Staff

Carol Goedken

CEO/Executive Director

Carol 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 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 & 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 Nyhagen

Director 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 Hook

Director of Development & Strategic Partnerships

Kelly’s role is to expand the reach and build awareness of Families & 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 Olsen

Director 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 Janachek

FAST® 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 McGowan

FAST® 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 Plisch

Database 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 Brooks

Communications & Events Manager

Michele is responsible for communications and events, developing communication strategies that help advance, and broaden FAST around the world. She also manages and organizes various events, such as the FAST Training of Trainers, and other industry conferences and exhibits. Michele has 15+ years of marketing and event planning experience, working for both privately held companies and corporations. She joined Families & Schools Together after initially working as a consultant at the 2013 FAST Training of Trainers, and hearing incredible stories about how FAST impacts communities, and changes lives. Michele enjoys running, basketball and football, and watching her son Matthew participate in various sports.

Kelsey Gleixner

FAST® 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 Downer

Development 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.