Jess grew up in Stillwater, Minnesota and moved to Duluth in 2001 to attend the University of Minnesota Duluth. While in college she was able to study abroad in Australia and Nicaragua. Upon graduating from UMD with a degree in psychology, she served two years in AmeriCorps back in the Twin Cities area. There she worked closely with non-profits in the area of education.

Upon completing her AmeriCorps service, she moved back to Duluth, MN and started working with Mentor Duluth; A local non-profit which helps pair responsible adults with underserved youth. During her time at Mentor Duluth, she met Mike. He interviewed for an AmeriCorps position at the youth center that Jess was based out of. He got the job, they got to know each other, and the rest is history. After a couple years working in that capacity Jess felt the tugging of the Holy Spirit to work as the Office Manager at the Duluth Vineyard Church. She has served for 3 years as Office Manager, where she helped keep the 21+ member staff and 2000+ member church organized.

It was at this time that she entered Vineyard Leadership Institute, a two year theology and leadership training program administered through the local church. It was at the end of this program that Jess was presented with the opportunity to pioneer the Heroic Leadership Institute at Duluth, MN. Jess & Mike were married on April 15, 2011 and could not be more excited to work as a team in launching this incredible program.


Mike was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. Though he loves St. Paul, he decided to attend University of Minnesota Duluth and pursue his degree in Political Science. One of Mike’s most formative and life-changing years was when he had the opportunity to study abroad in England for one year, where he experienced God in powerful ways, and was also first called to the Duluth Vineyard church.

Once graduated from UMD, Mike interviewed for an AmeriCorps position at Valley Youth Center. The person that interviewed him…Jess. During his year serving the youth of West Duluth, Mike & Jess developed quite a friendship that inevitably led to dating. During his year in AmeriCorps, he was also a student in Vineyard Leadership Institute where a love for theology and church leadership grew in his heart. Mike was invited to consider doing a pastoral internship at the Vineyard the next year. He felt God tugging his heart towards this opportunity, and in fall 2010 he began an intense year of serving the church, getting stretched in leadership, and living off of pennies.

Currently, Mike works at United Health Group and is enjoying planning and preparing for Heroic Leadership Institute.