Donald C. Simmons, Jr.

Donald C. Simmons, Jr.

Donald C. Simmons, Jr. (1964- ) author and filmmaker, serves as Professor and Dean of the College of Public Service, Leadership and Graduate Studies at Dakota Wesleyan University, as well as executive director of their George McGovern Center for Leadership and Public Service. He has held numerous elected and appointed political positions during his career. His professional life has focused on social entrepreneurship and social justice.



A native of Mississippi, he spent his childhood in Alabama and North Carolina. He received a B.A.and history from the University of Mississippi and spent time in Belize as a medical missionary for Health Talents International. He received his Ph.D in History and International Studies in 1994 from the University of Denver. He has also completed additional postgraduate studies at Mississippi University for Women, Troy State University, Millsaps College, and the University of South Dakota. His early research interests focused on the displacement of peoples as a result of military conflict and their subsequent emigration to other countries[1] , but in recent years his interests have shifted toward leadership and service. He remains active in missionary programs with the Center for Church and Global Aids, most recently in Kenya, Africa in 2009.[2] On October 10, 2010, on the 10th anniversay of his own health crisis, open heart surgery, he ran and completed the Chicago Marathon to raise funds and awareness for HIV-AIDS in Africa.[3]

Simmons worked in higher education at Mississippi University for Women and Troy University from 1989 until 1995. From 2001 until 2006, he served as executive director of the South Dakota Humanities Council, and established the South Dakota Center for the Book and the South Dakota Festival of the Book.[4]

In 2000, he was recognized by the Mississippi Business Journal as one of Mississippi's Top 40 Under 40.

In 2004, Simmons established the Donald C. Simmons Family Foundation[5] as part of the South Dakota Community Foundation. In 1995 he was the recipient of the Presidential Award of the Association of Third World Studies for his work related to the developing world.

Books, Films and Writings

He was co-editor of 'Latin America and the Caribbean in Transition (Troy State University Press, 1995 with Robert P. Watson, and co-editor of the textbook Leadership and Service: An Introduction (Kendall/Hunt and Company Publishers, 2008.)[6] with George McGovern and Dan Gaken. He is the author of the book, Confederate Settlements in British Honduras (Farland and Company Publishers, 2001)[7]

He has served on the board of editors of White House Studies since 2005.[8]

Simmons edited and contributed chapters to 'Latin America and the Caribbean in Transition , and to Robert P. Watson's George McGovern: A Political Life, A Political Legacy.[9]

In 2009, he produced the documentary "Hungry for Green: Feeding the World Sustainably" with award winning film maker Matthew Barr. Former UN Ambassador on World Hunger, Senator George McGovern narrated the film, which premiered at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard's School of Medicine. Documentary film maker Ken Burns hailed the work as “an important film that underscores the urgency of achieving agricultural sustainability to help alleviate hunger and protect our natural environment.” [10]

He has also published a number of newspaper columns in the "Mitchell Daily Republic" the Mississippi Business Journal and elsewhere, and some poetry. "South Dakota Magazine" featured poetry by Simmons in its 25th anniversary issue (Jan./Feb 2010), along with Norma Wilson of Vermillion and June Ohm of Redfield. His photography has appeared in Mississippi Magazine," "Mississippi: An Illustrated History and a number of newspapers and regional magazines. He is also is a frequent political columnist, talk show guest on public radio.

Political career

Active in politics at an early age, he worked on the campaign of Representative Cecil L. Simmons, his uncle, and attended the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco as a John Glenn alternate delegate/delegate in 1984. Subsequently, he has since been active in many statewide and local political campaigns throughout the United States.

After moving to South Dakota, he has been twice elected a city councilman and served as vice chair, and has served on the South Dakota Municipal League's Public Works Committee. Simmons was a member of the Kilian Community College board of trustees from 2005-2006 and the South Dakota Board of Nursing in 2003. He was elected an alternate delegate to the South Dakota Democratic State Convention in 2006. Governor Mike Rounds appointed Simmons to the South Dakota State Historical Society Board of Directors in October, 2009.

Athletic Career

Don Simmons began working as an assistant coach for the Dakota Wesleyan University baseball team during the 2010-2011 season. He serves as the Tigers’ defensive and strength and conditioning coach.[11] Simmons studied coaching at the United States Sports Academy and is a Level One Certified Coach (NFHS) in the state of South Dakota. Also a faculty member of the College of Leadership and Public Service at DWU, his research related to athletics has focused on the role of leadership as it relates to organizational dynamics and team building. Simmons, who is an expert on the modern Olympics and has written extensively on the subject, recently competed in the 2010 Chicago Marathon and the 2011 Des Moines Marathon.


External links

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