Sara Meslow – Executive Director
Sara is the Executive Director and founder of Camp Odayin, a lifelong camper, and a heart patient herself. She has worked and volunteered at many camps and holds undergraduate degrees in Social Work & Communication from Concordia College, Moorhead MN, and a graduate degree in Youth Development Leadership from the University of Minnesota. Sara is very familiar with the cardiac care world. She has had a catheter ablation to correct her supraventricular tachycardia, and had an Implanted Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) as a result of ventricular tachycardia. She believes in the positive impact summer camp can have on everyone, especially children with special heath concerns.
Learn more about our Executive Director by downloading this article from United Hospital/Saint Paul Heart Clinic (857 KB)
Alison Boerner – Assistant Director
Alison joined the Camp Odayin team in May of 2007 with an undergraduate degree in Social Work from St. Olaf College, a masters degree in Social Work from the University of Denver, and a certificate in non-profit management from Chapman University. Having led a relatively nomadic lifestyle to that point, Alison envisioned working at Camp Odayin for two years. Fifteen year later, countless playful moments and meaningful conversations with amazing campers, generous volunteers, and creative colleagues have made work feel more like family. In spite of maintaining the same job for over a decade, she loves having new experiences, especially with her actual family, Mitch, Lilyana (5), and Finch (2).
Matt Olson – Finance Director
Raised in northern Minnesota, Matt’s passion for camping and the outdoors developed at a young age. Matt joined Camp Odayin in the fall of 2007, after majoring in Economics and Entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas and working for a brief period in the for-profit sector. Matt volunteers at other area nonprofits and serves as Food Coordinator on the St. Louis Park Empty Bowls planning committee. A marathon runner and triathlete, he enjoys challenge and is excited to tackle anything that comes his way at Camp Odayin. Matt enjoys positively impacting the lives of young people and their families.
Kris Lukkarila – Director of Operations
Kris joined the Camp Odayin family in October 2017. She has worked for non-profit organizations in the healthcare field since 2003 when she decided that the corporate world of environmental engineering was unsatisfying. She feels so fortunate to make an impact in the heart community and work alongside the best people and volunteers. She is enthusiastic about putting on costumes, working in Excel, process improvement and being creative. On days off, she tap dances, reads science fiction, and does international hikes. Even though she is a Minnesota native, she is still unsure about this stuff we call snow.
Brooke Hohag – Program Director
Brooke, an elementary school teacher from Georgia, graduated from the University of West Georgia with a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education and her Master’s degree in Reading Instruction. How would someone over 1,000 miles away find out about this marvelous camp? Well, doing chores actually. While she was vacuuming her parents’ living room, a show featuring women who have done extraordinary things with their lives was on TV. Sara Meslow was holding a lit candle and placing it on Mortimer’s shell and Brooke’s chore turned into a blessing. She was grateful to join the Camp Odayin family as a volunteer in 2004 where one blessing, turned into hundreds, as she returned to camp each year, honored to meet so many extraordinary children with special hearts. In 2015, she joined the leadership team as a residential camp co-director, traveling from Georgia for the summer. Now, she has moved to Minnesota and joined the Odayin office year-round as the program director supporting and co-directing the Mom’s Retreat, Heart Huddle, Winter Camp, Family Camp and of course, Residential Camp.
Aidan Di Giacomo – Marketing and Program Director
Aidan first volunteered with Camp Odayin in 2017, having never experienced the camp life before. Since then, he worked for three summers as a Camp Knutson staff member in Crosslake, MN, where he fell in love with the community and environment that camp is known for. Having worked briefly in the for-profit sector, Aidan quickly realized that he longed for making a difference through the non-profit world. He joins the Odayin team bringing with him a background in Marketing and Information Technology. This being said, Aidan has no problem making a fool of himself and can be seen in ridiculous costumes on a regular basis. In his free time, Aidan can be found coaching hockey, taking photos, playing video games or exercising. He is looking forward to getting to know campers and their families better as he strives to put a smile on their faces.
Jon Johnson, M.D. – MN Medical Director
Dr. Johnson is a pediatric cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, where he is the Chair of the Division of Pediatric Cardiology and the Medical Director of the Pediatric Heart Transplant Program. Jon came to Mayo for his pediatric residency in 2005 and never left, finishing his pediatric cardiology training there and joining the staff in 2011. His special clinical interests include pediatric heart failure, pediatric heart transplantation, cardiac imaging, and medical education.
Jon first volunteered at Camp Odayin as a pediatric cardiology fellow, and has been in love with Camp ever since. He was thrilled to have been able to return as an attending doc and a member of the Board, and is now elated to serve as the MN Medical Director. He has seen the positive benefits of camp in his clinics and in the hospital, listening to kids talk excitedly about their experiences and new friends after returning from Camp. Jon has an incredible family at home, with his wife Alissa and his two wonderful children (ages 8 and 4). In his free time, he loves spending time with his kids, and enjoys traveling, writing, and following his favorite sports teams. If he’s being honest though… he’d rather be at camp.
Meghan LaVelle – MN Nursing Director
Meghan received her BA from Gustavus Adolphus, her BSN from Minnesota State University-Mankato, and her Master’s and Doctorate of Nursing Practice from the UofM.
Meghan is currently practicing as an emergency department nurse in a critical access hospital in western Wisconsin after far too many years commuting to emergency departments in the Twin Cities! She was also previously an Emergency Department Clinical Nurse Specialist for HealthEast and then Fairview. Meghan truly loves being at the bedside with patients and their families, helping them through the stress of unexpected events.
Meghan has been volunteering with Odayin since 2010; sometimes in summer, sometimes in winter, sometimes just sewing buttons on mittens and backpacks back together. Her favorite part of camp is seeing the campers connect with each other and just be regular kids. When not at camp, Meghan likes traveling (Japan, Austria, and Disney World are her favorite places), riding her horses, and hanging out with her mom, husband, and 3 kids.
Sara Creighton, M.D. – WI Medical Director
Dr. Sara is a pediatric cardiologist at Children’s Wisconsin/ Medical College of Wisconsin where she is an Assistant Professor of pediatric and fetal cardiology. Dr. Sara is a Chicago area native and did her training at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria and stayed for residency. She came “Up North” to Children’s Wisconsin in 2013 for her cardiology fellowship and has stayed with Children’s as faculty since 2017. She loves living in Wisconsin despite the proximity to Lambeau (Go Bears!).
Dr. Sara has been coming to Camp Odayin since the first Wisconsin camp in 2017. Becoming the Medical Director for the Wisconsin camps is a dream come true! Camp is her happy place and she loves to see kids with special hearts experience it and live to the fullest. Dr. Sara’s family includes her husband Brad and three kids who remind her to live life outside her comfort zone. When she is not her children’s chauffeur, she enjoys mystery novels, baking, singing in her car and running (mostly so she can eat dessert).
Maura has been a pediatric nurse at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee for 38 years. She has worked inthe Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and as a Cardiothoracic surgery nurse clinician. She is currently in Pediatric Cardiology as the fetal cardiac program coordinator. She grew up camping and is absolutely thrilled that Camp Odayin is expanding to SE Wisconsin. She has attended Camp Odayin in Minnesota for many summers, and is honored to be the Wisconsin Nursing Director. In her free time Maura loves to travel, strike a downward dog yoga pose, swim laps and sew.
Kelsey Sohrweide – WI Summer Camp Co-Director
Kelsey Sohrweide joined forces with Camp Odayin in March of 2017. She has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from The University of Wisconsin-Madison, a master’s degree in Urban Education, with an emphasis in Special Education, from National Louis University in Chicago, IL, and another master’s degree in Educational Administration and Leadership from Concordia University- Chicago. In addition to her duties with Odayin, she is a 6th-8th grade special education teacher, working with students who have severe/profound disabilities.
Kelsey loves to have fun and stay active – two things that she feels are essential to living a healthy and balanced life. She believes that all kids – no matter the challenges they may face – deserve these same things! Therefore, she is passionate about helping to create an environment for kids which allows learning and promotes activity and healthy living, all under the guise of fun!
When not at camp or teaching, Kelsey enjoys finding new parts of the world to explore, drinking copious amounts of iced coffee, and voraciously cheering on her favorite teams- the Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin Badgers. She could not be more excited for this summer!
Carrie Gott – WI Summer Camp Co-Director
Carrie Gott fell in love with camp before she was old enough to attend Girl Scout Day Camp. Her mother was a volunteer staff member and was able to take her along to join in the fun. Thus, the beginning of the “camp life” journey. She has had countless experiences as a camper and staff member to this day. She earned her bachelor and master degrees in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee and has spent her entire career working with children, youth and families. Currently a school social worker, she is looking forward to being part of bringing Camp Odayin to Wisconsin!
Carrie believes everyone should have the opportunity to be a camper at some time in their life. New adventures, challenges and friendships create memories for a lifetime and you never know when the skills learned will be valuable in the future. She is excited to help develop a great camp experience and meet everyone who will be involved at Camp Odayin this summer
Dr. Michael Earing is the Chief and Medical Director of Pediatric Cardiology at University of Chicago-Medicine/Advocate Healthcare/Northshore University in Illinois. He received his degree from Rush Medical College in Chicago and completed his fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Dr. Earing has spent many summers at Camp Odayin and is thrilled with the expansion to offer camp in SE Wisconsin. He says that that expansion to the southeastern Wisconsin area will provide a whole new region of kids with heart disease a safe, inclusive camp experience much closer to home. Encouraging the development of caring friendships and support between kids with similar health challenges is particularly invaluable to the well-being of a child with heart disease. When he’s not listening and healing special hearts, he’s watching his four daughters play softball or participating in dance competitions.