Tesfa International School’s founding team consists of nine experienced individuals with considerable expertise in education, specifically regarding the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program, educationally at-risk populations, and are equipped with strong skill sets in the administrative and financial areas. Tesfa International School has a critical partnership with Global Academy, a high achieving charter school serving an overwhelmingly low-income population.
Collectively, the Tesfa International School Board brings expertise and experience in the areas most critical to charter school success, including charter school start-up, community engagement, student recruitment, facility management, academic excellence, and finance.
Founders and Board Members
Tanya Heifort- Board Chair, has experience as a Classroom Teacher and National Urban Alliance endorsed coach. She is an instructional leader who trains and coaches teachers in their practice. Tanya holds a Master’s of Art in Instruction, Reading License, and is a Minnesota licensed administrator.
Helen Fisk- Founder and Board Member, has thirty-four years experience as Classroom Teacher and Administrator in Minnesota. She was the original administrator of Twin Cities International Elementary School and the Minnesota International Middle School, as well as the Director of Global Academy. She has expertise in charter school start-up and implementation and is well versed in all aspects of charter school management.
Dillon Donnelly- Board Treasurer, has experience in the private business sector and brings a unique perspective to the Tesfa Board. He recently received his MBA from Hamline University and holds a BA in political science from the University of St. Thomas. Dillon has an extensive background in manufacturing, covering both operations and business development. He has served in many capacities from customer service associate for local and international accounts, training manager, and production manager and supervisor for several manufacturing companies in Minnesota. He currently serves as the Business Development Manager at Donnelly Custom Manufacturing in St. Paul.
Diane (Midi) Hansen- Board Member, has experience in public education as Classroom Teacher, ESL Teacher, Building Instructional Leader, and Intervention Specialist. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education and a Masters Degree in Reading and currently teaches in a PYP school.
Mike McFadden– Board Member, has extensive experience in the private sector and brings a wealth of knowledge to Tesfa International School. He holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of St. Thomas, a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center, where he was a John M. Olin Fellow, and a degree from the London School of Economics. After graduating from law school he worked for Cravath, Swaine & Moore, was the Co-CEO of Goldsmith Agio & Helms, and has been with Lazard since 2007. He has served as a board member of Allen Edmonds, Premier Restaurant Company, and Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. Mike was formally President of the Minnesota Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth and most recently, in 2014, was the endorsed Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota.
Patrick Exner- Board Member, has over 25 years of experience in education and has served as a teacher, Principal, Adjunct University Professor and as a Director of Charter Schools. He has sat on state wide committees in the areas of educational equity and school choice. Patrick is skilled in providing innovative leadership through development of creative school programming and he is passionate about educational equity. He currently serves as the Director of Instructional Leadership for Ascension Catholic Academy.
Jonas Beugen– Director and Ex-Officio Member, Jonas Beugen comes to Tesfa after serving for the previous eleven years as a school leader in schools at every level of K-12 education. Prior to moving into school leadership roles he served as a teacher and coach for eleven years in the Robbinsdale school district. Jonas holds a Master Degree from Hamline University and has completed all coursework but the dissertation towards a Doctor of Education in Leadership at Saint Mary’s University.
Mohamed Selim– Assistant Director and Ex-Officio Member, has experience in elementary and middle school teaching, school leadership, and instructional coaching. In addition, he has extensive experience teaching and leading at Global Academy. He brings years of experience in the International Baccalaureate program. He holds a B.S. in Child Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Minnesota. He has administrative experience, serving as dean of students and math coordinator. He also served on Global Academy’s school board for four years. In 2014, he received his K-12 principal license from the University of Minnesota. Currently, he is completing coursework towards his doctorate degree in educational leadership.