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.

2022-23 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.



Peggy Barlett

Peggy is a health care corporate attorney with Husch Blackwell LLP, a national law firm with over eight hundred attorneys located in more than twenty offices throughout the U.S. Peggy’s legal practice focuses primarily on contracting, corporate transactions, and corporate governance. Peggy earned her bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Michigan and her juris doctor from the University of Wisconsin law school. Peggy and her husband, Carl, currently have two children enrolled at MCMS in the Toddler and Children’s House programs. Given Peggy’s prior history as a teacher and Carl’s current role as a professor at the UW School of Business, they are grateful every day for the phenomenal MCMS staff, teachers, and personnel and the amazing environment they create for the students. She joined the board in 2022.

Kate Corby

Kate, a contemporary dance artist and educator, has been a professor of dance at the University of Wisconsin (UW) since 2008, serving as the Dance Department chair from 2017-2020. As department chair, Kate oversaw 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 now does similar work as the department chair of the UW’s Department of Theatre & Drama. Kate also co-founded Performing Ourselves, a community dance program that teaches a movement-based wellness curriculum to youth in Madison-area schools and community centers, serving over 1,000 children since 2012. Kate’s family joined MCMS 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 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 degree 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 hosting a super fun art project, club, or camp for kids. Lauren has served on the board since 2020, bringing communications expertise as well as creativity to the MCMS community at large through the board’s Community Connections committee and as a classroom 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 partnering with organizations including Lands’ End, Medtronic, Health Canada, and UW Credit Union. 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 and has served in a variety of roles including development and fundraising, Head of School search, Committee on Trustees, executive committee, and strategic planning.

Sonali Mukhija

Sonali Mukhija has a masters degree in computer science and has over 15 years of professional experience in project management in financial services and investment banking in New York City. In her most recent position, she was a program manager leading multiple initiatives, with her day-to-day work including stakeholder management, project funding, prioritization, and resource allocation. Sonali and her husband, Jiten Parekh, moved to Madison in 2018 and joined the MCMS community in April 2021. They have two daughters, Mannat and Meher, in the Toddler and Lower Elementary programs. From 2018-2020 Sonali served on the Advisory Committee to the Dean of School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin Madison (UW). In this role she reviewed and reported annual financials of the UW Child Development Lab and actively partnered with the UW’s Office of Child Care Resources (OCCR) on campus daycare policies. Sonali is passionate about giving back to the community and serves on the City of Middleton Arts Committee. She also led an initiative and partnered with the City of Middleton to celebrate their inaugural hoisting of the Indian flag on India’s Independence Day in August of 2022. Sonali joined the MCMS board in 2022.

Dave Potter

Dave earned a bachelor of science degree in Wildlife Ecology from University of Wisconsin-Madison and has worked as a sales executive for a national IT firm for 20+ years. He previously served as a City of Madison Police Officer. Dave and his wife, Mandy, have two children at MCMS in the Adolescent and Upper Elementary programs. They joined the MCMS community in 2020, choosing a Montessori education for their children to encourage open-mindedness and curiosity about the world, independence and self-reliance, and to reinforce their family values of inclusion, integrity, and community. Between driving his children to various activities, Dave enjoys reading, trout fishing, bird hunting, and playing the guitar.