Board Members

Jennifer Barnes

President –

I have dedicated my career to creating and growing holistic places of learning for children and their families.  My vision of what makes a school great is that it puts relationships first.  I was the creator and owner of three private preschools/child care centers in Colorado Springs but now only own one.  I was a Special Education and Literacy Teacher with 9 years of public school teaching experience at the elementary and middle school levels but was frustrated by typical public schools.  I earned a Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Northern Colorado, and am certified to teach students ages 0-21.  I believe in creating an environment of collaboration, consistency and respect in order to foster a child’s innate desire to learn and explore.
I am the mother of two teenage girls who attended Mountain Song Community School during their elementary years.  I was involved with Mountain Song Community School as a member of the Preschool Committee before the school opened and began volunteering in the classrooms and Parent Council in the fall of 2013.  I joined the Board in February of 2014 and served as Vice President, President, Treasurer and Member at Large during her time on the Board.  I continued to volunteer on various committees after my term ended and rejoined the Board in July 2020 as Board President.

Binah Reiss

Vice-President –

I was raised in the New York suburbs, blessed to have a stable childhood steeped in family, culture, food and love.

I have always been drawn to adventure, nature, and beauty.  My first gypsy wagon brought me to the beautiful Rocky Mountains for college.  I earned Bachelors of Science in Psychology from Colorado State University in Fort Collins.  Some of my other adventures include serving in the Peace Corps in El Salvador and working in El Paso, Texas at a birth center on the border where I completed a certification in Midwifery.  I hold a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from UCCS. I have countless hours of workshops and classes on health and healing.  My work experience includes home birth, birth centers and public health. Currently I am in private practice working with Women throughout the life cycle.

My son, Isaiah Sage, has been my greatest teacher. I knew when he was born that Waldorf Education was our only option for schooling. I was grateful to learn of Mountain Song which was in its early years when Isaiah was born.

I chose to join the Mountain Song Board to support the school during the time of COVID.  I believe that a Waldorf education is more important now than ever before.  My hope is to give back to this lovely community that serves our children, our families, the earth and ultimately the world at large.


Bill Burkett


With my move to Colorado Springs in 2007, I have now lived in all four continental US time zones. I grew up in Ohio, earning a B.S. in Systems Engineering at Ohio State (I am a Buckeye!). After graduation, I worked for an aerospace company in St. Louis, then moved to Los Angeles, where I lived for 19 years before coming to Colorado Springs. We landed here because my wife and I were adopting a child and wanted to be a one-income family for a while – and you can’t be a one income family in LA and live comfortably.

Our daughter, Anna, is in the 7th grade at Mountain Song. And I follow in the footsteps of my wife, Rita Issagholian, with my Board service. She was a founding member of Mountain Song and served on the Board for several years. So I’m now able to bring the voice of “the community” back to the Board.


Treasurer – vacant



Scott Deibert

We were fortunate enough to be able to join the Mountain Song Community School family, and it has proven to be a perfect fit for our family. Our son has really blossomed in the school’s Waldorf inspired teachings, and it’s unique sense of community. I feel honored to be on the Board of Directors, and able to help contribute to the success of the school & community that have so significantly enriched our lives.

I have been lucky enough to wear a variety of hats throughout the various chapters of my life. I have spent many years working as a sound engineer, in both live & studio environments, and have had the privilege of working with many unique musicians & artists of various sorts. I feel that keeping one’s eyes & mind open to multiple ideas & viewpoints can tend to prove itself beneficial. The power of intention is an amazing thing, and when paired with hard work & perseverance, the world becomes a plethora of possibilities.

Alexandra Kogan

In 2015 our family moved to Colorado Springs for love nature and to raise our son. We love being outdoors, hiking and observing nature around us. Now that our son is school aged, our research of education that aligned with our core beliefs led us to Waldorf Education. He’s is loving his Kindergarten experience at Mountain Song.

I’ve joined the Mountain Song Board of Directors to play an active part in my community and believe that our school has an amazing future ahead. We are excited to be apart of it and enjoy what Mountain Song has to offer.

Rebecca Kilibarda

While raised in Oklahoma, I was fortunate enough to attend a boarding school in Colorado Springs, Fountain Valley School of Colorado. It was there that I developed my love of Colorado and everything this incredible state had to offer. Once I had a family of my own, I made my way back to Colorado where my husband and I could raise our two sons. 

It wasn’t until my experience at a standard public school that I realized and understood the wonders and tailored approach that a Waldof-inspired school has to offer. From our first day being members of the MSCS community, we were hooked! It was then that we agreed that we are going to be as involved in Mountain Song Community School as possible.  

In my spare time outside of being with my incredible family, I serve as the Chief Operating Officer of my company as well as the Vice Chair of the Pikes Peak Community Foundation. I have extensive experience in business development, operations and examining how to make things as efficient as possible. 

It is my goal as a board member to contribute through collaboration with other board members and committees, communicate with the MSCS effectively and frequently, and help focus on student achievements to ensure the success of our entire student body.  Growth and development for children as both students and individuals is an effort that will be rewarded in this endeavor for me, and I look forward to learning more about serving our school and our community. 



Katie Hopkins
I moved to Colorado Springs in 2010 as a military spouse, and since then have grown to love Colorado and plan to make it my permanent home (My parents and sister are here now as well!). I grew up in Bloomington, Illinois, where I ran track and cross country at Normal Community High School. I went onto the University of Iowa to run track and cross country and received a B.A. in Art Education and minor in Japanese. After graduation, I went to Japan to teach English as a Second Language, and taught grades K-8 in Kumano, Japan for a year. I then moved to Phoenix, AZ where I taught Art at the Elementary level. I became a military spouse shortly after, and our family was stationed at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina, and then at Ft. Carson. I went back to school in 2012 at Adams State University in Alamosa, CO, and received my M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I am now a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and teach parenting classes at the Fort Carson Family Nurturing Center.

My son Quentin is currently in the 5th grade, and my son Ronan is currently in the 3rd grade, at Mountain Song.We have been a part of the school since 2015, when Quentin joined his kindergarten class. From the time we joined the Mountain Song Community, we have been so happy to be a part of such an amazing school that focuses on educating the whole child- head, hands, and heart!I am very grateful to now be serving on the Mountain Song School Board of Directors and supporting the future success of our school!

Patrick Cush

After receiving my Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from Loyola University in New Orleans, I spent a few years working in the field of law. This included serving as an officer of the court and a giving law school a whirl. I began my career in education as a high school Chemistry and Physics Teacher in my home town of Shreveport, Louisiana. After eight years I defected from the traditional American education system to develop more innovative programs. This included a then groundbreaking STEM charter school program which spun off many other successful education programs, all of which remain very successful. At this time, I also earned a Master’s in Business Administration from Louisiana State University.  Upon my arrival in Colorado in 2003, I worked with School District – 11 in their central office and as a Dean and Assistant Principal at a successful middle school. I received a Master’s in Educational Leadership from UCCS at this time as well. After eight more years in the traditional education system, I got the itch (an 8-year itch for me) to build something new. After navigating an untold number of bureaucratic and political obstacles, I was finally able to open Launch High School, a charter school for young entrepreneurs where I served as the Head of School for five years. I now own and operate another entrepreneurial startup related to entrepreneurship education.

I am humbled, yet proud, to be serving on the board of the school where my children attend. I hope that my education, experience and skills in the fields of administration, business, law, science, and in education can be utilized to further fulfill the mission of Mountain Song Community School.


Ashley Pfalz

Parent Council Representative –

I grew up in Northern Kentucky, moving out west when I was 19. I ended up in Colorado in 2003 and have been here ever since. While I love the mountains, I do miss the greenery.

In 2005, I started at UCCS, where I received my B.A. in psychology and went on to attend their graduate program in experimental psychology. It was there that I developed a passion for research, focusing on aging’s effects on language production, along with psychology and law. University also gave me the opportunity to teach research methods, during which I learned I enjoyed teaching, and also the importance of good research processes and reporting. After college, I went on to work with the Defense and Veterans’ Brain Injury Center, where I worked researching different treatment modalities for soldiers who had suffered TBIs.

In more recent years, my focus has been my family. I have children going into 3rd, K, and a 5 month old. We have been at Mountain Song since 2018, when my oldest entered kindergarten with Mrs. Grimmett. The school’s focus on the whole child, and Waldorf’s understanding of child development made it a perfect fit for my family. Additionally, the inclusion of handwork really spoke to my artistic spirit!

Since joining the school, we have found an amazing community that I call our school family. It has been great, not only for my kids, but for myself and my husband, as well. I feel like the school has given us so much, and I enjoy giving back whenever and however I am able!


Thank you!


Neah Bay Douglas – for the tireless effort, countless hours, co-creation, and implementation in the vision, the creation, and the launch of our school.

Stephanie Fernyak – for serving on our Founding Board and all of her hard work and long hours as Chair of the Facilities Committee.

Gary Feffer – of Fountain Colony Realty, for the many hours he gave to ensure we opened August 2013 in a building that is a good fit.

Elise Bowan and Linda Johnson – for serving on our Founding Board and all of their hard work and long hours as Co-Chairs of the Outreach Committee.

Raj Solanki – for the safeguarding of our vision, founding effort, and many hours in support and governance of our school.

Rita Issagholian – for her service as our first Board President, returning for a second Board term, helping to secure the school’s first charter renewal, and her countless hours of hard work and dedication to the creation and continued success of Mountain Song.

Laurie Ristig– for her service as a Founding Board member and Governing Board member and her tireless work helping start the school and seeing to its success in its first two years of operation.

Martin Schneider – for carefully and courageously protecting the vision of the school as a Board member and essential leader guiding us through important transitions.

Eva Manz-Jackson – for dedicated service as a founding family and founding Board member, bringing encouragement and balance to many situations, projects and committees.

Melanie Chadwick – for faithfully safeguarding the school in a time of struggle to find its feet and plant them on firm ground.

Greg Augspurger – for leading the school to safe and firm financial standing as Board Treasurer.

Mike Galvin – for returning to serve the school as a Board member for a year of tremendous growth after having stepping in as Interim Director during its first year.

Aubrey Fennewald – for offering steady footing, a sense of formality and process, and courageous leadership as Board President.

Shannon Root – for bringing a clear focus on strategic planning and process as Vice President, Secretary and President, which raised the Board’s ability to accomplish critical tasks.

Jennifer Barnes – for bringing seasoned and dedicated leadership, and never-ending time contributions as Board member, President and Treasurer:  whenever and wherever needed.

Michael Katzenberg – for his common sense contributions and thoughtful inputs to complex Board items as Board member and Secretary.

Nicole Nicolleta – for bringing her local government experience to the Board and her hands-on contributions to Board operation.

Pedro Almeida – for his strong leadership and steady, clear steering of the Board operation, ensuring the Board was always on-track in meeting its responsibilities.

Laurel Sullivan and Jamyoung Dorji – Student educators from Colorado College who contributed their time to participating in and learning about the workings of a public charter school board.

Christina Halligan – for her enthusiastic engagement in all things Board and for stepping up to assume leadership roles when the Board was in need.

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© 2019 Mountain Song Community School Public Charter School. Mountain Song Community School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or age in its programs and activities.

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