Who We Are

GOVERNING BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Mark R. Ellson

CEO, Chairman & Founder

Colonel Mark R. Ellson was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army Reserve in 1985 after spending ten years as an enlisted soldier, rising to the rank of Sergeant First Class (E-7). He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Iowa State University in 1986, and his MBA from the University of Minnesota in 1999. Mark has 35 years progressive worldwide warehouse/logistics/engineering executive experience, including his positions at NSP (now Xcel Energy) and on the Executive Team at Ergotron, Inc. From 2000 to 2006 he served on numerous nonprofit committees including the Executive Committee for the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce. In addition, Mark serves on the Board of Directors for the Elite SDVOB Network, a national organization comprised of certified Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Businesses whose headquarters is located in San Diego, CA. The Elite SDVOB Network is incorporated as a 501(c)19 organization. Examples of groups that would qualify for this exemption are posts or auxiliaries of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and similar organizations. In 2010, Mark founded JEMNI, Inc. (www.jemnitechnology.com), a Service-Disabled, Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB). As part of the US General Services Administration’s (GSA) program, JEMNI Inc. has been accepted as one of only 55 Protégés in the GSA Mentor-Protégé Program. As a Value Added Reseller (VAR) and Protégé of Veritiv (the leading b2b distributor of packaging solutions, facility supplies and printing supplies in North America), employing Service Disabled Veterans, JEMNI assists customers in gaining competitive advantage through efficient packaging solutions, facility sourcing, supply chain management, and logistics. In 2011, Mark also founded the Veterans Small Business Foundation (VSBF), a 501(c)3 organization, which is now doing business as Project Got Your Back (PGYB). In 2013 Mark received a Bush Fellowship (www.bushfundation.org). The purpose of the Bush Fellowship Program is to foster courageous leadership to mobilize communities to find solutions to tough problems. Colonel Mark Ellson retired from the Army Reserves on September 1, 2015, after serving on Active and Reserve duty for over 39 years. Born in Ames, Iowa, he now resides in Saint Paul, MN/Cape Coral, FL. He and his wife, Karen, are the parents of three grown children, and have one beautiful grandson.

Charlene Nelson

Foundation Manager

Mrs. Nelson has over 35 years experience in Executive Administration, beginning in 1980 at Control Data Corporation (now Ceridian) in Bloomington, MN. As an ex-Navy wife, she worked for eight years at various Naval architects and Marine engineers in the Norfolk and Virginia Beach, VA areas, providing administrative support ranging from word processing to office management. Upon return to Minnesota, Char began working for her father, Harry Sweere, who was the Founder, Owner and Chief Scientist of Ergotron, Inc. Along with personally assisting Mr. Sweere with his estate planning and other family-related matters, she coordinated all Board of Director and Shareholder meetings and documentation for both Ergotron and Constant Force Technology, another company founded and owned by Mr. Sweere. After her fathers’ death, Mrs. Nelson managed and administered the H. C. Sweere ‘Brighter Minds and Smiles’ Program, which awarded over $1 million dollars to Ergotron employees and their families for private education expenses and orthodontia/dental work. During her tenure at Ergotron, Mrs. Nelson also worked with the Ergotron Executive team in such areas as Engineering, Human Resources and Sales/Marketing. She retired in 2010 upon the sale of Ergotron, and is now proud to volunteer for such organizations as Project Got Your Back, Northwestern Media (KTIS), and Safe Families for Children. She serves on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors for the VSBF (PGYB), is Chairwoman of the Harry & Jan Sweere Foundation, a member of the Building New Bridges Campaign Cabinet for Lutheran Island Camp/Christ Serve Ranch, and also serves as an Area Representative and Board member for the East Battle Lake Watershed Association. She lives in Apple Valley, MN and Henning, MN along with her husband, Dave, twin daughters, and their foster son.

Duane D. Peterson, CPA

Founder/Managing Shareholder

Peterson, Beyenhof & Zahler, Ltd.

Mr. Peterson earned his Bachelor of Science degree at St. Cloud State College in 1972, and his MN CPA Certificate in 1978. His work experience includes six years at local CPA firms in Minneapolis, before opening his own CPA firm in 1978. Duane specializes in tax, financial and estate planning, seeking to assist with his clients’ growth and success. He is a Member of the American Institute of CPAs, the Minnesota Society of CPAs, and past Chairman of the MAP (Managing an Accounting Practice) Committee at the MN Society of CPAs, having served on that Committee for ten years. He also served on the Finance Committee and was a Board Member of the ALS Association of MN for several years. In addition to his work on the Governing Board of PGYB, he has served on several for-profit Boards in the Twin Cities area. Duane and his wife Darline live in Tonka Bay, MN and are the parents of four grown children.

Jerry Kyser

Executive Director, MN Vietnam Veterans Charity/Car Donation Program

President, Honor Flight Twin Cities

Vice Chairman, United Veterans Legislative Council (UVLC)

Co-Chairman, Military Action Group (MAG)

Mr. Kyser attended NDSU as an engineering and business student until 1967 when he was drafted and joined the US Army. He volunteered for two combat tours in Vietnam as an Army UH-1D Huey Helicopter Crew Chief/M-60 Machine Gunner with the 1st Infantry Division and the 1st Aviation Brigade. Jerry is a Combat Disabled Veteran and is proud to have served in the noble cause of fighting terrorists and communists in SE Asia. After completing his US Army service in August 1970, Jerry transferred to UND and graduated in 1973 with a degree in Business and a Commercial Pilot License. Jerry is active in the Aviation community and has flown a 1965 Citabria Aerobatic Airplane for the last 40 years. He is also a pilot with the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) and flies WWII training aircraft. Jerry was in the financial services business for 19 years as a Personal Financial Analyst and retired in 2001 to become a Veteran Activist and Director of the Car Donation Program that he currently operates with the MN Vietnam Veterans Charity. In addition to his Governing Board role at PGYB, Jerry has been in the leadership of a number of Veteran and other nonprofit organizations and has been an uncompensated Veteran Lobbyist at the State of MN Legislature since 2001 with the UVLC and MAG. Since 2008, Jerry and his wife Jana have directed Honor Flight Twin Cities, sponsored by the MN Vietnam Veterans Charity. They take WWII and Korean War Veterans for FREE on a one-day flight to Washington, DC to visit memorials dedicated to them and their fellow veterans. They also do the fundraising with the help of many generous contributors. Jerry has taken 15 flights with 1,500 WWII Veterans and over 1,000 guardians on the Sun Country Airline charters. The April 2016 flight was the last to include only WWII Veterans. They started combined flights with WWII and Korean War Veterans in October 2016. Jerry and Jana live in Roseville, MN and have two grown children, one grandson and two granddaughters.

Mark Nettesheim

President & Owner

Makaw Company LLC

Mr. Nettesheim earned his AS degree from Brigham Young University and his BA in Production Management from Utah State University in 1984. He received his MBA in 1999 from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. Mark was the District Manager for Dunham’s Sporting Goods and went on to have an Executive career at Best Buy Company, which spanned 18 years. Mark founded Makaw Company LLC in 2006, which markets and distributes VideoPerch™, the professional’s choice for a lightweight mounting system for cameras or video shots. Mark served for ten years on the Ergotron, Inc. Board of Directors and is now active on the Governing Board of PGYB. Mark and his wife Kari live in Chanhassen, MN and have six grown children and three grandchildren.

Mitch Joyce

Northwest Market President

Bell Bank

While attending Metropolitan State University, Mr. Joyce began a 37-year banking career highlighting strengths in the areas of management and commercial lending. Mitch is currently President of the Northwest Market at Bell Bank in Minneapolis. He was previously President of the Northwest Market at Central Bank in Golden Valley, MN. He was responsible for all banking functions in four offices including Golden Valley, Coon Rapids, St. Michael and Elk River. His accomplishments include recruiting staff and growing the assets of his four branches, overseeing construction of several new facilities and evaluating and administering three FDIC assisted acquisitions. Other responsibilities include membership in the bank’s Loan, Senior Management and Compliance Committees. He is also involved in Strategic Planning. Past experience includes Vice President of Commercial Lending at Ameribank and Park National Bank, Credit Officer/Analyst, Commercial Lender and Personal Banker. Prior affiliations included Director of the North Suburban Youth Association, Advisory Board Member for House, Nezerka & Froelich (CPA’s), and President of the Roseville Area Youth Association. Mitch joined the PGYB Governing Board late in 2013. He has a personal interest in helping veterans because two of his three sons were involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom. They served in Ramadi, Sadr City and Mosul. Mitch and his wife Barb currently make their home in Maple Grove, MN and enjoy spending time with their three granddaughters.

Prince Wallace

Owner & CEO

West Central Environmental Consultants, Inc.

Independent Packing Services, Inc.

Matrix Environmental, Inc.

Born in Nassau, Bahamas, Mr. Wallace came to Minnesota in 1964. He attended Saint John’s University and the Minnesota School of Business, majoring in Accounting and Business Administration. He is the Owner and CEO of West Central Environmental Consultants, Inc., Maple Grove, MN, an environmental investigation and remediation company. He is also the owner of Independent Packing Services, Inc., Maple Grove, MN, a design build crating company, and Matrix Environmental, Inc., an environmental site characterization company. He is a member of the Employers Association Board of Directors and St. John’s University Board of Trustees. He is a past Board Member of Twin Cities RISE!, Junior Achievement and North Hennepin Junior College Foundation. He has been involved in a variety of community programs for youth in the Minneapolis, MN area, including City Director and Coach for the wrestling program at the Bloomington Athletic Association. He is also involved in a mentorship program for students at Risen Christ School’s Imagine the Possibilities program. Prince and his wife Sandy live in Bloomington, MN. They have three grown children and seven grandchildren.

Scott Lloyd Anderson

Shareholder JD/CPA

Fabyanske, Westra, Hart & Thomson, PA (FWHT)

Mr. Anderson earned his BA from Augsburg College in 1976, and his Juris Doctorate from William Mitchell College of Law in 1980. His work experience includes Tax Accounting for KPMG and formal law practice at Parsinen, Kaplan, Rosberg & Gotlieb. Scott has practiced law at FWHT since 1985, and is currently a Shareholder and Director. He served as past President of FWHT in 1994, 2000 and 2011. In addition to his Governing Board membership at PGYB, his professional activities and honors include Member of the American and MN State Bar Associations, MN Society of CPAs, former Instructor of Business Law and Accounting at Augsburg College, and former Instructor of Tax Research for the MBT Program at the University of Minnesota. Scott resides in Minneapolis, MN, along with his spouse, Lisa Bailey.

ADVISORY BOARD

CHRISTOPHER J. PIZINGER

Director

Carlisle Brake & Friction

Mr. Pizinger graduated in 1988 from St. John’s University with a BS in Biology and Natural Science, and received his MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship from the University of Arizona in 1990. After graduation he held various Executive Management roles at H. B. Fuller Company before going on to co-found and develop a supply chain management eEnablement firm, Stratyc LLC. He became CEO of MINNCOR Industries, a manufacturing and contract service business, and through Deer Park Ventures was recruited by a financial backer to develop a private equity group focused on leveraged buyouts of manufacturing firms in the Midwest. His executive consulting expertise eventually landed him his current position of Director at Carlisle Brake & Friction (CBF), a leading solutions provider of high performance and severe duty brake, clutch and transmission applications to OEM and aftermarket customers in the mining, construction, military, agricultural, motorsports, industrial and aerospace markets. In addition to being on the PGYB Advisory Board, Chris is a Corporate Member of the Town and Country Club, Board of Managers for the Minnesota Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, Leadership Six Sigma Black Belt, and Volunteer Coach for the Highland Central Hockey Association. He is a past Board Member at MINNCOR Industries, the Executive Group (Twin Cities CEO Forum), and the Minnesota Correctional Education Foundation. He and his wife Kimberly currently live in St. Paul, MN with their two children.

STEPHEN E. KAIRIES, CLU, CHFC

Founder/CFO, Access Financial Services, Inc.

Principal, Octagon Financial Group

Following graduation from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts Degree and service as First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, Mr. Kairies entered the financial services industry in 1972. Steve is Founder/CFO of Access Financial Services, Inc. (AFS). He is also a principal of Octagon Financial Group, a partnership of four specialized financial service companies. Steve assists his clients in reaching their maximum wealth potential through a non-traditional approach to financial planning. He has extensive background and knowledge in financial, estate, business continuation, retirement planning and related taxation. He has received the professional designations of Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), and Certified Financial Planner (CFP). He is a Registered Representative with FSC Securities Corporation and, through his firm, AFS, provides services as a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA). Steve’s advice is often sought by other financial service professionals to develop plans and strategies for their clients. He is a Life Member of the prestigious Million Dollar Round Table, a member of the Association of Advanced Life Underwriters, a past president of the Minneapolis Association of Life Underwriters, and has served on the Minneapolis CLU/ChFC Board. An active member of the community, Steve serves on the Board of Directors of Summit Academy OIC, in addition to his Advisory role at the PGYB. He and his wife, Pam, live in Bloomington, MN. They have three grown children, all of whom work at AFS.

THE TEAM

ALLISON ALSTRIN

Project Manager

Allison enjoys being a part of an organization making a difference in the lives of people and believes when people and organizations work together to serve others our lives and world become a better place.   From vision casting to execution she has 13 years of experience working closely with senior leaders of organizations to advance partnerships and facilitate opportunities to create exciting outcomes in organizations.  Her work projects have encompassed bringing diverse groups together and leading them through analysis, planning, and action to ensure organizations are advanced. Allison most recently served as the Executive Director of a small non-profit.  Allison holds an undergraduate degree from Drake University in Business Administration/Finance and a Masters of Education from Loyola University Chicago.  Allison continually feels nudged to considers how she can find ways to combine her professional talents/gifts, her work life, and service.  Allison is a resident of Chanhassen, MN and the mother of two sons and a daughter.  She is thrilled to join Project Got Your Back to help Veterans in honor of her father and grandfathers who served.