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Health Secretary Adam Quits After Noem Chews Her Out for Transformation Project Contract

Make room for more flunkies: Health Secretary Joan Adam is quitting after spending less than a year in the top spot.

Today, South Dakota Department of Health Secretary Joan Adam announced her retirement.

“My time with the Department of Health has been very rewarding. The dedication of the Department’s employees is impressive and will continue to serve the state well. I am looking forward to focusing on family and personal commitments,” said Joan Adam.

…Joan has served at the South Dakota Department of Health for a combined 20 years, including as Division Director for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention, Division Director for Administration, and Secretary of Health. In between her division director roles, Joan returned home to raise her growing family [Office of the Governor, press release, 2022.12.19].

That’s an early retirement; various Googling indicates Adam is only four years older than our 51-year-old Governor. And with almost everybody accepting coronavirus deaths and disability as inevitable, Adam’s Secretary work has surely been much easier than it was for her pandemic predecessor Kim Malsam-Rysdon, so it’s not like Adam should already be all worn out circumlocuting her department’s mission in terms friendly to her boss’s anti-science fury.

KSFY’s Pierre reporter Austin Goss strongly suggests Adam’s departure may be connected with Governor Noem’s cancellation of a DOH contract with the Transformation Project:

Adam’s resignation comes just days after a report by the Daily Signal that the DOH signed a $136,000 contract in June with The Transformation Project. According to their website, The Transformation Project works “to support and empower transgender individuals and their families while educating communities in South Dakota and the surrounding region about gender identity and expression.”

Noem’s office told the media that the contract was signed without her knowledge. On Saturday, Noem’s spokesperson Ian Fury told Dakota News Now/KOTA Territory “the Governor and Secretary Joan Adam had a very frank conversation tonight” [Austin Goss, “South Dakota Secretary of Health Joan Adam Retires,” KSFY, 2022.12.19].

Austin Goss, tweets, 2022.12.17.
Austin Goss, tweets, 2022.12.17.

Note the sequence in Goss’s tweets: he asks the Governor’s office if DOH staffing changes would result from the TP contract issue, and the Governor’s office responds to that question by stating the Governor and the Secretary “had a very frank discussion tonight.” And we all know “frank” is the word we use in public discourse to describe any serious ass-chewing.

Joan’s husband is bank lobbyist and former SDGOP chairman Karl Adam.


  1. Mark Anderson 2022-12-20

    Incompetence rules in South Dakota. Killer Kristi has to make waves, otherwise even Ian can’t keep her in the news. How will she ever become VP?

  2. 96Tears 2022-12-20

    Mark – How? She comes from a ruby red state with three — count ’em, THREE! — electoral votes. Such a wealth of power, gravitas and accomplishments in office! Who wouldn’t list Kristi as their #1 choice for Lieutenant President??? Making dumb, dictatorial mistakes is what qualifies her most for national office among today’s Republicans.

    RUN, KRISTI, RUN!!!!

  3. P. Aitch 2022-12-20

    🎶 “ You’re a mean one, Governor Grinch
    You really are a heel
    You’re as cuddly as a cactus
    You’re as charming as an eel
    Governor Grinch, you’re a bad banana
    Governor Grinch, with the greasy black peel”

  4. Eve Fisher 2022-12-20

    I’ve always been puzzled by her vendetta against LGBQT – especially transgenders. After all, Kristi Noem has had a lot of gender-enhancing surgery herself – you’d think she’d sympathize.
    But whatever it takes to get her to the Capitol in Washington, D.C. …

  5. Arlo Blundt 2022-12-20

    There are few families in Pierre more prominent than the Adam family. An excellent group of people who have contributed their talents and resources over the years to that community and to the state. Tom Adam was a prominent attorney and lobbyist, Pat Adam, an educator, community volunteer, and long time school board member. Karl, their son, is a banker and businessman, and a rock solid member of the community. Joan Adam has continued in the family tradition of service. Governor Noem has diminished herself in this latest episode of ego gone wild. How she can survive in that community is beyond me.

  6. Donald Pay 2022-12-20

    Arlo, I was wondering if Joan Adam was part of the Adam’s family. Yes, indeed, Noem may have made a big, big mistake.

  7. Jenny 2022-12-20

    Noem, along with the rest of the SD Pub Club, are just hate-filled high school snobs when it comes to transgenders. Did this Joan Adam really think she could sign off on this project and Noem be okay with it? She knows her Party’s history of LGBT hate bills. One never has to worry about there not being enough discrimination and hate in SD when it comes to vulnerable populations. Stay true to your hate values, SD.

  8. P. Aitch 2022-12-20

    At least half the haters in grudz’ state are of a specifically, unique variety. Meaning, they don’t even really realize they’re being hateful, bigoted, and racist. Pretty much all they’re conditioned to think about is how much of a “victim” their white racial brotherhood and sisterhood is.

    – The irony is that these Republicans are, indeed, REAL VICTIMS. But they’re not victims of liberals, or Democrats, or immigrants, or Muslims, or Blacks, or women, or Dreamers, or gays, or transgenders or any of the other “others” they have been trained to hate.

    – They’re victims of themselves for having backed decades of Republican economic policies explicitly designed to shift vast amounts of national income and wealth to those who were already the most-wealthy.

  9. grudznick 2022-12-20

    You might be right, Ms. P.h.

  10. Nick Nemec 2022-12-20

    Is Karl Adam the nephew of the late Gov. George S. Mickelson and grandson of our George T. Mickelson the 18th governor of South Dakota?

  11. grudznick 2022-12-20

    Mr. Nemec, I am told that indeed young Mr. Adam is indeed related to 3 former speakers of the house of the legislatures.

  12. Arlo Blundt 2022-12-20

    Nick and Grudz–I believe you’re right…I believe Pat Adam, Karl’s mother was a Mickelson. Tom Adam his father was an attorney in Pierre with a stellar reputation. The family is involved in just about every civic organization and public board of merit in the community and are respected as genuine, committed, forward looking leaders of action and ideas to better that city. They are Republican in politics, but are not afraid to get their hands dirty when it comes to working on community projects and, frankly, “common as an old shoe” when you visit with them on the street. I have never met Joan Adam but her twenty years of service in the Health Department is testimony to her professionalism and her dedication. Governor Noem has made a grievous error in politicizing the Department of Health. We will all suffer for it.

  13. grudznick 2022-12-20

    And young Mr. Adam is the head of the bankers union. Not a group to be trifled with. The Merchants of Menno may ultimately get their pound of flesh, you never know..

  14. Arlo Blundt 2022-12-21

    Grudz–the merchants of Menno??? Please explain.

  15. Dave Jeffries 2022-12-21

    Still, all in all, it seems that wherever I travel around the US I continually hear from folks I meet that they wish Kristi was “their” governor -vs- the one they have now.
    This makes me wonder if folks who get out and travel see more and therefore have a better view of things than those who stay in their own local shell and don’t see beyond what the press tells them. I wonder….. Of course I can be wrong, but still….I wonder.

  16. All Mammal 2022-12-21

    Woo woo. Holla back atcha, P! All our victims loved it.

  17. Arlo Blundt 2022-12-21

    96 tears–as I recall Laurie Gill is from another family in Pierre known for service to the community and state. It seems Mrs. Noem is clearing the deck of respected, home grown professionals willing to serve in what can be high stress, low reward, positions in her administration. Are bright eyed, shiny, razor cut Hillsdale grads on the way to fill these positions???

  18. tara volesky 2022-12-22

    Sorry but these people are not victims, they are afraid to stand up against what’s right. Don’t bow down to the corrupt establishment.

  19. grudznick 2022-12-22

    It is good to hear from you again, Mrs. Volesky. May your holidays be as wonderful as they can be! I hope your Festivus, Xmas Eve, Xmas Day, Boxing Day, and the widely celebrated St. John day are all equally enjoyable, as befits a young lady of your sensibilities.

  20. Stormy 2022-12-23

    1. She signed an agreement/contract without proper communication to her boss.
    2. The state is in one of the best positions in the nation.
    3. Small mindedness isn’t only showing in the fear of change but also in the critism shown in these posts
    4. Instead of criticizing, what are each of you doing to invest money into organizations that support anything this agreement was going to do? If it’s your strong belief, there is nothing stopping you from funding any of that yourselves.
    5. Talk is cheap, hiding behind a keyboard is easy, hate talk never unites anyone to join in your goals.

  21. tara volesky 2022-12-23

    Grudznick…….you’re so kind. Thank you and same to you and to all that read this. Merry Christmas and stay warm and safe.

  22. Phi Ear Upp 2022-12-23

    SD has a noem-cancer. It must be excised…

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