Board of Directors

JoNell Bakke, Vice-Chair

Committees: Executive, Legislative (Chair), Nominating (Chair), Programming (Chair)
JoNell Bakke is a retired special education teacher who taught with the Grand Forks Public Schools for 30 years. She graduated from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelors degree in Elementary and Special Education in addition to a Masters in Special Education, with a specialty in Education of the Emotionally Disturbed. Senator Bakke has served on the board of NDHRC since 2011.

Karla Buzick

Committees: Development, Executive
Karla Buzick is the Office and Technology Manager at The Consensus Council, Inc and has been employed there since January 2013. She received her degree from Bismarck State College in Information Processing in 2013 and is a 2011 graduate of the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber Leadership program. She is the current Chair of Dakota OutRight and has previously served as the Vice-Chair of the Bismarck Human Relations Committee. Ms. Buzick has served on the Board of the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition since 2011.

Lillian Jones

Committees: Development, Programming
Lillian Jones is a Bismarck native and works as a paralegal for Jones Legal, a public interest law office in Fargo. She studied at the University of Mary and the University of North Dakota and is involved in a number of programs in the Fargo-Moorhead area. She is a consultant and delivers educational and awareness presentations on Violence against Native Women to enhance competency with practitioners serving victims of crime. Lillian and her husband have a combined family of four children and five wonderful grandchildren. She is excited to serve on the NDHRC Board of Directors and looks forward to what lies ahead in the state of North Dakota and upper Midwest region.

David Lanpher

Committees: Executive
Dave Lanpher is Broker Associate at Park Co. Realtors in Fargo, ND since 1998. He as a degree in history from Asbury University and Master of Divinity from the Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, NY. He has been a member of the Fargo Human Relations Commission since 2008 and was chairperson from 2009 to 2014.

Janelle Miedema

Committees: Programming
Janelle R. Miedema was born and raised in North Dakota and is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. Janelle has been a practicing social worker for 32 years in the Fargo-Moorhead community with practice emphasis in children, youth and families, specialized foster care, prevention programs for youth at risk, mental health, program development and program/clinical supervision. In August 2013, Janelle began as Assistant Professor of Social Work at Minnesota State University Moorhead. Janelle’s areas of interest include the study of human diversity and the importance of understanding various forms of privilege and its impact on practicing social workers and their clients.

Marcia Mikulak

Committee: Marketing
Dr. Marcia Mikulak is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Dakota. As a cultural anthropologist, Dr. Mikulak specializes in the cultural constructions of childhood, human rights, violence, and identity. Along with her work as a university professor and anthropologist, Dr. Mikulak is a Country Specialist with Amnesty International for Brazil and is an accomplished concert pianist with degrees in music performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Mills College.

Barry Nelson, Chair

Committees: Development, Executive
Barry Nelson is director of the Head Start/Early Head Start Program at Southeastern North Dakota Community Action Agency, Fargo. Nelson proudly calls himself a community activist and believes that ALL people should be able to participate fully in their community be it in housing, employment, access to services and/or choice of relationships. He is board member with RiverKeepers, and is active with his district political party. He was one of the charter members of the NDHRC board and returned as a board member in the fall of 2009.

Kjersten Nelson

Committees: Executive, Marketing
Kjersten Nelson is a Fargo native, who returned home to be an Assistant Professor of Political Science at North Dakota State University. Prior to this, she spent time in St. Paul; Syracuse, NY; and Washington, DC, where she worked for Senator Kent Conrad on health, education, and labor issues. Her interest in Political Science is a lifelong one, stemming from a desire to work towards a political system and community that includes everyone and improves everyone’s quality of life. Kjersten lives in Fargo with her husband Ryan, two young children, and several felines.

Karen Okigbo

Committees: Executive, Marketing (Chair)
Karen Okigbo is a Research Coordinator at the Out-of-School Time Resource Center (OSTRC) at the University of Pennsylvania. She graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelors in Political Science, from North Dakota State University with a Masters in Sociology, and from the University of Pennsylvania with a Masters in Social Policy. Miss Okigbo has served on the board of the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition since 2010 and is absolutely thrilled to be a part of NDHRC.

Sue Peterson

Committees: Programming
Sue Peterson is a Social Worker with fifteen years’ experience working in the areas of mental health, domestic violence, disabilities, and school social work. She has been a higher education social work instructor since 1999 and currently teaches in the Social Work Program at Minot State University.

Stacy Schaffer

Stacy L. Schaffer is the Development Officer for the North Dakota Humanities Council and an adjunct professor at the University of Mary . She graduated with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. Before attending Hamline, she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Behavioral Sciences from the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND. With a passion towards serving others, Stacy has dedicated much of her time towards advocating for human rights. Before returning back to North Dakota this past spring, Stacy worked with several non-profits to create and implement fundraising programs throughout the United States. She is looking forward to being back in the state and a part of the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition!

Cassandra Schroeder

Cassandra is the Human Resources Director at Community Living Services, Inc. in Fargo which is a nonprofit agency serving individuals with disabilities. She graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead in 2009 with a Bachelors degree in Social Work. Cassandra obtained her LSW upon graduation and continues to practice Case Management in addition to her Human Resources duties at CLS. Cassandra took her passion for helping others and applied it to the community by serving on the Moorhead Human Rights Commission in 2008 as Vice Chair. Due to her activism she was a recipient of the Scholarship Award for Promoting Human Rights and Equality in the Community in 2009. Cassandra now lives in Harwood ND; she is excited to serve on the Board of Directors for the NDHRC and looks forward to being part of the effort to effect positive change for all people in North Dakota.

Kyle Thorson

Kyle Thorson was born and raised in Bottineau, ND. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of North Dakota in 2011 and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration. Kyle spent a year living in Cuernavaca, Mexico volunteering with an organization focused on advocacy for victims of the drug war and their families while also expanding his viewpoint of immigration and social justice issues between the United States and Mexico. Closer to home, Kyle played an integral role in crafting and passing a city ordinance that made Grand Forks the first city in North Dakota to provide protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, in housing and public employment.

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