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About Us

The North Dakota Area Health Education Center (AHEC) promotes the collaboration of schools and community organizations to engage in a comprehensive strategy to help eliminate the shortage of healthcare professionals in underserved areas and correct the uneven distribution of healthcare providers in the state.


The North Dakota AHEC supports rural communities from rural locations, with offices in Mandan, Park River, and Mayville.

Western ND AHEC 

Denise has been a Registered Nurse of 30 years. She is currently the Director for the Western Area Health Education Center for North Dakota.


A native of Hettinger, North Dakota, Denise has an extensive background in rural healthcare delivery. In her position, she develops programs to recruit and retain healthcare providers in underserved rural areas, as well as address workforce shortages and educate students about healthcare career options.


Denise received her Bachelor's degree in Nursing in 1992 at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa. She has completed her Master's in Business Administration with a healthcare emphasis from the University of Mary in Bismarck.

"Having lived and worked in rural communities, survival of our communities is dependent on programs such as AHEC. Programs such as these improve the human infrastructure of our communities through education and resources that keep our rural communities viable."

Denise Andress, BSN, MBA
Western AHEC Director
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Eastern ND AHEC

Katie Thompson, BS Ed.

Eastern AHEC Director
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Katie Thompson, Eastern ND AHEC Director, has a long history of youth development, community engagement, and serving others. Katie was the Education Coordinator for the Eastern ND AHEC from 2009-2013 and has returned after pursuing careers in elementary education and Extension education.


Katie has a degree in Elementary Education at Mayville State University, graduating in 2006. While attending college, she worked part-time as a CNA at long-term care facilities. It is through these two nurturing employment opportunities that caring for others and improving their quality of life was most rewarding.


The community of Park River  and surrounding Walsh County has benefited from Katie’s commitment and dedication to community involvement. 

North Dakota AHEC


Alex Dralle, BS
Project Coordinator,
North Dakota AHEC

Email Alex


Alex Dralle works out of the Mayville office supporting the regional centers and providing significant technical assistance for the AHEC Scholars program. 


Alex has worked at the Mayville State business office for the last 2.5 years and graduated in May with a Bachelor's degree in accounting and business administration.


She looks forward to contributing her passion for continuous educational program improvements through strategic research and evaluation as the North Dakota AHEC Project Coordinator.

Program Office


Jan Flatin
Administrative Assistant – North Dakota AHEC
Phone: (701) 777-6084

Jan Flatin is also the administrative assistant to the programs of Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training and the National Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative at CRH at the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences in Grand Forks. Jan joined CRH in 2017 but has been on campus since 1997.


Brad Gibbens, MPA
Principal Investigator – North Dakota AHEC
Phone: (701) 777-2569

Brad Gibbens is the director of CRH at UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences and an assistant professor at the School of Medicine & Health Sciences in Grand Forks.


Robert W. Pawloski, EdD
Implementation, Data Management, and Evaluation Specialist – North Dakota AHEC
Phone: (402) 871-5971

Robert "Bob" Pawloski has served as implementation, data management, and evaluation specialist to North Dakota AHEC since 2016

Contact the Program Office

North Dakota AHEC
Center for Rural Health
University of North Dakota
School of Medicine & Health Sciences
1301 N. Columbia Road, Stop 9037
Grand Forks, ND 58202-9037
(701) 777-3848

Our Funding


The AHEC is supported by a federal Health Services Resources Administration Bureau of Health Professions grant which requires a 1:1 federal/non-federal match, as well as state-appropriated funds.


In addition, grant support from Sanford Health Foundation has supported Rural Interdisciplinary and HOSA programs in the past.

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