Board and Staff

David Daniels: Executive Director

Hailing from the Kickapoo Valley region in Southwestern Wisconsin, David Daniels spent the majority of his childhood exploring the hills and rocks of Wisconsin’s unglaciated area. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin - Stout with a Bachelor of Science degree in Construction Management, he moved to Wausau because of the community’s incredible focus on arts and culture. While earning a Master of Science in Management and Entrepreneurial Leadership, David helped co-found Colossal Fossils Inc.

When he’s not working at Colossal Fossils events, or at his job at Wausau Window & Wall Systems, David loves spending time exploring and learning about this amazing planet with his beautiful wife, Stephanie, and their two young children.

David is incredibly excited to be a part of this growing organization and to help teach Wisconsin about all of the amazing creatures that have called this planet "home.”

Justen Willemon: President

Originally from Luxemburg, WI, Justen Willemon graduated with a Bachelor of Art degree in Multimedia Design from the University of Wisconsin-Stout in 2007. After graduating, Justen began his career with Miracle-Ear, where he has become a Nationally Board Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist. Justen helps as an examiner for the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services, and is a member of the International Hearing Society and the Wisconsin Alliance of Hearing Professionals.

Justen lives in Wausau with his wife, Melissa, and two children. In his free time he enjoys fishing, being outdoors, and spending time with family and friends. Justen is a member of the St. Matthew’s Men’s Club, and soon will be a head coach for youth t-ball with Everest Youth Baseball.

Stephanie Daniels: Vice President

A Wausau resident for most of her life, Stephanie Daniels is the co-founder and vice president of Colossal Fossils, Inc. Stephanie has an associate degree from MATC- Madison in applied sciences, and a second associate degree in nursing from Northcentral Technical College of Wausau. Working at Globe University in Rothschild, she discovered a love for teaching. She taught there for five years as a full-time instructor and was promoted to Program Chair of the Veterinary Technology Department. In 2012, Stephanie won the Golden Apple Award for teaching excellence in applied learning. Presently, she is working as the Career Services Advisor for Rasmussen College of Wausau.

In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys life with her husband, two children, dog, and pet tortoise. She also enjoys photography and playing volleyball, volunteers for the Good News Project of Wausau, and is an active member of the Eastside Parish Women’s group.

Christine Daniels: Secretary

Christine Daniels earned a Bachelor of Science degree at St. Norbert College in 1998. After graduation, she served one year as a Jesuit Volunteer Corp volunteer in Yakima, Washington. The last 16 years, Christine has worked at Good News Project, a Wausau-based non-profit organization. She has helped guide the growth of that organization from an office in the founder’s basement to a busy office and warehouse just north of downtown Wausau. Through her time at GNP, Christine has acquired many skills including: working hand in hand with a board of directors, managing employees and volunteers, budgeting, succession planning and NGO legal requirements. Through her work, she met her husband and now has five energetic children. She is also a member of the Wausau Noon Optimist group and serves on the board for the Emergency Food & Shelter Program.

Christine enjoys the opportunity to assist a new and energetic non-profit organization like Colossal Fossils. Great things are happening at CF!

Claire Meney: Board Member

Claire Meney is a marketing professional with 15 years of experience in the healthcare and financial services industries. As the Web Marketing Manager at Ministry Health Care in Wausau, Wisconsin for over eight years, Claire currently leads a team focused on patient acquisition. Her expertise includes strategic multi-media campaign planning and implementation, digital marketing, content strategy and social media.

Claire graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1999 with a Journalism Bachelor of Arts, emphasizing in Advertising and Public Relations. She also studied at the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Claire and her husband, Benoit, have three active sons age 8, 6 and 2, two of which are students at Newman St. Anne Elementary School in Wausau. When they aren’t playing Legos or having light saber battles, they enjoy being outdoors and traveling together as a family.

Melissa Willemon: Board Member

Melissa Willemon is a Wausau native working to shape and develop the minds of young children in her classroom at Marathon County Head Start. Melissa has seven years of teaching experience and earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Wisconsin-Stout in 2008. When Melissa isn’t busy teaching, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. She enjoys spending weekends at the cottage and going on all kinds of weekend adventures as a family. Melissa looks forward to being able to share her passion for teaching and ability for lesson planning to help Colossal Fossils grow!

Pat Esselman: Board Member

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Tom Bradford: Board Member

Tom Bradford grew up in Menominee, MI. Through his childhood, he found joy in exploring the lakes, rivers and forests of the upper peninsula of Michigan and Northeast Wisconsin. It helped to develop a lifelong love and appreciation for the natural world and the many ancient forces that shaped it. After graduating from Menominee High School, Tom attended the University of Wisconsin – Marinette, where he earned his associates degree in Liberal Arts. After briefly living in Marquette, MI, Tom was drawn to the Wausau area by its natural beauty, growing culture and booming economic opportunities.

Since moving to Wausau, Tom earned a technical certificate for AutoCAD and one for supervision from Northcentral Technical College of Wausau. Tom has developed an engineering career and subsequently moved into a leadership role. Tom is currently an engineering manager with Wausau Window and Wall.

Tom lives in Wausau with his wife, Katie, and their dog, Daisy, where they enjoy fishing, kayaking and traveling. Tom is very excited to share his passion for STEM activities and to help Colossal Fossils continue to bring exciting new opportunities to Central Wisconsin.

Nick Sweeney: Board Member

Nick Sweeney is the founder and owner of Big Fat Designs LLC, a design firm in Wausau, WI. As a Designer and Illustrator, he works to develop websites, literature and other marketing materials for corporations around Wisconsin and the U.S. Nick grew up in Wausau, and has spent most of his life in Wisconsin. After completing his Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, his career took him to Chicago, Los Angeles and more. However, his love of the Midwest soon brought him back home. Nick relocated to Wausau, with his wife Kari, 14 years ago. Their four children help keep Nick motived and inspired to explore new ideas, new technology and educational collaborations.

He is excited to bring this inspiration to Colossal Fossils to help propel them, their message and amazing educational experience to all of Wisconsin.

Stephen Schmidt, MS: Board Member

Stephen Schmidt is a free-lance science educator and manager of Snapshot Science, LLC with over 18 years of experience teaching a wide-range of science to students from pre-K to College. Snapshot Science develops collaborative science experiences for students of all abilities in order to increase science literacy through afterschool and summer science enrichment programs for elementary students and underwater robotics programs for middle school and high school students. He is an Adjunct Science Instructor at Northcentral Technical College where he teaches Principles of Sustainability to mostly Agriculture and Veterinary Science students. He was honored to become an ARMADA project master teacher where he spent 6 weeks aboard the USCGC Healy participating in oceanographic research in the Arctic Ocean in summer 2004. An avid paddler and naturalist trained in aquatic sciences (MS Natural Resources UWSP 1995), Steve loves to spend time with his family playing, reading, swimming, and exploring in the natural world, especially on Washington Island, WI.

PS. Washington Island is a pretty cool place to look for fossils, too!

Katrina Elgersma, CPA: Board Member

Born and raised in Vesper, WI, Katrina Elgersma went to UW – Eau Claire for a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting. After graduating, Katrina moved to Marathon to take a position as a staff accountant at Wipfli, LLP and has been working there for nearly two years. She has recently earned her CPA license and works primarily in tax.

In her free time, Katrina enjoys reading, running, and learning new recipes. She looks forward to sharing her talents with the Wausau community and helping Colossal Fossils flourish.