Meet Our Team!
Marc Hosmer – Executive Director
Marc Hosmer joined Urban Boatbuilders in 2012 and brings a diverse background of youth development and non-profit management experience. This experience, combined with his passion for creating opportunities for youth to build bright futures, guides Marc in his leadership of Urban Boatbuilders.
"Boats are the vehicle — successful, self-confident youth with a vision for their future is the product Urban Boatbuilders creates," says Marc. He is passionate about the organization and facilitating its growth so that more youth are able to experience the powerful, and life-changing programming of Urban Boatbuilders.
Marc loves to connect with people who share our vision. You can reach him at email@example.com.
Phil Winger – Program Manager and Instructor
Phil Winger built his first boat in 1998. Since then, he's had the privilege to be around a rich mix of people who have influenced the way he thinks about boat construction and youth development.
Phil started at Urban Boatbuilders in 2000, and feels lucky every day to be able to introduce others to a process he loves. Riveted lapstrake construction is his favorite; driving a copper nail through a steamy hot rib never gets old, does it?
In his free time, Phil likes to play in the woods with his kids and plan irresponsible adventures.
Michael Wurth – Community Engagement Director
Michael came to Urban Boatbuilders with more than five years of youth empowerment work at nonprofit organizations. Past experiences include a 40-day backcountry adventure in Vermont with high school students, performing disaster relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Sandy, and taking youth to the Boundary Waters Canoe and Wilderness Area.
Michael's education includes a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and a Master's Degree in Nonprofit Management from Hamline University. He currently lives in the Merriam Park neighborhood of Saint Paul with his wife, daughter, and dog, where they enjoy cooking southern food, gardening, paddling, and enjoying the company of family and friends.
Dennis Walsh — Programs Director
Dennis started volunteering with Urban Boatbuilders in late 2016 after finishing a 3-month stint with the Conservation Corps and teaching middle school math in rural North Carolina. Dennis is focused on ensuring our programming runs smoothly and helps youth develop empathy, feel empowered, and ensures youth have the tools they need to be successful in whatever they take on.
When Dennis isn't building boats and working with youth, he loves to spend his time outside in the woods and on the water. He enjoys going on adventures with his wife and hanging out with with his growing collection of pets at home.
Anaïs Boyd — Partnership Program Coordinator
Anaïs came to Urban Boatbuilders in 2018 with a background in experiential education. Through building makeshift merry-go-rounds with campers in the hills of Vermont to helping students develop research experiments in the Great Barrier Reef, they have seen the power of project-based learning foster students’ agency, ability to problem-solve, and work as a team.
When Anaïs is not building things with youth, they love spending time on the water, cooking, and reading all kinds of excellent books.
Janelle Bane — Office and Volunteer Manager, Bookkeeper
Janelle came to Urban Boatbuilders in 2017. Since graduating from Macalester College, she has worked for several local small businesses in various administrative roles and was Communications Coordinator for a group of charter schools in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. She loves the supportive, inspiring environment at Urban Boatbuilders and witnessing youth build connections to boats and nature.
Outside of work, Janelle enjoys crafting in various forms, hiking, gardening, and perhaps most of all, cuddling with cats.
Alphonso Le - Apprenticeship Coordinator
Friends call Alphonso, Fonz. He graduated with a degree in Political Science and International Affairs from a liberal arts college in Portland, OR. He discovered his passion for youth work as an outdoor educator in Northern MN, where led 5-22 day wilderness expeditions. Fonz specializes in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and elevating youth voice. He believes that youth make our future and integrating these topics into curriculum is imperative in developing pathways to success.
When Fonz is not waist deep in sawdust or dirt, you can find him gardening, gourmet mushroom hunting, studying native plants, biking or rock climbing.
Elena Anderson — Development and Communications Associate
Elena helps manage Urban Boatbuilder’s communications and works to secure funds so we can continue to expand our awesome programming. Before joining Urban Boatbuilders, Elena wore many hats to support Minnesota’s afterschool community at Ignite Afterschool as their AmeriCorps Vista.
She fell in love with the woods and water paddling wooden Seliga canoes as a teen. As a wilderness guide at YMCA Camp Widjiwagan, she developed her deep devotion to supporting young people experience nature and community in meaningful ways. Outside of work, Elena does pottery, enjoys yoga and gets people together to eat great food and play outside.
Christopher Dunham — Off-site Program Instructor
Christopher started working with the Partnership Program at Urban Boatbuilders early in 2018. He brings an extensive knowledge of outdoor recreation, from years of guiding and teaching environmental education. After relocating to the Twin Cities from Northern Washington, he helped maintain a fleet of custom built cedar strip Voyaguer Canoes for Wilderness Inquiry. Christopher believes strongly in the power of experiential learning and is excited to expose students to the valuable life lessons experienced during the boat building process.
When Christopher isn't challenging youth to be bring forth the best of themselves, he is excited to pursue his passion for rock climbing and whitewater kayaking.
Nate Holupchinski — Off-site Program Instructor
Nate started volunteering for Urban Boatbuilders at the State Fair of 2016 and has been marooned on our shores ever since. He is a graduate from the University of St. Thomas with a degree that looks at the intersection of the arts and social justice. He is passionate about creating an environment that values equity, inclusion and one that fosters positive growth in people. He enjoys working in a team and helping youth see their own potential when it comes to hands on learning and collaborative work.
Elizabeth Barnard (E.B.) — Off-Site Program Instructor
Elizabeth Barnard, known as E.B., comes to Urban Boatbuilders with a background in outdoor education, woodworking, music education, and youth development work. One dream was to lead bicycle trips, and she led an American Youth Hostels bike trip with high school students across the United States, an adventure that began a career in outdoor education. She developed a concept of “eco-cycling,” leading bike trips that focused on environmental issues.
E.B. is a maker. She grew up a tinkerer—no object was safe from her curiosity as to how it worked. She loves to build things, especially with other people. She is committed to making skills available to those who have not had access to learning them, whether it’s women living outdoors, young people experiencing their leadership capacity, or non-binary people learning woodworking. She holds an MAED from Hamline University, and focused on project-based learning. When she’s not doing that, she might be bird watching, cooking, camping, paddling, gardening, building percussion instruments with kids, dancing in the kitchen with her sweetie, or following her granddaughters’ adventures.
Elizabeth Barnard has been an instructor at Urban Boatbuilders since 2017, to her delight. “It’s wonderful to work for an organization that is truly mission-driven,” she says.
Brendan Grant — Off-Site Program Instructor
Brendan grew up in rural New Hampshire, paddling canoes and kayaks along the Connecticut River. After graduating from Carleton College with a degree in Environmental Studies, he spent several years teaching at Deep Portage Learning Center in Hackensack, MN. While there, Brendan delved into the intersection between craft and education during a class that explored food science through brick oven building and pizza baking. From there, he launched himself to North House Folk School in Grand Marais, where he built his first boat. He loves boatbuilding for its fusion of functionality and beauty, and the way that fine, precision work is combined with the simplicity of eyeballing a shape to see if it looks good.
These days Brendan lives in a woodchip-strewn apartment in South Minneapolis, where you'll find him woodcarving, bookbinding, and baking sourdough bread.
Julia Wells — Off-Site Program Instructor
Julia came to Urban Boatbuilders with a background in environmental education. After college, she spent several years exploring the woods of New England with students, helping them develop valuable problem-solving and leadership skills through hiking and hands-on science lessons. She is passionate about project-based learning and the opportunity it gives students to take ownership over their education and gain self-confidence.
When she isn't working with youth, Julia loves to bake, knit, and play a variety of string instruments.
Board of Directors
Amy Sinykin – President
Principal – Sinykin Consulting
With 25 years’ experience in nonprofit administration including fiscal management, human resources, technology implementation, governance management, planning and budgeting, Amy has spent her career exclusively in the nonprofit sector. Her core competencies include nonprofit governance & accountability practices, project management, planning and volunteer management. She has held positions with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, MN Chapter, and the Volunteer Resource Center (now Hands on Twin Cities). Most recently she was Associate Director of the Charities Review Council. She is currently a nonprofit consultant focusing on operations and project management and his thrilled to bring her expertise to Urban Boatbuilders as board member to support its work empowering youth. Amy lives in Saint Paul with her husband and two children.
Matthew S. Sayre- Treasurer
Director of Operations, Senior Living - Ryan Companies US, Inc.
Matthew “Matt” Sayre has spent the past ten years working in the construction industry, most recently managing Ryan Companies Senior Living sector. Getting his start as a laborer and carpenter working for his father’s company at a young age, he developed a passion for the construction process and working with his hands. Matt is an Eagle Scout Award Recipient, helping build canoes and kayaks during his time as a scout. This, along with multiple treks in the BWCA, is what first attracted him to Urban Boatbuilders. After attending his first graduation ceremony, he was drawn to the mission, and as a board member, Matt hopes to continue to build on the UBB mission for years to come.
Kevin Kearney – Vice President, Secretary
Vice President, Upscale Development, USA, Canada, &
The Caribbean – InterContinentalHotels Group (IHG)
Kevin Kearney has spent over 33 years in hotel development, completing transactions in all the major regions of the world. Employers have included Marriott International and InterContinental Hotels Group. Mr. Kearney has also taught master levels classes in real estate finance and hotel development at the Ecole Hoteliere Lausanne, in Switzerland, where he lived for 13 years. Mr. Kearney is a board member of Homestretch, a Virginia charitable organization that assists homeless families in changing the trajectory of their lives. He is also an Ambassador for Shatterproof, a national charitable organization dedicated to ending the scourge of addiction.
Supervisor, Strategic Business Development - 3M
Mr. Williams is Strategic Business Development Manager at 3M. He obtained his MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University in 2014. Prior to Kelley, Omar worked as a CPA where he leveraged his financial and analytical skills to support business decisions and create financial plans to support operational and strategic initiatives. At Kelley, he concentrated in Marketing and Strategy to transition into a market facing role in Business Development. Today, he leverages his strengths to enhance 3M’s growth strategy. He has held two non-profit leadership roles: Board Member, Meriden Place Condominiums HOA, Framingham, MA (2005-2008) & Funding Review Committee, United Way of Central Massachusetts, Worcester, MA (2002-2003). Outside of work, Omar focuses on other things he loves: salsa dancing, producing sweet tunes on his Native Instrument digital drum machine and embracing the winter weather in Minnesota by snowboarding. He loves to travel internationally, visiting 20+ countries and counting.
Science Department Chair (Ret.) – Saint Paul Academy
My love of quiet water sports has roots in my upbringing on the south shore of Lake Superior in Upper Michigan. I grew up canoeing and sailing on the big lake. I have since traded in my canoe for a sea kayak I use to explore both the big lake and the myriad inland lakes near my summer home there.
I attended the University of Michigan, graduating with a Masters of Science degree in biology. My first career was as a cell biology researcher for the DuPont Company in Delaware. My husband's career brought us to the twin cities in the 1980's. After spending 10 years at home with our son and daughter, I decided to follow my passion for science education and entered Macalester College to earn my teaching credentials. Upon receiving my teaching license, I was hired by St. Paul Academy and Summit School where I spent the next 20 years teaching sophomore biology. During my last 6 years at SPA, I chaired the science department and was responsible for overseeing their K-12 science curriculum. In addition to being involved in science curriculum development at SPA, I participated in numerous youth development initiatives. The most extensive was a 3-year program, the Global Youth Leadership Institute, which originated as a program of ISACS (Independent School Association of the Central States). The essential elements of the GYLI program are: collaborative leadership, environmental sustainability, multicultural understanding and religious pluralism. I retired from SPA in the spring of 2014.
I have been actively involved with Urban Boatbuilders for little more than a year helping to revise the written instructions for paddle making and for building the Wilderness Traveler. I have also helped identify Minnesota Department of Education science and math academic standards addressed and to articulate the elements of the program that foster social and emotional learning in program participants.
Vice President, Business Development (Ret.) – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota
Jerry Fruetel has a background in both the private and public sectors. He retired as vice president of business development at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. Prior to his tenure at Blue Cross, Fruetel served as executive director for the Minnesota Heart Health Program, a community based heart disease research and demonstration program of the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health. Before joining the School of Public Health, Fruetel held research and planning positions at the State Health Planning Agency and Ramsey County Juvenile Court Services.
Fruetel has also been an active community volunteer leader, including past terms as chair of Bloomington’s Advisory Board of Health and its Transportation Advisory Commission. Fruetel earned a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Harvard, and a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Minnesota.
Financial Advisor – Principal
As a Financial Advisor, Eric helps people develop and implement individualized goal-based retirement savings plans and provides life insurance and disability insurance to protect families and resources. In addition, he works with small businesses to provide group benefits and retirement plans for their employees and business transition plans for their owners.
Eric’s past experiences include twenty years in higher education philanthropy where he was a successful major gifts officer, fundraising leader and endowment manager.
Eric is deeply committed to education at all levels. He enjoys working to empower youth and help them to build the skills they need to achieve their goals in life.
Development Director – Hope Dental Clinic
Mr. Mercure, who is the Director of Development at Hope Dental Clinic, has worked in human services for over 20 years. Prior to Hope Dental, Mr. Mercure was the Director of Development at ESR, Inc. and spent 14 years in New York City where he focused on marketing and fundraising at United Neighborhood Houses and the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies. He has also worked as a consultant helping non-profit organizations develop constituent relationship management systems. Tim grew up in Saint Paul, MN and has a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Minnesota. He lives in Roseville with his wife Claudia and their rescue dog Daisy.
Assistant Ramsey County Attorney – Ramsey County Attorney’s Office
Fue is currently an Assistant Ramsey County Attorney in the Human Services Division. He is a lifelong resident of St. Paul and enjoys its great parks and recreation activities. He acquired an appreciation for the outdoors spending time with his dad and siblings doing outdoor activities. He, along with all of his brothers, was part of Boy Scouts Troop 100 as a child, solidifying his appreciation for the outdoors. One of Fue's favorite experiences is getting up on a crisp morning and sitting on a canoe in the middle of a calm, sunny lake and listening to the animals wake up.
University of St. Thomas
Brian's 25 year career at the University of St. Thomas includes experience as both director of communications and senior editor. He also taught in the English Department with a focus on American masculinity.
After first reading about Urban Boatbuilders in a newspaper article offering locally-made Christmas gift ideas, Brian reached out to Marc Hosmer to learn more about the organization. During the course of the conversation, he was drawn to three important elements of Urban Boatbuilder's mission: an opportunity to work with local youth, to build boats as a team and to find ways to connect young men and women to the outdoors.
Brian;s interest in canoeing and the environment started early in life. As a teenager he embarked on a 26-day Les Voyager canoe trip in the Manitoba wilderness with his Cathedral High School biology teacher and seven classmates. The experience was transformative - and has inspired a lifelong interest in and advocacy for protecting our natural resources.
In early 2017, Brian was asked to serve on the Urban Boatbuilders communications committee - which he now leads. He also volunteers in the shop on Monday nights, building boats with Crew A.
Rahfat Hussain –
Financial Analyst at University of Minnesota
I have been passionate about mission driven organizations ever since I volunteered over 20 years ago in a transitional housing shelter. The experience then was quite illuminating and reminded me to be grateful for each day that I am alive and for the opportunities that have come my way since then. I am extremely honored to be a member of the Board at Urban Boatbuilders knowing that decisions we make, whether big or small, will have an enormous impact on the apprentices and youth that we serve. I hope that my background in finance and management will significantly contribute to carry Urban Boatbuilders to the next level of awesomeness!
Your donation will help to ensure that Urban Boatbuilders is able to build more young lives.
Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent allowable by law.