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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.)

Meet our 2021-2022 Board Members:

Dansingburg, Jodi Thumbnail Image Dansingburg, Jodi

(2022 - Seat C) - Member Relations Committee

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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 Thumbnail Image Groh de Aviña, Katie

(2022 - Seat D) Board Governance Committee

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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.

Guy, Julie Thumbnail Image Guy, Julie

(2022 - Seat A) - Executive Committee, Treasurer

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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

Ly, Dr. Mongsher Thumbnail Image Ly, Dr. Mongsher

(2023 - Seat B) - Member Relations Committee

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Dr. Ly is the Superintendent and Co-Founder of the Urban Academy Charter School in St. Paul since 1999. Prior to Urban Academy, Dr. Ly was the Director of Children Youth Services at Model Cities of St. Paul and a Faculty member with Hamline University in the department of the Center for Excellence in Urban Teaching.

Pierson, Shelly Thumbnail Image Pierson, Shelly

(2023 - Seat C) - Executive Committee, Secretary

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I believe when we work together as a collective community with a common goal, we can make a world of difference for our students today and for our community in the years to come. I have over 25 years of experience at the Prek-12 and college level. My charter experience began as a college student working with a group of community members over a year and a half to start the Toivola-Meadowlands Charter School {TMCS) in 1993. I spent four years teaching and serving on the Board of Directors for TMCS. After 20 years with other districts in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Nevada, I have returned to Minnesota and to the charter world serving as the Executive Director for North Shore Community School.

Rasmussen, Nicole Thumbnail Image Rasmussen, Nicole

(2023 - Seat D) - Board Governance Committee

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I started working in education nearly 25 years ago as a coach and paraprofessional.  Since then I have worked at a large public district, private school, small state run public school and now a charter school. I have been a paraprofessional, coached multiple sports, classroom skills teacher, Dean of Students, Assistant Principal, Principal and Director.  My family lives in Minneapolis, with students at charter and private schools.  I am proud to work as an educator truly working to make a difference in the lives of students. Education: BA: St. Olaf College, MA: St. Cloud State University (Principal & Superintendent License) MBA: College of St. Scholastica.

Russell, Dr. Charvez Thumbnail Image Russell, Dr. Charvez

(2023 - 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.

Schroeder, Jon Thumbnail Image Schroeder, Jon

(Community Member Seat A - 2021) Board Governance Committee

Jon Schroeder has served on the MACS Board for the last 3+ years.  He is a Senior Fellow with Education|Evolving (E|E), having been associated with E|E and previous joint ventures of the non-profit Center for Policy Design and Hamline University from 1996 until his retirement from Hamline in 2014.  

Jon’s interest in Minnesota’s pioneering chartered schools program stems from his long-standing support for expanding public school choices and improving learner outcomes for all students.  Along with Ted Kolderie, he co-founded and was director of Charter Friends National Network (CFNN) — which served as a de-facto national chartered school organization from 1996 to 1994.

Prior to his work with Hamline and Education|Evolving, Jon played a major role in creating the Federal Charter School Program and the Corporation for National and Community Service during his ten years on the staff of former U.S. Senator Dave Durenberger.  He was then Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications for Scholarship America, best known for its ‘Dollars for Scholars’ program and the nation’s largest non-profit college scholarship management organization. 

Earlier in his career, Jon was Communications Director for the Minnesota Constitutional Study Commission, a Research Associate for the Citizens League, which helped conceive the chartering idea, was Publisher and Editor of the Grant County Herald and was part-owner of Quinco Press, a central printing plant in West Central Minnesota.  While still in college, Jon also played a leadership role in successful state and national initiatives to lower the voting age and expand civic engagement by young people.

Jon has held volunteer leadership positions in a number of non-profit organizations, including service as board chairs of the National Youth Leadership Council and EdVisions Schools. He was a founding director, executive committee member and policy committee co-chair for what is now the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.  At that time, he also served on the policy advisory committee for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA).  In addition to MACS, he’s currently on the boards of EdVisions Schools and People foe PSEO.  And he remains involved in state and national initiatives to link service learning and education reform, including his current work with the National Service Learning Coalition.

Jon was appointed to state commissions on education policy and service learning by Governors Al Quie, Rudy Perpich and Arne Carlson. In 2012, his national leadership on chartered schools was recognized through his induction into the National Charter School Hall of Fame.  Jon has a BA degree in Political Science from Macalester College. He and his wife, Dana, live in Minneapolis and have three adult children and two grandchildren.

Slocum, Linda Thumbnail Image Slocum, Linda

(Community Member Seat B-2021) - Member Relations Committee

Education: 

1988 Graduate study, Augsburg College, Minneapolis, Minnesota

1972 B.A., Simpson College, Indianola, Iowa

 

Career Experience:

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

 

Community Involvement:

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

 

Professional Leadership: 

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.

Topoluk, Beth Thumbnail Image Topoluk, Beth

(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.

Wieczorek, Peter Thumbnail Image Wieczorek, Peter

(2022 - Seat B) - Executive Committee, Chair

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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.

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