Our Team

Board of Directors

Leah Jacobson

CEO & Founder

Hailing from central Minnesota, Leah has been working with young people and mothers since 2000. Leah founded The Guiding Star Project in 2011 after feeling called to help women and families by providing resources that honor Natural Law and promote wholistic feminism. She seeks to create Guiding Star Centers to serve as beacons of hope, joy, and truth — safe havens that uphold human dignity in all stages of life. Leah lives in Minnesota with her family and works as a board-certified lactation consultant. As a mother to seven children, she has a special interest in supporting young women as they transition into their roles as new mothers.

Jamie Rathjen

Board Chair    

Jamie currently serves as the Board Chairwoman of The Guiding Star Project and is a Fertility Care Practitioner and founder & former director of Guiding Star Cedar Valley. Jamie is a co-host of The Hormone Genius Podcast and is also very passionate about her business FiatLiving where she shares natural ways to amplify the feminine genius and support the body’s hormones. She is a wife and mother of four who resides in Cedar Falls, IA. 

 

Sam Rodriguez

Board Vice Chair    

Sam Rodriguez is Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer for Ontologix, a tech start-up that specializes in computer based pattern recognition, actively focused in medical diagnostics. He graduated from Middleburry College with a BA in History and from Washington University in St. Louis with a Juris Doctor. In the diocese of Memphis, he’s been involved in a variety of Evangelization and Discipleship activities, especially Men’s Ministry. Sam is also co-host for the Catholic Cafe podcast, which airs on EWTN Radio, Relevant Radio, and nearly a thousand other outlets worldwide. 

Patricia de Lara Smith

Treasurer

Patricia de Lara Smith is a Life Science Engagement Manager at the consulting firm, a-connect. Her expertise is in new technology or program value chain analysis and customer experience. She brings a highly international background, having worked with different teams based in 29 countries. As an independent professional, she consulted for the International Institute for Restorative Reproductive Medicine, and she wrote her MSc dissertation on fecundity awareness, contraceptive choices, and (un)informed decision-making, at The London School of Economics & Political Science.

Mary Ferrarelli

Secretary                                                       Mary Ferrarelli is the Director of Adult Services for Visitation Home, Inc., a non-profit in Central New Jersey that provides day programming and low-income housing for adults with developmental disabilities.  After being introduced to Visitation Home during a summer internship with the Center for FaithJustice during college, Mary decided to do a year of service after college, where she was a live-in assistant in one of Visitation Home’s homes. Quickly realizing she had found her dream job, Mary lived at Visitation Home as a “house mom” for nine years and has worked in the day program and then as an assistant director and now director over the last 7 years.  Hailing from Ohio and graduating from the University of Dayton with her B.A. in Religious Studies, Mary has called New Jersey home for the last 9 years.  Mary and her husband Joseph have been married for two years and are excited for what the future brings.

Elizabeth Marcolini

Board Member at Large                                    

Elizabeth Marcolini is the Associate Director of Advancement for the Labouré Society. In the 2012 and 2016 presidential races, Elizabeth served as a strategist, surrogate speaker, and major donor liaison for Senator Rick Santorum. She was featured on major news outlets, such as CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. She was named on Red Alert Politics ’30 Under 30’ List. In 2014, she co-authored a New York Times Best Seller book about the life of her sister with special needs, entitled Bella’s Gift. Elizabeth holds a Masters in Theological Studies from the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Dallas. Elizabeth met her husband, Matt, when studying abroad in Ireland. They reside in Northern Virginia with their dog, Teddy. 

Teresa Kenney

Board Member at Large 

Teresa Kenney is a women’s health nurse practitioner who has been practicing at Saint Paul VI Institute for 20 years. She was born and raised in Omaha, NE and went to the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing where she received a nurse practitioner degree. She is a certified medical consultant practicing the new reproductive health science developed by Dr. Thomas Hilgers called NaproTechnology. Teresa has been publishing a newsletter online since 2008, called Fertility Care for Young Women. She is a member of the American Academy of Fertility Care professionals and previously taught the Creighton Model Fertility System as a fertility care practitioner for 7 years. Teresa and her husband Daniel have been married for 20 years and have eight children. 

Sharon Perkins

Board Member at Large

Sharon Kapavik Perkins, a Texas native, grew up in a large farming family. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Theology from the University of Dallas and is a doctoral candidate in Theology from the University of Dayton pending her dissertation completion. For over 40 years she has also worked professionally in the ministries of adult and children’s faith formation and as a speaker, course instructor, spiritual director, retreat leader and award-winning writer in the Catholic dioceses of Dallas, Fort Worth, Cincinnati and Austin. A recent Director of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Diocese of Austin, Sharon currently lives in North Texas with her husband of 43 years (Mike) with whom she has three grown children and one grandson.

 

Mark Cavaliere

Board Member at Large

Mark Cavaliere is the Founder and Executive Director of the Southwest Coalition for Life based in the Borderland region of El Paso, Texas & Southern New Mexico. Mark has led thousands to action through 40 Days for Life, developed innovative sidewalk outreach programs, launched a Save the Storks Medical Ultrasound Bus, and has witnessed 3 local abortion facilities close in just over 3 years. Mark credits this success largely to God working through their partnership with Guiding Star El Paso, which he helped launch as a board member in 2017.
 
His experiences with his wife and cesarean section, miscarriages, and homebirths — as well as his countless interactions with women considering and harmed by abortion — have made Mark extremely passionate about wholistic women’s healthcare as the ultimate solution to many of the symptoms we face as a culture. Mark is frequently asked to train pro-life groups across the country and resides in Chaparral, New Mexico, with his wife, five children, and numerous chickens and goats.

Connor Smith

Board Member at Large

Connor is a Business Intelligence Consultant at SDG. He empowers pharmaceutical companies by building their data architecture, enabling them to make data-driven decisions. His specialties include automating data pipelines, data modeling, and dashboard visualizations. Inspired by Pope Saint John Paul the Second’s Theology of the Body, he strives to place the wholistic person at the center of healthcare. Connor has been a speaker on several Theology of the Body podcasts and is active in family life ministry.

Mark Severson

Board Member at Large

Mark A. Severson is a shareholder attorney in Severson Porter Law, P.A. He is an MSBA Certified Specialist in Real Property Law and has been selected multiple times as a Rising Star on Super Lawyers, a designation earned by no more than 2.5% of attorneys in each state.  He practices primarily in the areas of Real Estate, Business Law, and Estate Planning. 

Mark obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio and received his Juris Doctorate from the University of St. Thomas School of Law. Mark has three siblings and three siblings-in-law who also all graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Mark and his wife, Mallory, have six children. When Mark is not a lawyer or working with various non-profits, he spends his time with his family, including multiple godchildren, nieces, and nephews.

Lisa Strei

Board Member at Large

Lisa Strei is a Team Development Coach with over 13 years of experience in coaching and corporate training. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree and Masters of Business Administration from Iowa State University, as well as her Life Coaching Certification. Prior to forming her own company, Lisa had a 10+ year career with a Fortune 50 company in the Insurance and Financial Services industry, where she specialized in the training and coaching of agents on new products, technology, and processes, while earning her Certified Life Underwriter (CLU) and Life Insurance Training Council Fellow (LUTCF) designations. She is an Authorized Partner with Everything DiSC® and The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™, as well as the founder of The Balanced Life Project. Lisa lives in Cedar Falls, IA, with her husband Mike, four busy children, and mini goldendoodle. She loves yoga, self-development, journaling, coffee, and watching home-improvement shows (although she’s not handy whatsoever).

Staff

Lisa Strei

President

Lisa Strei is a Team Development Coach with over 13 years of experience in coaching and corporate training. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree and Masters of Business Administration from Iowa State University, as well as her Life Coaching Certification. Prior to forming her own company, Lisa had a 10+ year career with a Fortune 50 company in the Insurance and Financial Services industry, where she specialized in the training and coaching of agents on new products, technology, and processes, while earning her Certified Life Underwriter (CLU) and Life Insurance Training Council Fellow (LUTCF) designations. She is an Authorized Partner with Everything DiSC® and The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™, as well as the founder of The Balanced Life Project. Lisa lives in Cedar Falls, IA, with her husband Mike, four busy children, and mini goldendoodle. She loves yoga, self-development, journaling, coffee, and watching home-improvement shows (although she’s not handy whatsoever).

Kari Beadner

National Cycle Show Coordinator                  

Kari Beadner is the Guiding Star Cycle Show National Coordinator. She and her husband Aaron have 3 living children and call Orange City, IA home. Kari is a certified FertilityCare Practitioner and has been teaching the Creighton Model FertilityCare System since 2012. She became a Certified Labor Doula in 2015. Since 2016 Kari has been the Executive Director of Guiding Star Orange City. Kari is passionate about teaching women of all ages about how their bodies work and function naturally while providing all of their options for Natural, Wholistic, Life-affirming health care.

English English Español Español
Scroll to Top