Media Contact

Janna Farley,

November 5, 2020

Jett Jonelis has joined the ACLU of South Dakota as advocacy manager.

As advocacy manager, Jonelis oversees the organization’s legislative, public education and advocacy efforts and is responsible for developing issue campaigns to advance civil liberties and civil rights in South Dakota.

“Jett’s demonstrated passion for and commitment to constitutional rights and social justice made them a natural fit for the ACLU of South Dakota,” said Heather Smith, executive director of the ACLU of South Dakota. “Their experience with civic engagement, motivating people and creating change will be invaluable to our work for social justice. With Jett on board, our capacity to create change in South Dakota is bigger than ever.”

Prior to joining the ACLU, Jonelis served as an AmeriCorps VISTA and Public Ally in their hometown of New Haven, Conn. During their program years, they worked in community organizing and capacity building for New Haven Legal Assistance Association and Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven. Jonelis also volunteered with community placemaking organizations and engaged in organizing around ending police violence, increasing access to safe and truly affordable housing and decriminalizing homelessness.

Jonelis recently graduated with a master’s degree in public administration from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. They graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Southern Connecticut State University.

About the ACLU of South Dakota

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of South Dakota is part of a three-state chapter that also includes North Dakota and Wyoming. The team in South Dakota is supported by staff in those states.

The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people.  In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women, and the LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit communities. The ACLU of South Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for the people of South Dakota.