Toni Rivera-JoachinCEO/Executive Director
Toni plays a multi-faceted role at Families & Schools Together, Inc. as the CEO/Executive Director. She works with FAST Founder Dr. Lynn McDonald, the FAST Board of Directors and the FAST staff to lead the organization and determine its future direction. She oversees all aspects – from finance to implementation – and is passionate about bringing FAST® to communities and schools to help families become empowered to advocate for themselves. Toni has an undergraduate degree in Community Education, as well as a certificate in Latino Nonprofit Leadership, from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Master’s in Business Management from Cardinal Stritch University. Toni brings an abundance of diverse experience to Families & Schools Together, Inc., most recently serving as the President and CEO of Centro Hispano Milwaukee. Former roles also include positions with the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, during which she worked on the nationally recognized violence prevention and intervention program, Project Ujima, Girls Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast and Aurora Weier Educational Center, in addition to numerous board and volunteer experiences. When not working, Toni enjoys spending time with her family, long drives and walking.
Kristine NyhagenDirector of Operations
Kristine manages the day-to-day operations including accounting, human resources, and IT. She brings eight years of experience in accounting, including accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, quarterly taxes, and year-end tax prep. She also has six years of experience running daily operations, managing schedules for twenty-five independent contractors, and serving as the main point of contact for clients. Kristine attended the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire where she received her Bachelor of Science in Marketing. Her passion and involvement in her own children’s lives inspired Kristine to work for an organization that makes a difference in children’s lives. She has always been motivated by taking on challenges and new adventures. In college, she sold books door to door in Connecticut and Pennsylvania and won a trip to Mexico, where she skydived for the first time.
Cindy JanechekFAST® Training Director; Certified FAST® Trainer Supervisor
Cindy is leading the FAST® Training Team on the Investing in Innovation (i3) project in Philadelphia. Her role is to ensure that families gain the maximum benefit from FAST by working with Certified FAST Trainers and Teams to run the program with fidelity and the highest quality of implementation. She has served as the Family Resource Center Director and a School Social Worker at the Indian Community School in Franklin, Wisconsin for over 18 years. Her school has been running FAST for over 14 years and Cindy has experience training and running FAST at all age levels. She attended her first FAST Training Conference in 2003. Cindy’s passion for FAST stems from her steadfast commitment to improving the lives of children and families. Cindy earned a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work at University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire and a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology – Community Counseling at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She is also a Certified Independent Clinical Social Worker. When Cindy is not working or training a FAST team, she can be found spending time with her husband and two daughters, and whenever she can, she loves to read and travel.
Robyn SperlingDirector of Research & Innovation
Robyn leads the exploration and development of new programs and initiatives within the emerging field of family engagement. Her former position as Director of Research and Evaluation at the Center for Inspired Teaching in Washington, D.C., in addition to nearly eight years of professional research experience, highlights the vast educational background the Robyn brings to the FAST team. Robyn was drawn to FAST by the opportunity to “flip” her teacher-oriented perspective of empowerment to a parental perspective after many years of training teachers and instructing students at both the high-school and graduate levels. Robyn obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Interpersonal Communication from Ohio University, her Master’s in Education from Harvard University, and her PhD in Educational Administration, Leadership, and Policy from New York University. In her free time, Robyn enjoys spending time with her husband and children, as well as reading, cooking, traveling, and practicing yoga.
Molly McGowanFAST® Implementation Manager
Molly is responsible for working with schools, community-based organizations, Certified FAST® Trainers, and others to facilitate the implementation of large-scale FAST Programs in the United States. She manages key relationships, coordinates communication among partners, and provides technical consultation, with the aim of ensuring high-quality FAST® implementation for all children and families. Molly previously worked as an AmeriCorps member with Operation Fresh Start and Schools of Hope, two Madison-based non-profit agencies that are committed to providing increased opportunities for young people. These experiences solidified Molly’s passion for community involvement and she is thrilled to be working for a non-profit that gives voice to communities by empowering families. Molly graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Outside of work, Molly enjoys running and often competes in races.
Sandy PlischDatabase Manager
Sandy helps us connect with the dynamic FAST Community by organizing the non-profit’s contact information and maintaining the systems that track our delivery of FAST services. She has a wealth of experience, with over 20 years working in software development and data organization. She spent nine years in Research and Development at Renaissance Learning, Inc. and nine years as a professional librarian. She believes that good information derived from solid systems is fundamental to providing the best service to the FAST Community. Sandy received her Bachelor of Arts in Zoology, and her Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is certified as a Crystal Reports Developer. When Sandy is not in the office, you can catch her in her riding boots, riding and showing dressage horses.