Board of Directors

Nita Belles: Founder & President, 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. 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.”


Jeff Lenard: Board of Directors, Member

Jeff Lenard is a Member of the Board of Directors. Currently, he is Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives, National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) overseeing industry-wide external communications campaigns to advance the role of convenience stores as positive economic, social and philanthropic contributors to the communities they serve. Lenard also serves as lead spokesperson and has conducted more than 6,000 media interviews about trends and innovations at the nation’s 148,000-plus convenience stores. In addition, he is the creator and host of the association’s award-winning weekly podcast, “Convenience Matters,” and oversees the long-running video series “Ideas 2 Go.” Prior to joining NACS in 1999, Lenard served in communications and marketing functions for several energy-focused associations. He earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and an M.B.A. in marketing from Syracuse University. Lenard currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Safe Place Network.

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).

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, WA. 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.

Haley Bower: Board of Directors, Member

Haley Bower joined the Clipper Petroleum team on a full-time basis in 2010.  She currently serves as
Director of Wholesale Marketing.  She originally started with Clipper when she was a teenager
working summers filing, answering the phones, working on spreadsheets, selling fleet cards and any
other miscellaneous work that was needed to support the management team. 
Haley was born and raised in Gainesville, Georgia and graduated from North Hall High School in
2005.  She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Middle Tennessee State University in
2009 and earned her Masters in Business Administration from Brenau University in 2012. 
Haley currently serves as a Director on the Clipper Petroleum Foundation; Director on the Georgia
Association of Convenience Stores (GACS); and Director on the Hall County Chamber of
In 2018, Convenience Store Decisions magazine identified Haley in their “40 Under 40” leaders to
Haley resides in Gainesville, GA with her two dogs, Ringo and Irwin.  She is a member of Grace
Episcopal Church and loves being the “fun” Aunt to two amazing kiddos.  In her spare time, she
enjoys traveling, volunteering with multiple non-profits, and spending time with her sisters, family,
and friends.

Kristina Knittel: Board of Directors, Member

Kristina Knittel is a Member of the Board of Directors. She has a bachelor’s degree from King University, a law degree from the University of Oregon, and two black belts in Tang Soo Do and Bushido Kai karate. She currently works for the Oregon Judicial Department’s Juvenile and Family Courts Programs Division as the field manager for the Citizen Review Board program, which conducts judicial reviews of cases of children in foster care. She has also owned and operated a martial arts gym in Bend for over 13 years. A native of Pittsburgh, Kristina was inspired by Mr. Rogers from a young age, and is still a passionate supporter of nonviolent conflict resolution, restorative justice, and resilience-building in traumatized communities. Some of her favorite volunteering roles have been as a mentor with the Central Oregon Partnership for Youth, an intern at the Dream Center’s emancipated youth shelter and emergency food distribution programs in Los Angeles, a facilitator of the Darkness to Light Child Sexual Abuse certification training with the KIDS Center, and a legal intern at the public defender’s office in Bend during law school. Kristina loves camping, hiking, circus arts, and listening to criminal justice podcasts.

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