Meet the Spark 2024 Coordinating Team

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Spark, the American Youth Foundation’s retreat for adults, returns to Miniwanca for its third year from September 12 to 15.

AYF Director of Adult Programs Holley Young is pleased to introduce the 2024 Coordinating Team and thanks two departing members, Teddy Pins and Meredith Sanders. “We appreciate Meredith and Teddy’s tireless work as they helped lay the groundwork for very first Spark in 2022,” she said.

Registration for Spark 2024 opens March 15. Meet this year’s Coordinating Team:

Michael Robinson

Michael Robinson first encountered the mission of the AYF as an NLC participant from 2008 to 2011. His sister and cousin attended the International Leadership Conference in the 1990s. As a member of the class Deeply Rooted, NLC had a profound impact on Robinson’s life, and he carried many lessons from that time into his adult life. He learned that it’s okay to walk into a space and be himself and different from others, as well as how to create an inner safe space.

Though his career took him through retail and banking, Robinson never forgot the AYF and returned in a full-time capacity as Development Coordinator on the Advancement team in 2023. Michael primarily works with donor and alumni information, including collection and processing of fundraising data, correspondence, reporting, supporting the St. Louis office, and running the buses to Miniwanca in the summer. He returned to AYF because he wants to make an impact and give back to the place that gave him so much.

Michael’s favorite part of the job is working with volunteers and making new connections with the community at large. His role on the Miniwanca Spark team is truly a perfect match! In his non-working life, Michael enjoys time with family and friends, researching family history, going to the movies, and trying new restaurants.

Beth Wilson

Beth has been involved in the AYF community since 1989, missing only two years out of 30 to start a family. She was a member of the NLC class To Seek Again and Again. Since then, she has served in many volunteer and leadership roles within NLC, including a member of the central staff, and has mentored two amazing classes, Collective Work and Responsibility and Unite Together for Good.

Beth has been a member of the Spark team at Miniwanca since its inception in 2022 and has watched it nearly double in size in just two years! Beth has also worked on Miniwanca summer camp seasonal staff, has participated in each Miniwanca volunteer weekend, and has volunteered for the Michigan Middle School Leadership Initiative. She is also a regular volunteer at the Donald Danforth Jr. Memorial Golf Tournament and at many St. Louis-area AYF alumni gatherings.

Beth currently serves as an NLC Co-Director and also focuses on NLC scholarships, particularly the I Dare You Scholarship. Beth also owns her own hair salon, The Basement Hair Salon in Richmond Heights, Missouri. She and her husband live in St. Louis and have two children, a freshman in college and a high school senior, as well as Mooch, their beloved family dog.

Shawn Herron 

Shawn first connected with the American Youth Foundation more than 30 years ago as a participant in the 1991 National Leadership Conference class To Encircle with Creative Energy. He returned to Miniwanca a few years ago to participate in the Living the Mission adult retreat.  Since then, he has served on the NLC staff, most recently as one of the mentors for the 2026 class Forged by the Fire Within.

Growing up on a farm in northwest Missouri, he went to college at University of Missouri and Iowa State. Shawn moved to Maryland 23 years ago and lives in Annapolis with his husband, Phuoc. They love spending time with family and friends and traveling as much as possible. In his civilian job, he leads a portfolio of research and development projects to modernize air traffic management and air traffic systems. Shawn also serves as a colonel in the Army Reserve and leads an organization that is part of the 75th Innovation Command focused on Army transformation and modernization.

Shawn also served as a member of the inaugural Spark team in 2022. He is excited to rejoin and looks forward to being with everyone for the third Spark adult retreat!