Disability Rights Blog
May 17

Uecker Selected to Head Disability Rights South Dakota

PIERRE, SD – The Board of Directors for Disability Rights South Dakota (DRSD) is proud to announce that it has selected Cole Uecker as Executive Director. He will be filling the position currently held by Tim Neyhart.

Neyhart will be retiring after 30+ years of service with the agency. He started with DRSD in 1990 as an Advocacy Services Representative in the Rapid City office. Before moving to Pierre in 2000, he was promoted to Director of the Client Assistance Program (CAP) and has held various program management jobs within the agency. In 2003, he became the Director of the Protection and Advocacy Developmental Disabilities (PADD) Program and held that position until his promotion to Executive Director in June of 2014.

Regarding his retirement, Neyhart said, “I look forward to the next part of life’s path. I have been truly fortunate to have met and worked with so many people who are seeking to change the services they need to live the life they want. The dedication and determination to that cause by the people I have worked with and that of their family members is inspiring.”

Cole Uecker comes to the Executive Director position with over 7 years of experience with DRSD. He joined the DRSD team in 2015 as an Advocacy Services Representative before becoming a Staff Attorney in 2019. Most recently, he held the position of Director of the Client Assistance Program (CAP) and Adult Team Lead. As Executive Director, Uecker will oversee the DRSD agency staff and work closely with the Board of Directors. The DRSD corporate office is in Pierre, with field offices in Sioux Falls and Rapid City. “I look forward to the energy and commitment that Cole will bring to the agency in his new role,” Neyhart said. “He is well positioned to lead the agency in the ever-changing need for disability-related advocacy services.”

Uecker graduated from Pierre’s T.F. Riggs High School in 2000. After a four-year enlistment in the U.S. 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. He has served on various boards and councils, including the South Dakota Board of Vocational Rehabilitation as well as the Board for the Service to the Blind and Visually Impaired. Uecker is a year 24 graduate of the SD Partners in Policymaking program.

Regarding the new role, Uecker stated, “I am honored to have the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of giants in serving as DRSD’s next Executive Director. Also, I am excited to contribute, within my new role, to the remarkable work the DRSD staff does on behalf of people with disabilities in South Dakota.”