Board of Directors

active board of directors:


Terri-Joski Lang, Board Chair

Terri has been a supporter of Spark-Y since our Founder’s conceptual idea to supporting the organization through event participation,  encouraging her children to participate in the internship programs, and awarding grants through her company’s Foundation.  Currently she is the Board Chair serving on the Executive Committee.  She has a passion for sustainability going back to the early stages, of “Earth Day,” the catalyst for clean environmental awareness and action globally.

Terri is VP of Bromelkamp Company, a leading provider of installed and online grants management software solutions. Prior to that she was an Operations Leader at Grainger, which included the opportunity to work with the Grainger Foundation and impact non-profits in the local community. Previously she has held leadership roles at Thomson Reuters,, ASSE International and Menttium.   She brings valuable cultural and diversity experience to Spark-Y from living and working in France, her world travels, experience as Regional Director for ASSE International, a nonprofit student exchange organization and hosting eight exchange students from a variety of countries.  Terri is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a BA in Journalism/Advertising.  She has been a supporter of youth and education programs through volunteerism for many years.

Terri is truly excited about engaging our youth and community in utilizing our resources in more sustainable ways.  She loves how our programs spark the learning within our youth and how it spreads to create impact within our communities.  That is the change she wants to be part of sustaining.


Mark philion, innovation chair

Deep down inside me there is still a guy that wants to go out and plant trees to save the world. That’s why I joined Spark-Y; Spark-Y is committed to saving the world, one hydroponic microgreen and one young adult at a time. When you meet us, you will understand.

I was forged as a Combat Infantry Marine. I believe in adapting quickly to a situation and adopting best of breed practices in order to serve my stakeholders. My civilian career path has lead me though industries as both practitioner and leader in sales, operations, and marketing. In the business world, I am a leader of Strategic Business Development, Corporate Strategy and Corporate Portfolio Strategy.

I am involved with the Spark-Y Innovation committee where we are driving the path forward on how to increase the deliverables of Spark-Y in both saleable product and public outreach.

I met Zach through being students of Aikido, a modern martial art that synthesizes many others. “Ai”-“Ki”-“Do” translates as the “way of combining forces”. This philosophy is helping me to become a better business leader, professional downhill ski instructor, father, husband, human, and Spark-Y supporter.


seth foley, board treasurer

Mary helen mchugh franze, founder

Mary Helen McHugh Franze is the founder of Spark-Y, originally named YEA Corps.  She was the Executive Director during the first years, and now serves as a board member and on the Innovation committee.  Mary Helen has an exuberant passion for Spark-Y’s mission.  She is a creator, innovative visionary, lover of nature and youth, and an inspiring motivator.  She is a lifelong advocate for youth and the environment, lobbying the California and Minnesota legislatures on their behalf.  

Mary Helen has held leadership positions with Thomson Reuters and  She also worked at Merrill Corporation in their marketing and sales divisions.  She is the owner of ConneXions, LLC, a business development consulting firm.  Mary Helen’s greatest pride and joy is her son, JP Franze, whom recently graduated cum laude, from the University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business and is working at LinkedIN.  

Mary Helen enjoys creative writing and is a published author.  She is very active and loves outdoor recreation…look for her biking the Minneapolis Lakes and Greenway bike trails from March-December (and possibly January and February)!  MH’s hope for Spark-Y’s future is to sustain for decades and beyond.



tamara will, board secretary

Tamara began her volunteer work at age 15 as a member of Youth ARC, an organization serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  At age 23 she founded Paradigm, a non-profit designed to assist that same population with community-based work placement and support.  Since then, she has worked with a variety of boards to help them develop solid guiding principles and form pragmatic action plans.

A career business woman, Tamara works primarily in the areas of strategic planning, marketing, project leadership and process analysis.  She recently earned her certification as a sustainability strategist and now uses her knowledge and experience to help organizations develop and implement strategies that build economic growth while addressing the needs of their employees, their community, and the environment.

Spark-Y is a natural fit for Tamara, who is passionate about youth empowerment and environmental issues.  She loves the collaborative character among board members and between board members and staff and is impressed with the industrious, creative, and forward-thinking Spark-Y staff.

Tamara joined Spark-Y in 2016 and currently serves as secretary and as such is part of the executive committee where she helps to ensure the financial health of the organization, assess the performance of sub-committees and ensure continuity of policies and practices.

"It's an absolute delight to witness the impact the Spark-Y staff has on these students.  They will undoubtedly use their experience here to make the world a better place."



Katherine Syverson, Board Member

Lifelong learner and teacher, curious, tenacious, committed and takes others along the journey of leadership.  Grew up in southwest Minnesota, hardworking, family farm, one of seven children raised with sustainable agriculture.  Fast forward, 38 years in manufacturing, 31 years of them with John Deere, 20 in Safety and Environmental sustainability.  Committed to giving back to the community both personally and professionally; examples include: 20 years volunteering with BSA, manufacturing networks, and board of director opportunities with Hennepin Technical and 25 years coaching and mentoring. 

I became connected to Spark-Y as part of Lube-Tech’s grant program, participating on the grant selection team and providing ongoing support of Spark-Y as a grantee.  Since my life passion matched so perfectly with the Spark-Y's core values and commitment to empowering youth in our community, I was honored to asked to join the board in July of 2017.  I look forward to sharing my talents and experience with the team and organization.



Jeannine Peterson, board Vice chair

Original board members

Contributors to the original Board of Directors:
Tammie Follett
Mary Helen McHugh Franze
Emma Robinson
Zach Robinson
Kris Sibik

notable contributors:

Ayan Hargrove
Tanya Kellar, former Vice Chair
Kirk K. Marschel
Ben Russell, former Board Member
Will Scully, Videography
Curtis Wilson