Board

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.
keith brooks

Dr. Keith Brooks

Dr. Brooks enjoys sharing his expertise on topics such as educational equity leadership, intercultural competence, and goal-driven staff development.

Through Chosen Path Consulting, Dr. Brooks enjoys sharing his expertise as an engaging facilitator and inspirational keynote speaker on topics such as educational equity leadership, intercultural competence, and goal-driven staff development. Dr. Brooks has held multiple roles in higher education as well as in K-12 settings. Most recently, Keith has served as Dean of Academic Foundations and Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Prior to that role, Keith was Associate Professor of Education at Bethel University. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Xavier University of Louisiana, as well as a master’s degree and a Ph. D. in Education from the University of Minnesota.

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mike ciresi

Mike Ciresi

Mike is a founding partner at Ciresi Conlin L.L.P. Previously, he was a named partner and Chairman of the Executive Board of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P., where he worked for 43 years.

Mike is a founding partner at Ciresi Conlin L.L.P. Previously, he was a named partner and Chairman of the Executive Board of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P., where he worked for 43 years. He has received many honors throughout his legal career, including being recognized on two occasions in the National Law Journal’s annual list of “Ten of the Nation’s Top Trial Lawyers.” In addition to his practice, Mike founded and now serves as the Chairman and President of the Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi Foundation for Children. He also serves on many boards, including the Board of Trustees for the University of St. Thomas and the Board of Governors of the University of St. Thomas School of Law. He earned his bachelor’s at the University of St. Thomas and his J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School.

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alex cirillo

Alex Cirillo

Alex was the vice president of community affairs for 3M prior to his retirement in 2010.

Alex was the vice president of community affairs for 3M prior to his retirement in 2010. He held various roles at 3M since joining the company in 1979 as a senior physicist. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, on the Board of Directors for the Wilder Foundation, and as a member of the Itasca Project's working team. Previously, he served on the Board of Directors for the BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota. Cirillo earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Catholic University of America and a master's degree and doctorate in chemistry, both from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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maren hulden

Maren Hulden, Treasurer

Maren is the Skadden Fellow/Staff Attorney at Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, where she works primarily with special education students and their families.

Maren is the Skadden Fellow/Staff Attorney at Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, where she works primarily with special education students and their families. Originally from Minnesota, she got her start in education by teaching through Teach For America in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. She then went on to attend Columbia University’s School of Law, serve as Editor-in-Chief of the Columbia Law Review, and clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals and the U.S. District Court. Maren holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Chicago.

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ann johnson

Ann Johnson, Chair

Ann, chair of the EdAllies board, currently works as the Head of School at Bright Water Montessori in North Minneapolis.

Ann currently works as the Head of School at Bright Water Montessori in North Minneapolis. 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, and School Leader at The Academy of North Minneapolis. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Clark Atlanta University and Master of Literacy Education from Hamline University.

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Holly Kragthorpe

Holly is the National Policy Manager and Educators 4 Excellence (E4E), where she coordinates education policy development and teacher advocacy work in E4E chapters across the country.

Holly is the National Policy Manager and Educators 4 Excellence (E4E), where she coordinates 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.

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michael o'connell

Michael O’Connell

Before retiring in 2015, Father O’Connell was the pastor at Church of the Ascension in North Minneapolis and The Basicila of St. Mary.

Before retiring in 2015, Father 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, Fr. O’Connell is 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, Fr. O’Connell serves on the boards of the Northside Achievement Zone, the Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi Foundation for Children, the Lundstrum Center for the Performing Arts, and the Jeremiah Program.

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tim penny

Tim Penny

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.

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.

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tad piper

Tad Piper

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, as well as several other groups.

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.

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lew remele

Lew Remele

Lew is a shareholder at the full-service litigation firm, Bassford Remele, where he has previously served as CEO.

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.

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ben whitney

Ben Whitney

Ben spent fifteen years as a regulatory affairs attorney and an early venture capitalist specializing in information services and medical firms.

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.

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