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We Invite You to Meet the Members of Our Leadership Team

It is not an average mission to provide the best child development on the planet, but New Horizon Academy is not an average company. New Horizon Academy is an exceptional organization with an abiding commitment to excellence in every aspect of the programs and services we have provided to families for over 45 years.

We have a very strong and consistent leadership team. In fact, since 1971, our company has had only two CEOs. The founder and current president are actively involved in the strategic direction and mission of the organization, and that consistent leadership provides a firm foundation from which we continue to flourish. Most of our New Horizon Academy district managers have been with our company for over 20 years. The majority of our directors have been with us for a decade or more.

Chad Dunkley

Chad Dunkley

Chief Executive Officer

Joined New Horizon Academy in 1991
Education – Hamline University and William Mitchell College of Law
“I love working with young children for the pure joy on their faces when they figure out how to do something for the first time. I love hearing the phrase, ‘I did it!’”

Penny Allen

Penny Allen

Chief Financial Officer

Joined New Horizon Academy in 1994
Education – University of Wisconsin/Madison
“I love seeing what our teachers are capable of achieving in our classrooms. It is truly amazing!”

Jill Dunkley

Jill Dunkley

General Counsel and Vice President of Business Development

Joined New Horizon Academy in 2001
Education – Hamline University and William Mitchell College of Law
“I love when the children show me their classroom and tell me about what projects they are working on. It is so fulfilling to see their excitement about all of the fun learning activities that they are engaged in.”

Lisa Larson

Lisa Larson

Vice President of Human Resources

Joined New Horizon Academy in 2017
Education - St. Cloud State University
“Unconditional love, uncensored thoughts, unfiltered words and unlimited hugs, are my favorite things about working with young children.”

Alan Ruth

Alan Ruth

Vice President of Facilities and Construction

Joined New Horizon Academy in 2015
Education – Normandale Community College
“It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it’s the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time. As I see it, we are helping build the foundation of all children in our care.”

Cara Johnson-Bader

Cara Johnson-Bader

Vice President of Marketing and Parent Experiences

Joined New Horizon Academy in 2010
Education – University of St. Catherine
“I enjoy the dynamic and exciting opportunities young children bring. They are so passionate and excited about the world around them. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with teachers, children, and families at New Horizon Academy.”

Kelly Ashton

Kelly Ashton

Regional Vice President

Joined New Horizon Academy in 1986
Education – University of Nebraska
“I enjoy how every day is new with children and how every experience is as if it is the first time it has ever happened.”

Jessie Watson

Jessie Watson

Regional Vice President

Joined New Horizon Academy in 1990
Education – University of Minnesota
“I love that each day is a new opportunity to inspire and teach a child. We have so many wonderful things happening in our classrooms each day!”

Bev Bauman

Bev Bauman

Director of Education and Staff Development

Joined New Horizon Academy in 1989
Education – St. Cloud State
“I enjoy seeing the light bulb go off when children 'get it'. Children are little sponges. As an early childhood professional, I believe it is our responsibility to be intentional and provide activities that they can absorb.”

Peggy Blackmon

Peggy Blackmon

Director of Licensing and Center Support

Joined New Horizon Academy in 1988 
Education – Rasmussen Business College
“I appreciate how honest, pure, and accepting the children are. I appreciate how they embrace life. I appreciate how teachable they are and how much they can teach us, if we are willing to receive.”

Clare Sanford

Clare Sanford

Director of Government and Community Relations

Joined New Horizon Academy in 2015
Education – St. Olaf College and Harvard University
“Children are pure people. Having not yet learned many social conventions and norms, they act just as they feel and to the fullest extent--how we all wish we could act sometimes!”

Brian Flotterud

Brian Flotterud

Director of Information Technology

Joined New Horizon Academy in 2016
Education – Colorado State University
“I love how inquisitive children are. When I am onsite, kids love to flock to me and watch me work; all the while, I get to answer the question, ‘What are you doing?’.”

Jennifer Rue

Jennifer Rue

District Manager

Joined New Horizon Academy in 1993
Education – Rasmussen Business College
“I enjoy working with young children because they make my heart happy!”

Becky Strasser

Becky Strasser

District Manager

Joined New Horizon Academy in 1989
Education – Rasmussen Business College
“I love that each child is unique and they learn in their own way. It is our responsibility, as educators, to figure out how each child learns so that we may make the connection that they need in order to learn.”

Kristi Fuller

Kristi Fuller

District Manager

Joined New Horizon Academy in 1996
Education – Bethel College and Concordia University
“I have the privilege of seeing the world through a child’s eyes. To them, every day is brand new and wonderful, even the days we get two feet of snow.”

Susan Zackery

Susan Zackery

District Manager

Joined New Horizon Academy in 2006
Education – University of Minnesota Duluth
"The innocence and wonder of a child is incredible to see. I love that I am able to see the children in our care learn and thrive, all while learning great lessons from them as well!"

Christine Leonard

Christine Leonard

District Manager

Joined New Horizon Academy in 2006
Education – University of Minnesota and Ashford University
"I love watching the children grow and develop. Witnessing them hit milestones and seeing their accomplishments is truly a rewarding experience."

Angie Omelianchuk

Angie Omelianchuk

District Manager

Joined New Horizon Academy in 2012
Education – Minneapolis College of Art and Design
“I am inspired by children’s curiosity and drive to explore. They are a daily reminder to find the extraordinary in the ordinary.”

Cami Wakagawa

Cami Wakagawa

Area Director - Idaho

Joined New Horizon Academy in 2004
Education – Ashworth College and Montana State University
“I enjoy seeing children’s desire to learn more and seeing them accomplish something every day.”

Jeannine Laughlin

Jeannine Laughlin

Area Director - Iowa

Joined New Horizon Academy in 2018
Education – Northwest Missouri State University
“I enjoy working with children because I think every child deserves the best head start to their learning, and I can provide that for each child in my care. And, I love their wonder, excitement, humor, joy and innocence!”

Tammy Sanchez

Tammy Sanchez

Area Director - Colorado

Joined New Horizon Academy in 2018
Education - Metropolitan State University of Denver
“I love that every day we have the opportunity to inspire, fuel imagination, and foster a love for learning. Working in early childhood education is magical, and I learn so much from these extraordinary young minds!”