ND Vision Zero Partner Conference
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Speakers

Doug Burgum, Governor of North Dakota

Doug Burgum took office as the 33rd governor of North Dakota on Dec. 15, 2016. Doug brings a business leader’s approach to diversifying the economy, creating 21st century jobs, and revitalizing our main streets.

Today, North Dakota has the nation’s fifth-highest GDP per capita, ranks second in energy production per capita and boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation.

Under Gov. Burgum’s leadership, North Dakota has led the nation in innovation, creating a boom across the energy, agriculture, and technology sectors. His efforts to drive engagement with the five tribal nations with whom North Dakota shares geography have greatly improved state-tribal relationships through collaboration and addressing challenges and opportunities with understanding and mutual respect.

Gov. Burgum has championed significant tax relief for the citizens of North Dakota during every legislative session, and is leading the charge to shrink North Dakota’s income tax to the lowest flat rate in the nation.

He has been a leader in transforming education and equipping students with the essential skills for life and learning, preparing graduates for a choice-ready future in college, career or the military. He stands with those in recovery and, with First Lady Kathryn Burgum, is pushing a positive movement to eliminate the shame and stigma of the disease of addiction and support behavioral health, mental health and addiction by focusing on the foundations of well-being.

Burgum’s small-town upbringing and agricultural roots laid the foundation for his shared values of respect for the past, gratitude for the present and inspiration for the future.

He was elected governor on Nov. 8, 2016, in his first run for political office. On Nov. 3, 2020, Burgum was elected to his second term as governor.

Ron Henke, Director, North Dakota Department of Transportation

Governor Doug Burgum appointed Ron Henke to lead the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) in October 2022. He joined the NDDOT in 1990 and previously served as the Deputy Director for Engineering, Office of Operations Director, and Office of Project Development Director. In addition, he also served across other areas of the department including Design, Construction, and as Assistant Engineer for Planning and Programming.

Henke earned bachelor’s degrees in Construction Management and Construction Engineering from North Dakota State University (NDSU) in 1988 and 2001. He is a Registered Professional Engineer in North Dakota with a background in field construction, statewide operations (construction and maintenance), planning and programming of projects, budget, environmental document preparation, and plan development.

Sydney Helgeson, Miss North Dakota 2023

Sydney Helgeson was crowned Miss North Dakota 2023 in June. Originally from Bismarck and a Bismarck High School graduate, she attended The University of Alabama (UA) on a full tuition scholarship earned through the Miss America Organization. 

Helgeson graduated from UA in May 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in commerce and business with majors in management and entrepreneurship and minors in music and sales. She earned over $13,000 in scholarships at the 2023 Miss North Dakota competition to use toward a master’s degree in non-profit management. 

Helgeson will spend her reign on a state-wide appearance and speaking tour to spread awareness of her community service initiative, “Live United: Building Stronger Communities.” She is a longtime volunteer and advocate for the United Way and will work to educate students and communities on the importance of volunteerism and community engagement through the United Way and their programs. 

Carma Hanson, Grand Forks Coordinator, Safe Kids Grand Forks

For 28 years, Carma Hanson has served as the Coordinator of Safe Kids Grand Forks — a coalition focused on preventing unintentional injuries and death to children under age 19. Under her leadership, the coalition has expanded injury prevention throughout northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota. Using her nursing background, Hanson has aided the coalition’s work in curriculum and program development, strategic and campaign planning, and policy development. She is certified in child passenger safety and special needs transportation and teaches the safe transportation of children in ambulances curriculum.

Dr. Christopher Boe, Emergency Medicine, Altru Health Systems

Christopher Boe, M.D., is a board-certified emergency medicine physician in Grand Forks. He graduated from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences and is currently the chief of staff at Altru Hospital, medical director of Altru Care Flight, and the chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine and Urgent Care Services. He has spent his career taking care of trauma patients from the region.

Brian Twete, Certified Nurse Practitioner, Northwood Deaconess Health Center

Brian Twete, FNP-C, has practiced rural medicine for 24 years, and currently works at Northwood Deaconess Health Center in Northwood, a rural satellite clinic service. His favorite subsets of family practice are emergency medicine and orthopedics.

Twete was connected to the Hatton-Northwood school bus crash in several capacities. Primarily as a dad of a daughter who was ejected from the bus as result of the impact. Secondary as a rural medical provider where the crash occurred, and lastly as a school board member of the district whose bus was involved in the crash.

Matthew Johnson, Sergeant, North Dakota Highway Patrol

Matthew Johnson is a sergeant with the North Dakota Highway Patrol (NDHP) in Grand Forks. He was a trooper for five years stationed in Williston prior to his promotion to sergeant. He has been with the NDHP for 10 years and has been part of the Crash Reconstruction Team, emergency response team and was a use of force instructor. Currently Sgt. Johnson is leading six other troopers based out of Grand Forks, Larimore, Aneta, Thompson, Hillsboro and Park River. He was on scene at the Hatton-Northwood school bus crash primarily as an incident commander directing resources, funneling information, and being a point of contact for other agencies. 

Kurt Schwind, Sheriff, Nelson County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Kurt Schwind began his career in law enforcement in 1993 where he was chief of police in Edmore. Sheriff Schwind was a K9 and patrol officer for the Devils Lake Police Department from 1995 to 2000. He served in the North Dakota Army National Guard from 1984 to 2000 and the United States Army from 2000 to 2020 where he was part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2020, he began work as deputy sheriff for Nelson County Sheriff’s Office and was elected sheriff in 2023.

Angela Herda, Emergency Manager and Superintendent of Schools, Nelson County

Angela Herda was born and raised in Abercrombie and is a graduate of Richland #44 School District’s high school and University of North Dakota – Lake Region. She has been the Nelson County emergency manager and county superintendent of schools since July of 2019. Herda has a background in law enforcement and education, which has made this career a perfect fit for her. She has been married to her husband Matt for 20 years and has three children and one grandchild. In her spare time, she likes to watch her son compete in snocross racing, spend time at the lake and spoil her grandchild.

Sarah Vaith, Paramedic and Operations Manager, Michigan Area Ambulance Service

Sarah Vaith is a nationally registered paramedic and has worked in EMS for seven years as an EMT and seven years as a paramedic. She has an associate degree in paramedic technology from North Dakota State College of Science. She is currently employed as a paramedic and operations manager for Michigan Area Ambulance Service in Michigan,and is a volunteer with the McVille Community Ambulance Service. Vaith was the initial first responder on scene of the Hatton-Northwood school bus crash and became incident command.

Patricia Lien, 911 Communications Specialist, Lake Region Law Enforcement Center

Patricia (Trish) Lien has worked as a 911 communications specialist at the Lake Region Law Enforcement Center for 16 years and has been the lieutenant for the dispatch center since March 2022. In those 16 years, she has achieved more than 37 training certificates including CPR, mental health and many others. 

Tarek Chase, Trooper, North Dakota Highway Patrol

Tarek Chase is a trooper with the NDHP. Tarek brings expertise in recognizing drug and alcohol impaired drivers to his fellow officers all over North Dakota. He has been with the Patrol since 2008 and has been stationed in Williston, Elgin and New Salem. Tarek has a passion for learning and law enforcement. He is one of three aircraft Forward-Looking InfraRed (FLIR) operators with the NDHP, a certified Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) as well as a DRE instructor, Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) instructor, and an emergency vehicle operation course instructor. In 2017, Chase was appointed North Dakota’s first SFST State Coordinator and was appointed North Dakota’s combined DRE/SFST State Coordinator in 2019. He and his wife have three children and make their home in Mandan.

Jaclyn Andersen, Research Specialist, North Dakota State University – Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute

Jaclyn (Jackie) Andersen is a Research Specialist for the Rural Transportation Safety and Security Program at NDSU’s Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute. Her work began in the spring of 2020 after graduating from NDSU with a bachelor’s degree in behavioral statistics. She contributes to the lead investigator’s research and outreach efforts in cooperation with stakeholders to promote safe and secure transportation, with emphasis on rural regions. Her primary focus involves the design, management, execution and analysis of quantitative surveys concerning occupant protection and impaired driving.

Janelle Portscheller, State Toxicologist, North Dakota State Crime Laboratory

Janelle Portscheller is the state toxicologist and toxicology unit technical leader with the North Dakota Office of Attorney General – Crime Laboratory Division. She has been employed by the crime laboratory division for 19 years. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Dickinson State University and Graduate Study in Organic Chemistry from the University of Kansas. Janelle is a Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Toxicology (ABFT). She is a member of the Society of Forensic Toxicologists (SOFT) and International Association for Chemical Testing (IACT). She also serves on the North Dakota Oral Fluid Technical Advisory Committee, Impaired Driving Task Force, DRE/SFST Advisory Board, and Traffic Records Coordinating Committee. She has analyzed and peer reviewed thousands of toxicology cases for DUIs, the state medical examiner, county coroners and drug facilitated sexual assaults.

Gina Espinosa-Salcedo, Region 8 Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Gina Espinosa-Salcedo has been with NHTSA for 22 years; she currently serves as NHTSA’s Region 8 Administrator. Prior to working for NHTSA, she conducted behavioral cancer prevention research and developed partnership programs for the National Cancer Institute. Espinosa-Salcedo’s public health work includes family violence prevention and HIV education for migrant workers in California and Maine. While in Maine, she worked as an emergency medical technician and holds a Master of Public Health degree.

Ryan Gellner, Vision Zero Outreach Program Director, North Dakota Association of Counties

Ryan is the Vision Zero Outreach Program Director at the North Dakota Association of Counties (NDACo). The program provides county-level traffic safety outreach to county leadership and employees to increase support for traffic safety policies and intervention at the local level. Ryan also acts as a lobbyist for NDACo during the North Dakota legislative session, working on county-related traffic safety issues. He currently serves as the committee chair for the Vision Zero Priority Emphasis Team in the area of occupant protection.

Gellner acts as the Vision Zero Outreach Coordinator supervisor and oversees each regional coordinator across the state. He also works with other traffic safety partnerships outside of county government to include schools and universities, businesses, sports venues, media and other entities. Gellner is very active in the Impact Teen Drivers Program, implementing and teaching the nationwide educational program that confronts the dangers and consequences of reckless and distracted driving. Ryan has been working firsthand with the Impact Teen Drivers curriculum and has delivered the free one-hour course to thousands of students across North Dakota.

Ryan and his wife Lisa live in West Fargo with their two children. In his free time, he officiates high school and college basketball, football and softball.

Mason Sisk, Senior Policy Advisor, North Dakota Office of the Governor

Mason Sisk is a senior policy advisor in the North Dakota Governor’s Office focused on transportation, public safety, and technology policy. Since 2019, he has worked to support the Vision Zero initiative by serving as a strategic advisor to the Governor, Lt. Governor, policy, and executive team to help develop and implement the administration’s policy agenda by building relationships and coalitions, conducting major policy reviews, making recommendations on policy issues, and addressing stakeholder comments and inquiries on policy. 

Brandon Solberg, Colonel, North Dakota Highway Patrol

Col. Brandon Solberg’s broad career with the NDHP began in Grafton (1999) before transferring to Grand Forks. He received the rank of regional sergeant in Fargo (2005), and lieutenant (2007) in Bismarck where he served as the planning and property officer. In 2011, he was promoted to the rank of captain and served as the support services director, then as the chief of staff with the rank of major (2014) before being appointed superintendent by Gov. Doug Burgum on July 1, 2018. Col. Solberg received an associate degree in law enforcement from Alexandria Technical & Community College and a bachelor’s degree in social science from the University of North Dakota. He is a 2006 graduate of Northwestern School of Police Staff and Command.

Theresa Liebsch, Vision Zero Outreach Coordinator – SW Region, Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department

Theresa Liebsch is the Vision Zero Coordinator for the Southwest region of North Dakota and is housed at the Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department in Bismarck. Liebsch graduated with a degree in communications from the University of Mary in 2020. She is a member of the Occupant Protection Committee and works with schools and communities to increase seat belt use rates within her region through observational studies and data collection. Through events, education and networking, Liebsch hopes to continue to expand the Vision Zero Initiative and get every North Dakota citizen home safely.

Kelli Just, LaMoure Emergency Medical Services

Kelli Just has been a volunteer EMT with Edgeley and LaMoure Ambulance Services for more than 20 years. She was named the North Dakota EMS Provider of the Year in 2019 and currently serves on the North Dakota EMS Association’s Board of Directors. Just is a teacher by trade, graduating from Valley City State University with a Bachelor of Science in Education, and thus has the passion for educating others, especially about medical emergencies. In addition to Stop the Bleed, she teaches CPR, first-aid, AED use, electronic medical record courses and babysitter safety courses. Just and her husband Christof farm and ranch near Berlin and have three children — Karly, Katrina and Cole.

Andy Schneider, Sheriff, Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Office

Andy Schneider was elected to serve as the Grand Forks County sheriff in 2018. He was hired in 2005 as a deputy sheriff by Sheriff Dan Hill, and promoted to sergeant in 2013. Through the years serving Grand Forks County, Schneider has been a proactive patrol deputy, serving arrest warrants, enforcing traffic laws, and encouraging proactive patrol on his shifts. After being elected sheriff, Schneider increased the minimum amount of patrol deputies per shift and promoted visibility and traffic enforcement in the County. Schneider has kept the sheriff’s office highly engaged with the Vision Zero mission and has his agency participate in Vision Zero enforcement campaigns.

Schneider grew up in rural Grand Forks with his three siblings. He now lives in Grand Forks with his wife Callie and their five boys. He spends his free time outdoors camping, hunting and fishing with his family, watching his boys participate in multiple sports and activities, and volunteering for multiple organizations in the community.

Cole Just, Student, LaMoure High School

Cole Just is a freshman at LaMoure High School and is active in football, FFA, 4-H, Lutheran Youth Organization (LYO) and LaMoure School's Vision Zero leadership team. Just is an Emergency Medical Response (EMR) student with Community Volunteer EMS of LaMoure. Farming and ranching are his passions and he enjoys working on his family's farm and for Infinity Ag.  

Gus Jenson, Student, Flasher High School

Gus Jenson is from Flasher and is a high school senior at Flasher Public School. Jenson enjoys working on engines and race cars, being a race car driver and learning more about the line worker program at Bismarck State College. He also enjoys reading, hunting and advocating for Vision Zero as a student leader.

Nick West, Highway Engineer, Grand Forks County

Nick West has enjoyed being the Grand Forks County highway engineer since 2014. Prior to working for Grand Forks County, he worked in the private consulting field specializing in municipal and transportation engineering. West is actively involved in his profession and community, serving on various local boards, engineering associations and service organizations. He is married with four children. In his spare time, he enjoys hobby farming, hunting and working on his hot rod.

Kaitlin Atkinson, Vision Zero Outreach Coordinator – NE Region, Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Office

Kaitlin Atkinson is the Vision Zero Outreach Coordinator for the Northeast region of North Dakota. Housed out of the Grand Forks County Sheriff's Office, her work focuses on helping road users make safe choices when behind the wheel. She is committed to working across various fields to reach people throughout the region, ensuring young drivers and experienced drivers alike have the skills they need to make it to each of their destinations safely. Atkinson is passionate about North Dakota being her home and looks forward to continuing to make a positive impact on North Dakotans across the state.

Leah Kelm, Vision Zero Outreach Coordinator – SE Region, Cass County Highway Department

Based in Cass County, Leah Kelm is the Vision Zero Outreach Coordinator for the Southeast region of North Dakota. She is a certified child passenger safety technician, a trained Impact Teen Drivers ambassador, and a strong advocate for reducing serious injuries and fatalities from motor vehicle crashes. Prior to becoming a traffic safety professional, she was in the field of parks and recreation for 10 years. From planning activities and events for youth and adults to serving on the North Dakota Recreation and Park Association’s Board of Directors, Kelm has a wide variety of experience providing engaging opportunities for communities. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, attending sporting events and concerts, being with friends and family, and hanging out with her rescue dog named Bart.

Justin Schlosser, Engineer, North Dakota Department of Transportation

Justin Schlosser started working with the NDDOT after graduating from NDSU in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Schlosser is currently the traffic operations engineer where he prepares and analyzes traffic and infrastructure safety studies. He also manages the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), a federal-aid highway program which seeks to significantly reduce fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads.

Molly Schoen, Vision Zero Outreach Coordinator, NW Region, Ward County Highway Department

Molly Schoen, an advocate for safety and security, currently serves as the Northwest Regional Coordinator for Vision Zero, a position she assumed earlier this year. Schoen’s commitment to public safety stems from her background as a 911 dispatcher for six years in Ward County, where she played a crucial role in emergency response and assistance.

In her role as a Regional Coordinator for Vision Zero, Schoen is dedicated to advancing the principles of Vision Zero and eliminating all traffic fatalities and serious injuries. Drawing from her experience in emergency services, she brings a unique perspective to the team, emphasizing the importance of proactive measures in achieving the Vision Zero goals.

Schoen is a recent graduate, having earned her bachelor's degree in cybersecurity in December 2023 from Purdue University. Her academic pursuits further demonstrate her commitment to enhancing security measures and ensuring the well-being of communities.

Nate Sandberg, Safety/Environmental Manager, Northern Improvement Company

Nate Sandberg is the safety/environmental manager for Northern Improvement Company's Bismarck office. He has been with Northern Improvement for nine years. Prior to Northern Improvement, he worked for the Minnesota Department of Transportation on the bridge crew as a laborer. When Sandberg started with Northern Improvement Company, he was a laborer on a concrete crew in Fargo and worked his way into the safety manager role years after his completion of college. Northern Improvement Company is a heavy highway general contractor that deals with a wide range of projects including parking lots, street work, interstate paving, airport work, and large dirt projects for mines, landfills and power plants. Most of their work involves dealing with public traffic.

Steve Fischer, Safety Director, Associated General Contractors of North Dakota

Steve Fischer, Associated General Contractors of North Dakota’s safety director, joined the AGC team in November of 2021. He devoted over 25 years to law enforcement and retired from the NDHP in 2020. Fischer instructs a variety of construction industry safety courses, which can be found on the AGC of North Dakota website. He is a lifelong resident of North Dakota, growing up in Ashley. Fischer graduated from NDSU with degrees in sociology and social science.

Lauren Wahlman, Safety Public Information Program Manager, North Dakota Department of Transportation

Lauren Wahlman is the Safety Public Information Program Manager at the NDDOT, where she focuses on public education and outreach for Vision Zero, North Dakota’s traffic safety initiative. Her role includes overseeing media placement, traffic safety program development and building partnerships with stakeholders. Prior to her time at NDDOT, Wahlman worked in marketing and radio.

Kristen Parks, Vice President of Project Development, Alteristic

Kristen Parks co-leads Alteristic’s programs and training efforts and contributes to strategic planning, capacity building and prevention program development. She provides training and technical assistance in power-based personal violence prevention. Prior to joining Alteristic, Parks worked for a community-based agency in Lexington, Kentucky, as education coordinator and implemented Green Dot in middle schools, high schools and colleges across the state. She also provided anti-violence presentations and workshops for the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky, and medical and legal advocacy for survivors.