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The Venture Board
Venture Academy holds open Board Meetings at previously determined times posted below. Typically, we stay true to our regular meeting time and date of the 3rd Wednesday of each month, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Meetings are held at Venture Academy, 315 27th Ave. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414. These meetings can (and should!) be attended and observed by the public, in accordance with the Minnesota Open Meeting Law.
Next Meeting: 6:00- 6:30 pm, Wednesday, July 15th, 2020
Venture Academy, 315 27th Ave. SE, Mpls, MN 55414
We highly recommend the meeting is attended virtually
Link to Agenda and Meeting Materials
(agenda will be posted 72 hours prior to meeting time)
HR Committee Meeting: There will be no HR meeting this month
Wednesday, July 15th, 6:00 – 7:30
Wednesday, August 19th, 6:00 – 7:30
Wednesday, September 16th, 6:00 – 7:30
Wednesday, October 21st, 6:00 – 7:30
Wednesday, November 18th, 6:00 – 7:30
Wednesday, December 16th, 6:00 – 7:30
Wednesday, January 20th, 6:00 – 7:30
Wednesday, February 17th, 5:00 – 8:00 BOARD RETREAT
Wednesday, March 17th, 6:00 – 7:30
Wednesday, April 21st, 6:00 – 7:30
Wednesday, May 29th, 5:00 – 7:30 ANNUAL MEETING
Wednesday, June 16th, 6:00 – 7:30
Board of Directors
Roxann Anoka Roxann is a guardian and relative of many Venture Academy students in both the middle and the high schools. As a veteran of Minnesota’s public school systems, Roxann has testified at the state legislature to advocate for Native rights and access to quality education. Roxann has been a leader within Venture’s Native community as the parent chair of the American Indian Advisory Committee.
Marissa Birkland Marissa is a Director at Optum (UnitedHealth Group), focused on delivering in-home health assessments for Seniors. She has 10 years of experience as a healthcare leader, with a diverse background in Six Sigma Quality Consulting, Marketing Operations, and Process Improvement with functional expertise in quality, strategy, and operations. Marissa holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from the Curtis L. Carlson School of Management. Marissa has a passion for education, and its importace for lower-income students and families. She believes in the mission of developing independence, scholarship, and leadership in young individuals to achieve career readiness.
Jace Carlson email SECRETARY
Katia Colon-Holmers email Katia has worked with school-aged youth across the Twin Cities, Newark, and Philadelphia for nearly 25 years. As a youth worker, teacher, and school administrator, she has devoted herself to ensuring that students have equitable access to a quality education. In her current work as a College Persistence Counselor, she supports students in overcoming institutional and systemic barriers as they pursue their four year degree.
Charles (CJ) Ellsworth email TREASURER Originally from New Jersey, CJ received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University with a double major in Economics and Political Science. CJ began his education career as a Teach For America corps member in Philadelphia. There, CJ taught AP Calculus at a charter school before uprooting his life and career to help found Venture Academy High School.
Beth Hawkins email CHAIR: Beth Hawkins is the parent of an 11th-grade Trailblazer who is in her fourth year at Venture Academy. A journalist, she is the national correspondent for The 74 Million, an education-focused news site where she writes about education innovations and policy. She first wrote about Venture Academy at the end of the school’s first year and kept inventing excuses to visit. Beth’s experience as a parent has made her a passionate disability rights advocate. She also serves on the boards of ARC Minnesota and Cultural Jambalaya, a nonprofit that produces free classroom resources for global education.
Andrew Lawton email VICE CHAIR After working in Seattle, WA as a graphic designer Lawton returned to the Midwest. Graduating Summa Cum Laud from Minnesota State University, Mankato he began his teaching career at a project-based learning charter school. Lawton’s 18 years as an art educator has been almost entirely at charter schools. Recently Lawton obtained a Master’s of Science in Educational Leadership with a focus on Arts in Education and Project-Based Learning. Lawton brings a passion for student-centered learning and entrepreneurial thinking.
Jeff Robbins email Jeffrey C. Robbins is an attorney with the business law boutique Avisen Legal, P.A. in Minneapolis, Minnesota. For 36 years, he has represented entrepreneurs who start and grow technology-based enterprises and angel and venture investors who target those companies. He is a serial entrepreneur himself, having founded two companies in the entertainment ticketing industry. Jeff represents high-growth, high-potential private enterprises and publicly traded companies. In 2011, he founded AngelPolleNation, a networking organization for investors that holds quarterly events in the Twin Cities. He serves as an advisory board member to Gopher Angels, a Minneapolis-based investor network. Jeff is also a judge for the annual statewide Minnesota Cup business plan competition. He is a board member of Venture Academy, a Minneapolis charter school focused on developing entrepreneurial leadership skills for its students, and of the Minnesota Jewish Theater Company, and also serves on the Business Advisory Group for the University of Minnesota’s Office of Technology Commercialization. Jeff was named in 2011 as one of “200 Minnesotans You Should Know” by Twin Cities Business magazine.
Adrienne Vitt email Overseeing EdAllies’ editorial publications, blog, media relations, social media, marketing, branding, and more, Adrienne works to uplift student and parent voices, ultimately fostering more candid conversations about education in Minnesota. Although her career began in journalism, Adrienne was quickly and continually drawn to education-access work; as result, she joined the founding staff of Breakthrough Saint Paul. Following a temporary return to journalism—as a business and technology reporter and journalism instructor—she found the nexus of her work in communications strategy for education-based nonprofits. After overseeing communications at Interfaith Youth Core and directing online communications strategy for DePaul University in Chicago, she eventually made her way back home to Minnesota, where she worked most recently as the Communications and Marketing Director for The Northside Achievement Zone. Adrienne graduated from the University of Minnesota, with bachelor’s degrees in Journalism, Cultural Studies, and Comparative Literature, and from DePaul University, with a master’s degree in New Media Studies. When she’s not working or spending time with her family, she explores the intersection of community-based storytelling and culinary history.
Founding Board Members Emeriti
Verne Johnson, Co-Founder
In 1952, Johnson became the youngest elected state representative (representing the city of Minneapolis) in the Legislature, beginning a distinguished career that included long stints as executive director of the Citizens League (1958-67) and as vice-president for planning at General Mills (1967-82). An early supporter and volunteer for the Black Alliance for Education Options (BAEO), Twin Cities Rise and Youth Frontiers, Johnson was the founding chair of the Civic Caucus, a nonpartisan Minnesota policy discussion and innovation group. Verne Johnson died on November 2, 2012.
Board Chair: Beth Hawkins
Vice Chair: Andrew Lawton
Treasurer: CJ Ellsworth
Secretary: Jace Carlson
Human Resources Committee
Ellsworth, Tandon, Carlson, Lawton
Ellsworth (Chair), Robbins