BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — Each day in the month of March, KX News highlights a woman who does remarkable things in her community. On Monday, we highlighted Mary Van Sickle, the Executive Director of Dakota Media Access.

Mary Van Sickle moved to Bismarck in 1980, where she started her own furniture operation.
However, couches and tables were not Van Sickles’ true calling.

She went on to serve time as the executive director of the Bismarck Downtowners and after that the marketing director of the Bismarck Civic Center.

From there, she went on to become the development economic specialist for the Bismarck-Mandan Development Association. She would eventually land herself a role as the executive director of Dakota Media Access, where she has helped provide information to the community of Bismarck and Mandan.

“I guess you could say my passion really is being involved in the community and providing a service,” she states.

Van Sickle stays busy with Dakota Media Access, between covering public meetings and other events hosted by DMA. The company provides access to Government meetings for the general public. Van Sickle says they cover over 300 meetings a year.

“I think the government meetings are important,” said Van Sickle. “They provide a real service, not only to the citizens in the community, but also those who serve the community, elected officials, and staff members who work in local government. It gives an opportunity for people to really see those elected officials in action. It’s really a win-win because I think people are more knowledgeable and empathetic to those positions when they can see how complex some of these issues are.”

However, government meetings are not the only thing that Dakota Media Access does for the community.

For the past 11 years, the company has hosted The Dakota Media Film Festival which takes place at the end of March. The festival highlights local filmmakers and even Academy award-winning nominees. Van Sickle believes that it’s important to show the work within the community because it helps support local creativity.

“Because we are a nonprofit organization here in the community, we’ve always had these great relationships with local for-profit production companies and other media organizations,” explained Van Sickle. “Whether it’s KX or others in the community, they see us as a good partner, so we’ve been able to work with all of those groups to make the festival happen. We want to cultivate creativity and filmmaking in the area. A lot of people who work in the news are very creative people, who want to do other things and create more films. We thought that the event could help propel that industry here in this area.”

For 23 years, Van Sickle has provided service to the community by informing the public on what’s going on in the area. She emphasized the importance of transparency in our local government and now that the DMA has been covering local meetings for 35 years, the community expects it.

“They want to know that that information is available to them. We archive all of those meetings. You can go back if you really want to go back and watch some of these former meetings that information is there. It’s all documented and available to people. And again, I think that step you don’t see in a lot of communities. You don’t see this open door to some of our local government,” Van Sickle said.

In 2021, Van Sickle was chosen as the winner of the Leadership Bismarck-Mandan Alumni Association Distinguished Alumna Award. Van Sickle also hosts her own show on Dakota Media Access’s website, called City Current where she sits down with members of the City Commission and discusses their meetings. The show highlights the importance of the City Commission and the things they are working on for the community.

Mary Van Sickle has put the Bismarck-Mandan community first for more than 40 years and hopes to keep bringing information to the public and supporting local artists.

Now that’s remarkable!

To learn more about Dakota Media Access, visit their website.