Meet the Team

Our Staff

Carissa Carroll

Founder and CEO

Read Carissa's Bio

Carissa, M.Ed., is an alumna of Bethel University and the University of Minnesota. She taught at elementary and collegiate levels before a sweet baby boy named Jack changed her heart and passion. After an abrupt and assumptive diagnosis experience, Carissa felt led to start Jack’s Basket. She wanted to make a change for future parents, ensuring that they felt their child was a reason to celebrate and have opportunities to connect within the community. Carissa presents to medical professionals about how to deliver the diagnosis without bias, works with the Jack’s Basket board to further the mission, and connects with volunteers who deliver baskets. When not pursuing her passion, Carissa can be found enjoying an early morning long run, quality time with her husband, and soaking up the days with her two sons and daughter.

Lisa Nevin

Director of Programs and Development

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Lisa was first introduced to Jack’s Basket in 2019 when her daughter Grace was born with Down syndrome; soon thereafter she became a parent volunteer. Lisa joins us from Levi Strauss & Company. Since 2010 she has held various  positions at Levi within HR as Strategic Business Partner, Chief of Staff and most recently overseeing the Recognition, Engagement and Talent  Management programs. Lisa has also served as the Co-Chair of the Employee Resource Group (ERG) Abilities Beyond Limits & Expectations, which built a community for employees who had relatives with disabilities. Leading and launching the ERG in 2019 was inspired by Lisa’s daughter, Grace. 

Lisa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Villanova  University. She and her husband Joey live in Novato, CA with their three children Maeve (5 1/2), Grace (3 1/2) and Declan (1 1/2).

Melody Schwartzbauer

Director of Operations

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Melody graduated from Biola University with a degree in Psychology. Since then she has worked with non-profits in the Twin Cities area in various capacities- always with the goal of leaving her community a little bit better than she found it. In her free time, Melody can be found planning her next trip, enjoying the outdoors, listening to live music, or spending time with her six nieces!

Kali Cox

Administrative Assistant

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Kali graduated from Bethel University in Minnesota with the hope and goal to work within the nonprofit world. She has done just that since 2016, supporting families and advocating for communities around the Twin Cities through her work at various nonprofit organizations. She loves serving moms, families, and babies and that is what motivates her work here at Jacks Basket. When Kali is not in the office, you can find her enjoying quality time with friends and family, trying out a new recipe or playing in the backyard with her two sons, Judah and Ford.

Victoria Bade

Basket Program Assistant

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Victoria graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in Business Management and Entrepreneurship. Making the switch from the mortgage industry to Jack’s Basket, she is thrilled to show her compassionate side and help make a difference. She found a passion for helping others when volunteering for a nonprofit that supports adults with disabilities. Victoria stays active by golfing, playing volleyball, pickleball, and ping pong, and loves to spend time with her family, friends, and two cats.

Angie Kulenkamp

Financial Accountant

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Angie has worked as an independent financial accountant for the last 14 years. She is an alumna of the College of Saint Benedict, where she holds a degree in Business Management. After graduating, Angie worked in the corporate sector for eight years before deciding to make a change and pursue working independently. Angie loves to support her two kids in their many athletic pursuits —  from hockey, to cross country, track, and LaCrosse. When she’s not working or serving in her kids’ booster clubs, Angie and her husband love hosting and gathering of all friends and family. 

We’re Hiring!

Our Board

Dre Barthel

Development Team
Board Member

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Dre is a graduate of Bethel University with a degree in Social Work. After years of social services and transitioning into the world of sales and entrepreneurship, is now the owner and creative director of Covey. Dre is also an event producer and has launched a successful women’s event series the Momboss 5k. She serves as a business mentor, is on the event committee board for Bethel Biz, and leads worship at Church of the Open Door. Dre is married to her college sweetheart and a mother to two boys.

Sarah Darr

Executive Team

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Sarah is Head of Financial Planning and Senior Vice President for U.S. Bank Wealth Management. In that role, Sarah oversees the strategy and delivery of how clients navigate financial decisions with innovative experiences, meaningful insights and progress toward goals. She is a Certified Financial PlannerTM and received her bachelor’s degree in business management from Bethel University. Sarah and her husband live in Shoreview, MN with their three children. After being positively impacted by people in her life with Down syndrome, Sarah was inspired to get involved with Jack’s Basket to celebrate and raise awareness for Down syndrome.

Ian Isakson

Executive Team

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Ian first encountered Jack’s Basket in 2020 when his family received a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome for their daughter, Isabel. At the 2021 Gala, his wife, Leah, shared their journey of diagnosis and pregnancy, highlighting how Jack’s Basket provided much-needed hope during a challenging time for their family.

With over 15 years of experience in financial services, Ian specializes in advising families, foundations, and organizations. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Ian resides in Hudson with his wife, Leah, and their five children: Grace, Lydia, Samuel, Micah, and Isabel.

Sam Lacy

Executive Team
Board Member

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Sam is a litigator at Jones Day where he represents clients in complex commercial matters in federal and state courts. Through his pro bono practice, Sam also represents immigrants in offensive and defensive asylum proceedings, and volunteers with the Children’s Law Center advocating for minors in welfare and safety actions. He is also a PhD candidate at the University of Pennsylvania writing a dissertation that analyzes how biblical and legal interpretation worked symbiotically to justify lynching in the Jim Crow South. When not working, Sam runs, gives sermons, spends time with his wife and four children.

James Larson

Executive Team

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James is currently President of Cass Precision Machining located in Brooklyn Center, MN. James has a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and has more than 30 years of experience that spans manufacturing, supply chain, product launches, and sales in a variety of global and domestic businesses. James is known for seeing the big picture and being the go-to person to put strategy into action. James’s professional passion is building teams and creating sustainable growth enabled by a high-trust and winning culture. When not at work, James and his wife Kerry enjoy spending time outdoors with their children, Jakob and Aiden, and their two dogs Daisy and Birdie. The mission of Jack’s Basket is special to James and Kerry because of their own experiences when Aiden was born and a desire to help others.

Dr. Erin Plummer

Medical Team

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Dr. Erin Plummer specializes in neonatal critical care at Children’s Minnesota. She is passionate about caring for infants hospitalized in the NICU and has never ceased to be impressed by the incredible strength and resilience embodied by these small humans. She is a champion for building relationships and improving communication between the health care team and families. She wants to empower families to be strong advocates for themselves and for their children. Dr. Plummer is involved in the education of neonatal fellows, pediatric residents, family practice residents and medical students. Outside of the hospital, she and her husband spend most of their time chasing around their two wild boys.

Greg Stalsberg

Executive Team
Board Member

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Greg Stalsberg received his B.A. in Finance from the University of St. Thomas, graduating Magna Cum Laude. He is currently a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) charterholder. Outside of the investment industry, Greg is a longstanding volunteer with Young Life, a non-profit youth ministry organization. He currently serves as Committee Chair for Young Life’s Northern Twin Cities division. Greg resides in North Oaks, MN with his wife, Erin, and three children, McKenna, Brynn, and Callan.

Medical Team Members

Dr. Nathan Bertelsen

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Dr. Bertelsen is a practicing clinician educator in internal medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. He is a Co-Director of Becoming a Doctor, which is a required course for all medical students on professional identity formation and reflective practice, Director of Partnerships for the UMN Global Medicine program, and core faculty in the National Resource Center for Refugees, Immigrants and Migrants. He served as Director of Primary Care for the Bellevue Program for Survivors of Torture in New York City, and Advisor for Research and Training for Doctors Without Borders, Barcelona-Athens office. He directed medical and public health courses in Turkey, Italy, and Spain, and communication skills trainings for physicians in Central America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East / North Africa. He believes that communication is the most important skill in medical training.

Jessamina Blum, PhD, MEd

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Jess began her training thinking that she was going to be the primary investigator of a research lab, but during her PhD training, she fell in love with education and curriculum design. This altered her path and led her to pursue a postdoc position in which she could devote part of her time to learning effective pedagogy and evidence-based teaching and learning strategies. Fast forward a decade or so and now Jess is leading teams of staff and faculty to redesign the MD curriculum at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Curriculum design in all modalities is her passion and it has been her honor to partner with Dr. Erin Plummer and the rest of the Jack’s Basket Medical Team to create the Communicating Unexpected News curriculum.

Dr. Steve Calvin

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Steve Calvin is board-certified in OB/GYN and Maternal-Fetal Medicine. He has cared
for mothers and babies with the entire range of pregnancy concerns. He believes all
babies deserve to be celebrated and welcomed, especially those with Down Syndrome.
This requires equipping medical providers with the skills to communicate unexpected
news. He has served as a faculty member at the University of Minnesota since 1989 and
is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in
Phoenix. As founder and medical director of the Minnesota Birth Center he strongly
supports pregnancy care for low-risk mothers provided by nurse midwives in birth
centers and hospitals. He believes that health care reform should start where we all did
– with pregnancy and birth and that all mothers deserve comprehensive team-based
care. He is focused on improving care for the mothers and babies covered by Medicaid.
He is currently in the last year of an appointed four-year term on the HHS Advisory
Committee on Infant and Maternal Mortality.

Dr. Kelsey Carrigan

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Dr. Kelsey Carrigan is a pediatric resident physician at the University of Minnesota. She was born and raised in Wausau, WI until she moved to the Twin Cities for college and has been a Golden Gopher ever since. After residency, she plans to continue her medical training by completing a fellowship in neonatal critical care. Outside of the hospital, Kelsey enjoys traveling, reading, playing board games, and spending time with her husband and dog. Kelsey is excited to be a member of Jack’s Basket Medical Team and be a part of all of the incredible work that is being done to celebrate babies with Down syndrome and improve communication between medical providers and families!

Dr. Matt Mahoney

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Dr. Matt Mahoney is a pediatric resident physician at the University of Minnesota. In that role, he spends time caring for children at M Health Fairview Masonic Children’s Hospital, Children’s Minnesota Hospitals, and Hennepin County Medical Center. Early in his first year of residency, Dr. Mahoney got to know the family of an infant with Down syndrome who was admitted to the hospital. The child’s mom spoke of the impact Jack’s Basket had in her view of the diagnosis, shifting from emotions of fear and negativity to feeling like they were part of a “special club.” On the Jack’s Basket medical team, Dr. Mahoney has contributed to curriculum development, made progress towards publishing research on the Down syndrome diagnosis, and presented at both local and national conferences on ways to improve the diagnosis experience.

Dr. Carrie Muench

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Dr. Carrie Muench is a pediatrician who has practiced outpatient general pediatrics in the Twin Cities West Metro over the last two decades.  She is the proud parent of three children and received her own unexpected news when her youngest, Ava, was born with Down syndrome in 2008. When she learned about Jack’s Basket many years after Ava was born, she knew firsthand the difference a basket could make for a family encountering a new diagnosis. The goals of Jack’s Basket to celebrate babies, connect families, provide resources, and educate medical professionals about medical bias resonate with all of her professional and personal passions. She has had the privilege of being involved with the Jack’s Basket Medical Team since 2018. She has been on leave from outpatient medicine for the past few years due to the needs of her family, but remains active in advocacy and volunteering with organizations that support individuals with Down syndrome, including Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota and Gigi’s Playhouse Twin Cities. She is currently participating in the Minnesota Partners in Policymaking course to learn about more ways to advocate for the disability community. Dr. Muench is an alumna of Bethel University and the University of Minnesota Medical School and currently lives in Chanhassen with her husband Carter, two dogs, and three children spanning high school through college.

Rebecca Olson, APRN

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Rebecca Olson is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner with a passion for caring for children with Down syndrome. She works at Children’s Minnesota in the Neonatology Department caring for newborns needing hospitalization after birth. She often has the pleasure of meeting a family and their newborn and makes frequent requests for a Jack’s Basket. Prior to this role, she worked in the Genomic Medicine division at Children’s Minnesota for 12 years and was the lead clinician in the Down Syndrome Clinic. She provided medical evaluations and recommendations for the care of infants, children, and adolescents with Down syndrome. Throughout Rebecca’s career, she has had the privilege of providing care to over one thousand children with Down syndrome. Rebecca served on the board from the inception of Jack’s Basket until 2019 and currently participates as a member of the Jack’s Basket Medical Team. She is invested in changing families’ stories by improving clinician communication about Down syndrome. Rebecca lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two daughters.

Dr. Michael Pitt

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Dr. Mike Pitt is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota where he is an Associate Residency Program Director, Associate Chair of Faculty Development and Strategic Planning, and the Fellowship Director for hospital medicine. A winner of multiple teaching awards, Dr. Pitt speaks across the country with a primary focus of improving the way medical providers communicate with each other and their patients. He has authored over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts and textbook chapters in leading medical journals and has developed curricula used at hundreds of universities in more than 20 countries. As an award-winning professional magician, he has performed for Fortune 500 Companies all over the world and has taught over 3,500 pediatricians how to think like a magician at the bedside to improve rapport and increase diagnostic yield. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Q-rounds, a software solution that helps bring doctors, nurses, and families together for hospital rounds. 

Dr. Niyati Patel

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Dr. Niyati Patel graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and attended medical school at Ross University Medical School. She completed her pediatric residency at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, NY and followed that with a fellowship in pediatric critical care medicine with a strong emphasis in cardiovascular intensive care at Duke University Hospital in Durham, NC. Her special medical interests include enhancing patient care by focusing on patient safety, quality assurance, and improving efficiency with the use of medical informatics. She is board certified in both pediatrics and pediatric critical care medicine. Dr. Patel lives near the Twin Cities and enjoys running, snowboarding, and trying to teach herself to play guitar in her free time.

Dr. Celina Spencer

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Dr. Celina Spencer graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a Biochemistry degree and attended medical school at Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine. She is currently completing her Pediatric residency training at the University of Minnesota with hopes to continue her training in Neonatology. Her medical interests include improving families’ experience with healthcare providers and patient safety. Celina lives in Richfield with her husband and her golden retriever puppy.

Dr. Kishore Vellody

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Dr. Vellody completed his medical degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago College

of Medicine and his pediatric residency at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in

Milwaukee. He is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of

Medicine. In March 2009, he became Medical Director of the Down Syndrome Center of

Western Pennsylvania and has also served as President of the National Down Syndrome

Congress (NDSC). Dr. Vellody has spoken at a variety of local, regional, national, and international meetings on the care of children with Down syndrome. Dr. Vellody became a pediatrician in large part because of his relationship with his older brother, Das, who is smart, funny, caring, . . . and also has Down syndrome.