Our board consists of a dedicated group of local education champions, including school, business, and community leaders, as well as policy experts and parents. Their collective expertise and shared commitment to equity push EdAllies to help ensure that every young Minnesotan has access to a rigorous and engaging education.
Lisa Marie Cannon-Ratliff
Lisa graduated from the University of Wisconsin—Oshkosh, with a bachelor's of science in Social Work. She worked in the private sector with Qwest Communications for over a decade before returning to school in order to earn her Special Education teaching degree from Saint Cloud State University. Lisa taught Special Education for 11 years with Minneapolis Public Schools and has been a special educator in a variety of charter schools and suburban districts for the past several years. She also serves as a Family Advocacy and Special Education Consultant and Mediator. Lisa’s hobbies consist of sewing, crafts, singing gospel music, and service within her local church.
As Vice President of Networks at Achievement Network, Karn supports and manages the network's midwestern and western sites, as well as the launch of new networks. She previously led the Eastern Massachusetts ANet team as the Executive Director. Before joining ANet, Karn served as a national and New York regional leader of program at Teach For America. She began her career as a fourth-grade teacher in Baton Rouge, LA, where she was awarded Teacher of the Year. Karn is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin—Madison and Harvard Kennedy School. When not working, she enjoys cooking breakfast, exploring city parks, and discussions over dinner with her article club.
Ann Johnson, Chair
Ann currently chairs the EdAllies board. After starting her career as a primary Montessori teacher, she went on to teach in a variety public, private, and charter schools in Minneapolis, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Abu Dhabi. Ann has also held a wide range of leadership roles in public education: She served as a Turnaround Program Specialist with Minneapolis Public Schools, Director of Student and Family Services and Interim School Director at KIPP WAYS Academy, School Leader at The Academy of North Minneapolis, and Head of School at Bright Water Montessori in North Minneapolis. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Clark Atlanta University and Master of Literacy Education from Hamline University.
Holly is the Managing Director of Development at Educators for Excellence-Minnesota, where she partners with supporters who ensure educators have the resources they need to raise their voices. Previously, she served as E4E's National Policy Manager, coordinating education policy development and teacher advocacy work in E4E chapters across the country. Prior to working full-time in education policy, she taught middle school and high school social studies for Minneapolis Public Schools for 14 years. During this time, Holly served as a union steward for the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, as well as a school captain for E4E. She holds a bachelor’s in Political Science from California Lutheran University and a Master’s of Education from the University of Minnesota.
Before retiring in 2015, Michael O’Connell was the pastor at Church of the Ascension in North Minneapolis and The Basicila of St. Mary. Acknowledged as a visionary leader in the Twin Cities, Michael is the founder of the popular Basilica Block Party and the Jeremiah Program. He is also recognized for his dedication to interfaith relations, often working with the Downtown Interfaith Pastors Association and the Jay Phillips Center for Jewish Christian Learning Board. Additionally, Michael serves on the boards of the Northside Achievement Zone, the Ciresi Walburn Foundation for Children, the Lundstrum Center for the Performing Arts, and the Jeremiah Program.
As President and CEO of Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, Tim spearheads the Foundation’s work in early childhood, economic development, and community vitality and philanthropy. Previously, he represented Minnesota’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1982-1994, and was a member of the Minnesota State Senate from 1976-82. Outside of philanthropy and politics, Tim is a published author and has worked in public relations and public affairs. He graduated from Winona State University with a bachelor's degree in Political Science.
Following a long career at Piper Jaffray—which included tenures as CEO and chairman—Tad now serves on the board of directors of Piper Jaffray, American Public Media Group, the Leuthold Group, Predex Capital Management, the Board of Regents of St. Olaf College, and MN Comeback, which he chairs. Tad is the former chair of Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Minnesota Public Radio, and Washburn Center for Children. He also served as director of Allina Health System, trustee of the Stanford University Business School Trust, vice-chair of the Board of Governors of the Securities Industry Association, and chair of the NYSE Regional Firms Advisory Group Committee. He received a B.S. in Economics from Williams College and an M.B.A. from Stanford University.
Lew is a shareholder at the full-service litigation firm, Bassford Remele, where he has previously served as CEO. He is regarded as one of Minnesota’s leading attorneys, and, among other honors, has been the top vote-getter over ten times in the annual Minnesota Super Lawyers list. Lew is past president of both the Minnesota State and Hennepin County Bar Associations, and the Academy of Court Appointed Special Masters. He is also a Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Lew holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a J.D. from Creighton University.
Roberta B. Walburn, formerly a partner and of counsel at Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi L.L.P., is currently Of Counsel at Ciresi Conlin LLP. She has focused her legal career on complex, high-stakes litigation, and represented the State of Minnesota and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota in their groundbreaking lawsuit against the tobacco industry. Previously, Roberta worked as a reporter on the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the Buffalo (N.Y.) Evening News, as a legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone, and as a senior fellow at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Roberta is a cum laude graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School, where she served on the law review, and received her undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Michigan.
Ben spent fifteen years as a regulatory affairs attorney and an early venture capitalist specializing in information services and medical firms. After some years managing political campaigns he was appointed a U.S. ambassador to Norway from 2005-2009. He has since focused his energies on public education change, including projects with Leadership for Equity in Education, EMPOWER, Education Transformation Initiative, and in school board races. Beyond past leadership with many other community organizations, Ben currently serves on the board of the EdAllies, the Minneapolis Foundation, the Whitney Foundation, and the Harvest Network of Schools. He was a founder and now serves as an active Board Chair of Great MN Schools.