughter compete on one of her four hockey teams, and hang out with his two dogs and his cat.


Administrative Staff

Ona Arnold

Director of Operations & Finance

Ona attended Chadron State College in Nebraska where she received her Master’s in Business Administration and a bachelor’s degree in business administration/Office Management. She was inducted into the Delta Mu Delta business honor society in 2009.

Ona began working for DRSD in 2016 as the Financial Assistant, and then became Fiscal Director. Then, in 2023 Ona took on the role as Director of Operations and Finance where she oversees the administrative, HR, and fiscal aspects of DRSD.  She says that DRSD is a great place to work. She feels she gained a new family when she joined the team.

Ona is married and has four young children. The other member of their family is a Black Lab/Chesapeake Bay cross whose name is Rylee.

Ona enjoys playing cards/games and watching movies with her family. Ona believes that everything happens for a reason.

Annette July

Fiscal Assistant

Annette graduated from North Dakota State College of Science. Her prior experience has been in the area of providing supports and services to people with disabilities while working with Easter Seals, ARC/SD, OAHE, Inc. and Kelly Retirement Homes.

Annette was hired by DRSD in 2017 as the Director of Finance and Management. She says that she loves the people she works with and that we are all here for one purpose, to make life better for all people with disabilities.

Annette has four adult children and a golden retriever/cavalier spaniel mix rescue dog named Reggie. He was 1 1/2 years old and had already been in five different homes. She says her first year with him was a challenge, but he has now been with her for six years. She calls him her “little red head”.

When the weather permits, Annette and Reggie love to go on long walks. She also likes to work in her yard and ride her exercise bike. She enjoys reading when Reggie isn’t trying to get all her attention and she loves spending time with her family.