Steve Wolbert, CEO
Fundraising | Business Development | Community Partnerships
After working in outreach and fundraising capacities in the non-profit sector, Steve created an opportunity to assist a for profit company to move beyond “checkbook philanthropy” and into a more focused effort on how corporations can impact a community. Steve saw the impact this model of philanthropy can create by facilitating and implementing community partner driven projects at a “for profit pace.” Steve was born and raised in Flint and recognizes the realities faced by the community over the last few decades and sees SIPI as a replicable solution in other legacy cities. Steve credits Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, founder of Homeboy Industries Inc., and Sr. Carol Weber, OP and Sr. Judy Blake, CSJ, foundresses of the St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center, for seeing an opportunity to help entrepreneurs use their gifts and talents to make an impact. Their approaches to alleviating poverty based on creating life changing job opportunities provides the perfect example of the type of high impact, systemic change SIPI hopes to make in people’s lives. Steve’s vision for SIPI is to see and provide hope where most aren’t looking. When people ask him what SIPI is, his response is simple, “SIPI is a platform for change.” Steve is a current board member of the St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center and the past board president of Genesee County Habitat for Humanity. He, along with his father and Fr. Tom Firestone, have facilitated Alternative Spring Break trips to Flint for the last eight years, during which over 10,000 hours of service have been completed in the Flint community. He graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Community Relations and went on to obtain a Master’s degree from St. Mary’s University (Minnesota) in Philanthropy and Development.
Jason Ball, President & COO | Director of Capacity Building
Operations | Community Development | Organizational Sustainability
Jason is an integrator. His expertise lies in working with visionaries and people passionate about their cause to develop plans, strategies and the associated documentation that helps ideas come to life. Jason is an experienced facilitator and consultant, having worked with a wide range of nonprofits, universities, local governments, and state agencies to drive community and economic development projects throughout Michigan for nearly a decade. Prior to joining SIPI, Jason was the Director of Client Services for an economic development consulting firm in Lansing, which allowed him to serve several Flint organizations as a contractor. This involved development of over $30 million in successful grant applications.
Jason has a Masters Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Michigan State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Grand Valley State University. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and has completed National Charrette Institute Certification. Jason has been a member of the Michigan Association of Planning’s government relations committee for over five years, serving as Chair since 2014.
Ana Vargas, Administrator & IT Program Manager
Administration I Education I Technology
Ana Vargas fills a dual role as administrator and program manager at SIPI. She has great passion for making positive changes in the lives of children and families in Flint and is a life-long Flint resident. Ana dedicated 15 years as an educator to the Flint Community Schools in multiple disciplines prior to her move to Sipi in August 2017. She currently holds an Associate’s degree in Applied Sciences from Mott Community College and is working to obtain her Bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Michigan-Flint. She is the founder and lead instructor of the non-profit Mexican dance group, Culturas del Sol based in Flint. She is also a dedicated wife and mother of three.
Bob Nelson, Program Coordinator
Training | Operations
Bob has over a decade’s worth of experience in management, operations and non-profit program development. He has worked locally at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Flint and the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. His knowledge also spans into the for-profit realms recently working in restaurants, retail and property management. His passion for helping others succeed has given him a unique perspective on his community and personal focus.
Bob Nelson was born and raised in the Flint Area. He graduated from Atherton High School and went on to attend Michigan State University, graduating with a B.S. in Psychology. He is currently wrapping up his Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.
Bob currently resides in Frankenmuth and enjoys the outdoors, sports and cooking.