As one of the Midwest’s leading voices for protecting children and advocating for survivors of child abuse and sexual assault, Jolene Loetscher has put purpose to the pain of her childhood.
Jolene started her career as an award-winning television reporter. But in sharing her own story, she learned the power of public policy to change lives. In 2011, Jolene first spoke publicly about being sexually abused growing up. That experience lead to working to repeal the statute of limitations for criminal rape cases in South Dakota. Then in 2014, South Dakota established Jolene’s Law Task Force, named for Jolene. The work of Jolene’s Law led to the creation of a ten year action plan to eradicate child abuse in South Dakota. Now under the guidance of the Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment at the University of South Dakota, in less than two years, it has trained more than 10,000 mandatory reporters in South Dakota, implemented trauma-informed training statewide, developed regional reporting centers, developed a pediatric rape kit for hospitals and health care systems and become a model for change in other states.
Knowing the impact of public policy to change and save lives, Jolene was inspired in 2018 to run for mayor of South Dakota’s largest city, Sioux Falls. In an initial field of eight candidates, Jolene was one of two to advance to a run-off. Recognized by political analysts as the strongest new technology campaign the state had seen, she helped drive the conversation about stronger communities through diversity and collective-impact solutions.
In addition to being an advocate and community builder, Jolene is recognized for her entrepreneurial spirit. With the last $300 savings, a discarded donut bucket and willingness to get dirty, she started DooGooders. DooGooders, a dog poop pick up and ag genetics DNA company, is now in six states. Through Jolene’s leadership, they’re also the number one distributor of dog DNA testing in the world.
Jolene also started Mud Mile Communications, the region’s most honored an advertising agency for web video that works with clients around the world and has received Emmys, Tellys and Addy awards for its work.
Jolene grew up in Nebraska and graduated summa cum laude from Northwestern University. She received her MBA in Global Executive Leadership from the University of Nebraska. She lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota with her husband, Nate Burdine, their daughter, Liberty, and two pugs, Moonshine Jerry and Mayhem Awesome.