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A charter authorizer is an entity sanctioned by the Utah State Legislature to facilitate the establishment of charter schools. Authorizers orchestrate comprehensive application processes and subsequently grant approval for charter school applications. Significantly, authorizers bear responsibility for the oversight and evaluation of their charter schools' academic performance and organizational soundness, with a concurrent obligation to ensure strict adherence to all pertinent laws and regulations. In our capacity as personnel for the Utah State Charter School Board (SCSB), the preeminent public charter school authorizer in Utah, we offer ongoing support to facilitate the Board's pursuit of its mission and vision on a day-to-day basis.

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Amber Hellstrom
UCAP Developer
Amber Hellstrom is an IT Analyst II with a focus on developing the Utah Charter Access Point (UCAP) web application for the SCSB. With a tenure at the SCSB since 2017, she demonstrates a keen enthusiasm for translating application requests into tangible solutions that benefit the SCSB and its charter entities. A graduate of the University of Utah, Mrs. Hellstrom holds a Bachelor of Science degree with an emphasis in Exercise and Sports Science. Her commitment to professional growth is evident through the acquisition of a Level IV Mathematics Endorsement and a Software Development Certificate. Furthermore, she possesses a Secondary Level 2 Teaching License for the State of Utah. Amber's multifaceted background includes serving as a scholarship Track and Field athlete at the University of Utah and achieving the title of Utah High School Discus State Champion. Beyond her achievements in athletics, she contributed to education and sports coaching within the Weber School District, where she taught Mathematics and Physical Education while coaching various sports. In addition to her professional pursuits, Mrs. Hellstrom is an avid supporter of local college athletics, particularly the Utah Jazz and the University of Utah. Her personal interests encompass a wide array of activities, including playing basketball and soccer, coaching, golfing, camping, and engaging in outdoor pursuits such as rock hunting. Amber cherishes spending quality time with her family, attending their sporting events, and maintaining an active lifestyle. This comprehensive background underscores Amber Hellstrom's dedication to professional excellence, a commitment to education, and a passion for a diverse range of activities that enrich both her personal and professional life.
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Amy Pace
Charter School Growth and Innovations Specialist
Amy has spent the last 24 years teaching science to the students and teachers of Utah for both traditional and charter schools. She recently transitioned out of the classroom and into a new position as the Strategic Growth and Innovation specialist for the Utah State Charter School Board, where she will continue to support teachers and students. Amy graduated from Southern Utah University in 1998, with a BS in Biology and a Secondary Teaching Certificate. She completed her Masters in Education as part of the Instructional Design and Educational Technology program at the University of Utah in 2022. With lofty goals of becoming a leader in education, Amy is excited to use her skills and background in her new position. She loves working with her fellow teachers and school leaders, sharing her passion for education. Amy has been very involved with the Utah Science Teaching Association in the past, serving four terms as regional representative, and one term as president. Throughout her career, Amy has received several prestigious awards; The Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, The Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology, The Utah Energy Educator Award, and was selected to represent the United States as part of the TOMODACHI Toshiba Leadership Academy in Tokyo, Japan. She currently serves on the Utah Secondary Science Advisory Team, for the Utah State Board of Education, and facilitates Teacher Endorsement Courses for teachers working on furthering their education, for the Utah Science Teaching Association.
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Andrew Vardas-Doane
School Performance Specialist
Andrew Vardas-Doane is an accomplished professional with a distinguished academic background. Holding a Bachelor's degree in History Education/Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction, and an Educational Specialist Degree in Leadership and Cognitive Science, he has demonstrated a commitment to continuous learning and educational excellence. Since January 2021, Andrew has served as a School Performance Specialist with the SCSB, contributing his expertise to enhance school performance and educational outcomes. In this role, he has actively engaged in visiting schools, displaying a keen interest in observing various leadership types, diverse school models, and the nuanced implementation styles within those models. Andrew's dedication to the educational landscape is evident in his passion for exploring the intricacies of different educational approaches. His role as a School Performance Specialist reflects his commitment to fostering positive educational environments and contributing to the advancement of educational practices.
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Brendan McGinn
School Performance Specialist
Brendan McGinn boasts a diverse professional journey, commencing as a field biologist for the states of Colorado and Utah before transitioning into the field of education. In this rewarding career shift, Brendan found fulfillment in imparting knowledge, teaching both mathematics and science across various grade levels in charter and traditional public school settings. With a wealth of experience, Brendan has seamlessly transitioned into school administration, holding roles such as Vice Principal, Interim Director, and Assessment Director. Presently, he serves as a School Performance Specialist at the Utah State Charter School Board, where he brings his multifaceted expertise to the fore. In his current capacity, Brendan excels in the dynamic landscape of charter school oversight, a role that aligns with his passion for exploring and enhancing educational experiences. A standout feature of his tenure at the SCSB is his enthusiasm for visiting charter schools, where he revels in discovering the diverse and inspiring approaches each institution employs to motivate and educate students. Outside of his professional pursuits, Brendan is an avid outdoors enthusiast who values quality time with his family. Additionally, he contributes to the community through his involvement in coaching soccer teams, exemplifying his dedication to both personal and professional growth.
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Jenna Magnetti
School Research Consultant
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Lisa Cooper
Financial Education Specialist
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Marie Steffensen
Assistant Executive Director
Marie Steffensen is a distinguished and licensed Utah educator and administrator with a comprehensive background in early childhood education. Holding a master's degree in educational administration and school leadership, she brings a wealth of expertise to her roles in the field of education. Marie's illustrious career has seen her in various capacities, including instructional coaching, coordination of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program, and serving as a Dean of Students. Prior to joining the State Charter School Board staff in 2019, she served as a Charter School Executive Director, showcasing her leadership acumen and commitment to educational excellence. Beyond her professional endeavors, Ms. Steffensen actively contributes to her community, serving as a dedicated board member of her local PTA, a former member of a school community council, a teacher reparation program clinical supervisor, and a current member of the Utah School Readiness Board. Residing in South Jordan, Utah, with her husband, two children, and a loyal canine companion, Marie Steffensen and her family cherish a harmonious blend of laughter and exploration during their numerous family adventures. Her commitment to education, leadership, and community service underscores her passion for fostering positive learning environments and contributing to the well-being of those around her.
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Marlene Ruff
UCAP Program Manager
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Paul Kremer
Executive Director
Dr. Paul K. Kremer brings a wealth of experience to his new role. He holds a Ph.D. in Lifespan Developmental Psychology from Arizona State University and has conducted extensive research on bullying in educational settings. Dr. Kremer is the founder of two charter schools, including EAGLE College Prep, a high-performing charter school in South Phoenix, as well as a preschool program. His administrative background includes various roles at Arizona Christian University from 2011 to 2015, where he contributed to academic excellence and mission fulfillment. Dr. Kremer later served as the Controller and Assistant Superintendent at Edkey, Inc., overseeing a diverse portfolio of K-12 schools in Arizona. In his personal life, he has been happily married to his wife, Leslie, since 1995, and they have four children. In his free time, he enjoys hiking and outdoor activities.
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Smriti Dhakal
School Financial Manager
Smriti Dhakal is a highly qualified professional with a Master of Accountancy degree from the University of Utah. Since October 2022, she has been serving as the School Financial Manager for the SCSB, where she plays a pivotal role in fostering financial health within educational institutions. In this capacity, Smriti proactively identifies and addresses financial issues, offering strategic guidance and support to schools in resolving these concerns. Her dedication to ensuring fiscal responsibility and efficiency contributes to the overall success of the educational institutions under her purview. Beyond her professional endeavors, Smriti values quality time with her family, demonstrating a well-rounded and balanced approach to both her career and personal life.

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