Board & Staff

Our Staff


Karen Crossley, Interim Executive Director

Karen will serve in the temporary leadership role while a task force committee searches for a new Executive Director. A longtime volunteer and friend of the Foundation, as well as current board member concluding her term of service this year, Karen comes to the role with both knowledge of the Foundation and experience in the nonprofit sector, as well as established relationships with community members and stakeholders. Karen will continue in her role as Special Projects Director with UW-Madison’s Morgridge Center for Public Service while serving as the Interim Executive Director. She had previously served as Director of Dane County’s Cultural Affairs Commission/Dane Arts.

Mary Bartzen, Community Partnerships Director

Mary came to the Foundation in 2003 to establish the Principal for a Day program, now known as A Principal Experience. Subsequently, close to 500 community members have had the opportunity to serve as Principal Partners, spending a morning in one of our public schools, gaining a deeper understanding of public education in Madison.

As the Community Partnerships Director, Mary also manages the Adopt-a-School program, which forges structured partnerships between organizations, businesses, State agencies, and Madison’s public schools.  Mary’s goal is to facilitate enduring partnerships, which are mutually beneficial and ultimately improve student achievement.

Mary works with the schools to grow their school endowments as well as utilize the income the school endowments generate through a grant process established at each school.

Earlier in her career, Mary worked for US Bank.  She is active in the community, is a graduate of Leadership Greater Madison, and has served as president of the Junior League of Madison.  She is a graduate of UW-Madison and she and her husband enjoy being the parents of two Memorial High School students.

Valerie Chesnik, Communications & Development Manager

Valerie joined the Foundation in September 2014 in time for a new school year. She brings with her a deep knowledge of the Madison area and strong non-profit background having worked at Monona Terrace and Madison Children’s Museum. She initially became involved with the Foundation while working as the Community Relations Associate at Madison Magazine. While there, Valerie oversaw all sponsorship efforts and non-profit involvement for the magazine.

Valerie’s focus includes public relations and event management. She works to make sure the Foundation’s message and goal in the community are clear, as well as build engagement amongst donors and the community. She is excited to be a part of making Madison’s schools great and ensure that all children have the opportunity to succeed.

Valerie is a Madison native and graduate of West High School. She attended UW-Madison where she graduated with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. She is involved in several community non-profits including Shelley Glover Fund, Lily’s Fund and Junior League of Madison.

In her free time, Valerie coaches a local swim club and enjoys traveling and trying new restaurants.

Donna Faulkner, Fund and Database Administrator

Donna joined the Foundation for Madison’s Public schools in May 2011, bringing with her 10 years of nonprofit experience with a statewide youth-focused organization, where she helped to grow assets by nearly 50%. Donna strongly supports initiatives that provide youth opportunities to experience new challenges and reach for new horizons.

As the Fund and Database Administrator for the Foundation, Donna has been able to enhance partnerships between the Foundation and the Madison Metropolitan School District. Her responsibilities include administering donor and financial management, managing new and existing funds, and office and IT management.

Donna has been married to her Madison Memorial sweetheart, Bill, for 26 years.  They have two sons, Thomas and Matthew.

2015-16 Board of Directors

  • Jennifer A. Hannon, Chair – Godfrey & Kahn
  • John B. Duffy, Chair-Elect – Associated Bank
  • Donna V. Hurd, Vice Chair/Secretary – Perkins Coie
  • Jessica MacNaughton, Treasurer – Wipfli, LLP
  • Kate Brien – MMSD Educator
  • Darcy Burke – Community Volunteer
  • Jennifer Cheatham – MMSD Superintendent (non-voting)
  • Maurice Cheeks – MIOsoft
  • Clyde Gaines – University of Wisconsin – Madison
  • Margaret P. Geisler – Community Volunteer
  • Barbara Gerlach – MMSD Educator
  • Cathy Gillman – North Central Group
  • Susan Goodwin – Retired State Administrator
  • Sandra Gunderson – MMSD Retiree; Education Consultant
  • Steve Hartley – MMSD Retiree
  • Ed Hughes – MMSD Board of Education (non voting)
  • Sari Ratner Judge – University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Jennifer Karlson – UW Foundation
  • Annette Miller – Madison Gas & Electric
  • Beth O’Callaghan – University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Malina Piontek – Education Attorney
  • Kathryn Price – MMSD Retiree
  • John W. Van Note – Mohs, McDonald, Widder, Paradise and Van Note Law Firm
  • Jane Villa – Community Volunteer
  • Michael Walsh – Rock Valley Education Professionals