Meet the Team

Sometimes it's nice to put a face with a name. Here we are - all our smiling faces. We're glad you're here!

Executive Team

+Eric Cohen, Chief Executive Officer

Eric-Cohenx200Eric comes to Learners Edge from Birch Lake in Chicago. Eric was a Partner and Managing Director of this organization, which provides consulting and invests in public and private companies experiencing complex business situations. Prior to that, Eric was the Chief Operating Officer at Power Solutions International, Inc. Eric has over 20 years of experience at the CEO and executive level in a wide range of industries, and in small to very large businesses, including General Electric Corporation and Midwest Air Technologies.

Eric holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MBA from Harvard University. 

Number of Years in the Classroom: A few months as a guest High School teacher

Year Started with Learners Edge: 2018

Favorite Teaching Moment/Memory: In my family business helping our employee’s kids make it to college

Favorite Resource to Keep You Current in Your Line of Work: Harvard Business Review

Favorite Sports Team: Chicago Blackhawks

Favorite Book: Shantaram

Favorite Movie: The Shawshank Redemption

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: Time with family, skiing, tennis.

What is Your Dream Vacation Destination: Bhutan

+Julie Yaeger, Executive Vice President

Julie YaegerJulie holds an elementary teaching degree, a Master’s Degree in Leadership and Organization, a K-12 Reading Endorsement and a K-12 Administrative Specialist Degree. She taught in the classroom for 10 years, then worked for the Minnesota Department of Education for two years, spent the next four years as a Professional Development Coordinator training non-tenured teaching staff and finished her final three years in public education as a Middle School Assistant Principal.

Number of Years in the Classroom: 10 years (1st and 3rd grades)

Year Started with Learners Edge: 2008

Favorite Teaching Moment/Memory: I was teaching math in my 1st grade classroom and looked up to see one of my female students, in the front row, quietly cutting off her blonde bangs with safety scissors. She told me she loved to watch the hair flutter down like snowflakes. I called her mom and luckily, we both had a good laugh. 

Favorite Resources to Keep You Current in Your Line of Work: Twitter. I follow business magazines, leadership blogs and authors.

Favorite Movie(s): I am a huge James Bond fan! 

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: Our cabin - Up Nort' - as we like to say in Minnesota.

What is Your Dream Vacation Destination:  Anywhere with a beach, continuous sunshine and waves!

+Mark Hrubes, Vice President of Finance & Operations

Mark HrubesMark joined Learners Edge in 2015 as Director of Finance and was subsequently promoted to Director of Finance and Operations in early 2016 and to Vice President of Finance and Operations in late 2017. Prior to joining Learners Edge, he served as Financial Manager at Thomson Reuters where he oversaw the finance function for six individual businesses that rolled-up into the company's Litigation Solutions arm. Prior to his time at Thomson Reuters, Mark served as Senior Financial Analyst for UnitedHealth Group. Mark holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse and a Master's of Business Administration from the University of Saint Thomas in Minnesota.

Year started with Learners Edge: 2015

Favorite Professional Moment/Memory: Several actually, but my favorite professional moments in finance have always been partnering with sales, marketing, customer service and operations to develop the best possible customer experience. It all starts with the customer experience, everything else falls into place.

Favorite Resources to Keep You Current in Your Line of Work: Constant communication with both customer service and our curriculum and instruction team. They are the closest to the customer. 

Favorite Sports Team: Green Bay Packers 

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: My wife and four-year old twins or on the golf course.

What is Your Dream Vacation Destination: Bora Bora

+Melanie Shirley, Vice President of Sales and Marketing

Melanie-Shirley-200Melanie comes to Learners Edge after recently serving as the VP of Marketing for Eyebobs. She brings significant experience in a wide range of industries and both large and small organizations including Menttium Corporation and Ellerbe Becket.

Melanie has a History degree from the University of Wisconsin, and an MA in Strategic Management from St. Catherine University.

Year Started with Learners Edge: 2018

Favorite Professional Moment/Memory: While at Eyebobs, I led a partnership with Katie Couric to launch a cause marketing campaign for Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C). It was an incredible feeling to be at the SU2C telethon event with the lead eyewear designer and to see and feel the impact of the cause, the product and all of our hard work on behalf of those affected with cancer. 

Favorite resource to keep you current or up-to-date in your line of work: Twitter, Harvard Business Review, and the Daily Carnage newsletter

Favorite Sports Team: Wisconsin Badgers

Favorite Book: Most often, the one I am currently reading!

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: I love to spend time with my family watching my son play sports, or my daughter play piano and perform. I like to be outside and to take our dog hiking. We play tons of board games and spend summers hanging out with our neighbors.  

What is Your Dream Vacation Destination: I would love to take a European vacation to see Paris, London and Copenhagen.

Curriculum & Instruction

+Keely Swartzer, Director of Professional Deveopment

Keely Swartzer

Keely holds a Bachelor of Science in Special Education from St. Cloud State University, a Master of Arts in Education from Hamline University and additional Director of Special Education and Principal Licensures. Throughout her teaching career, Keely served students with special needs and subsequently served as a Special Education Coordinator in a suburban Minnesota school district. She has also taught as an adjunct professor at St. Mary's University of Minnesota.

Number of Years in the Classroom: 11 years in Special Education and 8 years in Educational Administration

Year Started with Learners Edge: 2016

Favorite Teaching Moment/Memory: Teaching a non-reader to read!

Favorite Professional Moment/Memory: Getting a job offer from Learners Edge!

Favorite Resource to Keep You Current in Your Line of Work: Other Leaders! They have great recommendations for current reads (books/articles). 

Favorite Sports Team: Minnesota Wild

Favorite Movie: Good Will Hunting

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: Laughing with family and friends or spending time on the lake

What is Your Dream Vacation Destination: Italy, Spain, or Ireland

+Susanne Leslie, Lead Curriculum & Staff Specialist

Susanne Leslie

Susanne is a University of Minnesota alumnus obtaining both her Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Education from this institution. Prior to joining Learners Edge, Susanne was a Parent Educator serving several Minnesota school districts and fine-tuning her ability to build rapport and establish common ground with adult learners. 

Number of Years in the Classroom: 6 years as a parent educator in Minnesota's Early Childhood Family Education program (ECFE)

Year  Started with Learners Edge: 2006 (not sure how that happened!). As Dr. Seuss would say..."“How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon. December is here before it's June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”

Favorite Teaching Moment/Memory: The first time I worked with a parent to determine if her child had special needs. We will both remember that day and our conversation - always. 

Favorite Resource to Keep You Current in Your Line of Work: You (teachers) are our most important resource! We rely and encourage you to let us know your learning needs so you, and your students, can be the best they can be. Keep your ideas coming!

Favorite Sports Team: The Minnesota Vikings, of course! And the University of Minnesota Golden Gopher women’s hockey team, the Minnesota Wild, and the Minnesota Lynx!

Favorite Book: Too many to pick just one, but for today, Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton.

Favorite Way to Spend Time Outside of the Office: “Outside” is the key phrase here—we bike, walk, run, swim, blade, skate and ski in this big beautiful state of ours (Minnesota) where we are blessed with every kind of weather imaginable! (and…two of my favorite people to do those things with are my daughters. They (try to) keep me “cool” (sort of).

What is Your Dream Vacation Destination: Norway and Greece

+Dawn Butler, Lead Course Specialist

Dawn Butler

With a BA from from the College of St. Benedict and a Masters in Teaching from the University of St. Thomas, Dawn spent more than a decade as a High School Language Arts Teacher. In addition to her role as English Department Chair, Dawn thoroughly enjoyed working with students on several international outreach experiences. 

Number of Years in the Classroom: 11 years 

Year Started with Learners Edge: 2010

Favorite Teaching Moment/Memory: I loved team teaching a 9th grade interdisciplinary course. I got to act out a watered down story of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, and the kids were floored! So many of my favorite moments in teaching was when the students and I were dialed into each other and engaged in the learning. 

Favorite Resource to Keep You Current in Your Line of Work: I love the “We Love Teachers” page on Facebook, teachersofthegram on Instagram, and Bill Ferriter. NYT Education and NPR education are also excellent.

Favorite Book: If I have to pick one book: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Favorite Movie: Love Actually 

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: I am super happy curled up on the couch with a book, my cats, kids, husband, and my crochet projects.

What is Your Dream Vacation Destination: Alaska, or any harbor town. Water and seafood make me happy.

+Marcee Harris, Curriculum & Evaluation Specialist

Marcee-200Number of Years in the Classroom: 16 years 

Year Started with Learners Edge: 2017

Favorite Teaching Moment/Memory: I was teaching 3rd grade a number of years ago when "think alouds" were becoming popular.  As my students were gathered on the carpet, I read the story and occasionally stopped to share my thinking.  This particular day one of my students spoke up in the middle of one of my brilliant think alouds and said, "Excuse me.  Can you just read the story already?!"

Favorite Resource to Keep You Current in Your Line of Work: I love following my favorite educators on Twitter, but I also learn many new ideas from my teacher friends.

Favorite Sports Team: Minnesota United

Favorite Kids Book: Anything by Patricia Polacco or Chris Van Allsburg

Favorite Movie: The Sandlot 

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: When I'm away from the office I love listening to music (especially live concerts) and going on bike rides with my family.

What is Your Dream Vacation Destination: I've already been, but I'd definitely return to Kauai, Hawaii!  

+Tamie Mueller, Online System Specialist

Tamie MuellerYear Started with Learners Edge: 2006

Favorite Sports Team: Vikings

Favorite TV Show: Friends

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: Crafting - making jewelry or sewing

What is Your Dream Vacation Destination: Greece

+Jessica Price, Administrative Assistant

Jessica PriceYear Started with Learners Edge: 2016

Favorite Sports Team: The Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Wild are my favorite teams to cheer for! 

Favorite Book/Movie: I am a huge Harry Potter fan, so they are, hands-down, my favorite books and movies!

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: I stay busy playing soccer, spending time with family and friends, any activity outdoors, and occassionally getting suckered into running half marathons.

What is Your Dream Vacation Destination: I would love to go to Italy and Brazil someday.

Customer Success Team

+Tracey Schantz, Director of Customer Experience

Tracey Schantz

Tracey received her undergraduate degree from the University of South Dakota. After starting her teaching career as a Kindergarten teacher, Tracey moved to higher education and spent her time serving as a Trainer, Admissions Counselor, Student Services Liasion, and Campus Director.

Number of Years in the Classroom: Two years 

Year Started with Learners Edge: 2016

Favorite Teaching Memory: The closing performance of our kindergarten graduation ceremony in which each of the students displayed their artwork while Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World", played in the background. 

Favorite Resource to Keep You Current in Your Line of Work: HubSpot Sales Blog

Favorite Book: John Sanford Novels - I love the local, Minnesota flair 

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: Cooking and Baking. 

What is Your Dream Vacation Destination: Venice, Italy

+Katie Dammann, Learning Advisor

Katie Roberts

Katie holds an Education degree from St. Cloud State University. After graduation, Katie worked as an Admissions Counselor, Career Services Coordinator, and Student Affairs Coordinator in the Higher Education Arena.   

Year Started with Learners Edge: 2016

Favorite Professional Moment/Memory: Working with and building relationships with students.

Favorite Sports Team: Vikings! Go Vikes!

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: Doing anything active, golfing, playing volleyball. 

What is Your Dream Vacation Destination: Anything tropical. I would love to travel to Fiji and Bora Bora. 

+Jacinda Miller, Learning Advisor

Jacinda MillerNumber of Years in the Classroom:  I taught online courses at a college for over 5 years. I’ve been a coach to thousands of children for over 20 years!

Year Started with Learners Edge: I started with Learners Edge in November of 2017 and I love every minute! 

Favorite Teaching Moment/Memory: I love seeing my students have that moment where they really “get it” and all of their hard work pays off! 

Favorite Professional Moment/Memory: My favorite memory was when two of the teams that I coach won the National Championship in Summer of 2017 for their age groups.  The kids were so excited and had worked so hard that they absolutely deserved this recognition!

Favorite resource to keep you current or up-to-date in your line of work: I love reading blogs and articles to stay current. I also love books and can read really fast!

Favorite Sports Team: University of Arizona Football & Basketball!

Favorite Book: I love Nicholas Sparks books. They are a great vacation book!

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: I love going to my kid’s sporting events, reading, scrapbooking, walking and boating in Minnesota’s summers.

What is Your Dream Vacation Destination: I would love to take my family on a European vacation. 

+Ashli Furlong, Customer Service Specialist

Ashli FurlongNumber of Years in the Classroom: 9 years as a Pre-Kindergarten teacher 

Year Started with Learners Edge: 2016

Favorite Teaching Moment/Memory: I really enjoyed working with pre-kindergarten children as they learn the alphabet, letter sounds, and then start to read. The excitement is infectious.

Favorite Resource to Keep You Current in Your Line of Work: I think the best resource, as I join a new team, are my co-workers. They have so much knowlege and expreience that I can learn from. 

Favorite Sports Team: Minnesota Twins

Favorite Book: The Hunger Games

Favorite Movie: Love Actually

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: I enjoy spending my free time with my husband, friends and family. We enjoy trying new recipes, cooking, and hosting get-togethers. 

What is Your Dream Vacation Destination: I would love to travel to London. 

+Faye hovland, Registration & support specialist
Fayex200

Number of Years in the Classroom: I have taught for 18 years in an elementary classroom. I have taught grades 1-4, but most of my time was spent in 2nd grade.

Year Started with Learners Edge: 2018

Favorite Teaching Moment/Memory: My goal was that my 2nd graders would be able to read and write their sight words. We put 10 sight words at a time on a ring and encouraged them to practice, practice, practice. When they were ready, they would come to me and “test out”. Their sense of pride was evident each week when my students achieved their goal and is my favorite teaching moment.

Favorite Resource to Keep You Current in Your Line of Work: I keep up-to-date in my line of work by net-working with my former colleagues. Even though I’m retired now, I enjoy keeping my toes in the educational waters by reading educational journals and articles.

Favorite Sports Team: Even though I’m from Minnesota, I waffle between the Green Bay Packers and the Vikings

Favorite Book: I have favorite authors more than favorite books and am currently reading one by Harlan Coben. I enjoy his writing.

Favorite Movie: I don’t have a favorite movie either, just really enjoy action adventure, mystery and  romantic movies.

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: I love to travel, watch movies, I’m learning to knit and my passion is hiking! A summer trip hiking the Redwoods in California is in the works!

What is Your Dream Vacation Destination: The Galapagos Islands to see the Sea Turtles.

+Teija Normandeau, Registration & Support Specialist

Teija

Year Started with Learners Edge: 2018

Favorite Professional Moment/Memory: My favorite memory would have to come from swim lessons. Back in 2013 I started working with kids with special needs. That year I had one child who was so terrified he would scream and cry every day, and would cling to me. By the end of the eight-day session, I had him swimming back himself.

Favorite resource to keep you current or up-to-date in your line of work: Post-it notes, I have them everywhere.

Favorite Genre of Music: The music I enjoy most is country.

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time:

I love to hangout with family and friends or watch Netflix.

What is Your Dream Vacation Destination: 

Either a 3-month trip to Europe or a 2-week vacation on the beach.

+Ashley Keil, Learning Advisor

Ashley KeilYear Started with Learners Edge: 2018

Favorite Professional Moment/Memory: Making the decision to take a break from the classroom and explore other options.  I have found it to be a rewarding use of creativity in ways that are very different from Teaching!  

Favorite Resource to Keep You Current in Your Line of Work: Social Media—I like to see what others are into/doing/planning to do; I like to know how people are interacting, learning new information and how they use it. 

Favorite Sports Team: I am a fair weather MN fan…to put it mildly 😊

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: Anything with my family; Decorating my house 😊 Trying new restaurants and exploring Minneapolis. Also love to visit my fav spots now and then!

What is Your Dream Vacation Destination: SO many! I would love to take a month and travel Europe. 

Information Technology

+Deb Severson, Online Systems Specialist & Project Manager

Deb SeversonYear Started with Learners Edge: 2008

Favorite Professional Moment/Memory: The first day we went online with our courses at Learners Edge. A long project that became reality!

Favorite Resource to Keep You Current in Your Line of Work: The Internet!

Favorite Sports Team: Minnesota Teams (Wild, Vikings, Twins) 

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: Watching my son play hockey, spending time with family/friends, movies, and enjoying our empty nest!

+Justin Gordon, Programmer

Justin GordonYear Started with Learners Edge: 2016

Favorite Professional Moment/Memory: Going to the Minnesota Developers Conference

Favorite Resource to Keep You Current in Your Line of Work: Pluralsight

Favorite Sports Team: Wisconsin Badgers  

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: Snowboarding 

What is Your Dream Vacation Destination: Costa Rica

Marketing

+Jenny Oelkers, Director of Brand Management


Jenny OelkersJenny joined Learners Edge as a Marketing Specialist in 2009 and after a period of time with the Company was subsequently named Director of Marketing.  As the Company's needs have evolved, she assumed the role of Director of Brand Management. Prior to joining Learners Edge, she served as Web/Education Manager at Children's Cancer Research Fund, where she spent a decade working on direct marketing and education campaigns for the organization.  Previously, she served as Marketing Specialist at Northwest Airlines, Corp., where she began her professional career. Jenny holds a Bachelor of Science degree from St. Cloud State University.

Year Started with Learners Edge: 2009

Favorite Professional Moment/Memory: When I worked for a non-profit, I arranged a radio interview for a parent of a young child who died of cancer. He told the most amazing, compelling, heart-wrenching story about losing his son. Because of that interview, we raised more money to fight childhood cancer than we ever imagined, and he impressed upon me how every day is absolutely precious. 

Favorite Resource to Keep You Current in Your Line of Work: I love Seth Godin's blog, Simon Sinek's books, the Brains on Fire blog, and all the HubSpot blogs - so many amazing marketing resources...I guess marketers are good at producing content!

Favorite Sports Team: I love sitting outside at Target Field on a gorgeous summer night...loving watching the Twins is dependent on the year. I'm also a big fan of the Minnesota Wild.

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: I'm trying hard to get better at tennis and I actually like working out, moreso for the community versus the exercise...however, this allows me to enjoy lots of desserts! 

What is Your Dream Vacation Destination: Cinque Terre, Italy and Ireland

+Sydney Anderson, Marketing Assistant

SydneySydney is a recent college graduate from the University of Minnesota Duluth, where she studied Communication and Human Resource Management. Prior to Learners Edge, she had two internships where she took on marketing roles in each. Learners Edge is her first full-time position, and we are excited to have her with us! 

Year Started with Learners Edge: 2018

Favorite Educational Memory: In 2017, I spent 6 weeks studying abroad in Sydney, Australia. To say this experience was incredible would be an understatement. It was absolutely life-changing... and the name of the city was pretty great too!

Favorite Resource to Keep You Current in Your Line of Work: I love analyzing how other companies produce great content. Target is always up-to-date on trendy advertising! I also enjoy HubSpot blogs and training videos, as HubSpot is where I spend most of my days now.

Favorite TV Show: This is Us. Hands down. 

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: Spending time with my family and friends, reading, and working as a server on the weekends at Redstone American Grill!

What is Your Dream Vacation Destination: Santorini, Greece