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About Us

About Us

Heartland Trust Company was founded in 1990 in Fargo, ND as an independent trust company, an alternative to bank trust departments. Steve Halverson, Heartland Trust Company’s President and founder, left the trust department of a large regional bank because decisions that ultimately affected clients were being made at a distant corporate headquarters and that bank profits were more important than the needs of the client. This process lacked the proper respect and personal connection Steve thought should be a focus in the trust and investment industry. As a locally owned independent trust company, we are proud that all decisions relating to client needs are made locally by the employees and board of directors who all live and work in our community.

What makes Heartland Trust Company different?

  • Clients have security and confidence knowing that Heartland Trust Company is a fiduciary and as such we are held to the highest ethical and legal standards for the sole benefit of the clients we serve in all aspects of our business activities.
  • Our clients have peace of mind knowing that Heartland Trust Company is unique in the region. We do not accept any commission or payments from investment funds, banks or insurance companies so we can offer our clients unbiased advice and fully advocate for them without compromise and outside influence.
  • We are also independent for our client’s benefits. We have no proprietary relationships so we can provide our clients with access to the best investment options, trust and financial services to meet their unique needs and goals.
  • Clients of Heartland Trust Company have the opportunity to experience better outcomes because we leverage our size and status as a trust company to purchase institutional funds for our clients to avoid fees, commission and added expenses that cost our clients money and lessen their returns.

Our services include professional asset management, trust services and 401k plan administration. Whether you are retiring, in need of a financial plan, rolling over your IRA, or investing for the future we have experienced professionals here to guide you.

Our client’s assets are safeguarded in many ways. Heartland Trust Company is regulated and examined by the North Dakota Department of Financial Institutions and carries a blanket surety bond and trust errors and omissions insurance policies.

We have dedicated ourselves and our business to doing what is in the best interest for our clients while being, transparent, ethical, and trustworthy.

Learn more about Our Services and Our Team and reach out to us to see how we can serve your needs.

Our Team

Jon Benson

Vice President / Trust Officer

Jon is a Moorhead, MN native. He graduated from Concordia College in 1990 with a double major in Business Administration and English Writing. He has over 25 years of comprehensive personal, business and financial services experience. He was a Vice President and Private Banking Relationship Manager with Wells Fargo and most recently served as Vice President and Executive Director of the Essentia Health Regional Foundation. Jon works primarily with personal trusts administration, charitable trusts, IRA rollovers, investments and estate settlement. He works closely with his clients assisting them with developing and implementing a comprehensive financial plan that helps ensures personal and family goals are realized. Jon is active in his community serving as President of Moorhead Rotary, President of his church council, is a board member for Hospice of the Red River Valley and Connections of Moorhead, an advisory committee member for the FMWF Chamber Leadership program and a volunteer youth coach. He is married, has two children and loves being involved in their activities, golfing and other sports.

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Sheryl Bernier

Executive Vice President / Director

Sheryl worked for American Bank and Trust in the trust department for eight years before joining Steve Halverson in starting Heartland Trust Company in 1990. She has responsibilities in the areas of operations, compliance/internal audits and human resources. Sheryl grew up on a farm outside of Barnesville, MN, raised her family in Moorhead and currently lives near Dent, MN on Star Lake.

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Mary Carlson

Senior Administrative Associate – Personal Trusts

Mary joined Heartland Trust in April, 2012 as an Administrative Associate, working primarily with the administration of personal trusts, agencies and IRA accounts. Prior to coming to Heartland, Mary had been employed with Wells Fargo Bank for the past 30 years where she worked in a variety of different positions, most recently in administration. Mary has two daughters. She is active as a volunteer for several community organizations, and also serves on the Executive Committee and Foundation Board at First Lutheran Church, Fargo.

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Shara Fischer

Relationship Manager

Shara joined Heartland Trust Company in September 2017. A native of Park River, ND, she has called Fargo home since 2005. She has a BBA in Finance from the University of North Dakota and is a graduate of the NDBA School of Banking. She has been in the financial services and banking industry for over 15 years, most recently in private banking. An active member of the community, Shara currently serves as the Chair of the Fargo City Planning Commission and as Past President of the Fargo Kiwanis Club. Shara is married to Aaron Fischer and they have 2 children, Meg and Thompson.

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Brian Halverson


Brian grew up in Fargo and graduated from Concordia College, Moorhead in 2006 with a degree in Business. After graduation Brian worked for Wells Fargo in Minneapolis and then spent four years as a territory consultant for VOCO Dental Inc., a German manufacturer of dental materials. Brian joined Heartland Trust in August of 2012 and is active in the Board of Directors of the Plains Art Museum, a member of The Great Western Exchange Club and the Chamber Commerce Young Professional Network. Brian is married, has three children, and enjoys golfing and spending time at the family lake cabin in the summers.

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Steve Halverson

Chairman of the Board

Steve founded HTC in 1990 as an independent trust company. The company’s focus was to provide traditional trust services to clients in the tri-state area without interference from a “corporate” parent company. Steve holds a BS and MS degree in Economics. He worked for Norwest Trust in Minneapolis and Fargo for 18 years in a variety of positions including investments, administration of business retirement plans, personal trust administration and trust division manager for a region that included Eastern ND and Western MN. Steve is well known in the community and has played an active role in service groups and boards. He is a former member of the ND Banking Commission and was the national president of the Association of Independent Trust Companies.

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Gary W. Hanson

Senior Vice President / Director

Gary is a Crookston, MN native. He graduated from Moorhead State University in 1972 with a major in accounting. From 1972 through 1988 he worked at Norwest – Fargo where he had responsibilities in trust administration, operations, tax, and employee benefits. In 1988 he was appointed President of First American Trust Company of Minnesota, a Bremer Financial Corporation subsidiary located in Marshall Minnesota, with administrative responsibility for all five First American Trust Company locations in Minnesota. In December 1990 he returned to Fargo and joined Heartland Trust Company as a Vice President. Gary has extensive experience working with corporate retirement plans, and has attended numerous conferences, seminars, and training sessions pertinent to the retirement plan area. He has twice been a presenter at the Association of Independent Trust Companies national conventions. He is active in the community having served as president of his church congregation, chairman of his church foundation, and president of his service club.

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Renee Hobbs

Administrative Associate – Personal Trusts

Renee is a native of Kulm ND and graduated from NDSU with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She has 18 years of trust experience with Bell State Bank and Trust and Wells Fargo. She is married, has one daughter and enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.

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Michelle Hoppe

Administrative Associate – Personal Trusts

Michelle joined Heartland Trust in February 2018 as an Administrative Associate for Personal Trusts. She graduated from MSUM with a Bachelor of Arts in Paralegal and has over 13 years of expertise working in area law firms. She grew up in Williams, MN (Lake of the Woods) and enjoys spending time with family, coffee dates with friends, and staying healthy and active. Michelle is a member of the Fargo Optimist Club and is actively involved with Prairie Heights community Church. She is married to Chris Hoppe and they have 2 children, Kiersten and Kellen.

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Jennifer Johnston, CTFA

Trust Officer

Jennifer Johnston was born and raised in Fargo, ND graduating from Fargo North High School. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Accounting from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN and her Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from Metropolitan State University in Minneapolis, MN. Jennifer, also known as Jen, has 12 years of experience in the financial services industry ranging from public accounting and insurance to financial planning and trust administration. She has also received the Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA) designation. Jen was an Assistant Vice President and Wealth Management Specialist with Wells Fargo’s Private Bank prior to joining HTC. Jen enjoys spending time with family and friends, especially her husband, Ryan, their two boys, Ethan and Leif and their dog Dutch. Summers on Lake Melissa are a highlight every year. She teaches Sunday school and is a member of the Management & Finance and Stewardship Committees at 1st Presbyterian Church Fargo. She also serves on the board of Fargo Town Hall and is an active member of P.E.O. Chapter Y.

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Neil Jordheim


Neil joined the company in 1994. He was a flight instructor in the USAF for five years after graduating from college. Jordheim worked for Metropolitan Federal Bank for 18 years and has experience in administration and retail bank operations. He has a BS in economics from NDSU and has attended many workshops and seminars on topics appropriate to the financial business. Neil works primarily with personal trust administration, charitable trusts, IRA rollovers and estate settlement. He also provides business retirement plans and investment services for charitable foundations. Neil assists clients with developing comprehensive financial plans. He is a member of the Investment Committee for the company. Neil is active in his church and a number of charities in the community.

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Kayla Kranda

Administrative Associate – Operations

Kayla is a native of Tappen, ND. She graduated from Minot State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in finance. In 2014, Kayla joined Heartland Trust Company as an Operations Associate, bringing over 10 years of experience in the financial services industry. Kayla and her husband reside in West Fargo with their son and daughter. In her free time, she enjoys baking, spending time with her children, nieces and nephews, and attending NDSU football games.

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Denise Lies

Senior Administrative Associate-Retirement Services

Denise is a New Rockford, ND native. She graduated from Moorhead State University in 1992 with a BS in accounting. She joined Heartland Trust Company in January of 1993. Denise started working in the operations area of the company. Now her primary responsibility is retirement plan administration support. She has attended various seminars and training sessions on trust operations and qualified retirement plans.

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Jill McAndrew

Administrative Associate

A North Dakota native, Jill joined Heartland Trust in January of 2005. Prior to joining Heartland, Jill lived in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul where she worked for Best Buy Company in their headquarters office. Jill keeps busy with her child’s activities.

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Monica Millette, QKA

Vice President – Retirement Services Division Manager

Monica grew up on a farm near Glyndon, MN. She has 19 years of experience in the financial services industry; the most recent 9 years dedicated to employer sponsored retirement plans. In 2012, the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries awarded Monica with the Qualified 401(k) Administrator (QKA) designation. This designation is earned through a series of rigorous tests. Monica is an expert at assisting employers and consultants with all aspects of 401(k) and related defined contribution plans. Monica is active in the community and a past recipient of the YWCA Women of the Year Award. She has served on the boards of directors for the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County, Dakota Horizons Girl Scout Council, Moorhead Marlins Swim Team, and Pine to Prairie Girl Scout Council.

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Jan Nelson

Trust Officer

Jan is a native of Hettinger, ND. She joined Heartland Trust in 2013. She graduated from Minnesota State University – Moorhead with a BS in accounting and minor in finance. She was previously employed by Metropolitan Federal Bank and Concordia College. She has experience as a charitable giving & estate planning consultant. Jan is a CPA and is a member of the American Institute of CPAs, North Dakota Society of CPAs, Fargo-Moorhead Society of CPAs and Red River Valley Estate Planning Council. She is a volunteer for several local organizations.

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Jana Samek

Retirement Services Relationship Manager

Jana joined HTC in Jan 2017. She is a native of Minto, ND and graduated from Mayville State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and minor in Accounting. She has over 14 years of experience in the financial services and banking industry; most recently working with employer sponsored retirement plans. Jana is very active in the West Fargo Exchange Club and has served on their Board of Directors. Jana and her husband, Ed, live in West Fargo with their two children. She enjoys various sporting activities, going to the lakes, and spending time with family.

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Dustin Sobolik

Investment Officer

Dustin is a Fargo, North Dakota native. He graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead in 2011. He was previously employed at Red River Financial Group as a Financial Services Representative. He joined Heartland Trust in 2015. He has prior experience in IRAs and qualified plans, investments and financial planning. He enjoys spending his spare time hiking, fishing, and is a volunteer with several local service groups. He regularly attends Fargo-Moorhead Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Network events and frequently participates in activities in the downtown Fargo community.

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Paula Stebner

Vice President & Senior Trust Officer

Paula grew up in Bismarck, ND. She joined Heartland Trust Company in December of 1999, with prior experience in financial planning, accounting, and as a legal assistant. She is a graduate of the School of Trust and Financial Services and Advanced Trust Administration School. She currently works in the administration of Trusts, Estates, Conservatorships, IRAs and Investment Accounts.

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Lori Theis

Administrative Associate – HR, Operations and Compliance

Lori grew up in Moorhead, MN and has over 17 years of financial services and operational administration experience. She joined Heartland Trust Company in November 2014 and is currently attending Rasmussen College to complete her Associate degree in Accounting. She enjoys camping, fishing, and riding motorcycle in her spare time.

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Kevin Wangen

Administrative Assistant – Project Coordinator

Kevin grew up in Harvey, ND. He graduated from North Dakota State University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance. He has over twelve years of finance, retirement and banking experience. Kevin joined Heartland Trust in November 2013. Kevin and his wife live in Fargo with their four children. In his free time, he enjoys golf, biking, and woodworking. He has also been a volunteer in the United Way Day of Caring and run for the DMF in the Fargo Marathon 5-K race.

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