Spring Conference

Welcome to the Event Page for the 17th Annual MDT Spring Conference!

Join us at the forefront of child advocacy! The Red River Children’s Advocacy Center is thrilled to host its Annual Spring Conference, a dynamic gathering tailored exclusively for Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) members. Save the date for a day of collaborative learning, innovation, and networking.

Download our Save The Date


May 15-16, 2024


8:00AM – 4:00PM CDT



Conference Program

Conference Sessions & Handouts

Bio: Lori Poland is a thought leader and innovator. She has a knack for empowering people to thrive, expand, and grow toward their best selves. While embracing their humble hearts, kind beings and storylines that got them there, Lori leaves no stone unturned in her efforts to motivate and move audiences. Lori integrates her leadership skills with audiences to feel able and eager to march toward success and optimism. Using her own experiences from abduction, to overcoming lifelong patters, she ignites an audience to not only know their impact on the world, but to use it wisely and with integrity. Lori has led teams nationally toward human improvement, social change and societal impacts and continues to drive growth even in dormancy. Lori has spent 25 years working in business and non-profits, 29 years as a motivational speaker, is a book author, and has led, and opened numerous businesses through success. Lori is a wife to her best friend, a mother of three and stepmother to four children. Lori knows the value of honesty, humanism, and personal reflection, keeping these at the forefront of her life driving toward lasting impact everywhere she turns.

Where There’s Hope: Lori is a thought leader by nature, guiding and leading innovation and conversation about taboo topics using authenticity, humor, and humility. Lori is an executive who’s led organizations helping people in all life’s phases and circumstances. Lori co-founded the National Foundation to End Child Abuse and Neglect and operated as their CEO for the last seven years. Lori is also a therapist who specializes in attachment and trauma, is trained in family counseling, child and adolescent therapy and infant mental health. Lori has spent the last 27 years as a public-speaker motiving audiences in self-improvement, personal introspection, and healing through life’s presented challenges. Lori shares openly and genuinely about the effects of trauma, the journey of healing, and the impact that relationships have on our growth through firsthand experience herself. Lori’s mission in life is to be intentional, impactful, kind and loving to as many people as possible, spreading messages of hope and possibility and uniting communities to change together one audience at a time.

One to One Discussion: In this session, participants will be able to explore their professional needs with the presenter through a Q&A, open discussion forum. Attendees will be provided with clinical input, developmental insights, and professional competency support. Lori Poland is an expert in attachment repair developmental impacts of trauma and attachment on families, children, and communities. Participants will engage with Lori on various cases and desired outcomes for clients served. Lori will work through professional education and development to explain various scenarios as well as impacts on all those involved. Lori will work with the audience to explore vicarious trauma and the role of the healing helper in the systems which we impact families and children.  

Karlee’s Bio: Karlee Liddle, B.S., graduate from the University of North Dakota in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation and Human Services with an emphasis in Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities. Karlee is the Eastern Anti-Trafficking Specialist at Youthworks, where she has been employed since March 2021. Karlee has an extensive history of working with youth in the juvenile justice and correctional system. Karlee has also spent her years working with youth and young adult survivors of human trafficking and exploitation as well as at-risk individuals. Karlee has a passion for working with individuals who have experienced significant trauma within their lives and assisting them in rebuilding what they want for their futures. Karlee is trained in a plethora of differing areas such ND Cybersecurity Awareness, Phishing Awareness, Social Engineering, Secure Online Behavior, Juvenile Correctional Practices, Mental Health for Juvenile Justice, Suicide Prevention and Awareness, Collaborative Problem Solving, Communicating Effectively and Professionally with LGBT Offenders, Anger Management Essentials, Communicating Across Cultures, and Enhancing Professional Rapport.

Saddie’s Bio: Sadie Sheppard, B.A., graduated from Chadron State Collage with a Bachelor of Arts in Family Consumer Science with a concentration in Public Health and Human Services. She is an enrolled member of the Sokaogon Chippewa Community and a descendant of White Earth Nation and Forest County Potawatomi Community. Sadie is the Eastern Anti-Trafficking Youth Navigator and Ogimaa Youth Initiative Coordinator at Youthworks, where she has been employed since May 2021. Sadie has worked with survivors of human trafficking and exploitation and individuals at risk. Sadie’s passion for advocacy lies within marginalized communities that are often underserved. She is trained in trauma-informed practice, positive youth development, and best practice for responding to exploited and trafficked youth.

Human Trafficking Amongst Adolescents-Best Practices for Engaging Indigenous Youth and Overall Youth in North Dakota: Best practices and specific expertise when working with exploited youth in North Dakota- Indigenous specific.

Best practice when working with exploited youth

-Victim identification

-How to be trauma informed

-Realities of exploited youth

-Myths and stereotypes

-The grooming process

-Barriers to leaving


Slide Deck

Bio: Faye Seidler is an award-winning advocate who specializes in suicide prevention, LGBTQ+ populations, and state data. She was born and raised in North Dakota and has a decade of experience in community organizing, public speaking, and giving professional development training. She is known for connecting and uplifting others, bringing communities together, and always keeping hope in focus.

Suicide Prevention in LGBTQ+ Youth: This presentation focuses on the data relevant to suicidality with LGBTQ+ populations in North Dakota. It explores risk and protective factors that may be unique to LGBTQ+ populations. It also covers the current efforts and organizations that are working to prevent and reduce suicidality across North Dakota. Participants will gain a better understanding of state data, the unique ways suicidality can be experienced for queer populations, and resources to help mitigate suicidality in our state.

PD 101: Implicit Bias: This module educates on implicit biases, by offering foundational education on LGBTQ+ statistics, culture, and identity. Participants will leave this training with a baseline understanding of how current and historical events have shaped our perception, basic demographic data, and a working understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity labels.


North Dakota LGBTQ+ Resource List

Suicide Prevention in LGBTQ+ Youth Slide Deck

PD 101: Implicit Bias Slide Deck

Bio: Sara has over twenty years of experience providing advocacy and support to parents and children during challenging periods. In 2009, she earned her Master’s Degree and began her journey at First Witness Child Advocacy Center in Duluth, MN. As Family Services Coordinator, Sara established a comprehensive advocacy and counseling program to empower and assist children and their caregivers throughout investigations and beyond. She also conducted community workshops on child sexual victimization, appropriate sexual development, and child safety. Additionally, Sara created various group curricula to aid children and caregivers in coping with the aftermath of sexual abuse and domestic violence incidents. Collaborating closely with the advocacy team at First Witness, she developed and executed an advocacy training program. Over the past decade, Sara has dedicated herself to enhancing the professional growth of Child Advocacy Center staff by designing, overseeing, and delivering high-quality training and technical assistance programs at regional and national levels. Currently, she serves as the Program Manager for Education and Training at the Midwest Regional Children’s Advocacy Center.

Building Caregiver Resilience Using the Strengthening Families Protective Framework: This workshop is intended for advocates working with families who are accessing CAC services. Victim advocacy services are essential for caregiver support in the aftermath of a disclosure of child abuse. How can we enhance this advocacy using the protective factors framework, an evidence-informed tool using a strengths-based approach? Through this workshop, advocates will explore the five protective factors and develop strategies for caregiver resilience. 

The Advocate’s Role in Screening and Assessments: Leaning into Powerful Questions: This workshop is intended for victim and/or family advocates working with CACs. As trainers for a national victim advocacy curriculum, we have seen lengthy discussions and confusion regarding screenings vs assessments. This workshop will clarify the difference and how screenings are done by victim/family advocates and assessments are conducted by master’s level clinicians. We will touch on common formal tools such as the Mental Health Screening Tool, UCLA PTSD brief screen, the Child Behavioral Checklist, the Trauma Symptom for Children Checklist (TSCC), and the Trauma Symptom for Young Children Checklist (TSYC). We will also touch on the Care Process Model (CPM) for identifying and managing pediatric traumatic stress in primary care and children’s advocacy center settings. This CPM was developed through the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Utah and the Center for Safe and Healthy Families at Intermountain Healthcare’s Primary Children’s Hospital. While some agencies will employ a formal tool in screening and assessing child and caregiver needs, advocates who engage in exploratory dialogue as a part of their screening and assessment with caregivers can help define a pathway to healing and justice rooted in the caregiver’s lived experience. This presentation will help attendees to engage their learner mindset and develop the skill of asking powerful questions. Attendees will understand the importance of creating a dialogue with those they serve, will understand the components of a well-crafted, powerful question, and will practice building those questions in the workshop.

Building Caregiver Resilience Handouts:

Audience Slide Deck

Parental Resilience

Supporting Child, Caregiver, and Family Well-Being

Self-Care Plan

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

The Pathway to Improved Outcomes for Children and Families

Building Resilience in Troubled Times

The Advocate Role Handouts:

Audience Slide Deck 

Traumatic Stress in Pediatric Patients

The Advocate Role Resources

Resources for Meeting the Victim Support and Advocacy Standard

UPLIFT A Guide to Trauma Screening

NCA Help Families Heal

Bio: Dr. Stacey Benson is the President and CEO of Benson Psychological Services, PC. with over 25 years’ experience providing clinical and forensic work. Dr. Benson provides forensic evaluations, expert testimony and clinical consultation to attorneys on a wide variety of forensic cases, but with specific expertise in working with individuals charged or convicted of a sexual crime. She has testified in state, federal and military court and has testified numerous times in Civil Commitment hearings of Sexually Dangerous Individuals. She has spoken at the University of North Dakota Medical School’s Grand Rounds, at the University of North Dakota, North Dakota State University, Minnesota State University-Moorhead, Merit Care, Sanford, Prairie St. John’s, the North Dakota State Penitentiary, the North Dakota Psychological Association, the Minnesota Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers Annual Conferences, and has been an invited trainer in Minnesota, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wyoming, Florida and New York for psychologists and probation officers, regarding how to evaluate sexual offenders. Dr. Benson belongs to local and national organizations and has taken leadership roles in both. She has been a board member of the North Dakota Psychological Association since 2005 and served as President for two of those years. She served six terms as North Dakotas Council Representative to the American Psychological Association. Dr. Benson has met with Senators Byron Dorgan, Kent Conrad, Heidi Heitkamp and Representative Earl Pomeroy to lobby for issues directly related to the provision of quality mental health services and issues related to access to care. Dr. Benson has been nominated for Teacher of The Year by the Psychiatry Residents of the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, for APA’s State Leadership Award by the North Dakota Psychological Association. She was awarded YWCA’s Women of the Year 2018 in the category of Health and Wellness, and was named a MSUM Distinguished Alumni in 2023.

But He Seemed Like Such a Nice Guy: One common tool used by sexual offenders is Grooming. Grooming is a gradual, methodical, calculated process by which an offender gains increased access to the child, forms a relationship with the child, gets the child to like them and trust them, and then manipulates that trust by desensitizing the child to increased sexual activity, and threats to remain silent in order to avoid detection.


Audience Slide Deck

Bio: Constance L. Cleveland is currently a District Judge in North Dakota, having been elected in November of 2022. As a District Judge, Cleveland presides over civil and criminal matters, including bench and jury trials. Prior to her election as a judge, Cleveland spent thirty-one years as a litigator serving as a child protection attorney, a special assistant attorney general, and an assistant state’s attorney prosecuting crimes in Cass County and Burleigh County. Cleveland engaged in hundreds of bench trials, fifty- two jury trials and had over fifty appeals to the North Dakota Supreme Court. In addition to her work as a practicing attorney, Cleveland served as an adjunct professor at MSUM from 1996 to 2023, teaching criminal law and procedure, business law, and media law. Throughout her career, Cleveland has worked on educating professional and lay witnesses on the legal process, and assisted potential witnesses as they prepare to testify.

Being a Witness and Testifying: This is an informative session delving into the fundamentals of the legal process preceding trial. Discover essential tools for effective courtroom testimony preparation and gain insights into the dynamics of direct and cross-examination. Learn about the critical role of expert witnesses and their significance in legal proceedings. Don’t miss this opportunity to enhance your understanding and preparation for the courtroom environment.

Jill’s Bio: Specialist Jill Krone has an extensive background in criminal justice and victim support services, making her a valuable asset to the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) Victim Services Unit (VSU), as well as to the various task forces, she’s involved with. Specialist Krone covers the Eastern region of North Dakota. With her 14 years of experience as a Parole Officer for the State of North Dakota and an additional 8 years as a Correctional Officer at the Clay Co Jail, Specialist Krone has a comprehensive understanding of the criminal justice system and the challenges faced by both victims and offenders. Specialist Krone’s involvement with the North Dakota Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force and the North Dakota Human Trafficking Task Force demonstrates her commitment to addressing some of the most pressing issues in law enforcement.

Jesse’s Bio: Special Agent Jesse Smith started his law enforcement career in 2005 as a Deputy in Ramsey County North Dakota. During that time as a Deputy, Special Agent Jesse Smith joined the North Dakota Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force in 2008 and started working proactive luring cases, (Catch a Predator). In 2010 Special Agent Jesse Smith was hired by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and assigned to the Cyber Crime Unit. Special Agent Smith remains a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children task force and actively investigates Cyber crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children. Since 2008, Special Agent Smith has participated in thousands of investigations involving the exploitation of children here in North Dakota. Special Agent Smith’s investigations have led to the arrest of individuals from around the world exploiting children in North Dakota and identifying children from around the world that have been exploited by people living in North Dakota. In 2020, Special Agent Smith was assigned a special partner Special Agent Jib. K-9 Jib is a 6-year-old Black lab trained as an electronic scent detection canine. K-9 Jib is used to locate items such as cellphones, hard drives, thumb drives, SD and Micro-SD cards that are sometimes hidden or missed by investigators. K-9 Jib has assisted on numerous search warrants and has located items of evidence that would have been missed without him. 

Safeguarding Children Online: In today’s digital age, children are more connected than ever before, with the internet being an integral part of their lives. While the internet offers countless opportunities for learning and exploration, it also poses risks to children’s safety and well-being. That is why it is essential for us to play an active role in safeguarding children online. 

Anne’s Bio: Anne graduated from NDSU with a BSN in 2018. Anne has been a nurse with Sanford Health since 2019. Prior to becoming a SANE nurse, she was a Sanford NICU nurse. Anne currently works as a pediatric sexual assault nurse examiner for the Sanford Children’s Child Abuse Referral and Evaluation (CARE) Clinic. Anne received her SANE-P certification in 2022. 

Morgan’s Bio: Morgan is a registered nurse who graduated from North Dakota State University. Morgan is one of the nurses who works in the Sanford Children’s CARE Clinic as a forensic nurse and certified sexual assault nurse examiner. Prior to becoming a SANE-P, Morgan worked in the Sanford Pediatric ICU. 

SANE Exams – Myth Busters: While it makes for great television and stories, the real world of sexual assault examinations and evidence collection is vastly different than Law & Order: SVU. Review common myths and misconceptions as presented by 2 certified Pediatric Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners. 


Audience Slide Deck

Anna’s Bio: Anna Schimmelpfennig, PhD is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who specializes in working with children and families impacted by trauma. She is the Director of Mental Health Services at the Red River Children’s Advocacy Center. She is passionate about making trauma-specific, evidence-based treatment accessible for children and families impacted by abuse, neglect, and exploitation. She is trained in many evidence-based treatments for trauma and also provides training, consultation, and expert witness testimony on issues related to child abuse. She is also trained in evidence-based treatments for children and adolescents with problematic or illegal sexual behavior and provides training and consultation related to problematic sexual behavior. 

Abbigail’s Bio: Abbi is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. She earned her Master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas in 2014. She is currently licensed to provide therapy services in the states of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Abbi has been formally trained in Trauma Focused- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Problematic Sexual Behavior Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for School Age and Adolescents (PSB-CBT), Alternatives for Families Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (AF-CBT), Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI), and Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools. She has also been trained in adaptations of evidenced based practices including Honoring Children, Mending the Circle (Native American cultural adaption of TF-CBT), and TF-CBT using Telehealth. 

Safety Planning for Problematic Sexual Behaviors: When problematic sexual behaviors occur, it is critical to help families safety plan in order to keep children in the home safe and adequately address the behaviors. In this presentation, attendees will understand the definition of problematic sexual behavior as well as how to assess behaviors to determine whether they are typical, concerning or problematic. Attendees will also learn how to safety plan for problematic sexual behaviors in order to prevent future problematic sexual behavior and keep all children within the home safe. Available evidence-based treatment for children and youth with problematic and/or illegal sexual behavior in our community will be discussed.


Behaviors Related to Sex & Sexuality

Family Safety Plan

Guidelines to follow if you find your child engaged in sexual behavior

PSB Flyer

Recommendations-for-Supervision & Parenting-Children-with-PSB

Sexual Behavior Rules

Bio: Craig Smith retired from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 2000, after a 27 year career. He spent seventeen of those years in plain clothes units dealing primarily with Child Abuse and Homicide investigations. In 2010, he returned to the RCMP and served a further six years as a Reserve officer. Since retiring, Craig has given presentations to over 13,000 police officers, child protection workers, prosecutors, medical personnel and other child abuse professionals on topics such as Child Sexual Abuse Investigations, Interviewing & Interrogation Techniques, Abusive Head Trauma/Shaken Baby Syndrome and Adult Sexual Assault Investigations. He has spoken to audiences throughout Canada, the United States, the Hague, Australia, India, Singapore and the Philippines. Craig is a co-author of the Manual for the Investigation of Child Sexual Abuse (1988). He authored, Shaken Baby Syndrome – An Investigator’s Manual (2010) and was a contributor to Child Maltreatment – A Comprehensive Photographic Reference Identifying Potential Child Abuse 3rd and 4th Editions (2005 & 2014). He com pleted the 2006 revision of the RCMP sponsored manual – An Investigative Guide for Sexual Offences. He also helped develop the RCMP Sexual Investigator’s Course and was the facilitator for the first on-line, nation wide, Sex Crimes course run by the RCMP (2008). Craig received his Bachelor of General Studies degree from the University of the Fraser Valley in June 2010. He is a Certified Forensic Child Interviewer (CFCI) and has conducted approximately 1000 interviews of child and adult sexual assault victims.

Child Sexual Abuse Interviews – Why the Colour of the Underwear Matter: There is a harsh truth within law enforcement and child protection circles; few people are anxious to investigate Child Sexual Abuse cases. Most investigators feel ill at ease discussing sexual details with victims, witnesses or suspects. These uncomfortable details however, are often the foundation upon which an officer must build a case. The objective of this workshop is to provide investigators with interviewing strategies that can be used to elicit detailed information from both the child victim and in intra-familial cases, from the non-offending parent. Gathering specific facts about the abuse, along with background information about the abuser, often leads to a successful interrogation of the suspect. The author is a Certified Forensic Chid Interviewer and this presentation is based upon his successful investigation of hundreds of Child Sexual Abuse files. Many participants will already have developed their own child interviewing style and one of the goals of this workshop is to provide attendees with additional techniques that will aid them in eliciting detailed information from child victims in a non-leading, non-traumatic fashion. These details allow the investigator to not only assess the credibility of the victim, but also provides the basic information necessary to tailor an effective plan for the later interview of the suspect. In intra-familial cases of Child Sexual Abuse the partner/spouse of the suspect is often an overlooked, but invaluable source of information. We will explore interview techniques that can be useful in obtaining information about the familial relationship as well as the values, motivations, fears and sexual habits of the suspect. Attendees will then learn how to take the detailed information gleaned from both the child victim and the non-offending spouse and use it to develop effective strategies for a comprehensive interview of the suspect. At the conclusion of this workshop, participants will leave with a better understanding of the value of obtaining details during the interviews of victims, witnesses and suspects.

Abusive Head Trauma: Participants will receive information about the medical findings and the amount of force used to inflict injuries in cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma. They will also learn how to conduct a thorough investigation of these types of cases in a way that will often clearly identify the offender. Participants will be encouraged to use a multi disciplinary approach with police, social workers, medical personnel and prosecutors working together in order to carry out an effective investigation. A series of state of the art animated graphics will be used to clearly illustrate the different injuries commonly found in Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma cases. These graphics will allow participants with little or no medical knowledge to understand the often confusing medical terms associated with this type of child abuse. This presentation will focus on the joint law enforcement and child protection investigation of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) cases. Two major obstacles facing investigators are identifying the perpetrator and confirming the actual mechanism and timing of the injury. This session will address both of these issues and present techniques that can be used to overcome these obstacles and conduct a successful investigation. In these types of cases, exculpatory statements by caregivers can often be as useful as inculpatory statements. Police investigators will learn how to conduct an initial interview of caregivers in order to get them “tied” to a particular story. We will explore some “key questions” that should be put to caregivers during their initial interview. These questions are non-accusatory and appear to be non-threatening to both the truly innocent caregiver and to the person who is responsible for injuring the child. These key questions however will enable the investigator to build a time line and will often clearly identify the person who was responsible for abusing the child. Scene examination, gathering of corroborative evidence, liaison with medical and legal experts as well as interrogation of suspects will all be topics of discussion during this presentation.


Shaken Baby Syndrome – An Investigator’s Manual

Five Stages of a Child Interview

Bio: Julie Martin is a Family Advocate and Prevention Coordinator at the Red River Children’s Advocacy Center with 23 years of experience and a commitment to integrity and empathy. A graduate of NDSU, Julie brings over 200 hours of training and an extensive professional background in working directly with children and families. She aims to present the Stand to Protect curriculum, acting as a safety messenger and fostering knowledge, confidence, and bravery among parents and caregivers. Julie’s unique strengths include exceptional empathy, active listening, and adapting her communication style for everyone’s comfort. With experience in crisis intervention, she is uniquely qualified to meet diverse needs, using a strength-based, family-centered, and trauma-informed approach within child welfare. Julie is not just a professional; she is a compassionate advocate dedicated to making Stand to Protect the strongest prevention program for the well-being of our community’s children at the forefront of her life driving toward lasting impact everywhere she turns.

Stand to Protect: The Stand to Protect program is dedicated to empowering adults with the knowledge and skills necessary to identify and address the signs of child sexual abuse. Through educational programs and resources, the program equips individuals with essential steps and strategies to recognize the subtle indicators of potential abuse. The program ensures that adults are vigilant and informed about protecting children from harm by raising awareness and providing training sessions. Through community outreach efforts, they foster open dialogue and encourage proactive intervention to prevent abuse before it can escalate.


Stand to Protect Handbook

Bio: Paula Condol, M.S., LPCC is the Executive Director of the Dakota Children’s Advocacy Center. Paula provides several evidence-based treatment to youth and their families affected by trauma including Trauma Focused -Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Alternatives for Families-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Problematic Sexual Behavior-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has also been trained in many adaptations of evidenced based practices including Honoring Children, Mending the Circle (Native American cultural adaption of TF-CBT), TF-CBT using Telehealth, and TF-CBT for Trafficked Youth. Paula is a certified TF-CBT supervisor and is trained in providing TF-CBT consultation calls. She is also an in-house train the trainer in PSB-CBT school age. Paula co-developed TOP in North Dakota and is a telehealth trainer and consultant nationwide. Paula also co-developed and runs the Building Resiliency Together Program in North Dakota which provides education, resources and supports on secondary traumatic stress for victim serving organizations across the state.

Staying Resilient While Working in the Trauma Field: Research demonstrates that professionals who work with those impacted by trauma are especially susceptible to experiencing secondary traumatic stress(STS) as a result of trauma-exposed work. STS can significantly impact the well-being of these professionals and can impair their capacity to respond effectively to the needs of those they intend to help. This presentation will provide an overview of STS and the impacts of trauma-exposed work. Specific resiliency skills and organizational resources will be shared throughout the presentation.

  • Participants will be able to discuss the impact of working in trauma-exposed environments and identify differences between secondary trauma, burnout, empathic strain, and moral distress.
  • Participants will be able to identify building resiliency skills to combat the impact of trauma-exposed work and resources for build resiliency in victim serving organizations.


Audience Slide Deck

Kari Casas, M.D.’s Bio: Dr. Kari Casas practiced medical and biochemical genetics in Tyler, Texas for 7 years, during which time she served as an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Tyler and a consultant with the Texas State Health Services Newborn Screening Program. In 2013, Dr. Casas began practicing medical and biochemical genetics at Sanford Health Fargo. She is currently a clinical associate professor at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, a consultant for the North Dakota Department of Health Newborn Screening Program, and a member of the Heartland Genetics Services Network Advisory Committee.

Detective Connie Nichtern’s Bio: Detective Connie Nichtern has been employed with The Fargo Police Department since May 2006. Detective Nichtern has many roles in the Fargo Police Department and is currently in the Crimes Against Children Unit at the Fargo Police Department since 2015. Detective Nichtern has also been a Certified Forensic Interviewer since 2018. Detective Nichtern is committed to supporting victims and undertaking investigation duties to identify the perpetrators of child abuse and any other associated offenses. She has demonstrated a strong worth ethic in working together with many partnering agencies to find strategies to find a positive solution to cases she has worked.

Raelyn Soltis, LBSW’s Bio: Raelyn has over 20 years of experience as a Social Worker who has dedicated her focus to Child Welfare. Raelyn graduated from St. Cloud State University and began her career as a Children’s Mental Health social worker while living in the St. Cloud area. Her efforts focused on school and family engagement along with enhancing connections between youth and mental health services. She moved to Fargo in 2004 and soon embarked on a long-standing and successful career with Cass Human Service Zone. There she served children and families in Cass County for eleven years as a child protection worker before transitioning to an In-Home Case Manager and Forensic Interviewer, a position she held for nearly seven years. She has been an important member of the RRCAC team for sixteen years conducting forensic interviews, serving on many committees, and supporting the RRCAC in carrying out their mission. In May 2023, Raelyn joined the staff at RRCAC full-time as the Director of Operations. In this role, Raelyn brings her experience and knowledge working with the multi-disciplinary team to oversee and improve the daily functions of the center. She looks forward to continuing her passion in highlighting the wonderful work the CAC is doing for children and families. When Raelyn is not working at the RRCAC, she is performing her most rewarding role as a mother to her son and daughter. She is often found chauffeuring kids, at the hockey rink, golf course, or dance studio. If free time is found, Raelyn may be spotted around town enjoying time with friends, traveling, going to the lake, or spending time outdoors.

Hannah Pavek, DNP, APRN, CPNP-PC, SANE-P’s Bio: Hannah is a former Sanford pediatric ICU nurse and pediatric sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE). Hannah attended graduate school at the University of Minnesota, where she obtained her doctorate of nursing practice in pediatric primary care. Hannah is a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner and certified pediatric SANE at the Sanford Children’s Child Abuse Referral & Evaluation (CARE) Clinic in Fargo, providing care for children with concerns of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and neglect.

Dr. Nicola Herting, Licensed Clinical Psychologist‘s Bio: Nicola Herting, Ph.D. is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist committed to reducing barriers and increasing access to evidence-based treatment for children and families impacted by trauma. Dr. Herting is the Clinical Director of the Sanford Traumatic Stress Treatment Center, Clinical Director of the Treatment Collaborative for Traumatized Youth (TCTY), and Clinical Assistant Professor in Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Dr. Herting is passionate about addressing mental health disparities among underserved youth with innovative program development, statewide collaboration, and dissemination of evidence-based treatment. Dr. Herting is involved in several statewide trauma and resiliency initiatives in North Dakota, she is a national expert on delivery of trauma treatment over telehealth, and the Project Director of REACH ND, a NCTSN Treatment and Service Center. Dr. Herting’s efforts as a clinician, clinical investigator, and clinical assistant professor focus on reducing barriers, expanding access, and advancing trauma care for children and families to heal, and building organizational wellness and staff resiliency.

Ryan Younggren, Assistant Cass County State’s Attorney’s Bio: Currently a Personal Crimes Team Leader at the Cass County State’s Attorney’s Office, my experience includes a nearly 24-year career as a trial lawyer, major-crimes prosecutor and adjunct law professor at the University of North Dakota. A former board member at Rape and Abuse Crisis Center and current board member at the Children’s Advocacy Center, I have prosecuted hundreds of child abuse cases.

Tessa Evenson, LBSW’s Bio: Tessa Evenson has over 17 years of experience in the field of Child Welfare. She graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead with a Bachelor of Social Work. In 2007, Tessa began her career in Child Protection Services with the South Dakota Department of Social Services. During this time, she worked a Child Protection Assessment worker prior to transitioning to the Supervisor of the Child Protection Services Unit in Aberdeen, SD. In 2013 Tessa transitioned to a Social Worker in the Child Protection Services Unit at Cass Human Service Zone in Fargo, ND. Tessa was trained in the National Children’s Advocacy Center model of forensic interviewing in 2014. Tessa transitioned to her current role as a Social Worker in the Family Services Unit working with children in foster care at Cass Human Service Zone in April 2020.

MDT Panel Objectives:

  • Explore how a child abuse case involves a multidisciplinary team (MDT)
  • Define the role of each MDT member in the case
  • Understand the process and outcome of their involvement