What’s in a Name? | Media Mentions | Contact Us

Who’s behind Mutual Fund Observer?

There’s one person and a motley crew and twenty-five thousand.

The “one person” is David Snowball

Photo of David Snowball walking with son

David is a Professor of Communication Studies at Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois. Augustana is a nationally-recognized college of the liberal arts and sciences, founded in 1860. David’s teaching portfolio at the college includes:

  • Advertising and Social Influence
  • Propaganda in the 20th Century and Beyond
  • Rhetorical Theory
  • Communication and Emerging Technologies
  • Business and Professional Communication
  • Persuasion Theory

For a quarter century, David competed in academic debate and coached college debate teams to over 1500 individual victories and 50 tournament championships. When he retired from that research-intensive endeavor, his interest turned to researching fund investing and fund communication strategies.

David served as the closing moderator of Brill’s Mutual Funds Interactive (a Forbes “Best of the Web” site). From 2006-2011, he was the Senior Fund Analyst at FundAlarm and author of over 120 fund profiles. His monthly column was read by around 5000 people. His work has been cited in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Business Week and, on the web, at Motley Fool, MSN Money, CBS Marketwatch and elsewhere.

David lives in Davenport, Iowa, and spends an amazing amount of time ferrying his son, Will, to baseball tryouts, baseball lessons, baseball practices, baseball games … and social gatherings with young ladies who seem unnervingly interested in him.

The motley crew

And the real brains behind the brains of the operation are . . .

Chip, the Observer’s technical director, handles all of our monthly site updates and most of the programming unrelated to the discussion board. She also coordinates the work of the Observer’s volunteer experts. As Cheryl Welsch, Chip directs information technology services at Sullivan County Community College in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of New York. Chip’s currently in search of a new hobby or two, ones which won’t frighten either her college-aged son or her staff too badly. Given her work maintaining a college network, I suggested freelance exorcism as a possibility. She’s more interested in pursuing one that helps others while still involving chocolate. If you’ve got a lead, drop a note to her.

Charles Boccadoro is an associate editor of the Observer. He’s done a series of splendid, data-rich analyses for us which are permanently enshrined in Charles Balcony. By way of background, Charles describes himself as

Strictly amateur investor. Recently retired aerospace engineer. Graduated MIT in 1981. Investing actively in mutual funds since 2002. Was heavy FAIRX when market headed south in 2008, but fortunately held tight through to recovery. Started reading FundAlarm in 2007 and have followed MFO since inception in May 2011. Tries to hold fewest funds in portfolio, but many good recommendations by MFO community make in nearly impossible (e.g., bought MAINX after recent teleconference). Live in Central Coast California.

Geez, the dude’s an actual rocket scientist.

Accipiter, our chief programmer, is the author of The Navigator, the Observer’s incredibly useful fund research tool. He shares with Chip responsibility for making our discussion board as friendly and functional as art and science allow. Accipiter, who prefers anonymity, has a bunch of experience in programming, network and system administration (and it shows). When he’s not tinkering under the hood here, he works to help the folks in his community, pursues bird-watching (a peculiar fascination with falcons) and grows tomatoes. Heirloom tomatoes. Lots of heirloom tomatoes. I’ll note, in passing, my profound jealousy.

Anya Zolotusky, the Observer’s senior web designer, created and then fine-tuned the Observer’s look and function. Anya is a Seattle area web designer specializing in “elegant, aesthetic, and highly usable websites for discerning businesses.” By her own admission, she has designed sites for artists, realtors, do-gooder lawyers, mountain guides, and others who wanted a website their clients would love. She’s remarkable (physicist, mountain climber, ski instructor, web designer and owner of Darn Good Farm) and remarkably talented. Folks interested in seeing her work should check out Darn Good Web Design or drop her a note: [email protected].

Junior Yearwood, contributing editor to the Observer, is author of our series, “The Best.” Junior is a freelance writer, who specializes in writing reviews for consumer technology and electronic products. He’s currently broadening his portfolio into finance and investing, by finding the web’s best writing in those fields and bringing that information to us. In his spare time, he follows U.S. presidential politics, T20 cricket, and his beloved nieces and nephews. If you have an idea or comment for Junior, please drop him a note.

Barb Bradac is the Observer’s graphic designer and Mistress of the Owl. She spent years crafting Augustana’s visual identity and designing its publications. She has a remarkable aesthetic sense which is manifested both in her designs and in the decision of Room, Iowa City’s equivalent of House Beautiful, to feature her condo in a recent issue.

Andrew Becker is Chip’s chief programmer, both at SUNY-Sullivan and here at MFO. Andrew was largely responsible for the style-sheet and template revisions which are behind the clean, functional look and feel that we unveiled in September 2016. When he’s not obsessing about cell padding, Andrew continues on his quest to be the first American to read every Marvel comic book, in order, from the company’s launch in 1939 (back then they were Timely Comics) to now. He’s now reached the 1960s, golden age of the Fantastic Three, Spider-Boy and “if I just pass these comprehensives, then they’ll all know me as” Dr. Strange. Andrew and his lawyer-librarian wife Meaghan enjoy travel and arguing about whether “real” books have pictures.

Emma Presley is the voice of the Observer, providing the lilting audio renditions of the profiles of our Featured Funds. Emma is a resident of Wakefield, in West Yorkshire, England. She’s employed by LUSH, purveyor of fresh hand-made cosmetics with names like Fox in the Flowers and Voice of Reason.

David Welsch is a college student with a passion for history, a Research Assistant (no, not an unpaid intern) and the guy responsible for reviewing a couple hundred SEC filings each day in pursuit of elusive new funds in registration. He relieves the stress caused by ferreting through a large (and largely dysfunctional) database by serving as an EMT and volunteer firefighter for the Monticello (NY) Fire Department.

The twenty-five thousand people are the Observer community

The Observer exists as a public service, as a place for individuals to interact, grow, learn and gain confidence. Those of us behind the scenes will do whatever we can to support and encourage you, and to provide you – within the limits of our resources – with the most useful, friendly and supportive home on the web that we possibly can.

Please take this as your invitation to join in. If you’ve got questions, contact me! If you find the Observer useful, please support us! There are several painless options available.

And if you’re wondering about names, check out What’s in a Name.