Kari grew up in Sudbury Ontario to Finnish immigrant parents, where his school life was marked by sports of all kinds and a love of the outdoors. His penchant for sports led to a football scholarship at the University of Cincinnati where he was an all-conference tackle and Academic All-American. After graduating, Kari enjoyed a 12 year Pro football career in the USFL and CFL, during which he was involved as a player leader working with Athletes In Action (a division of Power to Change, formerly Campus Crusade) and speaking extensively. While playing football, Kari also worked for an international accounting firm as a consultant.
After retiring from sports, he started an award winning family fun center, which he operated with his first wife, Colleen, until her passing. He served for 6 years as Executive Director of the Ottawa Christian Leadership Centre, a division of ONEWAY Ministries. During this time Kari attended seminary and was ordained as a Nazarene minister. Kari joined Athletes in Action in summer of 2008 as National Director, which brought him back to his roots in sports ministry.
Kari’s interest in sharing his life story and helping leaders find purpose and significance in their lives led him to join LeaderImpact in 2011. He now supports LeaderImpact Groups in Ottawa, Hamilton and Brockville.
Kari & Marquita live in Ottawa and have three girls, Brittany 25, Bethany 22, Alisha 21, and 2 grandchildren. Kari enjoys fishing and long walks on the beach.