Meet our team
Get to know our board of directors, staff and amazing team members. See if we have any career opportunities available.
Sara’s love for cultures, faith, learning, and social equity stems much from her upbringing in Hawaii. Sara majored in International Relations and Art at Brown University (B.A.) and Economic Development at Columbia University (M.A.). After college, she studied Arabic and worked as a small business advisor for the Peace Corps in the Sahara and researched female-founded startups in Syria as a Fulbright Fellow. She has led global initiatives at technology hubs such as Google, Mozilla, and Wikipedia.
Sara and her husband, Josh, also lived and worked as faculty at Eastside College Preparatory School, a high school for first-generation college-bound students. She served on the board for Able Works: an organization focused on teaching financial literacy to students of color and supporting females working towards economic self-sufficiency as they establish new careers.
While working in education, Sara learned about Charlotte Mason. It was through a series of workshops on Mason’s volumes that she discovered the depths of this approach for learning and living. Sara enjoys making art with her four kids, finding nature treasures with little ones, and searching for new trails in the California Bay Area.
Min Jung Hwang
Min Jung Hwang spends her days spreading a Charlotte Mason feast at home with her four creative children and, as a pastor’s wife, complementing her husband’s pastoral ministry at Pascack Bible Church in New Jersey. You may also find her painting, writing, leading a nonprofit ministry for mothers pursuing life-giving habits, podcasting at “Charlotte Mason For All” and “Charlotte Mason Volumes,” and bringing the feast to the children of her church as the Director of Children’s Ministry.
When her eldest was a toddler, Min “met” Miss Mason and immediately scoured online used bookstores for the unicorn “pinks,” which were the only hardcopies discoverable then. Subsequently, she was swept off her feet by this Gospel-centric educational philosophy and methods. With fire in bones, she immediately began working to bring Miss Mason’s principles to every opportunity she had over the years. This included her work overseas during her season in university administration and education, serving international students and faculty families from over 60 nations. Then, later, as the Founder and Executive Director of a nonprofit with a mission to rescue and empower pregnant women escaping forced abortion, sexual exploitation, and sex trafficking.
Min brings to the CMI Board her experience in Nursing (BSN, RN) and law (JD and former AL bar); over 20 years experience as a speaker and educator in church, university, private school, hospital, conference, and nonprofit settings; familiarity with cultivating multicultural synergy within an organization; and her passion to bring Charlotte Mason to families and churches around the world.
You will often find Min enjoy hosting book clubs, Charlotte Mason co-ops, and “mother nurture” workshops for fellow homeschool moms. Yet as an introvert, her favorite pastimes are dating her husband, Young (with Vancouver and NYC as their hometowns, they are foodies!), blissfully painting or reading away the day with a cup of tea, and exploring new terrain in God’s creation with her four adventurous children.
Min Jung Hwang
Lisa is a mother of seven and grandmother of nine. First introduced to Charlotte Mason in the early 1990s, she immediately started incorporating what she learned into her homeschooling. She later participated in the first Charlotte Mason email groups, including the one that became Ambleside Online, led a local CM support group for over a decade, and has regularly attended CMI’s annual conferences since they began. She currently serves in Chattanooga as Director of Education for Ingleside Tutorial, a four day week program using The Alveary. She also provides teacher training and evaluation for her daughter’s new tutorial, Blue Willow Tutorial, which is based on Ingleside’s model. Lisa’s dream is to travel around the country helping others start and manage various models of Mason co-ops, tutorials, and schools.
LeAnn first discovered Charlotte Mason’s writings 16 years ago after a unique reading challenge from a friend. Since that day, Mason’s philosophy of life and education has guided her personal life and overflowed into the lives of her children, community, co-op groups, local school, and business enterprises. Her continued research in Mason’s philosophy and immersion in Mason’s methodology, along with her first-hand experience educating children with learning differences have developed a practical insight into the use of Mason’s work in the modern world of education, creating a deep desire to create more visibility and accessibility to the beauty and richness of relational education for everyone. She has spoken at numerous CMI conferences and serves on CMI’s board of directors.
LeAnn and her husband, Duane, celebrated 20 years of marriage this year and enjoy working together daily as COO and CEO of their two companies. In 2020, they relocated to the little historic town of Salisbury, North Carolina, with their children, who range in age from 11 to 20. LeAnn seeks out green spaces, adventurous food, great books, and world travel, not in any particular order. She seems to be attracted to challenges and finds these are great catalysts for learning.
Just like so many others, Kerri Forney was introduced to the life-giving principles of Charlotte Mason through the reading of For the Children’s Sake. She and her husband, Scott and their five children (ages twelve to twenty-two) are growing in their ability to live out these principles and currently live in Franklin County, NC. Besides leading a monthly CM study group for moms in North Raleigh, she and the kids still at home regularly enjoy rescuing used, living books wherever they can be found for the purpose of finding new loving homes for them. Kerri is currently assisting in the development of a high school curriculum for Mason’s Alveary. She holds a B. A. in Sociology from Wheaton College.
Dr. Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman has spent over 40 years under the regulus and patterns of teaching and learning – initially as an Early Childhood educator in the classroom, then as an educational leader, and finally as Professor of Elementary Education at Covenant College. Each of these contexts has allowed him the privilege of working with students, teachers, and parents on a variety of levels involving instructional pedagogy, curriculum development, and teacher professional learning.
Over the past fifteen years Jack has moved to the other side of the teacher’s desk in his work with preservice elementary teachers at Covenant College. From freshman year Christian Mind through senior Fall Block and student teaching, he witnesses the progression of growth in their identity from students to full instructional practitioners ready for the classroom. It is thrilling to hear stories of how God is using their gifts and talents in His kingdom work. These dedicated teachers are His “faithful presence” in a world filled with many diverse needs.
Dr. Jack Beckman
Dr. Deani Van Pelt
Deani Van Pelt, an Ontario Certified Teacher, is President of Edvance Christian Schools Association in Ontario, Canada. Previously Associate Professor of Education and Director of Teacher Education at Redeemer University College, and formerly a teacher in both Christian and public high schools, she holds a B.Commerce (McMaster University), B.Ed. (University of Toronto), and Master’s and Ph.D. in Education (Western University). She was awarded a medal for excellence in graduate studies for her master thesis on Charlotte Mason’s Design for Education, and her article For a Great Door is Opened: The Legacy of Charlotte Mason draws on her studies during that period. She led an exciting international research collaboration, funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, at the Armitt Museum and Library that resulted in the Charlotte Mason Digital Collection, available worldwide through Redeemer University College and recently received CMI’s Charlotte Mason Tribute award for doing so. Van Pelt, a Cardus Senior Fellow and a Fraser Institute Senior Fellow, has researched and published frequently on aspects of school choice in Canada (including home schooling, charter schools, religious schools, and independent schools) and on education spending and school sector enrollments. She has served as an expert witness, presented at numerous academic and education conferences across North America, and her work has been regularly featured in Canadian print and broadcast media. She and her husband, Michael, raised their three children near Toronto, Canada and both are thankful to have “met” Charlotte Mason early in their parenting years.
Dr. Deani Van Pelt
Angie is an educator by training and experience and taught middle school math for several years after graduating from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1987 with a degree in Communications (Radio/TV) and receiving her certification in Elementary Education (emphasis in Math) in 1989. She homeschooled her boys while they were young, taught College Algebra, and then retired from teaching to manage the book keeping for her husband’s marketing company. Angie and her husband, Art, have lived, worked and ministered in the DFW area for over 30 years; they have two sons, a daughter-in-law, two grandsons and two dogs (feel free to ask for pictures of the cutest little guys and puppies)! Involved in the music ministry at her church, Angie plays mandolin and acoustic guitar. She also teaches the AWANA program in her church’s children’s ministry. In her spare time, she likes to travel, read, ride her bike and occasionally run a 5k.
Amber O'Neal Johnston
Amber O’Neal Johnston fell in love with the principles of Charlotte Mason when her oldest was a preschooler. After wholeheartedly committing to follow Mason’s philosophy, she became disheartened when months went by with little mention, if any, of the stories and accomplishments of Black people in her school room. The literary quality of the books was better, but she found that the cultural emptiness she experienced as a schoolgirl was being perpetuated within the walls of her own home.
Committed to bridging the gap for her four children, Amber has embarked on a journey of uniquely merging living books with a culturally-rich atmosphere to ensure that their education is not merely a legalistic Charlotte Mason venture but an honest experience that honors the Truth while helping her children to see beauty in themselves and others. Amber shares her observations on home education, diverse books, worldschooling, and more at www.HeritageMom.com, and when asked about her path she likes to smile and say, “In my house, Charlotte Mason has an afro.”
In addition to her experience as a Charlotte Mason practitioner, speaker, and writer, Amber runs a non-profit organization focused on promoting and supporting home education among Black families in her community. She holds an MBA from Florida A&M University and brings over twenty years of combined corporate and entrepreneurial marketing, brand management, and business experience to her perspectives on the Board.
Amber O'Neal Johnston
Kelli Christenberry has been involved in the Charlotte Mason Community since discovering her work in 2000. She founded and facilitates the central Illinois Charlotte Mason group, A Continuing Conversation. She also leads and directs several online CMI Study Groups and enjoys studying and discussing the vitalizing ideas on education and life. Through God’s abundant grace, her children were home educated through high school graduation following the philosophy and methods of Mason; all pursued diverse University degrees and are married. Besides being on the CMI Board of Directors, she is also involved in several Charlotte Mason Institute projects including Teacher Education and Training, Research & Development, CMI Study Groups, and the Alveary Curriculum Development where she currently works with the high school team. She is excited about all the research, development, training and support that CMI brings to our communities! She has a passion for sharing the beauty and breadth of ideas in a Mason educational approach with others through speaking, mentoring, consulting. In her studies over the last several years, she has been encouraged and challenged to consider the magnitude of this relational education that, continuing on with Mason, we aim to place before children with ‘minds astonishingly alert’. Kelli enjoys gardening; flowers make her smile. She looks forward to much adventure and many travels with her recently-retired husband and suggests that Paris is always a good idea!
Kathryn Forney was schooled through high school with Mason’s philosophy and methods and continues to see the applicability of Mason’s principles in academics and all of life. After studying Mandarin Chinese in China for a year, she then completed a B.A. in English. Kathryn serves the Charlotte Mason Institute as a coordinator for programs and services and creates music content for the Alveary. She is especially fascinated by the way Charlotte Mason’s philosophy reveals intersections between theology, counseling, literature, and writing. In her free time, you’ll find her playing ultimate frisbee, gardening, hiking, reading, or hanging out with friends and family.
Dawan Hart lives in the Lexington, Kentucky area with her husband and two boys. She received her Bachelors degree in Accounting from Transylvania University and began her career with a local accounting firm where she worked on both personal and corporate accounts. For the last 23 years, she has been the owner and operator of an insurance agency in Lexington. She began her journey in homeschooling when her oldest was starting Kindergarten and was fortunate to be introduced to a Charlotte Mason education by friends who had been utilizing her methodology for several years. After attending her first Charlotte Mason Institute conference in Virginia, she believed a CM education was what her family had been looking for! In 2013, she was one of the founding members of Overstone School, a cooperative whose teaching is based on the Charlotte Mason Philosophy of Education. She currently serves Overstone as treasurer, board member, and as their high school mathematics instructor. She has also been blessed to serve as the Charlotte Mason Institute accounting manager since 2017.
Melissa Ferguson stumbled across the name Charlotte Mason while exploring home education options when her oldest child was a preschooler. She soon found a Charlotte Mason group within driving distance and knew right away she had found “her people.” She, her husband Floyd, and their two children (ages ten and twelve) live in Northwest Missouri where they (mostly) enjoy living surrounded by woods and experiencing all four seasons. Her favorite pastimes are hunting for living books to add to their ever-expanding library and planning their next family travels. Melissa serves on our team as CMI’s Director of Operations. She holds an M.B.A. and has spent over 20 years working in higher education administration and non-profit management. Melissa has also served as the CMI Volunteer Marketing Team Lead since 2019, coordinated the volunteer team, and worked on conference team for several years.
Will (M.S and B.S) works as the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Analyst for the Town of Apex, NC, Planning and Community Development Department. He and his wife, Jenna, fell in love with Charlotte Mason’s philosophy years ago and embraced it as a lifestyle when they began homeschooling their four children. Will has researched Charlotte Mason’s approach to geography and serves as a consultant for the Alveary to help make “the peculiar value of geography” a genuine delight for all children.
Wendy Wilson was born in Virginia and moved up and down the east coast as she grew up. She graduated from Gardner-Webb University and was hired as an elementary school teacher for Cleveland County Schools in North Carolina. Wendy stayed home with her children until they were of school age, when she went to work for the Village School of Gaffney. She subsequently taught at and was an administrator of Willow Tree Community School. Wendy currently spends her time homeschooling, cleaning houses, pet sitting, painting houses, providing personal care for disabled and elderly persons, working with a child with autism, and writing lesson plans for Mason’s Alveary. Wendy has volunteered for several non-profits, as well as opened and led a resource center and co-op. She and her husband, Chris, make their home in Gaffney, SC, with their two teenagers, Christian and Abigail.
After encountering the educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason through friends in Birmingham, Alabama, Sarah surprised herself and her husband by deciding to turn the sunny room at the front of the house into The School Room. Her two young daughters are thrilled about home school and are impatient to learn as much as they can. With a degree in Classics, Sarah has taught Latin to middle and high school students, and now creates the Latin content for the Alveary.
Rachel earned her degree in French and Education in 2000. After serving as an “assitante étrangère” in the Normandy region of France, she moved to Florida to teach at a small high school. After leaving the classroom to stay home with her children, she now offers French classes for homeschool students. Rachel became acquainted with Charlotte Mason’s philosophy when she and her husband made the decision to homeschool. She is passionate about Mason’s principles, particularly as they apply to language study.
Parke is the mother of five boys, ages 13-20, all of whom she has home schooled. After graduating in 1995 with an education degree, she read For the Children’s Sake in 2002. She soon joined a CM study group and began to implement what she had been learning about with her growing family. Parke currently teaches at Crestwood Day School in Birmingham, Alabama. She has been known as the local ‘book lady’ for years, scouring thrift stores, library sales, and yard sales looking for living books, and passing them along to other CM moms.
Meghan Van Pelt
Meghan is a graduate of Redeemer University, where she studied History and Political Science. She worked with the Charlotte Mason Digital Collection at the Peter Turkstra Library at Redeemer, and was a contributing author in CMI’s Essays on the Life and Work of Charlotte Mason. She currently works at the Christian School Foundation, where she supports Christian schools and donors in Canada by developing and administering grant programs.
Meghan Van Pelt
Lynne Martin entered the world of Charlotte Mason through the most common means: her love of reading. Feeling at a loss as to where to find good books for her children, she knew she had arrived home when her sister-in-law introduced her to the Ambleside book list. Since then the love has only grown as she has homeschooled 3 of her 4 children for the past 7 years. With the skill set she has gained by serving as the Exhibitor Coordinator for an annual homeschooling conference in Southern Ontario, leading and co-leading in a CM bookclub and co-op, Lynne is honoured (yes, that is with a “u”) to help bring the Canadian Alveary into being. It is truly a thrill to have a viable working option for those of us north of the border. Spreading the feast has taken on a whole new main course!
Lorna Stierle is the mother of five active children. She educated her four biological children at home for twelve years inspired by the ideology of Charlotte Mason. Lorna grew up in a bi-lingual home and became fluent in Spanish while living in Ecuador in her late teens. She has taught Spanish in her home and in co-op and cottage school settings during the last ten years. She is delighted by this opportunity to further apply the principles of Charlotte Mason education to the process of language acquisition.
Lisa has studied Mason since providentially hearing of her from Ranald and Susan Macaulay at a Rochester, MN L’Abri Conference in the summer of 1982 while an undergraduate education major at Covenant College. Upon returning to school that fall, she found a few of Mason’s volumes in the college library and was entirely swept up in what she recognized as a much needed antidote to the decidedly mechanistic approach to teaching prevalent in most teacher education programs and even Christian education practice in those days. She was blessed to find a school some years later (Intown Community School) that employed Mason’s methods and has enjoyed a career of teaching, learning and sharing Mason’s ideas and practice with those who endeavor to bring a “sane” education to children and families in diverse settings. Lisa lives in Cincinnati with her husband Matt who is a PCA pastor and two dachshunds who preside over home security. She is a catechist in The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd children’s spiritual formation program at Faith Presbyterian Church, and the director of Great River Learning, a non-profit organization that brings Charlotte Mason education to Cincinnati in the forms of classes for homeschooled children, in-service training for schools, and educational rehabilitation to students of all ages, shapes and sizes. She develops CMI’s reading curriculum, and holds a B. S. in Early Childhood Education from Covenant College and a M. Ed. in Literacy Instruction from Georgia State University.
Jennifer Talsma first encountered Charlotte Mason through Susan Schaeffer Macaulay’s book, For the Children’s Sake in 1999 while she was a classroom teacher. Since then she has educated her three children using Mason’s philosophy and principles, been part of the leadership team of a Charlotte Mason study group in Ontario, participated in Charlotte Mason co-operative learning groups, and even implemented Mason’s methodology in both her church planting experience in South America and in Bible study groups in Canada. Jennifer’s passion for mentorship and walking alongside those who are trying to grow in their understanding and implementation of Mason’s lifework has led to her current involvement in developing the Canadian content for Mason’s Alveary.
Jenna Brown holds a BA in Visual Communication (University of North Carolina) and an MA in Educational Media Instructional Technology (Appalachian State University) with additional studies in media literacy, library science, computer programming, art, graphic design, and the history of education in the U.S. With experience in project management, software and multimedia design and development, she is well suited for her position as Project Manager of Mason’s Alveary. Jenna fell in love with CM’s philosophy after attending a Simply Charlotte Mason conference. She subsequently joined a CM book club and founded a local CM community, Honey of the Hive, which includes a cottage school, nature club, and a book club. Jenna and her husband, Will, have four children (including twin girls) and Jenna homeschools the oldest three. She enjoys connecting with her children over a good book, sewing (in rare moments of downtime), capturing moments through photography, and spending time in nature with her Honey of the Hive families. She also enjoys encouraging mothers and young adults through her church community and sharing the love of Christ with international students and refugees.
Heather has taught and tutored English and math in schools in England and Ontario, Canada. She encountered the educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason at a homeschool conference. As she has sought to use Mason’s methods and principles to homeschool her four daughters, history, especially, a subject she found boring in school, has come alive to her. Heather has been a part of a CM co-op, organized a local CM conference, and co-leads a CM study group. She loves her church, cats, Japan, and collecting living books and reading them to her girls.
Erin C. Day is a child of God, wife, mom of four girls and an artist. She has been a student of art for almost thirty years and still has so much more to learn! Erin has been in the field of art education since 1999, holding a B.F.A. in Art Education with a concentration in Ceramics and Minor in Psychology. Erin has taught in settings from preschool through retirement centers. She works in all media from oils to printmaking to ceramics and enjoys them all immensely! Erin has been homeschooling and studying Charlotte Mason for 11 years.
Dr. Shannon Whiteside
Dr. Shannon Whiteside is the Assistant Program Director for the Alveary. She lives in northwest Indiana with her husband, Mark, and their three children (ages 10-15). Before homeschooling her children, she was an elementary teacher and board member at a Christian school. Over 10 years ago, she discovered the life-giving principles of Charlotte Mason when searching the internet for alternative educational philosophies. This discovery inspired her to pursue a PhD in Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her dissertation research focused on the storytelling aspects of narration and how Mason’s educational theories compare to the classical model of education. In her spare time, Shannon enjoys reading, trying new recipes, and hiking in the Indiana Dunes.
Dr. Shannon Whiteside
Dr. Cindy Swicegood
Dr. Cindy Swicegood has been involved in the Charlotte Mason Institute conference since its inception—from providing classical music to processing hundreds of registration checks by hand. A pianist by profession (B.M. in piano performance from Oklahoma Baptist University, M.M. and D.M. in piano performance, chamber music, and accompanying from Florida State University), Cindy homeschooled her two daughters for six years, then taught at Willow Tree Community School (founded by Dr. Jen Spencer). She loves collaborating with other passionate musicians (especially Metropolitan Opera soprano, Claudia Waite) and often plays for visiting artists at Gardner-Webb University. Cindy is joyful in her celebration of God’s creativity. Passion flowers, calla lilies, Michelangelo’s Pieta, and all of Johannes Brahms’ chamber works with piano are some of the many blessings she receives as gifts from the Father above. Cindy is thrilled to have the opportunity to work for CMI—an organization whose leaders she has known and loved for many years. She thoroughly enjoys her work as Administrative Assistant to Dr. Jen Spencer, who thinks you might be interested in the fact that Cindy once rode her bicycle from California to Delaware.
Dr. Cindy Swicegood
After earning two degrees in Chemistry, Danielle pursued academic and pharmaceutical research for a number of years. When she and her husband, Jay, began looking for an educational alternative for their children, she stumbled upon Home Education. Due to her spirituality and her own nurturing by many inspired science teachers, the text immediately resonated and it was a natural switch from research chemist to Charlotte Mason educator. She and Jay have established their school on a little homestead in North Carolina. Danielle creates science content for the Alveary.
When Cathy Barrington and her husband, Jim, were exploring educational possibilities for their young children, they were immediately drawn to CM’s ideas of short lessons, lots of outdoor hours, and living books. Their daughter’s love of nature, curiosity and creative bent were what taught them to adopt Charlotte Mason’s philosophy for their homeschool. In 2001, As a young mom of a then 4- and 1-year-old, Cathy began attending a monthly CM mom’s group. On her bedside table you could find copies of Home Education, Charlotte Mason Companion and For the Children’s Sake which she read often. Over the past 15 years, Cathy has served, taught and participated in homeschool, private schools, support groups and co-ops putting the CM philosophy into practice. She is currently a teacher at Crestwood Day School and a Lesson Plan Writer for CMI. Over the years, she has also volunteered her time as a weekly summer Camp Director, Children’s Choir teacher, library helper, and Women’s Ministry committee member. Cathy makes time for hiking, swimming, handicrafts, sketching, reading and weekly walks at the city gardens. Cathy has a B.S. degree from the University of Montevallo and lives in Birmingham, Alabama.
Cara first encountered Charlotte Mason as a teenage student at her home, where she was educated by her mom, Kelli Christenberry. She is passionate about inspiring a love of history in students through a multi-faceted approach to historical study that includes art and architecture, archaeology, religious studies, and literature. Her current research focuses on the history of ancient Iran. Cara currently lives with her husband Luke in northwestern Montana, where they are starting up a small farm in between skiing, hiking, and road-tripping.
Betsy is a Christian, wife, mother of five from preschooler to teenager, and enjoys speaking German whenever possible. Over the years, she has worked in a variety of ways with children at risk and as an RN in the ICU. She first encountered Charlotte Mason through Karen Andreola’s Pocketful of Pinecones. Now in her tenth year of home educating her own children, Betsy helps other families implement Charlotte Mason‘s educational philosophy in their homes.
Dr. Jennifer Spencer
Dr. Jen Spencer has been an educator, school administrator, and curriculum writer since 1997. With degrees in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, and Curriculum & Instruction, she has served in public, private, and home schools across all ages, from preschool through high school. Jen discovered Charlotte Mason in 2001. Since then, she has led study groups, founded a school, helped digitize the archive at the Armitt Museum, and created the Alveary. She was recently appointed as a Visiting Research Fellow in Charlotte Mason Studies at the University of Cumbria, Ambleside. Jen and her husband Wes have two adult children, and their first grandchild is due any day. They live among the peach trees in Gaffney, South Carolina with their rescued English Pointer mix, Daisy Mae, who loves to go on nature walks.
Dr. Jennifer Spencer