About Us

Innovative Leaders, Innovative Support

Innovative Quality Schools not only strives to authorize schools that are innovative, it also has both an innovative management leadership as well a professional staffing structure. IQS directly employs no staff, nor does IQS have a physical office.

Yet, IQS authorizes up to 35 schools with a thorough vetting process, has expert level oversight and evaluation, provides highly competent assistance to schools, conducts conferences attended by both the chartered and district sectors of public education and is recognized as a highly competent authorizer.

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Board

IQS is managed by a board of directors, who provide oversight and strategic direction.

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Leadership Team

The management leadership for IQS is provided by StrategicTREC, LLC. I BET THERE IS A BETTER DESCRIPTION SOMEWHERE.

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Cadre Members

IQS contracts with a Professional Cadre of experts to review applications to be authorized, provide oversight of authorized schools and provide assistance to schools in their specific areas of expertise.

Meet the Team

IQS Board

IQS is organized as a 501c(3), and operates without employees. 

Its own innovative management design is contractor based, opting to utilize the services of a management firm (StrategicTREC LLC) to oversee and manage the authorizing process.  The IQS Articles of Incorporation are on file at the Office of the Secretary of State and its Bylaws are consistent with statutory requirements.

BOARD
MEMBER
Tash Bottum
TBottum@fredlaw.com

Tash Bottum is an attorney with the law firm of Fredrikson & Byron who helps companies with strategic planning that often involves acquisitions, mergers, and financial transactions. She also supports companies with their general corporate needs and governance related matters.

BOARD
MEMBER
Holly Dayton
hollyjdayton@gmail.com

Ms. Dayton focuses on pension policy for the State of Minnesota and lives and works in the Twin Cities. She attended Avalon School, a chartered school in Saint Paul, and continued the path of personalized learning by completing an individualized Bachelor's degree in Environmental Communication and Public Policy through Metropolitan State University.

BOARD
MEMBER
Rhonda Dean
rh12616@gmail.com

BOARD
MEMBER
Haben Ghebregergish
habenghebregergish@hsra.org

Haben Ghebregergish is the Lead Math Facilitator at the High School for Recording Arts. Haben is an alum of the University of Chicago and a current student at the Hamline University Graduate School of Education. Haben has the pleasure of facilitating social justice mathematics courses at HSRA. She also coaches for Bridgemakers, a nonprofit, youth-led organization that works on issues such as education reform and economic justice for marginalized Minnesotans ages 14-25. One of Bridgemakers’ most recent victories was passing a law that made high school students in Minnesota eligible for unemployment benefits.

BOARD
MEMBER
Steve Kelley
Board Chair
spkinmn@gmail.com

Steve Kelley is a Senior Fellow at he Humphrey School of Public Affairs. He teaches classes related to science and technology policy, public budgeting and education law and policy. Before joining the Humphrey School, he served in the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives where among other roles he served as chair of the Senate Education Committee. Steve also practiced commercial litigation in Minneapolis for many years and has served on the boards of several civic organizations

BOARD
MEMBER
Robin Manthie
rmanthie@2harvest.org

BOARD
MEMBER
Shannon Mitchel
smitchell@fryberger.com

Shannon Mitchell is an attorney who works as a lobbyist at Fryberger, Buchanan, Smith & Frederick, P.A. Her experience includes working as a Director of Policy and Director of External Affairs at Educators for Excellence.

BOARD
MEMBER
Katie Pekel
kpekel@umn.edu

Dr. Pekel is the Executive Director of Educational Leadership at the University of Minnesota. She leads the Minnesota Principals Academy, co-coordinates the Executive Ph.D. cohort for educational leaders within the department of Organizational Leadership, and co-directs the U of M’s Urban Leadership Academy.

BOARD
MEMBER
John Schultz
jwsupt@gmail.com

BOARD
MEMBER
C. Bennice Young
cbyoung900@comcast.net

Bennice Young is the former principal of Elizabeth Hall International Elementary School in the Minneapolis Public School District. She is a skilled instructional coach supporting the Catalyst Approach, which supports teachers with classroom management techniques centered around equitable practices that create spaces where students can be surrounded by adults who understand, nurture, inspire, and support them.

Meet the Team

Management Leadership Team

The management leadership for IQS is provided by StrategicTREC, LLC.

The Board of IQS contracts with StrategicTREC, LLC to provide the day to day leadership to carryout the vision, mission and goals of the IQS Board.

Laurie Schroeder
Managing Partner
lschroeder@iqsmn.org

Laurie began her career as a middle school teacher in the Twin Cities.  She then moved 'across the pond' to work as a teacher and instructional coach at a private school in London, England.  She and her husband moved back to his hometown of Hutchinson, where Laurie spent eight years working in student support programming, including coordinating elementary and secondary Response to Intervention programming, Title 1, ADSIS and Gifted Education.  Laurie is a licensed elementary and middle school teacher, has a masters in Educational Leadership, and earned a Principal and Superintendent License through the University of Minnesota.

LEADERSHIP
Heather Ross
Associate Partner
hross@iqsmn.org

Heather began her career in education as a classroom teacher, serving in both private and public schools in the Twin Cities. She is a licensed 7-12 Social Studies teacher with a Masters in Education from the University of Minnesota. Ms. Ross has experience in the charter sector as a parent founder of a charter school, a charter school board member, and joins the IQS Management Leadership Team from another Minnesota authorizing organization.  

LEADERSHIP
Meet the Team

Cadre Members

IQS contracts with a Professional Cadre of experts to review applications to be authorized, provide oversight of authorized schools and provide assistance to schools in their specific areas of expertise.

Harry Adler

Harry Adler has over 30 years of experience in education, financial and program management. His efforts as the Executive Director of a Minnesota Charter School led to significant growth in fund balance, enrollment, retention and the successful delivery of the school’s mission. He served in leadership roles at several Minnesota Private Schools and an education related non-profit. He taught math, science, and experiential electives for eleven years. Prior to earning his education licensure at University of St. Thomas, Harry held financial management and systems engineering roles at FMC. He holds undergraduate and advanced degrees from the University of Virginia.

CADRE
MEMBER
Lulzim (Luli) Axhijaj, MAEd

Luli has more than 16 years of experience in education and leadership. He has worked with a number of High Quality Charter schools as the IT Manager, Consultant, and School Director. He spent his last five years as the Executive Director of Star of the North Academy charter school where he started the school successfully. Under his leadership at Star of the North Academy, the school received the “Reward School” from MDE after completing the very first year and also received the “High Quality Charter School” award from MDE in the 3rd and 4th year. He has a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Concordia University in St. Paul and a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology from St. Mary’s University of MN in Minneapolis. He is the Owner / President of Leading Educational Services, LLC. He contracts with charter school authorizers and charter schools providing educational services. He has extensive knowledge and expertise with Integrating Technology in Education, School Start-Up, Operations, CSP Grant, Facility, Budget, Finance, Audit, Governance, School Assessments and Data Analysis, and Compliance.

CADRE
MEMBER
Carrie Bakken

Carrie Bakken is a Program Coordinator and a founding teacher of Avalon School, a project-based charter school in St. Paul, With over 20 years of experience in charter school governance and innovative school models, Carrie has supported a number of schools in developing and sustaining student centered learning programs. She has served as an IQS cadre member for over 5 years and holds a Master of Arts degree in Teaching from the University of St. Thomas and a Juris Doctorate from Hamline University. She also completed her undergraduate work at Beloit College.

CADRE
MEMBER
Stacey Bender

Stacy Bender has worked in Minnesota charter schools since 2003 as a teacher, guidance counselor, and online program director. She also had a quick stint in the Charter Center at the Minnesota Department of Education. Her master’s degree in school counseling is from University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

CADRE
MEMBER
​Charmagne E. Campbell-Patton

Charmagne E. Campbell-Patton is an independent evaluator with over fifteen years of experience evaluation and assessment across a range of fields, including K-12 education and youth-focused programming. Formerly, she served as the National Program Manager at World Savvy, a global education non-profit. She holds an MA from American University and a BA from Grinnell College.

CADRE
MEMBER
Emily Edstrom Moore

Emily Edstrom Moore has worked with another authorizer, Pillsbury United Communities, for over five years. Her time there has included managing evaluation processes, acting as a school liaison, executing governance reviews, advancing policy and advocacy work, and monitoring compliance. Prior to entering the world of authorizing, Emily worked at a charter school, various non-profits, a law firm, the Minnesota House of Representatives, and many youth programs. She has a Master of Public Policy in Education Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a BA in History from Beloit College.

CADRE
MEMBER
James Evans

James has been working at Stenmark Financial Services in Bloomington for over 5 years. Stenmark is a finance and payroll company helping charter schools with all of their accounting needs. He also owns a Farmers Insurance agency in Chaska and Belle Plaine which provides insurance needs for personal and business clients.

CADRE
MEMBER
Traci Hess, EdD

Traci Hess has over 20 years of experience working in education. She holds a 7-12 English license, a K-12 reading licence, and a K-12 administrative licence. Traci is grateful to have started her career as a preschool teacher and the practical understanding of how a child's formal education journey begins. While she has spent most of teaching years at the middle school level, she has worked with every level of learners. Traci has a passion for literacy and a commitment to both the art and science of teaching. She currently works in the metro area as an instructional coach.

CADRE
MEMBER
Julie Hill

Julie Hill has over 20 years of teaching experience in elementary education, from district schools to charter schools and from traditional settings to progressive and democratic school models. She has also supervised teacher candidates with the University of Minnesota since 2011. Julie’s focus and expertise is in critical pedagogy and critical literacy, narrative and authentic assessment, developmental movement, and building liberatory educational spaces grounded in the lived experiences of students, teachers, and the broader school community. Julie has an MA in Social Justice Education from Goddard College and an MS in Literacy from Fordham University.

CADRE
MEMBER
Bonnie Jorgenson

Bonnie Jorgenson was one of the founding staff members of Duluth Edison Charter School (DECS) in 1997. In August 2000 she became the Head of Schools for DECS -- a role she served in until her retirement in August 2021. During her tenure the school doubled in size, was one of the first 12 Q Comp schools in MN, and formed a building company that built a new building for the schools. Bonnie provided leadership for ADSIS, PBIS and restorative justice initiatives at the school. She has served several terms on the MN Association of Charter Schools (MACS) Board. Prior to her work at the school Bonnie worked in public relations and religious education.

CADRE
MEMBER
Pat King

Pat King has over twenty-five years of experience working at the school, district, charter and state level in Minnesota in numerous leadership capacities. She is an experienced leader in supporting school and student performance and facilitating school improvement initiatives. Pat has a proven track record working with leadership teams to focus on equity, collaborative problem solving and ensuring all voices are heard.

CADRE
MEMBER
Paul Kinsley

After 22 years in the corporate field, Paul returned to the classroom to obtain his MA in Education. Upon his completion he spent 11 years working as a SPED teacher with at-risk youth and then the next 7 years as a director of two charter schools in the Metro area. Paul presently does consulant work for non-profits focusing on financial management and expansion.

CADRE
MEMBER
Bruce Lamprecht

Bruce is currently the Director of Business Services for Marshall Public Schools. Bruce oversees the budget, finance, HR/payroll and general operations of the school district. He is the current chair of the Southwest/West Central Service Cooperative School Group Insurance Pool Advisory Committee. He has been an active member of MASBO (Minnesota Association of School Business Officials), serving on the board from 2009-2015 and as the MASBO president during the 2013-2014 school year.

CADRE
MEMBER
Lora Lepisto Brown

Lora Lepisto Brown is starting her 44th year in education. She has taught at all elementary levels in various schools in the Midwest. She taught kindergarten – second grade and later served as an instructional-literacy coach and RtI Coordinator at Milaca Elementary. She earned her MA in Education in 1998 and her doctorate in 2008. She has also served as a School Improvement Specialist and Grant Writer through MDE grants. Her most recent ‘SIG’ school was New Discoveries Montessori Academy in Hutchinson, Mn. For the past 7 years Lora served as a ‘Master Coach’ for Minnesota Reading Corps, ensuring accountability and fidelity in the interventions implemented for students’ reading success. Lora and her husband Jerry live just east of Foley. They have recently converted 18 acres into natural Minnesota wild flower & grass! The wildlife is outstanding! Jerry and Lora enjoy 7 grandchildren and 5 adult children. Life is good on the ‘ranch’!

CADRE
MEMBER
Michael Mignard, Ph.D.

Michael has over 42 years of experience in Education. He has been a Teacher, Athletic Director, Dean of Students, and Principal. He has served on numerous accreditation teams, and has done independent school consulting. He is currently the Director of Education Clinical Practice, and Associate Professor of Education at Bethel University in St. Paul.

CADRE
MEMBER
Sawsan Natsheh

Sawsan Natsheh is a highly motivated and dedicated educator experienced in preparing and implementing school start up and improvement plans. Over 10 years of experience in the academic landscape, with expertise in school operations, and providing leadership in staff recruitment, finance, advancement and community partnership. Previously, she was a co-founder and head of international school for 6 years. She values the mission of charter schools in general, which is focusing on the individual needs of the students and preparing them for future success. Presently, Sawsan is the Executive Director for MACSA (Minnesota Association of Charter Schools Authorizers ) and serves as a board member at Global Academy.

CADRE
MEMBER
Bondo Nyembwe

Bondo Nyembwe has worked for 11 years in charter schools. Seven as Executive Director at Academia Cesar Chavez and Richard Allen Math and Science Academy and 4 years as a turn-around principal at St. Paul City School. He is dedicated to school transformation and focus on creating common practices that build a positive school climate for teaching and learning. He believes that improving scholars’ achievement for all is a moral imperative. Bondo enjoys reading and translating research into practice in schools. He has authored an article “Teachers of Color Face Shortage: What does it mean to our growing numbers of minority students?”

CADRE
MEMBER
Susie Orr

Susie is a veteran educator with over 20 years of teaching experience, special education monitoring and compliance, teacher training, staff evaluation, and curriculum design/development. Susie values student-centered learning and relationship building and is committed to both academic and social/emotional success for all students, especially those from underrepresented and marginalized groups.Susie is licensed in the following areas: 5-12 Social Studies, K-12 EBD and DCD in Special Education, Adult Basic Education, and administrative licensure as a Principal. She also holds a Master of Arts in Teaching and a BA in Sociology / Anthropology.

CADRE
MEMBER
Kristi Papenfuss

Kristi has worked as a Spanish teacher for ten years. She has taught grades K-6 and 9-12, developed language curriculum and was trained in the International Baccalaureate Primary Year Program. Kristi facilitated international academic opportunities for high school students in Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile and Spain. In addition to teaching, Kristi is a licensed Social Worker. She has experience within the field of domestic violence, as a Bilingual Home-School Liaison and as a School Social Worker. Kristi holds a Bachelor's Degree in Latin American Studies and Spanish. As a graduate student, she earned a Masters in Social Work and Public Policy at the University of Minnesota and her teaching license through the University of St. Thomas.

CADRE
MEMBER
Jolene Pearson, Ph.D.

Jolene Pearson has 40 years of experience in the field of early childhood education. Jolene began her career as an ECFE teacher during the pilot phase of the program in Minnesota in 1976. She was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Jamaica serving as an early childhood teacher trainer, a lead teacher in Mount Holyoke College’s child development center, spent twenty -seven years in early childhood education in Minneapolis Public schools including serving as an Interagency Facilitator in early childhood special education. For the past ten years she has served as an associate professor of early childhood education at Bethel University. She excitedly joins the IQS team to support the early childhood programs and their staff.

CADRE
MEMBER
Rochel Perna, CPA

Rochel graduated from the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management with a degree in Business Administration, earned her CPA and became licensed through a local accounting firm. She has 29 years’ experience in school finance in traditional and charter school settings with 15 years as a Business Manager and is currently a financial consultant. Rochel has been an active member of MASBO for 29 years and has served on the MN Trust Board of Trustees. Rochel's passion has always been with small companies and school districts where variety is the fare of the day.

CADRE
MEMBER
Julie Peterson

Julie began her career in elementary education moving up the ladder from teaching assistant to mental health practitioner and then eventually moving on to obtain her second degree as a special education teacher. Julie has her K-12 Special Education License for Emotional and Behavior Disorders. For nearly a decade she worked as a teacher administrator in a charter school with a teacher powered model. Julie runs her own business as an Educational and Administrative Consultant assisting schools with effective operations and strategic planning. She has a passion for giving teachers a voice in education as well as finding alternative ways to educate that allows students to thrive.

CADRE
MEMBER
Tracy Quarnstrom

Tracy Quarnstrom has served as the director of Wolf Creek Online High school since 2003. Wolf Creek is Minnesota’s only hybrid online high school which offers students an online experience while still offering the advantages of face to face interactions several days per week. Quarnstrom has been very involved in the creation of online learning legislation in the state of Minnesota as well as in organizations that promote quality online choices for students and families. She currently serves as secretary for the MNOLA K12 Online Learning Alliance and works as an adjunct professor for administrative leadership courses at Hamline University.

CADRE
MEMBER
Lawrence Ronglien

Larry Ronglien is a retired high school principal, teacher and coach. Larry has been getting up to go to school for 59 straight years! Larry's undergrad and Masters is from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. He completed his Ed Specialist from Minnesota State Mankato in 2009. Larry's experience includes 13 years as a special education teacher for Northeast Metro Intermediate School District, 7 years as the coordinator of the St. Louis Park Area Learning Center, 2 years as the Academic Services Coordinator at Hazel Park Middle School in St. Paul. His administrative experience includes one year as an administrative dean at Hazel Park, then 3 years as principal in the Onamia School District and 3.5 years with Minnesota Transitions Charter School. Since "retiring" in December, 2016, he's worked as a school consultant for Success Academy Charter School in Bloomington and St. Cloud from 2017 - 2022. Larry joined IQS in 2018 and serves as one of the new school mentors.

CADRE
MEMBER
Walt Stull, MBA

Walt brings both education and business experience to the IQS cadre team. He has over twenty years of experience as a teacher, administrator and consultant and twenty-five years of experience in the private sector in training, instructional design, marketing, and management. His education experience includes both traditional public and charter public schools including serving as executive director at two charter schools in Minnesota. He has an MBA from St. Thomas University, St. Paul and Superintendent License from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

CADRE
MEMBER
Kayla Tessmer, M. Ed

Kayla Tessmer has worked as a teacher for 12 years and has a passion for alternative education. Kayla is dedicated to creating student-centered curriculum and opportunities that meet the needs of all learners. She currently teaches English at her district’s Area Learning Center and Night School program. Kayla earned her masters in Curriculum & Instruction, with a reading emphasis, from Concordia University, Portland.

CADRE
MEMBER
Ansell Toskas, M.Ed.

Ansell is a secondary school science teacher and school board member at City Academy High School, where he has over a decade of experience teaching and developing curriculum. Ansell is passionate about student-lead inquiry and meeting students at their various readiness levels. In addition to teaching and school governance, Ansell participates in yearly action research through the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development at the University of Minnesota. Conducting this research directly impacts school policy and teaching practices. Ansell is licensed in 9-12 Life Science. He holds a Master of Education in Science Education, Master of Education in Learning Technologies, and a Bachelor of Arts in Art.

CADRE
MEMBER
Nora Whalen

Co-Founder of the Avalon School; Current Advisor/Program Coordinator at Avalon; Project Based Learning; EdVisions Cooperative; Developed Curriculum and Training Modules to support start-up schools; Expertise: (1) Project Based Learning (2) Teacher Led Schools, (3) School Design

CADRE
MEMBER
Krissy Wright Quinn

Krissy is the director at Jennings Community School and serves on the boards of Education Evolving, Edvisions Cooperative, and Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs. She is also a MN Network Co-Leader for Teacher Powered Schools.

CADRE
MEMBER
Jim Zacchini, MA, EdD

Jim Zacchini is an educator and consultant who has worked throughout the United States and the Pacific Rim.Most recently Jim served as the Manager of Special Projects for World Savvy, and as the Project Manager for theGlobal Competence Certificate Program, a graduate-level program in global competence education, developed in partnership with Teachers College and the Asia Society. Prior to that, he was the Assistant Program Director at the Minnesota Humanities Center focusing on cultural programming throughout the state’s diverse communities.Jim also serves as Treasurer on the Board of City Stay, which works to break down cultural and economic barriers through experiential education, and is the 2017 Minnesota Council of Nonprofits recipient of the Anti-Racism Initiative Award. Jim holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and American Studies from ProvidenceCollege, a Masters in History and American Foreign Policy in Asia from Marquette University, and an EdD inOrganizational Development and Leadership from the University of St. Thomas (Minneapolis). Expertise areas include: project based learning, experiential learning, design thinking, evaluation, mission/strategic development, appreciative inquiry and strengths based change, and mindfulness leadership.

CADRE
MEMBER

Interested in working with IQS?