Board Members

The idea for Heartwood Montessori School began in 2013 when neighbors and Montessori parents, Sarah and Sinead, were longing for a quality Montessori program in Northeast Minneapolis.  They knew of many parents (including themselves) who were driving their children out of our neighborhood to find high quality Montessori environments, and that did not feel right.  Since that first idea, Sarah and Sinead took the time to thoughtfully plan out all the information they would need to start a non-profit school.

In February of 2014, Sarah and Sinead held their first informational meeting about creating a board for this new Northeast Montessori school.  The founding board of Heartwood was formed by a group of passionate parents and community members.  Together they logged over 3,000 hours of volunteer hours and raised over $21,000 to launch the school in September of 2015.

Our governing board is now composed of hard-working, dedicated parents, community members and Montessori professionals who continue to guide the school towards the mission and vision set forth by the founding board members.

Monthly meeting minutes can be found here.

We are currently seeking board members from the community. We also have a variety of subcommittees, including fundraising, community engagement, finance, and building & grounds, for whichever activities might best suit your interests and skill set. Email to learn more.

Kate Murray President
Kate became a fast fan of Heartwood when daughter Willa began attending in 2019. Involvement with the Board felt like a natural fit. Kate holds a master’s degree in Public Health Administration and Policy and had been working in environmental epidemiology at the Minnesota Department of Health until she was reassigned to the COVID-19 response in early 2020. She brings experience in board membership and leadership from her service with the Minnesota Public Health Association, Bright Water Montessori, and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Kate loves being in Nature, making and listening to music, and spending time with Willa, partner Reed, and dog Cosmo.

Keith Johns Vice President
Keith and his family moved from Brooklyn, New York to Northeast Minneapolis in 2020. Despite the unfamiliarity of a new town and an ongoing pandemic, Keith, Anne and their daughter Iona were excited to find Heartwood just a short walk from their new home. Iona joined Heartwood in the fall of 2020 and has flourished among new found friendships and the independence and creative spirit Heartwood encourages. Keith, sensing this positive energy and wanting to be a part of it, joined the Heartwood board shortly after. Keith holds a Master of Architecture degree and is a licensed architect in the state of Minnesota. Keith enjoys the outdoors, design, and walking Iona to school everyday.

AmberJean Hegge Van Art Treasurer
Upon the enrollment of her daughter, Nova, AmberJean was immediately drawn to the community Heartwood fosters. The staff and parents’ willingness and eagerness to engage within the Heartwood community and the northeast community at large inspired her to join the board in 2020. AmberJean is a driven entrepreneur, as a hairstylist and owner of Salon Ori and a rental property owner in Northeast. 

Jessamay Pesek Secretary
Jessamay greatly appreciated the Heartwood community when her two children, Ethan and Ava, started September 2020. Both kids reported excitement and joy after each day, thus, Jessamay decided to join the Board to help support quality preschool programming. Jessamay holds a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction and Master’s degree in Comparative and International Development Education, both from the University of Minnesota. She is also a licensed social studies teacher. Currently she serves as an Associate Professor in the Professional Education Department at Bemidji State University and is the Coordinator for BSU’s hybrid education licensure programs..

Melissa Olson Past President
Melissa Olson is profoundly grateful for Heartwood Montessori after watching her two youngest children experience the joy of learning in such a wonderful environment. She and her husband, Erik, are the parents of three children, Hendrik, Cecilia & Emmett. Melissa has been in education for her entire career, starting out as a secondary language arts teacher. After serving students for many years, she switched her career trajectory to teaching teachers, earning her doctorate in educational leadership. As an adjunct professor for Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, she focuses on curriculum design and instruction for both new and experienced teachers. In her day job, she has the pleasure of serving Spring Lake Park Public Schools as an Educational Services Coordinator. In her free time, she loves being with family and friends (including puppy George), gardening, trying new restaurants, and reading. She looks forward to committing her time and energy to Heartwood Montessori as both a parent and a board member.

Corinne Ivanca
Corinne’s daughter attended Heartwood from 30 months through kindergarten year. Corinne is an attorney practicing in St. Paul and lives with her family in Northeast Minneapolis. During her tenure she held the offices of President and Past President.

Caitlin Hargarten
Caitlin has been deeply grateful for the Heartwood community since sending her son Otis in 2016. He has since completed his kindergarten year at Heartwood. Her daughter Etta Louise is now currently enrolled and flourishing in the nurturing environment supported by the fantastic guides. Caitlin is an arts event instigator + organizer, graphic designer and maker of animations with her partner Sam under the moniker Squawk. She lives in Northeast Minneapolis and could spend all her days gardening if time allowed. 

Stephanie Malone
Stephanie joined the Heartwood board as Treasurer in 2017 and later transitioned to Secretary. She enjoys cooking, crafting, video games, and going to new grocery stores.

Kristi Curme
Kristi was the founding teacher at Heartwood and is a current stay at home mom to a young toddler.  She lives in Northeast with her partner Patrick, their young child, and their two cats and newly adopted senior dog.  She enjoys biking, crafting, reading, and her new passion: animal relations management. 


A huge “THANK YOU” to our founding board members! Everything you see in the classroom and school community has been a product of this initial investment of time and talent.  They took a dream to a reality!

Sarah Walker
Sinead Carolan
Sareen Dunleavy Keenan
Jonathan Turner Bargen
Crystal Chance
Jess Jellings
Heather Vinge Hanson
Liz Anderson
& AJ Niehaus