Meet Management: Operations Manager, Mari Shelafoe

An ever-changing entrepreneurial ecosystem requires our team to lean into collaboration and organization. The Operations Manager plays a key role in establishing these strengths by having skills in administrative operations, developing management systems, and having strong communication.


Mari Shelafoe was born and raised in Rosemount, Minnesota, and has lived in Marquette for nearly 10 years. Mari attended Ripon College in Wisconsin, majoring in Religious Studies and English. You could argue that her enthusiasm for English literature can be credited to a long-time love for Harry Potter, specifically in the area of quidditch, a team sport performed as players straddle broomsticks and score goals by throwing balls into any of three hoops on each end of the playing field. In fact, Mari was so fascinated by the sport that she joined her college’s intramural quidditch team and won a season tournament.



Mari’s educational journey began with the completion of her undergraduate studies at Ripon. Afterward, she decided to further her education by pursuing a Master’s degree in social work at the University of Milwaukee. With a wide range of interests, Mari was drawn to the field of social work as a complement to her previous studies in English and Religious Studies. She emphasized studying the subjects that intrigued her the most, which allowed her to acquire a wide range of knowledge and skills. This prepared her for a variety of job opportunities that allowed her to explore her passions and discover her true calling. Mari’s diverse skill set and knowledge base helped her to flourish in her career and find her unique path.


Mari found herself in Marquette after meeting her husband, a Marquette local, during undergrad at Ripon. They’ve spent every summer in Marquette together since. One of her first jobs in Marquette was an intern position at the Cedar Tree Institute (CTI), a local nonprofit that specializes in fostering collaborative relationships in the areas of mental health and the environment. This experience allowed Mari to support the community by supporting nature; one of the core missions of CTI and a significant core value of Mari’s passion for social work and supporting others in different areas of life.



As she spent some years as a social worker exploring different career avenues, Mari was able to gain experience in handling operations within a company and realized she had taken a liking to operations management. Mari heard about Innovate Marquette through her husband’s entrepreneurial work with Eco Smart Homes Pros. He saw they were hiring an Operations Manager, so she jumped at the opportunity. Innovate Marquette seeks honest, hardworking individuals who value collaboration and leadership to ensure the smooth operation of the company.  So far, Mari’s favorite part of her new role is the people she interacts with at Innovate Marquette. 


In her free time, Mari likes to indulge in her creative side and do arts and crafts like quilting, crocheting, and knitting. Mari is also a big fan of video games and enjoys playing games on her Nintendo Switch while snuggling up with her cats.

Mari is an outdoor enthusiast and loves hiking with her dog. She finds peace and tranquility in the natural beauty of Lake Superior, which is one of the reasons why she enjoys living in Marquette so much. When she’s not at work or doing any of her hobbies, Mari likes to read books and learn new things to expand her knowledge.

“My big goal is to get out more in the community and relax a bit! As well as do work I enjoy, while also being able to take a breath.”
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About the Author: Originally from Minnesota, Sarah Gimpl is a senior at NMU studying Environmental Studies and Sustainability with a minor in Art and Design. Sarah has worked at Invent@NMU as a marketing assistant since her freshman year.