The leadership team at Youth Frontiers.
Joe Cavanaugh is a nationally-renowned speaker promoting timeless values and personal character to audiences of all ages. Whether it is the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, a PTA luncheon, an educator conference or a room filled with 200 teenagers, Joe loves to be in front of a crowd (sometimes three’s a crowd!) to share his passion for raising a generation of young people with good character. Joe also often speaks about the greater need for reflective leadership and the critical building blocks needed to create a healthy school.
With over 25 years of experience working with young people, he is one of the foremost communicators to youth on the topics of respect, integrity, courage and compassion.
In 1987, Joe founded Youth Frontiers, Inc., a Minnesota-based nonprofit organization that partners with schools to build positive school communities. Through programs that help young people realize the importance of living a life of character, Youth Frontiers is transforming the day-to-day experience in schools across America so that our schools – and therefore our kids – can thrive. Youth Frontiers' work has impacted more than one million students and educators and has received national acclaim by providing powerful retreats with the vision of changing the way young people treat each other in every hallway, lunch line, and classroom of every school in America so that today’s young people can make tomorrow’s world better.
Joe has been featured in several local, regional and national media including a 90-minute PBS television special titled Respectfully, Joe Cavanaugh. In 2012, he also received the Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the College of St. Benedict/St. John's University.
He has been recognized by General Colin Powell of America's Promise as being "a leader in our nation's effort to rescue America's young people."
Joe received his B.A. degree in Humanities from Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minn. He and his wife Jane live in Edina, Minn. with their daughter. He currently serves on boards and committees for Saint John's University and Catholic Charities of St. Paul & Minneapolis.
View additional videos from Joe here.
Todd Hansen, Business Operations Manager and Retreat Director, graduated magna cum laude from DePauw University's economics honors program, McDermond Management Fellows, but turned down careers with Proctor & Gamble and Gallo Wine to pursue an acting dream in California. There he received a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of Southern California. After enjoying a 20-year stage and commercial acting career, which included running a non-profit theatre company in Los Angeles, Todd was looking for a more meaningful way to use his presentational skills. He joined Youth Frontiers in 2005 as a Retreat Director, bringing both his flair for drama and his business knowledge to a growing non-profit company. As both the Business Operations Manager and a Retreat Director, Todd connects the mission and programs of Youth Frontiers to the management of a successful non-profit.
Todd enjoys writing songs and improvising on the piano. He is a huge high school hockey fan, and spends much of March in front of the TV watching the boy's and girl's state tournaments. His wife, Midi, is a teacher of 23 years and is currently in the St. Louis Park district. His daughter, Griffin, is a fluent-French-speaking high school swimmer. They have enjoyed traveling together to Singapore, Australia, France and Ireland.
Andy Zimney, Director of Programs, has worked with youth his entire career. After graduating from St. John's University with degrees in English and Theater, he worked as a camp counselor, wilderness guide, substitute teacher, rock climbing instructor, acting teacher, and youth mentor. As a staff member at Youth Frontiers since 2001, Andy loves the opportunity to challenge both youth and adults to live more closely to the ideals they hold most important. Andy is a father and husband who loves spending time at the park, in the back yard, and up north with his family. Andy is also an actor and comedic improviser who can be seen regularly at Comedy Sportz Twin Cities, an all-ages improvisational comedy company in Minneapolis.
Ali Sipkins, Executive Assistant, had her first encounter with Youth Frontiers as a ninth-grade participant on the Respect Retreat for South View Middle School. After the transformative experience, Ali embraced the Youth Frontiers core purpose to build the character of young people and continued to volunteer for Youth Frontiers throughout high school and college. Ali attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa in International Studies.
Ali has worked for Youth Frontiers in many capacities since 2005 including as Executive Assistant, Evaluation Coordinator, PR Coordinator, Intern and Volunteer Coordinator, and Director of Communications.
Ali received her Mini-MBA for Nonprofit Organizations from the University of St. Thomas in 2009. She has served on the YMCA Camp Warren Community Board and Tonka CARES Coalition.
An avid yogi, Ali appreciates the Youth Frontiers retreat model as it gives the space and time for students to be reflective and mindful about their attitudes and behaviors toward themselves and others, and make a positive change to build a culture of respect at their schools. She is a proud Youth Frontierian, both as a graduate of the programs and as a member of a passionate, mission-driven team.