Allison Morrisette, left, the state’s new Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons coordinator, and Mary Beth Holzwarth, right, the state’s new human trafficking coordinator. (Courtesy of Attorney General’s Office)
Attorney General Mark Vargo announced two new hires Wednesday to address human trafficking and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons.
Allison Morrisette is the state’s inaugural Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons coordinator. Morrisette is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe who last served as adult diversion coordinator for the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office, which Vargo headed before becoming attorney general.
“I am excited to begin this work,” Morrisette said in a news release. “A lot of my relatives feel they are overlooked. My job with the Attorney General’s Office is to ensure that is not true. In my culture we live by the words ‘Mitakuye Oyasin,’ which means ‘all my relations’ or ‘we are all related.’ I carry that belief with me into this new role.”
The state’s new human trafficking coordinator is Mary Beth Holzwarth. For the past 13 years, she has served as the CEO of Endeavor 52, a grassroots organization dedicated to child sexual assault prevention.
“Joining the Attorney General’s Office in this new role gives me the opportunity to carry on my work combatting childhood sexual abuse and widen my focus to address other manifestations of exploitation, including sexual and labor trafficking,” Holzwarth said.
Vargo said he looks forward to the positive impact these two coordinators can make for South Dakota.
“I am thrilled to welcome the breadth and depth of expertise Allison and Mary Beth bring to the Attorney General’s Office and am confident they will help the office live up to its motto of ‘Equal Justice Under the Law,’” Vargo said.
The Legislature approved the creation of the coordinator positions in 2021, but then-Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg did not fill the positions prior to his impeachment and removal from office this year. Vargo began seeking to fill the positions after Gov. Kristi Noem appointed him as attorney general in June. Vargo did not run for election to the job and will yield it in January to Marty Jackley, who ran uncontested in November. Vargo will return to his prior job as state’s attorney in Pennington County.
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