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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, Mayville and Glenburn.

Western ND AHEC 

Denise Andress 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."
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Denise Andress, BSN, MBA
Western AHEC Director
Email Denise

Eastern ND AHEC


Alex Dralle, MEd
Eastern AHEC Director

Email Alex


Alex Dralle grew up on the west side of the state in the rural community of Stanley, ND until the fall of 2019 when she and her children made their move to Mayville, ND to further pursue her education. She worked previously as AHEC's Project Coordinator and graduated in May with a Masters of Education in Adult Teaching and Learning.


Alex has proven to be an effective part of the team while transforming the AHEC Scholars program and works everyday to guide the AHEC program to continued success. She looks forward to contributing her passion for continuous educational program improvements through strategic research and planning as the Eastern AHEC Director!

Program Office

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Stacy Kusler
Associate Program Director – ND AHEC
Phone: (701) 777-3300

Stacy assists rural facilities to attract health professionals to their areas by working closely with health profession students during their training and collaborating with ND AHEC to promote and assist with rural training opportunities.


Brad Gibbens, MPA
Principal Director – 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
Program Evaluator – ND 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.

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