Our Team

Board of Directors

Mark Severson

acting board chair

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 as well as received his Juris Doctorate from the University of St. Thomas School of Law. When Mark is not a lawyer or working with various non-profits, he spends his time wife, Mallory and six children as well as multiple godchildren, nieces, and nephews.

Patricia de Lara Smith


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


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

Conner 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.

Teresa Kenney, WHNP

Board member at large

Teresa Kenney is a woman’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 FertilityCare 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.

Chris Zubiate

Board member at large

Dr. Christopher Zubiate brings a wealth of professional experience, knowledge, and energy to health policy, administration and practice. His professional background in healthcare administration and clinical social work informs his practice, research and program development. As an executive and founder of successful social and healthcare enterprises, he believes that quality care is achieved when a values-driven team embraces evidenced-based models of care. For over 20 years, he has been singularly focused on bringing social & economic value to one of California’s most disenfranchised and unhealthy populations—individuals with persistent mental illness. By actively promoting community integration, he has created some of the most innovative treatment solutions for people that are typically homeless, incarcerated or institutionalized. He has chaired administrative bodies, presented at conferences, and consulted on competent research design & services in ethnic communities. He currently serves as a board member for several healthcare groups as well as volunteers for Catholic organizations.

Jason Coon

Board member at large

I spent most of my career working for an insurance carrier solving problems. Understanding what someone is going through and translating how the services of that organization can help is what I did for many years. retired from the corporate world after 23 wonderful years to look for other opportunities to help others. I found that in the health and benefits space inside the religious sector. I discovered that the needs and challenges facing religious organizations in today’s legal, cultural, and political times were critically in need of problem solving. It takes conviction, courage, compassion, and faith to step into this arena to solve big problems. Today, I work to translate vital faith based benefits, teachings, and culture to the insurance world and help to transform the health plan experience to one more authentically rich in faith and medical journey. Working against the status quo and the standardization of health plans, I’ve insured that religious employers and their employees can live their faith with greater authenticity.

Arina Grossu

Board member at large

Arina O. Grossu is Founder and Principal at Areté Global Consulting where she works with national and state organizations focusing on strategic messaging, policy, partnerships, and corporate growth. During the Trump Administration, she worked as a Senior Communications Advisor at the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services in the Office for Civil Rights, protecting conscience and religious freedom in healthcare. She is the former Director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council where she was a spokeswoman and policymaker on life and human dignity issues. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a B.A. in Philosophy. She earned her M.S. in Bioethics from the University of Mary and an M.A. in Theology, magna cum laude, from the Dominican House of Studies. She is also certified in Health Care Ethics through the National Catholic Bioethics Center and is currently working on a Ph.D. in Bioethics from Regina Apostolorum. She is also a Fellow with Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. In addition to helping businesses and organizations strategize and grow, her writing and research focuses on the protection of human dignity, human rights, and the sanctity of human life from fertilization to natural death.

National Project Staff

Leah Jacobson

CEO + Founder

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 true feminism, one that aligns with the natural biological realities of the female body—a 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 husband and their children where she works as a board-certified lactation consultant. She is also the author of Wholistic Feminism: Healing the Identity Crisis Caused by the Women’s Movement, and public speaker at many conferences. As a mother to seven children, she has a special interest in supporting young women as they transition into their roles as new mothers.

Lisa Canning


Lisa Canning is a mother of eleven who defies all stereotypes regarding children being an impediment to goals and dreams. She is a mindset coach and author of the book The Possibility Mom: How to be a Great Mom and Pursue Your Dreams at the Same Time as well as worked for HGTV in roles both in front of and behind camera. Lisa believes in a society that embraces children and motherhood allowing women to thrive in the home while still be able to contribute their vital gifts to society.

Lisa Strei

Chief operating officer

Lisa 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, Iowa with husband Mike, four busy children, and a mini golden doodle. She is passionate about self-development, journaling, coffee, and watching home-improvement shows (although she is not handy whatsoever)!

Sarah Ward

Senior Graphic Designer

Sarah Ward, her husband and their three children call Michigan home. She has been a licensed massage therapist since 2007 as well as has bachelor of arts with a focus in graphic design and a minor in photography. She has been self-employed since 2007 and run both successful massage therapy and graphic design businesses. She has been a contracted graphic designer with Guiding Star since 2017. She accepted the position of VP of Worldview in July 2022 and then become the Senior Graphic Designer in July 2023. She greatly enjoys using her creative gifts and being a more integral part of the team. She has always been passionate about wholistic women’s healthcare and empowering girls and women through the education of their natural bodily functions, she looks forward to helping grow and share the mission of Guiding Star with the world.

Angela Reimer

Executive assistant

Bio coming soon!

Kari Beadner

national cycle show coordinator

Kari Beadner is the Guiding Star Cycle Show National Coordinator. She and her husband Aaron have three living children and call Orange City, IA home. Kari is a certified FertilityCare© Practitioner and 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, and life-affirming healthcare.
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