Meet the Team

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.

+Christie Rossow, Vice President of Human Resources

Christie has over 20 years of HR experience from organizations such as Scott Carver Dakota CAP Agency, Minneapolis Public Schools and Wal-Mart. Her Human Resources experience includes working for nonprofits, multi-unit retail, education, digital printing, and staffing. 

Christie Rossow holds a B.A. in Sociology from North Dakota State University Fargo and is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and Senior Certified Human Resource professional SHRM- SCP.

Year Started with Learners Edge: 2018

Favorite Professional Moment/Memory: My best memory is working with the board of directors at the Scott Carver Dakota CAP Agency and partnering to develop and maintain organizational development and employee engagement initiatives.

Favorite resource to keep you current or up-to-date in your line of work: Society of Human Resource Management

Favorite Sports Team: Prior Lake Lakers – I love to cheer on my two daughters!

Favorite Book, Movie, or TV Show: Shawshank Redemption

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: I love to spend time with my husband, two girls, family, and friends.

Dream Vacation Destination: I would love to go on a European family vacation.

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!  

+Jessica Price, Online Learning Associate

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.

+Sarah Murphy, Evaluation Coordinator

Sarah Murphy (2)Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Carleton College and a Master's in Education from the University of Minnesota.  After nearly ten years as an elementary classroom teacher, Sarah started at Learners Edge as a Course Evaluator before taking on a leadership role as an Evaluator Lead.  Now Sarah manages our team of Course Evaluators as Evaluation Coordinator.  

Number of Years in the Classroom: 9

Year Started with Learners Edge: 2016

Favorite Professional Moment: Teaching kids to read--seeing that spark when they "get it!"

Favorite Way to Keep Current: I love learning from the teachers who take our courses.  

Favorite Children's Book: Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: Camping with my family, running, knitting, sewing, live music

Dream vacation destination: After an amazing visit to Glacier this summer, I hope to visit all the National Parks.

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

+Ashli Furlong, Team Lead, Customer Support Advisor

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. 

+Christine Lindeman, Customer Support Specialist

Christine Lindeman (2)Year Started with Learners Edge: 2019

My Family: I am married, have 3 kids and a labradoodle named Gracie. 

Favorite Movie: I love watching Hallmark Christmas movies!

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: In my free time I enjoy getting pup cups (whipped cream) and Caribou Coffee with Gracie, walking, biking, and spending quality time with friends and family. I also love baking!

+Katie Dammann, Team Lead, 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. 

+Joe Morawczynski, Learning Advisor

Joe-Mx200 (002)Year Started with Learners Edge: 2019

Favorite Sports Team: Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajun football

Favorite Book: This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Favorite Movie: It’s A Wonderful Life

Favorite TV Show: The Office

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: When not hanging out with friends or watching sports, I am either exploring outdoors, studying random new interests or listening to old music.

Dream Vacation Destination: La Jolla or Austin, TX

Information Technology

+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

+Joel Patros, Senior Developer

JoelI am married to my lovely Texan bride, Charlotte (Char) for 23 years and we have 7 kiddos ranging from 21 yrs. down to a kindergartner. I am not a computer geek, but love working with computers AT WORK. I originally began my career in video production where I worked for 9 years before switching over to programming which I have been doing now for 21 years.

Year Started with Learners Edge: Technically May 2019 but I began as a contractor with CIT in January 2018.

Favorite Professional Moment/Memory: I remember getting voted ‘Employee of the Year’ when I worked at WXOW-TV in La Crosse, Wisconsin. That was back in 1991.

Favorite Resource to Keep You Current in Your Line of Work: Generally, I’ll have Google open and probably a couple of tabs on Stackoverflow.

Favorite Sports Team: Any Minnesota team – Toss-up between hockey and football. Love Baseball too.

Favorite Movie: Tough call but I’d have to go with the original Star Wars movies.

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: In summer we try to spend as many Sundays as we can on our boat which we keep in Hastings. My happy place is my woodshop in the basement where I fix stuff and occasionally build furniture.

What is Your Dream Vacation Destination: Rome – where my wife and I will be going to visit our two college daughters who will be studying there next spring. Top on the list is the Vatican museum along with many other religious sites.

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 Coordinator

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. 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: The Office... it never gets old!

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: Spending time with my family and friends, reading, exercising, and traveling.

What is Your Dream Vacation Destination: Santorini, Greece

+Alyssa Wagner, Strategic Marketing Manager
Year Started with Learners Edge: 2018

Favorite Professional Moment/Memory: My favorite professional moment was joining a start-up non-profit where we created fun, free, family-friendly events including art festivals, a farmers market, concerts, and events that supported humanitarian issues. We were a small team that was “all-in” and focused on cultivating change in the community.

Favorite Book, Movie, or TV Show: My favorite book is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. One of my favorites passages from the book is: “Why do we have to listen to our hearts?" the boy asked. "Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you will find your treasure.” 

Favorite Way to Spend Your Free Time: I love to watch live music and to spend time outside hiking, camping, kayaking, fishing, etc. with the people I adore.

Dream Vacation Destination: All of the places. At least once, maybe twice.