Our Team

Board of Directors

Leah Jacobson

CEO & Founder
Hailing from central Minnesota, Leah has been working with young people and mothers since 2000. Leah founded The Guiding Star Project in 2011 after feeling called to help women and families by providing resources that honor Natural Law and promote wholistic feminism. She seeks to create Guiding Star Centers to serve as beacons of hope, joy, and truth — safe havens that uphold human dignity in all stages of life. Leah lives in Minnesota with her family and works as a board-certified lactation consultant. As a mother to seven children, she has a special interest in supporting young women as they transition into their roles as new mothers.

Abby Johnson

Board Chair
On September 26, 2009, Abby Johnson, then a Planned Parenthood Clinic Director, was asked to assist with an ultrasound-guided abortion. She watched in horror as a 13-week baby fought, and ultimately lost, its life at the hand of the abortionist. At that moment, the full realization of what abortion was washed over Abby, and a dramatic transformation took place. She is now one of the country’s leading pro-life advocates and dedicated to providing authentic Women’s Healthcare!
She is the author of Unplanned, founder of And Then There Were None (a ministry that assists abortion clinic workers out of the industry), and Board Chair of The Guiding Star Project, where she has helped to open seven women’s health centers dedicated to ending the demand for abortion.

Sam Rodriguez

Sam Rodriguez is Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer for Ontologix, a tech start-up that specializes in computer based pattern recognition, actively focused in medical diagnostics. He graduated from Middleburry College with a BA in History and from Washington University in St. Louis with a Juris Doctor. In the diocese of Memphis, he’s been involved in a variety of Evangelization and Discipleship activities, especially Men’s Ministry. Sam is also co-host for the Catholic Cafe podcast, which airs on EWTN Radio, Relevant Radio, and nearly a thousand other outlets worldwide. 

Ryan Kramer

Treasurer

Ryan Kramer is a stay-home-dad to four beautiful children. He is active in his church community and also serves on the board of directors for St. Francis Elementary School. He lives in Ironton, MN with his wife and children.

Ryan Kramer headshot jpeg

Katie Murry

Secretary
Working as a youth minister, Katie saw a great need for young women to receive accurate and honest information about their bodies, as well as wholistic care for their entire lives. Katie was drawn to The Guiding Star Project’s model and mission to provide wholistic, life-affirming care to all women. Katie lives in south central Pennsylvania with her husband and four children. She enjoys cooking, gardening, coaching her children, coffee, and sushi.

Annie Celotto

Board Member at Large
Like her lifelong hero, Saint Mother Teresa, Annie believes that simple acts, like making someone smile or laugh, make the profoundest impact on an individual’s life, which is why she believes in utilizing new media to do just that. Annie, founder and principal of Alice Paul Group, believes that there is nothing more important than seeing the dignity in every person. She is humbled that she gets to wake up every day and help the world to see that dignity through the client work that Alice Paul Group does. She is grateful.

Staff

Karen Pennell

National Affiliate Director                          Karen’s passion for nonprofit work and pro-life ministry is a perfect fit for Guiding Star Project! She brings decades of experience in both corporate and nonprofit leadership to our national office as our National Affiliate Director. Her highest priority is to help equip organizations increase their outreach, expand their territory and excel in their leadership. She has served numerous organizations throughout the United States. She is the founder of Karen Pennell Consulting, a wife, mom to three adults, grammy for two amazing grandkids and consultant to nonprofit organizations. Although she enjoys travel and meeting new people she calls beautiful Lancaster County PA her home.

Mary Teck

Operations Director
Mary has watched the growth of The Guiding Star Project since its beginning and is happy to be able to now be a part of the staff. After completing her Master of Arts in management in 2013, Mary wanted to be useful to a good cause and has found a great home in the Guiding Star family. Mary lives in Ironton, Minnesota, with her husband and their three small, noisy, tenacious children.

Elise Verwers

National Medical Expansion Director
Elise holds a degree in English from the University of Washington and has contributed to blogs for The Guiding Star Project and Natural Womanhood. Elise interned with NBC Universal during the 2010 winter Olympics as a guide to the games for NBC and GE executives. She also spent eight years serving veterans with the Seattle VA Regional Office. Elise and her husband, Derek, recently relocated from Seattle, Washington, to Memphis, Tennessee. They have four children including a daughter and a son with them here and twin sons in heaven. Elise is an avid traveler, camper, and coffee drinker.

Caitlin Bostrom

Marketing and Development Director              Caitlin Bostrom is a big sister at heart. She grew up on a small lake in MN with her six siblings and loving parents. She fled the MN cold and studied Theology and Music at Ave Maria University in Florida. After Graduating in 2018, she ended up in Toledo OH serving as a Culture Project missionary, giving presentations on human dignity and sexual integrity to middle school and high school students. Having a heart for women and babies, she is excited about her role in Guiding Star as the Marketing and Development Director. “I hope to encounter many people as on fire for mothers and babies as I am! Everyone’s story is precious and beautiful, and I want to hear it!” She is passionate about people, relationships, music boujee coffee shops, theology of the body, ultimate frisby, and dancing.