Pam Cole
Pam ColeExecutive Director
Growing up on a family farm in North Dakota gave Pam a deep appreciation for the people of the Dakotas. Her father served many terms on the local school board, and involved the family in assembling air seeders and building their own home. Her interest in public service began in high school, when she served as the student body president of the 100 or so students at Walhalla High School.

Pam earned her first degree in graphic design from Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in Denver, Colorado and made her home in South Dakota beginning in 1991 and worked successfully in graphic design. She relocated to Brookings in 1997, where she served on numerous boards and was an active PTA parent leader. In 2001, Pam was invited to attend one of Senator Tom Daschle’s Leadership Weekends in the Black Hills. She was inspired to serve, and was elected to the Brookings School board in the spring of 2002. Pam later decided to run for a seat in the SD State Senate in 2007 and after a primary and general election, she was the first Democrat in 28 years to be elected to a legislative seat in District 7.

Pam returned to college full time in 2013, completing coursework in history and nonprofit management at SDSU. She and her husband Mike have five young adult children between the two of them. Her most recent work as a volunteer coordinator for Sanford Hospice provided the opportunity to recruit, train and support over 150 volunteers in the region. She and Mike, along with their dog Penny and youngest son, currently live in Sioux Falls.

Cante Heart
Cante Heart Native Outreach Field Director
Cante is a Sicangu Lakota, Ihanktowan Dakota and Winnebago Hochunk. She is the daughter of CaroleAnn Heart and Travis Harden. Cante spent the majority of her life in North and South Dakota, and considers the Sacred Black Hills her home. She graduated from Rapid City Central High School and has a degree in Business Administration from Oglala Lakota College.

Cante has pursued many avenues of community organizing and strategic planning for both businesses and nonprofits. Over the years, she has served her local community and demonstrated a track record of consistent and reliable leadership. Cante believes that it is important to uplift Indigenous voices in all capacities. She also believes that it is up to us to create new relationships and bridge the gap to strengthen current relations. Cante looks forward to bringing a Lakota perspective to the party by building relationships through shared values with a collaborative approach.

Cante serves on the Board of Directors for HeSapa Otipi, Abbott House, and the “Dignity” Initiative. As one of the models for the Dignity Statue in Chamberlain, SD, the process empowered Cante to truly reflect on what dignity means for all of us in South Dakota.

In her free time, Cante enjoys playing basketball, softball, golf, and spending time with her daughters. She loves practicing and teaching Lakota ways and language. In fact, you have just learned a Lakota word. “Cante” means “heart” in Lakota.

Sydney Swenson
Sydney SwensonData & Field Director
Sydney has called South Dakota home for her entire life. She was raised in Madison by her parents who are teachers and with two siblings, a younger brother and an older sister. The love Sydney has for South Dakota began during her childhood years with frequent trips to Grandma’s farm and West River summer vacations, and has only continued to grow.

Sydney graduated from Madison High School in 2016 and headed to Brookings to pursue a B.A. in Political Science, Global Studies, and Spanish with a minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at South Dakota State University. Sydney had the amazing opportunity to participate in two summer study abroad trips, one in Cusco, Peru and the other in Dakar, Senegal, both of which taught her the beauty and importance of bilingualism, cultural competency, and global citizenship.

Sydney’s love for political activism developed over her four-year involvement with student organizations like College Democrats and the Feminist Equality Movement. During her last semester of college, Sydney was fortunate enough to serve as an intern for the Senate Democrats in the South Dakota 2020 Legislative Session, igniting her passion for state & local government.

Sydney graduated from South Dakota State University in May of 2020 and currently lives in Brookings. She feels lucky and excited to be a part of the SDDP Team!