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.

Sunny Gaughen
Sunny GaughenDeputy Executive Director
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 watching hockey, weaving, or re-cataloguing her personal library.

Before becoming Deputy Executive Director, Sunny started with SDDP as West River Field Organizer in Rapid City. 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.