Our Team

Justin Brandt

Justin is Hail Mary’s founder, and Program Director.He is a veteran of the United States Army, where he spent nearly a year and a half in Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division from 2006-2007. He began his law enforcement career with the Waterloo Police Department in 2009, and has been assigned to the Patrol Division during that time. He played semi-pro football with the East Iowa Storm as a wide receiver/punter. After several years of law enforcement’s war on violent crime using age-old techniques of handcuffing offenders and relying on the justice system to take over, he had an epiphany, and began thinking more about why this street violence occurs, and why people make these choices. Rather than asking why are you doing this? He began asking more in-depth questions like what happened to these offenders throughout their lives? This sparked a sociological interest in the subject matter, and upon researching trauma and its causes, he reached out to entities at the University of Northern Iowa for assistance in creating an alternative program to prevent these issues from ever arising in the first place. This has since blossomed into multiple partnerships with the University, and many other organizations in the Cedar Valley, and become the Hail Mary Project! He is married and has a daughter, and another on the way!

Kris Jones 

Kris, a Marine Corps Gulf War Veteran, and Waterloo native, has been highly active in the Waterloo community for many years having direct involvement with several initiatives such as Taking back Waterloo, Coffee and Camaraderie for fellow Veterans, and many other events to bring unity among citizens. Kris has been one of the core members of the Hail Mary Project since its inception, and brings many years of experience in dealing with people from various backgrounds. He was also a leader in Operation Public Relations engaging the community with Waterloo Police and Fire departments. Having 3 kids of his own, he has experience in coaching Jr. Warhawk and Optimist baseball.

Dan Mast

Dan is currently a Waterloo East High football coach but has spent the past 7 years coaching youth football.  He served as a volunteer coach for the 3rd-6th grade Jr. Trojans and Jr. Wahawks which is part of the Youth Sports Foundation.  Dan is USA Football and CPR certified. He also served 4 years in the Navy and 3 years in the National Guard. Working with youth and young adults, has been his purpose in life. Dan strives to be an advocate for them and give them a trusted outlet to tell their story.

Dr. Alan Heisterkamp 

Dr. Alan Heisterkamp serves as director of the Center for Violence Prevention at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa.  He oversees curriculum infusion of bystander education and strategies within pre-service teacher education and social sciences programming, as well as the implementation of MVP Strategies training and outreach in and among Iowa’s higher education and PreK-12 educational systems.

Between 2007 and 2011, Dr. Heisterkamp was deeply involved in the research studies of two initiatives, the Sioux City Project and Coaching Boys into Men.  The Sioux City Project is a collaborative effort between the Sioux City Community School District and the Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention.  Coaching Boys into Men was developed as a gender violence prevention program by the Family Violence Prevention Fund (now Futures Without Violence) and the Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention to engage male, athletic coaches as mentors and provide them a framework for discussions around masculinity, respecting women and girls, and pro-social bystander behavior with their respective athletes.

Vivian meyer-Betts 

Vivian practiced law for 37 years retiring in 2016. She graduated with a BA Degree with Honors from the University of Wisconsin–Madison with a double major in American History and Political Science in 1974. She then worked as an Administrative Assistant at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction in the Planning & Budget Division and the Division for Handicapped  Children’s Services for two years 1974–76. Vivian then returned to school at the University of Iowa Law School where she graduated with a JD Degree in 1979.  She was a member of Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity, worked on law review and interned with the Oleson & Eichleberry firm in Iowa City, IA and Hawkeye Legal Services Program in Iowa City. She passed the Iowa Bar Exam in 1979 and began working as an Associate with the Charles O. Frazier Law Firm in Keokuk, IA.  Vivian was appointed as a part-time Judicial Magistrate from 1981–1986. She also served as President of the Lee County Bar Association as well as serving in other roles in civic organizations.

She was a volunteer lawyer for Legal Services Corporation of Iowa (LSCI) from 1979-1994. Vivian opened her own private law firm as Vivian P Meyer, Attorney at Law in 1982. She practiced in Lee County and worked in several Southeast Iowa counties until 1993. She was a member of the ABA and the Federal Bar Association. Vivian co-edited a publication for the ABA, “From Yellow Pads to Computers.” She closed her firm and accepted a position as Managing Attorney of the Waterloo Regional Office of LSCI in 1993. Vivian continued in that position until her retirement in 2016. Vivian served in several positions in the Black Hawk County Bar Association including President. She also was a member of the ABA. She received an award for her work with survivors of domestic violence from the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Vivian was a member of the Iowa State Bar Association for the past 38 years.  She worked on the Continuing Education Committee of the Family Law Section and trained on domestic violence issues for the Iowa Supreme Court Children’s Justice Project and was a presenter at several annual Family Law CLE trainings. Vivian is also trained as a mediator. Vivian currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Visiting Nurses Association. She is a member of the Advisory Council for  the Hail Mary Project in Waterloo, IA.

Ed Savage 

Brian Sayer

Janelle Ewing 

Thank you to our supporters and partners who are helping make this possible!