Board of Directors

In Our Backyard

Board of Directors



Nita Belles: Founder & Executive Director, Board of Directors, Member

Nita is the Founder and Executive Director of In Our Backyard (IOB). Nita contributes greatly to the vision of IOB. She spends much of her time speaking, training, and overseeing other operations of IOB, managing anti-human trafficking efforts surrounding Super Bowl, and consulting with government authorities on the issues of human trafficking in America. She authored, In Our Backyard: A Christian Perspective On Human Trafficking In the United States in 2011 and in 2015, her second book, In Our Backyard: Human Trafficking in America and What We Can Do to Stop It was released. Nita is also the Regional Director of Oregonians Against Trafficking Humans (CO-OATH). She has been involved in the anti-human trafficking movement since 2006. After a career in business, Nita earned her Master’s Degree in Theology with a Concentration in Women’s Concerns. Nita has been married to her husband Dan for over 30 years. In her spare time Nita enjoys riding her bike and spending time with her family.

Sherry Schwartz: Board of Directors, Chairperson

Sherry is the Chairperson of the Board of Directors. She has spent her career working in the banking industry where she was a Vice President, Manager of Lending related operations in three states and Sr. Program and Project Manager.  When Sherry became aware that human trafficking was taking place in every city, town and rural area of our country she knew that she had to do something to help make a difference.  Sherry starting doing volunteer work for her lifelong friend, Nita Belles, in 2011, helping to link arms across America with others who wanted to make a difference in this fight. Sherry didn’t feel she had the skills to help, but had a willing heart and God has done the rest.  She loves to say “everyone can do something to help stop human trafficking in America.”

Carl Schwartz: Board of Directors, Member

Carl (MHA &MDiv) is a Member of the Board of Directors. He has spent his career working in hospital and clinic management and as a consultant for the last ten years of his career.  Carl also taught graduate classes in Health Care Management at the University of Washington & the University of Oregon. Carl’s passion has been to serve God by helping to lead people to Christ through ministry opportunities.  He has been a longtime volunteer teacher/counselor/pastor at the Union Gospel Mission in Seattle where he helps men who are working to piece their lives back together after struggling with addictions. Once he became aware of human trafficking through Sherry’s role at IOB, he chose to raise that awareness through his teaching ministry and through personal contacts.  Carl will now further help to make a difference in the fight against human trafficking by serving on the Board of Directors.

Daniel Belles: Board of Directors, Member

Dan is a member of the Board of Directors. Dan received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from City University in the 90’s while juggling a family and career. Dan worked for Microsoft for 15 years on the assembly/operations side of the software business. After leaving Microsoft he was on staff at the nonprofit’s World Impact Network and then Westside Church. Dan is currently the owner of a car wash while serving on the Board of In Our Backyard in a bookkeeping capacity. He got involved in the fight against human trafficking through his wife Nita. Dan has worked closely with Nita as she has developed in her role as an abolitionist. Dan and Nita moved back to Oregon in 2000 after being gone for 20 years. They have been married over 30 years. Dan enjoys riding road bikes, going for walks, hikes and snowshoeing with his wife Nita.

Dieter G. Struzyna: Board of Directors, Member

Dieter is a Member of the Board of Directors. He graduated from Duke University with a BA in History and received his JD from Villanova University School of Law. He has worked as a real estate and business attorney since 1980. His expertise in law is vital to the integrity of In Our Backyard. When asked why he chose to be on the Board of Directors he responded, “I consider human trafficking to be one of the worst evils that exist in our society, and serving on the IOB Board is a way that I can help fight it”. Dieter currently lives in Kirkland, WA, has two adult children and was recently re-married. His favorite hobbies are traveling and competitive master’s rowing (crew).

Kent Couch: Board of Directors, Member

Kent is a Member of the Board of Directors. He has been in the convenience store business for about 40 years, 20 of those years owning Stop and Go Shell Station in Bend, OR. He was featured in 2008 with his cluster balloon flights and enjoys self-piloting. When Kent heard about the work of In Our Backyard he quickly became one of its biggest supporters. Kent works with IOB to host fundraisers and awareness at his convenience store. Kent has been married for 20 years and has 5 grown children and 11 grandchildren. He enjoys traveling and tennis, in his spare time.

Gabriella van Breda: Board of Directors, Member

Gabriella van Breda is a Member of the Board of Directors. She and her husband Peter are senior pastors of The Gathering Place Foursquare Church in Bellevue, Wash.  They are also the founders of World Impact Network, a Christian non-profit organization serving leaders worldwide.   A Foursquare-ordained minister, van Breda served as divisional superintendent for the Seattle District of Churches for eight years. She has also served on the board of the Foursquare Foundation for the last seven years and was Vice Chair in 2012.  She is currently the Executive Director of World Impact Network.