The Board

The Board

Meet the people and passion that bring Michigan Challenge to life.

Capt. Bryan Smith

President, Co-Founder

Captain Bryan became interested in sailing in 1975 when a friend bought a sailboat, and he raced it with him. He got his captains’ license in 1994.

He was first mate, and then captain of the Appledore IV for 3 years. The Appledore ran an Outward Bound type program for youth aging out of the foster care system. The program involved sail training, life mapping, and counseling.

Captain Bryan joined MHA in 2002, and has been captain of the schooner Madeline since 2005. He has taken her to Lakes Superior, Huron, Erie, and Michigan.

He was also captain of the armed sloop Welcome, and visited Lake Michigan and Lake Huron in Canada with her.

In 2008 Captain Bryan was instrumental in securing the donation of the gaff-rigged cutter Champion to MHAThe donation carried the stipulation that she be used to benefit youth. Captain Bryan developed the S.A.I.L. Champion program based on the Appledore model.

Captain Bryan started US Captains Training in 1999, which licenses master mariners. He also has worked for Great Lakes Sailing Company since 1990 teaching American Sailing Association sailing classes, and was awarded International Instructor of the Year, based on the comments of his clients in their post-class reviews.

Capt. Jason Lombardi

Vice President, Board Member

Jason became interested in sailing the first time he stepped onto the deck of his parents’ sailboat as a child. He spent time in different ports and marinas from Saint Clair to the Mackinac Straits and west to Lake Michigan. Sailing stirred up excitement and adventure in him as a child and continues to do so today.

Jason had an early start in the construction trades with the family business. He painted houses on the side and ran his own outdoor property maintenance business until market and life changes made him take a look at following his passion for sailing and boats and make a career in the maritime trades.

This bought him back to school to study welding and machine tooling, and the preliminary studies for maritime trades. This also brought him to US Captains Training® in 2010 to get his merchant mariners license. His instructor, Captain Bryan Smith, encouraged him to get involved with the Maritime Heritage Alliance, a nonprofit which owns several classic boats and runs the S.A.I.L program for at-risk teens aboard the gaff-rigged topsail cutter Champion. He became mate, then captain of Champion, and became a captain-in-training on Welcome, a replica of a Revolutionary War-era armed sloop.

Jason then accepted a maritime welding job in Wisconsin and was contracted to work on the LCS (Littoral Combat Ships) vessels for the US Navy. He worked in the Marinette Marine Corporation shipyard in Wisconsin on steel hulls and the Austal shipyard in Alabama, welding both steel and aluminum hulls, and pipefitting.

Jason returned home to Traverse City to captain Champion for two seasons and also served as a relief captain on Nauti-Cat, a tourist catamaran. He is currently working at MMC hull welding on the LCS vessels, and has started his own welding and fabrication business specializing in marine applications Keelson Metal Works. With Michigan challenge he hopes to spark interest in a younger generation for the many different maritime trades, and provide a workforce badly needed in the Great Lakes area.

Judy King

Treasurer, Board Member

Judy was social worker/rehabilitation counselor for the State of Michigan for 34 years, helping transition students into employment. Her retirement adventures include cooking (woodstove) for Schooner Manitou guests & crew for 1 year, and crew/volunteer for Maritime Heritage Alliance for 10 years.

Barbara Horning

Secretary ,Board Member

Barb grew up in Lansing. Her dad had a steel fabrication company, and built a 40’ steel gaff-rigged ketch, which was her introduction to sailing. The family had a cottage in Suttons Bay, where they docked the boat.

Barb graduated from CMU and taught high school English for 32 years in Hastings, MI. After retirement she and her husband Bill built a home on the site of the old family cottage. They both volunteered for several years with Inland Seas Education Association, an organization that teaches Great Lakes science to students aboard the schooner Inland Seas.

They joined Maritime Heritage Alliance in 2007, and volunteered in many capacities on the schooner Madeline. Barb also crewed on the cutter Champion with program for at-risk teens, S.A.I.L. Champion. She is now on the board of Michigan Challenge, serving as secretary.

Dr. Susan Wainwright

Co-Founder, Spokesperson

Dr. Susan Wainwright is a Double Board Certified Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Adult Psychiatrist at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Michigan where she has been on staff since 1989. She maintains a solo private practice of Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry in Bloomfield Hills where she specializes in early trauma, anxiety and mood disorders.

Recently, she has expanded her practice to include an outpatient office in Traverse City.  While a member of Maritime Heritage Alliance she was medical director of MHA’s SAIL Champion program.  She is the co-founder of and has been an active member of Michigan Challenge’s Traditional Sail Training nonprofit with the Schooner Perception since its inception.

Currently volunteering as Head Spokesperson, she is very interested in the effects of early childhood parental loss and in promoting Michigan Challenge’s mission, which provides traditional sail training adventure programs to Gold Star Teens and their families.

Greg Natchazel

Veterans’ Liaison, Media, Promotions, Fundraising

After 4 years in the Mechanized Infantry, three overseas on the East German border I returned home to join my father at GTYC and begin my training as a crewman in numerous race and regatta adventures spanning many years. Employed at Grand Traverse County as a draftsman in Equalization and attending NMC’s Fine Art Curriculum, I enjoyed the progression from Rebels and Hobie Cats, up through San Juan 21’s. It was the J-24 that began to teach us how much we loved racing. During that period, Dave Hall had a special vessel made at great expense, the famous sloop,” Discovery” after his oil exploration company. It had a flying backstay and was a complex racing arrangement. Dave had sent the vessel to numerous national races without garnering any wins. The first time anyone had seen it earn a trophy in the Grand Traverse Bays was with my father and my brother Philip and I at the helm. I did have the joy of sailing my Flying Scot for over ten years all over Lake Michigan using it as a shuttle to go for extended camping adventures on the Manitou’s, and Beaver Island to include its unique archipelago of Islands, my favorite being Garden Island. The Flying Scot achieved a usefulness it was not necessarily designed for and proved to be extremely well built and durable even in the worst of weather circumstances. It was the purchase of Ruby, a locally known C and C 30, that secured my true love for sailing in the Great Lakes. Innumerable outings and trips in this most worthy vessel, built in Ontario in 1974 to endure in great shape for untold years, completely sold me on extended sailing trips. A journey to the North Channel, after a few visits aboard a trawler, secured my interest in that destination as one of the most desirable in all the Great Lakes waters. Single handing it back from Ontario waters was the greatest joy. After 10 years she found a home in a reservoir high in the Colorado Rockies plateaus, no, I did not sail her there. I did coordinate a GTYC race to Knot Just a Bar and the Omena Yacht Club several years back hoping to establish a repeating racing event, to no avail. While a member of the Maritime Heritage Alliance Board I was asked to help deliver a great Schooner Festival that had a significant income.


My experience with VVA Chapter 211, of, The Congressionally Chartered; Vietnam Veterans of America organization, serving as a member and eventually voted in as Chapter President provided me with a keen insight and usefulness in helping fellow Veterans navigate their own personal woe’s. While my service was on the East German Border for nearly three years, I was invited in by the chapter as a full member according to VVA service record rules. Our outreach methods, developed in house, were living examples of policies picked up by service clubs all over America in the following years. We intended to leave no one behind in our local outreach. Carl Levin never missed a chance to march with our unit in a dozen of the finest parades the National Cherry Festival ever saw back in the early 80” s. It would be Carl Levin, The Senior Chairman of the Senate Arm Services Committee, a friendly acquaintance at this point, who would be instrumental in assisting me in my formal application for re-enlistment/ appointment to join my old unit, the Third Infantry Division as a combat illustrator. I had presented my argument to Carl justifying my interest on solid grounds, and collected letters from former professors and gallery owners, and work-related experience with big production companies in Orlando Florida. I had the Fine art Degree and work experience to justify this service. ( I could not understand how so many fine young men were deciding to kill themselves during their deployments in Iraq at the time.) I thought I could play a vital role in communicating with them and documenting their trials oversees, armed with my sketch and watercolor pads and cameras and a gentle willingness to listen. My plan was to spend as much time as could be allowed with all of the battalions deployed one at a time. Carl Levin did manage to get my case before a Major General Galen Jackman at the Pentagon and I had been waivered down on age limits to within 4 years of gaining the appointment. This was promising, and Carl was prepared to go further in pressing my request, when, there was this sudden and unexpected opening at Midwestern Broadcasting.



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