HURON — Jan Manolis is a true leader of women and an exceptional role model to look up to in the Huron community. Manolis was born and grew up in the Huron community, and was married 62 years to her soul-mate Dean until his passing in 2018.
She has three children, four grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
“I am truly blessed because they all live here in Huron.” Said Manolis.
Manolis is a member of the Riverview United Methodist Church where she sings choir, and a former Huron City Commissioner, a role she took in 1990, when her husband had a stroke. “My husband had just been elected a seat on City Commission, it was an unexpired term of a man who moved away,” said Manolis.
“He could not fulfill his duties and the mayor asked if I would fill the spot.”
After serving 24 years as city commissioner, Manolis retired from the position stating she loved every minute of it.
Manolis has been the executive director for 36 years at the Jan Manolis Family Safe Center, which is a local domestic violence program that helps victims of domestic and sexual abuse. “In the beginning, in 1984, our area was convinced there was no domestic violence in South Dakota,” Manolis said. “And if you didn’t have it in your family or in your neighborhood you wouldn’t know it was here. But education has been a key to alerting the public to this crime that certainly does happen even in our midst.”
On being nominated for the Women of Leadership Manolis said she was surprised she was nominated.
“Our community and area have been so supportive of our program and it is humbling to be nominated because I didn’t do it alone.” Manolis said.
Manolis has a board of directors and advocates who help. “This program would not survive without their dedication.” Manolis said.
Manolis has always been involved in the community, as well as serving on numerous boards and committees, such as the Huron Housing Board, the YWCA Board, Church committees, city commissioner, commission representative to many committees and departments, and teaching Sunday School.
“I am so pleased to see more women running for office, starting their own businesses, and juggling home and family with careers, and doing it with passion and expertise,” said Manolis. “When I graduated from High School, most women married or became nurses or teachers or secretaries and the opportunities for other careers just wasn’t as available. We have come a long way since then.”
Balancing work and life responsibilities hasn’t always been easy for Manolis. “Crisis calls don’t always come at convenient times. But I have a family who have always supported my work and they have been understanding when I get a call.” explained Manolis.
“I go when I am called and my family has gotten used to that.”