We are a team of talented professionals with a wide range of skills and experience. We love our community, love what we do, and we do it with passion.
Founder and President
My husband Clayton and I have lived in the Big Lake area since 1996 and have raised our three children here. I have worked all of my adult life with children of all ages, and find pure joy in those “light bulb” moments when something clicks for them upon discovering something new. I love to nurture relationships and connect people and see their relationships develop, especially between those in different stages of life. I am not only committed to helping youth thrive, know they are loved, and a valued part of this community, but also to this fantastic community. Over the years I have been involved in several Big Lake community organizations and continue to enjoy doing so. Several years ago, I started my first nonprofit to raise awareness of the autoimmune disease Lupus after my son was diagnosed. Since then, I have mentored and coached students at Luther Seminary and have worked alongside professors to assist students in their final thesis projects. I enjoy, and am honored to consult and coach congregations and their staff. I am also working as the team lead of education and small groups for the Multicultural Youth Leadership Event (MYLE) taking place In Minneapolis in January of 2022. I love to spend time with my family, volunteer in the community, kayak, run, and go hiking at State Parks. I also apparently can’t keep myself out of school and have earned two Master degrees in the last five years and am a current Doctorate in Ministry student.
Why do I support The Wave Youth Center? Because our world has changed drastically, leaving many communities fragile with people less connected to their neighbors, and I want more for this community.
My name is Gabriela Dillon, or Gaby for short. I have been a member of the Big Lake
community since I was a young child, nearly 20 years. I was raised in a family with two younger sisters and loving parents, from whom I learned the importance of supporting young people and nurturing their ideas. I am also a graduate of St Catherine University in St. Paul with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Some might know me previously as the Program Assistant for The Wave, and I am so happy to be able to keep supporting the youth in our community at The Wave as its’ Executive Director.
In my spare time, I am passionate about art as a medium of expression for all things, I
especially love to draw. I also love to spend time with my (rather large) extended family, and reading fiction novels when I can. Why do I support the Wave? In my time as the Program Assistant at The Wave I got to see up close how much having a safe place to be oneself is impactful for our youth, and how fulfilling it can be to be a part of making a difference in the community. I wholeheartedly believe in and connect with the mission of The Wave, to create a space that is helpful for our youths’ health, spirit and mind. I look forward to seeing the growth of The Wave, as we support as many youth in our community as we can!
I have lived in Big Lake for the past 16 years. I have three daughters ages 22, 16 and 13. My oldest daughter, a BLHS alumni, now lives in Fargo ND with her husband. My 16 and 13-year-old daughters have attended Big Lake school since preschool. They are active in dance, as well as a variety of school activities including cheerleading and drama. I am currently employed at Sherburne County Health and Human services as a social worker in the Developmental Disabilities Unit. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time on the lake and bonfires.
“Why do I support The Wave Youth Center?” I support the Wave do to the fact that I see many youth in this community needing a place to find acceptance. Being a teen in this day with social media can be very difficult. Knowing there is a safe place where they can go and hang out and have fun in a safe open and welcoming environment can be the change that one youth needs.
After graduating from Big Lake High School, I earned my bachelor’s degree in Accounting. I have worked as an accountant in both the public and private sector for 18 years. I enjoy reading to my kids, volunteering at their schools, and going for walks. In addition to being the Treasurer of The Wave, I am Chairman of the Agape Christian Preschool board, and a board member of the Employee Sponsorship Program at my employer.
Why I support The Wave Youth Center…I support The Wave Youth Center because I see the extraordinary need in our community for youth support and encouragement. Our kids need a safe place to socialize, learn valuable life skills, and receive the support they need to be successful adults.
I am the Senior Pastor of Saron Lutheran Church in Big Lake. My wife, Val, and I are the parents of two adult children and have two grandchildren. I have several years of experience advocating on behalf of youth and for communities that I serve. I participate in many of Big Lake’s community organizations. I am also heavily involved with the Big Lake Area Ministerium, bringing together churches in ways that benefit the Big Lake community. I also have 11 years of experience in full-time church youth ministry in Minnetonka and Brooklyn Park.
I support The Wave Youth Center because I see so many young people without effective support in this community. There are many people who care and work hard for young people. But the organized and individual efforts are not reaching all. The Wave will provide safe space, support, encouragement and positive options for young people in ways that parents, schools, sports and employers cannot. I want every young person to know she or he is valuable, supported and cared about.
I am currently the Sherburne County Commissioner serving District 2 – Big Lake Township and City of Big Lake. I have lived in Sherburne County for more than 40 years. My husband, Ervin, and I live in Big Lake. We have two grown children that we raised in this community, and four grandchildren all of whom live close by. For more than 40 years, I have been a business owner in Big Lake, and heavily involved in community service.
Prior to being elected to Sherburne County Board of Commissioners, I served on the Big Lake City Council for 10 years, first as a council member for four years, and then as mayor for six years. Since being elected, I have enjoyed serving the residents of Sherburne County.
I support The Wave Youth Center, because I feel there is a huge need for it in Big Lake for our youth to have a safe place to hang out.
Born and raised in Minnesota, I’ve been a resident of Big Lake for the past four years with my blended family including children ages 22, 20 and 7. I love this community, the people, the schools and the incredible opportunity for balance with the nature and recreation the area provides.
After working in office settings my entire career ranging from administration to financial planning and investing, estate and trust planning, accounting and tax – I discovered a creative side to myself that I hadn’t known existed. Since picking up a paintbrush in 2017 I have learned so much about myself through art, mindfulness, meditation and yoga I began exploring ways to bring the benefits to the greater community. In September 2018 I began making my dreams my reality by entering the world of entrepreneurship and Create & Connect Studio was born! As doors continue to open in this grown field of mindfulness I have since become a certified children’s yoga instructor. Currently enrolled in yoga teacher training as well as mindfulness training courses, I continue to learn and expand my knowledge.
The Wave Youth Center initiative is very dear to me. Our teens and young adults are facing more stress and trauma in their everyday lives than ever before. The world of mindfulness, yoga and art is available to everyone of all ages – it is my goal to reach as many people as possible of all ages and all walks of life – sharing joy and wonder. The Youth Center is one such way that I hope to make an impact in a powerful and meaningful way.
I love this community and have called it home since 1987. Although I am only an official member of The Knights Of Columbus I support many community organizations. Growing up in a family of farmers I developed a love for gardening and animals.
Why do I support The Wave Youth Center? As a child growing up with disabilities I was often excluded from activities and often heard that I could not do something, or I would not amount to much because of my disabilities. The Civil Air Patrol and the youth Conversation Corps were organizations that had a place for me that I felt valued and loved just as I was. I want to be a part of encouraging others that are often excluded to find a place where they feel they belong and are cared for.
Youth General Member
I am a middle schooler at the Big Lake Middle School. I love art and animals, and in my spare time, I like hanging out with friends, painting/drawing, and playing outside. I support The Wave because I believe that teens should have a place to go to and people they can talk to if they need. I come a lot with my friends, and we have so much fun! I can’t wait to see what comes to The Wave in the future.
Middle School Liaison
Hi my name is Grant. I’m a middle schooler here at Big Lake Middle School. I play sports and other activities throughout the area like basketball and act in plays. I love my church, neighborhood, and the overall community. I am honored to have been recently made The Wave’s middle school liaison. I am so glad that we have The Wave. It is a great center we have here and it includes things like fun, friends, homework help, enrichment days, the list is endless with all the opportunities we have! My friends and I come here almost every day. We have so much fun! I’m so grateful we have The Wave and all it brings to me, my friends, newcomers, and the community. I’m excited to see what the future will bring to this great place.