Founder and Executive Director
Stacy is the Founder and Executive Director of 31:8 Project. She has based her work in advocacy on the ideal that no one person can do everything, but everyone can do something. Stacy is the coordinator for the Demand Reduction Program and an adjunct professor at the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND. She currently serves as a board member of the North Dakota Association of Nonprofit Organizations, committee member of the North Dakota Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Task Force and member of the Farwest Rotary Club. With a passion
towards serving others, Stacy has dedicated much of her time advocating for human rights. This pursuit has influenced her education, career, and community work.
Stacy graduated with a Master's Degree in Public Administration from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. Prior, she received her Bachelor's Degree in Social Behavioral Sciences from the University of Mary. In 2011, she was crowned Miss ND International and represented a platform on combating human trafficking. She launched 31:8 Project in 2015 to rally the general public to "speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.” Stacy was awarded the ND Emerging Leader Award for her work in the non-profit sector and was selected as one of the Bismarck Tribune's “20 Under 40”. Stacy was the 2018 University of Mary Bell Banner Alumni of the Year, and has been recognized as one of Bismarck's Hidden Hometown Heroes. Stacy often credits her motivation, work ethic, and determination from growing up on a farm near the town of Wishek, ND. Stacy hopes to inspire individuals across the state to join 31:8 Project on the journey to help end modern day slavery, starting right here in North Dakota.
For Amy, servant leadership is the cornerstone of her educational and personal philosophy. She is an Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Mary and is active in campus organizations, including the UMary Board of Student Publications and the UMary Professional Development Committee. Amy earned her BA in Communication at the University of Mary and her MA in Communication from the University of Nevada. Amy volunteers with Junior Achievement of Bismarck-Mandan and other community groups.
Carole has centered her life’s work on education and social justice, focusing on those in vulnerable communities. She holds an MA in English, a Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning, and has served as a Fulbright Scholar. She is a professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Mary. Carole has worked with a number of institutions including the St. Francis Indian School, the University of South Dakota, United Tribes Technical College, the Indians Into Medicine Program, and the North Dakota Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commision on Civil Rights.
Corey is a Certified Public Accountant in Bismarck. Practicing publicly, his major focuses are small and big business consulting, planning, and income tax preparation. He has a wealth of experience in the accounting and tax procedures involved in operating a charitable organization. In 2009, Corey graduated from Dickinson State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting and minors in Banking & Finance as well as Entrepreneurship. He then successfully completed the CPA examination in 2012. Corey is married with three children.
Dierdra is dedicated to creating an environment where at-risk youth can succeed. A graduate of the University of Mary with a Bachelor's in Social Work, her professional career has included working with agencies such as Charles Hall and Youthworks. In addition to her role as a Police Youthworker with the Bismarck Police Department, she is a member of the North Dakota Human Trafficking Task Force. As an advocate and liaison between youth and law enforcement, schools, and the community, Dierdra works towards building and sustaining positive relationships within the juvenile justice system.
Alisha’s greatest passion is to help those who have struggled through life’s hardships find healing, experience unconditional acceptance, and pursue their Christ-designed potential. She is the Care Pastor at Bismarck’s Evangel Church. Alisha earned her BS in Psychology in 2011, followed by her MA in Professional Counseling. When’s she’s not in her office creating leadership curriculum or providing counseling services, you can find her curled up with a book, watching a documentary, or traveling. Alisha is married with two children.
Josh was raised in North Dakota where his family’s company, Ulmer Auction Service, gave him insight into the farming and ranching industry and allowed him to travel the state. He attended Bismarck State College, earning an Associate’s degree before graduating from Dickinson State University with a degree in Business Administration. Josh is a Business Banking Officer at BNC National Bank in Bismarck and active in several community groups. Josh's wife, Erica, and his sons, Crosby and Ryan, inspire him to continue creating a community where safety is a priority.
Rwatie Matsika is an ardent advocate for human rights. Rwatie has over fourteen years of experience as a career diplomat, including over eight years of service in Washington D.C. Rwatie has an interdisciplinary academic background rooted in social sciences and legal studies. He is a certified human rights and anti-human trafficking consultant currently working for the North Dakota Department of Labor and Human Rights. Rwatie currently serves as the Labor Trafficking expert for the North Dakota Human Trafficking Task Force. The father of four daughters, he credits his parents for inspiring his belief in democracy and the rule of law and his passion for public and community service.
Shaun was introduced to 31:8 Project through his profession as a Law Enforcement Officer. He began his working career in the Architecture Industry having earned his Associates degree in Architectural Technology. In 2014, Shaun changed direction and entered Law Enforcement. He currently is an employee of the Watford City Police Department and assigned to a Federal Taskforce. When he's not working, Shaun enjoys competing in triathlons and duathlons in the summer and hunting with his dog, Kaide, in the winter.
Joe Kittell joined First Western Bank and Trust as a Business Development Officer in May 2022. He previously worked at the University of Mary as the Director of Undergraduate Admissions where he helped the University grow their largest incoming class of all time. Prior to his role Director Admissions, Joe was the Head Men’s Basketball Coach for six seasons at the University of Mary, with Kittell as head coach, the Marauders men won 65 games. He led the Marauders to their first NSIC semi-finals appearance in 2016 and picked up his 100th career win during the 2019-2020 season. Off the floor, Kittell received the 2017 Samaritan’s Feet Barefoot Coach of the Year, an award honoring his volunteer work and awareness raised for the organization.
Before the University of Mary Joe was the Head Coach at Lake Region State College for two seasons and was an assistant coach at Gillette College (WY), Colorado State University, North Dakota State College of Science, Mayville State University and North Dakota State University. Joe and his wife, Emily - a Special Education Teacher for Bismarck Public Schools - reside in Bismarck and are parents of: Miles, Cooper, and Ella. Joe grew up in Minot and Garrison and graduated with his undergraduate and graduate degree from North Dakota State University.
Betty Weber was raised on a farm in southwest North Dakota. She attended Dickinson State University, earning her undergraduate degree in Business Administration. For the last 16 years, she worked in the banking industry. Most recently she was a Personal Banking Officer with BNC National Bank.
Betty and her husband, Brent, currently reside in Bismarck. She recently made the decision to press pause her career and is delighted to be staying at home with their son, Gus. Since first being introduced to 31:8 Project, Betty felt compelled to be active in helping with their mission.
Murray Sagsveen is the legal advisor to the board of directors. He has advised, and served on, many nonprofit governing boards for more than 35 years including the American Academy of Neurology, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation, North Dakota Association of Nonprofit Organizations, and Luther Seminary. He retired as a brigadier general judge advocate in the Army National Guard in 1996 but was recalled to state active duty as a major general in 1997 for the Red River flood in Grand Forks and in 2001 for the Souris River flood in Minot. In 2013-2015, he served as the chief of staff for the interim chancellor of the North Dakota University System. He now volunteers as the synod attorney for the Western North Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, which also allows him to provide legal assistance to 160 Lutheran congregations in western North Dakota.
Laura brings well-honed customer service skills to 31:8 Project after working in that field for a variety of industries. She also has a commitment to deepening her understanding of human trafficking, particularly here in North Dakota, and is also giving her energy to building the 31:8 Project Bravery Backpack program.
She graduated from Texas A&M University – Kingsville with a bachelors in Marketing, which comes in handy with selling 31:8 Project merchandise and keeping their social media up to date. A native of Corpus Christi, Texas, nicknamed “The Sparkling City by the Bay,” Laura grew up spending time at the beach. She misses living close to the ocean but loves exploring the great outdoors with her husband. They have an Australia Shephard/Heeler named Lively who fits her name well.
Laura feeds her creative spirit by developing new artistic skills. Most recently that has included learning how to create one-of-a-kind bracelets. She is also an avid reader with a 20-book goal for the year, and enjoys a daily dose of her favorite vintage tv series, M*A*S*H.
Human Trafficking Mentorship Program Coordinator
Shelly has over 30 years of Clinical and Administration experience working in the Behavioral Health Field for the North Dakota (ND) Department of Human Services and ND Department of Corrections. She retired from her employment with the state of ND in 2022. Since her retirement she continues to work in areas that she feels passionate about such as the area of human trafficking. Shelly also has a background in teaching and academic advising for Minot State University for 13 years in their Social Work Department. Most recently she has been an adjunct instructor for the University of Mary where she continues to teach in the Addiction and Social Work Departments. She holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Minnesota and is also a Licensed master’s level Addiction Counselor in the state of ND. She feels fortunate for the opportunity to put her education and work experience to use while working for 31:8 Project. Shelly is married and has two adult children. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends.
With nearly 20 years in the fields of marketing, academic advising, recruitment, sales, and most importantly, serving people, Tyler has a passion for enabling others to succeed. He completed his A.A.S in Computer Support at Bismarck State College and B.S. in Biology from the University of North Dakota. His past positions include working at the North Dakota Youth Correctional Center in Mandan, ND and Sylvan Learning Center in Grand Forks, ND. Tyler owns his own business, Merk's Marketing LLC, which focuses on employee recruitment marketing, talent acquisition, graphic and web design, general marketing, and social media.
Having advocated for and presented on human trafficking issues since high school, Grace
has been passionate about everything 31:8 Project stands for long before being blessed with the opportunity to work with them. After interning with 31:8 Project in college, Grace came onboard to be the Program Coordinator in the fall of 2023. Grace graduated with her Bachelors in Psychology and a Minor in Christian Studies and Youth Discipleship Programming from Charleston Southern University and is excited to put her skills to use and grow her experience on the team. In the future, Grace hopes to continue her education and work federally alongside her position at 31:8 Project.
Grace resides in Bismarck with her husband, Preston, where you can easily find her crafting coffees at Bitty Bean, hunched over her desk squinting at her computer, or baking an
exorbitant amount of cookies at home to thrust upon any unprepared individual. Whether it is for work or personal endeavors, Grace is always ready to learn more and help others however she can.
Therapy "Good Boy" in Training
Grizzly was rescued as a baby puppy along with his mom and siblings. He has passed two levels of puppy training with the goal of becoming a certified therapy dog. Grizzly is already comfortable at the office, part of the staff, and does extremely well with survivors of human trafficking. He loves people, adventures, open landscapes, and snacks . . . . . lots of snacks!