Board of Directors
Robert grew up on a farm-ranch near Woodworth North Dakota, graduated from Medina High School and attended Jamestown college. He received his college degree at the University of North Dakota and his M.D. degree from the University of Utah. Robert served in the U.S. Army for 3 years after which he did post graduate work in surgery and then cardiac surgery fellowship at Loma-Linda University. Robert established the cardiac surgery program in Bismarck and worked here for 15 years and also worked in Las Vegas before returning to Bismarck to continue working part-time. His other interests include farming, music, church work and visiting his grandchildren. He is happily married to his wife Debra.
Rev. VanVechten Crane was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Richard and Mary Crane, in 1948. He is the second in a family of three boys and one girl. VanVechten’s father was a banker and moved the family to Los Angeles in 1960 and then to Phoenix in 1965. VanVechten graduated from Camelback High School in 1967. He received his B.S. in Animal Science from Arizona State University in 1971. VanVechten married Jacqueline Stauffer in 1971 and they moved to Mesa, Arizona. Two sons Zachary and Jeremy were born in 1974 and 1976.
Between ‘71 and ‘79 VanVechten worked for Arizona Land and Cattle company as a management trainee, for Spreckels Sugar as a clerk, for Reynolds Metal Co. as a sawyer, then as a self-employed farrier. In 1979 VanVechten entered Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota. VanVechten’s internship was served in Binford and McKenry, ND. He graduated from seminary in the spring of ‘83 and began serving the Willow City/ Barton/ and Marker Lutheran parish. From 1987 ’til 1994 served First Lutheran and Bethany Lutheran Churches in Rhame. In the August of 1991 Jacqueline died.
VanVechten married Rev. Lisa Ahlness October 9, 1992. Lisa and VanVechten have three children, Carly, Amy, and Joel. Lisa is currently serving as assistant to Bishop Mark Narum. VanVechten began serving the Almont/ Sims Parish in the fall of 1995 and retired from there in May of 2013, he now works as a part time porter at Pucklich Chevrolet and serves as part time pastor for the St. Paul Lutheran Church of Riverdale, ND. He also practices shoeing horses when time allows. His hobbies are training dogs, hunting, and playing classical guitar.
VanVechten has served on the Board of Directors of the Badlands Bible Club and the Global Mission Board of the Western North Dakota Synod of the ELCA.
Jennifer Burke Jackson
As an architect and project manager for a local architecture firm, Jennifer Burke Jackson provides design, building and construction experience for the shelter. Jennifer also has a degree in Mass Communication and experience with business strategic planning. Prior to taking a position on the Board of Directors, Jennifer assisted with grant writing for the Welcome House. Jennifer is a native of Bowman, North Dakota. She is most grateful for her husband and two young daughters.
Grace N. Njau
Grace was born in Nyeri, Kenya, and grew up in Denver, CO. She is passionate about issues affecting mothers and children and is honored to serve on the Welcome House, Inc. Board of Directors. As a practicing epidemiologist in North Dakota, Grace has grown to appreciate the impact shelter and stability can have on an individual’s health choices and life outlook. She enjoys cooking, traveling, and is an avid reader in her free time. Grace and her husband Kenneth are especially grateful for their family and their fur baby Freddie.
Director / Case Manager
Pamela is very honored to be promoted to Director. She graduated from Mandan High School and then went to Rasmussen College where she received her Associates degree. With a strong interest in serving others, she went on to get her CNA license. Pamela is experienced in working with diverse groups of people in our community ranging from those who are homeless to individuals who are being release into the community after incarceration.
Pamela was born in Utah and moved to North Dakota in 1998. She is the youngest of six children and is very thankful for her husband James and their four fur-babies.