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Congressional Spotlight: Senator John Thune (R-SD)

Each month The Nonprofit Alliance (TNPA) introduces you to a member of Congress who is a leader on legislative matters important to our TNPA community, with representation from both parties.

Headshot of Senator John Thune (R-SD).

Q&A with Senator John Thune

The Nonprofit Alliance has worked closely with Senator John Thune of South Dakota. TNPA had the opportunity to ask the Senator a few questions, and share them here:

Which is your favorite sports team?

Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Dodgers.

What was the most recent sporting event you attended?

My grandson’s baseball game.

Which American political figure has most inspired you?

Ronald Reagan.

What was the moment you realized you were serious about getting into public service?

The moment the door to public service opened to me was after a chance encounter with then U.S. Rep. Jim Abdnor in Murdo, South Dakota. I was in high school at the time, and it was after one of my basketball games. I made five out of six free-throws in that game, and when I later met Jim, he said, “I noticed you missed one.” Jim took an interest in me, like he did in so many others, because he genuinely liked people and wanted to see future leaders reach their potential. It was from that basketball game in small-town South Dakota that Jim and I began a decades-long friendship that would take me to Washington to work for him in the U.S. Senate and at the Small Business Administration under President Ronald Reagan.

More About Senator Thune

The Nonprofit Alliance has worked closely with Senator Thune of South Dakota.

Senator Thune’s journey in public service began in the 1980s when he served on the staff of then-U.S. Senator Jim Abdnor. He later served at the Small Business Administration under an appointment from President Ronald Reagan. He then came back to South Dakota, and in 1991, then-Governor George Mickelson appointed him to be State Railroad Director, a position he held until 1993, when he became Executive Director of the South Dakota Municipal League.

In 1996, Senator Thune won his first term as South Dakota’s lone member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He honored his 1996 campaign pledge to serve only three terms in the House. After a narrow loss in the U.S. Senate race in 2002, he won his current Senate seat in 2004, when he made history by defeating a sitting Senate party leader for the first time in 52 years!

In the Senate, he serves on a number of important Senate committees – the Finance Committee, the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and the Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee. He also serves as the Republican Whip, the number two position in the Senate Republican leadership. We at The Nonprofit Alliance know the Senator best for his work on the Senate Commerce Committee, where he has been an important player in the ongoing effort to enact comprehensive, bipartisan national privacy legislation. Specifically, Senator Thune has called for enactment of robust national privacy legislation, which will provide one uniform “Rules of the Road” for the responsible use of data.

The Nonprofit Alliance looks forward to continuing to work closely with Senator Thune.

Mark Micali
Author: Mark Micali

Mark Micali is Vice President, Government Affairs for The Nonprofit Alliance and has spent his career on Capitol Hill.  You can reach him at

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