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Advisory Board – Past & Present

National Advisory Board

In building a new model for whole person senior care, Lifesprk needed to go beyond current options. We’ve witnessed the problems of the current health and senior care system first-hand. The problems were too complex to fix with a silo approach. It wasn’t just a ‘health care’ issue – it was a life issue.

So we sought to break out of the health care system boundaries to create a system solution that spans the full spectrum of life for seniors. We brought together a team of national thought-leaders from across the country with expertise in a broad range of specialties, who could help push Lifesprk’s thinking, challenge assumptions, and help refine our services and capabilities for you and your family.

Take a moment to meet our past and present Lifesprk Advisory Board Members.

Richard Leider

Richard Leider

Founder & Chairman Inventure – The Purpose Company

Richard Leider, founder of Inventure – The Purpose Company, is one of America’s preeminent executive coaches. He is ranked by Forbes as one of the “Top 5” most respected executive coaches, and by the Conference Board as a “legend in coaching.”

Richard’s nine books, including three best sellers, have sold over one million copies and have been translated into 20 languages. Repacking Your Bags and The Power of Purpose are considered classics in the personal development field.
As co-author of Life Reimagined, he is the Chief Curator of content for AARP’s Life Reimagined Institute. Widely viewed as a visionary and thought leader on the “power of purpose”, his work is featured regularly in many media sources including, PBS public television, and NPR public radio.

As a keynote speaker, he is one of a select few advisors and coaches who have been asked to work with over 100,000 leaders from over 100 organizations such as AARP, Ericsson, Mayo Clinic, MetLife, National Football League (NFL), and United Health Group to helpdiscover the power of purpose.

Richard holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling and is a National Certified Counselor (NCC), a National Certified Career Counselor (NCCC), and a National Certified Master Career Counselor (MCC). As a Senior Fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing, he founded The Purpose Project. He is a Carlson Executive Fellow at the University of Minnesota School of Management and co-chairman of the Linkage/Global Institute for Leadership Development.


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Larry Ackerman

Larry Ackerman

Founder The Identity Circle

Larry Ackerman is a leading authority on organizational and personal identity. He is the founder of The Identity Circle, a consulting and coaching firm based in Westport, CT. The company clarifies the uniqueness and potential that enables companies to perform better and people to live more fulfilling lives.
In a professional career spanning nearly 30 years, Larry has helped meet some of the most complex challenges facing large organizations struggling to find purpose and distinguish themselves in their fields. As a personal coach to senior executives, as well as consultant to their institutions, his insights have assisted many leaders in discovering the keys not just to survive, but to flourish. His clients have included AARP, Aetna, The American Academy of Family Physicians, Baxter Healthcare, Dow Chemical, Fidelity Investments, Lockheed Martin, Maytag, and State Farm Insurance.

Larry has published two groundbreaking books on identity: Identity Is Destiny: Leadership and the Roots of Value Creation, and The Identity Code: The 8 Essential Questions for Finding Your Purpose and Place in the World.

A guest lecturer at the Yale School of Management, The Wharton School of Business, Pepperdine University and UCLA’s Anderson School, Larry is a top-rated speaker for The Conference Board, and is a sought-after keynote for leading organizations.



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Elmer Baldwin


For Elmer, joining Lifesprk is personal. He experienced his elderly mother’s late-life journey as her primary care coordinator. Elmer and his family experienced first-hand the fragmented, broken, and siloed senior ‘sick care’ system. This was his spark and he is dedicating his professional energy to the mission of serving our fragile and vulnerable senior population with the services necessary to enable them to age magnificently, in control, and with respect.

Elmer has a 30-year track record building and operating companies, including 20 years as President and Chief Executive Officer of five companies. For the past 10+ years, Elmer has been a Lifesprk advisory board member and has both experienced and supported the Lifesprk journey firsthand. Most recently, he helped develop Lifesprk’s strategic growth plans and guided them through the investor search process that led to the $16.1 investment with the Virgo Investment Group.

Elmer served as Senior Executive Director of Technology Investment Banking with Minneapolis-based Cherry Tree & Associates as well as serving as a board member and an advisor to a portfolio of growth companies.

Linked In Profile: Elmer Baldwin

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Mary Jo Kreitzer

Mary Jo Kreitzer, RN, PhD

Founder & Director Center for Spirituality & Healing

As founder and director of the Center for Spirituality and Healing, Dr. Mary Jo Kreitzer brings more than 20 years of leadership and expertise to the field of integrative health and medicine. She was the principal investigator (PI) of a $1.6 million National Institutes of Health (NCCAM) education grant and a Fetzer Institute funded evaluation of the Inner Life of Healers Program and the co-PI of a five year $2.1 million NIH (NINR) clinical trial of mindfulness meditation with solid organ transplant patients.

She is currently the co-PI of an NIH NCCAM R21 grant on mind/body interventions for caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients and is the co-investigator of a clinical trial comparing mindfulness meditation with pharmacotherapy for people with chronic insomnia.

In addition to her administrative responsibilities for the Center for Spirituality and Healing, Mary Jo teaches a course on optimal healing environments in the graduate minor in integrative therapies and healing practices and is a tenured professor in the School of Nursing where she is co-director of the doctorate in nursing practice (DNP) program in integrative health and healing. From 2004-2007, she served as the vice-chair of the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine. In 2008, she was named by Minnesota Physician as one of the 100 most influential health care leaders in the state. In 2009, she testified at a US Senate hearing titled “Integrative Health: Pathway to Health Reform” as well as the Institute of Medicine Summit titled “Integrative Medicine and the Health of the Public.” Dr. Kreitzer earned her doctoral degree in health services research and her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in nursing.


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Harry Moody

Harry R. Moody, PhD

Retired, Director of Academic Affairs AARP

Harry R. Moody, Ph.D., is the retired Director of Academic Affairs for AARP in Washington, DC. He also serves as Senior Associate with the International Longevity Center-USA and Senior Fellow for Civic Ventures. He previously served as Executive Director of the Brookdale Center on Aging at Hunter College and Chairman of the Board of Elderhostel.

He is the author of over 120 scholarly articles, as well as a number of books including: Abundance of Life: Human Development Policies for an Aging Society (Columbia University Press, 1988); Ethics in an Aging Society (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992); and Aging: Concepts and Controversies, a gerontology textbook now in its 5th edition and ranked by Amazon.Com as the best-selling aging textbook in print. His most recent book, The Five Stages of the Soul, was published by Doubleday Anchor Books (1997) and has been translated into seven languages worldwide.

A graduate of Yale (1967) with a Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia University (1973), Dr. Moody taught philosophy at Columbia, Hunter College, New York University, and the University of California at Santa Cruz. From 1999 to 2001 he served as National Program Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Faith in Action and, from 1992 to 1999, was Executive Director of the Brookdale Center at Hunter College. He also served as Administrator of Continuing Education Programs for the Citicorp Foundation and later as Co-Director of the National Aging Policy Center of the National Council on Aging in Washington, DC.

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Larry Spears

Larry Spears

President & CEO The Larry C. Spears Center for Servant Leadership

Larry C. Spears is a noted authority on servant-leadership. He serves as President & CEO of the Larry C. Spears Center for Servant-Leadership, Inc. (Indianapolis). Spears is also Servant-Leadership Scholar at Gonzaga University (Spokane). From 1990-2007 he served as President & CEO of the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership.

Spears is also a writer, editor, and creative force behind a dozen books including the best-selling, Insights on Leadership. He has authored several hundred articles, essays, and other publications on servant-leadership. Spears has been interviewed by such publications as Fortune, the Indianapolis Business Journal, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington Post, and Advancing Philanthropy. A 2004 television broadcast interview of Spears by Stone Phillips on NBC’s Dateline was seen by ten million viewers. His most recent book is The Spirit of Servant Leadership (with Shann Ferch, 2011, Paulist Press). Larry serves as the Senior Advisory Editor for The International Journal of Servant Leadership (2005-Present).

Larry has thirty years of experience in organizational leadership, entrepreneurial development, non-profit management, and grant writing, having envisioned and authored 30 grant projects totaling several million dollars.


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Joel Theisen

Joel Theisen, BSN (FOUNDER)


The spark starts here! Joel is founder and CEO of Lifesprk, formerly AgeWell.

Joel’s vision is clear: change the experience for people in the second half of life. His true joy is to see the spark in peoples’ eyes: customers, families, partners, employees, professional referral sources – he wants them all to shine on. Known as a business innovator, Joel has earned numerous accolades, including being named one of the Twin Cities’ 40 under 40 in 2007 and honored as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award® finalist for the Upper Midwest in 2011. Joel has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry with specific expertise in home- and community-based elder care.

Under his guidance, Lifesprk, has been one of the fastest growing companies in the Twin Cities since its founding in 2004. Prior to that, Joel served as Chief Executive Officer for AdvoLife, Inc., a venture-backed company in San Jose, CA. His leadership grew it to more than $10 million dollars in annual revenue, providing industry leading services in 5 metropolitan areas. Joel began his healthcare experience as the National Director of Private Pay Services for In Home Health, Inc., a national provider of comprehensive home health services. He trained as a critical-care nurse of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and graduated from Viterbo College in La Crosse, Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

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Bill Thomas, MD

CEO & Founder The Eden Alternative / Greenhouse Project

Dr. Bill Thomas is an author, entrepreneur, musician, teacher, farmer and physician whose wide-ranging work explores the terrain of human aging. Best known for his health care system innovations, he is the founder of a global non-profit (The Eden Alternative) which works to improve the care provided to older people. He is the creator of The Green House(R) which Provider Magazine has called the “pinnacle of culture change.” Dr. Thomas also developed the Senior ER model of care and is now working to transform the acute care services provided to elders.

His most recent novel (“Tribes of Eden”) is a post-apocalyptic thriller that explores the value of community in a world that is increasingly defined by and dependent on digital technology. Dr. Thomas’ latest play (“Play What’s Not There”) blends Greek mythology and Jazz with a taut exploration of the tension between work and life. The play premiered at the prestigious Guthrie Theater. As the guitarist for the acoustic duo “Hot Koko,” Thomas has recorded and released two collections of American roots music.

Dr. Thomas’ eclectic career has included two decades living off the grid and running a mixed power farming operation (Summer Hill), founding one of the first technology companies to offer clinicians immediate access to outcome data (Rumpelstitlskin), teaching medical students and serving as a founding faculty member of UMBC’s Erickson School of Aging. He is also the founder of the influential multi-author blogging platform, ChangingAging.org. A popular public speaker, Dr. Thomas is known for his thoughtful, heartfelt (and Powerpoint-free) approach to engaging with a wide range of audiences.

This synthesis of imagination and action led the Wall Street Journal to highlight Dr. Thomas as one of the nation’s “top 10 innovators” changing the future of retirement in America and US News and World Report to name him as one of “America’s best leaders.” The magazine noted his “startling common-sense ideas and his ability to persuade others to take a risk,” and concluded that “this creative and wildly exuberant country doctor has become something of a culture changer–reimagining how Americans will approach aging in the 21st century.”

Dr. Thomas continues to write, perform and help Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profits develop new products and services that make the most of normal human aging.


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Peter Whitehouse, MD, PhD

Professor of Neurology Case Western Reserve University

Peter J. Whitehouse, MD, PhD, is Professor of Neurology at Case Western Reserve University and Attending Physician at University Hospitals Case Medical Center. He also holds or has held appointments in psychiatry, neuroscience, psychology, nursing, organizational behavior, cognitive science, bioethics, and history. He is developing an intergenerational health and wellness practice based on an integrative narrative evolutionary health model. His long-term interest is developing innovative clinical and learning environments to promote individual and collective health and wisdom.

He is the author The Myth of Alzheimer’s (St. Martin’s Press January 2008; http://www.themythofalzheimers.com). He is a founder with his wife, Cathy, of The Intergenerational School – an innovative, successful, urban public school (http://www.tisonline.org).


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