From Gymnastics Coach to Doctor
Prognosis: Sports Can Guide Success By Jody Kerzman Dr. Marisa Albertson credits her success as a family practice physician to many things, but at the top of that list: her years as an athlete and a coach. “My experiences in sports help me be a better doctor,” says Marisa. “I learned time management, the importance of being a team player, and the impact hard work and dedication have on success.” Marisa was a stand out athlete at Minot Bishop Ryan during the early 1990s. She was part of a gymnastics team that won four state championships. As a senior, she was also point guard for Minot Bishop Ryan’s state championship basketball team. She went on to play three years of college ball at the University of Mary. “I was going into physical therapy when I started at the University of Mary. I had one of those life changing moments after three years in that program; I decided I didn’t want to be a physical therapist. I moved to Seattle, had my son, and got married.” Challenged In 1999, she moved back to Minot and decided it was time to go back to school. With a young son, that proved to be a little harder than her first three years of college. She graduated from Minot State University in 2002 with a biology major and a minor in chemistry. She had planned to go onto medical school, but didn’t get accepted. “I guess it was another test in tenacity,” says Marisa. “There was an opening at Bishop Ryan for a science teacher. I decided to try it, just in case I wasn’t able to go to medical school.” She taught everything from physical science to anatomy. She also got her first taste of coaching. “My little sister was a senior when I moved back in 1999 and was one of the top gymnasts in the state,” remembers Marisa. “Her coach had left, and she was without a coach, so I got to step in and coach my sister. It was so fun, but also a bit intimidating. She and her teammates were very high level gymnasts so I had to learn very quickly and show confidence, even though I didn’t always feel very confident. I had no experience as a gymnastics coach. Being a coach and being a gymnast are very different, but I needed them to believe in me like I believed in them, and they stepped up to the challenge. “That year, my first year of coaching, was my most memorable year for a lot of reasons,” she remembers. “My sister was a big part of that. She was a leader and believed in me, and that helped her teammates believe in me too. That first year of coaching was another turning point in my life. Had my sister not needed a coach, I never would have considered coaching gymnastics. I’m so grateful for that, for the opportunity to coach, for the challenges that came with that job, and for the amazing girls I had the privilege of coaching. Those girls made a huge impact on my life.” The Dream Realized As much as she loved teaching and coaching, after two years, she couldn’t stop thinking about going to medical school. But by then, Marisa had two children to think about – her son was seven, and her daughter was just one-year-old. It was Marisa’s mother who convinced her to follow her dream. “My mom is the strongest woman I know. She never for one second thought I wasn’t capable of something. She helped me get through med school with two babies.” After medical school, Marisa moved back home to Minot. She’s been a family practice doctor at Trinity ever since. “I love everything about it. I see pediatrics, geriatrics and everything in between. Skin conditions, basic stuff, internal medicine. A little of everything. I like the variety, and I like seeing all ages. It is the perfect fit for me.” When she’s not busy with patients, Marisa fills her time coaching. She coached gymnastics in some form or fashion for the past 18 years, and spent six years as the director of the Minot gymnastics program. “Gymnastics has always been a passion of mine.” And her passion shows – she gets excited talking about all the girls she’s coached. “Girls start at age six or seven and many of them I was able to coach all through high school. You get so bonded and so connected with them by being their coach. I loved watching their progress, on and off the mat.” Influence Photo by: Kopper Frick Photography One of her proudest moments as a coach, has been seeing her gymnasts follow her footsteps, and go to medical school; one graduated last year, one will graduate this year, and a third is currently working on getting into medical school. She hopes even more will choose a similar career path. “When you are a coach, you’re a role model. Seeing two of my girls follow in my footsteps makes me incredibly proud. I can’t help but think their time as gymnasts helped them tackle medical school as well. My goal as a coach was to use gymnastics as a vehicle to teach kids skills for life,” she says. “As a coach of course I emphasized the fundamentals of gymnastics, but I also stressed to my girls that nothing that is worth it comes easy. “So many young girls start gymnastics with a dream of being an Olympic gymnast. No one in their right mind would ever crush those dreams, but while it’s probably not going to happen for most gymnasts, there are still so many life lessons to learn by trying. I want them to learn the importance of hard work and self belief, no matter what obstacles might be in the way.” Marisa is no longer coaching gymnastics, but she is still coaching, and influencing young girls. She’s now a volunteer coach for her daughter’s basketball and fast pitch softball teams. And although the sports are different her lessons and her approach remain the same: work hard and have fun. Lessons that she knows will help her girls succeed long after their days of athletics are over.
Look What She Did: Lyndsey Scheurer
Lyndsey Scheurer, a senior at Century High School, is Miss North Dakota’s Outstanding Teen. She went to Orlando, Florida in August to compete at Miss America’s Outstanding Teen pageant. She says the experience was “fun, but exhausting.” As part of her year of service, Lyndsey partnered with the North Dakota Homeless Coalition and Mid Dakota Clinic to start a Mercy Box project. She worked with businesses to collect over 2,000 pounds of travel size toiletries that were put together in “blessing bags” at a local church and given to people in the community who were in need of such everyday items. She has also participated in food drives to donate non-perishable items to charities like Carrie’s Kids, and she’s collected Beanie Babies for children at the Ruth Meiers Hospitality House. Lyndsey says pageants have helped her gain confidence, poise, and stage presence. She’s also met many lifelong friends. If you know of a girl who would be interested in being in the Bismarck-Mandan Scholarship Pageant on Sunday, October 9, at 4 pm at Simle Middle School in Bismarck, please email email@example.com or visit bismanscholarship.org. The registration deadline is October 3. Contestants range in age from 5 to 24 years old and participate in a private interview, talent competition, lifestyle and fitness, evening gown, and on-stage question. Winners will compete in the state pageant in Williston in June 2017. Lyndsey wins Miss ND Outstanding Teen Lyndsey and her fellow ND teen contestants
WEB EXCLUSIVE: Music as Medicine
By Marci Narum When Emily Wangen decided her career would be in music therapy, her parents were among the first people with whom she shared the news. She says they were a bit skeptical, however supportive, of the dream. Emily was sure. She had been singing since childhood, naturally loved to help people, and discovered the career through an online search. Music therapy would be her life’s work. What she didn’t know was how music therapy would play a role in the last breath of her father’s life. Or that she would be there to experience it. “My dad had a traumatic brain aneurism about four years ago. He had about 60 days of life through the process and as a result passed. Through his last days, speech did not come easily. However, through musical cuing, he could sing ‘Red Solo Cup’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ I naturally started working with when I arrived at the hospital while he was in the ICU. “Certainly it was hard to see my own father in this condition, but at the same time I knew my father’s strong musical past, a singer himself. I knew music was going to be a key to help him connect to the present moment even though he might not be able to put words into conversational context. While in the ICU, I would bring in my guitar and get him to sing with me. Instead of trying to get him to say, ‘I want water,’ if I put it to music, he could do it. Without the music he was more difficult and he would become frustrated. “There were many good and bad days; more bad than good. During a good day, he would respond, during the bad, he was too critical to use music. Towards the end, we knew he would be going on hospice. During that time there were many moments of anxiety and pain for him and the family. Music was often there to pick us up. When I couldn’t bring myself to sign with him, we would use recorded music of his preference to keep actively engaged in the world. During our hospice experience, he was beyond verbally communicating that he needed pain meds or a simple request, however if we asked if he needed music, he would give us a blink or a squeeze of the hand. Many times as I played the guitar you could watch his respirations slow down or his body relax. It was during those moments that I thanked God for giving me this career. “My family and I were called in for the last moments of his life. Upon entering the room at approximately 4am, I picked up the guitar and began strumming and singing my father to his last breath. Throughout this time there wasn’t a visible struggle. The music was gentle, supportive, and calming. String by string I picked them slowly to match his respirations and entrained his breath with the rhythm. It was at this time that music was his guide to the golden gates of heaven. Our family was gathered together for one last time, we were singing and encouraging him to feel the music. At one point I laid the guitar to rest on his body so he could feel the vibration of the music. My father passed peacefully, through this process and I am blessed beyond words to have had the opportunity to offer my gifts. “He and my mother were my biggest fans as a musician and as a music therapist. He was passionate about the work I did in my professional career. He was proud of what my sister and I had become. My sister a nurse and I a music therapist. You could say his had an amazing team caring for him. When ever people would ask where I got my musicality, my mom would always say my voice was a gift from him. I am beyond blessed to have chosen music therapy as a profession and that I had the opportunity to give back in the most profound and direct way, with my family at my side. “As a practicing music therapist, the majority of my company’s work is done in schools, mental health, and in our clinic with children and adults with developmental disabilities. We have a love for working with people who are medically fragile or who have physical and cognitive challenges. We strive to make a difference in the individuals lives as well as for the family. Music Therapy can reduce anxiety and pain, improve levels of functioning, engage those who are affected by dementia and other neurologic conditions or offer support during the last breath of life for the individual and family. Music Therapy is a wonderful and powerful experience that can help a vulnerable individual enhance his/her quality of life. “
Community Contirbutor: Bismarck-Mandan Business & Professional Women
Tell us about BPW and its history: This organization serves as a voice for working women. Our membership includes women in a multitude of professions: business owners, real estate, banking, administration, education, and non-profits. BPW began in 1920 when 20 women met at the Bismarck Public Library to discuss forming a Business and Professional Women’s club. Clubs were organized throughout North Dakota and the nation. What services do you offer? BPW meets every month to focus on leadership development, networking, and professional and personal development. It’s an opportunity for women to network, support, and kindle friendships with other women from various professions Community service is another benefit. Each year BPW members choose a community service project such as giving to the Career Closet at the Seeds of Hope Store or providing items for the women’s shelter at the Abused Adult Resource Center. In April BPW recognizes one woman fromthe Bismarck-Mandan community with the “Woman of the Year” award. Who do you help? In addition to the support members give each other through networking and community service, BPW supports women who are just beginning their careers. Each year we host a golf tournament to raise funds for two college scholarships. The scholarships are given to two women, 20 or older, who have graduated from a Bismarck or Mandan high school. The purpose is to help further or jumpstart their careers. BPW members help in other ways too—volunteering when the need arises for community events and for organizations including DECA and the Miss North Dakota Scholarship program. How can people join or participate? BPW meets the 4th Tuesday of every month at 5:30 pm (no meetings in July and December). Guests are always welcome! Meeting locations vary, so please contact Susan Beehler for details and to RSVP for an upcoming meeting: 701-220-2297 or firstname.lastname@example.org. BPW Woman of the Year 2014: Renee Stromme BPW Woman of the Year 2013: Connie Sprynczynatyk BPW Club BPW Clothes for AARC Proclamation for with Governor Jack Dalrymple 2016 BPW Golf Tournament
2016 Women’s Health Conference
Quick, look at the calendar. Is it Monday, September 19 yet? If you answered, “No”—that’s terrific! Because it means you haven’t missed out on attending the Women’s Health Conference in Bismarck. The annual event gathers hundreds of women for an entire day of focusing on themselves and their overall health—mind, body, and spirit. It features keynote speakers, health and wellness exhibitors, breakout sessions, and meals. And the best part: It. Is. FUN! Mandi Wimer is the chairwoman of the conference planning committee. She calls it a “one-size-fits-all” conference. How often can we say that about something designed for women? “Whether you want to go to a breakout session on food and nutrition or you’re more excited about figuring out your next workout, there is something for every woman,” Mandi says. “We’ve done financial planning sessions and caring for your elderly parents. It’s a wide gamut. There is always something new, fresh, and exiting.” A light breakfast and lively keynote speaker, Amy Dee, will kick off the day. You will attend breakout sessions twice, (five speakers to choose from), have lunch with Tigirlily, and then keynote speaker Zonya Foco will round out the day. Visit www.womens-health-conference.com for details and registration. So check the calendar. Even if it’s Sunday night, September 18 as you’re reading this, set your alarm and come to the Bismarck Events Center for a day you won’t forget nor regret. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. Women's Health Conference Women's Health Conference Women's Health Conference Women's Health Conference
Music as Medicine
By Marci Narum Photography: OhFer Creative, Grand Forks Music. It makes us sing, sometimes at the top of our lungs. It can cause us to dance, whether it’s pretty or not. And a tune or words to the right melody can move us to tears. But there is scientific evidence that music can do much more for us. It can provide therapeutic healing for the mind and body. “Music affects us before we are born, in utero and to our last breath,” says Emily Wangen, a Board Certified and Licensed Music Therapist from Grand Forks and owner of Music Therapy in Motion, LLC. Emily explains, “Because music affects the whole brain, it has the ability and power to build new neuropathways and increase neuroplasticity in one’s brain.” Speech, for example, is processed in the left hemisphere. For someone who has suffered a brain injury, music therapy can assist in the process of rebuilding the neuropathways from both sides of the brain. This is what doctors refer to as neuroplasticity. Emily says one of the most notable examples of this is U.S. congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona. In January 2011, Giffords survived a gunshot wound to the head. The injury to the left hemisphere of her brain initially paralyzed the right side of her body and her rehabilitation included learning to speak again. Giffords has been very open with the public and the media about her recovery and the use of music therapy. “Gabby attributed a great deal of her rehabilitation to music therapy,” Emily says. “Neurologic Music Therapy techniques such as Melodic Intonation Training, facilitated by a music therapist was significant to her speech rehabilitation. Melodic Intonation Training requires the individual to sing the desired phrase through prompting of speech rhythm, which is tapped on the left knee of the patient to stimulate the left hemisphere of the brain. Music innately stimulates Brocha’s speech area of the brain, which as a result conditions building new neuropathways from the speech center to the right side of the brain, where music is processed.” Music Therapy is gaining momentum in North Dakota thanks in part, to Emily. After finishing college, she went on to pioneer music therapy in the state, helping North Dakota become the first in the U.S. to obtain a state licensure for the profession. Emily became the 4th licensed therapist in the state, and is one of 15. “I have two passions: music and helping people. I am blessed to have the opportunity to be able to use both passions every day. Whether it be helping a child speak or walk for the first time with the use of music, or helping a loved one take their last breath with ease; music therapy is an incredible profession. I have seen many individuals improve, increase communication and social functioning, decrease pain, and much more. My mission is helping individuals one beat at a time,” Emily explains. “Music therapists work in a variety of settings—schools, nursing homes, memory care centers, and early childhood education programs. We work in private practice with individuals who have autism, parkinson’s, and traumatic brain injuries. We also work in psychiatric care, mental health, substance abuse, eating disorders, hospitals, pediatrics, and oncology.” Emily and her team of five other music therapists work with groups and individuals in their homes, in facilities and clinic settings. Emily opened her first clinic in Grand Forks in July 2015. She opened a second in Fargo in April 2016. This month, Emily will bring music therapy to Bismarck, where she will lead a breakout session for the Women’s Health Conference on Monday, September 19. Her session is called “Drum with Your Heart.” She says drumming induces relaxation, lowers blood pressure and reduces stress. Learn more about the benefits of music therapy at musictherapyinmotion.com and musictherapy.org Photography: OhFer Creative, Grand Forks Photography: OhFer Creative, Grand Forks Photography: OhFer Creative, Grand Forks Emily Wangen (Photography: OhFer Creative, Grand Forks)
Peer Advisors Inspire Leaders
By Jeanne Masseth Best. Professional Advice. Ever. Mine came during a typical meeting with my mentor. Offering solid wisdom and industry tips are her hallmarks but this conversation was genius. I listened intently as she explained details of two peer advisory groups she launched years ago. These business advisors met formally to discuss opportunities, declare goals, and hold each other accountable for generating higher profits. I remember thinking, “WOW. I would jump at the chance to join this caliber of leaders!” Imagine my surprise when her next words were, “You should start a consulting peer advisory board to hold you accountable and challenge your thinking. Who would you invite?” (I admit, my first response was something like, “holy crap!”) As scary as it sounded, that discussion pivoted my thinking about how business leaders develop. I’ve worked in learning and development for 20 years but this concept was… different and bold. Challenge accepted! Within a few months, colleagues and I formed our Peer Advisory Board. We carved ground rules, our mission, and published meeting dates through eternity, literally! We’ve never looked back. The development I’ve experienced though peer advisors has changed the trajectory of my business and catapulted my happiness. What is a Peer Advisory Board? Simply a group of peers who advise. Their purpose is to help members solve specific problems. Membership places you in monthly meetings with other experienced, high-caliber likeminded professionals. A trained facilitator typically guides board meetings. From dialoging specific business challenges, to offering feedback and best practices, peer boards tackle real issues happening now. A Peer Advisory Board is a great fit if: You want advice on a two-way street. When you’re involved with a peer advisory group, part of your purpose is to share your own expertise and experiences. Boards do a terrific job at getting people to the table to exchange ideas and work on issues – and it’s a good chance to nurture connections. A peer board can advise on issues like this as they come up. It’s like calling a friend and asking, “What do I do?” Peer Advisory Board Value: We learn faster and better from one another. Period. The goal is to bring out the group’s “genius”. Collaborative learning draws on insight and wisdom of each member, resulting in a mix of ideas that benefit everyone. Adult learning theory tells us adults prefer to define what and when to learn. (A concept called “just-in-time learning”). An added bonus – there’s power in a public declaration of goals – and having to report back! Accountability is a huge motivational factor because no one wants to disappoint the team! Trust and honesty are paramount. Members commit to the structured process and to elevating one another. My fellow members have become trusted friends because we share challenges and celebrate successes together. “Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people…or find a different room.” Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell, Inc. A willingness to be open and honest is essential Board effectiveness is dependent on member’s willingness to share. When people are open about discussing their failures, challenges, and other sensitive issues will the group benefits. “A-ha” learning experiences come about as a result of relationships forged within a bonded group. Bonding is the strongest when members have respect for each other, as well as the patience and understanding to really listen. Having fun together, sharing good laughs and stories are important! Benefit to Peer Advisors outside your own industry Most leaders join professional organizations and attend conferences within their industries. Peer Advisory Boards differ because they include members from noncompeting industries. Members find there is no substitute for developing bonds with peers across industries. Why join a Peer Advisory Board? Peer advisory boards give members arm’s-length advice, knowledge and support that business leaders often can’t get from their team or traditional advisers. Unbiased advice is difficult to receive because, typically, anyone you’re talking to is connected to you somehow. “It’s lonely at the top.” You’ve heard the cliché before; as a leader, you’ve felt it before. To Learn More… Legacy Talent Development is launching a new Peer Advisory Board. If you would like to be invited to attend as a guest, email email@example.com. Visit legacytalentdevelopment.com for more information. For more information on the value of Peer Advisors check out ‘The Power of a Peer Group: How come something so proven is not more pervasive, and what are we willing to do about it?’ by Mike Richardson or ‘How Peer Advisory Groups Inspire Leaders to Be Accountable’ by Beth Miller. The truth is no matter how successful you are, nothing can substitute for hanging out peers who know from experience what you are faced with. Peer Advisory Boards offer a ton of wisdom and support! Are you ready to look into membership? Seth Godin’s blog article offers a perfect summary, “Your peer group are people with similar dreams, goals and world views. They are people who will push you in exchange for being pushed, who will raise the bar and tell you the truth. They’re not in your business but they are in your shoes. Finding a peer group and working with them, intentionally and on a regular schedule, might be the single biggest boost your career can experience” Jeanne Masseth is not only a peer advisor, she is also the CEO of Legacy Talent Development, wife to Brian, and mom to Carson and Emma. Jeanne is an avid runner and loves anything on the water—paddle boarding and pontooning are some of her favorite water activities.
Business Coaching: Digging Deeper and Creating Success
By Kylie Blanchard Photography: Photos by Jacy “There’s more to business coaching than just business,” says Mary Jo Van Horn, business coach and owner of Van Horn Media Inc. “Business coaching helps business owners and entrepreneurs grow their business. It helps them to shift from the reality of where they are to where they want to be.” Mary Jo, who has owned Van Horn Media for more than a decade, has also been coaching business owners in recent years. She says she was drawn to business coaching through her own experiences. “When I started Van Horn Media 13 years ago, offering media planning and buying services, it was a fast success, but I kept feeling like there was something bigger I should be doing.” In 2009, Mary Jo co-founded a software company with her best friend. “It wasn’t a fast success. Within 18 months the friendship was over, I bought out her shares, and threw myself into the work,” she recalls. ‘On the outside, I put on a brave face. But on the inside, I felt like a failure. And eventually, I hit the wall of total exhaustion. When I hit rock bottom and admitted I needed help, and accepted help, I started this journey to build myself back up. I invested in coaching and saw how much it helped. “Through this experience I was so drawn to this impact and path I started getting my coaching certifications,” she continues. “I feel called to help others, and I am also doing something that is fulfilling to me.” Mary Jo focuses on one-on-one coaching with clients. “It’s not cookie cutter by any means,” she notes. “We start with where a client feels stuck and then focus on where the client wants to be. Everyone’s version of success is different, and we look at how we want their business to look.” Her business coaching is also focused on a client’s thoughts and energy. “Business building is around 90 percent thoughts and energy and only 10 percent strategy. If you are stuck, it’s almost always a thought process or limiting belief. “Ninety-five percent of problems individuals think are business problems are really personal problems in disguise,” Mary Jo adds. Sommer Jacob, owner of Studio North, which specializes in helping women entrepreneurs transform and grow their business by designing an authentic, magnetic brand, was a client of Mary Jo’s and quickly realized the benefits of business coaching. “I believe we learn from others and we grow through our connections,” she says. “I’ve worked with many coaches over the years on both personal and professional levels and find so much value in coaching.” Sommer says she was first drawn to Mary Jo as a mentor. “She was successful in her businesses, I was just starting mine, and I wanted to know how she got there,” Sommer notes. “When she shared with me that she was going to become a coach, I was thrilled! I was fortunate enough to be one of her first clients. Like most people, having someone to help keep me accountable to my own promises, helps me to achieve my goals.” Sommer invested in several of Mary Jo’s programs. The Soulmate Client® Intensive and Clarity, Confidence & Sales program were her favorites. “The top three points, which have given me the biggest return on investment, are: developing a sales conversation; creating clarity around my soulmate client; and focusing my marketing based on my soulmate client. “With the clarity I have now, I’m able to spend my time working with clients who energize me and give me so much satisfaction,” Sommer continues. “They are ready to take their business to the next level, which excites me. I work less, make more money and am happy.” Sommer says she’d recommend coaching services to other women wanting to grow their business with ease and spend their time doing what they love. “Some people believe they have to work really hard and struggle to become successful. Mary Jo challenges those self-limiting beliefs and gives you guidance to create a life of abundance, balance and richness.” Mary Jo says she uses a business coach herself, a practice she plans to continue. “I’ll never be without some type of coaching support,” she says. “With the right coach, you get a new perspective and faster and better results instead of trying to figure it out on your own. It’s never too late as a woman to create or transform your own business in a way that feels authentic to you.” Kylie Blanchard Kylie Blanchard is a local writer and a busy mom and wife who loves being active, but also enjoys sitting down to read a great book.
Lorraine Davis: Sharing a Vision
By Marci Narum Photography: Photos by Jacy “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” –Proverbs 29:18 Without a vision for the future, Lorraine Davis fears that Native American people—and non-natives who share similar struggles—will continue to suffer hardships that have become the norm and part of the culture. A member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, a descendant of the Three Affiliated Tribes, and a graduate of United Tribes Technical College (UTTC), Lorraine shares her own vision with Native Americans transitioning into the Bismarck-Mandan community. She is determined to help them break the cycle of poverty and homelessness which are often the result of lacking higher education, and struggling to overcome addiction and repetitive incarceration. In fact, she has already started. Lorraine is the founder and executive director of the Native American Development Center (NADC) in Bismarck. Its mission: To strengthen and advance Native American individuals and families by providing supportive services and resources designed to preserve culture and promote economic security. Lorraine incorporated the center as a non-profit organization in 2012. She began offering workshops, referrals, and outreach in early 2014 and has been developing additional programs, all from a tiny rented office in south Bismarck. The NADC recently received its first major funding to expand. Lorraine says this fall the center will launch more supportive services, including life and financial coaching. She says the overall purpose of the NADC is to address clients’ socioeconomic struggles—the same ones she experienced in 2001, when she moved from the Sisseton-Wahpeton Reservation to Bismarck to attend UTTC. “I came here a single parent with all kinds of challenges and lack of skills,” Lorraine says. “It’s the social challenges of my own life that I see being repeated by others. Challenges that are not specific to Native Americans—alcoholism, drugs, abuse, domestic violence, child neglect, and youth drinking. It all leads to the breakdown of the family. Addiction brings instability. I use socioeconomics as the broad umbrella—your income and job, your house, car, anything you need for survival is impacted because of social challenges.” Lorraine has spent countless hours explaining the dream and concept of the NADC to community leaders, agency partners, and lawmakers. But as she begins to launch more services, Lorraine hopes she can move from her 200 square-foot office into a larger space to accommodate clients. Her ultimate dream is a community center and affordable housing for families. “In other urban areas they are called Indian Centers. Basically, that’s what we are building, an Indian Community Center. But we want programs staffed and funded sufficiently. And right now it’s in the early building blocks phase. It takes time.” Destined for More Lorraine has spent most of her life thinking about and planning this dream. Her motivation comes from her own experiences and having a vision for a better life and future. Because, you name it—this strong, beautiful, and determined wife and mother has experienced it: Homelessness. Physical abuse. Substance abuse. Trauma. Even incarceration. Throughout those dark times, Lorraine clung to a vision; she could get herself to a better place. She had a keen sense of awareness and faith that however difficult her circumstances, she would overcome them. “That’s how my whole life transformed. If I had not been visionary, living by faith and not by sight, I wouldn’t have been able to break the chains of poverty, addiction, and homelessness.” Even at her lowest points, Lorraine believed she was destined for more. She says remembering her roots saved her life; her family values, a mother who was honorable and took her to powwows, and grandparents who raised her in the church. “You can only go so far going downhill before you realize, ‘Wow, I’m downhill.’” Lorraine recalls one of her darkest moments, while living on the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Reservation. She described a cloudy haze lifting, allowing her to finally see how badly her life had spun out of control. “There I was, looking out the window of an old beat up apartment with my seven-year old son. His dad is going to prison again. I have nothing. I’m lucky to just have shelter. But I could see for myself that this is not how I want my life to be. I refuse to feel defeated. I’m going to college. I’m getting out of here. At that moment I took the first major step toward taking control of my life and my son’s life.” Breaking the Chains Lorraine says choosing higher education is the first step for someone trying to break the chains of poverty, violence, and substance abuse. “You are halfway there if you make it to college. And you can’t give up. You can’t accept poverty or the social ills as a way of life. Even if you’ve been beaten to the ground and feel hopeless, stay committed that, ‘This is it, I’m going to have a better life.’ “I see it at UTTC. I know students go through it. They’re developing. They’re gaining confidence because they know they’re going forward. They’re doing something good. So many people come to UTTC from reservations all around the country. They come to have a better life. But what I’ve learned over the years is you can keep going to college and striving to break the chains of poverty, but it takes work. You don’t just go to college and all the social ills go away. You have to develop spiritually, mentally, emotionally, culturally, and economically.” Mentoring with a Purpose Lorraine collaborates with UTTC, as well as dozens of other community partners, and she says the services of the NADC help fill the gaps individuals experience during life transitions. The center has core focus areas which Lorraine identified as needs based on her own experiences: Housing and Jobs Placement, Financial Literacy, Homeownership and Career Development, and Mentoring. “Mentoring would have really helped me expedite my personal and professional development. So we want the NADC to have a mentor network for clients, supportive people to call who have values they share and desire. It might be more than one mentor. Some might have the professional background you desire. Another might have a spiritual background you’re seeking. “That’s a primary reason the center is here,” Lorraine says. “Another is financial coaching services to help a person navigate and build their credit score, understand banking, economics, tribal land ownership, and home buying. “Traditionally, you’re expected to get a job, go to work, make money, and pay your bills. Today, a person needs a good credit score and clean criminal record. And if you want to give your children a good start, you need to build equity commonly achieved through homeownership. But first you need a good credit score. Your personal value is dependent on your credit score, not so much on cash at hand. “For example, someone has mineral rights for their land. There are so many Native Americans getting royalties and big checks; it’s life-changing for those who were low to middle income. They get these big checks and don’t know how to manage that money, because, for many of us, we weren’t taught the concept of economics, or banking, or equity. How do I build an investment? How do I think forward? We want our clients to take ownership of their situations. That’s the whole purpose of providing financial literacy coaching.” Faith and Vision Lorraine believes when a person takes ownership of their situation and the choices they’ve made, it’s the beginning of embracing a vision for the future. They also become an agent of change for their life, and the lives of their children and others; beginning the process of breaking the chains of social ills. “When your parents haven’t broken the cycle for you, then it’s up to you. You’re the change-maker for your kids.” Lorraine and her husband, Scott Davis, the Indian Affairs Commissioner for North Dakota, are doing that for their adult son, and three young children. “Everything we do to succeed is for them. We want to have something to offer them and not put them in a situation like I was in, alone, trying to make it.” Meanwhile, Lorraine’s oldest son, who was with her during her most difficult years, is now 22, and struggles. “He’s figuring out life right now. It hurts because we’re trying to break the cycle and I can’t help him until he wants it.” Lorraine knows from experience that it will take time to see a transformation. Part of her own effort to be the change for her family, the community, and her people is the Native American Development Center. Lorraine is relying now on not only her vision, but the vision of others—and her faith—to make it happen. “I used faith to build my own life. Don’t pay attention to nay-sayers. Don’t let them into your inner circle. Faith and vision have been the core of this whole process. It’s not for me. It’s for them.” To learn more about the Native American Development Center visit nativeamericandevelopmentcenter.com See more photos of Lorraine here.
Oh Man: Jon Raisen: Inspiring Others on Stage
By Jody Kerzman You may know him best for his role as a dancing beer mug in Sleepy Hollow’s recent production of Beauty and the Beast. It’s a role that earned 21-year-old Jonathan Raisen an award—his peers voted him “Best Dancing Beer Mug.” It may not sound like a big deal, but it is a very big deal, for a number of reasons. First, this was Jon’s first ever formal theater production. That’s pretty remarkable, but even more remarkable is the fact that Jon has autism. He is the first person with special needs to have a part in a Sleepy Hollow production. “It’s amazing to me, because when we first started, we didn’t know what to expect,” recalls director Job Christenson. “We had a meeting with Jon’s dad and decided our goal with this was just to help Jon become a little more independent. Our expectations were pretty low; he was really shy initially so we thought maybe he would just watch, but after the first week he was up on stage, moving and dancing. He loved dancing so we thought, ‘let’s put him in a number.’ Then we put him in another, and another, and by the time we were done, he was in four numbers!” Maggie Haynes is an occupational therapy student at the University of Mary, and through her job at Pride, was one of several Pride mentors matched up with Jonathan for the play this summer. Maggie and Jon had never met until play practice in late June. “I didn’t know what to expect,” says Maggie. “Jon was pretty quiet around me at first. He wouldn’t really talk that much or leave my side. I encouraged him to get involved, and to work on his social skills. Once he got more comfortable with me, I encouraged him to talk to the other actors. They were so welcoming and kind to him. They would talk with him and invite him to dance with them. That made him so much more comfortable and he opened up to them. His social skills grew; he went from being quiet and shy and barely talking to when we’d get to practice he’d walk right up to groups of people and start talking. He danced back stage, gave hugs, laughed with the others, and remembered inside jokes they had. It was such a beautiful thing to see.” Jon’s theater experience was not just limited to performing—he also helped build and tear down the set. He admits he might actually like that better than being on stage. “I like to help,” says Jon. Jon helped with set work, but he helped in other ways too. Maggie says Jon helped the rest of the cast learn about acceptance, and helped change stereotypes about autism and people with special needs. “He brings out the goodness in other people. Sometimes people get uncomfortable around people with special needs because they don’t know how to act around them,” says Maggie. “It is impossible to be uncomfortable around Jon. He is so happy all the time and he’s always smiling. You can’t help but love him. He’s helping people grow, he’s helping me grow. He just brings me such joy.” “You never know what someone can do. It’s never our responsibility to limit the possibilities of what can happen. That’s something I learned, he learned. He exceeded my expectations wildly,” says Job. “When I look at Jonathan, I see so many changes. He’s become independent, social, and even his coordination has improved.” Jon’s success in Beauty and the Beast has inspired Job and the rest of the staff at Sleepy Hollow Theater to do more for people like Jon. They’re planning a whole program for kids with special needs next year. They’ll perform their own show, and have parts in the other performances as well. “Jon and his dad had tremendous courage to come to us with this idea. We had never even thought of this before and now it’s like ‘Why weren’t we doing this years ago?’ It makes perfect sense,” says Job. “We are indebted to Jon. He opened up our eyes and our hearts. He’s a great kid and he does great things.” Jon isn’t done doing great things yet. He started college this fall, where he is taking a theater class. He plans to be back for another season at Sleepy Hollow next summer. Jon performing in Beauty and the Beast Jon performing in Beauty and the Beast Jon performing in Beauty and the Beast Jon performing in Beauty and the Beast Jon performing in Beauty and the Beast Jon performing in Beauty and the Beast Jon during a cast meeting Jon performing in Beauty and the Beast Jon and Maggie backstage Jon performing in Beauty and the Beast Jon performing in Beauty and the Beast Jon performing in Beauty and the Beast
Graduating: to a decent school picture
By Lexi Kerzman There are a lot of things students dread: the first day of school, test days, every Monday, and picture day. Each year in early September every student is forced to take their school picture. In all my years of school pictures, I can only think of one positive to picture day: you get to miss about five minutes of one class, which really isn’t amazing, but you take what you can get. In those five minutes, students are herded like cows to where the photographer is set up. Then they are handed their I.D. card so the photographer knows who they are and what they ordered. Everyone waits in line while fixing their hair to make this year’s picture the best one yet. As if. If you ask me, there is no amount of grooming that could actually make a school picture turn out. No matter how hard you try, never in the history of school pictures has someone liked their picture. Sure there are some years that are “better than last year,” but a school picture is never a photo you would actually want people to see. Personally, the last time I can say I actually looked decent in my school picture was kindergarten. I am now a senior, so yeah, it has been awhile. I am lucky enough to have a bad hair day every year on picture day (which isn’t all that surprising because I have now given up on doing my hair forever). Besides not doing my hair, since freshman year I have also refused to spit out my gum. It started as an accident and now is an annual chance to annoy my mother. The worst part of school pictures is that they follow you. You can’t get rid of them. I mean sure, you can always retake them, but what’s the point? The angle is still going to be bad. The lighting will still make your skin look orange (or maybe that’s just me?). No matter how hard you try, the picture will always be awful and will forever be showcased in the school yearbook, and if you’re lucky like me, your mom will also share it on Facebook so all her friends can see. But that all changes this year. Yes I still have to take the awful picture and it will be on my mom’s Facebook wall forever, but it doesn’t have to be in the yearbook. One of the many perks of being a senior: senior pictures. You get to pick your location, the angles, they can be outside with great lighting, and you can try as many shots and outfits as you would like (as long as you have a good photographer like mine). Senior pictures give everyone a chance to showcase their personality and feel beautiful while doing it. The experience is unreal. You get to be the center of attention, not just another kid in line. My photographer made me look and feel so beautiful. And I suppose if my mom wants to share my senior pictures on her Facebook wall, I’ll let her. After all, nothing can be worse than the 5th grade school pic. Kindergarten First Grade Second Grade Third Grade Fourth Grade Fifth Grade Sixth Grade Seventh Grade Eighth Grade Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior Senior Senior Senior Senior Senior Lexi Kerzman is a senior at Bismarck High School, where she is the editor of the Hiherald and is also involved in basketball and track. In her spare time, she enjoys binge watching Netflix, dreaming of life after high school, and photography.
Billie Jo Lorius: Mentor in Combat Boots
By Spc. Jess Raasch In a world where women are often taught to wear dresses and follow the norms, Sgt. 1st Class Billie Jo Lorius decided to wear combat boots and follow her dreams. A Lemmon, South Dakota native, Lorius joined the South Dakota National Guard at just 17 and has been motivating women to become the best version of themselves in the 21 years since. As Lorius approaches her military retirement, the family she has built during her service to her country celebrates her success and reflects on the void that they say will be felt with her absence. Only Female Lorius began her military career working as a heavy equipment operator with the 854th Engineer Company, based out of Lemmon, South Dakota, prior to its disassembly. Entering the 854th meant surrounding herself with a unit comprised entirely of men. Not only did Lorius adapt to the unique lifestyle of serving in the military, she exuded a level of confidence that made her stand out and excel in a male-dominated unit. Rather than view it as a setback or disadvantage, Lorius viewed it as an opportunity to show her unit just how much she was capable of. “Positivity is a tool for growth, and in every situation there is opportunity for growth,” Lorius says. “Life is meant to be lived, to have adventures, and to leave every situation and every person better than I first found it.” Strong Leader In 1999, Lorius transferred to the 116th Public Affairs Detachment in Bismarck, North Dakota. It is with the 116th PAD that Lorius spent more than 15 years inspiring those around her to be stronger leaders and positive community influences. “She doesn’t place limitations on herself, and it’s easier for the rest of us because of that,” says 2nd Lt. Jennifer Joyce, public affairs specialist/editor for the NDNG. Prior to accepting her commission as an officer, Joyce served several years in the 116th PAD as a Soldier under Lorius’ leadership. “When you have a strong leader, you have more confidence in your own abilities,” Joyce says. “When you have a leader who believes in you, you want to work harder for them.” Lorius has worked on numerous projects to support the larger military community, including helping coordinate youth activities and supporting families of fallen service members. Soldiers who have served with her say one of her greatest strengths as a leader is her dedication to the military mission and to her fellow Soldiers. “The hardest thing about leaving the NDNG is by far the people,” Lorius says as she reflects on her upcoming retirement. “What I will miss most is the sense of camaraderie that ties us all together, but helping people both in the National Guard and the fallen families have been the highlight of my career. I am so lucky to have had the adventures I’ve had across the world, but it’s the people that have made my journey the most satisfying experience of my life.” Capt. Kristi Blair, 116th PAD commander, served both as a Soldier under Lorius’ leadership and as Lorius’ commander. The two have been part of the unit’s command team of all females for the past two years. “When I was young and serving as an enlisted Soldier, Billie Jo was a sergeant in my leadership chain,” Blair says. “She took care of us and looked out for the young Soldiers. She took us under her wing because she truly cares about people. That’s something amazing you try to take away when you become a leader. You see someone like her, and you try to exude that same level of care and knowledge.” Blair and Lorius were part of an all-female overseas training in Germany in April 2015, the first time a North Dakota unit made up of all females went on an overseas training together. It was unique, but much of her career has been made of unique missions across the nation and around the globe. All Female During Lorius’ time as a leader in the 116th PAD, her subordinates have created success in their civilian professional lives, ranging from public affairs specialist to substance abuse counselor to playing a major role in Bismarck-area nonprofit organizations. Many of Lorius’ Soldiers say they feel her constant support and unique leadership helped them to become leaders in the community, as well. “She is intuitive and she is genuine,” Joyce says. “Those two traits combined with her interest of human nature make her a good leader because she takes the time to get to know people as individuals, and not just as Soldiers. Once she knows more about that person, she identifies their strengths. She is not a leader who focuses on weaknesses; she is a leader who focuses on building strengths.” Lorius has used her skills as a leader to instill a sense of self-worth and pride amongst her peers. “She carries herself in such a way, she walks with a confidence that’s like she is saying ‘try me,’” Joyce says. “What she has done, where she is in her career, and what she has accomplished is important because she gives other females confidence.” Government Affairs Officer, Davina French says that over the span of her career, Sgt. Lorius has served in positions of responsibility that crossed gender lines. “She has always been known for her fairness and professionalism,” says Lt. Col. French. “As a mentor, she leads by following the rules and her heart equally. Interestingly she started as the only female in an all-male unit 20 years ago and is finishing as the first Sergeant of an all-female unit now.” For Lorius, caring and leadership is a natural talent, many say. “It is important for me to help people discover their strengths and, in turn, they are able to find their happiness,” Lorius says. “When people are happy, I believe they can achieve the most and be the people they were always meant to be.” In short, Lorius says, she cares. “I try my hardest to be a servant-leader because I believe true leaders are the ones who serve people,” she says. “I lead others not through my position, but because they all know I will work beside them and create an environment where we achieve success together.” Lorius will retire Oct. 1, 2016. Spc. Jess Raasch currently serves alongside Sgt. 1st Class Billie Jo Lorius in the 116th Public Affairs Detachment in Bismarck. Raasch has completed missions in Africa and Europe. Currently, Raasch is part of the historically all-female 116th, which has functioned under Lorius’ leadership for the entirety of Raasch’s military service.