Our Volunteer Board...
The Smiles for Jake organization has a working board of directors who volunteer their time to further the mission of spreading hope. They do this in many ways but primarily through event organization, fund development, community advocacy, and listening hearts.
Thank you, to the following individuals for volunteering to serve on the Smiles for Jake Board of Directors:
- Mike Bjerkness
- Eryk Haapajoki, Vice Chair
- Kaytlin Hart
- Ryan Hart
- Courtney DeChaine
- Dawn Meierding
- Derek Owen
- Jennifer Podsiadly
- Brendan Shane
- Karen Skarolid
- Mikayla Skarolid, Secretary
- Troy Skarolid
- Greg Springer, Treasurer
- Sarah Smith, Executive Director
- Kristi Westbrock, Board Chair
If you’re interested in serving on the board or volunteering in other ways, please contact Kristi Westbrock.
Meet our Board!
Mike Bjerkness has been on the board since the beginning of Smiles for Jake. He is the Workforce Director at Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation. Mike is inspired to be kind because he realizes that simple kind gestures can make everyone’s day a little brighter.
Eryk Haapajoki has been a board member since the beginning and is one of the creators of the organization. He serves as the Vice Chair of Smiles for Jake. He is the Director of Sales at CTC. He is active in the community and in the coordination of Lakes Jam. Making people smile is how Eryk is inspired to be kind.
Kaytlin Hart has been serving as a board member for 2 years. Kaitlin is a controller/office manager with Dondelinger Automotive. Kaytlin received the Ripple Maker Award in 2022 from The Brainerd Lakes Area Women’s Fund for her positive work and support with Smiles for Jake. She is inspired to be kind because of her understanding that you never know what someone is going through, so you should be kind always.
Ryan Hart has been a board member for 3 years. Ryan is the Pre-Construction Manager at Nor-Son Custom Builders. Ryan is inspired to be kind because he appreciates seeing a positive change in the people around him.
Courtney DeChaine is new to the Smiles for Jake board this year. She is Jake’s sister and has been involved with Smiles for Jake since the beginning. Courtney wants to spread the message of kindness in everything she does. She hopes to make a difference one person at a time.
Dawn Meierding has been serving on the board since the inception of Smiles for Jake. She works in sales at GLS Promotions. Dawn plays a large role in the merchandise and promotional side of Smiles For Jake. She is inspired to be kind by the realization that no one is perfect, but we are all alike and want to love and be loved; small gestures can make a big difference.
Derek Owen has been a board member for 2.5 years. He serves as the General Manager of the Northern Pacific Center and is very active in the Brainerd Lakes Area community. He finds inspiration to be kind simply by being around people, seeing smiles, and making people laugh.
Jennifer Podsiadly has been a board member for 2.5 years. She serves as the representative of the partnership between Smiles for Jake and Cuyuna Regional Medical Center. She is the Charitable Fund and Community Relations Coordinator at CRMC. She oversees writing for any grant funding that Smiles for Jake receives. She finds inspiration to be kind in gratitude and love for others, as well as the hope that she can help others in need.
Brendan Shane has been a board member for 2 years. He is the Director of Behavioral Health at Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Karen Skarolid has been a board member since the beginning of Smiles for Jake. She is the General Operations Manager at Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity. Karen is inspired by kindness in simple things, like a smile, listening ear, a hello, or the smallest act of caring.
Mikayla Skarolid has been a board member since the beginning of Smiles for Jake and serves as the board Secretary. Mikayla is the Executive and HR partner at CTC. Setting a good example for her children is very important to her and is inspired to be kind when she sees them being kind to others without being asked.
Troy Skarolid has been on the board since the start of Smiles for Jake. He is an Engineering Specialist at MN/DOT. He is inspired to be kind by seeing peoples smiles and enjoyment at events and knowing he has an active part in those experiences.
Greg Springer has been a board member for 3 years and serves as the Treasurer of Smiles for Jake. He is the Chief Financial Officer at CTC. He finds inspiration to be kind in simple acts, hoping that they will inspire those receiving them to pass the kindness forward.
Sarah Smith joined the Smiles for Jake team in May of 2023 as Executive Director. With over 13 years of non-profit experience, she brings a wealth of knowledge to help engage, lead and inspire others to be kind every day! She come to the team with a humble heart and a passion to grow Smiles for Jake. Kindness, and gratitude is what drives her each day to make this world a better place.
Kristi Westbrock has been with Smiles for Jake since its inception in 2019 and is one of the creators of the movement. She serves as the Board Chair and is greatly involved in every aspect of Smiles for Jake. In her professional life, she serves as the CEO at CTC. Kristi shows her appreciation and respect for those around her by showing kindness. “The idea that one act of kindness could change someone’s complete outlook on their day and life inspires me.