The fifth annual Excellence in Communication Ministry Award was presented for 2023 to Jodi Dessenko, communication director for the Dakota Conference, during the Mid-America Union Conference Year-End meetings.

Jodi Dossenko grew up in rural North Dakota as a farmer’s daughter and spent most of her grade school years in Adventist Education. After graduating from Dakota Adventist Academy, she attended Bismarck State College for two years before moving to Lincoln, Nebraska, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Union College.

After graduation, Jodi worked for Lincoln Public Schools before moving back to North Dakota to teach lower grades at Hillcrest Adventist Elementary in Jamestown. She spent seven years teaching at Hillcrest before she accepted a job at the Dakota Conference office in 2013 to serve as an administrative assistant, education secretary and front desk receptionist.

Working in her new position provided regular contact with field employees and members within the conference territory. Jodi enjoyed assisting in their different ministry efforts and seeing God’s leading in her home conference. She particularly enjoyed assisting in the communication department, where she was given the opportunity to share her talents with the rest of the Dakota membership. Her heart for people and her desire to share compelling stories with others made her an invaluable asset to the conference office team.

When communication director Jacquie Biloff retired in September 2020, Jodi was promoted to the position; it was a natural choice for the conference to make. Having held several different positions within the conference, both as a teacher and an office worker, and having grown up in North Dakota provides Jodi with a perspective not many in her field can match. “I know most of our members on a deep, personal level,” Jodi states, “and it is exciting to be able to share with others the eternal impact they are making for Christ in their communities.”

Besides writing stories, Jodi also loves using her creativity in designing print and digital media. Since taking the director position, she has redesigned all of the communiqués and the website, and she continues to look for innovative design elements to more effectively share news and stories. Her background as a teacher underscores her curious nature and self-starter personality, and she consistently seeks out ways to improve and add new skills to her communication toolbox.

At last month’s Society of Adventist Communicators Convention, Jodi won a drone, and she is already researching how to best integrate it into her storytelling and promotional design roles.

Jodi has worked for the Dakota Conference for the past 17 years, and she looks forward to continuing to highlight God’s great work in the Dakotas.

This award is given to an individual in the territory based on their dedication to fulfilling the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, their creativity, collaboration and innovation in addressing communication challenges.

Previous recipients: Elder Ron Carlson, Savannah Carlson, Rajmund Dabrowski, and Jacqueline Biloff

Information on Jodi Dossenko provided by Lynette Struntz.