Our staff members have years of experience in their fields of expertise.

Mary Ballariel

Executive Assistant to the President

Shane Carlson

Content Development Assistant

I joined the Ascension staff in early 2020 and serve as a Content Development Assistant in the Communications Department. I grew up in a Catholic household and took an interest in my faith from an early age. I later furthered my development as a Catholic during college at Winona State University, where I was a part of the men's cross country team, led a team Bible study, was a member of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students as well as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I graduated from Winona in 2016 with a Bachelor's Degree in Communications and worked as a newspaper reporter for a period after graduation. I also currently serve in the U.S. Army Reserve as a Religious Affairs Specialist and assist the Chaplain with providing religious support to the unit.

Margaret Conroy

Volunteer Manager

As the Volunteer Manager I engage with parents, parish affiliate members, corporate partners and the broader community to support our scholars, teachers and admin staff in the schools/classrooms through varied volunteer program opportunities.

Megan Duevel

Finance Coordinator

Melina Garcia

Finance Director

As Finance Director, I manage the Finance Department and the accounting functions of the Parish and the three schools of Ascension Catholic Academy. I have over 33 years of experience in accounting which also includes 23 years of management and supervisory experience plus 15 years of Human Resources and Payroll experience. I also have over 20 years of experience working with multiple entities within the same company or non-profit organization.

Danette Halloran

Grant Writer

Alison James

Lead Gift Officer for St. John Paul II School

After several years of volunteering in various capacities at JPII, I joined the staff in the fall of 2016. I love being the interface between the contagious joy of our scholars and the generosity of our donors. I hold an MBA from the University of St. Thomas and feel fortunate to be able to draw on my 25 years in business development experience to create meaningful connections between communities, needs and resources.

Alison Keller

Administrative/HR Assistant

I grew up in a Catholic household and attended Catholic schools so it is a joy to work for the Catholic Church where everyone shares my beliefs and values. I started at Ascension in March of 2017. My responsibilities include but are not limited to payroll, Essential 3 credentialing of employees and volunteers, and support for Ascension Parish and Academy staff. I strive to make the community of Ascension a better place by living in Christ’s image.

Kathryn Luedke

Development Associate - Database Management

I work within the development team entering donation information and maintaining our database. I work with donors to answer any questions they may have about stewardship gifts toward Ascension Catholic Academy schools.

Judy Romanowich Smith

Communications Manager

My job at Ascension has been a blessing. I began a second career here in fall of 2013 after thirty years as a newspaper journalist. My family and I have been parishioners here since 2008. I am in charge of communications, including the website and all publications, at Ascension. I am honored to work with such supportive colleagues, and I’m lucky to see the sweet faces of our school children every day.

Delfino Soledad

Plant Manager

I take care of security, maintenance and repairs for all Academy buildings.

Laura Wagner

Chief Advancement Officer

My role is to connect our schools with supporters who give of their time, talent and treasure to help make our mission possible. I help donors, volunteers, sister churches and institutions find a place where their philanthropy can have an impact. My career in development spans 20 years, and I am blessed that I can put to good use my passion for drawing people together to build community and make a difference at Ascension.

Alishia Wright

Donor Relations Coordinator

As someone that spent 8 years directly serving vulnerable populations, I have seen firsthand the effect places such as Ascension have on the communities they serve. I now have the distinct privilege of working with donors to feel connected to the work being done and help them change the lives of our scholars. I believe connection is key to understanding each other and breaking down barriers; it is my joy to help foster those connections for donors at Ascension Catholic Academy.

Beth Yellen

Development Associate - Annual Giving and Events