About Us » Board of Directors

Board of Directors

Hiawatha Academies Board of Directors is tasked with ensuring that the mission and values of the Hiawatha schools are met and providing guidance to ensure Hiawatha’s long-term growth and vitality. The Board of Directors works closely with the Leadership Team to chart a course for Hiawatha Academies and meets regularly throughout the year. Our Board members are drawn from the fields of business, education, healthcare, legal, and philanthropy and share a commitment to grow Hiawatha scholars into leaders.

In accordance to open meeting law (OML), which applies to public bodies including School Boards, Hiawatha Academies is required to conduct business publicly, or at an open meeting.

Contact Information
Board Members can be reached at: [email protected]
For media inquiries, please contact: [email protected]hiawathaacademies.org

Upcoming Meetings
The Board Chair has called for a special meeting in accordance with the bylaws.
June 29, 2022, 5:00 pm
Hiawatha Collegiate High School Library
Agenda

Chair | Gerardo Alcazar
Blackwell Burke
Gerardo Alcazar (Jerry) (he/him)  is a lawyer at Blackwell Burke P.A. in Minneapolis and has called South Minneapolis for over fifteen years. Mr. Alcazar is a member and past president of the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association and previously served as the Region XI President for the Hispanic National Bar Association.  Mr. Alcazar has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2014 and currently serves as the board chair, chair of the Executive Committee, and a member of the Governance and Family and Community Engagement Committees. 

Vice-Chair | Jennifer Stern
Great Minnesota Schools
Jennifer Stern (she/her) is the CEO of Great MN Schools (GMS), a non-profit organization in Minneapolis working to ensure all students have access to a great school. Her previous leadership roles include the executive director of Talent Management for Denver Public Schools (DPS), where she oversaw the district’s human capital strategies for teachers and principals, and founding Vice President & Partner at the Charter School Growth Fund, an organization that provides financial and strategic resources to replicate high-quality charter schools serving students from low-income households. Prior to entering the education field, Ms. Stern spent several years at American Express and Bain & Company. Ms. Stern is the board vice-chair and a member of the  Executive and Governance Committees.

Treasurer | Robbie Soskin
Yum! Kitchen and Bakery
Robbie Soskin (he/him)is an entrepreneur and business leader. He has served as President of MOBE, LLC, President of Ovative/group, CEO and owner of Compass Marketing, and President of Weisman Enterprises.  Mr. Soskin was also formerly a trial lawyer and partner at Winthrop & Weinstine.  He now serves on the Advisory Board of US Bank, as a Director of Hospitality Minnesota, and as a Director of Intergenerational Living & Healthcare, Inc. Mr. Soskin received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Minnesota. He and his wife Patti have four children, Zach, Maddie, and Jorie, and his wife Stephanie, and two grandchildren, Riley and Parker. Mr. Soskin is board treasurer and a member of the Executive Committee, and chair of the Finance and Facilities Committee.

Secretary | Scott Kolman-Keen
Hiawatha Academies Teacher
Scott is the band teacher at Hiawatha Collegiate High School and a 17-year veteran teacher. He holds K-12 certification (Music and Special Education) in the state of Minnesota and has served on the board of several educational non-profits. Mr. Kolman-Keen is the board secretary and a member of the Academics  Committee.

Director | Dr. Alicia Muñoz
Macalester College
Dr. Alicia Muñoz (she/her)  is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Macalester College. She is originally from East Los Angeles and is the daughter of Mexican immigrants. She is thrilled to have now taught two Hiawatha graduates at Macalester. Dr. Muñoz is the chair of the Family and Community Engagement Committee.

Director | Jon Schwartz
Self employed
With an interest in multi-site operations and replication, Jon Schwartz (he/him) started his career at Gap Inc. where he was on the founding team for oldnavy.com and has since held senior leadership positions with Envision Schools, Achievement First, the Charter School Growth Fund, The Wildflower Foundation, and College Possible. More broadly, Mr. Schwartz’s passion and strength center around ensuring that national office entities consistently deliver high-quality support to local sites while simultaneously developing the systems, processes, and mindsets necessary to scale with excellence. Mr. Schwartz has also held roles at New Profit, Scholastic, and the California Charter Schools Association. He earned an MBA from the Yale School of Management and a BA in history from Princeton University. Mr. Schwartz is a chair of the Governance Committee and a member of the Finance and  Facilities Committee.

Director | Jose Gomez
Hiawatha Academies Parent
Originally from Mexico, Jose Gomez has been living in Minnesota for over 16 years. He has been with Hiawatha as a parent for 7 years.  As part of the Hiawatha Family Association, over the years he has had the pleasure of being part of different initiatives such as the envisioning of the then new high school building and culture, programs like Happy Saturdays, and Family Academy, among others. Mr. Gomez is currently part of the Family and Community Engagement Committee and represents the Family Association. His goal is to provide a voice for all Hiawatha families.

Director | Eric Hanson
Hiawatha Academies Parent
Eric Hanson (he/him) grew up in Richfield and lived on the East Side of St. Paul for over 10 years before moving to South Minneapolis in 2016. Mr. Hanson has two children who attend Hiawatha schools. He is excited to serve as a parent representative and learn more about how our schools operate to become a better advocate for students and families. Having worked in healthcare for over 20 years, his passion lies in mental, physical, and nutritional health as well as the personal safety of students. Mr. Hanson is a member of the Finance and Facilities Committee.

Director | Nicole Tuescher
Anderson Corporation
Nicole Tuescher (she/her) is an experienced educational administrator, school and employment/labor law attorney, human resources professional, and life-long learner. She considers herself a “recovering teacher” having taught birth to graduate-level students in public, private and military settings. Having recently entered the private sector as an employment law attorney, she appreciates her connection to Hiawatha Academies as a way to give back to our students and community.  Ms. Tuescher is a member of the Governance Committee.

Director | Madaline Edison
Self-employed
Madaline Edison (she/her) is a Minneapolis resident, educator, organizer, and parent. In her professional career, she has previously worked as a kindergarten and first-grade teacher, a founding executive director, and chief of staff for a national education nonprofit organization. Now a self-employed consultant, she supports organizations on people engagement strategy and operations. She brings governance experience having served on two charter school boards in the past and is excited to join the Hiawatha community. Ms. Edison is a member of the Academics Committee.

Director | Dr. Yolanda Majors
Hurston Institute for Learning & Development
Dr. Yolanda J. Majors (she/her)  is the Founder and Director of The Hurston Institute for Learning & Development, MN. and an Associate Professor at the University of Illinois in Learning Sciences. She has been an Assistant Professor of Education at The University of Georgia, Athens, Associate Professor of Education with the University of Illinois, Chicago, and Visiting Associate Professor of Education with the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, with her most recent academic role as Associate Director of the Minnesota Center for Reading Research. She has 23 years of experience focusing on learning within and across K-12 and non-school-based learning experiences. Dr. Majors has led the design, implementation, and evaluation of various institutional learning programs to understand how individuals and organizations transform through social, institutional, and cultural engagements. Dr. Majors is a member of the Academics Committee.

Director | Celina Martina
Metro Transit
Celina Martina (she/her) is the Senior Manager for Equity and Inclusion at Metro Transit. Before joining Metro Transit, she held leadership roles in the education and youth development fields for over a decade including a recent role at Minneapolis Public Schools as their Executive Director of Engagement and External Relations. She is a fierce advocate of true partnerships between schools and families. Ms. Martinez is a member of the Family and Community Engagement Committee.

Executive Committee
Chels Elsberry
Gerardo Alcazar
Jennifer Stern
Robbie Soskin
Scott Kolman-Keen

Family and Community Engagement
Dr. Alicia Muñoz
Gerardo Alcazar
Jose Gomez
Abdirizak Abdi

Governance
Gerardo Alcazar
Jennifer Stern
Jon Schwartz
Nicole Tuescher

Finance & Facilities
Eric Hanson
Jon Schwartz
Robbie Soskin

Academics
Chels Elsberry
Scott Kolman-Keen
Madaline Edison
Dr. Yolanda Majors

 
  • June 8th, 5 – 7 p.m.