Carol GoedkenCEO/Executive Director
Carol plays a multi-faceted role at Families and 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 schools and communities around the world. Originally from New Jersey, Carol has an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Elementary Education from Gettysburg College, PA and an MBA with a concentration in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. She began her career working at a day treatment program doing play therapy with children and at a residential alternative high school as a group counselor. She then discovered the world of marketing and product management, and has spent her career launching programs that enhance people’s lives in the education, consumer and business markets, with a specialty in research-based reading programs for K-12. Carol brings an abundance of diverse experience to Families and Schools Together, Inc. and loves working for a non-profit that has a mission to strengthen families and help children succeed in school. When she is not working, Carol stays busy participating in various sports – running, biking, and basketball – and in any activity that involves being outside.
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.
Kelly HookDirector of Development & Strategic Partnerships
Kelly’s role is to expand the reach and build awareness of Families and Schools Together, Inc. (FAST) by developing a robust fund development plan and cultivating strategic partnerships in order to bring FAST to more children and families. Kelly has more than 15 years of strategic marketing, brand management and communications expertise and is passionate about doing advocacy work on behalf of our youngest generations. Most recently, Kelly served as the Vice-President of the Celebrate Children Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit organization that strives to create the best early learning programs for children birth to age five in Wisconsin. In this role, Kelly was responsible for managing marketing strategies, pursuing sustainable funding sources, and fostering strategic relationships with early childhood advocates and funders. Kelly holds a BBA in Marketing and a Certificate in International Business from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and also studied at the Institute of International Studies in Seville, Spain. Kelly says that her zest for life is inspired by her endearing family. In her free time, she enjoys being active with her three young children, traveling, and attending family sporting events.
Rebekka OlsenDirector of Research & Evaluation
Rebekka’s role is to explore future directions to measure and increase the impact of our work with children and families. She is leading an initiative to improve our program evaluation process as well as working with academic partners and practitioners to conduct, document, and share research findings. Rebekka has more than ten years of experience working in non-profit and community organizing. She has seven years of non-profit management experience in youth serving organizations and worked as a Special Education Teacher at the elementary school level in Boston. She has a steadfast commitment to making a difference for all children, increasing their learning, and partnering with parents. Rebekka earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Anthropology at Earlham College in Indiana and a Master’s degree in Education Policy at Harvard Graduate School of Education in Boston. Rebekka is currently working on her PhD in Special Education with a focus on Family and Community Engagement at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. When Rebekka is not working or studying, she can be found hiking, practicing yoga, or cross-country skiing.
Cindy JanachekFAST® 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.
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.
Michele BrooksCommunications & Events Manager
Michele organizes and manages FAST Training of Trainers and events, ensuring that everything runs smoothly and efficiently. Michele has 15 years of corporate event planning experience, working for a private company in the educational sector to a large corporation in the waste handling and recycling industry. She joined Families & Schools Together, Inc. after initially working as a contractor at a training conference and hearing incredible stories about how FAST has positively impacted communities. When she is not dealing with the hustle and bustle of event planning, Michele stays busy watching her son Matthew participate in various sporting events and playing with her Shih Tzu Charlie.
Ann RomineFAST® Program Specialist; Certified FAST® Trainer
Ann’s 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. Over the past ten years, she has been very involved in the successful implementation of FAST in Philadelphia, where she is based. She attended her first FAST Training Conference in 2008. Ann values the opportunities FAST provides to deepen family bonds and create unlikely connections in the community. She attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies with a certificate in Elementary Education. In her spare time, she loves to play games and watch game shows. It has been Ann’s childhood dream to one day host The Price is Right.
Emily ClaypoolEditor/ Research Associate
Emily is responsible for working with stakeholders and funders to support the sustaining and scale-up of FAST across the country. Emily provides expertise in the design, development, writing, editing, analysis, and evaluation in high-impact grant proposals to funding agencies ranging from local community foundations to national private foundations as well as research-focused grantmakers. Emily also leverages her social work background to support the dissemination of FAST content from blog posts to white papers. She brings a valuable background in Social Work to the team and has extensive experience developing curricula in an academic setting. Most recently, Emily served as a Bilingual Therapist at the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago, where she worked with adolescents on probation as well as children involved in the child welfare system. Emily has a B.A. in English Literature and Global Studies from the University of Minnesota as well as a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. She is fluent in Spanish and spent a year in Venezuela where she wrote and edited a series of English-language textbooks. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading, traveling and confesses that she recently has discovered a new passion – yoga.
Kelsey GleixnerFAST® Evaluation Coordinator
Kelsey processes FAST Evaluations to deliver quality reports for all agencies running FAST. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Gender and Women’s Studies and a Certificate in LGBTQ Studies. She has worked within two departments at the University of Wisconsin, assisting with social behavior experiments and gathering information on an experimental basic income project. With these two positions and throughout her work life, Kelsey has exhibited exemplary customer service and organizational skills with a strong attention to detail and accuracy. She has also volunteered with a local food back and food pantry, working with disadvantaged populations. When she’s not at the FAST office, Kelsey enjoys traveling, reading, and enjoying her local food and music scenes.
Michelle DownerDevelopment Specialist
Michelle works to promote a culture of philanthropic giving, supports the team’s grant writing efforts, and cultivates relationships with donors. She brings over 10 years of fundraising and development expertise to Families & Schools Together, Inc. Michelle is an enthusiastic advocate for the power of philanthropy and its ability to transform communities, people, and institutions. Her fund development and communications career has been focused on the nonprofit sector, higher education, as well as corporate social responsibility. Most recently, Michelle served as the Community Engagement Manager at WPS Health Solutions where she led company-wide community support strategies that cultivated a culture of giving back among employees, advanced WPS’ brand and ensured the company was accountable for managing its social impacts. She holds a B.A. degree in Liberal Studies earned through service learning from the University of Wisconsin−Milwaukee and an M.A. degree in Library and Information Studies from University of Wisconsin−Madison. In her free time, Michelle enjoys spending time with her nieces and nephews, traveling, and volunteering.