Mark: Chief Operating Officer
Joined Missionary Staff: February 2022
Mark and Julie are regulars at Fort, having attended Family Camp with Autumn Ridge Church for 23 years. The Foley’s are excited to be part of five new missionary families to join Fort staff in 2022. Prior to working at camp, Mark and Julie were based in Rochester, MN. Mark worked at Mayo Clinic for 29 years in a variety of roles, but most recently as Senior Director for Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.
Mark and Julie met at Cru while attending Iowa State University. Mark was in graduate school and Julie transferred there from The Ohio State University after working for a year in Iowa to claim residency. Julie asked her group leader about others her age in the group, and she pointed to Mark. They first started talking at the Cru fall retreat but got to know each other better when their small group leaders conspired to have them share a ride to Chicago for a winter conference. The rest is history. They have been married for 35 years and have five children (who grew up coming to Fort’s Family Camp for their summer vacations) and 5 grandchildren (two of whom already have plans for what they will make with Grandpa in the Woodshop next summer and 3 who are too little to tell us their plans.)
Mark is Fort’s Chief Operating Officer – that means he oversees programs, people, and processes that keep Fort running on a day-to-day basis. Mark’s favorite part of ministry at Fort Wilderness is developing people. He loves watching people thrive and says, “I care about my people. Through time I’ve learned that developing people is the biggest thing you do to be successful. Watching people blossom and grow is a really fun thing.”
Q & A with Mark
How did you (and Julie) know you were called to be missionaries at Fort?
I was working on my fence on a Saturday afternoon two weeks after I decided I was leaving Mayo Clinic. The next morning, I texted Todd that I was leaving Mayo and wanted to talk to him about the open Program Director position. That afternoon we talked, and Todd said that I’m overqualified for the Program Director job and asked, ‘What do you love to do?’ I said, ‘I love to develop people, processes, and solve problems.’ He goes, ‘So basically the job description I wrote yesterday.’ I said, ‘Okay God, what are you doing?’ and you know the rest is history.”
What is your favorite part of Family Camp?
“I loved the freedom our kids had growing up. You come up here and the kids just take off. They would be gone all day long doing activities. We had a rule in our family that we needed to eat together at dinner, so we knew everyone was still alive.”
When you’re not at camp, what do you enjoy doing?
“I enjoy fitness – mainly biking, kayaking, skiing. I enjoy woodworking, fixing my house, and landscaping too.”
What is your favorite Fort memory?
“That’s a hard one. All five of our kids were baptized in Spider Lake which is a good memory. Having kids who love camp and want to spend time with family is very important to us.”
Which is the superior fry bread: powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar?
“Cinnamon sugar. You’ll find that I put cinnamon in lots of things – even recipes that don’t call for it. I’m very much into nutrition. There is an anti-inflammatory property in cinnamon and if I can get some free anti-inflammatory that has good flavor, I’ll take advantage of it.”
Have you ever…
Gone down the waterslide? – “Yes, multiple times!”
Done a flip off the quadrapod? – “Yes”
Eaten more than ten pieces of frybread at one time? – “No, the most I’ve eaten is four pieces, I think.”
Swam across Spider Lake? – “No”
Eaten both Lumberjacks and Wranglers breakfast? – “Yes”
Ridden a horse? – “Yes, the last horse ride I went on was with my daughter, probably 10 years ago.”