The humans behind your human resources team

See the faces that will support your success by providing you with top-notch service and answering all your HR questions.


Meet your dedicated team of professionals

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Michelyn Farnsworth


Michelyn co-founded Stratus HR (originally “Innovative Staffing”) in 1999. She’s a philanthropist and a real estate investor, with previous PEO experience of leading nationally recognized Professional Staff Management. When not at work, you may (or may not) find Michelyn traveling the world.


John Farnsworth

Chief Executive Officer

John learned at an early age the value of hard work, forming his first company before his 18th birthday. He co-founded Stratus HR (originally “Innovative Staffing”) in 1999 and has an established reputation for his expertise, work ethic, and love for traveling.


Chase Heywood

Chief Operations Manager

Chase is a CPA with a master’s degree in accounting and brings new meaning to the word "busy." As a dedicated fitness fanatic, Chase has competed nationally in the Crossfit Games and yet has even more passion for his kids.


Celeste Houston

Vice President-Payroll

Celeste is a Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) and has worked in the PEO industry since 1998. She has created remarkable relationships with her clients and colleagues and will forever hold the title of our company's first ever Employee of the Year.


Colin Thompson

Vice President-Human Resources

Colin is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and manages internal human resources, in addition to servicing clients and overseeing our HR team. In his free time, you’ll find Colin at one of his four son’s ballgames or eating sushi.


Darci Jones

Chief Financial Officer

Darci has a master's degree in accounting and shamelessly admits that "crunching numbers is fun!" Darci enjoys spending any free time traveling with her family and bringing along her beloved fur babies whenever possible.


Stacey Gibson

Director of Human Resources

Stacey first joined Stratus HR back in 2003 as a Human Resources Consultant and now has the additional title of Director of Human Resources. She's a SHRM Senior Certified Professional in HR (SHRM-SCP) and the reason her clients would never consider leaving Stratus. When not at work, you might hear Stacey at one of her children’s sporting events.


Mark Leaming

Chief Technology Officer

Mark has an extensive resume of software experience that includes 25+ years of building successful consulting companies, IT teams, and software developments. With his heart at the University of Utah and his family providing the fuel to his fire, Mark is at Stratus to take our HR technology to the next level.


Marlana Heneghan

Tax & Compliance Officer

With 20+ years in accounting and a degree in Business Administration, Marlana is the best Tax & Compliance Manager in the West. She loves spending time with her family (including her pups) and is always game for a round of golf or camping when she’s not traveling the world.


Stephanie Lyon

Business Development

Stephanie Lyon, SHRM-CP and Business Development Consultant, joined Stratus HR in March 2017 after working more than 13 years as a sales manager. Stephanie's background provided firsthand experience for implementing successful business strategies and HR initiatives to meet company objectives, which has naturally led to her role of advising companies with their human capital needs. Stephanie has a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and is a Community Organizer for 1 Million Cups, an organization that engages entrepreneurs in communities around the nation.


Brad Fagergren, Esq.

Legal Counsel

Brad has been a certified Senior Human Resources Professional (SPHR) since 2010. While he originally joined Stratus in 2006 as an HR Consultant, Brad is a board-certified attorney and works as our in-house counsel. Outside of work, you might spot Brad at a sporting event or wearing his golf knickers on the fairway.


Natalie Soltero

Human Resources Consultant

Natalie, SHRM-CP, is a Penn State grad with a mouthful of concentrations like Labor and Employment Relations, Human Resources, Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and TV Binge-Watcher. When she’s not in Puerto Rico spending time with her family, Natalie loves to explore all around Utah.


Laura Lancaster

Human Resources Consultant

Along with being a Master of Human Resources, Laura is a master of communicating and provides her clients with world-class customer service. She can really cut some rug on the country swing dance floor and enjoys musical theater in between motorcycle rides.


Averie Hampton

Human Resources Generalist

After exploring professions like dental assisting and illustration, Averie fell in love with Human Resources and went back to school to receive her Bachelor’s in Communication Studies and a minor in HR. While she’s a sucker for puppies, coffee, and art tutorials with Bob Ross, Averie has a competitive side that is quickly discovered on the rugby field.


Joey Eastwood

Human Resources Generalist: Workplace Safety Associate

Joey joined our team in 2001. Beyond being our inhouse Safety Expert, Joey handles a huge variety of tasks and is the reason Stratus HR is a well-oiled machine. Outside of work, Joey enjoys chasing powder in the winter and rapids in the summer.


Kim Anderson

Payroll Manager

Kim is a Certified Payroll Professional and has more than 15 years of PEO and payroll experience. When not providing clients with accurate and timely services, Kim plays chauffer for her kids and can be found cheering (loudly) at their ball games, recitals, and drama performances.


Amanda Baldwin

Unemployment Specialist

As one of three original staff members and over 25 years of PEO experience, Amanda can fill in with anything, anywhere at Stratus HR. While her expertise lies with coaching clients on proper terminations, her dream job would be helping people plan vacations all day long.


Sam Yoshida

Human Resources Consultant

Sam came to Stratus HR with a bachelor’s degree in communications, a master’s degree in HR, and 6+ years in management/HR under his belt. He relies on Red Bull and punk music to keep up with his active outdoor lifestyle on the weekends and is a sucker for eating messy things with his hands (wings, anyone?).


Clay Kelley

Chief Revenue Officer

Clay Kelley has been in the human resources outsourcing business since 1985. He is a Senior Certified Professional in Human Resources (SHRM-SCP). Clay was the very first recipient of Human Resources Outsourcing Today Magazine’s “Superstar” in their Advisor Category. Clay served on the board for The National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO) for two terms 2016-2020 and is currently the Co-Chair for NAPEO Gives Back, the philanthropic arm of the NAPEO. Clay is the author of three books and has contributed over 90 articles for industry trade publications.


Susan Ervin

Benefits Specialist

Susan joined our team after 7 years of working for a TPA, managing COBRA benefits and administering FSAs, HSAs and HRAs. While she’s nice in person, Susan has a mean archery shot that makes animals dread hunting season. She’s also an avid fisherwoman who doesn’t care what the season is, as long as she’s camping.


Robin Brady

Office Administrator

With a background in both Human Resources and Accounting, Robin makes your visit to our office a pleasure. As a professional juggler of answering phones, handling paperwork, and assisting employees, Robin is also the pet parent of two adorable dogs.


Makenzie West-Chansamoeun

Benefits Manager

Makenzie first joined Stratus as an HR Consultant back in 2009. She then became the Benefits HRIS Manager in 2015 and now directs the Benefits Department with her endless energy and charisma. As a multi-talented problem solver, Makenzie has the graceful knack of making everyone she meets feel valued. She loves her boys and cheering on her beloved Utes.


Aaron Davis

Payroll Manager

Aaron joined in 2010 and is the backbone of our payroll team. He’s the first person to offer help and is always willing to add to his schedule with a minute’s notice. With a pocket full of useless trivia and quick wit, Aaron can lighten the mood with the perfect joke or quote for ANY occasion.


Kristen Neilson

Communications Director

Kristen’s background is in film making, but for Stratus HR, she has her hands in everything from events to mobile app design. When she’s not editing the website or your handbook, she can be found bagging peaks and taking pictures to prove it.


Carlos Bolaños

Chief Marketing Officer

Carlos has a degree in industrial engineering but discovered a true passion for his minor (marketing) shortly after graduating to where he now gets excited about marketing trends, branding, and making data-driven decisions. When not engrossed in his work, Carlos can be found yelling at his favorite Formula 1 (F1) racer or traveling somewhere new.


Ken Penrod

IT Support

With a background in manufacturing and production, Ken is our SQL/Report Builder Master who finds it funny that he works in an office environment. Ken spends his free time catching up on college sports and sleep.


Christie Lovell

Account Manager

Christie has a bachelor’s degree in communication, a minor in art, and raw talent for fashion and design (you should check out her handbag collection!). Between her management background and her expertise in kickboxing, Christie is a force to be reckoned with in our HR department --- until you offer her a warm chocolate chip cookie.


Gaye Roe

Payroll Manager

Gaye is a highly experienced Payroll Manager and a credentialed Certified Payroll Professional. She came to Stratus HR with over 20 years of payroll and HR experience and an amazing track record of keeping clients happy. When not providing great customer service, Gaye may be found camping in the mountains or on a beach in Hawaii.


Adam Schildmeyer

System Engineer

Adam came to Stratus HR with over 15 years of doing everything possible in the IT field – particularly helping SaaS companies run and grow. In his free time, you might find Adam biking in Southern Utah’s red rocks, taking pictures of his latest hike, or dancing around the house to blasting loud music (sorry, Adam’s neighbors).


Brittany DeSplinter

HR Generalist

Brittney DeSplinter joined our HR team with a master’s degree in Human Resources Management, a bachelor’s degree in Human Development, and 13+ years of work experience in customer service. She’s a self-proclaimed coffee and makeup fanatic who enjoys driving with the windows down while singing at the top of her lungs.


Ashley Lopez

Compliance Specialist

Ashley came to Stratus HR with 15+ years of general business management experience in various industries looking for a new challenge. While she’s an in-house zookeeper at home with two handfuls of pets (not to mention her 3 boys), Ashley is fascinated by all things numbers and loves a good adventure.


Taryn Shumway

Payroll Personnel

Taryn Shumway came to Stratus HR with a solid background in customer service and a passion for helping others. She’s a diehard Jazz fan (even has two dogs named after Jazz players), loves drinking pickle juice, and prefers crime shows over chick flics.


Sadie Atkinson

Software Engineer

Sadie joined our software development team in 2023. She has a degree from USU in Computer Science and a passion for solving problems and learning new technologies. When not at work, you might find Sadie loving on her two cats, building Legos, or watching the latest chick flick -- or cat video on Tik Tok.


Mia McCuistion

Benefits Specialist

Mia came to our Benefits Department with 22+ years in the insurance industry, with experience that spans from customer service and account management to sales, operations, and compliance. In her spare time, you can find Mia on the dance floor or hiking a trail near her home --- assuming she’s not already busy loving on her grandbabies.


Luke Backhaus

Account Manager

Luke joined our team after earning his Bachelor’s degree in Pastoral Studies from Maranatha University and gaining valuable management experience in guest relations, shipping, projects, and accounts payable. When he’s not people watching, Luke enjoys flower arranging, beach volleyball, baking, and burning off extra calories with CrossFit.


Carrie Montoya

Benefits Reconciliation Specialist

With a professional background in accounting and benefits, along with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration, Carrie is perfectly suited for her role as our Benefits/Accounting Specialist. In addition to being a busy mother of 3, Carrie is a problem solver, an animal lover, and a Disney fanatic to the core.


Justin Leaming

Senior Software Engineer

Justin is a professional chef with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and a passion for developing performant software. When he’s not cooking up something fancy to eat or developing a new software application, you might find Justin immersed in wood working or sleeping in, depending on what time it is.


Sher Shields

Marketing Coordinator

With an MBA and an HR background, Sher helps with all sorts of marketing odds and ends such as articles, newsletters, emails, blogs, ads, and more. When not coaching or supporting her four kids doing all the things, Sher enjoys volleyball, basketball, pickleball, or anything else that distracts her from the fact that she's exercising.


Brian DeSplinter

Implementation Specialist

Brian joined our Stratus IT team with a certificate in Full Stack Web Development and a solid background in customer service. He dons the bragging rights of leading his high school drumline front ensemble to 3rd place at the WGI World Championships and knows more about rockets than most employees at the Kennedy Space Center.


Jessi Rose

Accounting Analyst

After working in accounts payable for 12 years, Jessi joined our Accounting Team in 2022. She’s a Disneyland enthusiast who owns more glitter eyeshadow than she could possibly use in her lifetime. In her free time, Jessi loves to spend time with her family and dreams of traveling to Europe, although the bulk of her travel these days is to a morning Zumba class.


Matt Hill

P&C Agency Leader

Matt joined Stratus Agency with nearly 22 years in property & casualty insurance. He has extensive experience with risk management and alternative risk programs (captive insurance programs) and has earned both his CIC (Certified Insurance Counselor) and CWCA (Certified Workers Compensation Advisor) designations. In his free time, you’ll find Matt snowboarding in the winter or playing pickleball or a round of golf in the summer. He’s a sucker for Broadway musicals and Celine Dion playlists and prefers his Diet Coke with extra crushed ice and fresh lime.


Taryn Shunway

Payroll Personnel

Taryn Shumway came to Stratus HR with a solid background in customer service and a passion for helping others. She’s a diehard Jazz fan (even has two dogs named after Jazz players), loves drinking pickle juice, and prefers crime shows over chick flics.

Stratus HR Staff

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