Our Team

Our Team

Below you will find the biographies of our GLBBS “Team Members”.  For the GLBBS “Board of Directors”, and the GLBBS “Program Advisory Board”, please see the related pages.


Bri Freel – Registrar:

Born and raised in Cedarville, Brianna has spent her career owning, operating, and managing several businesses in the Les Cheneaux area. She has 20 years of experience in the financial industry in addition to extensive compliance training and knowledge of implementation of policies, procedures and regulatory standards. Currently the School’s Registrar, she wears many hats maintaining records, caring for, and providing support for the students, faculty and staff. A mother of two, she enjoys playing golf with her family, spending time in her flower gardens, campfires, and slow boat rides through the islands.

*Phone: 906-398-2119          *Email: brianna.freel@glbbs.org


Ryan Hinnen – Executive Director-Development:

Ryan’s career has been as a strategic marketer and communicator, and he has had over ten years of experience leading corporate initiatives and building lasting relationships, which includes public relations, sales, fundraising, and grant writing.

Prior to joining GLBBS in 2015, Ryan spent two years as marketing director for the Comprehensive Bleeding Disorders Centers headquartered Peoria, Illinois, a non-profit entity. He had been involved in recruitment with Bradley University Athletics in Peoria as the head cheerleading coach. He assisted students in securing financial aid, as well as development and hosting of recruitment events.

*Phone: 906-398-2099          *Email: ryan.hinnen@glbbs.org


Nikki Storey – Executive Director of Operations:

Nikki is the Executive Director of Operations. Nikki’s role at GLBBS is to ensure the efficiency of business operations as well as develop strategic organizational goals for the future. Joining GLBBS in 2015, Nikki brought over 10+ years of administrative experience to GLBBS.

Nikki believes GLBBS to be an asset to the Les Cheneaux area and is excited for what the future holds for the community. One of Nikki’s primary objectives is ensuring GLBBS provides students with the tools necessary to be successful in maritime careers.  She led the School through a successful accreditation process with the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (http://www.accsc.org/).  Recently, she is shifting gears to focus on securing Title IV funding (Financial Aid) which will assist students who wish to achieve their personal goal of a career in boat building.

Nikki holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Management from Lake Superior State University. Nikki serves on the Mackinac Economic Alliance Board (https://www.mackinaceconomicalliance.org/) and Les Cheneaux Community Foundation Board (http://www.lescheneauxcommunityfoundation.org/).  In her free time, you will find Nikki enjoying the waters of the Les Cheneaux Islands with her family.

*Phone: 906-398-2101          *Email: nikki.storey@glbbs.org


Sherry Lovegrove – Accounting Manager – Financial Aid Advisor:

Sherry Lovegrove joins the Great Lakes Boat Building School as the Accounting Manager and will also be responsible for Title IV Financial Aid Advisement.

Sherry comes to GLBBS with over 20 years of accounting, bookkeeping, and Human Resource Management experience. Sherry studied Accounting and Computerized Business Data Management at Lansing Community College, and is the owner of EUP Bookkeeping Services. Her extensive history in bookkeeping and accounting covers a wide range of positions and activities, giving her the knowledge and experience required to skillfully and efficiently perform her duties and responsibilities at GLBBS.

In addition to her interest in accounting, bookkeeping, and business management; Sherry enjoys boating, golfing, camping, and back woods trail riding with her husband. She also enjoys sewing and quilting.

*Phone: 906-398-2119          *Email: sherry.lovegrove@glbbs.org


Jim Biernesser – Director of Education:

Jim is a retired Air Force Colonel having spent 30 years in unique and varied positions including over 2500 hours in B52 strategic nuclear flying operations, flight and academic aircrew training, general war planning, and developing detailed exercises/war games to hone the capabilities of the USAF war fighter. Later in his career he moved to senior-level management positions in large organizations focused primarily on support to Air Force airman’s quality of life; security, recreation, housing, morale and welfare. Retiring in 2007, Jim worked with a midwest University developing various veteran programs to help ease military members transition to University and civilian life.He is a graduate of the GLBBS Comprehensive Boat Building Program and recently assumed the position of Director of Education to facilitate the schools implementation of its new curriculum.

*Phone: 906-484-1081          *Email: jim.biernesser@glbbs.org


Chris Ritchie – Admissions Advisor:

Chris grew up in Ottawa Ontario Canada and spent every summer on The Big Rideau Lake. Chris has been operating boats since he was 6 years old. Chris’ love affair with wooden boats started with his grandfather’s triple cockpit runabout called Lal-buddi, which Chris is now restoring. Chris has lived in the United States for last +/- 20 years. Chris moved from Scottsdale AZ and is a 2017 Great Lakes Boat Building Graduate. Prior to becoming a student at GLBBS, Chris was an entrepreneur from the time he left high school. Chris’ love for wooden boats and business background, made him a natural fit for GLBBS Admissions Advisor and Career Services position. During the summer of 2018, Chris started Whiskey Plank Wooden Boat Tours in the Les Cheneaux Islands. When Chris isn’t messing around with an old wooden boat, snowmobile or anything that “moves” in his shop, he enjoys the outdoors with his beloved dog, Gracie!

*Phone: 906-398-2088          *Email: chris.ritchie@glbbs.org


Rob Freel – Instructor:

Great Lakes Boat Building School welcomes Rob Freel as an Instructor for the 2016-17 academic year.

Rob is a long-time resident of the Les Cheneaux Islands and has extensive experience in woodworking, wooden boat restoration and repair, and marine finishes. He previously worked for Tassiers Boatworks in Hessel, MI.

*Phone: 906-484-1081          *Email: rob.freel@glbbs.org



Matthew Edmondson – Instructor:

A native of the Great Lakes region, Matt first built a small outboard boat with his father at age 13. After completing the Career Boatbuilding program at GLBBS, Matt went on to work at Reuben Smith’s Tumblehome Boatshop where he worked on several award-winning restoration projects and a new fully custom runabout. Specializing in marine systems and propulsion, Matt is a certified Marine Systems Technician through ABYC, and a member of SNAME and RINA. Matt studies yacht design through Westlawn Institute and enjoys restoring old outboard motors.

*Phone: 906-484-1081          *Email: matt.edmondson@glbbs.org


Gus Bell – Instructor:

An alumnus of GLBBS and a Cincinnati, Ohio native, Gus spent his time away building/repairing all manner of boats. Gus worked full-time at Hodgdon Yachts in East Boothbay, Maine building custom yachts and repairing boats. Outside his full-time position, Gus worked part-time building lobster boats at John’s Bay Boat Co. in South Bristol, Maine. Gus’ employment expanded his experience with traditional/composite boat building and yacht joinery. Not afraid himself of putting in a hard day’s work, Gus impresses upon students the importance of having a strong work-ethic in order to have a successful career in the marine trades. He enjoys fly-fishing and alumi-yachting.

*Phone: 906-484-1081          *Email: gus.bell@glbbs.org



What People Say

Thank you so much for doing such a beautiful job on the
Marilyn Jean. Everyone loves her!

Wayne B., Commissioned Boat Client July 14, 2017

What Will You Build Next?