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Jeni Kolstad reflects on time with South Central Minnesota Pride as she begins new chapter

Mankato KEYC-TV logo Mankato KEYC-TV 10/6/2021 Holly Marie Moore
Jeni Kolstad reflects on time with South Central Minnesota Pride as she begins new chapter © Holly Marie Moore Jeni Kolstad reflects on time with South Central Minnesota Pride as she begins new chapter

MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - When Jeni Kolstad accepted the role of executive director with South Central Minnesota Pride, she had big shoes to fill.

She first stepped in as interim executive director and worked closely with then executive director Jessica Flatequal before she passed away in 2019.

“Working with Jessica was so great. I mean, she’s such a visionary. She has great energy, tons of ideas and really wanting to just create a safe environment for Mankato for LGBT folks,” Kolstad said. “And so, we really worked together on that a lot on that mission of just creating safety, visibility and pride in Mankato for LGBT people.”

While Kolstad was interim, South Central Minnesota Pride dedicated PrideFest to Flatequal that year and named the parade in her honor.

Coming into the role, following the death of George Floyd, Kolstad wanted to bring the conversation of equality to the forefront.

“We really started to change our focus a little bit to try to really include Black, Indigenous and People of Color within Pride. So that first year we couldn’t hold a full festival. We did a march and a rally, which was phenomenal. We had BIPOC speakers, we had a panel, we had entertainment and it was all Black, Indigenous and People of Color,” Kolstad said.

Kolstad said she has made many memories with South Central Minnesota Pride and is proud to have watched it grow into what it is today.

“I was not a part of it back at the beginning, but I do remember going to a PrideFest, I believe it was 2004, because it’s when I met my wife, actually, we met at a PrideFest,” Kolstad said. “It was back at Sibley Park, so it was kind of on the backside by the softball fields. It was like this, such a cute, small tiny event. I remember the first year that they got to do the parade, that was huge just to be able to have that aspect added. Then once Riverfront Park was completed, we moved our festival over there and every year it has just grown since.”

After stepping down as executive director, Kolstad is beginning a new chapter.

She opened Pride Counseling Services, a therapy practice that serves LGBTQ people.

“It’s just super exciting to be one of those businesses that like, hey, you are part of the community and we hear you. We see you. We respect you. You don’t have to go searching for a therapist. We’ve got people for you,” she said.

South Central Minnesota Pride is not currently looking to fill the executive director position.

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