Tim Benz, President: Tim came to MISF in January, 2014, as Associate President. He became president of MISF on July 1, 2014. His professional background and passion for private and independent education make him the ideal person to lead MISF into the future. Tim began his work at MISF spending time with Jim Field to gain a broader understanding of MISF members' opportunities and challenges. Together they met with members, state policymakers, donors, and friends. As president, Tim has responsibility for overall management of the MISF office and staff. He will lead the creation of a new strategic plan, oversee development, marketing, finance, member retention and recruitment, and assist in evaluating MISF's programs and services to ensure that MISF schools are receiving the most value from their membership. Tim served in marketing and fundraising roles at the College of Saint Benedict, Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Cretin-Derham Hall, and the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls. He has been active on the Advisory Council for the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School in Minnetonka (now Notre Dame Academy) and on the Board of the Hopkins Early Learning Center. In addition to having two children currently enrolled in MISF member schools, he also attended private schools from kindergarten through grade 12. He has a bachelor's degree in marketing from the University of St. Thomas and has held the Certified Fundraising Executive designation since 2005.

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

James Field, President Emeritus: Jim served as the president of MISF from 1989 through June 30, 2014. During that time, he oversaw several significant changes for MISF including a more expansive membership model and outreach. Jim provided leadership for the MISF office and staff, advocacy/public policy work, membership, fundraising, and board relations. As president emeritus, Jim will continue his work on a part-time basis serving MISF and the state's K-12 independent school community in the area of advocacy/public policy work. Jim earned his bachelors and masters degrees from George Williams College in Chicago. In Chicago, he worked with the YMCA as a street worker with delinquent youth. In 1969 he came to the Minneapolis "Y" where he directed the Detached Worker Program, a team of 13 young adults working with troubled youth. Jim's experience in education began as Associate Dean of Minneapolis Community College in the 1970's where he developed "The College for Working Adults," an innovative college degree program and started the school foundation. In 1985, he was named vice president of The HealthEast Foundation in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Click here to email Jim.

Brenda Kappel, Director of Membership and Networking: Brenda came to MISF from Children’s Hospital Foundation in 2006. She held various positions at Children’s Foundation where she assisted with planned giving, major gifts and tributes. She also served as interim database manager and directed the annual giving program. At MISF, Brenda currently manages membership recruitment and retention. She also works to strengthen the network of MISF schools by connecting them to each other and to the larger community of Minnesota's private and independent schools in order to help them enhance the quality education they already provide as individual schools. Additionally, Brenda is responsible for MISF publications, including the monthly E-News and Annual Report. Brenda has her bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Northern Iowa. She has been in the development field for six years.

Click here to email Brenda.


Michelle Ponsolle, Director of Development and Programs: Michelle joined MISF in August 2010. She held various positions in retail management for 22 years where she was responsible for meeting sales goals, staffing, inventory and merchandising.   This included supervising up to 30 employees.Her experience in development began in 2004 as director of development at a combined private high school and grade school.  Her responsibilities there included director of annual giving program, supervisor of development staff, grant writing, project manager and alumni director.  She was also responsible for overseeing the rental and upkeep of the parish bowling lanes and the managing and upkeep of the parish dining hall at the state fair each summer. At MISF, Michelle is responsible for advancement efforts.  She manages the annual campaign, has responsibility for grant writing, donor relations, developing programs and coordinating quarterly development director’s networking meetings.
Click here to email Michelle.


Michele Speranza, Executive Assistant and Office Manager: Michele came to MISF in July 2010 with over 14 years of executive assistant/office management experience. She provides administrative assistance to Jim Field and Tim Benz, and takes care of our daily office needs. Prior to joining MISF, she was executive assistant to the CEO and office manager for a telecommunications provider. Michele is a product of 16 years of private education! Michele earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from The College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Click here to email Michele.


Debbie Kaliszewski, Business Manager: Debbie began her career at MISF in September of 2012. She handles all of the accounting functions and provides assistance with HR and insurance compliance. Before coming to MISF, Debbie worked as an accountant at a social service agency for nine years. Prior to that time, she was co-owner of a construction company.

Click here to email Debbie.


Margo Berg, STEM Program Manager: MISF hired Margo in April 2009 as an independent consultant to manage the STEM program. She has developed and directed educational programs for the K-12 education community for more than 20 years and has deep experience in programs that integrate technology with math, science and even performing arts curricula. She has developed programs for prominent national organizations including the National Science Foundation’s National Supercomputer Centers and NASA’s Office of High Performance Computing and Communications as well as statewide programs for SciMathMN and the Minnesota Department of Education. Margo has a master's degree in human development from Saint Mary's University of Minnesota; a bachelor's degree in English from Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD; and a computer programming certificate from Brown Institute in Minneapolis.

Click here to email Margo.


Back to Top



Your generous donation of any size will help support MISF’s programs and initiatives. What a great way to help Minnesota’s kids receive a high-quality K-12 private and independent education.