Who We Are

We provide legal-based services to South Dakotans with disabilities and ensure that they are free from abuse, neglect, exploitation and discrimination. Additionally, we educate individuals with disabilities on self-advocacy and self-determination and provide information and training on the rights and inclusiveness of individuals with disabilities.

Mission

Disability Rights South Dakota is the non-profit legal services agency dedicated to protecting and advocating for the rights and inclusion of South Dakotans with disabilities.

Vision

Disability Rights South Dakota embraces change and envisions a South Dakota where people with disabilities: have a life of inclusion and dignity; where they are self-directed and without barriers; where all citizens receive equal treatment and respect for their decisions; where citizens with disabilities and their families can live free from fear of abuse, neglect, discrimination, and exploitation.

Values

Disability Rights South Dakota values collaboration and cooperation in the interest of creating a world where people with disabilities are treated with dignity and respect and are fully integrated into their communities. While we prefer to work collaboratively at the lowest level of intervention, we are equipped to pursue litigation if necessary.

Priorities, Goals and Objectives

Our Priorities, Goals, and Objectives are re-evaluated annually and revised based on the needs of the communities we serve.
To provide input on future efforts, please click the button below to submit a Public Input form.

DRSD FY 2024 Priorities and Objectives

The Goals/Priorities/Objectives for Fiscal Year 2023 were developed after receiving public input and input from DRSD staff based on calls/cases over the past year and were approved by the DRSD Board of Directors at its annual meeting in September 2023.

1.1  Assist individuals with disabilities through case services by responding to allegations of abuse, neglect, or rights violations in facilities and community settings, with emphasis on cases that have the potential for systemic impact.

1.2  Monitor facilities and community settings for abuse, neglect, rights violations, and safety.

1.3  Conduct investigations in facilities and community settings in response to allegations of abuse, neglect, rights violations, and safety of residents.

2.1  Assist individuals with disabilities through case services to be able to live in less restrictive settings and/or have improved access to services, businesses, and programs to enable them to participate more fully in community life, with emphasis given to cases that have the potential for systemic impact.

2.2  Assist individuals through case services to access assistive technology devices and services to help ensure their ability to live more independently, including assisting people to access the TAD and TED programs.

2.3  Assist individuals with housing opportunities and architectural accessibility barriers through case services to experience less disability-related discrimination, rights violations, and exploitation.

2.4  Assist individuals with disabilities through case services to have greater participation in their person-centered ISP planning, receive person-directed services from their conflict free case management, and assist individuals subject to termination of services.

2.5 Through systemic efforts, South Dakota will transition to a rules structure that supports their rights to maintain their current placement until a new appropriate placement can be secured.

3.1  Assist students with disabilities in schools or daycare centers through case services to be protected against improper restraint and seclusion, illegal disciplinary measures or removals, the use of inadequate behavioral planning, and actions taken by the school or daycare which contribute to the ‘school-to-prison pipeline’, with emphasis given to cases that have the potential for systemic impact.

3.2  Assist students with disabilities through case services to be provided appropriate transition planning and services, with emphasis given to cases that have the potential for systemic impact.

3.3  Assist students with disabilities through case services to have greater access to assistive technology devices and services in the school setting, with emphasis given to cases that have the potential for systemic impact.

3.4  Assist students with disabilities through case services to receive appropriate related services as established in the IEP and/or advocate for the addition of professionally recommended appropriate services to established IEPs.

4.1  Assist individuals through case services who have been discriminated against or have not been provided reasonable accommodation which has had an adverse effect on their ability to gain, maintain, or regain employment, with emphasis given to cases that have the potential for systemic impact.

4.2  Assist applicants and clients of projects, programs, and facilities funded under the Rehabilitation Act who feel that they do not have access to the programs, are not receiving the protections of the act, or are not being afforded proper due process through case services.

4.3  Assist individuals through case services by supporting the use of assistive technology devices and services in employment, training, and other related areas to improve independence, personal choice and employment outcomes.

4.4  Assist individuals through case services and I&R in securing, maintaining, and regaining employment through implementation of the goals set out by the Social Security Administration within the PABSS grant.

5.1  Assist individuals with disabilities through case services with terminating or modifying an established guardianship and/or conservatorship, where appropriate.

6.1  DRSD staff will participate in advocacy and education efforts revolving around Help America Vote Act (HAVA) implementation efforts.

6.2  Assist individuals with disabilities in filing complaints under the State based administrative grievance procedure required by HAVA.

6.3  Represent individuals with disabilities in any hearing that may be held regarding the complaint. 42 USC 15461

6.4  DRSD staff will provide education, training, and outreach to election officials, poll workers, and election volunteers regarding the rights of voters with disabilities.

6.5    DRSD staff will provide training to individuals with disabilities, family member/guardian and disability services providers on the rights of people with disabilities to participate in the electoral process, assist with voter registration, and provide information on how to vote.

7.1  Represent individuals with disabilities determined to meet an exception to priorities per DRSD policy [Operations Manual, II. Client Services, §4.9].

7.2  Conduct DRSD systemic activities (Boards and Committees, Educating Policymakers, Education/Training, General Public Information Activities, Not Selected, Other Systemic Activities (Non-litigation), Outreach/PR, Staff Development, Systemic Litigation/Class Action, Unserved/Resources).

7.3  Provide Technical Assistance/Self-Advocacy case services to eligible individuals with disabilities.

7.4  Provide Information and Referral (I&R) services to eligible individuals with disabilities and those who are calling on behalf of or about individuals with disabilities.

Our Team

Cole, a Marine Corps vet with a Juris Doctorate, serves on boards and advocates for disability rights as Director of CAP at DRSD, helping individuals integrate fully.

Cole Uecker

Executive Director

John, with a B.S. and MBA from USD, is Operations Director at DRSD since 1986. He’s involved in committees and court cases, enjoys challenges and co-workers.

John Hamilton

Legal Director

Jennifer, BA from Augustana, JD from USD Law. Joined DRSD in 2022 as Staff Attorney.

Jennifer Doubledee

Systems & Litigation / Staff Attorney

BA Criminal Justice, USD. JD, USD Law. Joined DRSD as Staff Attorney in 2023.

Elana Hicks

Adult Team Lead / Staff Attorney

BA Economics, Augustana. JD, USD Law. Joined DRSD as Staff Attorney in 2023.

Peter Sommervold

Youth Team Lead / Staff Attorney

Rosebud Sioux Tribe member, PAIMI Program Director at DRSD since 1987. BA Criminal Justice, USD.

Dianna Marshall

Advocacy Services Representative / PAIMI Lead

Advocacy Services Rep at DRSD since 2015. Lead for PAVA program. Experienced in disability rights.

C.J. Moit

Advocacy Services Representative / PAVA Lead

Licensed Physical Therapist with diverse background. Joined DRSD in 2017. Passionate about helping others.

Brian Poelstra

Advocacy Services Representative / PATBI Lead

Intake Specialist at DRSD since 2019. Previous experience in dispatching. Passionate about assisting others.

Heather Pelle

Intake Supervisor / DAD Administrator

Joined DRSD in 2021 as Advocacy Rep/Investigator. Experienced dispatcher. Passionate about helping others.

Amanda Martin

Advocacy Services Representative / PADD Lead / Investigator

BA Sociology, SDSU. Joined DRSD in 2021 as Sexual Assault Disability Liaison. Passionate about advocacy.

Devin Labbee-Darling

Advocacy Services Representative / PAIR Lead

Joined DRSD in 2021 as Advocacy Rep/PAAT Lead. Extensive experience in disability field. Passionate about education advocacy.

Mollie Keating

Advocacy Services Representative / PAAT Lead

Joined DRSD in 2023 as Advocate. Promotes and defends rights. Passionate about helping others.

Allison White

Advocacy Services Representative

Joined DRSD in 2022 as Intake Specialist. Former educator and manager. Passionate about guiding others.

Gail Thomas

Intake Specialist

Former US Navy sailor with humanitarian and combat service. Passionate about making a difference.

Dave Lavinger

Intake Specialist

Joined DRSD in 2024 as Advocate. Former US Navy and passionate about helping others.

Stephen DeGuise

Advocacy Services Representative / PAIR Lead

Began working for DRSD in 2016. MBA graduate. Passionate about her work. She believes that everything happens for a reason.

Ona Arnold

Director of Operations & Finance

Began with DRSD in 2017. Extensive experience in disability services. Passionate about improving lives.

Annette July

Fiscal Assistant

Began with DRSD in 2023.

Angie Owens

Administrative Assistant

Board of Directors

Names from top level to bottom level, left to right: Marlys Feist, Sarah Carlson, Angie Dammer, Roger Bowie, Jennifer Carda, Edith Arneson, Heather Berlin, Dr. Valere Beeck, Janet Whiting, Roxanne Hammond, Travis Arneson. Not Pictured: Jim Hood, Jill Turback and Julie Dresbach.
Names from top level to bottom level, left to right: Marlys Feist, Sarah Carlson, Angie Dammer, Roger Bowie, Jennifer Carda, Edith Arneson, Heather Berlin, Dr. Valere Beeck, Janet Whiting, Roxanne Hammond, Travis Arneson. Not Pictured: Jim Hood, Jill Turback and Julie Dresbach.

Jennifer Carda, Board Chair

Sarah Carlson, Vice Chair

Marlys Feist, Secretary

Heather Berlin, Treasurer

Dr. Valere Beeck, D.C., Ex-Officio

Edith Arneson, Board Member, PAC Representative

Travis Arneson, Board Member

Roger Bowie, Board Member

Angie Dammer, Board Member

Julie Dresbach, Board Member

Roxanne Hammond, Board Member

Jim Hood, Board Member

Jill Turback, Board Member

Janet Whiting, Board Member

PAIMI Advisory Council (PAC)

The PAIMI Advisory Council (PAC) is charged with providing P&As information about issues related to individuals with mental illness. They provide independent advice and recommendations to the P&A system and have a commitment to promote the legal and civil rights of people with mental illness and advocate for their personal choices. They also educate the public about the purpose, priorities, and activities of DRSD and the PAIMI program.

View the flyer below to learn more about PAC.

PAC Flyer

PAC Members

Edith Arneson, Chairperson

Faith Goehring, Vice Chair

Kelly Bass, PAC Member

Angie Dammer, PAC Member

Matthew Laidlaw, PAC Member

Alisa Leflore, PAC Member

Ellen Washenberger, PAC Member

Trina Wilcken, PAC Member

Jen Evans, PAC Member

Claudia Hoem, PAC Member

Jerrald H. Zeigler, Jr, PAC Member

Interested in Serving in Leadership?

If you are interested in serving on the Disability Rights South Dakota Board or PAIMI Advisory Council, please submit your information below to check for openings and to receive an application.