Our Team

We love our jobs – and we bring unique skills and passions together to do them well.
Executive Team
Joe Cavanaugh

Founder and CEO

Joe 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 to share his passion for raising a generation of young people with good character. Joe also speaks about the need for reflective leadership and the critical building blocks needed to create a healthy school.

 

With over 30 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 to help young people realize that they matter and how they treat others matters. Youth Frontiers is transforming the day-to-day experience in schools across America so that our schools – and therefore our kids – can thrive.

 

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 recently gave the university’s 2016 commencement address and was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate. Joe 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.

Ali Sipkins
Executive Assistant and Donor Relations Manager – Wisconsin

Ali testifies that her experience as a ninth-grader on the Respect Retreat for South View Middle School in Edina, Minn., was life-changing. After volunteering for YF throughout high school and college, she started working here in 2005. Ali graduated Phi Beta Kappa in International Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and received her Mini–MBA for Nonprofit Organizations from the University of St. Thomas. 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.

Lynn Giovannelli
Director of Donor Relations

Lynn joined the Youth Frontiers team in 2015 after five years of supporting community and lifelong learning at The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library as their Vice President of Operations and Director of Corporate Sponsorship. After an exciting decade in the real estate market, Lynn discovered that her passion was making a difference in people’s lives. She has served in numerous volunteer leadership roles in schools and has been a strong advocate of YF for all SLP youth. Lynn enjoys spending time with her kids and husband of 20 years, cheering on the sidelines for her boys’ sporting activities, cooking, gardening, reading and walking the lakes with friends.

Patty Beadle
Director of Marketing & School Relations

Patty was first moved by the mission of Youth Frontiers (YF) as a teacher and a parent of a student on a Kindness Retreat. She started volunteering for YF in 1999 and joined the team as a School Relations Representative in 2011. She loves the awesome team that she gets to lead and their passion for helping youth succeed. Patty graduated from college with a degree in Elementary Education. Along with her experience teaching elementary students, Patty has held corporate business leadership roles and has been a leader as an entrepreneur launching several businesses. She is a candidate to receive her Masters in Divinity from the United Theological Seminary next year. Her community involvement includes volunteering as a board member of Minnesota’s BAARC and Edina Give and Go and in other capacities. When Patty is not working, she enjoys skiing, yoga, reading and spending time with family and friends.

Todd
Todd Hansen
Director of Programs & Experiences 

Todd graduated magna cum laude from DePauw University’s economics honors program, but turned down job offers pursue an acting dream in California. There he received a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of Southern California and enjoyed a 20-year stage and commercial acting career. Todd was looking for a more meaningful way to use his presentation skills and joined Youth Frontiers in 2005. Today, Todd uses his stage and production experience to create powerful retreat programs and events for Youth Frontiers – allowing him to stay strongly connected to our mission while utilizing his leadership skills, business skills and passion for developing company culture. In his spare time, Todd enjoys writing songs, watching high school hockey and spending time with his wife, Midi, and his daughter, Griffin.

Retreat Staff
Andrew Zhao
Lead Retreat Facilitator

Andrew grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, rooting on the local sports teams and eating cheese fries. He’s worked with youth of all shapes and sizes for the past decade. Once he rode his bicycle across America with four of his friends. Andrew discovered Youth Frontiers online and was pleasantly surprised that such a job existed. He now loves being able to laugh with, empower and influence youth each and every day!

Ben Nordquist
Communications Assistant and Retreat Facilitator

Ben’s world first collided with Youth Frontiers as a high school senior on the Wisdom Retreat. After eight semesters at Luther College, three summers as a camp counselor, one summer working on Capitol Hill, and too much coffee, Ben started at Youth Frontiers in August of 2015 as an intern. His love of inspiring positive change has kept him at YF where he works in both the communications and retreat departments. Ben wants you to know that he thinks you’re awesome. Yes, YOU!

Erin Walsh
Lead Retreat Facilitator – Educator Retreats

Erin worked at the National Institute on Media and the Family before launching Mind Positive Parenting™ with her dad, Dr. David Walsh. Youth Frontiers invited Erin and her dad to co-create a retreat that explores both the art and (brain) science of connection and achievement. Erin is also on the Search Institute speaking and training team and teaches at the University of Minnesota and the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs. She lives in south Minneapolis with her partner and two sons.

Hannah Tjoflat
Lead Retreat Facilitator

Hannah was born and raised in the Green Bay area and relocated to Minneapolis after graduating from the University of Wisconsin River Falls with a degree in Vocal Performance. Hannah is the vocalist of the Twin Cities-based band, Luna and the Sunbrothers. Hannah started as an intern with Youth Frontiers and joined as a full-time staff in 2012. She feels truly honored to have a chance to work with youth around the country and loves inspiring positive character!

Jake Esser
Lead Retreat Facilitator

Jake first experienced Youth Frontiers as a ninth grader in Edina, Minn. when he went with his class on a Respect Retreat. After graduating from Edina High School, Jake attended the University of Iowa to study Journalism and Spanish. He then interned with Youth Frontiers in 2015 before starting as a full-time staff member in 2016. If he’s not on Retreat, you can find him with his backpack somewhere else in the world. His journeys from New Zealand to Spain to Bolivia have inspired his goal of finding happiness in every minute.

Jane Leyden
Lead Retreat Facilitator – Educator Retreats

Jane is a talented performer who spent 12 years studying and performing comedy before returning to Minnesota. She joined Youth Frontiers in 1999 as a retreat director and now focuses on educator retreats and is on the school relations team. Jane loves Youth Frontiers because it emphasizes her personal mission statement, “encouraging people through humor and heart.” In her free time, Jane loves to travel, play piano, salsa dance and spend time with her husband and daughter.

Jean Culp
Retreat Facilitator

After graduating from the University of St. Thomas in Psychology and Family Studies, Jean started working for Youth Frontiers. Jean found her “dream job” at YF and enjoys challenging students to think of the power they have to make a positive difference in someone else’s life – even if it is just with a smile. When Jean is not on retreat, you can find her spending time with her family, camping in the summer and skating on a frozen pond in the winter.

Jim Becker
Lead Retreat Facilitator – Educator Retreats

Jim teaches Economics and Civics at Eagan High School (EHS) and witnessed what he calls the “magic of Youth Frontiers work” in the hallways and classrooms at EHS for many years. Jim joined Youth Frontiers in 2009 and feels lucky to be working alongside such amazing people. Jim also coaches golf and is the Link Crew coordinator at EHS. Jim is married to Brenda (a middle school administrator) and they have two children.

Joe Cavanaugh
Lead Retreat Facilitator

Joe has over 30 years of experience working with young people and is one of the foremost communicators to youth on the topics of respect, integrity, courage and compassion. Joe loves to be in front of a crowd to share his passion for raising a generation of young people with good character. Joe also speaks and directs retreats for educators on the need for reflective leadership and the critical building blocks needed to create a healthy school. Joe and his wife, Jane, live in Edina, Minn. with their daughter.

Joey Olson
Lead Retreat Facilitator/Musician

Joey is a singer/songwriter from Hopkins, Minnesota. He currently leads a folk band in the Twin Cities called All the Islands, yet much of his musical inspiration comes from his travels outside the Midwest. After graduating from Taylor University in Indiana, he moved to Chile to teach English and learn Spanish. Upon return to U.S. soil in 2014, he found Youth Frontiers and settled into his dream job of playing music, dancing and inspiring kids to treat each other better. Joey lives with his chia pet in Minneapolis.

John Sandahl
Lead Retreat Facilitator – Educator Retreats

John first connected with Youth Frontiers as a high school leader on a Respect Retreat in Richfield, Minn. John began working at Youth Frontiers in 2002. When not on retreats, John does co-active personal and team coaching. He is also a national and world champion ultimate frisbee player – playing for Team USA and Surly – and coaches ultimate at Minneapolis South High.

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Jorge Figueroa
Lead Retreat Facilitator/Musician

Jorge grew up in Holland, Mich., and moved to Minneapolis to study music. Jorge searched for a way to combine his love for performance and his desire to make a difference. He landed at Youth Frontiers in 2012. In his free time, he is also the frontman of Minneapolis-based rock band, Headlight. Jorge currently lives in South Minneapolis with his beautiful wife, Janelle.

Josh Cleveland
Lead Retreat Facilitator/Musician

Josh is a singer/songwriter and a seasoned youth worker who found his fit at Youth Frontiers in 2012. Working at YF is Josh’s dream job and he has felt right at home since his first day. When Josh is not playing music on retreat, he spends his time with his favorite two women: his daughter and his wife.

Joshua Johnson
Lead Retreat Facilitator/YCorps Manager

Josh has been working with youth for more than 17 years. He attended his first Youth Frontiers retreat in high school and was excited to bring it full circle when he directed a Courage Retreat for his daughter’s class in 2013. He is currently working on his Master’s in Transformational Leadership at Bethel Seminary. Josh is an avid geocacher with quite a YouTube following and enjoys spending time with his spunky family.

Julia Lawler
Lead Retreat Facilitator

Julia grew up in the San Francisco bay area. After high school, she moved to New York where she studied and worked as an actor for more than six years until she changed course and followed her passion of working with youth. Her love of community, story-telling, growth and play led her to many youth-centered organizations until she fell in love with Youth Frontiers and decided to keep asking for a job until they hired her. In addition to being a leader of games and an advocate of human awesomeness, Julia is a yoga teacher, aerialist and frequent pizza-eater.

2016 YCorps Member, Maddie Danielson
Maddie Danielson
Retreat Facilitator

After graduating from Baylor University with a degree in Apparel Design and Product Development, Maddie was craving a change of scenery so she moved up north for a new adventure. She first encountered Youth Frontiers when some family friends, who knew she loved working with kids, recommended the organization to her. A few interviews later and she was sold on the idea of taking a break from fashion design. Maddie is an outdoor enthusiast, a lover of the arts, and a few steps away from a full-blown chocolate addiction.

Maddie Lenarz Hooyman
Lead Retreat Facilitator

Maddie’s first Youth Frontiers retreat was as a fifth-grader at Highlands Elementary in Edina, Minn. Maddie studied Theatre and Social Work at Loyola University in Chicago where she also performed in many productions and studied improv at The Second City. She interned with Youth Frontiers and started as full-time staff in 2013. She enjoys running around the lakes, spending time with her family and feels grateful she is able to combine her passion for performance with YF’s meaningful mission.

Megan Solemsli-Chrysler
Retreat Programs Department Manager

Megan’s had a remarkable journey as a Youth Frontiers retreat facilitator for the past 10 years. With more than 900 retreats under her belt, she is still in awe of all of the good, kind and inspiring people she gets to interact with everyday through this amazing work. When not on retreat, you might find Megan singing with the professional chamber choir, Exultate, playing soccer, dining out for brunch with friends, walking her dog, Murray, spending time with her family, or taking up home improvement projects with her wife, Adelia.

Rita Boersma
Programs and Communications Specialist

Rita was serendipitously led to Youth Frontiers when she was hired to facilitate an improv workshop for the Retreat Staff in 2005. It was practically love at first sight so she joined the team the next school year. Rita is grateful to get to utilize her background in education, writing and comedy at an organization that is so committed to making a difference. In addition to Youth Frontiers-ing, Rita can be found on stage around the Twin Cities performing improv and other various theatrics. Or happily reading “Where the Wild Things Are” to her kid… for the one-billionth time.

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Samual Soule
Lead Retreat Facilitator/Manager

Sam, Retreat Director, first worked with the Youth Frontiers team as a high school small group leader on a Courage Retreat in Moorhead, Minn. However, it wasn’t until a few years later after college that Sam finally had the privilege to join YF. Now, Sam is always excited to hit the road to talk to students about kindness, courage and respect. When Sam is not on retreat, he can be found making good food and hanging out with friends.

Sally Koering
Sally Koering
Lead Retreat Facilitator – Educator Retreats

Sally has a background in theater and communications (with an M.A. in public persuasion) and has shared her talents with Youth Frontiers since 2002. She has a passion for what YF does, and how YF does it – and she loves sharing that with others, whether through coaching speakers, leading retreats or creating their events. She and her husband Andy live in St. Paul, Minn., with their three kids and attention-starved dog. When not working for Youth Frontiers, Sally stays busy with her consulting company and podcast, This Moved Me.

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Sebastian Davin
Lead Retreat Facilitator/Musician Manager

Sebastian is a professional musician from the band, Dropping Daylight. After spending six years recording albums and touring the country, Sebastian found a home with Youth Frontiers in 2012. He hopes to use his musical experience and the amazing messages of YF to help enrich the lives of youth around the country. Sebastian lives in Minneapolis with his wife, Lauryn, and their adorable daughters.

Stephanie Johnson
Retreat Facilitator

Stephanie first experienced a Youth Frontiers as a sophomore at Chaska High School in Minnesota. After graduating from St. Ben’s University, she interned for Youth Frontiers and joined our full-time staff in 2012. Stephanie enjoys everything about her job at YF. She also enjoys working at the Blue Door Pub and traveling whenever possible.

Todd Maas
Lead Retreat Facilitator/Manager

Todd spent plenty of his life in schools where he eventually received his Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Bethel University. Todd truly loves and appreciates his job at Youth Frontiers because it allows him to work with students, something he has done since graduating from high school. In no particular order, Todd’s other loves include his wife, two daughters, golf and Dove chocolate.

Vanessa Montalvo
Retreat Facilitator

Vanessa grew up in Southwest Minnesota and eventually made it to the big city where she graduated from The University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies. She found Youth Frontiers after a tarot card reader told her to stop applying for jobs because there was actually a really cool one out there for her and it would come at the right time!  (She was right.) Vanessa is passionate about youth empowerment and is super pumped to be a YFer!

Retreat Musicians
Abdul Sesay
Retreat Musician

Abdul first experienced Youth Frontiers when he went on a Kindness Retreat in fourth grade. Years later, he participated in YF’s apprenticeship program before joining the organization full-time as a Retreat Musician. Abdul was born in Sierra Leone and moved to the United States when he was nine. Though he’s fluent in three languages, he’s always felt that he communicates best with others through his music. After high school, Abdul pursued his passion for songwriting at McNally Smith College of Music. His passion for music and youth work led him to YF, but it’s the value of the work that keeps him here.

Dan Rodriguez
Retreat Musician

Dan is a singer/songwriter with three albums who has traveled all over the United States playing at different venues and festivals. Dan has been a Retreat Staff Musician since 2009 and considers it a blessing to be able to work with an organization that allows him to pursue his passion and make a difference at the same time. Dan lives in the Minneapolis area with his wife, Megan. You can listen to Dan on iTunes.

Debra G
Retreat Musician

Debra G. has worked with Youth Frontiers since 2002 as a Retreat Staff Musician. Debra is a professional musician in the Twin Cities. She has been on tour performing with many professional acts like Nicholas David from NBC’s the Voice and opening for international acts like the Avett Brothers. Debra G. has also had the honor of performing overseas for our troops. Debra has dedicated her life and musical talents to inspire people to believe anything is possible and to never give up. You can listen to Debra on iTunes.

Eric Fairchild
Retreat Musician

Eric is a solo artist and a member of the Minneapolis rock band, Attention. He has toured the US, and the UK. Eric was a participant on a Youth Frontiers retreat as a ninth-grader at South View Middle School in Edina, Minn. and joined the staff in 2004. Eric is also a weekend DJ on Minneapolis radio station KQRS. Eric enjoys being able to share his music with students, and seeing the connection it can make. Eric lives in Minneapolis, loves the Minnesota Twins and hates tomatoes.

Joey Olson
Lead Retreat Facilitator/Musician

Joey is a singer/songwriter from Hopkins, Minnesota. He currently leads a folk band in the Twin Cities called All the Islands, yet much of his musical inspiration comes from his travels outside the Midwest. After graduating from Taylor University in Indiana, he moved to Chile to teach English and learn Spanish. Upon return to U.S. soil in 2014, he found Youth Frontiers and settled into his dream job of playing music, dancing and inspiring kids to treat each other better. Joey lives with his chia pet in Minneapolis.

Jon Herchert
Retreat Musician

Jon is a veteran at Youth Frontiers – facilitating close to 1500 retreats since he started in the late 1990s. He also has more than 20 years of performance experience as a front man/side man in many national touring acts. He is a husband and father of two boys. Jon’s passion for the creative side is lived out as a guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer, sculptor and idea man. You can listen to Jonny on iTunes.

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Jorge Figueroa
Lead Retreat Facilitator/Musician

Jorge grew up in Holland, Mich., and moved to Minneapolis to study music. Jorge searched for a way to combine his love for performance and his desire to make a difference. He landed at Youth Frontiers in 2012. In his free time, he is also the frontman of Minneapolis-based rock band, Headlight. Jorge currently lives in South Minneapolis with his beautiful wife, Janelle.

Josh Cleveland
Lead Retreat Facilitator/Musician

Josh is a singer/songwriter and a seasoned youth worker who found his fit at Youth Frontiers in 2012. Working at YF is Josh’s dream job and he has felt right at home since his first day. When Josh is not playing music on retreat, he spends his time with his favorite two women: his daughter and his wife.

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Preston Gunderson
Retreat Musician

Preston is a singer-songwriter who hails from the Iron Range of Northern Minnesota. He has played his music in more than 10 states and four countries. He was a casting finalist on NBC’s show “The Voice” and also a contestant on “American Idol.” He was selected as the 2014 Bob Dylan Days singer-songwriter grand champion, and twice recognized as one of the “Five Artists You Should Hear” in 2014 by ReverbNation. Preston feels so honored to be surrounded by talented and passionate people at YF and loves making a positive impact through music!

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Sebastian Davin
Lead Retreat Facilitator/Musician Manager

Sebastian is a professional musician from the band, Dropping Daylight. After spending six years recording albums and touring the country, Sebastian found a home with Youth Frontiers in 2012. He hopes to use his musical experience and the amazing messages of YF to help enrich the lives of youth around the country. Sebastian lives in Minneapolis with his wife, Lauryn, and their adorable daughter. You can listen to Sebastian on iTunes.

Spencer Grimes
Retreat Musician

Spencer loves working with young people, writing and performing music, and encouraging others (and himself) to live life to the fullest. He found Youth Frontiers to be the perfect place to combine all of his favorite things. When not on retreat, Spencer can be found dancing around with his band Whosah anywhere and everywhere. Spencer is blown away by the people he gets to work with at Youth Frontiers and loves how they work hard and care about others.

Tony Lehr
Retreat Musician

Tony is a singer/songwriter who loves playing in a local folk trio called Family Three. Tony is a Retreat Staff Musician as of 2015. He is excited to be a part of an organization and team that is so committed to engaging with young people and striving for positive change. Tony loves that he is able to combine his love of music and his passion for working with youth.

External Relations Team
Ali Sipkins
Executive Assistant and Donor Relations – Wisconsin

Ali testifies that her experience as a ninth-grader on the Respect Retreat for South View Middle School in Edina, Minn., was life-changing. After volunteering for YF throughout high school and college, she started working here in 2005. Ali graduated Phi Beta Kappa in International Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and received her Mini–MBA for Nonprofit Organizations from the University of St. Thomas. 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.

Ben Nordquist
Communications Assistant and Retreat Facilitator

Ben’s world first collided with Youth Frontiers as a high school senior on the Wisdom Retreat. After eight semesters at Luther College, three summers as a camp counselor, one summer working on Capitol Hill, and too much coffee, Ben started at Youth Frontiers in August of 2015 as an intern. His love of inspiring positive change has kept him at YF where he works in both the communications and retreat departments. Ben wants you to know that he thinks you’re awesome. Yes, YOU!

Cheri Keepers
School Relations Representative

Cheri came to Youth Frontiers (YF) in 2014 from the Twin Cities YMCA where she was a Camp Director for Camps Warren and Icaghowan. She has a heart for youth and community development and loves that at YF, “We get to be inspired and we get to inspire!” She is most inspired when communities come together to create positive change and social justice. She and her husband love watching their kids play soccer and ultimate frisbee, camping, swimming and enjoying Friday movie nights.

Ellory Roske
Retreat Coordinator

Ellory graduated from the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn. and worked with Young Americans and 3M before joining YF in 2016. She appreciates that her current role allows her to combine her passion for education and her customer service experience. She also enjoys serving our students and teachers by improving efficiency and building relationships. Ellory is furthermore thrilled to work with an intelligent, supportive team and looks forward to learning from them. In her free time, Ellory enjoys outdoor activities, year round Ultimate Frisbee and letting her husband win at board games.

Erica Cantoni
Manager of Corporate and Major Gift Engagement

Erica happily came aboard Youth Frontiers in 2009. She feels incredibly fortunate to work with hundreds of generous, committed and kind supporters who care enough to be a force for good in the lives of young people they may never meet. Prior to joining YF, Erica worked in governmental communications and research, political campaign management and fundraising and most recently for Gillette Children’s Hospital Foundation. Erica and her husband Chris were thrilled to recently become first time parents to a beautiful twin son and daughter. Camping, hiking and international travel are Erica’s lifelong passions.

Jane Leyden
School Relations Representative

Jane is a talented performer who spent 12 years studying and performing comedy before returning to Minnesota. She joined Youth Frontiers in 1999 as a retreat director and now focuses on educator retreats and is on the school relations team. Jane loves Youth Frontiers because it emphasizes her personal mission statement, “encouraging people through humor and heart.” In her free time, Jane loves to travel, play piano, salsa dance and spend time with her husband and daughter.

Joanna Lackram
Database Manager & Event Coordinator

Joanna joined Youth Frontiers in 2014 after working at the Walker Art Center as the Performing Arts Specialist and Box Office Manager for 7 years. She has her Masters degree in Arts and Cultural Management from Saint Mary’s University and her Bachelors degree in Studio Art and Art History from University of Minnesota. Knowing that she wanted to work for a nonprofit organization that bettered the lives of children, she found her match with the YF mission. Joanna enjoys running, gardening and traveling with her husband.

Karen Nelson
Donor Relations Manager – Minnesota

Karen was introduced to Youth Frontiers 12 years ago when she served as a parent volunteer on a Courage Retreat with her daughter. Karen was moved as she witnessed the kids come to realizations about themselves, apologize to teachers and classmates and commit to being better. Prior to joining YF, Karen spent time as a CPA with Peat Marwick and also served as the Executive Director of the Edina Education Fund. When she isn’t at work, the mother of three enjoys spending time with her husband and family, coffee or movie dates with friends, reading, barre class, tennis and golf.

Kay Gray
Grants Manager

Kay joined Youth Frontiers in 2014 after 20 plus years supporting children and families through educational program development and management. Kay believes that collaboration is a key ingredient in moving an organization forward and feels YF excels in working together as a team to serve students, educators and their school communities. She enjoys adding her background in curriculum, marketing and grant writing to help advance the mission and vision of Youth Frontiers. Kay lives with her husband and their empty nest in Minneapolis.

Kimberly Harmon (Croft)
School Relations Special Projects Manager

Kimberly joined YF in 2013 after working for the Minnesota Department of Education in Early Learning Services. She genuinely enjoys working and collaborating with her team and with schools to bring impactful retreat experiences to students and staff. She believes that the retreats can be life-changing, so helping problem solve challenges with financing the retreat or helping to get a principal on board is part of what she enjoys most about her job. She is also amazed and inspired by the genuinely interesting people she works with. In her free time she enjoys spending precious time with her husband and new baby as well as reading, seeing movies and watching football.

Lynn
Lynn Giovannelli
Director of Donor Relations

Lynn joined the Youth Frontiers team in 2015 after five years of supporting community and lifelong learning at The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library as their Vice President of Operations and Director of Corporate Sponsorship. After an exciting decade in the real estate market, Lynn discovered that her passion was making a difference in people’s lives. She has served in numerous volunteer leadership roles in schools and has been a strong advocate of YF for all SLP youth. Lynn enjoys spending time with her kids and husband of 20 years, cheering on the sidelines for her boys’ sporting activities, cooking, gardening, reading and walking the lakes with friends.

Melissa Regan
Donor Relations Manager – Nebraska

Melissa joined Youth Frontiers (YF) in the summer of 2013, after teaching third grade in Westside Community Schools in Omaha for 10 years. She knew she wanted to try something new, but also knew her passion was helping kids. The YF mission resonated with everything she believed in. She believes that if there is one thing her education background has taught her, it’s that character is one of the most important things we can teach our kids. Melissa is a mom of two girls, a wife and a sports-lover. In her free time she enjoys attending her kids’ activities, cheering on the Creighton Bluejays and Nebraska Cornhuskers and traveling with her family.

Patty
Patty Beadle
Director of Marketing & School Relations

Patty was first introduced to Youth Frontiers (YF) as a teacher and a parent of a student on a Kindness Retreat. She started volunteering for YF in 1999 and joined the team as a School Relations Representative in 2011. She loves the YF mission, the awesome team that she gets to lead and their passion for helping youth succeed. She is truly inspired by the people she gets to work with every day. She loves skiing, yoga, reading and spending time with family and friends.

Peggy Bell
School Relations Assistant

In the summer of 2014, Peggy found her dream job here at Youth Frontiers. Her business background in sales and marketing as well as her personal background as a parent of three whom all experienced the Youth Frontiers Retreats has proved to make her position at YF a perfect match. Peggy believes that the company’s goal to provide each school with the highest quality retreat experience truly makes her job on the School Relations team rewarding. In her free time, she and her husband are enjoying their new life as empty nesters. Peggy also enjoys traveling, cooking, biking, yoga, skiing and her newest passion, paddle-boarding.

expectations
Raedean Foote
School Relations Representative

Raedean joined Youth Frontiers in 2016 after a personal exploration to find greater alignment with her passions and purpose. She holds a Masters degree in Leadership from Augsburg College, a BA in Marketing Communications from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls and, prior to YF, spent nearly 20 years in the corporate sector. Raedean is no stranger to youth development, having spent countless years as a mentor, youth leader and mission trip chaperone. She currently resides in Minnetonka, MN with her two dogs, Riley and Walter.

Rita Boersma
Programs and Communications Specialist

Rita was serendipitously led to Youth Frontiers when she was hired to facilitate an improv workshop for the Retreat Staff in 2005. It was practically love at first sight so she joined the team the next school year. Rita is grateful to get to utilize her background in education, writing and comedy at an organization that is so committed to making a difference. In addition to Youth Frontiers-ing, Rita can be found on stage around the Twin Cities performing improv and other various theatrics. Or happily reading “Where the Wild Things Are” to her kid… for the one-billionth time.

Sarah Barchus
Communications Specialist

As a journalism and global studies graduate, Sarah sought a career that encourages creativity and supports an important cause. In summer 2016, she found Youth Frontiers. Sarah loves that the organization teaches students to value themselves and others for the ultimate betterment of schools and the greater community. When she’s not communicating for Youth Frontiers, Sarah enjoys reading the words of others, stretching her limits in yoga and exploring the world through travel and photography.

Sarah Gillund
Sarah Gillund
Communications & Marketing Manager

Sarah joined the Youth Frontiers team in 2012 after finishing a year of service with Lutheran Volunteer Corps. Sarah has a heart for social justice and she loves being involved in an organization that is focused on creating positive change in schools. She genuinely loves coming to work each day and collaborating creatively with her coworkers. Sarah is currently enrolled in a graduate program at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. In her free time, she enjoys pastel drawing, playing with her nieces and nephews and wandering around Northeast Minneapolis.

Sophie Rouhandeh
Research Associate 

Sophie joined Youth Frontiers in 2014 and worked as the Executive Assistant before leaving temporarily to pursue her graduate studies. She is excited to have re-joined the YF team in 2016 to support teacher engagement in a part-time capacity. Prior to her work with YF, Sophie taught high school English and attended Carleton College where her interest in creating healthy educational communities was born. Sophie is happy to be once again supporting YF’s mission and collaborating with such compassionate, intellectual coworkers. In her free time, Sophie enjoys reading, hiking and traveling, as well as spending time with her family.

Board of Directors

Kenneth M. Bird, Ed. D., President & CEO, Avenue Scholars Foundation

Joe Cavanaugh, Founder & CEO, Youth Frontiers, Inc.

Virginia “Ginny” Clark, Retired School Administrator; Community Leader

Carol Culp, Community Leader

Kenneth Dragseth, Ph.D., Director of Administrative Licensure and Lecturer, University of Minnesota

John Dulin, President, John Dulin Global Consulting

Nathan Dungan, Founder & CEO, Share Save Spend, LLC

John Forliti, D. Min., Retired Chaplain; Community Leader

Paul Grangaard, President & CEO, Allen Edmonds

Dr. Bruce H. Jackson, Executive Director, C. Charles Jackson Foundation; CEO, The Institute of Applied Human Excellence

Dwight Johnson, Retired Chrysler Corporation Executive, Community Leader

Tom Langseth, Senior Vice President, Distribution Relationship Management, Allianz Life of North America

Richard Leider, Founder & Chairman, Inventure — The Purpose Company

Jim McCorkell, Founder & CEO, College Possible

David R. McFarland, Senior Vice President & Chief Credit Officer, Marquette Transportation Finance, Inc.

Chuck Mooty, CEO, Jostens, Inc.

Margrette Newhouse, Myers Chair in Management, College of Saint Benedict/St. John’s University

Dean Phillips, Community Leader, The Phillips Family Office

Fred Senn, Founding Partner, Fallon Worldwide

Tim Thorpe, Executive Director, Pathways

Prince Wallace, CEO, West Central Environmental Consultants, Inc.

Dr. David Walsh, Founder & CEO, Mind Positive Parenting

Mary Daly Wozniak, Owner & Principal, Shadowfalls Design

Duke Zurek, Retail Director, Apple, Inc.