Board Mission: The Board of Trustees preserves the mission of Madison Community Montessori School (respecting children & their natural joy of discovery) by ensuring the viability and vitality of the school for the education of present and future generations of students, consistent with the standards recognized by Association Montessori Internationale (AMI).

Board Function: The Board of Trustees preserves and protects the health and well-being of the school by providing strategic leadership and governance, excluding the day-to-day operations, in accordance with the mission and bylaws of MCMS. In so doing, the Board is involved in long-term decisions, oversees financial management including establishing and reviewing the annual budget, monitors board educational strategies through hiring, reviewing and retaining a qualified Head of School, and leads the school in major fundraising efforts to ensure an excellent AMI education for the current and future children of MCMS.

Board Structure: The whole board meets periodically with an agenda primarily focused on monitoring the school’s strategic plans, staying on task pursuant to the annual agenda, policy setting and implementation, and assessment of the Head of School. The MCMS Board of Trustees appoints and oversees several standing and ad hoc committees that work to carry out specific aspects of the school’s strategic plan and mission. Each committee is chaired by a member of the Board, and some committees include additional non-Board members. The standing committees are the Executive Committee and the Committee on Trustees. Presently, the ad hoc committees are Development, Finance and Head Support & Evaluation.


2021-22 Board of Trustees

Amy Jester, Chair
Amy re-joined the MCMS Board in 2017 after serving for five years during the school’s move to its current location. Amy and her husband, Josh, have two high school aged children who attended MCMS from Children’s House through the Adolescent Program. As an alumni parent she feels privileged to have witnessed her kids develop into wonderful humans while in MCMS’s amazing environment. Amy’s academic background in communication, political science, disability studies and education took her on a tour of Big Ten universities: an undergrad degree from UW-Madison, a master’s degree Indiana University and further graduate work at the University of Minnesota. A passion for learning and a challenging project has resulted in many DIY home renovations, professional work as a photographer and for the last 10 years, the owner and educator at her small family farm, Hidden Savanna Farm.

Abby Alexander
Abby is an architect who specializes in the design of research-related and laboratory spaces for higher education and corporate clients. She is inspired by clients’ scientific endeavors and has enthusiasm to deeply understand their work. Abby earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Architecture from the University of Cincinnati. Abby and her husband Nic have one child, Matilda, who started as a toddler at MCMS and is currently in elementary. Abby brings a natural curiosity and thorough approach to translating client needs into physical reality and has been generous in applying these gifts to her work as a trustee on several committees since 2015 including building and grounds and executive committee, and the committee on trustees. When she’s not hard at work dreaming up realities for clients or sharing design insights, she’s tinkering with small renovation and organization projects at home with her family.

Stacy Austin-Li
Stacy has worked in consulting and project management, specializing in market entry and cross-cultural communications. Currently focused on raising two daughters, Stacy has been active in the community as a substitute teacher and volunteer at MCMS, a leader in the Dane County Dementia Friendly Communities initiative, and a member of City of Middleton Commission on Ageing. She earned a BA in languages at Augustana College and an MA in International Relations from the University of Hawaii. Stacy and her husband, Kai, returned to the Madison area after living in Beijing for a decade. Their oldest daughter, Raelynn attended MCMS from 1st grade through 8th, graduating in 2021. Kaya, currently in Upper Elementary, started in Children’s house when she was 2. While initially attracted to Montessori because of its commitment to the joy of learning through independence and discovery, Stacy has grown to appreciate the deep sense of respect for self, others and community fostered at MCMS as much as any of the academic lessons. Stacy joined the board in 2021.

Brandon Baldock
Brandon works as a product manager at Epic Software, which he joined in 1998. Brandon studied at Luther College and Arizona State University and holds a master’s degree in mathematics. He and his wife, Jen, are the parents of an MCMS graduate and 3 current students, one each in Adolescent, Upper Elementary, and Lower Elementary. Brandon first joined the MCMS board in 2012 and after rolling off rejoined in 2020 as Board Secretary. His commitment to the school stems from a gratitude in finding for his children the learning environment he would have thrived in as a child.

 

Patrick Cooney
Patrick and his wife love watching their three kids thrive at MCMS as they’ve grown more capable and curious in the Montessori environment. Patrick joined the MCMS board in 2019. On the weekends, Patrick enjoys hiking, fishing, and being outdoors with his family or trying to convince his kids to go along on a bike ride. During the week, he’s a lawyer focused on IP and IP-related transactions.

 

 

Kate Corby
Kate, a contemporary dance artist and educator, has been a professor of dance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 2008, serving as the Dance Department chair from 2017-2020. As a department chair, Kate oversaw all aspects of the department budget, supervised a team of 25 faculty and staff, and managed Lathrop Hall, a century-old mixed-use building of 12,600 square feet. She was also active in departmental fundraising and the recruitment and retention of students and staff. Kate also co-founded and co-directs Performing Ourselves, a dance outreach program that teaches a movement-based wellness curriculum to youth in Madison-area schools and community centers, serving over 1,250 children since 2012. Kate’s family joined the MCMS community in 2019 and she has children in both the Children’s House and Lower Elementary programs. Inspired to further her knowledge of Montessori education, Kate recently obtained her AMI elementary assistant/orientation certificate through the Montessori Training Center Northeast. Kate joined the board in 2021.

Lauren Craig
Lauren has a journalism degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a masters in public relations from Syracuse University. She spent a decade managing media relations, corporate social responsibility, and social media for companies like AT&T, UPS and most recently, American Girl. After the birth of her first daughter, she embarked on an entrepreneurial journey, launching an online children’s shop called Momkind, which curates the best products made by moms for moms and their kids. Lauren and her husband John have two children at MCMS, Elsie and Lucille. When she’s not busy packing and shipping orders, she’s likely doing art with her girls, cooking, or enjoying family hikes. Her latest hobbies are turning art projects into kits for others and teaching a super fun dollhouse-making camp. Lauren brings messaging and communications expertise to her role on the board and creativity to the MCMS community at large through her work on the development committee and as a Lower Elementary class liaison.

Gary Harutunian
Gary works at Epic Systems and advises on finances and H.R. at an auto repair shop he and 2 other partners own. He majored in Information Systems at UW Madison School of Business and found himself adding a major in Finance after taking business school courses and being fascinated by the mechanics of how it all works. In his free time, Gary is active in sailing, auto racing, and woodworking. Gary and his wife Liz have enjoyed watching each of their three young children develop in capabilities and grow at MCMS and are active in the parent community. Gary joined the board in 2019.

 

Jessica Hermsen
Jessica has a consulting practice focused on organization development, change management, and executive communications. Her work focuses on helping organizations employ whole systems change methods to inspire sustainable change. Jessica holds a BA in Communications and Marketing from UW-Stevens Point and an MS from Case Western Reserve in Positive Organization Development and Change. Jessica and her husband, Josh, returned to Madison from Seattle in 2017. They have two children, Indie in Upper Elementary, and Asher, in Lower Elementary. Jessica and Josh appreciate the emphasis on the joy of learning, independence, hands-on work, and discovery that is foundational in Montessori education as well as fostering kindness and respect. Jessica joined the board in 2018.

Kyle Larson
Kyle has a passion for community organizing, focusing on Political Science and Sociology at UW Madison. A self-proclaimed book nerd, Kyle was excited to combine those skills with her interest in photography and talent for social media talents building community engagement and new partnerships at the Verona Public Library prior to the birth of her first child and to the MCMS board of Trustees in 2019. Kyle and her husband, Derek, both grew up in the Driftless region of Wisconsin and decided to return to Dane County to live and raise their three children who currently attend MCMS in the toddler and Children’s house programs. A Montessori Children’s House graduate herself, Kyle was prepared for her children’s growth in the areas of independence, confidence and capability but has also realized how the MCMS community has nurtured the seeds of kindness and compassion within her family.

Kate Vestlie
Kate creates art on commission and is a multi-talented handyperson as well. Her passion for collaborative art has enabled her to lead community art projects in Australia, Ethiopia, Iraq, and New Zealand, in addition to Madison. I think of collaborative art as adding light upon light, with the opportunity to represent individuals in all their diversity and even opposition coming together in a unified piece to create a whole. Kate Vestlie joined the board in 2019. She chose Montessori for her children because she experienced the freedom and joy of learning in Montessori schools growing up and wants her children to have the opportunity to have the experience of mastering by doing and teaching, serving others, and becoming their own person. As the sole parent of students in Upper and Lower Elementary and Children’s House, Her free time is generally spent volunteering and being outdoors with her children hiking, biking, and camping.