About the Board
Tyra Sweet, Board President
Tyra Sweet received her RN license from Oklahoma in 1990 and is currently specializing in child maltreatment. She graduated from Oklahoma Weslyan University with a BSN and is currently completing a Master’s of Forensic Nursing. As a citizen of the Cherokee tribe, she studied to become a Sexual Assault Nurse (SANE) Examiner, Domestic Violence Examiner, neurobiology of trauma and medical child abuse through Tribal Forensic Healthcare. It was through these studies that she became aware of the scope of human trafficking. Her work with abused children in northeastern Oklahoma revealed her passion to empower kids to overcome their circumstances and move to restoration.
Eric Wells, Board Vice President
Eric Wells was born and raised in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Eric attended Northeastern State University and obtained a BBA in Information Systems in 2012. Currently, Eric is Director of Information Systems at Muskogee Public Schools.
Eric was unaware of the growing epidemic of sex trafficking. In his capacity at the schools, Eric has seen firsthand how severe the damages of sex crimes can be. Sadly for girls in the sex trade, help may come too late. Eric understands and sees the need for organizations like RISE to come to life. He is intent on spreading awareness to others about sex trafficking.
In his spare time Eric enjoys cycling, water sports, washing cars, and spending time with family.
Keri Spencer, J.D., Founder / Executive Director
Keri Spencer grew up in Muskogee, Oklahoma, graduated from Hilldale High School and holds an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Connors State College, a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Williams Baptist College and a Law Degree from the University of Arkansas. She is a licensed attorney in the states of Arkansas and Oklahoma. Keri has spent her entire professional career as an attorney advocating for at risk youth. As a prosecutor in juvenile court, then as an attorney for DHS handling foster care cases, her life’s work has been to ensure that the children and youth of her communities are safe, loved and equipped to become healthy, happy, productive adults.
She has been an adjunct instructor of criminal justice at Bacone College in Muskogee, and works on the pastoral staff at New Community Church where, among other things, she provides legal consultation and oversees the church’s policies on child abuse reporting. Keri gives her time as the co-chair of the Priceless Ministry, by hosting awareness events and educating area youth about the dangers of sex trafficking. In her capacity as Executive Director of RISE, Keri has worked tirelessly alongside the Board of Directors in seeing RISE opened and operational so that the girls RISE will serve will become survivors living restored lives free of the sex trade.
Married for 25 years, Keri and her husband, Steve, have 2 grown daughters. They enjoy spending time at the beach when they are not both traveling for work.
Lynett Rock, Board Secretary
Ms. Lynett Rock was born and raised in Oklahoma. After several years living in Dallas her family decided to move back to Muskogee for good, Lynett is employed at Connors State College where she is the Division Chair of Mathematics, Science, and Physical Education. Ms. Rock is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Education from Oklahoma State University. Ms. Rock was unaware of the scope of domestic trafficking in the United States until her research turned her attention to the current epidemic.
Ms. Rock is the mother to three wonderful children: Scarlet, Tyler and Harrison. When Ms. Rock is not inside a classroom you can find her riding one of her horses or spending time with her family.
Stephan Strode, Grievance Coordinator
Steve Strode grew up in Schenectady, New York, where he graduated from Linton High School, and attended Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa, before transferring to Oklahoma State University. He graduated from Central State University in Edmond, where he received a Bachelor’s Degree with a double major in Psychology and Sociology. He worked for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections in the Division of Probation & Parole for 23 years, and then worked for nearly 10 years for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, in Child Welfare Services, until retiring. While at DOC, Steve obtained his MS in Criminal Justice Administration from OSU, and also became a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor in Moral Reconation Therapy, a cognitive behavior modality. Throughout his 34 year career with the State of Oklahoma, Steve has worked to ensure that children are protected and safe, and that the adults and parents address the issues that brought them to the attention of the court system.
Steve took early retirement from the State of Oklahoma in 2008, in order for him to be better able to care for his mother who came to live with him in 2006. After retirement, he continued to volunteer with the Post Adjudication Review Board, and currently serves on the board of Directors of the Child Abuse Network (CAN) in Tulsa. In his spare time, Steve enjoys keeping up with Oklahoma State University sports and spending time with his granddaughters.
Wendy Qualls, Financial Officer
Wendy Qualls was raised in Tahlequah, Oklahoma where she graduated from Northeastern State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration and Accounting degree. Wendy is currently pursuing a MBA in Managerial Accounting and Financial Analysis at Northeastern State University. She is currently V.P. of Finance at Burrow’s Post Frame Supply in Ft. Gibson.
Wendy was introduced to human trafficking while searching for a ministry to devote her time too. She was unaware of the magnitude of the human trafficking industry at that time. Today she is passionate about educating our youth to detect human trafficking among their friends and schoolmates.
Wendy is married to her husband, Jason, of 19 years and they have 2 daughters. Wendy currently lives in Warner and enjoys spending time with her family.
Dr. Jennifer Turner
Dr. Jennifer C. Turner was born and raised in New Mexico. She is a Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Public Health Service and has worked for Indian Health Service for 14 years. Her career brought her to Oklahoma eight years ago and she has since made Oklahoma her permanent home. Dr. Turner is a doctorate level physical therapist, board certified in Orthopedic Physical Therapy, and a fellow in the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists.
Dr. Turner was unaware of the depth and nature of human trafficking occurring in the state of Oklahoma and the growing epidemic affecting both the state and the nation. It was through the Priceless ministry at New Community Church that she learned just how rampant and expansive human trafficking is. This knowledge affected her deeply and she wanted to get involved at a significant and meaningful level.
Dr. Turner is married to her wonderful husband Richard and has two beautiful daughters. On any given day – when she is not at work – you will find Dr. Turner working on their land with her husband and daughters, spending time with her family and friends, or at the shooting range sharpening her skills.
LeAnne McWhirt was born and raised in Northeastern Oklahoma. She graduated with her Masters Degree with honors from The George Washington University in Washington, DC in August of 2013. She currently works at MMA@ Providence as a Nurse Practitioner and serves on the Physician Leadership Committee at Eastar Hospital. She is married and has four children.
LeAnne became aware of sex trafficking through her church at New Community. Her awareness of this issue expanded to a global level when traveling to Costa Rica on a medical mission trip this past year. Having children of her own she is devastated that children are violated both mentally and physically on a routine basis in our hometowns. She is dedicated to the mission and purpose of RISE as well as providing medical care to the underserved. In her free time LeAnne enjoys running in local races and mainly spending time at home with her family, and with her rescue dog, Benji.
Kyle Rose is the owner and operator of KAR Construction, which is a dream he’s had throughout his life. Kyle’s professional experience also includes being a licensed RN and previous work in that capacity in a neuro/trauma ICU and later home health.
In addition to loving his construction work, Kyle’s passion is to help people better themselves and reach their full potential and took that passion to becoming a certified Crossfit and Olympic weight lifting coach. Kyle has been pursuing this passion for more than 4 years and is currently coaching at The Fort Strength & Fitness in Fort Gibson.
Kyle and his wife and daughter are looking forward to the birth of their newest family member. Kyle believes that it is being a dad to a little girl that led him to RISE, as he now understands more fully the world she is growing up in and wants very much to better her world and the world for other girls.
RISE (Restoring Identities after Sexual Exploitation) is a 501(c)(3) organization, registered with the state of Oklahoma as a Not for Profit, Charitable organization born out of the heart of a mother-daughter team who started an awareness ministry in their local church. It is the mission of RISE to build and operate a shelter in the greater Muskogee area that will be a long-term residential facility exclusively for girls ages 12 – 18, who have been victims of sex trafficking. At RISE, we intend to provide the following:
Shelter – A safe living environment for girls to receive comprehensive and individualized services to permanently escape the world of the sex trade
Commitment – RISE wants to provide and encourage pro-social relationships, strong interpersonal skills, and to instill a sense of hope for the future
Responsibility – The focus of RISE is to empower girls who have been victims to become survivors and independent, responsible adults by learning life skills, encouraging recognition of the value of education, and providing opportunities to follow through on commitments
Possibility – RISE wants to expand the perspective of the youth it serves to make them aware of the possibilities available to them in a life outside of, and untainted by, their past experiences in the sex trade
Support – RISE wants to surround youth victims in a safe, caring, learning environment, with people who pass no judgment, invested in helping them create positive futures
Counseling – Unique Therapies – Mentoring – Advocacy
Education – Skills Training – Cosmetology – Fitness