Chair and Founder
As the lead founder of Fraternus, Justin’s inspiration to start Fraternus came from growing up without strong Catholic mentorship and then finding it when he joined the Catholic Student Union at Florida State University. While working for the Boy Scouts of America he began to see the need for a distinctly Catholic movement for boys rooted in fraternity and learning the truth of manhood found in Jesus Christ.
Professionally, Justin and his brother Jason own and operate J. Biance Financial, an investment advisory practice. Justin remains a dedicated member of the Fraternus team as a benefactor and board member and still offers many hours a week mentoring and providing input to the brotherhood. Justin also has two masters degrees, one in Theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary and one in Entrepreneurship from the University of Florida.
“Fraternus provides the kind of brotherhood young men desperately need,” Justin explains. “So many boys end up in the wrong kind of brotherhood, following the wrong kind of mentors. Fraternus provides an image of the Father young men crave but rarely encounter. It is this very natural experience of fatherhood and Christian brotherhood which makes Fraternus so powerful.”
Chip Snowden worked with Justin Biance when they were both involved with the Boy Scouts. When Justin started Fraternus to focus specifically on mentoring boys into virtuous Catholic men, Chip caught the vision instantly. “Fraternus fills a critical gap in an area that get’s very little attention,” says Chip, “which is the positive mentoring of young men.” Chip knows that when men are absent in boys’ lives, problems follow. He lost contact with his own father when he “needed him most,” as Chip says, and knows that without strong mentors he would not be where he is today.
Today Chip is Senior VP and Aviation Market Principal with Hanson Professional Services. Chip worked as Chief Operating Officer for the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, working directly with the 9/11 and post 9/11 changes and challenges to airport security. He also oversaw the logistics involved in the 2005 Super Bowl, Jacksonville being the smallest market to ever host that event. In 2008 Chip began working on the iconic airport terminal in Mumbai, India, a project he is very proud of. He has also served on numerous boards including Boy Scout Explorers and St. Vincent de Paul Society.
Chip is married to Amy, and together they have three children. Chip’s youngest son served in a Chapter of Fraternus in Jacksonville prior to his entrance into the seminary, which he credits Fraternus for inspiring. Knowing his own experience without a father around, seeing the life of his son effected, and seeing firsthand in Jacksonville the urgent need for more virtuous men, Chip is happy to explain why he is a benefactor and serves on the board of directors: “I firmly believe in the mission and the absolute necessity to develop men in the face of our cultural decay.”
Ed Toth first came into contact with Fraternus right at the beginning, at one of the “pilot” Chapters at St. Paul’s in Pensacola, FL. “I fell in love with the idea immediately,” he remembers. “I’ve been involved ever since.”
Ed and his wife Karen co-founded Telecom, a successful business in the world of telecommunications. As an electrical engineer, Ed has also worked in management at GE and has overseen man high-tech projects. “I have also had every version of a smart phone since the very beginning,” he adds. Ed and Karen have created a wonderful culture in their company that allows their family to be together, travel often, and live their faith vibrantly.
Ed’s two boys are currently Brothers in Fraternus, and Ed is even piloting a program for younger boys, since Fraternus doesn’t start until age 11. He has experienced what he calls “the burden and privilege” of mentoring and knows the world needs more ways that men can intentionally form the next generation. It’s a burden, he says, because men are fallible and sinful creatures, but it’s a privilege because men are also called in a unique way to pass on a true manhood rooted in Jesus Christ.
Asked why he is a board member and benefactor, Ed laughs and says, “Because Jason Craig invited me to his house for fresh bacon!” But he then explains that his experience with the brotherhood and philosophies of Fraternus have really helped him in his own life, and help men and boys in general reclaim the spirit of virtue and greatness. “Men and fatherhood in general are just too underrated, but we can look around today and see how much we need more virtuous men.”
Jeremy Di Piazza
Jeremy points to two things that brought him to Fraternus. First, in the Summer of 2013 he traveled to Lourdes, France, the famous site of Mary’s apparitions to St. Bernadette. “For me it was a spiritual trip,” Jeremy said, “but for my wife it was a tremendous conversion.” After the trip, he says it became clear to him he needed to do more to lead his family’s formation of their faith. “But I wasn’t sure how to step up his game,” he said. His wife was always at the heart of his family’sjourney in faith and she was progressing further and leading. “I knew as a father I needed to be leading better, especially since I have two sons and a daughter who need a strong male example.” But Jeremy was struggling to understand how he could improve even if he was coming to grips with the why.
A couple of years after this experience he was invited by his good friend to a dinner party where Danny Snyder presented his experience with Fraternus. After the party ended, his friend and soon-to-be Commander of Birmingham, Terry Rumore came to him and said “I want to do this, and we are doing it together.” Through Fraternus their existing friendship, inspired by Danny’s testimony, became a brotherhood with a mission. With Jeremy’s help Birmingham is one of the nation’s largest and most impactful Chapters.
Jeremy says his prayer to be a better spiritual leader was answered through Fraternus. While he knows he has much work left to get better, he was honored to have his son become the first young man Knighted in his Chapter; and as such his son has entered college more prepared because of the brotherhood of men.
Jeremy brings extensive accounting and financial experience to the board as the CFO for Hoar Construction, LLC, a national player in the commercial construction industry. At Hoar, Jeremy works side-by-side with colleagues who place the spirit of service and integrity in all they do. He has also held leadership roles on other non-profit boards and serves in advisory role for a local banking company. And most importantly Jeremy is a father to Ben, Will, and Abigail, and a husband to Michele. He loves to travel and spend time at the lake with his family, and explore the outdoors. He resides in Birmingham, Alabama and attends St. Paul’s Cathedral parish.
Michael Van Horn
Mike Van Horn was a founding board member of Fraternus and has generously given his time, talent and treasure to the mission to mentor boys into virtuous Catholic men. Mike’s professional experience is extensive. As a trained geologists Mike was tapped to lead some very challenging projects for companies like Enron Oil & Gas in places as far as India, China and Southeast Asia. Today Mike is the CEO of Independence Resources Management, an oil and gas startup in Texas.
Mike was raised by a strong Catholic father, who himself is a dedicated benefactor of Fraternus. Yet, despite his upbringing Mike, like many men, fell away from the faith in college. But he had an adult conversion back to Christianity through Protestant friends, and even became a member of a Seventh Day Adventist community. But through study and prayer found his way home to the Catholic Church. Mike knows firsthand how important it is for young men to be well formed, and surrounded by Catholic mentors. All of his four kids (Tommy, Michelle, Bobby and Caroline) are strong and faithful Catholics.
“Fraternus is a way to heal the brokenness of boys,” Mike says, “and help them see themselves as brothers in Jesus Christ and adopted sons of God the Father.” Mike says that his father broke a long chain of divorce and fatherlessness, remaining faithful, which directly impacted their family’s image of God’s faithfulness. Mike also knows that mentors are not optional add-ons for boys, but an essential part of a full formation. This is why Mike knows men and boys need Fraternus.
Congressman John Rutherford
John Rutherford, who was elected to the US House of Representatives for the 4th district in Florida (Jacksonville) in 2016, was an “instigator” to the whole idea of Fraternus. As the Sheriff of Jacksonville, a position held from 2003 to 2015, he mentored and met regularly with Justin Biance, who at that time was with the Boy Scouts of America. Rutherford listened as Justin voiced concern that there needed to be more mentoring and virtue formation for Catholic boys, and the Sheriff encouraged him to start that organization. “He really sent me off with that mission,” Justin recalls. “Without him I’m not sure if Fraternus would be here.”
Congressman Rutherford was not always a man of faith, let alone a Catholic. He was raised Methodist, but fell away. “I realized that Sunday was just another day to work and make money,” he remembers. “All I did was chase the dollar.” He never recalls having a personal faith. But that changed when he encountered death – memento mori. Rutherford says as a police officer he had a man die in his arms, which is a shocking encounter for anyone, but one day he came upon a young woman who was dead on a scene. “She was my age,” he remembers. “She did not know she was going to die that day.” This caused a self-reflection that led him back to the Bible, which he read cover to cover twice that year (1978), and making that story real by making a personal act of faith in God. Later, exploring the topic of authority and authenticity, he answered the grace of conversion and became a Catholic. “Then I read ‘Crossing the Threshold of Hope’”, he said, referring to the book by St. John Paul. “John Paul had a huge impact on my life – he’s a big hero of mine.”
Congressman Rutherford sees his professional life as an act of love and service, considering it a privilege to serve his community. Asked about his most cherished achievements, he points to the moments when as a police officer and Sheriff he was able to help individual lives turn around. “Just months before retiring I got a note from someone I helped ‘flip’ from a life of crime. The note included a picture and a card celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, and they said their marriage was possible because of my help.”
“I know mentoring changes lives,” he says, “and that’s why I serve and donate to this great mission of Fraternus.” Congressman Rutherford has two children, six grandchildren, and is happily married to his high school sweetheart.
Danny Snyder has a classic American story of working from the bottom to the top, working up from dishwasher to chief operating officer of the Merchant’s and Mere Bulle’s restaurant chain. He also started an Allstate insurance company, sold it back to Allstate, then started an independent insurance company that has grown to 2,000 clients in a short few years. But like many “classic American” men Danny fell away from his Catholic faith as a young man.
After decades of struggling to balance his life, things needed to change. So, he decided to try out going to Eucharistic Adoration at the local parish. “From that point a fire was ignited,” Danny explains. Danny re-engaged with his faith in a big way.
But it wasn’t until he became the first Commander of Our Lady of the Lakes Fraternus Chapter in Hendersonville, TN that Danny’s flame went from pilot light to full blaze. “When I heard of Fraternus I knew I must get involved for the sake of my sons,” explains Danny, “little did I know I would benefit me more than them.”
Danny is not only a volunteer and benefactor, but is offering his lifetime of successful business experience as a Board Member. When asked why he works so hard for Fraternus, Danny is straightforward: “Fraternus is changing the world for the better. Better equipping young Catholic boys to be great Catholic men.”