Founder and CEO
Joe is a nationally-renowned speaker promoting timeless values and personal character to audiences of all ages. 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.” 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 speaks about the need for reflective leadership and the critical building blocks needed to create a healthy school.
With more than 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.
Joe has been featured in several local, regional and national media including a 90-minute PBS television special titled “Respectfully, Joe Cavanaugh.”
Joe received his B.A. degree in Humanities from Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minn. He recently gave the commencement address at his alma mater, where he was given an Honorary Doctorate. He was also awarded the Social Entrepreneur of the Year by St. John’s in 2012.
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 Employee Strategies.
As President of Youth Frontiers, Nicole oversees the day-to-day operational plan including leading the executive team and driving the execution of organizational goals. Nicole brings over 14 years of executive coaching, organizational effectiveness, and operational management experience to the position.
Most recently, Nicole served as Chief of Staff at NorthRock Partners, where she served as a strategic advisor and counselor to the CEO and President, while managing the agenda of the executive office. Previously, Nicole worked as an Organizational Effectiveness Consultant for FCC Services, where she oversaw the employee engagement survey practice, served as a primary facilitator for leadership development programs, and guided organizational development consulting services.
A passionate advocate for change, Nicole is active in her community where she has served in numerous board leadership roles within the Center for Coaching in Organizations, Junior League, Mile High United Way Emerging Leaders Council, and Special Olympics Young Professionals Board. Nicole also coached women through Volunteers America on resume writing, best practices in job searching, and job interview preparation.
Nicole holds a business degree from DePaul University and graduate certificate in executive coaching from St. Thomas University’s Opus College of Business. Nicole lives in Minnetonka, Minnesota with her husband and two young children.
Director, External Relations
Cheri Keepers is the Director of External Relations for Youth Frontiers where she is responsible for leading strategy and overseeing all external relations. Prior to this role, she led the School Relations department at YF for six years. Cheri has demonstrated great leadership abilities during her tenure here and beforehand as an Executive Camp Director at the YMCA. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from St. Catherine University and has participated in Studio/E Leadership Cohort and Activate Talent Leadership Cohort.
A fun fact about Cheri’s professional accomplishments: she was part of a team at St. Catherine University that developed a new minor program for undergraduates titled, Nonprofit Strategies and Operations Minor. During her studies, she also helped develop a social justice and service learning model for the graduate programs at St. Catherine University. The model was nationally recognized as an excellent industry standard to achieve. Cheri and her husband love watching their kids play soccer and ultimate frisbee, camping, swimming and enjoying Friday movie nights.
Abby graduated from UW-Eau Claire with a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology. She spent the next chapter of her career in Human Resources before landing at Youth Frontiers in 2019. If she is not at YF she enjoys spending time with her family and kids, anything that will get her outside or anything other than sitting still. Being a true Wisconsinite she also enjoys cheering on the Packers and the Brewers!
Director, Innovation and Experiences
Sebastian came to Youth Frontiers in 2012 as a Retreat Staff Musician after spending 10 years on the road with his national touring band, Dropping Daylight. He was immediately inspired by YF’s work in schools and continues to grow and be challenged by their mission. Sebastian contributes strategic, technical and creative expertise to craft YF’s unforgettable experiences.
An alumni of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he studied Songwriting and Piano Performance, Sebastian still makes time to perform music with his party duo The White Keys, who provide entertainment for community celebrations, corporate events, weddings and for US troops serving overseas.
When not behind a desk or on a stage, Sebastian can be found hiking the North Woods of Minnesota, traveling, and cooking delicious meals in his St. Paul home for his wife, Lauryn, and their three daughters Hazel, Juniper and Magnolia.
Director, Marketing & Communications
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.
Founder & CEO, Youth Frontiers, Inc.
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Ben Tierney, Director of Excellence, Catholic Schools Center of Excellence
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Debbie Finnicum, Guidance Counselor, DC West Middle School
Doug Meeker, Teacher, Cretin-Derham Hall
Dwight Johnson, Retired Chrysler Corporation Executive
Eric Iverson, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Specialist, Mounds View Public Schools
Heather Teskey, Chief Marketing Officer, Deluxe Corporation
Isadora Korak, Corporate Responsibility Manager, Winnebago Industries
Jackie Herd-Barber, Community Volunteer
Jen Roe Darling, President & CEO, Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation
Jon Reeves, Principal, St. Michael-Albertville High School
Jon Reissner, President, Activar
Karen Hohertz-Jacobs, Senior Director, Procurement Operations and Cost Transformation, Best Buy
Kevin Rotman, Audit Senior Manager, Deloitte & Touche
Lynn Schultz, Principal, St. Bernadette School
Mark McIlmoyle, Education Leader
Mark Newsome, Chief Financial Officer, Refrigerated Solutions Group
Dr. Michael Lovett, Adjunct Faculty, University of Minnesota & University of St. Thomas
Michelle McKenna, Counselor, Brookfield East High School
Mitch Dorr, Principal, St. John the Baptist Catholic School
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Patrick Fox, Principal, Shakopee Area Catholic School
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Sherri Schendzielos, Assistant Principal, Blaine High School
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