Parent Board 1970s

Highland Community School is governed by a parent Board of Directors elected from the current body of parents. The Parent Board has legal responsibility for decisions relating to the operation of the school.  It sets and monitors the budget, makes and amends school policies, manages the director, and, in conjunction with the teachers, supports the curriculum. Highland’s experience demonstrates that parent governance of a school can be a critical factor in building school effectiveness.  It is the ultimate parent involvement strategy.

Meetings from previous board meetings can be found here.

If you are interested in serving on the Board of Directors, the application process is as follows:

  • Get involved at Highland by volunteering, serving on a parent committee, helping out in a classroom, chaperoning going-outs, etc. Active involvement in the school is preferred prior to Board service.
  • Complete an application found here.
  • Complete a personality test and submit results with your application. 
  • Reach out to two current board members.
  • Be elected at the Annual Meeting.

The Board Governance Committee solicits applicants annually and as deemed necessary as seats on the Board open up. The Board Governance Committee then reviews applications and recommends candidates to the full Board for nomination. Recommendations are made based on the needs of the Board.

Please read about the Roles and Responsibilities of Highland Community School’s Board of Directors for more information about serving on the Highland Parent Board of Directors. 

If you are a parent at Highland and are interested in becoming a board member, please contact Rochelle Johnson-Bent, Governance Committee Chair, with questions.

If you’d like to get in touch with the Parent Board, please email highlandcommunitybod@gmail.com

Current Parent Board of Directors

Leana Nakielski

President

Number of Children at Highland: Two (One Graduate) 

Year Joined Highland Family: Fall 2008

Year Board Term Began: August 2017

Professional Background:  Leana is a Community and Social Impact Director with American Family Insurance. She leads on the development of strategic community partnerships in the Greater Milwaukee region focused on building diverse and tech talent while helping close racial equity gaps. Prior to working with American Family Insurance, she was in the non-profit sector for 16 years having most recently served as the Greater Milwaukee Committee’s first Development Director. Prior to that she was the Operations Director with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin following a role with Highland Community School as the first Community Resources Development Director. Her first ten years of work in Milwaukee was with Growing Power with a 2-year assignment at the Sixteenth Street Community Health Center as a Bilingual Nutrition educator. Leana is deeply involved in the community, serving on the board of directors with the Milwaukee Parks Foundation, Sherman Phoenix Foundation, and Scaling Wellness in Milwaukee (SWIM). She is a member of Professional Dimensions, TEMPO, and the Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee. In 2017, Milwaukee Magazine featured Leana as a “Visionary Leader,” in 2018 she received the “Rising Leader” award from HPGM, and is a 2020 Milwaukee Business Journal 40 Under 40 honoree.

Rochelle Johnson-Bent

Vice President

Number of Children at Highland: Two

Year Joined Highland Family: September 2018

Year Board Term Began: August 2019

Professional Background: Rochelle, a born and raised Milwaukeean, currently works as a Risk Management/Contract Law Specialist for Milwaukee Public Schools. Prior to joining MPS, Rochelle was the Director of Compliance for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, Supervising Attorney for Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee Guardian ad Litem Family Division, and worked in the private legal sector practicing in the areas of family, criminal, civil, and administrative law. Thus, Rochelle has made it her goal to create a legal career that not only allows her to work in areas of law that she finds interesting, but doing work that helps her improve the community in which she lives and raises her family.  Outside of work, Rochelle also serves as a Board of Director for District 2 for the State Bar of Wisconsin since 2018. Her professional associations also include the Family Law Section, Society of Corporation Compliance & Ethics, Young Lawyers Division, and the WI Association of African American Lawyers. Rochelle is also a proud member of Epsilon Kappa Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.  Beyond Rochelle’s professional and community involvement, she is the blessed mother of two Highland students, Seanna and Winston. Rochelle ran and serves on the Highland Board to bring her legal expertise, creative thinking, and dedication to continued improvement for diversity and inclusion for all. 

Melissa Gibson

Secretary

Number of Children at Highland: Two

Year Joined Highland Family: 2015

Year Board Term Began: 2020

Professional Background: Melissa is a researcher of educational justice and equity, a teacher educator, and a former classroom teacher. Currently, she works in Marquette University’s College of Education as an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Policy & Leadership. She has a B.A. in Women’s Studies from Harvard University, an M.A. in Teaching from Dominican University, and Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction and Educational Policy from the University of Wisconsin Madison. She is a licensed teacher in Wisconsin and Illinois.  She joined the HCS parent Board of Directors to use her professional expertise in the service of a community that her family loves. She is committed to ensuring Highland continues to live out its mission of racial, environmental, and educational justice at both the macro level and in the day‐to‐day life of students and teachers. She currently has two thriving children enrolled in the school.

Devon Pittman

Treasurer

Professional Background: Devon is a Tax Analyst with Jeffrey Morse & Associates and earned her MBA in 2017. She has served the Highland Finance Committee for almost two years and welcomes governance and leadership role at Highland to contribute her skills. For the past decade, Devon has been working in taxes and real estate. With two school‐age children, her children’s education and Highland Community School’s presence in their lives is of the utmost importance and a current priority. The success of the school is critical to Devon, and board service helps achieve
that goal.

Sheena Adams

Director

Number of Children at Highland: 2 (One Graduate)

Year Joined Highland Family: 2010

Year Board Term Began: August 2020

Professional Background: Sheena is a dedicated business owner who was born and raised in Milwaukee and believes in the value of uplifting the community by supporting women and minority‐owned small businesses. She earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Marquette University and an MBA from Concordia University in Wisconsin. Sheena has held various corporate leadership positions with General Electric (GE), Harley‐Davison, and Kohl’s Corporation. Her leadership style is based on servant leadership principles, which focus on enriching individuals’ lives, building better organizations, and creating a more just and caring world. A strong advocate of Montessori education, her two children attend Highland in a building, she is all too familiar with as a MacDowell Montessori graduate a few decades ago.

Jason Evans

Director

Number of Children at Highland: Four

Year Joined Highland Family: 2012

Year Board Term Began: August 2021

Professional Background: Jason Evans is a strategic marketing advisor to executive teams – helping leaders make more effective decisions in digital transformation, brand modernization, customer experience strategy, integrated marketing communications, and more. In his current role as Principal of Evans&Co., Jason serves as fractional Chief Marketing Officer for a number of growing industrial firms. With a career spanning more than 20 years in leadership roles at creative agencies, digital marketing firms, and management consulting firms, Jason brings a passion for clear and compelling communications, collaborative problem solving, and building strong and healthy teams. Furthermore, he has served on a number of professional advisory boards, including as a member of a Vistage Executive Roundtable, as well as industry advisor for both the Eisner Museum of Advertising and MATC Visual Communications program. He was also an adjunct instructor at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in the digital design program.

Brian Litzsey

Director

Number of Children at Highland: Two

Year Joined Highland Family: 2012

Year Board Term Began: August 2019

Professional Background: Brian is the Manager of Operations/Assistant Director for the Milwaukee Public Schools Department of Recreation and Community Services. Brian holds a B.S. in Parks and Recreation Administration, M.S. in Physical Education, and a M.B.A. Over the past 19 years, Brian has served in various positions within the Department of Recreation. As Manager of Operations, his chief responsibilities are oversight of the Department’s Finances, Facilities, Technology, After-School Operations, and Human Resources. Brian has helped foster countless collaborations with many of Milwaukee’s community-based organizations, leading to greater financial and human capital resources in many under-served neighborhoods. Brian is a committed advocate for equal access to high-quality enrichment and educational opportunities for all Milwaukee residents.

Tresca Meiling

Director

Number of Children at Highland: Two

Year Joined Highland Family: 2018

Year Board Term Began: August 2020

Tresca serves as Development Director at Milwaukee Academy of Science and has been a committed educator as a teacher, administrator, and fundraiser for her entire career. Serving on the Highland Board is an opportunity to work with parents to carry out the school’s shared vision. She enjoys problem‐solving, strategic thinking, collaboration, and fundraising. These skills are very much needed as we launch a capital campaign for a new addition in 2021. Tresca is the current Chair of the HCS Development Committee as of 9/2020. Her goal is to contribute to Highland’s future and continue its legacy for all students, including her own children, Samara who is in K5 and Brendan who will start in the fall.

Carla Muñoz

Director

Number of Children at Highland: One

Year Joined Highland Family: 2019

Year Board Term Began: August 2020

Carla is a Certified Trust Fiduciary Advisor and is currently a Senior Trust Officer at Capital First Trust. She has served different community organization boards as Philanthropy chair and as part of the Grant Advisory Committee for the Women’s Fund of Greater Milwaukee. As a dedicated community member, she continues to look for ways to get involved and contribute. Carla has one toddler entering the pre-k program and joined the Highland Community School board in August 2020.

Amy Nelson Christensen

Director

Number of Children at Highland: Two

Year Joined Highland Family: Fall 2014

Year Board Term Began: August 2019

Professional Background: Amy is a nationally certified and licensed school psychologist in the state of Wisconsin.  She is currently a professor in the school psychology program at Loyola University Chicago where she works with the next generation of school psychologists on how to practice from a social justice lens.  She also serves as the Chair of the University’s Anti-Racism Initiative to implement strategic institutional change towards racial justice.  Prior to teaching, Amy worked for Milwaukee Public Schools as a school psychologist and researcher, supporting district-wide efforts in trauma sensitive school practices, equity, and improving school culture and climate.  As a result of her efforts to establish trauma sensitive practices across the district, Amy was awarded School Psychologist of the Year in the state of Wisconsin in 2015.  Amy also currently consults with schools and community non-profit organizations across the city of Milwaukee on equitable systems change and program evaluation focused on improving the lives and educational trajectories of children in the city.