THE ORGANIZATION

meet our team

Megan Langley 

Executive Director

Megan Langley is the Founder and Executive Director of Strengthen ND. Ms. Megan is a 2014 Bush Foundation Fellow, 2020 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Social Impact Strategy, and an alumnus of the Harvard-Kennedy School of Government’s Leadership in the 21st Century Program and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana State University. Ms. Laudenschlager currently holds several state-based and national positions related to rural placemaking and development, including positions on the North Dakota Council on the Arts Board of Directors, North Dakota Economic Development Foundation Board of Directors, North Dakota Rural Development Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts’ Steering Committee, which provides guidance to the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (CIRD).

Ann Olson

Local Foods Coordinator

Ann Olson brings six years of direct farmers market vendor experience to the Local Foods Coordinator position. A native of Des Lacs, North Dakota, Ann and her husband are raising their kids and produce business on her fourth generation farm. Besides market farming, Ann is a large animal veterinarian, aspiring baker and antique tractor show enthusiast. She is passionate about the local foods movement and assisting growers in growing their business to bring high quality products to local consumers.

barbara carley

Rural Network Coordinator

Barbara Carley, originally from a small town in Minnesota, has lived in Fargo, ND for much of her adult life. Her career began with Super Valu Inc. and continued for 27 years in various capacities: Accounts Payable/Payroll Clerk, Computer Operator, and Supervisor of Accounts Payable/Payroll Department. After retirement from Super Valu, she worked for North Dakota Disaster Emergency Services (2008 – 2019) traveling with her husband to many counties in North Dakota to assess damages to public buildings, roads, and bridges caused by flooding, ice storms, high winds, etc. and assisted county officials with paperwork to receive funding for damages.
In her role with Strengthen ND, Barb will support the development of a Rural Community Network Map; assist in Storytelling and Statewide Community Building; and lead our Impact Evaluation. Barb currently lives in Fargo, with her husband Jim, is the mother of one daughter and grandmother to twin grandsons. She enjoys reading, golfing winter months in Arizona, and spending time with friends and family.

Beth odahlen

Director of Community Engagement and Solutions

Beth Odahlen, an original board member of Strengthen ND, worked for more than 22 years in higher education before transitioning to Strengthen ND.  Her previous experiences were specific to leadership development, internship and experiential education, student support services, and grant management.  During her time in higher education, Beth developed several successful programs which highly impacted student success.  Beth is a ten year member of the National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE) and is slated to become president of NSEE in the fall of 2022.

Beth brings a unique approach to program development and hopes to cultivate a passion for rural leadership and internships to youth and young adults in North Dakota.

Cher Hersrud

Rural Network Coordinator

Cher Hersrud has worked with rural communities and nonprofit organizations for more than 30 years. Funded by the Bremer Trust, she traveled across North Dakota for 10 years to provide capacity building services. Additionally, she worked for several nonprofit organizations, including Plains Art Museum, NDSU Development Foundation, and the FM Area Foundation. In her “retirement,” she is working to support Strengthen ND as an AmeriCorps VISTA.

Natasha Gourd

Native Business Development Coordinator

Natasha Gourd, Wicanphi Tokca Win (Different Star Woman). Mother of four children and member of the Spirit Lake Nation. She has 9 years of community development experience. She has participated in the Native Nation Rebuilder leadership program. She has helped in developing 3 native nonprofits. Currently, she serves as Vice-President of the Bismarck Public Schools Indigenous Parent Committee, Board of Directors for North Dakota Native Vote, and serves on the Indigenous Peacemaking Advisory Committee at the Native American Rights Fund. 

Nancy Heskin-Rakness

Director of Nonprofit

Nancy Rakness served as CEO for the Northwest ND Girl Scout regional area beginning in 1985 under the national leadership of Frances Hesselbein who is now the President and CEO of the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute (renamed in honor of Frances) as founded as The Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofits, University of Penn. Nancy’s board awarded her participation in a leadership cohort at the University of Penn to discuss how to develop effective strategy with executives from across the nation. She earned national Girl Scouts of the USA Certified Executive Director status, where she met competencies in the following areas: work experience, community leadership, accomplishments and awards, continuing education, fund development, fiscal management, human resources and supervision, community relations and marketing. Nancy took the initiative to work with community members to start a 501-c-3 nonprofit foundation to receive endowment funds on behalf of girls in the northwest area of North Dakota “I am glad to be on the Strengthen ND team to share what I have learned through the years to support nonprofits in ND.” Nancy provides a nonprofit certificate program with weekly sessions beginning mid-September through October.

Nancy Edmonds Hanson

Storyteller

Bio coming soon.