Our People

//Our People
Our People 2018-09-03T00:57:50+00:00
Sam Parkinson
Sam ParkinsonExecutive Director
Sam took over as Executive Director in June of 2017. Previously Sam had served as Finance & Events Director for the state party. Sam joined the staff in the summer of 2015 following his graduation from the University of South Dakota where he earned a degree in Political Science.

Sam has been involved with the SDDP since the winter of 2014, serving as an intern in Pierre during the State Legislative session, and then as a YELL Fellow during the 2014 campaign cycle. Sam is a native of Rapid City and when he finds free time he enjoys playing baseball and exploring other cultures through travel.

Ben Deverman
Ben DevermanField and Data Director
Prior to working for the SDDP, Ben graduated from the University pictureof South Dakota in the spring of 2016 with Bachelors of Science in Political Science and History. During his tenure at USD, he was a Research Associate at the Government Research Bureau, and he helped conduct policy analysis for various governmental entities and cities across South Dakota, including the GEAR UP program evaluation in the summer of 2015.

Ben has been involved with local Democratic elections in South Dakota for several cycles, and he has helped candidates all across the State of South Dakota running for municipal and statewide elections. Ben is a native of Spearfish, and he spends his free time reading books, playing golf, and spending time outdoors.

Aaron Matson
Aaron MatsonCommunications Director
Before joining the SDDP, Aaron was a reporter at the Watertown Public Opinion, and a Lutheran pastor in the Watertown and Brookings area. Aaron also recently successfully defended his dissertation and will receive a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of South Dakota in December of 2017.

Aaron is a lifelong South Dakotan, and has been involved in South Dakota politics and the SDDP from a young age, attending “Teen Democrat Camps” in middle and high School, and serving as a page in the State Legislature as a high school senior. During college, Aaron interned at Senator Tim Johnson’s Aberdeen office and for the SDDP during the 2002 Legislative Session. He was also a candidate for the State Legislature that fall. In his free time, he enjoys reading, traveling with his wife, and putting to use his training as a Certified Judge in the Kansas City Barbecue Society.

Megan Forster
Megan ForsterFinance Director
Prior to working for the SDDP, Megan graduated from Vassar College in the spring of 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in Political Science. During her years at Vassar, she served as the Class of 2017’s Senator of Student Affairs in the Vassar Student Association.

In addition, Megan was a member of the Executive Board of Future Waitstaff of America and a student musical theater troupe. She also worked as an Resident Assistant and helped conduct independent research in the English Department. Megan is excited to be back in her home state of South Dakota after four years on the east coast. She is a native of Brandon and can be found spending her free time reading any New York Times article about American politics, scouting out her next great cup of coffee, or spending time outside.

Sunny Gaughen
Sunny GaughenWest River Field Organizer
Before starting with the SDDP, Sunny graduated from Vassar College in May of 2018 with Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Russian Studies. While at Vassar, she studied abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia and Prague, Czech Republic. She also served two years on Vassar’s Student Gift Committee and 2018 Class Council.

A long-time resident of South Dakota, Sunny got her interest in politics while in high school, where she participated in mock legislature and YELL events and served as a Senate Page in the South Dakota State Legislature in 2014. At Vassar, she worked in the Drama Department Costume Shop, designing and sewing costume pieces for department productions, as well as working on student productions. She also worked as a Resident Assistant and served as the President of a student dance organization. In her free time, you can find Sunny spending time with her golden retriever, George, working in her family’s garden, or watching hockey.

James Colombe
James ColombeTribal Organizing Director
James Colombe grew up in Mission on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. New to politics, James is excited about organizing the Native vote in South Dakota for the 2018 elections and in the long term. James previously worked in business development for Panda Power Funds in Dallas, TX. Prior to joining Panda, James graduated from Harvard College and earned an organic chemistry PhD from MIT.