Our Team

AdoptAClassroom.org Staff


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

EVP, Corporate Sponsorships

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.

Chuck Stroud

Chief Operating Officer & SVP of Finance

Chuck joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2018 as the Director of Finance & Administration. After a short absence, he returned as the Chief Operating Officer & SVP of Finance. During his time away, he stayed connected as a member of the AdoptAClassroom.org Board of Directors. He began his career in public accounting with Ernst & Young in Cleveland, OH, where he specialized in tax and business consulting predominantly with entrepreneurial organizations. He also has over 25 years of nonprofit financial management experience in higher education. He was an adjunct business professor for ten years as well. He is a CPA, earned a BA in Accounting from Mount Vernon Nazarene University (OH), and a MBA from Bethel University specializing in entrepreneurial services. He is currently serving on the Vision Loss Resources Board of Directors.

Alex Aberman
Account Director

Sarah Beam
Program Coordinator

Cristina Easton
Program Assistant

Kirsten Fedorowicz
Outreach & Marketing Assistant 

Sarah Fowler
Account Manager

Austin Hagle
Director of Technology and Operations

J Gold
Program Manager

Ezra Horton
Donor Communications Coordinator

Melissa Hruza
Director of Marketing & Corporate Sponsorships

Ryan Jordan
Technology Project Manager

Devon Karbowski
Marketing Manager

Zach Stoebner
Graphic Designer

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


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.

Patrick Strother

Chief Marketing Officer, Strother Communications Group

Patrick Strother is the founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Strother Communications Group, which helps B2B companies profitably accelerate their growth through strategic, research-based, integrated communications. Patrick was also a visiting professor in the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication for more than fifteen years. Patrick has been bringing his marketing insights and passion for education to AdoptAClassroom.org since joining our board in 2018.

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.

AdoptAClassroom.org Teacher Advisory Board


Board Officers

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.

Barbara 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.

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