Meet Our Staff
Julie N. Ramos Lagos
Julie Ramos Lagos was born and raised in Northwest North Dakota. In 1997 she studied internationally in Canada and has a M.A in Student Development, B.A. in Intercultural Studies, B.A. Social Sciences, and a Certificate of T.E.S.O.L. Julie has over 25+ years experience working with New Americans and immigrants through non-profits, higher education, and businesses. Julie currently speaks intermediate Spanish but has studied Spanish, German, Arabic, Cantonese, Greek, Hebrew, and more. Julie loves traveling & international foods, and has spent time in China, Europe, Honduras, Mexico, and started a Spanish ministries in the Bakken during the oil boom.
Nataliia Ostapchuk was born and raised in Ukraine. She has graduated from the art college of Ukrainian Art. She grew up without a father so her grandfather always taught her to help those in need. Nataliia works as a caseworker and integration specialist that assists the many local Ukrainian families in our community. She has often assisted Global Neighbors in the past as a Ukrainian and Russian translator until she joined our team this past summer 2022.
In 2011 she moved to US, Bismarck,ND. She is working cake decorator and part-time at Global Neighbors .She was a new immigrant so understands what people,who have just arrived in the US feel and fear. Infinitely happy that her hobby transfer to her work.
she also loves to bake dessert from Ukraine, Polish or German menu! One of her favorites is a Cherry Chocolate Cake!
Joy is currently a ER Nurse at Sanford and works part-time as Global Neighbors' Community Coach and participates in a special project partnered with NDSU extension that looks at social determinants in the New American community. She is adept at navigating New American families through difficult applications and processes, and does everything with deep respect for families' cultures and stories. She is originally from the Republic of Congo and is fluent in Kinyamlunge, Kinyarwanda, English, Swahili, and Kirundi.
Angelica was born and raised in Nicaragua, Central America and immigrated to the US 27 years ago. Serving people is a passion for her particularly children and families with those facing homelessness, language barriers, and new to town. Angelica serves the Latino community as a Care Coordinator by providing Spanish materials and information for wellness initiatives to the Hispanic community.
Angelica is an active member of Esperanza Viva and participated in BGN 2021 Leadership Program. She has volunteered for the Latino community offering Spanish translations for many non-profits and has a history of taking courses in leadership. Angelica loves to teach Salsa dancing and is passionate towards various entrepreneurial ventures.
Meet Our Executive Board
Kara Lois Sharff
Kara joined the board in 2019. She was raised in North Dakota. She majored in Spanish and Chicano Studies at the University of Minnesota and spent time abroad in Madrid, Spain. In 2000 She studied in River Plate Bible Institute in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After receiving a Bachelor in Theology and in Education she taught biblical classes and also English to Argentinian missionaries going abroad. She has now students that live in all parts of the world. After living in Argentina for 18 years, in October 2018 she moved to North Dakota to continue to work with the Hispanic community and with the New Americans in the Bismarck/Mandan area.
Dr. Karen Hooge Michalka
Karen was born in northeastern North Dakota. She studied sociology at Wheaton College. After graduating, she lived in Zacatecas, Mexico for two years before entering a graduate program in sociology at the University of Notre Dame. Karen's research centered on the ways immigrant churches provide support, direction, and community for new arrivals. After receiving her Ph.D., Karen and her husband Joseph, a computational chemist, moved to Bismarck where she teaches at the University of Mary. Karen has volunteered with Bismarck Global Neighbors as a mentor and in administering and analyzing a needs assessment.
Jasmine Tosseth-Smith joined the board in July 2022. Jasmine was born and raised in Zimbabwe but has called North Dakota home since April of 2006. Jasmine is passionate about food, community and empowerment. As a resident of North Dakota for over 15 years, Jasmine is wholeheartedly committed to see new Americans and North Dakotans come together, embrace their diversity and together grow North Dakota.
As an entrepreneur herself, with a catering, graphic design and crafting business, Jasmine is a champion for economic opportunity and development. Jasmine is a single mom with 3 amazing kids, 2 grandkids and recently adopted two kittens named Char and Coley. She loves bright colors, loves to dance and hopes that her joy and exuberance is contagious.
Thea Ward Jorgensen
Thea Ward Jorgensen joined the board in April 2022. Thea is originally from Minot but with her husband Mike, has called Bismarck home for over a decade .She is an award winning fitness professional and owner of Thea Ward Fitness . She works part time as the Member Welcome Coordinator for the National nonprofit Team Red, White and Blue where she connects veteran members to the organization and if needed mental health resources across the country. She also serves in the North Dakota Army National Guard as a Human Resource Specialist. Thea is heavily involved in her community and sits on a number of boards as well as volunteers nationally for a number of non profits. Her true passions are working with veterans, promoting mental health and suicide prevention awareness, and working with refugees. She lives by a personal mission statement of "Impact through action, service and compassion."
She is honored to be apart of this board as she knows personally the struggles of severe depression, anxiety and suicidal ideations and knows the impact fitness and a strong community can have on managing all of those.
In her spare time, Thea enjoys trail running, rucking, volunteering, studying French and positive psychology, and traveling as much as she can. She is an avid Hanson fan, a well versed public speaker, a very proud auntie to Brantley and Bailey and someone who truly believes we can all change the world.
Geraldine Ambe is a Human Rights Activist who runs a blog that advocates for human rights violations, especially in Africa. she's also the co-founder of Southern Cameroon Women Movement (SCWM) an advocacy organization that fights human rights violations in Southern Cameroons.
Geraldine has received two awards namely, Leading Ladies Luncheon awarded by the North Dakota Women Business Center and the Bismarck Humanitarian of the Year by the coalition of Human Relations Committee.
Geraldine presently works at High plains Fair housing Center. she also sits as the board member of (SCWM) and also as an elected secretary to that organization. She served as Campaign Manager to one of the Mayor candidates in the 2018 local election in Bismarck. Geraldine also volunteers as the secretary of Grace Action Chapel International. Geraldine holds a degree in Computer Information Technology from United Tribes Technical College. She also holds an LNP lenience from Capitol Higher Institute of Health Science in Bamenda Cameroon.
Michael and his wife, Kami, are part of the original founding team of BGN. Michael is a North Dakota native with a heart for the stranger. He is an engineer at Doosan-Bobcat, and is busy with 3 wonderful children.
Donavon joined the board in 2019. Donavon was born in Bogota, the capital city of Colombia. Shortly after his first birthday he was adopted by a couple in Mandan, North Dakota. After high school, he spent 6 months in an intensive Spanish program in Spain. He enlisted in the United States Air Force and served in Saudi Arabia, North Africa, the Middle East, and Turkey. After an honorable discharge, he enlisted in the Army and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq and Kuwait. He has also traveled to Russia, Ethiopia, China, Peru, Guatemala, Pakistan, South Korea, Vietnam, Colombia, and Thailand, is fluent in Spanish, and speaks a little Arabic and Turkish. Donavon is a dedicated volunteer with New Americans at the Adult Learning Center, Global Neighbors, and the public.