Mary Helen Franze, Founder & Business Development Board Member
As a social entrepreneur, Mary Helen is committed to sustainability and holistic health, as well as educating youth to be self sufficient, thriving, prepared workers who will have a positive impact in their communities . She comes to us with experience working in the nonprofit, corporate, and government sectors. She has both a Business Management degree from the University of Montana and Early Childhood/Youth Development degree from Pacific Oaks College in California. She has spent 25 years working and volunteering with youth and possesses ebullient passion for the Spark-Y mission. She has held management positions with Thomson Reuters and techies.com. As a consultant, she advised small organizations and nonprofits on business development/operations. Currently she works for Merrill Corporation as a Business Solutions Advisor in Merrill DataSite, New Markets. She is an educator and was a Director of Aquatic Park Child Care Center in Berkeley, CA. She was a member of a Service Learning Steering committee at the MN Department of Education (2000-2005), and has lobbied in both the CA and MN legislatures advocating for youth. She is the proud mother of an amazing son attending the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Tammie Follett, J.D., MBA, Chair & Founding Member
Tammie Follett, J.D., MBA, serves as the Chair for Spark-Y. Tammie has been with Thomson Reuters for 23 years and is the Senior Account Manager and Business Development Specialist for Large Law Firms in Minnesota. She has a B.A. from Lawrence University, J.D. from Hamline University School of Law, and a M.B.A from the University of St. Thomas.
Tammie brings to YEA Corps over 20 years of experience serving on numerous volunteer boards. She serves on the Board of Tubman (formerly Chrysalis), a Twin Cities organization helping woman, children and families struggling with relationship violence, substance abuse and mental health issues. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Africa Classroom Connection, an organization that raises funds to build classrooms in South Africa, and Books for Africa, that sends books to African countries. In addition, she serves on the Advisory Board for Polish Your Star, a Women’s Leadership and Networking Organization. Tammie is on the Executive Board of “Team Women” an organization to assist young women in business, created by Pam Barton, University Of Minnesota Gophers Coach.
In February 2011, Tammie was recognized for her extensive volunteer efforts by receiving the Top Honor from Thomson Reuters, the prestigious Stu Wolfer Distinguished Service Award. Further, in May 2011, she was named as one of the “Top 25 Women to Watch” by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.
Ben Russell, Marketing & Special Events Board Member
Ben Russell serves as marketing strategist and special events coordinator for Spark-Y. He began working with the organization as a volunteer in 2013 and shortly after accepted a position on the board. Ben’s work background has carried him on a trajectory through different roles in foodservice, from kitchens to co-ops, where he learned an appreciation for food and gained an understanding that there was something inherently wrong with our country’s food system. He graduated from Metropolitan State University in 2012 with a BA in Natural Foods Marketing and Entrepreneurship and currently works for Words At Work, a business communications agency in Minneapolis’ North Loop.
Ben’s interests and scholastic background are what led him to find Spark-Y and it is that passion that motivates him to help increase our organization’s ability to reach as many youth as possible.
Terri Joski-Lang, Partnerships Board Member
Terri comes to Spark-Y with a rich and diverse background in a variety of business industries. She has over 25 years of experience in corporate, start up, and non-profit ventures with roles in sales, operations, mentoring, coaching and leading teams. She’s held leadership positions at: Menttium Corp; ASSE International Student Exchange; Skyway News; Thompson Reuters; techies.com, and currently is with Grainger as a Market Manager leading operations and field service teams to deliver MRO industry best solutions. She is thrilled to have an additional role through the Grainger Foundation and is responsible for local community grant giving and leading efforts for their Tools for Tomorrow Scholarship program. Personally, Terri has worked on Green and social Justice initiatives through the ISAIAH committee at her church. She has a BA in Journalism from the University of Minnesota and did master work in education studies at the University of St Thomas. Terri is married, has a son attending the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Business and a daughter at Perpich Performing Arts High School.
Tanya Kellar, Treasurer & Board Member
Tanya comes with more than 6 years of public accounting experience with Eide Bailly LLP providing audit services for a variety of industries, with a focus on nonprofits, OMB A-133 single audits and employee benefit plans. She strategizes, conducts and oversees audits for companies ranging from $350 thousand to over $1.5 billion in revenue under generally accepted auditing standards to ensure compliance with generally accepted accounting principles, OMB Circular A-133 audit requirements or Department of Labor ERISA requirements. In 2013, Tanya completed a secondment in Perth, Australia through an affiliate firm, HLB Mann Judd under international financial reporting standards. Tanya is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants.
Lorraine Griffin Johnson, Human Resources Board Member
Lorraine is a Human Resources Executive having served in senior level Human Resources positions with Fortune 500 Companies including Sprint Corporation, The Pillsbury Company, FMC, Cummins and Ameriprise Financial. Currently, she is a principal in LGJ & Associates, a Human Resources Consulting Firm; supports competitive intelligence projects through Bennion Group and manages Griffin Enterprises, a property management company.
Mrs. Griffin Johnson holds a B.S.E. from Stephen F. Austin State University and an M.A. from the University of Texas. She is a member of the International Strategic Partners Committee of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and has served in leadership and philanthropic roles with the Education Advancement Foundation, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (as President of Delta Phi Omega, Gamma Omicron Omega and Eta Epsilon Chapters and service on the International Human Resources, Corporate Marketing and Legacy Endowment and Corporate Support Committees), St. Thomas University Multicultural Forum Planning Committee, Leadership Kansas and the United Way, She has been honored as College Alumna of the Year, received the Sprint Corporation Chairman’s Award , Alpha Kappa Alpha National Leadership Award for her contributions to the Leadership Fellows Institute and the Delta Phi Omega Chapter Mabel E. Cason Member of the Year and Leadership Award. She is Executor of the Dansby Reunion Scholarship Fund.
She has served The Links, Inc. as Central Area Arts Chairman and a member of the Legislative Committee as well as the following roles in the Minneapolis St. Paul Chapter, President, Vice President, Recording Secretary, Arts Facets Chairman, Debutante Cotillion Chairman and Protocol Chairman. She currently serves on the Spark Y: Youth Action Labs; Human Resources Professionals of Minnesota Board as Vice President of Community Relations and was recently elected to the Human Resources Executive Forum’s Board.
Mark Philion, Development Board Member
Mark is a Business Development and Sales Leader. He comes to Spark-Y with a unique combination of business experiences and expertise. His career focus has always been on growth and has a 30 year record of results. Mark served as a Marine Corps Officer and has held business leadership roles in Business Development, Sales, Marketing and Operations. He has a MBA in Marketing and a B.S. in Industrial Management.
Mark has a natural, relaxed senior executive presence that balances a no-nonsense, high energy, strategic maximizer and business problem solver. We have brought Mark aboard to help Spark-Y maintain strategic focus on our mission critical growth objectives. He passionately shares our belief in teaching young adults about entrepreneurship and leadership through our sustainable food programs.
He is a 12 year veteran professional ski instructor with Blizzard Ski School. Blizzard has been challenging the minds and strengthening the bodies of Minnesota kids through skiing and snowboarding for 57 years. In addition to having fun, the kids learn responsibility, independence, time management and safety. Mark is also a student of Aikido at the Midwest Center for Movement.