In 2005, Shanda Poitra (Corn Silk Woman) was living with an abusive partner, raising three young children, and attending the University of North Dakota. Having grown up on the reservation and witnessed abuse in her home and extended family, she assumed that the violence in her relationship was normal. Then she enrolled in an IMPACT self-defense class, for no other reason than because she needed a physical education credit in order to graduate. That physical education credit changed her life. Learning to protect her body and speak up for herself gave Shanda the courage to leave her abusive partner and begin to heal from the interpersonal abuse and generational trauma she'd survived. It motivated her to create an IMPACT program by and for indigenous women. Shanda began working with IMPACT Boston in 2018 to start the first indigenous-led IMPACT program. In doing so, she began to see the need for broader work to mobilize indigenous communities to end violence.
Today, Shanda is a nationally recognized leader in the work to prevent violence against indigenous women and girls. She was chosen by the Tory Burch Foundation’s Empowered Women initiative and has been interviewed by NPR, Upworthy, and Sirius Radio.