Launch Advisory Board
Our Launch Advisory Board is comprised of talented community members and youth leadership advocates who serve as an advisory committee for the Board of Directors and Launch Leadership.
CHRISTINE KELLOGG HENNINGSEN, CHAIR
Christine joined the Volunteer Staff in the mid-1990s after graduating from Marian High School. After bouncing around the hemisphere and living in such places as Chicago, the British Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic and Des Moines, she currently lives in Omaha with her husband, Josh, and their three children. Christine currently works as the Director of Nebraska Youth Advocates in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center on Children, Families and the Law. In addition to being an experienced facilitator, Christine served on the Volunteer’s Staff Vision Quest committee and received the Charlotte Sylvia Award.
Michelle loves the coast. After graduating from Omaha Westside, she went to college at Pepperdine and built a career in children’s digital media starting at AOL. Michelle then moved to Washington, D.C. working for National Geographic, before returning to California to work for Amazon Studios this year. Michelle has staffed more than 20 Workshops in a variety of roles, including Workshop Director. She’s won the Lux Award as well as holding the record for most wins in the Workshop Olympics competition.
Barry lives in Dallas with his wife Patty, and four sons. He has worked the past 20 years for the Associated Press, where he is currently the sports products director. He’s spent his time filing stories and editing the news in Omaha, Atlanta and Dallas. He also serves as a Cubmaster and merit badge counselor for the Boy Scouts. In his Launch life, Barry received the Lux Award, served as the curriculum coordinator for three years, and he is also a self-proclaimed Bush Patrol Czar and Boundary Breaking whisperer.
Ben is a lifelong Lincoln resident and a leader in the advertising community. He’s spent most of the past 20 years working for Firespring, where is currently the Director of Brand Strategy. He’s been the AAF Lincoln AdPro of the Year and won several ADDY Awards. For Launch, Ben served as the Curriculum Director, New Staff Training Coordinator and as a co-op leader at Workshop more than 20 times. He was a key member of the groups that laid the groundwork for our Advanced Leadership Workshop and develop Launch’s identity. Ben is the only Staff member to receive the Schulze, Coniglio and Lux Awards.
After earning his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, Bryan planted roots in the Twin Cities where he lives with his wife Susan and two daughters. Bryan is the Director of Consumer Goods for Sopheon where he still uses many of the same leadership and teamwork principles he learned at Workshop a quarter century ago. Bryan helped develop the role of Behind-The-Scenes Staff at Workshop, served as a Workshop Coordinator and won the Lux Award winner.
MAGGIE DIERS YOST
Maggie Diers Yost lives in Omaha and works in Fremont for two family businesses including Deer Pointe Corporation which is a residential and commercial real estate developer, and Diers Ford Lincoln auto dealership. She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Nebraska and a masters degree from Northwestern University. In addition to Launch Leadership, she is a Nebraska Diplomat, a Fremont Family YMCA board member and is involved in the Fremont Rotary Club and Greater Fremont Development Council. Maggie joined Staff in the 1980’s. She is the mother of Gini, Graham and Audrey who are Staff members as well.
Dave has more than 25 years of experience in event and television production including leading production efforts at multiple Olympic games. He was nominated for an Emmy for his work on the Sochi Olympics. His resume also includes time at Disney (12 years) and CNN (13 years). Dave lives in Georgia with his wife, Leslie whom he met at Workshop. They have two children, D.J. and Natalie, who are also Staffers. Dave has a decade of Workshop experience and won the Sylvia Award.
Elaine is a California-based writer, educator, speaker, and journalist. She is currently an associate professor in the journalism department at Cal State-Sacramento and the writing center director for the Ph.D. Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University. Elaine previously wrote for the Los Angeles Time and Minneapolis Star-Tribune. For Launch, she served as a small-group leader five Workshops.
Eric has spent the last 13 years teaching in schools in Omaha. Currently, he is the junior high religion teacher at St. James/Seton school in Omaha. Eric has served the Volunteer Staff in a number of leadership positions, including Workshop/Volunteer Director, Development Director and Interim Executive Director. Eric was instrumental in launching our JAM program, where he proudly served as Tiki-Ra-Kameha. He is a Lux, Coniglio and Alloway award winner, and Launch’s innovation award is named after him.
Erin currently lives in Omaha after a stint in sunny California for graduate school and the start of her social worker career. She works for Lutheran Family Services as the Director of Permanency and Well-Being Programs. She is also active with the New Leaders Council Omaha Board. Erin, who won the Lux Award, serves as the Crisis Team chair and has previously served as the New Staff Selection/Training Coordinator.
Frank serves as president of The Upside Down Organization, Director of the National-At-Risk Education Network (NAREN) and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of The Children’s Guild, a multi-service children's organization headquartered in Maryland. Frank lives in Maryland with his wife, Shawn, and his two children. Frank, who won the Lux Award, was one of the first Volunteer Staffers when he joined the organization in 1975. He was the Curriculum Coordinator for four years before serving as the Workshop Director for three years.
Ian moved to North Carolina in 2005 with his wife, Sara, and began working for PepsiCo and now resides in Greensboro with his two children. Ian is active with his church’s youth group and dreams of one day buying a Tesla. He served as the Volunteer Director and won the Lux Award, plus he created the Cheese Wheel Award and the award that bears his name, which is designed to motivate other Staffers to achieve greatness.
JENN BERNARD WALKER
Jenn is an educator who lives in Omaha with her husband, Tim, and two children. She started her career teaching at Omaha North before becoming a school counselor at North and Davis Middle School. Jenn later took a brief sabbatical and will return to school this fall. Jenn was an inaugural member of the Launch Board, served as chair of New Staff Selection, and is a Sylvia Award winner.
JEN LUETTEL SCHWEER
A Husker at heart, Jen has spent the last decade working in Washington D.C. where she is the Associate Director for Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Services in Health Education Services at Georgetown University. Jen loves football and feminism and lives in Virginia with her husband, Jerry and her two children, Ethan and Nora. Jen, who is a Lux Award winner, has served as a Workshop Director, and served as member of the Crisis Team, Launch Board and Gender Commission.
John has traveled to more than 50 countries but calls Los Angeles home with his wife, Cindee, and two sons (who are going to their first Workshop this summer with their cousins). With a BA from UNL & MBA from U of Texas, John is a marketing executive in the entertainment industry with an impressive 25-year resume with some of the biggest media brands including Disney Channel, ABC Family, and DC Comics. Rood served as a small group leader for more than a decade and received the Lux Award in 1992.
Jon lives in New York City, where he is an Executive Director at Morgan Stanley. He leads a team that focuses on securities offerings for healthcare companies across the country. Jon also volunteers at International Rescue Committee, where he is an academic tutor for immigrant youth. A graduate of Stanford University, Jon is a published travel journalist writing for The Wall Street Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Lincoln Journal Star. He is a Launch staff member along with his two siblings and he served as a small group leader for multiple Workshops.
JULIE BOGENREIF LOPEZ
Julie has lived in Kansas City for the past 15 years, where she ran a summer camp for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and for the last 10 years, she has worked at Haley and Aldrich where she works with advance project control support. Julie lives with her husband, son and four dogs and cats. In her Launch activity, Julie served as the Executive Director, led New Staff Training and won the Lux Award.
KARA HARBERT MARKIN
Kara is an Omaha native who attending Washington & Lee in Virginia before living all over the western United States with the National Outdoor Leadership School. Kara graduated from UNMC recently and works in internal medicine at the Women's Health Center and a General Internal Medicine clinic. She and her husband, Nick, and son, Tom, love to road trip, hike and cook. Kara served as a member of the Launch Board and chaired the evaluations committee.
Lilly is one of the first Volunteer Staffers and helped establish Workshop as volunteer-run organization. She was the inaugural Curriculum Director and Launch’s award for outstanding contribution during a person’s first five years is named in her honor. In her professional life, Lilly is the managing partner at The Strategic Organization, which gives organizations the tools and skills they need to deliver results, resources and growth. Lilly, who lives in Kansas City, works closely with the Department of the Army to develop partnerships to improve outcomes for Service members, Veterans, their families and Caregivers.
After almost two decades living in California working in the entertainment industry, Maher recently moved to his hometown Omaha. He produces independent projects, manages writers nationwide and runs a slate of real estate investments. In Los Angeles, he served as the head of development for high-profile production companies at Sony, ABC Studios and Warner Brothers Television creating more than 400 episodes of television. A graduate of The George Washington University, Maher served as a Workshop Director for four years, was a member of Launch’s Board, Lux Award winner and resurrected the Ghosts production.
MARY BETH RICE
Mary Beth lives in Lincoln with her husband and four children. In between volunteering at Matt Talbot Kitchen and St. Peter’s Catholic School, Mary Beth is an independent communication consultant, retreat facilitator or project manager focused on strategic planning, team-building, communication and leadership topics. She earned a BA in communication and an MA in educational psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Mary Beth, who has won the Sylvia Award, joined Staff in the 80s and returned a to Workshop three years ago and has Staffed Workshop with her daughter, who is also a member of the Volunteer Staff.
Mike is the dean of students at Omaha Bryan High School, where he is also an assistant athletic director. Mike served as Curriculum Director for three years, was part of the committee that launched the Advanced Leadership Workshop, and is one of a select group of people to staff Workshop in all four capacities (ALW, SLW, JAM and BTS).
Pat is the Chief Creative Officer of Sweetwood Creative: Your Humor Resources Department. As an entertainment entrepreneur he wears the hats of writer, producer and director. He has worked with NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, HBO, Showtime, Paramount, Columbia/TriStar, The Comedy Channel and NPR. Pat has enjoyed success in creating sitcoms, plays, advertising campaigns, standup monologs and radio commentaries and is currently working on the original musical, “Grounded For Life.” Pat lives in Austin with his two Launch savvy sons that lead him back to staffing at Workshop after a 2o year hiatus. Proving that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
One of the oldest crusties, Rick attended his first Workshop as a student in 1971, and returned the following year as a junior counselor. He was one of the original Volunteer Staffers when the Workshop transitioned to a volunteer-run activity. He served as the Workshop Director from 1977 to 1984, and briefly as the NASC’s Executive Director in the 1980s. Since 1986, Rick has been on the faculty of UNL’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications where he teaches broadcasting courses and manages the university’s radio station, 90.3 KRNU.
Rick is Learning & Development Leader at Malnove Packaging and Packaging Solutions, where he develops strategy for talent development, manages and designs training programs and delivers leadership development experiences. Rick lives in Omaha with his wife and two kids, where he trains for half marathons (he’s completed one full one marathon) and plays guitar (one half of Gravy.) With degrees from the University of Kansas and Drake University, Rick is a Lux Award winner, served as Workshop Director and Curriculum Director and created the first New Staff Selection committee.
Ryan is an Omaha native, where he lives with his wife and two daughters. After a brief stint in Colorado, Ryan returned to Omaha and works as a real estate inventor helping buy, sell and manage properties. Ryan joined Staff in 1992 and has a dozen of Workshops under his belt. He is a Sylvia Award winner and helped rejuvenate the Workshop recruitment process after the attendance numbers his a low-point in the mid-2000s with marketing and PR.
Sean lives in Omaha in his century-old farmhouse with his wife, Alexia, and daughter Audra. Sean works as a Senior Marketing Consultant for SalesForce where he guides digital marketing strategy for clients such as Toyota, PetSmart and Mattel. When he’s not at work, Sean enjoys cycling, craft beers and the baseball Cardinals. Sean has put in a decade’s worth of work as a co-op leader at Workshop and also chaired New Staff Selection.
Shannon is a case manager for Trustforte, where she manages a team of freelance writers. She currently lives in St. Louis with her two children, Lucy and Reid and keeps busy watching their sporting events. Shannon was a co-op leader for 11 Workshops and won the Lux Award.
Shelly was drawn to the political campaign life early and rose to be a seasoned national political organizer working in the District of Columbia and 16 different states on various campaigns, in three different State Legislatures and as the Director of Floor Operations for the last five Democratic National Conventions. Currently, as Vice President of Marketing for SRG Technology, Loos uses her creative skills to organize marketing initiatives highlighting K-12 education, training and engagement software solutions. She lives in Hollywood, Florida with her significant other, Dan and their dog, Wrigley Reynolds.
Grand Island native Susie is a one-time Jeopardy! contestant who lives in Omaha and teaches English at Marian High School. She served as the student board advisor for 14 years, in addition to her work as a department chair, on the school accreditation committee and as part of the student discipline board. Susie only staffed one Workshop, but has also served on the NASC and Volunteer Staff governing boards. She was the first recipient of the Annual Award for Outstanding Contribution.
Thad is a Lincoln native and now lives in Minneapolis with his wife, Kim, and their two children. After 17 years working in organizational effectiveness for Cargill, Thad recently joined Honeywell, where he is a Director of Organizational Development. With an undergrad degree from UNL and Master's in Business Administration and Master's in Organization Development from Bowling Green State University, Thad is a Lux Award winner who has 15 co-ops under his belt. He also was part of the group that launched ALW and also served as the evaluations chair and the Board vice-chair.
Tracy is an award-winning educator in her 23-year career with Omaha Public Schools. She is currently an assistant principal at Omaha Bryan, where she lives with her two children, Tamarrah and David. In her spare time, Tracy is active in her parish and volunteers with Methodist Hospice in Omaha. Tracy was named Teacher of the Year for the second congressional district and was invited to the White House to have tea with then-First Lady Hillary Clinton. She is a Sylvia Award winner and previously served as a skill track leader and the Dean of Women at Workshop.
Wendy has spent the last 23 years working in the insurance industry, most of the time spent with Nationwide Insurance recently completing her Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter designation. Wendy has spent the last 19 years living in Denver, where she resides with her husband and daughter who lives life out loud. In the Launch world, Wendy served as a curriculum coordinator for one year and helped develop the iconic icebreaker No Chairs to Spare. She also was given the Sylvia Award in 2002.