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 Boerner 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. Alison has been involved with a number of summer camps and prior to Odayin served on the board of directors for a camp for children with cancer. She is thrilled to be a part of a small organization that makes a big difference.
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 – Office Manager
Kris Lukkarila joined the Camp Odayin family in October 2017. She returned to her home state of Minnesota after living in Seattle for 18 years. Since 2003, she has worked for healthcare non-profit organizations including her previous role at Seattle Children’s Hospital as a project manager. She enjoys participating in 5K races especially if there are costumes involved. Kris is enthusiastic to bring her love of Excel, process improvement, and organization to Camp Odayin.
Brooke Byrd – Program Director
Brooke, an elementary school teacher from Georgia, started her camp experience with the Girl Scouts, hoping to give back to an organization that inspired her youth. She graduated from the University of West Georgia with a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education in 2002. While teaching second grade in Douglasville, Georgia, she earned her Master’s degree in Reading Instruction.
Always known to be a child a heart, Brooke was grateful to join the Camp Odayin family as a volunteer counselor in the summer of 2004. How would someone over 1,000 miles away find out about this marvelous camp? Well, doing chores actually. While she was vacuuming her mother’s living room, she was watching a show featuring women who have done extraordinary things with their lives. On the screen, Sara Meslow was holding a lit candle and placing it on Mortimer’s shell, when Brooke’s chore turned into a blessing. One blessing, turned into hundreds, as she returned to camp each year, honored to meet so many extraordinary children with special hearts. This year, Brooke joined the Winter Camp experience, elated with her first sighting of a frozen lake, and attended her second Have a Heart Benefit.
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 is a native of Wisconsin, receiving his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin before heading to Detroit, Michigan for medical school. He 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 is fortunate to have an incredible family at home, with his wife Alissa and his two wonderful children (ages 6 and 2) keeping him positive even on the toughest of days. 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.
Sarah Lovern – MN Nursing Director
Sarah Lovern, RN, MSN practices as a pediatric cardiovascular intensive care nurse at Children’s Minnesota. Originally from North Carolina, Sarah holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Spanish from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received her Master of Science in Nursing from East Carolina University specializing in Nursing Leadership of Acute Healthcare Systems.
Laura Hoagland – MN Summer Camp Co-Director
Laura, aka Hoagie, was born and raised in Bellingham, Washington and joined the Camp Odayin family in 2009 as a volunteer counselor. She holds an undergraduate degree in special and elementary education from Western Washington University. Hoagie has a huge heart for camp, even though her actual heart is kind of small. Laura was born with tricuspid atresia, pulmonary stenosis, ventricular septal defect and an atrial septal defect; she had the Fontan procedures in 1991. Hoagie’s love for the Camp Odayin family and belief in the Odayin mission has grown so much over the last five years that she moved to Minnesota where she is a high school special education teacher. Laura loves being able to spend the summer at a place where you can show your scars with pride, and where everyone has a special heart, even if they don’t have heart disease.
Dr. Mike Earing is the Regional medical director and Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program Director at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. 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.
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 and a master’s degree in Urban Education, with an emphasis in Special Education, from National Louis University in Chicago, IL. In addition to her duties with Odayin, she is a 5th grade teacher in the inner city of Chicago.
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, eating obscene amounts of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, 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