Sioux Falls Pride leader aims to bring people together

June 12, 2018

This week’s Up-and-Comer is Adam Dale Jorgensen, communications associate for the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, North Dakota and Wyoming.

Name: Adam Dale Jorgensen

Age: 24

Hometown: Dell Rapids

What brought you to Sioux Falls?

I moved to Sioux Falls in 2012 to pursue an education, a full-time job and move into my first rental. The plan was to take on the quickest, most cost-effective route toward an education, which is how I ended up applying for multiple scholarships, attending Southeast Technical Institute and the University of Sioux Falls. I graduated from Southeast Tech with an associate’s degree in marketing and graphic design and followed that up by attending full-time night classes in an accelerated program at the University of Sioux Falls. I concluded my time in college with an associate’s degree and two bachelor’s degrees in marketing/graphic design, marketing innovation and project management – all while working full-time, volunteering and somehow managing to raise a spunky dog named Nina, whose favorite hobby is to give side-eye.

What keeps you in Sioux Falls?

My career and my interests in making Sioux Falls – and the rest of South Dakota – a better place for LGBTQ people. The ACLU for the longest time was just a dream job. Now, I finally have it. I am lucky to collaborate with such an incredible team. They make every moment fun and memorable – even when the outcome seems bleak, we find the bright spots. Each person at the ACLU is passionate, tenacious and inquisitive. I am consistently inspired by their energy and courage. Additionally, I have had the chance to work with several organizations on various issues across the state. They never lose sight of the importance of their work and persevere endlessly. Every last one continues to go against the status quo to defend the rights of South Dakotans, regardless of their age, faith, gender identity, sexual orientation, race or socioeconomic status.

What’s your favorite thing about your job?

Working at the American Civil Liberties Union has been my goal since entering the nonprofit world. I’ve admired the work this organization has accomplished for quite some time. One of my favorite cases is Loving v. Virginia, in which the Supreme Court struck down state bans on interracial marriage. Then in 2015, the Supreme Court continued to recognize that. They affirmed who you love shouldn’t determine your legal rights and brought marriage equality to the entire country. I vividly remember this day; in fact, groups of us gathered on Phillips Avenue with cake, hugs and endless tears of joy. Oh, and a few rainbow flags. These cases and many others inspire me to continue in this important work at the ACLU. Working at the American Civil Liberties allows me to incorporate all the things I enjoy. It gives me the chance to think critically and creatively while working toward making the world a better place. I’ve also gotten the chance to get much more familiar with North Dakota and Wyoming – two states I never pictured myself working in.

How did you get connected to your industry?

I was connected to the nonprofit world and ultimately the ACLU sort of by accident and a string of connections. In 2012, I was working at a call center and wanted to give back to the LGBTQ community somehow. At this point in my life, I had a ton of free time. Various inquiries led me to volunteering with the Center for Equality, which is now known as Sioux Falls Pride. That eventually connected me to the ACLU of South Dakota, specifically through work we collaborated on in 2016. To put a long story short, together with various community partners, we were able to secure the veto of House Bill 1008, which targeted transgender students in South Dakota. It was incredible to see communities come together and, specifically, students take the charge against legislation they deemed unnecessary.

Describe ACLU of South Dakota in three words.

Tenacious, compassionate and inquisitive.

You’re also president of Sioux Falls Pride, which will be held June 16 at Terrace Park. Why is that event important to you, and how has it evolved since it started in Sioux Falls?

Sioux Falls Pride has played an instrumental role in where I am today. It’s given me the opportunities to learn, see how a successful nonprofit can be led and really hone my skills in fundraising.

I was the marketing manager for the last few years and volunteer coordinator in conjunction with that before serving as president. Sioux Falls Pride brings together everyone – no matter your race, faith, sexual orientation or gender identity. I became a part of this organization because I was inspired after volunteering at the park festival several summers ago. In between helping set up tents and assist vendors, I saw LGBTQ people just being who they are, without fear. This was something both inspiring and foreign to me. Growing up in a small town in South Dakota, there was little to no exposure to LGBTQ culture and, honestly, some hostility toward anyone openly expressing their sexual orientation. After coming out at age 7, I knew I had my work cut out for me and made it a point in everything I did to try and make life better for LGBTQ people around me – which sometimes meant making a little noise. I’ve volunteered countless hours over the last five years to grow the Sioux Falls Pride festival, which creates environments for LGBTQ people to be celebrated.

Sioux Falls Pride has been around for roughly 15 years and grew from a humble beginning with about 500 attendees to recent estimates around 9,000.

For people who have never attended Sioux Falls Pride, what can they expect?

To quote several of our vendors from 2017, “some of the happiest people you will ever meet.” Sioux Falls Pride is notorious for being just that – an environment for happy people. Attendees can also expect to see more than 80 business vendors, eight food vendors, six hours of entertainment and a robust family section that features inflatables, games and more, along with designated areas for pets. Our goal with Sioux Falls Pride is to bring people together, regardless of who you are. We hope that people see people they’ve never met before and have conversations with individuals they never anticipated.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I’d like to divide it up into two categories: personal and professional.

Personal: More vacations, more dogs and less worrying.

Professional: This one is a little tough. My career at the American Civil Liberties Union has truly been a gift. The last several months have been nothing short of incredible. I’ve had the opportunity to learn from seasoned staff, take risks and be creative. Laughter is also in no short supply in our office. I’d love to see my position grow within this organization – how, I am not sure. I would also love to partake in more skill-building courses like public speaking, campaign planning and any training related to the Adobe Creative Suite.

Sioux Falls Pride leader aims to bring people together

This week’s Up-and-Comer is Adam Dale Jorgensen, communications associate for the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, North Dakota and Wyoming.

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