Abby (Ramirez) Andrietsch
Co-Founder & Executive Director
Prior to launching 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 the Finance and HR functions 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 policy and political relationships for the foundation (including the California State Board of Education, EdVoice, and the California Charter School Association) and strategic investing with the foundation’s partner organizations. While attending business school, Abby worked as 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 resides in Milwaukee and is a member of TEMPO Milwaukee, Alverno College’s Board of Trustees, and the UCC Education Committee.
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 with his wife, Joanna, in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood.
Laura has fourteen years of experience in traditional public schools, public charter schools, and private schools. Prior to joining STCM, 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 the 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 Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Pomona College and a Master of Science degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In her free time, Laura enjoys spending time with her husband, Stephen, and two daughters, Mercedes and Catalina.
Leni Dietrich came to Schools That Can Milwaukee from the Greendale School District in southeastern Wisconsin, where she was the 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 where students could be dually enrolled at the university and high school levels for Spanish. She began her career teaching in the Milwaukee Public Schools Bilingual Program and is pleased to return to urban education.
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 and live in the Milwaukee area.
William H. 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 Milwaukee’s Top-Tier School Districts and is known for high student achievement, inclusive schools, and engagement, and consistently has student achievement beyond what community demographics predict. Bill also serves as Director of the School and Instructional Leadership Program and is a member of the Alverno College faculty.
Before joining Schools That Can Milwaukee, Melanie 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 first annual trip to Washington, D.C for 68 fifth graders, raising more than $15,000 for student scholarships! Melanie 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 is a passionate volunteer for the American Cancer Society.
Melanie earned her B.S. in Community Leadership and Nonprofit Management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2011 before joining Teach For America.
Prior to joining Schools That Can Milwaukee, Mitzi worked for Teach For America. She worked on the recruitment team organizing corps recruitment efforts at 6 Midwest universities and she also worked for TFA’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 training institute for more than 500 corps members in both 2009 and 2010 – 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 was born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas and is an alumna of the University of Kansas. Rock Chalk!
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, Midwest Region with Lighthouse Academies, Inc., where she managed the 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 amazing five-year-old twins.
Prior to co-founding Schools That Can Milwaukee, Kole Knueppel was the Director for Wisconsin Lutheran’s Center for Urban Teaching, training future teachers and school leaders to be successful in Milwaukee’s urban schools. Before joining the Center for Urban Teaching in July 2008, Kole served as superintendent from 2004 to 2008 at 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 urban 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.
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, she 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 over 50 teachers. She has played many leadership roles at turnaround schools and high-performing charter networks, including Achievement First and Rocketship. She is excited to return to her hometown and join the amazing educational work in Milwaukee.
Becky graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Spanish. She received her Masters of Sciences 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.
Before she joined Schools That Can Milwaukee, Elizabeth Lavelle served a two-year AmeriCorps stint with City Year. Starting with City Year Rhode Island as a school-based team leader, Elizabeth led a team of seven AmeriCorps volunteers providing classroom assistance, mentoring, and after-school programming to Providence middle school students. Elizabeth’s passion for improving the quality of education led her to join the start-up team for City Year Milwaukee, supporting the development of school and community partnerships. She has also become well-connected with the Milwaukee educational community through outreach support for the Milwaukee Public Library and coaching for the Marquette University crew team.
Elizabeth is a graduate of Wittenberg University with a degree in Early Childhood Education and Developmental Psychology.
Susan has been involved in urban education in the City of Milwaukee for more than 12 years. Before joining Schools That Can Milwaukee, Susan was the 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 Masters in Educational Leadership from Cardinal Stritch University in May, 2014. Susan and her husband, Tyler, have two daughters, Nora and Natalie, and live on the East Side of Milwaukee.
A variety of teaching and administrative experiences brings Andy Vitrano to Schools That Can Milwaukee. He began his career in education as a paraprofessional and eventually teacher within Milwaukee Public Schools. He also served as an assistant principal at a variety of MPS schools, including Riverside High School, Townsend School, and Dover Street School, before becoming principal of Manitoba Elementary School. For the past two years, 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 as well as culture, as evidenced by their annual rise in attendance, NWEA MAP growth of over 130% school-wide, and more than 65% of scholars meeting or beating their annual target goals. His administrator training from New Leaders for New Schools and work within the MCP network has shaped his philosophies on education, which includes the idea that children don’t fail, adults do.
Andy graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee with a B.A. in Education. He earned a Master’s degree from Marian University and his principal certification through the New Leaders for New Schools program. He enjoys spending time with his wife Jenny who is pursuing a doctoral degree in education at UW-Milwaukee and serves in the Clinical Placement office in the School of Education. They have three amazing children, Joe, Gabrielle, and Charlie, whom he adores.
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.