Ambar Hanson

Chief External Relations Officer | 612-239-1893 | @AmbarHanson

Favorite hobby: Dancing with my partner and kids

Ambar Cristina Hanson, M.P.A., is the director of community engagement at Hiawatha Academies. Since moving to the United States from the Dominican Republic eighteen years ago, Ambar has been dedicated to advocating for immigrant communities and communities of color to have equal opportunity and access to higher education, jobs that provide livable wages, health, housing and safety. Over the past ten years, Ambar advocated for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors through several roles at Casa de Esperanza and National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities. Currently, Ambar oversees the recruitment, marketing, parent engagement and community collaborations for the Hiawatha Academies network. Recently, Ambar received the Mano Amiga Award from the Minnesota Latino Economic Development Center for her commitment and generous contribution of time and work in behalf of the Latino community.
She lives in St. Paul and enjoys spending time with partner and two children.

Dawn Gunderson Taylor

Chief Talent Officer | 612-998-6015

Favorite book: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Favorite hobby: Traveling to destinations near and far

Dawn Gunderson Taylor holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Minnesota State University Moorhead. She was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia where she taught English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) to tenth grade students and a 2001 Teach For America corps member. She taught high school English for six years in Baltimore, MD, and returned overseas to continue teaching in Istanbul, Turkey. In 2008, Dawn joined the staff of Teach For America where her work focused on alumni affairs for over seven years. Dawn returned to the Midwest in the summer of 2014 and joined Hiawatha Academies as Chief Talent Officer.
Dawn's daughter, Neela, is a student at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop.

Eli Kramer

Executive Director | 612-581-7750 | @Eli_Kramer_

Favorite book: The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni
Favorite hobby: Board games with my daughters

Eli Kramer has been the Executive Director of Hiawatha Academies since 2012. Before joining Hiawatha, Eli was a founding Dean of Curriculum and Instruction with Uncommon Schools in New York. Prior to that, he taught for six years in New York City at the elementary and middle school level. Eli was a 2003 Teach for America corps member in the Bronx, NY. He holds a B.A. in government from Harvard, a Master's in Education from Bank Street College, and a Master's in Educational Leadership from Brooklyn College.
Eli grew up in Minneapolis and is happy to be home.

Rochelle Van Dijk

Chief Academic Officer

Rochelle Van Dijk is a proud African-American and Cherokee educator and mother of three. Rochelle graduated from Harvard University in 2005 with a degree in psychology and earned her Master's in Educational Psychology from the University of Colorado. She joined the '05 Teach For America corps and taught science in the Rio Grande Valley. In 2011 she founded the top performing high school in Denver: Denver School of Science and Technology in the Green Valley Ranch neighborhood. Each of the students in her founding class was accepted to a 4-year college, 80% of which were first generation college-students and over 75% qualified for free-and-reduced lunch. Rochelle went on to become Chief of Schools for Denver Schools of Science and Technology and oversee 4500 students across 12 schools. Rochelle now serves students and families in South Minneapolis as the Chief Academic Officer at Hiawatha Academies.

Sara Boedecker-Johnston

Senior Director of Program | 612-385-6388

Sara Boedecker-Johnston is the Senior Director of Program at Hiawatha Academies. Prior to joining Hiawatha, Sara worked for ten years as a teacher and principal at a Lutheran Pre-kingergarten through eighth grade school on the south side of Chicago. Sara grew up in Michigan and attended Valparaiso University, where she completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Sociology and Masters of Education degree.
Living in Minnesota brings Sara closer to lakes, trees, and her husband's family, all of which make her happy. Sara loves fonts, succulents, cooking and eating interesting food (especially pie) and wiener dogs (especially hers, named Ole).

Sean Elder

Chief Operating Officer | 612-251-3139

Favorite hobby: Backpacking and Camping

Sean Elder has been the Chief Operating Officer of Hiawatha Academies since May 2011. Before joining Hiawatha, Sean was an Area Manager for Skyhawks Sports Academy, the nation’s largest provider of youth sports programs and served several years as an Undergraduate Admissions Counselor at the University of Minnesota. Sean was also a 2010 Chicago Cohort Fellow with Education Pioneers. An active community member, Sean currently sits on the Education and Jobs Committee for the Greater Twin Cities United Way. He holds a B.A. in Sociology - Law, Criminology, and Deviance from the University of Minnesota and an M.B.A. from the University of St. Thomas.

Abdifatah Ahmed

Enrollment & Admissions Manager | 612-559-5918

Alex Gallagher

Director of Student Support Services | 715-491-2135

Andrew Paulson

School Psychologist

AnnaKristina Yesberger

Due Process Coordinator

Brittany Porrazzo

Data Manager | 612-578-3765

Carrie Roby

Network Literacy Coordinator | 612-236-6596

Conor Leonard

Development Manager

Edwin Ochoa

Director of Human Resources | 612-250-1324

Heather Busch

Network Literacy Coordinator | 612-310-0250

Irma Márquez Trapero

Director of Talent Recruitment | 612-237-7636

Jaquie Archer

Network Assessment Coordinator | 612-578-9326

Libby Stegger

Senior Director of Enrollment | 612-388-3259

Lisa Sass Zaragoza

Liz Pangerl

Director Marketing and Communications | 612-695-5467

Madison McConnell

Marketing and Social Media Coordinator | 612-730-1480

Maria Marino

Nicole Dummann

School Health Coordinator

Rosie Kellogg

Operations Manager | 507-269-1394

Shannon Gavin

Family Engagement Manager | 612-578-5198

Sherene Judah

Principal | Hiawatha College Prep - Northrop

Ted Dohm

Director of Enrollment and Admissions

Tiffany Williams-Virden

Senior Director of Equity Initiatives

Vanessa Palmer

Senior Director of Data and Analytics | 612-385-8373

Alex Trevino

Assistant Principal | 612-384-1762

Amanda Underwood

Specialist Teacher | 612-396-8258

Angie Pfeffer

Second Grade Teacher | 612-490-4546

Anna Dibley

Fourth Grade Teacher - Reading, Writing, Social Studies | 612-306-2988

Ariana Tellez

Bryan Daly

Special Educator Teacher | 612-730-7634

Carmen Alvarado

Cafeteria Staff

Carter Haaland

Kindergarten Teacher | 612-310-0437

Catherine Chu-Lapiska

Principal | Hiawatha Leadership Academy - Morris Park | 612-408-3379

Born and raised in Minnesota, Catherine is thrilled to return home and join the Hiawatha team after a spell on the East Coast.  Catherine earned her undergrad at The University of William & Mary in Virginia, and her M.A.T. at American University.  She is a Teach for America alum and taught first through fifth grades in Washington, DC.  Catherine also enjoyed several years of teaching teachers at Relay Graduate School of Education in New York City.  Catherine is excited to be a part of the Hiawatha team supporting students, families and teachers in achieving and exceeding their goals.

Charlotte Carlsen

Fourth Grade Math and Science Teacher | 612-490-5652

Clare Dudzinski

School Social Worker | 651-558-7472

Crystal Daugherty

Third Grade Math Teacher

Daeja Carson

Third Grade Teacher

Devyn Pittorf

Kindergarten Teacher | 612-385-8784

Diane Coddington

Reading Corps Tutor

Emily Curtis

Second and Third Grade English Language Development Teacher | 612-558-6180

Erin Chambers

First Grade Teacher

Erin Matschiner

Third Grade Teacher | 612-578-5214

Guadalupe Andrade

Haven Davis

Paraprofessional | 612-998-2458

Jed Hermes

Paraprofessional | 651-558-7478

Jess Cain

Kindergarten Teacher

Jordan Fitch

Physical Education Teacher | 612-490-7102

Jordan McNiven

Fourth Grade Teacher

Justine Selsing

First Grade Teacher

Kari Kielsa

Special Education Teacher | 612-296-5335

Kate Vishneski

First Grade Teacher | 612-220-7550

Kelley Forsberg

Second Grade Teacher | 952-457-9161

Laura Harringa

Third Grade Teacher | 612-387-0478

Linde Grubb

Director of Operations | Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park | 612-743-9816

Lindsey Kane

First Grade Teacher | 612-281-7545

Maia Horsager

Specialist Teacher | 612-807-0519

Marcela Rojas

Office Manager | 612-250-5604

Maren Daniels

Marisol Rojas

Fourth Grade Teacher

Maureen Fink

English Language Development Teacher | 612-281-1383

Maya Soriano

Miguel Peña

Nancy Marin

Office Assistant | 612-388-1842

Rachel Peulen

Special Education Coordinator

Sarai Anderson

Transportation Coordinator | 612-237-0920

Shae Elliot

Special Education Teacher

Stephanie Sowma

Special Education Teacher | 612-695-0013

Veronica Myers

Yolanda Pruitt

Special Education Paraprofessional

Allison Stasson

First Grade Teacher | 612-42401720

Ally Stephens

Second Grade English Language Development Teacher | 612-968-8022

Amanda Snyder

Specialist Teacher | 612-388-6671

Aubrey Hendry Noonan

Kindergarten Teacher | 612-387-2651

Bailey Marmesh

Paraprofessional | 612-267-2144

Bobbi Pratt


Charise Powell

Fourth Grade Teacher | 612-578-0112

Chris Vaughan

English Language Development Coordinator | 413-281-1268

Daniela Srini Vasan

Principal | Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop | 612-462-2369

Daniela Srini Vasan is the founding principal of Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop. Daniela speaks Spanish and French. She attended the University of Virginia and earned her Master's Degree in Education from Georgia State University. After graduating, she served as a Teach For America corps member in Atlanta, Georgia where she taught third and fifth grade. Daniela loves to spend time with her family, travel and experience new cultures, study languages, volunteer in the community, and explore the Twin Cities. One of the best parts about working at Hiawatha Academies is working with families and students every day.

Diana Agudo

Office Assistant | 612-743-5825

Ellen Bluhm

Special Education Teacher

Emily Peltier

Special Education Teacher | 612-584-1739

Erika Hansen

Third Grade Teacher | Work: 612-239-0827 | Personal: 815-973-6628

Hannah Forster

Second Grade Teacher | 612-807-4899

Hattie Carvalho

Assistant Principal | Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop | 612-310-8025

Jennifer Alfaro

Student Success Coach | 612-807-3146

Jennifer Hernandez

Paraprofessional | 612-743-8467

Jessie Damsgard

Fourth Grade Teacher | 612-584-1497 (texts preferred)

Jessye Lewis

Paraprofessional | 612-432-2201

Jonny Lincoln

K-4 Physical Education Teacher | 612-743-2359

Jordan Ebel

Second Grade Teacher | 612-584-1817

Katie Cooney

Special Education Coordinator | 612-743-8721

Kayann Comeaux

Special Education Teacher

Kelly Setala

First Grade Teacher | 612-386-7301

Kels Bruun-Bryant

Director of Operations | Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop | 612-730-3371

Kelsey Romero

Social Worker | 612-207-8811

Kiah Young-Burns

Kindergarten Teacher

Kylie Hanschman

Spanish Language Specialist | 612-584-0897

Lindsey Niznik

First Grade Teacher | 612-251-9064

Maria Alvarado

Maintenance and Cafeteria Coordinator

Micayla Irmiter

Specialist Teacher | 612-281-1915 (texts preferred)

Michael Seely

Paraprofessional | Mobile: 612-310-8116

Myasia Johnson

Paraprofessional | 612-237-5593

Natalie Ripley

Kindergarten English Language Development Teacher | 612-267-2117

Natasha Villanueva

Operations Coordinator | Office: 612-455-4033 | Mobile: 612-267-2286

Rachel Archer

Special Education Teacher | 612-327-7823

Rachel Knutowski

Kindergarten Teacher | 612-281-1391

Rachel Love

Third Grade Teacher | 612-568-5653

Robbi Weil

Fourth Grade Teacher | 612-578-3437

Samantha Carlson

Teacher | 952-491-0242

Sheila Willson

Second Grade Teacher | 612-807-4695

Steve Watkins

Paraprofessional | 612-578-4815

Tessa Buschmann

Paraprofessional | 612-250-1476

Tress Ahles

Third Grade English Language Development Teacher | Mobile: 612-807-4689

Carlos Bedoya Ortiz

Operations Coordinator

Cristin Craig

Dean of Students | Hiawatha College Prep | 612-990-7221

Cruz Conejo

Specialist Teacher | 847-313-8516

Gabriela Stiteler

Eighth Grade Literature Teacher | 202-316-8271

Joana Di Meglio

Fifth Grade Humanities Teacher | 612-408-9038

John Kaczorek

Math Teacher | 651-341-7821

Kelsey Uribe

Sixth Grade Literature Teacher | 612-986-3504

Laura Rodriguez

Office Manager | 612-387-7047

Laura Schilling

Fourth and Sixth Grade Math Teacher | 612-353-4324

Lindsay Johnson

Seventh and Eighth Grade Drama Teacher | 608-797-5028

Mandy Williams

Fifth Grade Science Teacher | 651-334-0992

Ryane Hardy

Eighth Grade Humanities Teacher | 612-805-3399

Sarah Black

Sixth Grade Humanities Teacher | 612-655-3275

Tanya Wacholz

Seventh and Eighth Grade English Language Development Teacher | 612-876-1825

Amy Carlson

Special Education Teacher | 612-220-5301

Anna Eddie

Director of Operations | Hiawatha Collegiate High School | 612-281-0123

Beatriz Alcazar Alvarez

Social Worker | 612-600-1875

Ben MacKenzie

Ninth Grade Speech and Composition Teacher | 612-695-3800

Caleea Kidder

Founding Dean of Students | Hiawatha Collegiate High School | 651-485-1148

Dana Hanson

Tenth Grade World Literature Teacher | 612-600-5451

Gabriela Xochihua-Strickland

Art Teacher and Paraprofessional | 612-227-2887

Ian McLaughlin

Special Education Coordinator | 612-220-8829

Joe Kennealy

World History Teacher | 612-600-3094

Jon Laven

Math Teacher | 612-600-5411

Jordan Humble

Founding Biology Teacher | 612-220-1769

Lindsay DeLand

English Language Development Teacher | 612-281-4443

Matt Toppin

Dean of Instruction | Hiawatha Collegiate High School | 612-802-5521

Meg O’Connor

Tenth Grade Speech and Composition Teacher | 612-281-0996

Nadia Nibbs

Multicultural Literature Teacher | 612-281-6653

Natalie Heath

English Language Development Teacher | 608-386-5907

Nicole Cooley

Principal | Hiawatha Collegiate High School | 612-547-9746

Favorite book: Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
Favorite hobby: Yoga

Ms. Cooley is the founding Principal of Hiawatha Collegiate High School. She began her career in education teaching in St. Louis through Teach for America. She then moved to Chicago, where she worked as a teacher and administrator at Gary Comer College Prep, a campus of Noble Street Charter School, the highest performing high school charter network in the city. While there, she led both students and teachers to unprecedented successes, most notably, 100 percent graduation and enrollment in college. In 2013, she joined the Hiawatha Academies as director of teaching and learning. When asked about her work, she said, "“I feel amazingly grateful to be part of a network wherein one hundred percent of students will not only graduate from high school, but will be academically and personally be prepared to experience both the success and challenge that will exist for them in college".”

Ryan Williams-Virden

Dean of Students | Hiawatha Collegiate High School | 612-281-6659

Tony Andrade

Enrichment Coordinator

Victor Sanchez Castro

Office Manager | 612-600-5573