Our Team

AdoptAClassroom.org Leadership Team


Ann Ruhr Pifer

Executive Director

Ann joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2013, bringing experience in nonprofit management, education, finance and the arts. She spent 15 years as a corporate banker in New York and Minneapolis with Wells Fargo and Banque Paribas, among others. She is the founder and former owner of The Grand Hand Gallery in St. Paul. Ann received her BA from Smith College; her MA from John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Humphrey School of Public Policy at the University of Minnesota. She serves on the boards of The Minnesota Museum of American Art and Craft in America, and previously served on the boards of St. Paul Academy and Summit School, and Craft Retailers and Artists for Tomorrow.

Carolyn Aberman

Chief Corporate Partnerships & Marketing Officer

Carolyn joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2013 to establish the non-profit’s corporate sponsorship discipline and oversee its brand marketing. She is a respected veteran of corporate retail and consumer brand marketing, and is credited with some of the most differentiated campaigns during her tenures at Target and Best Buy. Carolyn spearheaded Target’s first-ever cause marketing campaign, Kids for Saving Earth, which helped set the standard for innovative and impactful corporate cause marketing. As the director of public relations at Target, Carolyn was a key member of the marketing leadership team responsible for strategic partnerships and developing retail industry firsts, e.g., the democratization of design and pop-up shops. Carolyn graduated from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism, Advertising Sequence.

Austin Hagle

Senior Director of Technology and Operations

Austin (he/him) joined the AdoptAClassroom.org team in 2018 to continue his work in supporting the K-12 teacher profession. He graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Masters in Education, and began a career teaching high school mathematics in the Vail Unified School District for six years. During this time he served as a teaching coach, generated mathematics curriculum utilized in multiple districts, and led various professional development workshops. He was recognized as a teacher of the year within the district in 2017.

Melissa Hruza

VP Marketing & Development

Melissa (she/her) has more than ten years of experience in digital marketing, communication strategy, and managing partnerships. As a first-generation college student, Melissa knows the lasting impact teachers make for their students and was inspired to join AdoptAClassroom.org in 2015. Previously, she worked in communications technology and fundraising development for the business and nonprofit sectors. Melissa holds a BA from Hamline University and a MAS in Information and Communications Technology from the University of Denver.

Ryan Jordan

SVP – Programs, Technology, Operations

Ryan joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2013 and has worked with AAC’s program and technology teams in various roles. In addition to his time at AAC, Ryan has worked at an education startup and helped build programs and operations capacity at two other nonprofit organizations. Ryan received a MA in Media Studies from The New School in N.Y.

AdoptAClassroom.org Staff


Alex Aberman

Account Director

As Account Director, Alex works closely with corporate partners to bring their sponsorships to life in ways that will achieve their objectives and equip more teachers and students with the tools they need to be successful in school.

Alex resides in Salt Lake City, Utah. When she isn’t working it is likely you will find Alex in the mountains; camping, skiing, hiking, and mountain biking alongside her partner Hennie, and their dogs, Barry and Lilo. Alex is a professional photographer and owner of Aberman Photo where she focuses on shooting active and adventure photographs.

Arika Alana

Sponsorship Marketing Manager

Arika Alana joined AdoptAClassroom.org in March of 2022 with a background in marketing, advertising and communications. She played a large PTO role in her children’s elementary school. Her nonprofit work experience includes partnering with National sponsors like JOANN Stores, Shane Co., Tom’s of Maine, Georgia Pacific and Five Below. She is honored and passionate to support and further AAC’s mission.

Shannon Baker

Director of Operations

Shannon joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2021 as the Program Strategy Manager. He spent eight years in wireless retail, overseeing multiple regions and retail locations as the Director of Sales and Operations. Shannon’s passion for students and teachers was ignited during his time in retail, in which he was able to connect employees to their local schools. He left the corporate world and moved back to Tucson, Ariz. to be close to family, as well as starting his own. In Tucson, Shannon was the Director of Marketing and Operations for a local multi-practice dental company. With the desire to help serve students and teachers, Shannon left the practice to join AdoptAClassroom.org to help fulfill their mission.

Sarah Beam

Teacher Services Coordinator

Before joining the AdoptAClassroom.org team, Sarah (she/her) taught English Language Development to middle schoolers, high schoolers, university students, and adults in Mass., Minn., and Perú. She also has experience as a teacher trainer and workshop facilitator, and is energized by opportunities to support and collaborate with educators. She studied Spanish, ESL Education, and Race and Ethnic Studies at St. Olaf College.

Cristina Easton

Program Strategy Manager

Cristina joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2021. Cristina’s career in education includes 15 years in urban public schools in New York City and Baltimore, Md. as a Special Education teacher, Assistant Principal, and Principal.  She has presented at National and International Education conferences on Special Education, Math, and Single-Sex Public School Education, and served on the planning committee to open a school in New York City.  In addition to her work with AdoptAClassroom.org, Cristina is an educational consultant supporting schools in the area of Equity and Inclusion, fostering Student Voice and Leadership, and Coaching. She also serves on the Board of Trustees for The Bryn Mawr School for Girls in Baltimore, Md.  Her passion areas are supporting girls of color in schools, early career teacher support, and strategic planning, and she is thrilled to be able to support AdoptAClassroom.org teachers and schools.  Cristina graduated from Smith College in Northampton, Mass., with a BA in Sociology, earned her Masters in Teaching and license in Special Education as a New York City Teaching Fellow, and her Masters in Urban Education Leadership at Bank Street College in New York City.

Kirsten Fedorowicz

Marketing Specialist

Kirsten (she/her) joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2021. Prior to joining AdoptAClassroom.org, she worked at Bridging, a local furniture bank, through her service year with Quaker Voluntary Service. She graduated from Aquinas College with a BA in English, Writing Emphasis. Kirsten lives in Grand Rapids, MI. When offline, she spends as much time as she can in the woods or on Lake Michigan.

Sarah Fowler

Account Manager

Sarah (she/her) joined the corporate sponsorship team at AdoptAClassroom.org in 2018. She has more than 10 years of experience in the nonprofit sector across several areas, including marketing, finance, sales and event planning. Sarah serves on the board of Print the Love and previously served on the young professionals board at the Minnesota Opera. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

J Gold

Teacher Services Manager

J (they/them) comes from a family of teachers and is passionate about helping teachers and their students access needed resources. When they’re not at work, J enjoys gardening and spending time with their spouse, two cats, and puppy.

Ezra Horton

Marketing Coordinator

Ezra (they/them) joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2018 and brings their writing expertise and strategic mind to donor communications (if you get our emails, hello!). Ezra received their BA in English and Queer Studies from Kalamazoo College. When they’re offline they enjoy chasing cars on their bike and homemaking as much as a renter can.

Devon Karbowski

Senior Marketing Manager

Devon (he/him) joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2016 to help highlight teachers and their stories to show why there is a great need to provide classrooms with donations for school supplies. He graduated from the University of Minnesota, Duluth with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Writing Studies, Professional Writing.

Zach Stoebner

Creative Director

Zach Stoebner (he/him) joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2021. Having a love of art, he first took an interest in graphic design at the Minneapolis College of Art + Design. Working in the educational field previously and growing up with a teacher for a mother, AdoptAClassroom.org was a natural fit for him.

Jessica Woodard

Outreach Specialist

Before joining AdoptAClassroom in 2022, Jessica worked for over nine years in the field of education teaching German, ESL, and Spanish literacy. She spent two years serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic, where her main project was working to improve Spanish literacy in a local primary school as well as developing the school’s first sustainable library program. She received a BA in Foreign Languages and Linguistics from New Mexico State University and an MA in German Studies from the University of New Mexico. Outside of work she enjoys spending time hiking around the various green spaces in Austin, TX with her partner, reading, cooking, doing puzzles, and being a cat mom.

AdoptAClassroom.org Board


Board Officers

Jen Swanson, Chair

Founder & Principal, Jen Swanson LLC

Jen’s career spans over 20 years of roles in customer advocacy, marketing technology, and service channel operations in higher education and healthcare organizations including the University of Minnesota, Capella University, Children’s Minnesota, and UnitedHealth Group. As AdoptAClasssroom.org’s Board Chair, she brings her insatiable curiosity for technology and a drive to use it to find innovative solutions to support educators and students.

Matt Johnson, Vice Chair

Managing Director of the Product and Experience Lab, West Monroe Partners

Matt is based in Minneapolis, Minn. He is currently the Managing Director of the Product and Experience Lab at West Monroe Partners. Along with his success building digital experiences for start-ups, Matt is an accomplished singer-songwriter under his independent label, Rowdy Records. Matt has been a member of our board since 2015.

Julie Krueger, Secretary

Recruiter, Google

During Julie’s 30 year career, she has led teams in marketing, e-commerce, product management, sales, recruiting in the etail, CPG and technology industries. She is currently responsible for recruiting at Google for all of the Americas. She has been a proud board member of AdoptAClassroom.org for more than 10 years.

Kurts Strelnieks, Treasurer

Business Banker, Union Bank

A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Minn., Kurts is proud to represent Union Bank and Trust, a community bank in the heart of the Twin Cities, as a business banker. He is a member of the Secured Finance Network and Eden Prairie Rotary, as well as a board member of Tree Trust. Kurts has been on AdoptAClassroom.org’s Board of Directors since 2016.

Board Members


Annie Alcott

Retired Teacher

Annie Alcott (she/her) retired in June 2021 after 30 years of teaching. She began her career teaching first and second grade in Berkeley Unified School District. She taught at U.C. Berkeley in the Developmental Teacher Education Program as a Lecturer and a Supervisor of Teacher Education. Annie returned to teach at the elementary school level 15 years ago. She worked for two years as an English Language Development Specialist and then taught in grades K-3, most recently in Kindergarten Throughout her career, Annie has mentored dozens of new teachers as both a supervisor and a cooperating teacher. In addition, Annie has been a contributing writer for several curriculum programs published by the Developmental Studies Center and has contributed articles to their website’s blog. Annie received her BA from Bryn Mawr College and her MA in Education from the Developmental Teacher Education (DTE) Program at U.C. Berkeley. Annie has fostered an interest in second language acquisition throughout her career and acquired her CLAD (Crosscultural, Language, Academic Development) certification. During the last several years, Annie has also served on her school’s Social Justice Committee. She is continually working to become a more anti-racist teacher and person.

Ami Anderson, Vice Chair

Marketer Executive, Tenet Healthcare and Elara Caring

Ami has been a marketer for more than 30 years in consumer packaged goods, restaurants and now healthcare. She spent 20 of those years at General Mills in Minneapolis, Minn. before moving to Dallas, Texas to work for Tenet Healthcare and Elara Caring. She has an MBA from Wharton Business School and is passionate about education.  Her father was a professor for 42 years and her mom was a school teacher for 36 years. She knows the impact teachers can make, which drew her to AdoptAClassroom.org back in 2013.

Dale Robinson Anglin

VP for Programs, Cleveland Foundation

Dale is the Vice President for Programs at the Cleveland Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio. Prior to her position at the Cleveland Foundation, Dale worked as the associate director of programs for the Victoria Foundation, and the Development Director for New Community Corporation, both in Newark N.J., and as the executive director of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, and a social analyst for the Congressional Research Service, both in Washington D.C.

Rahoul Ghose

Chief Information Officer, ECMC Group

Rahoul is the Chief Information Officer for the ECMC Group, an education and student financial services company based in Minneapolis, Minn. Rahoul serves on several non-profit Boards and on the Business Analytics Advisory Board at Hamline University. He has been a guest and adjunct faculty member at several Minnesota universities. Rahoul holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, and a MBA from the University of Minnesota.

Ashley Gobert

Healthcare Consulting Manager, Vynamic

Ashley currently resides in Philadelphia, Pa., working as a Healthcare Consulting Manager at Vynamic. After earning her undergraduate degree from Spelman College, she spent two years as a teaching fellow at a middle school in Durham, N.C. After her years as a teaching fellow, Ashley earned a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Virginia.

Jeff Gray

Assurance Partner, PwC

Jeff has 28 years of experience serving a variety of multinational financial services and publicly registered organizations, principally in the capital markets, asset, wealth management industries. His experiences include assisting clients with their public registration, compliance obligations, and controls reviews. Jeff is currently an Assurance Partner in PwC’s financial services practice.

Erik Huckle

Lead Product Manager , Sailpoint

Erik has spent his time in the tech world building startups, both his own and inside corporations. He spent 6.5 years in the Marine Corps Infantry before transitioning to the tech/startup world through an MBA at the University of Texas. Erik brings his love of applying technology to interesting problems, as well as his interest in supporting teachers like his mother Lori, to AdoptAClassroom.org.

Jordan McGowan

Senior Consultant, Pivotal Advisors LLC

Jordan McGowan is a Senior Consultant with Pivotal Advisors LLC, a national management consulting firm.  As an executive coach and fractional sales leader, he works with business leaders to achieve disciplined and sustainable sales growth. As an award-winning individual contributor and enterprise leader, Jordan has engaged with C-Suite leaders at hundreds of businesses with revenues from $20MM to over $500MM in a collaborative, consultative manner to address sales, operational, financial, and technical topics. He developed his acumen, relationship skills and leadership for over two decades in business development roles.

Ryan Vernosh

Principal, Brimhall Elementary in Roseville

Ryan is the Principal at Brimhall Elementary in Roseville, Minn. In 2010, he was Minnesota’s Teacher of the year.

Kayla Wesser

Chief Financial Officer, Distill

Kayla is currently the Chief Financial Officer at Distill, a relationship-based management consultancy organization. She has a BS in Business, Finance, and Marketing from the University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management. Kayla has been a member of the AdoptAClassroom.org board since 2021.

AdoptAClassroom.org Advisory Council


Dr. Hines and COMMON

Dr. Hines shares AdoptAClassroom.org’s commitment to teachers and children, particularly in under-served schools. She currently serves as President of the COMMON Ground Foundation and a member of both the Chicago Board of Education and the Obama Foundation. As a retired teacher and principal, Dr. Hines uses her 35 years of experience working in urban areas throughout the country to develop effective school leaders who will guide others to provide the best possible education for children least likely to receive it.

Sheryl Crow

AdoptAClassroom.org National Spokesperson and Partner

As a former teacher, Sheryl knows first hand how hard it can be to get the supplies needed to help your students. Sheryl is passionate about education and a huge advocate for our teachers. She believes being a teacher is one of the most important jobs there is and they should be treated as professionals and given the respect, support and supplies they need to educate our nation’s children.

 
 

Teacher Advisory Board


Annie Alcott

Retired Teacher

Annie Alcott (she/her) retired in June 2021 after 30 years of teaching. She began her career teaching first and second grade in Berkeley Unified School District. She taught at U.C. Berkeley in the Developmental Teacher Education Program as a Lecturer and a Supervisor of Teacher Education. Annie returned to teach at the elementary school level 15 years ago. She worked for two years as an English Language Development Specialist and then taught in grades K-3, most recently in Kindergarten Throughout her career, Annie has mentored dozens of new teachers as both a supervisor and a cooperating teacher. In addition, Annie has been a contributing writer for several curriculum programs published by the Developmental Studies Center and has contributed articles to their website’s blog. Annie received her BA from Bryn Mawr College and her MA in Education from the Developmental Teacher Education (DTE) Program at U.C. Berkeley. Annie has fostered an interest in second language acquisition throughout her career and acquired her CLAD (Crosscultural, Language, Academic Development) certification. During the last several years, Annie has also served on her school’s Social Justice Committee. She is continually working to become a more anti-racist teacher and person.

Haskel Black

Middle School Vocal Music Teacher

Haskel (he/him) is a middle school vocal music teacher in the Minneapolis, Minnesota metro area where he is active in his local union and passionate about providing artistic outlets for all students. Previously, he taught K-5 music in Minnetonka Public Schools in Minnesota before leaving to serve as a young ambassador to Germany in the 33rd Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals. In his free time, he enjoys singing in the VocalEssence Chorus, experiencing nature, and traveling. Haskel believes that a quality education is foundational and is excited to partner with AdoptAClassroom.org to provide valuable support to teachers and their students.

Bárbara Crespo

5th-Grade Teacher

Bárbara Crespo (she/her) is a passionate 5th-grade teacher and resident of the Bronx, New York. She is interested in the topics of environmental racism and justice and incorporates these into her lessons. Bárbara Crespo seeks to inspire all of her Multilingual Learners (MLL) to work towards a community that they are proud to live, play, work, and study in. Currently she is attending Lehman College to earn her Master’s degree in TESOL.

Hector Haddock

High School Teacher

When Hector (he/him) first started college his first option was to become a manager, eventually finishing his degree in Business Administration and managing several businesses successfully, but after a while the idea of teaching caught his attention and ended up finishing a Master’s Degree in Education and confirming that his real passion was teaching. He has been a teacher for over 16 years in Ponce, Puerto Rico and has taught several levels from Junior High School, High School, and Adult Night School. Teaching in all those different levels has given Hector the experience in applying several learning strategies and the importance of acknowledging that not everyone learns the same way. Hector is currently working in a High School and teaches grades 11 and 12. He helps students prepare and achieve better results on their College Board Examination Tests. When Hector is not working, he usually cruises around in his motorcycle or simply sails around in his kayak with his wife enjoying the beauty of nature.

Felicia Henderson

Teacher and Social Justice Coordinator

Felicia (she/her) is a teacher and Social Justice Coordinator at The Learning Community Charter School. She holds an M.A. in Elementary Education and a B.A. in Philosophy and Applied Ethics. Felicia was recently acknowledged by The New Jersey Public Charter School Association’s Teachers of Diverse Background Initiative. At her current school, she is launching the BIPOC Leadership Society to create a space for those who have not historically been able to have a seat at the table. Her goal is to foster a sense of community and provide support for BIPOC teachers and students.

Classroom Page

Erik Lane

Theater and English Teacher

Erik (he/him) studied Education, English, and Theater at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. He began his career at Dasman Bilingual School in Kuwait City teaching 10th grade English. He now teaches Theater and English at Roseville Area High School in Minnesota where he focuses on instructional equity. He is currently pursuing a Master’s in Theater Education at Emerson College in Boston, MA.

Angela Peacock

PreKindergarten Teacher

Angela (she/her) is a PreKindergarten teacher at Alabama First Class PreK currently working at Mother Goose Kindergarten/PreK. She has a Bachelor’s in Human Service with a minor in Case Management. After receiving this degree she was still eager to teach small children. While pursuing her Masters of Education, she continued to work as an auxiliary or aide. Today she has her own classroom. She loves teaching and it’s her passion. Angela lives in Opp, Alabama, with her two daughters and awesome husband.

Classroom Page

Jenny Siegfried

Middle School Special Educator

When Jenny (she/her) is not working as a middle school special educator, her love of hiking and illustration keeps her on the trail and making art in the outdoors. She’s partnered with New York City-based outdoor organizations to organize art-making experiences on local trails, was the Artist in Residence for the National Park Service in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2018, and has lectured on the importance and value of creative experiences from city to trail at a variety of venues, including the REI “Force of Nature” Women’s Speaker series, for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and at Harvard University. This summer, she’ll be heading to Pickens, South Carolina as the Artist in Residence for the Rensing Center, and to Gould Farm in Monterey, Massachusetts as their Visiting Artist.

Classroom Page

Marvin Vilma

Teacher and Entrepreneur

Marvin (he/him) was raised in Queens, New York. His parents, both Haitian immigrants, taught him the value of education at a young age, and consequently, Marvin developed a curiosity for teaching and learning. He became a teacher and entrepreneur to design meaningful and human-centered learning experiences, most recently Teaching & Learning Lab, a professional learning venture for teachers. Marvin began his teaching career at Noble and Greenough School and continued teaching at Launch, a high school entrepreneurship program hosted by MIT. He currently teaches entrepreneurship with various academic enrichment programs as well. Marvin is a graduate of Colgate University and UPenn GSE.

Melissa Wood

Teacher

Melissa Wood (she/her) has been working with students for over 15 years. She has worked as a Parks and Rec Assistant Supervisor, Paraprofessional, Theatre Teaching Artist, and Education Manager for a children’s theatre in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She has her Bachelor’s degree in theatre but because of her passion for students with unique needs and constant drive to achieve equity in education, she pursued her Master’s degree at Bethel University in Saint Paul. She now has her MA in Special Education with her license as an Academic Behavior Specialist (ABS). Melissa has worked for five years at a high-needs high school in Saint Paul and is now moving to a position in Cottage Grove, Minnesota – her hometown. Melissa is excited about the work that AdoptAClassroom.org does to support teachers and has participated in their program for the last five years in order to support her students and their goals. She is thrilled to be a part of the Teacher Advisory Board to bring perspective and insight.

Classroom Page