Meet Our Team
Abby AndrietschCo-Founder & Executive Director
Prior to co-founding Schools That Can Milwaukee in 2010, Abby Andrietsch was Vice President of Finance & Administration for INCOVA Technologies, Inc. (ITI), a subsidiary of HUSCO International. Involved with HUSCO since joining the Board of Directors in 2003, she formally joined the company in 2008 to lead Finance and HR for ITI. Before joining HUSCO/ITI, Abby worked as the Director of Policy and Programs at the Doris & Donald Fisher Fund in San Francisco. Her role at the Fisher Fund included managing education policy and political relationships for the foundation and strategic investing with the foundation’s partner organizations. While attending business school, Abby was a Summer Associate at the Broad Foundation, working on an investment in Vision 2015, an innovative effort to develop a world-class public education system in Delaware. Prior to business school, Abby worked as an investment banking analyst at Robert W. Baird & Company in Chicago, focusing on Industrial M&A and Equity transactions.
Abby has a B.S. in Commerce with a concentration in Finance from the University of Virginia, and both a M.B.A. and a M.A. in Education from Stanford University. She is a member of TEMPO Milwaukee, Alverno College’s Board of Trustees, and the UCC Education Committee.
Dr. William HughesDirector of Leadership Development
William Hughes has worked in education for 35 years as a teacher, principal, and superintendent of schools. He left the Greendale School District to join Schools That Can Milwaukee after 16 years leading Greendale to recognition as one of the highest performing districts in the Milwaukee area. Greendale is ranked as one of the Milwaukee area’s top school districts and is known for high student achievement, inclusive schools, and engagement. Greendale students consistently achieved beyond what community demographics predicted. Bill also serves as Director of the School and Instructional Leadership Program and is a member of the Alverno College faculty.
Mitzi KeelChief of Staff
Prior to joining Schools That Can Milwaukee, Mitzi Keel worked for Teach For America. She began on TFA’s recruitment team, organizing corps recruitment efforts at six Midwest universities. She also worked for the organization’s talent recruitment team to recruit alumni in Baltimore, Newark, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas to join TFA’s staff. She was a founding member of the Chicago Institute Management Team, where she helped coordinate the 2009 and 2010 training institutes for more than 500 corps members – including teachers from Milwaukee. In September 2010, Mitzi became the Director of Development and Community Partnerships for TFA-Milwaukee, ensuring the region was funded locally to support the work of corps members and alumni.
Mitzi is a native of Lawrence, Kansas, and an alumna of the University of Kansas.
April KnoxDirector of Coaching
April Knox joined Schools That Can Milwaukee from Uplift Education, where she planned and managed the opening of three new schools in Fort Worth, Texas. Before working at Uplift, April was the Regional Vice-President of the Midwest Region with Lighthouse Academies, where she managed instructional and operational programs and coached school Principals in Illinois and Wisconsin.
April has a B.A. in Psychology/Sociology from Drake University, a M.S. in Elementary Education from Western Illinois University, and a M.S. in School Leadership from National Louis University. She is the mother to an amazing pair of twins.
Kole KnueppelCo-Founder & Managing Director of School Partnerships
Prior to co-founding Schools That Can Milwaukee, Kole Knueppel was the Director for Wisconsin Lutheran’s Center for Urban Teaching (CfUT), training future teachers and school leaders to be successful in Milwaukee’s urban schools. Before joining CfUT in 2008, Kole served for four years as superintendent of HOPE Christian Schools, a dynamic and aggressive growth-oriented urban school network based on outstanding student academic performance and behavioral transformation. Kole led the expansion of HOPE from one campus with 50 students in 2004 to three campuses and more than 500 students in 2008. From 2001 to 2004 Kole led the revitalization of St. Marcus School from a low-performing school into a high-performing, nationally-recognized model for faith-based urban education.
Kole has a B.S. in English with a Secondary Education Certificate from Wisconsin Lutheran, a M.S. in Educational Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is currently working to complete his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In his spare time, he is a college football official and is a member of the Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Hall of Fame. Kole is committed to community renewal, and lives in the Harambee neighborhood with his wife, Anna, daughter, Sophia, and son, Atticus.
Allison WagnerDirector of Growth
Prior to joining Schools That Can Milwaukee, Allison Wagner was the Managing Director of the New Leaders Chicago program. At New Leaders, Allison was responsible for the recruitment, admissions, training, and support of more than 160 Chicago school leaders. Allison managed a team responsible for the New Leaders Chicago pipeline through the Emerging Leaders Program, and the recruitment and selection of top educators across the country. Allison also led the New Leaders program through the Chicago Leadership Collaborative process, ensuring the opportunity to double the program for Chicago Public Schools. Before joining New Leaders, Allison worked on the assessment and education teams for the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C. Her clients included the Ohio Department of Education, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Allison has a B.S. in Elementary Education and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also earned her M.Ed. in Education Policy and Management at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. Allison and her husband were thrilled to return to Milwaukee to raise their two children, William and Kathryn, and to ensure educational opportunities for the youth of Milwaukee.
Laura DeRocheSchool Leadership Coach
Laura DeRoche has 14 years of experience in traditional public schools, public charter schools, and private schools. Prior to joining Schools That Can Milwaukee, Laura worked in a suburban Madison district supporting elementary principals in the development of school improvement plans focused on closing achievement gaps. Previously, she served as Vice President of School Development at the Urban League of Greater Madison, where she led an effort to establish the first independent charter school in the Madison Metropolitan School District. Before relocating back to her native Wisconsin, Laura spent five years working in American international schools, first in Bulgaria and then in Saudi Arabia. Laura was a founding staff member at Downtown College Prep – the first charter high school in San Jose, California – and served as the school’s first Literacy Coordinator. She began her career with Teach For America in Compton, California, where she taught high school English.
Laura holds a B.A. in English from Pomona College and a M.S. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Laura enjoys spending time with her husband, Stephen, and two daughters, Mercedes and Catalina.
Leni DietrichSchool Leadership Coach
Leni Dietrich came to Schools That Can Milwaukee from the Greendale School District, where she was principal of Highland View School and director of the Time 4 Learning Charter School, the district’s 4K program. While in Greendale, Leni planned and implemented the district’s Elementary Spanish Program and developed a partnership with the University of Wisconsin system, which allowed students to dually enroll at the university and high school levels for Spanish. She began her career teaching in Milwaukee Public Schools’ Bilingual Program.
Leni received her B.S. in Education, as well as her M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Second Language Acquisition, from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She completed the Administrative Leadership Licensure Program at Alverno College and continues to take classes with regard to best practices in education. Leni and her husband Jeff have two adult children.
Becky OwensSchool Leadership Coach
Prior to joining Schools That Can Milwaukee, Becky Owens served as a Manager of Teacher Leadership for Teach For America in San Jose. During her time with TFA, Becky supported 30 teachers across 10 traditional district and charter schools and created professional development for more than 180 San Jose teachers. Becky started her education career as a TFA corps member in the South Bronx and has spent the last decade teaching over 200 students and developing more than 50 teachers. She has played many leadership roles at turnaround schools and high-performing charter networks, including Achievement First and Rocketship.
Becky graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Spanish. She received her M.S. in Teaching from Pace University in New York City and her Coaching Certificate for BTSA Coaching (Beginning Teacher Support and Assessments) from the REACH Institute for School Leadership. In her free time, Becky enjoys hiking, farmer’s markets, traveling, and spending time with her family.
Susan SprengerSchool Leadership Coach
Susan Sprenger has been involved in urban education in Milwaukee for more than 12 years. Before joining Schools That Can Milwaukee, Susan was Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Catholic East Elementary and St. Anthony School in Milwaukee. In her roles at Catholic East and St. Anthony, Susan greatly improved student achievement through instructional coaching, professional development, curriculum revision, and staff leadership development. Prior to her instructional leadership roles, Susan taught middle school English as well as 4th and 1st grades.
Susan has a B.A. in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a Secondary Education Certificate from Cardinal Stritch University, and will complete her M.S. in Educational Leadership from Cardinal Stritch University in February, 2015. Susan and her husband, Tyler, have two daughters, Nora and Natalie, and live on the East Side of Milwaukee.
Andy VitranoSchool Leadership Coach
Andy Vitrano began his career in education as a paraprofessional for Milwaukee Public Schools. Eventually, he became a teacher and then an assistant principal at a variety of MPS schools, including Riverside High School, Townsend School, and Dover Street School. Andy then became principal of Manitoba Elementary School. From 2012-2014, he undertook the challenge of a turning around a school as principal of the Lloyd Street Campus within the high-performing Milwaukee College Prep network. Under his leadership the MCP-Lloyd Street community demonstrated remarkable growth in both academics and culture.
Andy graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee with a B.A. in Education. He earned a M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from Marian University and his principal certification through the New Leaders for New Schools program. Andy enjoys spending time with his wife, Jenny, and three amazing children, Joe, Gabrielle, and Charlie.
Isral DeBruinManager of Communications & Development
Before joining Schools That Can Milwaukee, Isral DeBruin taught upper elementary students at La Causa Charter School, initially as a Teach For America corps member and later as an after-school tutor and long-term substitute. He remains actively involved with the school as a volunteer. Before joining Teach For America, Isral was an award-winning education reporter covering suburban school districts for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s NOW Newspapers.
Isral has a B.A. in Journalism & Mass Communication from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and a M.Ed. in Educational Policy and Leadership from Marquette University. He is also a licensed educator. Isral lives in Bay View with his wife, Joanna.
Julianna KobsOffice Assistant
Before joining Schools That Can Milwaukee, Julianna worked for an international education organization based in Barcelona, Spain. There she managed the majority of the organization’s U.S. operations, advised U.S. university student applicants, and managed university relations for the program. Previously, she worked in Recruiting and Admissions for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Biochemistry program. She also taught English abroad at an elementary school in a small town outside of Málaga, Spain. Julianna brings a variety of experiences within educational administration to STCM and is excited to be back in Wisconsin, the home of her alma mater, working to help Milwaukee schools.
Julianna earned her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2008. Go Badgers!
Melanie JohnsonData Analyst
Before joining Schools That Can Milwaukee, Melanie Johnson made dramatic academic gains with her special education students at Huntingtowne Farms Elementary School in Charlotte, NC as a Teach For America corps member. During her time at Huntingtowne Farms, Melanie orchestrated the school’s first annual trip to Washington, D.C for 68 fifth graders, raising more than $15,000 for student scholarships.
Melanie earned her B.S. in Community Leadership and Nonprofit Management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2011 before joining Teach For America. She currently attends the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as a graduate student in the Nonprofit Management and Leadership program of the Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management. In her free time, she’s a passionate volunteer for the American Cancer Society.