Grace in Action Board of Directors

Mr. Mark Wrightsman

Chairman for GIA

Personal Bio: 

Mr. Wrightsman has served as PaR Systems' president and chief executive officer since 1999; in that time the company has grown five-fold* and continued to improve upon solid profitability.
With other like-minded Christian men, Mark is a founding member and chairman of the innovation and leadership ministries of Grace in Action, GIA. Mark continues to serve on the Japan/Asia Committee of the WELS Board for World Missions (responsible for Japan), and in the past he served on the Wisconsin Lutheran College Board and its Executive Committee. He has been involved on the informal Friends of China Board, and is a past member of the St Croix Lutheran HS Board of Regents. Mark is a supporter of (Minneapolis WELS church) Pilgrim's ELA (Experiential Learning) urban education leadership program. He is a past President of a WELS mission congregation and past chair of a congregational WELS elementary school education committee, and past member American Diabetes Association Board. Mark has been involved in the Christ Lutheran Church, N St Paul, MN., Council for many years.


Prior to joining PaR, Mr. Wrightsman led five other very technical businesses, including two global businesses of more than $300 million in annual revenues.  He served in various engineering, product management, account management and business leadership assignments for over 16 years at General Electric.  Before joining PaR, he led a business for SPX Corporation and led Unisys Corporation's 1,500-person European organization of finance, human resources, legal, procurement, information systems and facilities shared services. Mr. Wrightsman received a Bachelor of Science degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Florida and a Master's in Business Administration from the University of Santa Clara.


* PaR's growth has come through a combination of new products, customer expansion, and 12 acquisitions. The five-fold revenue increase factors in a divestiture in 2004.

Mr. Jay Johnson

Vice Chair

Personal Bio: 

Jay W. Johnson is a founding member of the fast paced, and ever evolving market of Internet Security. As an early adopter I have had the opportunity to be an integral part of several companies that have set the pace in our industry, and created products to improve the e-commerce experience on the Internet.  Jay has served in sales, marketing, technical, and executive management roles at: AirDefense , CERTStation, GE Capital TMS/ITS, NT Objectives, Unisys, VeriSign, Xangati. Currently managing investments and assisting several young start up's, he prefers to spend time in his favorite charities and non-profit organizations. Two of those initiatives are IBD Society, a non-profit focused on supporting those inflicted with Crohn's Disease & Ulcerative Colitis, and recently joining Grace In Action.

Pastor Marcus Birkholz

Spiritual Adviser

Personal Bio: 

Marcus Birkholz has been a WELS pastor for thirty-eight years.  This is his 25th year as Senior Pastor of Salem Ev. Lutheran Church, Stillwater, MN.   During his time in MN, he additionally served on the Board of Control for Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary and on the Evangaism Committee for the District of MN. He also serves currently as chairman of a non-profit educational organization, Friends of China, which builds bridges with Peoples Republic of China through English Second Language teachers. He and his wife, Sherilyn, have been blessed with four children and fourteen grandchildren.

Mr. Mark Schulz


Personal Bio: 

Mark Schulz is a partner in the Janesville, Wisconsin, law firm of Meier, Wickhem, Lyons & Schulz, S.C.  Mark draws on more than thirty (30) years of experience representing individuals and businesses.  He concentrates his practice in the areas of estate planning and wealth building; probate and administration of living trusts; real estate transactions; and business and commercial transactions.  Mark is a Director of the Real Property Probate and Trust Section of the State Bar of Wisconsin.


Mark serves on a number of WELS boards and committees.  He is Chairman of the Asia Pacific Rim Administrative Committee of the WELS Board for World Missions and serves on the Board of the WELS Foundation, Inc.  He is a member of the Planning Committee of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference.  He is past board chairman of WELS Kingdom Workers.  He is active in his local congregation.


Mark received his undergraduate degree from Cornell College, Mt. Vernon, Iowa, where he earned distinction in his major fields of Russian and political science. He received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Mark has a coaching license from the United States Soccer Federation and is past president of the Milton Youth Soccer Association, Inc.  He and his wife, Karen, have four sons and live in Milton, Wisconsin.

Mr. Nate Birkholz



Personal Bio:

Nate Birkholz is the President of BTC Trust Company of South Dakota and works with clients and advisers to craft generational estate plans, uniquely tailored to each family.  Prior to joining BTC Trust Company of South Dakota, Nate worked for 18 years of experience as an estate and business succession attorney, community bank trust department manager, and has served as a fiduciary adviser for a Registered Investment Advisory firm.  Nate is active with several nonprofit organizations and is a frequent speaker on estate planning topics.  Nate earned his Associate of Arts degree from Bethany Lutheran College, Bachelor of Science degree from Minnesota State University – Mankato, and his Law Degree from the University of Nebraska. 

Mr. Arvid Schwartz


Personal Bio:

Arvid Schwartz currently serves as a Director for our board at Grace In Action. Along with serving on our board, he also serves on the boards of Time of Grace, Bethesda Lutheran Communities, and the Lutheran Home Association. The first 25 years of his professional career were spent in health care administration. At the end of that period, he was the vice president of finance (CFO) and treasurer of Health Partners, Inc. of MN.

Arvid has served as the chairman and/or treasurer at various congregations as well as been a member of the WELS Board of Trustees for about 25 years, a member of the WELS Synodical Council for about 10 years, a member of the board of regents and the chairman at Wisconsin Lutheran College, a member of the board and the chairman of Kingdom Workers, a member of the board of regents at St. Croix Lutheran High School, and a volunteer for Jesus Cares Ministry—a ministry of the Lutheran Home Association.

Arvid and his wife, Judy, have been married for 51 years. They have two children and six grandchildren.

Mr. Gary Jeffers

Personal Bio:

Gary Jeffers resides in Litchfield Park, AZ, with his lovely bride, Brenda. Having lived in the Phoenix area for over 30 years, they both call AZ home. They are members at Cross of Glory Lutheran Church in Peoria, where Brenda is the kindergarten teacher in the LES and Gary serves on various boards and committees. Gary is currently a financial representative of Thrivent Financial and previously had been in the banking industry for over 20 years. Gary and Brenda have been blessed with 2 daughters and 2 grandchildren.