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

Mary Ballariel

Executive Assistant to the President

Phoebe Bernard

HR Manager / Operations Coordinator

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 NCO and assist the Chaplain with providing religious support to the unit.

Margaret Conroy

Volunteer Manager

My work as the Volunteer Manager for Ascension Catholic Academy engages parents, parish affiliate members, corporate community cartners, local high school and college students, as well as the broader community to serve the support needs of our teachers and scholars in the classrooms and after-school programs. I came to Ascension as a parent in 2008, during which I volunteered in the school and worked as a liaison for parent involvement. I was asked to join the Ascension Development team part-time in 2014 to oversee and facilitate volunteer solicitation, engagement, and placement; my role expanded with the formation of the academy in 2016. I bring a faith-filled spirit and sincere motivation for helping to drive a future full of hope and success for our academy scholars. I remain grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the wonderful mission that is Ascension Catholic Academy.

Megan Duevel

Finance Director

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.

Kathryn Luedke

Manager of Data Services

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.

Merlin Saavedra Romero


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.

Beth Yellen

Director of Donor Relations