Jan is a dedicated philanthropist, passionate entrepreneur, and successful businesswoman. She has spent 25 years with her husband and business partner, Tim, launching and managing new business ventures. In addition to operating their real estate development company, they most recently devoted 16 years toward developing a niche food manufacturing business, Golden Foods/Golden Brands, into a global leader within its field. She founded and managed the community space that eventually became the Americana Community Center in Louisville, KY. She has served on the boards of community organizations, including Stage One Family Theatre, Ursuline Campus Schools Development Committee and the Fundraising Committee at the Bluegrass Center for Autism. Currently, Jan serves as the Host of the Compassionate Louisville Youth Education Constellation.
Jan and her daughter Rachel wrote a children’s book called Philanthropy: A Big Word for Big-Hearted People, designed to inspire kids to give back. In 2011, the Community Foundation of Louisville provided funding to Junior Achievement of Kentuckiana to introduce “PHILANTHROPY” into classrooms throughout the Kentuckiana region and to create the first JA Philanthropy House at the Kentuckiana JA BizTown, utilizing the artwork, text, and lessons from the Helsons’ book.
In 2011, at the age of 51, Jan took her commitment to giving to the next step, and proclaimed that her “Second Act” will be committed to helping kids realize that not only can they Ignite Good!™ to make a difference, but that they also have a responsibility to Ignite Good!™ to make a difference in the world. The launch of The Global Game Changers was the next step in fulfilling that commitment. ‘
Jan has two grown children, Rachel and Jackson, and lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her husband, Tim.
Rachel Annette Helson
Rachel Annette Helson is an actress, producer, CEO and philanthropist. As an actress, she has appeared on television shows like “Law & Order: SVU,” “The Knick” and “Power.” In 2009, she became the youngest Broadway producer in history to be nominated for a TONY award for her work on Neil LaBute’s “reasons to be pretty.” She was also nominated for a Webby Award for creating and co-writing the award winning web comedy “stalkTALK,” and she is the co-founder and CEO of One Cute Dog Productions, a video communications company in New York City that creates branded content for clients like PediaSure, Thermador and Quicken Loans. She has raised over $175,000 for philanthropic causes including breast cancer prevention, improving the education system and eradicating childhood hunger.
Rachel’s own experiences prompted the creation of the Global Game Changers. At 15, she found out that four of her aunts had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She wanted to do something to increase awareness for early detection and raise money for breast cancer research – since both had been instrumental in saving her aunts’ lives. She went to her parents, Jan and Tim, for advice, and they suggested she use her talents to help the cause. As a result, Rachel produced a theatrical production that engaged people across her community of Louisville, Kentucky. Even after she moved to New York City to attend New York University, she continued to produce theatrical benefits to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research and prevention.
Rachel continues to use her talents to affect causes she feels passionate about, and she hopes to empower the next generation to do so as well.
Our Board Members
Ashley Novak Butler currently serves as the Executive Director of the Lift a Life Foundation. She focuses on managing the Foundation’s large projects in the foundation’s focus areas of hunger relief, student leadership development, type 1 diabetes support, early childhood education and military family support. She has served in this capacity since 2010. Prior to joining the Lift a Life Foundation, Ashley worked for Southwest Airlines as a Marketing Manager and then Corporate Relations Manager. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and was raised in Louisville, Kentucky.
Ashley Novak Butler Lift a Life Foundation
Donna Curry began her career with UPS in 1993. From Louisville, KY, Donna is a mother of two, Kelli and Jason and two grandchildren. Donna has held many positions at UPS over the years. Donna is an active member in several community organizations; AWAM, (Association for Women in Aircraft Maintenance) & LINC (Leadership Improvement through Networking Connections), as well as Board of Directors for Global Game Changers. Donna holds an Airframe and PowerPlant Mechanics License with the FAA and awarded the Aviation Maintenance Technicians Bronze Award from the FAA. Donna is currently working on her undergraduate studies at Spalding University.
Donna Hatcher Curry UPS
Kristy Schmitt works with her husband Doug in their family architecture firm, Schmitt & Company in Louisville, KY. She has a background in sales and development, and has been a proven national sales leader and business strategist. Prior to that, she worked as a development officer for 10 years, successfully raising millions of dollars for charities, both at the local and national level. She and Doug are the parents of two wonderful children.
Kristy Schmitt Schmitt & Company
RJ Danner is a businessman and philanthropist from Nashville, TN. As a businessman, he has interests in real estate and development. As a philanthropist, his interests range from sports to the arts, education, and community development.
R.J. Danner The Danner Foundation
Deborah Walker is a community volunteer who has a 30-year background in sales and customer service, including real estate, retail, and mail order. She is also an experienced entrepreneur who has owned both mail order and high-end boutique businesses. In her philanthropic and political experience, Deborah has served on multiple boards and used her skills to develop relationships with community organizations and sister cities and to improve support for local events in Louisville, KY.
Deborah Walker Civic Volunteer
Jay currently serves as CEO of Saling Wealth Advisors, prior to which he spent many years with Hilliard Lyons. He has extensive experience in financial planning, wealth management, and securities. In September of 2011 Jay was recognized by Consumer’s Research Council of America as one of America’s top Financial Planners. Passionate about education, Jay has served on the boards of several schools. In his spare time, Jay enjoys time with his family in Louisville, KY, working outdoors and is an accomplished road cyclist.
Jay Saling Saying Wealth Advisors
Colton is the Associate Brand Manager for Wines at Brown-Forman, and Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer for Beacon Mobile. He has experience with digital and traditional marketing, communications, and strategy. His campaigns have been included as the MarketingWeek UK Top 10 Campaigns of the Year in 2012. Colton is also pursuing an MBA at the University of Louisville. In his spare time, he enjoys exploring his home state of Kentucky’s bourbons, enjoying music, and spending time with his wife.
Colton Payne Brown-Forman, Beacon Mobile