The Board of Directors of the MN Association of Charter Schools is composed of eight representatives from member schools and three at-large community members with expertise, skills and networks that will aid the Association and the charter school movement. (Community members may not be employed by, under contract to, or serve on the Board of any charter school.)
Four (4) seats for school directors will be opening up this spring. The self-nomination period is open April 5-23.
Meet our 2020-2021 Board Members:
(2022 - Seat C) - Member Relations Committee
Jodi Dansingburg has served as the director of Ridgeway Community School (C.S.D. #4083) since it opened as a conversion charter school in September, 2001. The rural Pre-K to 5th grade charter school has grown from 50 to 125 students and doubled its square footage of instructional space. The school’s two major expansion projects were supported by a capital campaign that raised over $1,000,000 in cash and in-kind donations. Jodi has served on the MACS Government Affairs Committee and the Administrator Qualification/Evaluation and Professional Development Task Force. Prior to leading Ridgeway Community School, she served for over 20 years in leadership positions in several food access and sustainable agriculture non-profits in Minnesota.
Groh de Aviña, Katie
(2022 - Seat D) Board Governance Committee
Katie Groh de Aviña currently leads El Colegio High School as its Executive Director. Her academic background includes a BA in Chicano Studies from the University of Minnesota, and is currently finishing her Masters in Youth Development & Leadership at the University of Minnesota. She has worked with youth and with the Latinx community for over 20 years in a variety of settings. She has served on the MN Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB), was part of Multilingual Equity Network, and is a strong advocate for increasing teachers of color and American Indian teachers in Minnesota via “grow your own” initiatives.
Being a mother of four children has motivated her to work even harder towards making systemic change in schools. She has always believed that her students’ full potential can be achieved with the right support! She is passionate about working on systems-change to dismantle historic catalysts of oppression, and believes that learning should be liberating and centered around youth voice.
(2022 - Seat A) Executive Committee (Treasurer), Government Affairs Committee
Educational/Professional Background: Julie has been the Executive Director at Sojourner Truth Academy for 18 years. Before coming to Sojourner Truth, Julie taught Kindergarten and 1st Grade.
Leadership Positions and Achievements: Board Member, ex-officio – Sojourner Truth Academy, 1st Grade Teacher – Success Academy
(2021 - Seat B) Executive Committee, Chair
Darius Husain serves as both the Executive Director and Program Director of Face to Face Academy in St. Paul, MN. Mr. Husain holds a B.A. in Psychology with an emphasis on experiential education from St. John’s University. He has also completed Master's course work in School Counseling at the University of St. Thomas. Mr. Husain has presented on a variety of educational topics including strategies for increasing math and reading proficiency, best fiscal practices, environmental education and addressing compassion fatigue among staff in urban schools. Concurrently, he is the Director of Research for the International Medical and Educational Trust and, in that capacity, has co-authored the book, Road Map to Power, that gains inspiration in part with his work with Charter School students.
(2021 - Seat D) Board Governance Committee
Bonnie Jorgenson has served as the Head of Schools for Duluth Edison Charter Schools since 2000, after starting her work with the school as the Community Resource Director.The schools are focused on academic and personal excellence for every student. Among the school's key features are an outstanding specialists program that includes students daily participation in music, art, physical education, outdoor science, STEAM activities and/or Spanish. Under Jorgenson's leaderhship, DECS has grown to a student population of around 1300 students During that time the school has been recognized by both the Minnesota Department of Education and the school's former management company EdisonLearning for outstanding academics. Ms. Jorgenson has also received Outstanding Leadership Awards from the Northland News Center and EdisonLearning. Ms. Jorgenson has a BA in English and Christian Education from Northwestern College, Orange City, Iowa and an MA in Theology from United Theological Seminary. Prior to her work as head of school, Ms. Jorgenson worked in public relations for higher education institutions, not for profit management and Christian education. Ms. Jorgenson currently serves on the board of Northwoods Children's Services in Duluth.
(2021 - Seat C) Executive Committee, Corporate Secretary
Amy Larsen serves as the Executive Director for BlueSky Online Charter School. She holds a B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse and M.S. in Science and Teacher Licensure from the College of St. Scholastica in St. Paul. Amy holds both a principal and superintendent's license. Committed to innovation in teaching and providing education that best fits each student, Amy believes MACS’s advocacy is a fundamental component to the success of charter schools and Minnesota’s students.
Russell, Dr. Charvez
(2021 - Seat A) Member Relations Committee
Education has always been at the fore front of Dr. Charvez Russell’s life growing up in a family involved in education in many capacities. After graduating from Mississippi College in Clinton, MS with a B.S. in Biology, he started his professional career in Canton, MS as a math teacher in a high school alternative setting. He moved to Minnesota in 2002 where he continued to teach math and science to middle school students in the Minneapolis Public Schools at City View Community School.
After teaching for three years, Russell decided to go after his passion for business and went back to school to get his MBA from the University of Phoenix. Upon graduation he joined Avis Budget Group’s leadership team at the Minneapolis/St. Paul location where he remained for 8 and a half years. During this time he obtained his Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership also from the University of Phoenix. He returned to education in 2014 and is currently the executive Director for Friendship Academy of the Arts.
(Community Member Seat A - 2021) Board Governance Committee
Jon Schroeder is a Senior Fellow with Education|Evolving, having been associated with E|E and previous joint ventures from the Center for Policy Design and Hamline University from 1996 until his retirement in 2014. From 1996 to 2003, Jon was founding director Charter Friends National Network (CFNN), which linked more than 75 state-level charter school organizations. From 2001 to 2003 he led the transition from CFNN to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. He then served on the Alliance’s board and executive committee and chaired its policy committee. Previously, Jon served in several senior positions during ten years on the staff of former U.S. Senator Dave Durenberger. As policy director, he played a major role in creating the federal charter school program. In 2012, his national leadership was recognized through his induction into the National Charter School Hall of Fame. Jon has a BA in Political Science from Macalester College, where he was elected to Pi Sigma Alpha, the national honorary Political Science fraternity. He and his wife, Dana, have three adult children and twin grandchildren.
(Community Member Seat B-2021) Member Relations Committee, Government Affairs Committee
1988 Graduate study, Augsburg College, Minneapolis, Minnesota
1972 B.A., Simpson College, Indianola, Iowa
2006-2018: State Representative, Minnesota Legislature
1991-2014: Teacher, 7/8 American History/English, Minneapolis Public Schools
1988-1991: Teacher, St. Luke’s School, St. Paul, Minnesota
1998-2005: Member, Community Services Commission, City of Richfield
2000-2005: Vice Chair, Human Services Commission, City of Richfield
1990-1992: Co-Chair, Hennepin County Women’s Political Caucus
1979-1982: Member, Minnesota State Crime Control Commission
In Teaching: Mentor teacher, Department Chair, Building Leadership Team, “Kids Win” Star Tribune curriculum writing, Junior Achievement grant writing, Minneapolis Teacher of the Year 1992
In the Legislature: Serving on the E-12 Education Finance Committee, Higher Education Workforce Development Committee, Bioscience Workforce Development Committee, Commerce Committee, Taxes Committee, Past Vice Chair Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission.
(Community Member Seat A-2020) Board Governance Committee - Chair
Beth Topoluk is the Executive Director of Friends of Education, the only Minnesota charter school authorizer with the State of Minnesota’s Highest Exemplary rating. Ms. Topoluk was previously the Assistant General Counsel of TCF Financial Corporation, a $23 billion national bank holding company. Ms. Topoluk is licensed to practice law in Minnesota and Illinois and frequently presents at the national and state level on charter authorizer and legal issues.
(2022 - Seat B)
Peter Wieczorek is currently the Director of Northwest Passage High School in Coon Rapids. He has been at NWPHS since 2004 and has served as a Biology Teacher, Advisor, Expedition Coordinator, Board Chair and Director. Peter is a husband, dad, teacher, youth worker, administrator, explorer, part-time Jedi Master and life-long learner.