Who We Are…About GRIT

The Greater Rockies Immersive Training on Exploitation and Trafficking (GRIT) is brought to you by Uprising, a Wyoming-based anti-trafficking nonprofit. By fusing together the latest research, trends, and field expertise coupled with innovative immersion training, GRIT aims to cultivate sustainable change in how criminal justice systems throughout the Rocky Mountain region react to, investigate, and prosecute exploitation-based crimes. GRIT accomplishes this by using a multidisciplinary approach that targets offenders while providing holistic support for the victims of these crimes.

The 2024 theme for the GRIT Conference is Labor Trafficking. This theme will be highlighted throughout the conference. 

Uprising isn’t just an organization, it’s a movement.

We believe that exploitation of even one person is too much and we are working tirelessly to shine a light on how this is happening, even in Wyoming.

By strategically collaborating with other individuals, groups, and organizations, we can create more awareness surrounding human trafficking and exploitation, expand prevention and intervention efforts, and effectively reduce vulnerabilities that lead to exploitation. Together, we can take steps to ensure our communities are the safest possible. Learn more about Uprising’s mission and programs by visiting Uprisingwyo.org.

Partners

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Register NOW!

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR GRIT 2024

$349 Individual Registration | $299 Group Rate*

*Group Rates Available for 3+

2024 Schedule

The Greater Rockies Immersive Training
Schedule-Subject to Change

7:45am
Registration and Check-In Opens

8:00-8:45am
Human Trafficking 101 (optional)

9:00-9:30am
Welcome & Keynote

9:30-10:15am
Plenary Session

10:15-10:30am
Break

10:30am-12:00pm
Session 1 Rotation

12:00-1:30pm
Lunch (On your own)

1:30-3:00pm
Session 2 Rotation

3:00-3:15pm
Break

3:15-5:00pm
Session 3 Rotation & Wrap Up

8:30-9:45am
Plenary Session 

9:45-10:00am
Break

10:00am-12:00pm
Hands-On Skills Application- Case Review

12:00-1:30pm
Lunch (On your own)

1:30-2:45pm
Plenary Session

2:45-3:00pm
Break

3:00-5:00pm
Hands-On Skills Application- Interviewing

6:00-10:00pm
Networking Event/Concert

8:30-10:00am
Plenary  Session

10:00-10:15am
Break

10:15-11:45am
Breakout Sessions

11:45am-1:15pm
Lunch (On your own)

1:15-5:00pm
Hands-On Skills Application- Mock Operation & Conference Wrap Up

2024 Venue

University of Wyoming Conference Center
2221 Grand Ave, Laramie, WY 82070

Hilton Garden Inn (Attached to the Conference Center)

2229 Grand Ave, Laramie, WY 82070

A very limited amount of King or Double Queen rooms are available at a special rate of $119/per night. We recommend you book your rooms early!

Book Your Room Here

Or call (307) 745-5500 to book your room and mention the “GRIT Conference” for your room rate.

Holiday Inn Laramie University (Short walk or drive to the Conference Center)

204 N 30th St, Laramie, WY 82070

A very limited amount of King or Double Queen rooms are available at a special rate of $129/per night. We recommend you book your rooms early!

Book Your Room Here

Or call (307) 721-9000 to book your room and mention the “GRIT Conference” for your room rate.

  • Laramie Regional Airport – Laramie, Wyoming https://www.flylaramie.com/
  • Laramie has a regional airport that is serviced by direct flights on United Express to and from Denver International Airport. The largest nearby airport with more flight availability is  Denver International Airport which is approximately a 2-hour drive. 

2024 SESSIONs

The Greater Rockies Immersive Training
Session Descriptions

Human Trafficking and Prosecutions

Speaker:
JR Ujifusa

Description:
This session will focus on working together in a collaborative approach to be more successful in holding offenders accountable and supporting victims in the criminal justice system. Taking into account the ideas of being offender-focused and victim-centered, this session will explore examples and strategies to help professionals work together to create positive outcomes. Using existing case law and statutes, the challenges associated with prosecuting sex trafficking cases can be reduced using creative approaches and working with partners to collaborate. This will include a discussion of the recent trends regarding Illicit Massage Industry/Businesses (IMI or IMB) and labor trafficking.

Dreams, Dignity, and the Fight Against Labor Trafficking

Speaker:

Patty Bennett

Description:

This presentation delves deep into the complex world of labor trafficking, shedding light on its subtle indicators and the socio-cultural dynamics that fuel it. Participants will gain valuable insights into effective intervention strategies, enhancing their skills in individual counseling, advocacy, and victim engagement. Emphasizing the importance of cultural competency and ethical practices, this session is pivotal for those committed to trauma-informed approaches and the provision of specialized services for trafficking survivors. This comprehensive discussion promises not only to enlighten but also to empower professionals in their crucial roles as advocates, investigators, prosecutors, and change-makers.

Successful Case Collaboration in Labor Trafficking Investigations

Speaker:
Megan Zentner

Description:
This session focuses on the essential and strategic collaboration between local and federal law enforcement, community and systems-based advocates, immigration attorneys, prosecutors, and interpreters for successful labor trafficking investigations. The presenter will discuss the dynamics as well as the difference between cases of labor exploitation and forced labor, and list best practices for survivor-centered multidisciplinary collaboration. Attendees will learn how to identify and respond to the indicators of labor trafficking, pursue immigration relief, and work effectively with interpreters and other supportive language access services.

Meaningful Partnerships, Intersectionality, and the Role of Survivor Leadership

Speaker:
Katherine Givens

Description:
The presenter will take a deep dive into what sex trafficking looks like from the perspective of survivors, exploring how one evolves from victim to a thriving community member. The presentation will focus on terminology and case studies of real-life experiences and how those experiences affect survivors who are reintroduced to their communities. This workshop is designed to serve as a reflection on the community’s role in the trafficking experience as well as how to equip communities to walk alongside individuals who have experienced trafficking.

Facilitators of human trafficking

Speaker:
JR Ujifusa

Description:
This session will focus on a holistic approach to holding facilitators accountable. The discussion will include grooming and onramps to sex trafficking and the dynamics used to recruit and maintain victims of sex trafficking. In addition, there will be a discussion about broadening the scope of investigations to include hotels/motels, family/associates, buyers and buyer groups, websites, landlords, adult establishments/strip clubs and recruiters. Using best practices and a victim centered approach, this session will discuss what the accountability is for these entities and how to hold them accountable through examples and case studies.

Survivor Panel Discussion

Speakers:
Charlie Falkis, Patty Bennett, Katherine Givens, Jenny Footle

Description:
Four national leaders with lived experience in sex and labor trafficking provide critical insight into how to engage with victims and survivors on the spectrum of response, recovery, and reintegration. By discussing lessons learned from their own experiences intersecting with professionals and community members, as well as insight gained through interacting with and supporting other survivors, the presenters will highlight harmful practices as well as best practices in victim-centered and trauma-informed approaches. Multi-disciplinary teams will learn tactics for building rapport and empowerment during every encounter with exploited persons, with an emphasis on working with marginalized populations.

Unified Front: Collaborative Strategies for Law Enforcement and Helping Professionals

Speaker:
Melissa Kaiser

Description:

This session aims to equip professionals involved in combating human trafficking with the knowledge and skills necessary to develop and maintain effective multidisciplinary teams. Acknowledging human trafficking as a multifaceted crime demanding a coordinated and comprehensive response, the presentation focuses on fostering collaboration and enhancing communication among team members. By combining forces, participants will optimize the impact of anti-trafficking efforts, cultivating collaborative strategies that resonate with the unique needs of their communities.

Practical Skills Applications

Speakers:
Uprising Team Members & GRIT Faculty

Description:

Attendees will take part in an immersive experience at this year’s conference as we delve into three essential practical skills application sessions: Case Review, Interviewing Techniques, and Mock Operations. Led by our expert faculty, these sessions offer a unique opportunity to apply and refine the skills acquired during the conference in a practical setting. Dive deep into real-life scenarios, collaborate with peers, and gain invaluable hands-on experience to bolster your confidence in tackling human trafficking cases effectively. Don’t miss this chance to elevate your expertise and make a tangible impact in the fight against human trafficking.

Breakout Sessions

Presenters: Chris McDonald and Ryan Hieb

This session will provide an overview of The Wyoming ICAC Task Force, their mission, and how the task force supports local agencies in the investigation of online sexual exploitation of children. Presenters will give an overview of current trends seen by Wyoming ICAC investigators as it pertains to the trafficking of CSAM images online. The case studies will encompass case coordination, offender and victim profiles, and examples of artifacts of digital evidence used to aid in the prosecution of offenders. The course will provide case studies and examples of cases throughout Wyoming. The course will allow for time to facilitate conversations and questions from attendees.

Presenter: Christyne Martens

This discussion-based session will be focused on providing a primer on the criminal justice process, focusing on information that non-lawyers will be able to use when interacting with victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation crimes. Topic areas will include definitions and basic proof requirements for various trafficking related crimes. the defendant’s constitutional rights and how those rights impact others in the justice system; victim and witness rights and obligations.

Presenter: Melissa Kaiser

Law enforcement, service providers, and medical personnel are consistently exposed to complex and demanding situations such as child maltreatment, sexual assaults, and human trafficking. This sustained exposure has extensive consequences, encompassing challenges such as substance abuse, heightened rates of suicide, marital distress, depression, anxiety, and compromised physical wellness.

This session will address the consequences of occupational stress, focusing on secondary traumatic stress (STS) and compassion fatigue, and their impact on personal well-being. Attendees will be equipped  with tools to assess and manage their individual experiences of STS, fostering an environment conducive to improved well-being.

The session distinguishes between STS, compassion fatigue, burnout, moral suffering, and post-traumatic stress disorder, offering participants an understanding of the interplay between high-stress work environments and personal well-being. Discussions surrounding personal experiences, cultural shifts within the workplace, and the normalization of STS and compassion fatigue take precedence, providing a forum for insightful discourse and shared strategies. Participants will explore various resilience strategies tailored to improve the well-being of those dedicated to serving and protecting our communities, which ultimately enhances the quality of services provided to the vulnerable individuals they serve.

Presenter: Drew Cotton & Lisa Lauderdale

This session highlights the effectiveness of investigating crimes against children through the use of a multi-disciplinary team, or MDT. Combining the efforts of law enforcement, prosecutors, advocates, social workers, counselors, medical practitioners and educators that are focused on caring and providing for child victims of any crime can be the difference in helping a child transition from “Victim” to “Survivor.” Presenters Investigator Lisa Lauderdale and Special Agent Drew Cotton will highlight and discuss several case studies detailing shortfalls and successes of child victim investigations in Wyoming, with an emphasis on teamwork and cooperation, in the hope that similar practices can be used statewide to assist child victims.

Presenter: Andrew Yedinak

This session will highlight the case of U.S. v. Angelo Stackhouse. This was a 2 year investigation that was put together by the Montana Division of Criminal investigation with the help of numerous local and federal agencies. The session will discuss evidence that was found in the case and how this case, although a human trafficking investigation, did not look the part on the surface. Multiple crimes were investigated to include drug trafficking, gun crimes, sex trafficking, and kidnapping from inner city and tribal lands. The session will further focus on the importance of victim advocacy and services and how without these elements, a human trafficking case is impossible to solve.

Across the United States, the prevalence of illicit massage businesses (IMBs) in increasing. These storefront establishments are known fronts for commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Historically, the primary counter method used by law enforcement is the long-term criminal investigation. However, law enforcement today does not have the resources to sufficiently address this issue using this method alone. Additionally, often these investigations result in the arrests of those that are potential victims of human trafficking. New strategies are needed. This session will provide examples from those who have built inoperable environments for IMBs by engaging landlords and regulatory agencies, along with using other civil and under-utilized criminal approaches.

FAQs

Full refunds are available until April 1, 2024. Refund requests after this date will be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

**To request a refund, you must email GRIT@uprisingwyo.org and provide the attendee’s name, the purchaser’s name, the ticket order number, and an address to send the check. If your billing address has changed since the time of purchase, please provide your updated address. Refunds will be issued by back onto your credit card or by check within 30 days of request.

The GRIT Conference provides top-notch instruction from nationally-renowned experts who have spent months collaborating to develop an innovative training that integrates best practices for each discipline with a coordinated, trauma-informed team approach to victim-centered justice. Rather than choose from a traditional list of breakout sessions according to their topic, attendees will be assigned to multi-disciplinary teams throughout the event to learn, apply, and problem solve together as they move through each instructor’s class. Instructors will provide expertise and engagement opportunities in critical areas of a victim-centered response. 

Attendees will also have the opportunity to put the skills they have learned into practice with a hands-on exercise involving a mock investigative operation. 

The GRIT Conference also examines the issue of human trafficking through a rural lens.

The GRIT Conference is intentionally designed as a multi-disciplinary training where attendees from varying professions will learn how to effectively communicate, coordinate, and collaborate together to accomplish more favorable outcomes in cases of exploitation and trafficking.

This training was developed for professionals who work with victims/survivors and potential victims of sex and labor trafficking, such as prosecutors, judges, law enforcement, probation officers, detention staff, social services, child protective services, healthcare providers, victim advocates, advocacy groups, CAC staff, task force members, educators, and mental health practitioners. If your profession is not listed here and you would like to inquire regarding your eligibility to attend, please contact GRIT@uprisingwyo.org prior to registration.

A group rate will be available in 2024 for agencies registering three (3) or more individuals at the same time before March 1, 2024. Agencies may register up to five (5) attendees at this discounted rate through the link provided above. If your agency would like to register more than five attendees at the discounted rate, please contact GRIT@uprisingwyo.org for an invoice and further instructions.

The GRIT Conference is designed as a fully immersive, hands-on experience. All attendees are expected to join us for the duration of the event in order to receive the most value out of their registration. While we understand evolving priorities and unforeseen schedule conflicts, partial registration will not be offered at GRIT 2024.

Given the nature of the immersive and hands-on experience, The GRIT Conference will not be offered virtually.

We are striving to have CEU credits already approved and available for attendance.  Last year the following CEU’s were available:

WY, ID, MT, SD, ND, CO, NE POST were approved, WY, ID, MT CLE general credits were approved, and NASW social work credits were approved. 

If you are in a profession or a state where CEU credits have some very specific requirements for approval then please reach out to GRIT@uprisingwyo.org and we will work with you as best we can to make that a possibility.

GRIT 2024 will take place in Laramie, Wyoming right off Interstate 80 in the southern part of the State. Weather in early May can be unpredictable and all travelers should allow plenty of time if coming from out of the area.

Laramie has an airport that is serviced by direct flights on United Express to and from Denver International Airport. The largest nearby airport with more flight availability is Denver International Airport which is approximately a 2-hour drive. 

Nope! Welcome to Wyoming where casual/business casual attire is acceptable and the weather is unpredictable. The majority of the experience will take place indoors, however a portion of the experience may have attendees outside periodically (with potential for rain, snow, wind, or shine) so please check the weather in advance and come prepared. Layers are recommended, even indoors. 

Light refreshments will be provided in the mornings, as well as snacks throughout the day. Lunch will be on your own for GRIT 2024, with a 90-minute lunch break. Several options for lunch are within walking distance of the conference center, and there are also many options in downtown Laramie, a short drive away. 

If you have a food allergy, please be sure to indicate that during your registration or any time prior to the event and we will work with the venue to address these restrictions.  You may also indicate whether you are vegetarian or require a gluten-free diet and we will do our best to accommodate those requests.

 

 Please be sure to indicate any accessibility needs during your registration or any time prior to the event and we will work with the venue to accommodate to the best of our ability.

Yes! Event staff will have multiple networking opportunities available. More information will be released closer to the event.

You, your new friends, and  The GRIT Conference staff and presenters will have the chance to connect during multiple, attendance-optional events during the conference in 2024. More details to come.

Yes, WiFi will be available throughout the venue and a password will be provided in your conference program.

2024 Presenters

JR Ujifusa

JR Ujifusa has been working on human trafficking crimes and issues for the last 14 years and is also a Special Assistant United States Attorney for the district of Oregon focusing on federal human trafficking crimes. He is the Senior deputy and supervisor of the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Drug and Property unit and Human Trafficking Team which oversees the Prostitution Coordination Team, the Sex Buyers Accountability and Diversion Program,  First Offender Program, Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Law Enforcement group, National Sex Trafficking Law Enforcement List Serve, and is the primary prosecutor for all felony prostitution and human trafficking cases within Multnomah County. JR has trained, presented and has been a guest speaker at numerous national and regional human trafficking conferences and trainings. He is a member of the Multnomah County and State of Oregon Human Trafficking Task Forces as well as the U. S. Attorney’s Oregon Foreign Born Task Force. JR serves as the chair of the National Advisory Committee on the Sex Trafficking of Children and Youth in the United States. He co-chairs the Association of Prosecuting Attorney’s Human Trafficking Advisory Committee and the Oregon DOJ Trafficking Intervention Advisory Committee.   He has been a Deputy District Attorney since 2005 and has also prosecuted drug crimes, felony property crimes, violent crimes, sexual assaults, domestic violence related crimes, gang related crimes and homicides.

Megan Zentner

Detective Megan Bruneau Zentner has been with the Seattle Police Department (SPD) for over 23 years and is currently assigned to the Human Trafficking Unit in the Major Investigations Squad.  For over a decade, Megan has been an embedded Task Force Officer with Homeland Security Investigations (Seattle office) focused on labor trafficking/forced labor investigations. She is dedicated to a survivor-centered, trauma-informed approach to human trafficking cases and works to bring creativity and diligence to all investigations. This has allowed her to develop excellent relationships with fellow investigators, prosecutors, immigration/civil attorneys, and NGO/community service providers. Megan has provided professional training on human trafficking investigations locally, nationally, and internationally at the request of the Department of Justice, Homeland Security, and other agencies. As a patrol officer Megan worked at the West Precinct in downtown Seattle and assisted several units (Internet Crimes Against Children, Anti-Crime Teams, Narcotics, etc.) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on various operations. Prior to becoming a sworn police officer in 2006, Megan spent her first five years with SPD as a civilian employee with the Victim Support Team (VST), an on-scene crisis intervention advocacy program for domestic violence victims and their children. Megan is a graduate of the University of Washington. 

Jessa Crisp

Patty Bennett

Patty, an award-winning entrepreneur and international speaker with 15+ years of experience, has a Master of Arts in Counseling with a focus on Life Coaching. Serving as a Labor Trafficking and Lived Experience Expert for organizations, including The Department of Homeland Security, Patty strengthens trauma-informed practices, training, prevention, identification, and services. She’s the creator of the BEST model for Trauma-Informed Leadership, empowering organizations to collaborate effectively with trauma survivors, enhancing resilience and team performance. Additionally, Patty directs the world’s largest online school for trafficking survivors.
David Weiss

Katherine Givens

Kathy is a wife, mother, author, writer, and advocate who has overcome sex trafficking. After many years of living in silence, Kathy decided to journal what happened to her to deal with the surreal experience. That journal became a book. That book became a stage play.

Partnering with several organizations, Kathy’s goal is to increase human trafficking awareness, fight for those being trafficked, and mentor those who have overcome it.

She has presented to faith-based organizations, educators, students, medical professionals, law enforcement, politicians, and leaders from all sectors of society. She has trained nonprofit organizations and individuals who aspire to become better advocates in the field of anti-trafficking.

In 2018, Kathy was invited into The Oval Office to witness a bill she advocated for signed into law. In 2021, Kathy joined the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking by presidential appointment. During her time as a Program Director, Kathy developed a trauma-informed program for survivors of trafficking.

She is now Co-Founder of Twelve 11 Partners, an organization committed to supporting individuals who have experienced human trafficking and are on their journey to thriving.

David Weiss

Chris McDonald

Wyoming ICAC Commander Chris McDonald is a veteran law enforcement Investigator with over twenty-two years of experience. Commander McDonald has been employed at the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) since October of 2006 and prior to that, served as a Deputy Sheriff in Campbell County Wyoming for five years. Before becoming the ICAC TF Commander in 2019, Chris supervised a field office of DCI’s Northeast Enforcement Team (NEET). During his law enforcement tenure, Commander McDonald has led and supervised Homicide, OIS, Title III, Political Corruption and ICAC cases. Additionally, Commander McDonald has served as a Special Response Team Member, Certified Arson Fire Investigator, Certified Practitioner Lecturer, testified as an expert in State and Federal Court and regularly presents at the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy and yearly DCI Basic Course.

David Weiss

Drew Cotton

Special Agent Drew S. Cotton is currently employed with the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office, in Casper, Wyoming. Special Agent Cotton is a Wyoming native, and a graduate from the Hot Springs County High School in Thermopolis, Wyoming. Special Agent Cotton is a combat- deployed veteran of the Wyoming
Army National Guard, serving from 2003 – 2010. Special Agent Cotton has been with the Natrona
County Sheriff’s Office since 2006, serving in various roles including Detention Officer, Patrol Deputy, Firearms Instructor, Tactical Tracking Team Leader, Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI)
High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force Officer – Central Enforcement Team, Natrona County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team (SRT) Team Leader, Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Investigator, Digital Forensic Examiner, and Wyoming DCI Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Affiliate. Special Agent Cotton is currently assigned as a Task Force Officer with the Wyoming DCI Computer Crimes Team with the ICAC Task Force since 2023. Special Agent Cotton is a POST-Certified Professional Peace Officer since 2016, and is a Magnet Certified Forensic Examiner.

Chris Muller-Tabanera

Chris leads The Network’s broad-based effort to defeat human trafficking in the illicit massage industry. He has delivered trainings across the United States on the unique characteristics of the industry, proven disruption methods, and best practices in identifying and responding to
exploited workers. Chris is featured in numerous articles about the industry, including national publications like the New York Times, USA Today, and AP News. He is a contributing author for the book, The Historical Roots of Human Trafficking: Informing Primary Prevention of Commercialized Violence. Prior to The Network, Chris was the Director of Training and External Affairs at Restore NYC. He has a MDiv from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a BA in Communication and Media Studies from the University of San Diego. 

Charlie Falkis

Charlie is a fierce advocate of anti-trafficking work and a passionate board member of Uprising. He holds lived experience with familial, gang, and domestic minor sex trafficking. Charlie has devoted much of his post-trafficked life to advocacy and outreach in mental health, supporting survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and human rights. Charlie has worked with social justice and mental health organizations as well as devoting his time through volunteer mentorship, support groups, and building community resilience.

Christyne Martens

Christyne Martens was born and raised in central Minnesota and earned her B.A. in Sociology, summa cum laude, from St. Cloud State University. She received her Juris Doctorate Degree, with honors, from the University of Wyoming College of Law and was selected into the Order of the Coif. She began her career as a prosecutor in Northwestern Iowa. She then joined the Criminal Division of the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office, where she briefed and argued direct criminal appeals before the Wyoming Supreme Court, litigated various forms of post-appellate challenges to criminal convictions in the state and federal courts, litigated civil asset forfeitures, advised criminal justice agency clients, and provided a variety of trainings to prosecutors and law enforcement officers. As Deputy Attorney General for the Criminal Division, she oversaw this work.

Mrs. Martens joined the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Wyoming as an Assistant United States Attorney based in Casper. As a federal prosecutor, she works with a variety of federal agencies to prosecute a variety of crimes, including drugs, human trafficking, white collar, child exploitation, crimes in Indian Country, and natural resource violations. She has served as the Covid Fraud Coordinator, Project Safe Childhood Coordinator, and Human Trafficking Coordinator for the district.

Of note, she presented at the Association of Paroling Authorities International’s annual training conference regarding changes to juvenile sentencing law. In the fall of 2014, she was the first member of the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office to serve as a National Association of Attorneys General Supreme Court Fellow in Washington D.C. She has also been invited to guest lecture at the University of Wyoming College of Law and chaired the Criminal Pattern Jury Instructions Committee for the Wyoming State Bar.

Melissa Kaiser

Melissa Kaiser is an independent consultant in the anti-human trafficking field. She was the first Human Trafficking Navigator hired for Eastern North Dakota, contracted with the North Dakota Human Trafficking Task Force. Melissa was employed with the Bureau of Criminal Investigations as a Victim/Witness Specialist, and assisted in creating the integrated victim services and law enforcement program in ND. Melissa graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work from Minnesota State University Moorhead. She is a member of the North Dakota Human Trafficking Task Force, and is the vice chair of the Labor Trafficking Subcommittee. Melissa has been involved in additional committees and task forces specific to underserved populations, and is a trained facilitator in Compassion Fatigue, Green Dot, SHARP, GEMS, My Life My Choice, and Stand to Protect. She is a board member for the Fargo Police Department’s Badges of Unity program. Melissa is a skilled facilitator working with groups within foster care systems, psychiatry and addiction patients, and human trafficking multi-disciplinary teams. She has experience in team supervision, protocol development, crisis management, public speaking, training development, prevention/education, advocacy, and case management. Melissa assisted in creating a summer food service program for children in Fargo, ND, and studied abroad the social welfare system of Ireland. She currently lives in Clearwater, FL.

Lisa Lauderdale

Investigator Lisa Lauderdale is currently employed with the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office in Casper, Wyoming.  Investigator Lauderdale was born and raised in Casper, Wyoming and is a graduate from Casper College.  Investigator Lauderdale has served the Natrona County citizens as a deputy since 2009.  Making the rank of Corporal in both the detention center and patrol, Investigator Lauderdale is currently assigned to the investigations unit, specializing in sex crimes and crimes against children.  Investigator Lauderdale also serves as a Team Leader for the Natrona County Crisis Negotiation Team.

Andrew Yedinak

Andrew Yedinak is a Supervisory Agent with the Montana Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation and a Task Force Officer with Homeland Security Investigations. Yedinak oversees the Human Trafficking Unit for DCI, which is part of the Narcotics Bureau. Yedinak started with DCI in 2017 after moving from the State of Illinois where he worked in Law Enforcement since 2004. Throughout his career, Yedinak has done a vast array of police work to include Patrol, SWAT Operator, Major Case Investigator, and spent most of his career doing undercover narcotics work for nearly 10 years. Yedinak now focusses on Human Trafficking investigations at both the State and Federal level and seeks to bring closure and healing to victims of this terrible crime.

INTERESTED IN BECOMING A VENDOR?

Uprising has a very limited amount of booths for vendors at the GRIT conference.
Vendor booths are 6ft x 8ft and include table and chairs.

Setup 7-9am May 6th
Takedown 1-5 pm May 8th

If you are selected to be a vendor we will notify you via email and provide a link
to pay the $50 table fee.

2024 Sponsor

GRIT 2024 has unique opportunities for you, your agency or business to share your resources with our regional audience. For more information about event sponsorship at any level, brand recognition (such as promotion at the annual Networking Happy Hour or other social events), and an easy way to connect with attendees, contact our conference coordinator. We would love to talk with you further about these options and how we may be able to customize any of the options provided below.

We also have another unique way to support our mission. Requests for scholarships from under-resourced professionals are fulfilled whenever possible through generous donations from individuals and businesses. All donations contributed towards registration scholarships are utilized for conference tickets only. We would be thrilled to have your partnership in supporting the attendance of any Wyoming professional.

If you or your organization would like to sponsor scholarships for GRIT attendance, you may do so with a donation of any amount here:

Please note that all donors will receive recognition in our program, but may also choose to remain anonymous. 

Gannett Peak

SPONSOR

$7500

  • Advertisement on our conference website and Facebook page

  • Full page name and/or logo in the conference program

  • Name and/or logo projected during the morning welcome, lunch program, and wrap-up session

  • Free vendor table

  • 10-15 Minute Time Slot to Address Attendees of the Conference

  • 12 tickets free admission to Keynote opening of the training and networking event

Grand Teton

SPONSOR

$5000

  • Advertisement on our conference website and Facebook page

  • Full page name and/or logo in the conference program

  • Name and/or logo projected during the morning welcome, lunch program, and wrap-up session

  • Free vendor table

  • 12 tickets free admission to Keynote opening of the training and networking event

Wind River

SPONSOR

$2500

  • Advertisement on our conference website and Facebook page

  • Half page name and/or logo in the conference program

  • Name and/or logo projected during the morning welcome, lunch program, and wrap-up session

  • Free vendor table

  • 9 tickets free admission to Keynote opening of the training and networking event

Cloud Peak

SPONSOR

$1000

  • Advertisement on our conference website and Facebook page

  • Name and/or logo in the conference program

  • Name and/or logo projected during the morning welcome, lunch program, and wrap-up session

  • 6 tickets free admission to Keynote opening of the training and networking event

Mt. Moran

SPONSOR

$500

  • Advertisement on our conference website and Facebook page

  • Name and/or logo in the conference program

  • Name and/or logo projected during the morning welcome, lunch program, and wrap-up session

  • 3 tickets free admission to Keynote opening of the training and networking event

2025 Presenters

GRIT is a unique, immersive, hands-on training experience. Selected presenters collaborate in the months leading up to the event to design and develop a training curriculum that is cohesive and non-duplicative. Presenters typically spend 5-10 hours throughout the year meeting with each other and preparing their individual presentations. During the event, attendees are divided into multidisciplinary groups that migrate together from class to class throughout the event. Each instructor is responsible for teaching their own approved curriculum in full for each multidisciplinary cohort (up to six times total). Presenters also take part in coaching participants through a mock-case study.

If you are interested in being a presenter at GRIT, please contact Terri Markham below.

About Us

Get to know the conference planning team

Alexandra Ford

Terri Markham

Terri Markham is the co-founder and executive director of Uprising, a distinguished anti-trafficking agency based in Wyoming. With a decade of unwavering commitment to the anti-trafficking movement, Terri is dedicated to pioneering creative solutions for confronting human trafficking. Her innovative strategies have addressed the unique challenges of combating human trafficking in resource-sparse rural environments.

Terri’s impactful contributions extend to the development of youth prevention programs implemented statewide in Wyoming. Her tireless efforts aim to create sustainable solutions and empower communities to actively combat trafficking. Motivated by her role as a mother to three daughters, Terri’s passion for safeguarding vulnerable populations remains a driving force in her work.

In addition to her role at Uprising, Terri played a pivotal role in co-founding the Greater Rockies Immersive Training (GRIT) Conference. This groundbreaking initiative reflects her dedication to fostering collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and immersive training opportunities within the anti-trafficking community.

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Elizabeth Scaife

Elizabeth Scaife is the founder and CEO of FYN Global, a small business dedicated to supporting individuals and organizations focused on transforming their communities with strategic solutions. She has worked in the anti-trafficking field for 15 years where she continues to provide training, consulting, and capacity-building across the United States and beyond. Elizabeth has designed, developed, and implemented multiple state and national training conferences, authored and produced resources, participated in task forces, policy advocacy, and several documentaries. She believes that our collective success in ending trafficking, exploitation, and gender-based violence depends entirely on our willingness to collaborate through shared expertise and resources.

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Andrew Yedinak

Andrew Yedinak is a Supervisory Agent with the Montana Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation and a Task Force Officer with Homeland Security Investigations. Yedinak oversees the Human Trafficking Unit for DCI, which is part of the Narcotics Bureau. Yedinak started with DCI in 2017 after moving from the State of Illinois where he worked in Law Enforcement since 2004. Throughout his career, Yedinak has done a vast array of police work to include Patrol, SWAT Operator, Major Case Investigator, and spent most of his career doing undercover narcotics work for nearly 10 years. Yedinak now focusses on Human Trafficking investigations at both the State and Federal level and seeks to bring closure and healing to victims of this terrible crime.

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Justin Scott

Bio Coming Soon!

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This Could Be You

Uprising has a multitude of ways and places for you to get involved. Contact us below or follow this link to our volunteer application.