John Ratey, MD, Board President and Co-Founder

John J. Ratey, MD, is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an internationally recognized expert in Neuropsychiatry. He has published over 60 peer-reviewed articles, and 11 books published in 15 languages, including the groundbreaking ADHD Driven to Distraction series with Ned Hallowell, MD., and Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. His latest book, Go Wild, explores how to achieve optimal physical and mental health by getting in touch with our caveman roots and how we can re-wild our lives. His most recently published book, co-authored with Ned Hallowell, ADHD 2.0, draws on the latest science to provide both parents and adults with ADHD a plan for minimizing the downside and maximizing the benefits of ADHD at any age. They offer an arsenal of new strategies and lifestyle hacks for thriving with ADHD.

With the publication of Spark, Dr. Ratey established himself as one of the world’s foremost authorities on the brain-fitness connection and he embarked on a worldwide mission to re-engineer schools, corporations, and individual lifestyle practices by incorporating exercise to achieve peak performance and optimum mental health. A highly sought-after speaker, he has lectured extensively throughout the U.S., Canada, Asia, Australia, and Europe. His work is frequently profiled in the media, where he’s been featured on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and NPR, as well as in The New York Times, Newsweek, The Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report, Men’s Health, and other national publications.

Dr. Ratey has functioned as an Adjunct Professor of Sport Science at the National Taiwan Sport University and as a consultant to the President of Taiwan and the Minister of Education in South Korea. He has served as co-head of the Advisory Board of the California Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sport, a consultant to ANTA Kids in China, and on Reebok’s non-profit before school fitness program, BOKS, where he was named Ambassador for Active Kids. His non-profit, Sparking Life, which he co-founded in 2010 with Rod Steele, promotes exercise in the treatment of mental health problems.

First and foremost, Dr. Ratey is a psychiatrist who cares deeply about his patients. Recognized by his peers as one of the Best Doctors in America since 1997, he was recently named “Outstanding Psychiatrist of 2016” by the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society. Married, with two children and two grandchildren, he maintains a private practice in both Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Los Angeles, California.

Ryan Bain

With an extensive background in athletics, from earning  “Athlete of the Year” honors from The Chicago Sun-Times for his achievements as an All-American football player and being an undefeated State Champion wrestler, to coaching and personal training at every level of competition, Ryan fully understands and appreciates the value physical activity and social connection through teamwork have to offer.

After a career-ending spinal injury in tandem with a progressive addiction to prescription painkillers, as well as the mounting losses of teammates, friends, and family to overdose, Ryan became dedicated to his road of self-improvement and shifted his focus toward being of service to others and the world around him. Being inherently driven to produce solutions for those still suffering in the midst of the opioid crisis, Ryan created a form of addiction treatment known as “ESM” which is the Latin abbreviation for “Exercitium Semita Medela” or “Exercise as a Pathway to Healing.”  This experiential approach to treating substance use disorder is a hybrid of cardiovascular conditioning, interval, and resistance training in conjunction with supportive psychotherapeutic approaches, promoting a robust mind-body connection for individuals newly entered into sobriety. Drawing from the work of Dr. John J. Ratey and Ryan’s personal experiences, ESM was developed based on the idea that exercise is a critical missing link in SUD treatment.

Given his background and education in Sociology and Counseling Psychology, Ryan has generated an unshakeable dedication toward helping others overcome addiction. Utilizing the cathartic agency that vigorous exercise and social connectivity possess toward healing the mind, brain, and body in those suffering from addiction, it remains Bain’s mission to help as many individuals as possible.

Learn more about Ryan’s role at Tree House Recovery.

Kathleen Granchelli, Secretary

Kathleen is a public relations professional with more than twenty-five years of experience in the high-tech sector. She has led and built successful programs and events in corporate communications,  media relations, community partnerships, and STEM K-12 initiatives at Draper, an R&D organization in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  In addition to Sparking Life, she has served on the boards of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, Kendall Square Association, and Cambridge Compact for a Sustainable Future.   Her thinking about PE for children was transformed when she read “Spark, The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, at which point she became an advocate of its fitness-for-life message.  Her passion for the positive impact a curriculum-based program could have on the holistic health of children influenced the headmaster of her daughter’s school to introduce a pilot and eventually build a new gym to enable full implementation of the curriculum. She continues to advocate for the adoption of Spark’s life-enhancing recommendations while trying to maintain a regular exercise program and cheering on her husband in his winter hiking goals.

Paul Lee

Paul Lee is the CEO and founder of Endominance, Inc. Endominance provides insight into the education, healthcare, and business fields. Whether it is quantifying cognitive data to assist with addiction recovery, finding innovative ways to encourage SEL in education, or enhancing company culture, Endominance strives to bring a more profound cognitive understanding to light.

Paul is committed to helping people to achieve a balance between their mental, cognitive, and physical health. He aims to provide people with the tools they need to grow their awareness of their aptitudes and unlock their full potential while at the same time preparing them for challenges through a variety of cutting-edge cognitive assessment models and apps. Ultimately, the goal of Endominance is to get in front of the obstacles that stand between people and their pursuit of a healthier lifestyle.
After nearly 20 years of working in business incubation and development, Paul found his calling with Endominance, a vocation he is genuinely proud of. With Endominance, Paul will continue to explore new ways to offer a deeper understanding of how our inclinations and decision-making processes are formed and to offer precision preventive solutions to people seeking self-improvement on any level.
Made in Korea, refurbished in the USA, and upgraded with the latest international business modules, Paul earned his nickname as a key-maker – one who can unlock any door to provide access to new opportunities. Lee lives in California with his wife and long-time supporter, and his three beautiful and active sons. He enjoys learning new languages and woodworking.

Chuck Menke, Chief Executive Officer

Chuck Menke has more than 26 years of executive leadership experience at the highest levels of the sports industry, including the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Movement, the National Hockey League, and NCAA Division I Athletics. As Chief Executive Officer of Sparking Life, Menke is implementing a business model transition in collaboration with the Board of Directors and other key stakeholders. Additional priorities and accomplishments include guiding an organizational strategic planning process, infusing programmatic change, elevating the communications and marketing platform, enhancing financial strength, and re-aligning the governance structure.

He earlier served as Chief Marketing Officer at USA Triathlon for 10-and-a-half years while overseeing record sponsorship revenue and helping drive membership totals to an all-time high. This included broadening the National Governing Body’s corporate partnership portfolio by signing non-endemic brands such as Toyota, Transamerica, BP, MetLife, Capital One, and Avis/Budget. Menke also directed national marketing and branding campaigns and led the strategies for communications, membership acquisition and retention, and event promotions.

He previously held senior-level roles with Quinnipiac University (Conn.) Athletics, the St. Louis Blues, and USA Hockey.

Tatsuo Okada, Founder & CEO, Sparking Life Japan

Tatsuo Okada
Bio coming soon

Fred C. Sears II, Treasurer

A lifetime Delawarean and graduate of the University of Delaware with B.A. and MBA degrees, Sears served a 38-year career in commercial/retail banking in Delaware that culminated in the position of President of Commerce Bank/Delaware. He also served six years in the Delaware Air National Guard.

During his banking tenure, he took a three-year leave of absence to serve in the Wilmington City Administration, first as Director of Finance and later as Director of Economic Development. He later ran for office and served two four-year terms as a Wilmington City Councilman At-Large.

Sears was recruited to leave the banking business to serve as CEO of the Delaware Community Foundation, a position he held for 13 years until his retirement three years ago.

As an officer/director for more than 50 Delaware non-profit agencies and commissions, Sears continues to serve in leadership roles on 13 boards/commissions/ foundations including serving as Chairman of the Delaware State Council for Development, Treasurer of the Beau Biden Foundation to Protect Innocent Children, and as a board member of Applied Bank and the Delaware State Port Corp.  

Sears currently is providing his fundraising expertise in service to nine organizations including as Co-Chairman for the Food Bank of Delaware’s capital campaign for its new distribution/office center and Co-Chairman for the Christiana Care Hospital’s capital campaign for its new seven-story Women’s Health Center.

Sears and his wife Jo-Ann continue to reside in Wilmington and are blessed to have both of their sons, daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren living in Wilmington.

Barbara Shafer

Barbara Shafer

Barbara Shafer, CRPS-F, serves as a paraprofessional advocate for Palm Beach County, Florida with a focus on substance use prevention/educational opportunities. She is the Sr. Health Planner and Program Manager at the Health Council of Southeast Florida. Barbara also facilitates Project COPE (Connect for Overdose Prevention and Education) and GRASP (Grief Recovery After Substance Passing) support programs that offer a safe place to discuss meaningful and relevant topics of interest to families who share the experience of a loved one who has died of opioid overdose, survived an overdose, or are at high risk for overdose.

The opioid epidemic directly touched her family in 2015 when she lost her 21-year-old daughter, Alison, to complications from intravenous drug use. She has since participated in the HGTC Addiction Lecture Series in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in 2016, the 5th Annual Behavioral Health Conference—Ft. Lauderdale, and the Florida Behavioral Health Conference (BHCon2019 and 2021). She has made it her mission to help families affected by addiction and/or who have lost children to addiction. She aims to bring hope to those families and individuals struggling with substance use disorders and to change the conversation and reduce the stigma.

Barbara received her Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from the University of Dayton and has realized a successful 35-year marketing/publishing career. Her professional strengths include media and communications, and exceptional interpersonal relationship skills. Outside activities include triathlons, running, yoga, and long-distance swimming.

Barbara is active with the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition (PBCSAC) and serves as a member of the Sparking Life Board of Directors and as an ambassador at ALwayS for ALS. She is also the former Secretary for the Alliance of Women Executives.

Stephanie Wurtz, Vice President

Prior to starting at Colorado College, Stephanie worked in K-12 public education and also spent five years as a television news reporter. She received both her Bachelor of Journalism and M.A. in strategic communications from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia.

She serves as president of Pikes Peak Road Runners, one of the largest running organizations in Colorado, working to promote running and fitness across the Pikes Peak Region. She’s looking forward to extending the reach of Sparking Life’s mission in her work with the vibrant running community.

When not on campus or volunteering, Stephanie spends her time out on the trails, running and mountain biking. She’s run across the Grand Canyon and up several of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks, ridden her bike over numerous mountain passes and completed races from a 5K to 100 miles. Her love for running lives on as a tribute to her favorite running partner and husband Mike Shafai, who made a significant impact on the running community and served on the Sparking Life Board before his sudden passing in October 2017. Mike continues to inspire Stephanie’s adventures, and she carries his spirit and legacy with her throughout the runners’ playground right outside her backdoor in Manitou Springs, CO.

In Memoriam: J. Rodman Steele, Jr., Former Chairman Emeritus and Co-Founder

Rod SteeleJ. Rodman Steele Jr., who passed away on Jan. 13, 2021, was a partner in the national firm of Duane Morris LLP. Mr. Steele represented clients in all phases of patent, trademark, trade secret, and copyright law and was recognized by Who’s Who of Patent Lawyers, Florida Legal Elite, The Best Lawyers in America, and SuperLawyers. He served on, and chaired, many nonprofit boards and has been legal counsel to others.

A former Captain in the Army, Mr. Steele was awarded a Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam and the Army Commendation Medal from the Department of the Army, Pentagon.

A former college basketball player, he was an active triathlete and has represented the U.S. at four overseas international championship events. He is a passionate believer that his exercise routine has stimulated some of his best legal and nonprofit efforts.

When the Florida Legislature finally passed a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), a legislative fight ensued and the legislation was not funded. Steele formed a fundraising foundation and served as its treasurer during the successful years during which the bulk of the pain pill clinics were abolished in Florida.

Read the Sparking Life tribute to Rod Steele