Tobacco use is the result of a state environment which continues to allow tobacco to be aggressively marketed to youth; fails to protect nonsmokers, especially children, from the dangers of secondhand smoke; and fails to promote a social norm which encourages an individual’s choice to live tobacco free.

The mission of Tobacco Free North Dakota is to improve and protect the public health of all North Dakotans by reducing the serious health and economic consequences of tobacco use, the state’s number one cause of preventable disease and death.

Tobacco Free North Dakota is working to restrict the ability of the tobacco industry to market tobacco and to change the social environment to support nonsmoking through advocacy for public and private sector policy change and community mobilization.

Our Board

Valerie Schoepf

Valerie Schoepf


Community health and wellness advocate, Bismarck. My experience as a strategic communications consultant has converged with many community efforts these days as a stay at home mom of three. I’m a wellness advocate and educator for families seeking a healthier lifestyle with Young Living, co-leader of the Burleigh County Meadowlarks 4-H club, active PTO member, long-standing steering committee member of Inspire MOPS in Bismarck (Mothers of Preschoolers), and a proud hockey mom. I recently stepped down as President of the Bismarck Tobacco Free Coalition in stepping up to be President of Tobacco Free North Dakota.

I was a Communications Specialist for the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. I also represented a wide variety of clients as an Account Executive for Himle Horner, Inc., a Minneapolis-based public affairs, public relations and crisis management firm. I also worked for the Minnesota Smoke-Free Coalition, American Cancer Society of Moorhead, MN, and President’s Office at Minnesota State University Moorhead. My work in tobacco control has been both personal and professional since I was a freshman in high school when my dad passed away from lung and brain cancer due to his lifelong addiction as a smoker.

My husband Michael and I enjoy spending time with family and friends, caring for our horses, dogs, cats and garden at home, and exploring the countryside of both North Dakota and Minnesota.

Chelsea Ridge


Tobacco Control Coordinator Upper Missouri Health District, Ray

Kelly Heyer


Independent Contractor, Marketing, Advertising, Publications, Fargo

Molly Soeby

Board Member

I am originally from Langdon, ND, but now live in Grand Forks and work at NDSU Extension, Grand Forks County. I also own WelCore Health, LLC. WelCore is a wellness and preventive health care organization. We vaccinate approximately 5000 people each year for flu vaccine and other vaccines.

I got my Bachelor‘s degree in Medical Technology from the University of Mary and a Master’s of Public Administration from Harvard University. I worked in laboratories as a Clinical Chemist for many years. I managed the Altru Diabetes, Bariatric and Weight Management Centers in the past.

I worked with many partners as a Grand Forks Park Commissioner to get the GF parks tobacco-free. This took many years, but I’m very proud of the results.

I am married with 5 children and 4 grandchildren.

Danielle Romanyshyn

Danielle Romanyshyn

Board Member

I have lived in North Dakota my entire life. I grew up in Grand Forks and moved to Bismarck to attend the U of Mary, earning my Bachelor of Science in Biology degree. After getting married in 2013, I moved to Dickinson where I have been ever since. I have 2 kids who keep me very busy but we all enjoy traveling and the outdoors. So far, I’ve traveled to 11 different countries with Western Australia being one of my favorites since I was able to help with coral reef research at Murdoch University, Perth.

Since 2010, I’ve worked with Local Public Health in both Tobacco Prevention and Environmental Health. I really enjoy seeing the science and studies behind environmental impacts, as well as, the powerful impact of policy change. I believe everyone deserves the right to breathe clean air.

Michelle Walker

Michelle Walker

Board Member

I joined the TFND board in December 2019 and currently work in the Foundation at the Anne Carlsen Center. Prior to joining Anne Carlsen, I worked in the Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control at the North Dakota Department of Health for seven years and also spent two years as the Program Coordinator at the American Lung Association of North Dakota. Additionally, I worked as a Respiratory Therapist at Sanford Health in Fargo, ND and was the Director of Clinical Education in the NDSU/Sanford Respiratory Care Program.

I have many years of experience in the nonprofit sector. I bring strong experience in grant writing, relationship building and fundraising and I’m passionate about creating a healthy, tobacco-free landscape in North Dakota.

Our Staff

Heather Austin

Heather Austin

Executive Director

Heather joined the team at TFND in October, 2016. She has over 10 years experience in the non-profit industry. With 5 years at the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce and another 5 years working for statewide organizations, Heather has built relationships and coalitions all across North Dakota. Working with people and bringing groups together is her favorite aspect of this work. Personally, Heather has a husband and two boys at home, and enjoys travel, time with family and friends, and reading a good book.

Now, Heather is passionate about creating North Dakota’s first tobacco free generation by working to create policies and programs that prevent our youth from beginning tobacco’s dangerous addiction.

Contact her at

Andrew Horn

Andrew Horn

Coalition Program Director

After a little more than two years as a reporter at KFYR-TV, I wanted a new way to give back to the community that’s given me so much.
Born and raised in Maryland. Still love the state with all my heart. North Dakota is my home now, but I will almost always be wearing something Maryland flag print. Don’t know much about the Old Line State? Ask me about it!
While we’re chatting about MD, I’ll also find ways to share the great work TFND is doing on behalf of all North Dakotans.

If you want to reach out, email me at