Christal Halseth, LCSW

Executive Director

Christal was raised in a very small town, Ontonagon, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She left Michigan in 1998 and lived in Aviano, Italy, where she was a supervisor for AAFES. She returned stateside in 2001 and received her Bachelor of Social Work degree from Minot State University. During her time as MSU, she worked with The Village Family Service Center as a mental health behavior specialist and supervised visitation coordinator.

Christal began her career at Easter Seals Goodwill of ND as a program coordinator and then became ESGW ND Assistant Director. After completing her Master of Social Work degree from Florida State University, she began her clinical supervision as forensic interviewer at the UND Northern Plains Children’s Advocacy Center. She was a CPS worker for Ward County Social Services for a short time and after the NPCAC became its own non-profit organization, she returned, and became its Executive Director in 2015.

She now oversees agency operations and writes state, federal, and community grants that support the center’s programs. Christal sits on the board of directors for the Children’s Advocacy Centers of ND and is a member of ND’s Alliance for Children’s Justice Task Force. In 2023, she was appointed by Governor Doug Burgum to serve on the Commission on Juvenile Justice. She speaks publicly about issues and dynamics related to crimes against children. Christal enjoys spending time with her husband and their 8 children, as well as traveling to Northern Michigan to be with her extended family.

Shannon Hilfer, LPCC

Forensic Interview Program Coordinator

Shannon joined the NPCAC in 2018 after more than a decade of work at the Dakota Children’s Advocacy Center in Bismarck as their forensic interviewer. She has been an integral part in many cases involving children who have been sexually abused or are victims of other crimes. She acts as NPCAC’s multi-disciplinary team coordinator and conducts training for various disciplines, including law enforcement across the state in areas of crimes against children. Her knowledge and skills have been an asset to our organization.

Jessica Evans

Forensic Interviewer

Jessica Evans is an Army veteran originally from Fall River, MA. Her military service brought her to the Midwest where she obtained degrees in management, criminal justice, and forensic psychology. Jessica is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in forensic psychology. She came to NPCAC from White Shield School where she was a long-term substitute teacher and paraprofessional. Jessica’s research interests are human trafficking, criminal psychology, and abnormal psychology.

Jessica enjoys family game nights with her husband and four children. She also likes to crochet, complete puzzles, and diamond art.

Heather Waller, LBSW

Family Advocacy Program Coordinator

Heather has been Northern Plains Children’s Advocacy Center since 2014. She supports children and their families through the investigation and prosecutorial process of child abuse. She assists caregivers in obtaining services, provides on-going support, and serves as a liaison between the families and multidisciplinary team members.

Jenna Hurt

Family Advocate

Jenna Hurt is a native of Minot and has moved all over with the military. She returned to Minot in 1999. Jenna is a Minot State Alumni and has a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. She came to the NPCAC from Minot Central Dispatch where she was a dispatcher for 11 years and has experience working with at-risk youth. She is passionate about helping others and is also a foster parent for Ward County Human Service Zone.

Jenna enjoys spending time with her sons and her two dogs. She also likes drinking coffee, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.

Benjamin Parker, LCSW

Clinical Supervisor

Ben Parker is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a Master of Social Work degree from Florida State University, along with a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Minot State University. Originally from Wyoming, Ben has been living in Minot since 2012. His past work experience includes working with victims of domestic violence, special education individuals, at-risk youth, and family therapy. In his free time, he enjoys playing Xbox, reading, making music, and trying new recipes.

Shari Lunde, LMSW

Child & Family Therapist

Shari is a Licensed Master Social worker with a Master of Social Work from the University of South Dakota. She has experience with both youth and adult individuals who struggle with mental health and addiction. A true North Dakotan, Shari loves to incorporate her farming experience into therapy sessions, sometimes even bringing baby goats to work or planting seeds with clients. When not at the office, Shari can be found spending time with her family or crafting.

Cassondra Badke, LAPC

Child & Family Therapist

Cassondra Badke has 8+ years’ experience in mental health, and her dedication to the families she serves is evident in the quality of her work. She has a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in clinical mental health counseling. Her favorite pastime is making memories with her daughter and golden retriever. She loves to travel and spend time with family and friends.

Jesse Crosby, LCAC

Clinical Addiction Counselor

Jesse Crosby is a Licensed Clinical Addiction Counselor with a bachelor’s degree in addiction studies from Minot State University. Jesse had been providing services to adolescents and adults in the area since 2016 and joined the NPCAC in 2021 to offer substance use counseling services. He enjoys spending time with his wife and family, as well as playing basketball, camping, and traveling.

Kaycee Verlinde, LMSW

Child & Family Therapist

Kaycee has a master’s degree in social work obtained from the University of South Dakota. She has experience in working with youth and adults in behavioral health crisis. She has also worked with individuals with specific behavioral intervention needs. She is currently working towards her clinical licensure. In her free time, she enjoys gardening (when it’s warm out), playing with her dog and cat, reading comics, playing games like dungeons and dragons with her friends, listening to music, and making art crafts like diamond painting.

Tammy Ness, LCSW

Program Evaluation Consultant

Tammy was part of the original team who helped bring the Northern Plains Children’s Advocacy Center to Minot, also serving as a board member for several years. Tammy has a Masters of Social Work from the University of North Dakota and has worked for the North Central Human Service Center for 30+ years both as an employee and consultant, helping children and families who have experienced trauma.

Connie Wilson

Director of Finance

Connie is a native of Minot and started with the Northern Plains Children’s Advocacy Center as a board member in 2010. She was the board treasurer from 2017 to 2019.

In 2020, she handled all the finances for the NPCAC and in 2021 joined the staff full-time. She advocates our mission within our community and assists the Executive Director with day-to-day operations. Connie enjoys spending time with her husband and children and is a very active volunteer in the Minot community.

Tressa Blake

Intake Specialist/Office Coordinator

Tressa Blake has worked in administrative capacities for several Minot-area clinics, both in the medical and mental health fields. Her passion is to advocate for children and connect with others in the community. She loves trying out new restaurants and visiting local businesses. Tressa resides in Minot with her three children and two cats.

Janelle Warren

Administrative Assistant

Janelle has been with the NPCAC since 2019. She is just beginning her career and has a passion for helping children who are victims of crime. She currently attends Minot State University and is working to obtain her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. She looks forward to serving her community and being a part of making the world safer for children. She assists all NPCAC staff with daily operations.
It has a calming atmosphere, and the people were very kind.