Staff

Officers

James C. Rahn

President
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James C. Rahn became president of The Kern Family Foundation in February 2008. In this role, he provides direction for the expansion and establishment of programs that support the Foundation mission to equip the rising generation of Americans to become tomorrow's leaders and innovators. He joined the Foundation in 2007 as the Education Reform program director.
 
Rahn’s diverse career has a common thread throughout: education entrepreneurship. He got his start teaching and serving as a principal in several Lutheran schools. In 1997, he moved to Milwaukee to serve as regional coordinator for the Wisconsin Lutheran High School conference.

In 1998, Rahn began to engage in the expanding school choice environment. He co-founded HOPE Christian Schools, Inc., which now operates five schools in Milwaukee. He accepted a professor position at Wisconsin Lutheran College, where he founded the WLC Center for Urban Teaching in 2001.

A few years later, Rahn co-founded Educational Enterprises, Inc., which strives to provide students with world-class learning opportunities. EEI operates HOPE Christian Schools, EAGLE College Prep Schools, and Compass Educational Programs.
 
He serves on the boards of the Acton Institute, the Charter School Growth Fund, Great Hearts America, Project Lead The Way, and several other organizations.

Education
B.S., Dr. Martin Luther College, New Ulm, MN
M.A., Concordia University, River Forest, IL

Affiliations
Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty - Director
American Enterprise Institute - National Council Member
Charter School Growth Fund, Inc. - Director
Compass Educational Partners, Inc. - Co-founder & Director
EAGLE South Mountain Charter, Inc - Director
EAGLE South Mountain Property, Inc. - Director
Educational Enterprises, Inc. - Director
Educational Enterprises Real Estate Holding Co., LLC - Director
Great Hearts America - Director
HOPE Christian Schools, Inc. - Co-founder & Director
Milwaukee School of Engineering - Regent 
Project Lead the Way - Director

Past Affiliations
Alliance for Choices in Education - Director
Center for Humanities, Art, and Religion in Society - Director
School Choice Demonstration Project - Senior Research Associate
Urban School Leadership Consortium - Member of Collaborative Council
WELS Forward with Lutheran Schools - Lead Consultant
WELS Parish Assistant - Associate Consultant

 

Michael Senske

Chief Financial Officer
Michael Senske joined The Kern Family Foundation in October 2005. He manages the asset allocation and investment process, consultant and investment manager relationships, and administrative duties. He also manages financial reporting, internal accounting, taxes, budgets, payroll, and benefits in accordance with Foundation policies, goals, and objectives.

Education
B.S. in Accountancy, Marquette University
Certified Public Accountant

Professional Experience
Controller, The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, 2000-2005
Tax Manager, Vogel Consulting Group, 1997-2000
Tax Accountant, Scribner, Cohen & Co., 1995-1997

Affiliations
Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
Foundation Financial Officers Group Member



Program Staff

Education Reform

Ryan S. Olson

Program Director and Team Leader
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Dr. Ryan Olson joined The Kern Family Foundation in June 2008 as program director and team leader for the K-12 Education Reform Program. In this role, he works closely with other senior staff in program planning, development, and strategy implementation to advance the Foundation's mission in education reform. His work involves identifying and vetting new investment opportunities, analyzing the strategy of current and potential grantee organizations, evaluating performance, and working closely with executives to connect their operations with the Foundation's values and donor intent. Olson was director of Education Policy for three years at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland, Mich., and developed a passion for education reform while teaching first-year undergraduates. He earned a doctorate in classical languages and literature from the University of Oxford, and is the author of current and forthcoming works in ancient history, classics, and education published by Oxford University Press, Harvard University Press, and Brill. He is a Fellow in Late Antiquity at the Center for Hellenic Studies at Harvard University.

Education
D.Phil., Classical Languages and Literature, University of Oxford
M.St., Oriental Studies, University of Oxford
M.A., Theology, Durham University
Diploma in Christian Studies, Regent College
B.A., Theology, North Park University

Affiliations
Harvard University, Center for Hellenic Studies - Fellow

 

Tammy Hammell

Program Director
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Tammy Hammell joined The Kern Family Foundation in January 2014 as program director for the K-12 Education Reform Program. In her role, Hammell supports program planning, development, implementation, assessment, and evaluation strategies dedicated to restoring character development and technical aptitude to the nation’s education institutions. Hammell works with a team of innovative partners to foster the development of collaborative networks of grantees and other, allied organizations. 

Prior to joining the Foundation, Hammell worked as the regional vice president for Knowledge Universe, a leading global education organization that provides a network of more than 3,700 locations worldwide. Her passion for providing quality experiences in childhood education is distinct, and led to the achievement of 86 percent national accreditation in her region. During her tenure in the early education field, Hammell was a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. She has also been a member of the Waukesha County Technical College childcare advisory committee for the past 15 years, and served on Gov. Doyle’s Quality Counts for Kids task force. 

Education
B.S., Human Services, Upper Iowa University

Professional Experience
Knowledge Universe, Regional Vice President

 

Kelly Sweeney

Program Associate
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Kelly Sweeney, a born and bred Wisconsin native, joined The Kern Family Foundation in August, 2013. Sweeney studied marketing and education for a period at Saint Louis University before spending time in Spain honing her Spanish skills. Upon graduation in 2009, she served as an inaugural Teach For America Milwaukee corps member. After a few years teaching five year-olds, Sweeney decided to mix things up and work with adults at Leo Burnett, a long-standing advertising firm based in Chicago. Today, she works as an Education Reform Associate in efforts to improve K-12 education in communities across the country.

Education
B.A. in Communications and Education, Saint Louis University

Professional Experience
Milwaukee Corp Member – Teach For America
Response Management Analyst – Leo Burnett

 

Rose Grider

Program Assistant
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Rose Grider joined The Kern Family Foundation in June 2014 as the program assistant to the K12 Education Program. Grider’s responsibilities range from administrative tasks to overseeing the grant management process for the program.

Grider enjoys all aspects of journalism, and values the skills she developed through a number of diverse educational experiences. As part of her degree program at the University of Missouri-Columbia, she worked at a magazine in Brussels, Belgium, an advertising agency in Milwaukee, and a renewable energy organization in Missouri. Most recently, Grider taught at the elementary level in Milwaukee as a Teach For America corps member. 

Grider is thrilled to continue her dedication to education as part of the K12 Education Program team. She currently resides in Bay View, Wis.

Education
B.A., University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, Mo.
M.A., Alverno College, Milwaukee, Wis.

Professional Experience
Corps Member, Teach For America, 2012-2014
Communication and Outreach Coordinator, Renew Missouri, 2011-2012
Account Planner and New Business Strategist, Laughlin Constable, 2011
Marketing Manager and Editorial Contributor, Together Magazine, 2011

 

 

Faith, Work, and Economics

Kyle Bode

Program Director and Team Leader
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Kyle Bode is program director and team leader for the Faith, Work, and Economics Program. Bode works with other senior staff to plan, develop, and implement grant strategies that strengthen the understanding of the intersection of faith, work, and economics, and how it applies to the work of pastors and the life of the church. He joined the Foundation in 2008, and served as a program associate and program director of Theological Education Initiatives.

Education
B.A. in American History and English, Wisconsin Lutheran College
M.A. in Modern American History, Marquette University

Professional Experience
Research Assistant, Marquette University, 2007-2008

 

Greg Forster

Program Director
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Greg Forster is a program director for the Faith, Work, and Economics Program. He directs the Oikonomia Network, a national learning community of evangelical seminaries committed to equipping pastors with a theological understanding of faith, work, and economics, and how they relate to the pastoral calling. In addition to his duties at the Foundation, he is the editor of Hang Together, a group blog on religion, politics, and national identity; a senior fellow at the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice; the author of six books and numerous articles in both academic and popular publications; and a regular contributor to The Gospel Coalition, First Thoughts, and Jay P. Greene's Blog. His writing covers theology, economics, political philosophy, and education policy. He received a doctorate with distinction in political philosophy from Yale University.

Education
Ph.D. with Distinction in Political Science, Yale University, 2002
M.A. in Political Science, Yale University, 2002
B.A. summa cum laude in Political and Social Thought in Rhetoric and Communications Studies, University of Virginia, 1995

Professional Experience
Director of Research, Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, 2005-2008
Senior Research Associate, Manhattan Institute, 2002-2005

Affiliations
Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice - Senior Fellow

Books
Joy for the World, Crossway Books, 2014
The Joy of Calvinism, Crossway Books, 2012
Freedom and School Choice in American Education (ed. with C. Bradley Thompson), Palgrave Macmillan, 2011
Starting with Locke, Continuum Press, 2011
The Contested Public Square: The Crisis of Christianity and Politics, InterVarsity Press, 2008
Education Myths (with Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters), Rowman & Littlefield, 2005
John Locke's Politics of Moral Consensus, Cambridge University Press, 2005

 

Fred Oaks

Program Director
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Fred Oaks came to The Kern Family Foundation in May 2005. He directs a division of the Faith, Work, and Economics Program called Made to Flourish, which is dedicated to growing the numbers and influence of pastors and churches actively integrating faith, work, and economics for ministry that produces human flourishing. By God's grace, Kern Pastors are becoming in increasing measure pastors who are spiritually whole, relationally healthy, pastorally prepared, and culturally engaged. The network is related to the Kern Scholars Initiative through which the Foundation provides grants to eight evangelical seminaries in support of scholarships awarded to Master of Divinity students called to pastor or plant U.S. congregations. Oaks advises on all aspects of the development, implementation, and evaluation of the Foundation’s initiatives related to pastoral ministry.

Education
Bachelor of Arts, Augustana College Rock Island, Ill.
Master of Divinity, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary

Professional Experience
Pastor serving congregations in rural, urban, and suburban contexts as associate pastor, solo pastor, and lead pastor of multiple staff, 1981-2005
Consultant with the Indianapolis Center for Congregations www.centerforcongregations.org, 1998-2005
Author of several articles on pastoral leadership published in Congregations, Leadership Journal, and Upper Room Disciplines
Author of Welcome, Pastor!: Building a Productive Pastor-Congregation Partnership in 40 Days (FaithWalk Publishing, 2005)

Affiliations
Green Lake Conference Center - Director
Christians for Biblical Equality - Member
Religious Research Association - Member
Society for the Scientific Study of Religion - Member
Society of Biblical Literature - Member

 

Ben Stafford

Program Associate
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Ben Stafford joined The Kern Family Foundation in 2014. He supports the Faith, Work, and Economics team as they grow and strengthen initiatives that equip pastors to integrate these critical elements into their ministries.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Stafford served for three years as the director of short-term ministries at Training Leaders International. He was director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education from 2008-2011.

Education
B.A., in Economics, Hillsdale College

 

Elisabeth Mackett

Program Assistant
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Elisabeth Mackett joined The Kern Family Foundation in August 2014 as the program assistant to the Faith, Work, and Economics program. Her responsibilities include administrative tasks, event planning, and assisting with the grant management process.

Mackett is married to John and has been a pastor’s wife for 27 years in the Milwaukee area. She has two grown sons.

Education

B.A., University of Colorado – Boulder

Professional Experience

IT (system software, help desk. programmer/designer), GE Healthcare
Office administrator, DBA and IT support, Special Children Adoption Agency
Substitute teacher and preschool teacher, various schools

 

KEEN

Steve Hasbrook

Program Director and Team Leader
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Steve Hasbrook joined The Kern Family Foundation in September 2013. He serves as a program director and team leader of the KEEN Program, bringing extensive senior management experience in non-profit and for-profit organizations. Prior to working at the Foundation, Hasbrook developed expertise in strategy development, program implementation, and team building at the Brady Corporation, a $1.3 billion global manufacturer based in Milwaukee, Wis. Hasbrook held a variety of management positions in a number of different functional areas including operations, sales, marketing, communications, IT, and HR over the course of his career. His most recent position, director of sustainability, included responsibility for the Brady Corporation Foundation's global giving and volunteering programs, in addition to the company’s environmental stewardship. In 2001, Hasbrook and his wife, Kristin, created the Porcupine Foundation in memory of their son, Shane, who died unexpectedly in 1998. To date, the family has granted over $500,000 for children’s causes.

Hasbrook was instrumental in Brady receiving Virchow Krause’s inaugural eBusiness Manufacturer of the Year Award (2000), and has received both the YMCA Key Leader Award (2001) and the Brady Corp. Presidents Value Award (2000, 2005, 2006, 2011).

Education
BBA, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Executive MBA, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

Professional Experience
The Porcupine Foundation, Inc. – President
Brady Corporation – Director of Sustainability; eBusiness; eCommerce; Foundation Board Member

Affiliations
Board Member, Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council
MAPI Sustainability Council
International Society of Sustainability Professionals
Green Business Executive Network
Board Member, Donors Forum of Wisconsin
Board Member, I Have a Dream Foundation - Milwaukee

 

Doug Melton

Program Director
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Dr. Douglas Melton is passionate about developing a future for engineering education that fosters an entrepreneurial mindset in students. In his current role as the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network (KEEN) program director for The Kern Family Foundation, he has an opportunity to work with universities that share that vision. He enjoys interaction with faculty and students and the challenge of relating technical topics in a live and relevant manner and served as a faculty member for seventeen years within the department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Kettering University in Flint, Mich. At Kettering, he served as the program director for Entrepreneurship Across the University. Prior to his roles as a faculty member, Melton worked as the director of research and development at Digisonix Incorporated. His team created adaptive, multi-channel system identification, signal processing and control strategies. The active sound and vibration control products and projects he managed ranged from DSP development tools to production DSP systems for OEM products. The work combined business, technical, educational aspects and contributed to his current work in engineering education. Melton joined The Kern Family Foundation in 2012 as program director for KEEN. The program is aimed at developing future generations of entrepreneurially minded engineers by investing in educational initiatives and programs at select institutions of higher learning.

Education
Ph. D., University of Wisconsin-Madison in Electrical Engineering
M.S., Ohio State University in Electrical Engineering
B.S.E.E., Wichita State University

Professional Experience
Director of Research and Development, Digisonix Inc.

 

Karen Wilken

Program Director
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Karen Wilken joined The Kern Family Foundation in September 2002 as the first program staff member. Working with the Kern family, Wilken was responsible for the development of strategic initiatives, and was involved in the selection of the initial Kern Scholars and the establishment of the Kern Scholars retreat as a key networking event. At the same time, she originated grants to engineering colleges that eventually catalyzed both the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network and the partnership with Project Lead the Way. Beginning in 2004, Wilken focused on the PLTW partnership in order to build a leadership and school implementation network in a four-state region. The network has grown to more than 520 middle and high schools with aligned university, agency, and community partners. Wilken now focuses on streamlining processes within KEEN, growing the strength and influence of the Network, and building effective models to scale its impact. 

Prior to joining The Kern Family Foundation, Wilken enjoyed a long career in fundraising for organizations in both Texas and Wisconsin, including the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Medical College of Wisconsin and the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee. She was honored in 2008 as a "Woman of Influence" by the Milwaukee Business Journal.

Education
Bachelor of Arts, Economics and Business Management, Ripon College, Ripon, Wis.
Master of Business Administration, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas
Master of Arts, Non-Profit Management, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas

Affiliations
Donor's Forum of Wisconsin - Board Member
American Society of Engineering Education - Member

 

Communications

Michael Jahr

Director of Communications
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Michael Jahr joined The Kern Family Foundation as the director of communications in August 2012. In this role, Jahr crafts and implements targeted communications strategies, oversees the creation and dissemination of content, and manages social media and digital communications. He works closely with program staff, grantees, and partners to effectively communicate the guiding principles, vision, and ongoing work of the Foundation's initiatives.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Jahr served as vice president for Communications at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland, Mich. From 1995 to 2005 he served as the communications director and press secretary for a U.S. congressman in Washington, D.C.

Jahr has worked for a variety of media outlets, including National Geographic, The Ann Arbor News, and Compass Newswire. His work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, The Detroit News, and numerous other outlets.

Education
B.S. in Journalism, Eastern Michigan University

 

Jean-Marc Le Doux

Creative Director
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Jean-Marc Le Doux lives to present good ideas well.

As an award-winning independent filmmaker, he brings to the Foundation a desire not only to simply communicate good ideas, but to effectively and artistically weave stories that captivate hearts and minds. To that end, it is his desire to tell the Foundation’s stories well, and to share its great ideas with the rising generation of Americans.

Le Doux works closely with the communications director and program directors to effectively develop and tailor the Foundation’s creative content to a variety of audiences. Prior to joining the team in February 2014, Le Doux worked with various clients and brands as a freelance writer, producer, and director.

Education
B.A. in Business, concentration in Film and Media, The University of New Hampshire

 

Jessica Zambo

Video Producer/Editor
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Jessica Zambo joined The Kern Family Foundation as video producer and editor in January 2013. Zambo brings extensive video experience to the Foundation, having worked for her family video production company from an early age. Her experience ranges from set decoration and camera work to editing and directing, including serving as assistant director and co-producer for a full-length feature film.

Education
B.A. Communications, Wisconsin Lutheran College



Operations/Administration

Donna Gunther

Office Manager
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Donna Gunther joined The Kern Family Foundation in April 2007 as an administrative assistant. She manages the office and provides administrative support to the president and CFO.

 

Clement Mariaselvanayagam

Grants and Network Administrator

Clement Mariaselvanayagam joined The Kern Family Foundation in July 2010. He handles all grant and network administration.

Education
BSc in Applied Physics, York University, Toronto, Ontario

Professional Experience
Network Administrator, The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, 2006-2010
Systems Analyst, Compuware Corporation, 1999-2006