Board of Directors

Board of Directors

Marc Berris (Parent)

Marc Berris is a lawyer and the managing partner of Segal, Roston & Berris, PLLP, a boutique Minneapolis law firm focusing its practice on the defense of criminal cases.  Marc is a graduate of the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities (B.A., Sociology) and the William Mitchell College of Law (J.D. cum laude).  Marc also serves on a part-time basis as a Meeker County Sheriff’s Deputy, assigned to that office’s patrol division, and he has trained hundreds of law enforcement officers, firefighters and paramedics throughout the region about interacting with people with autism.  Marc previously served on the school board of Lionsgate Academy, and he currently serves on the board of the Autism Society of Minnesota.  In his spare time Marc is an on-call Golden Valley firefighter, loves hiking anywhere on the North Shore, loudly cheers for the Minnesota Wild from the comfort of his family room sofa (and occasionally the inside of the Xcel Energy Center), and enjoys doing whatever his wife and/or their teenage sons want to do.


Kathy Carlson (Parent)

Kathy Carlson was elected to serve as the Secretary on the Board of Directors for the Lionsgate Foundation in December 2015. She has two boys at Lionsgate Academy - a junior and an eighth grader. Kathy is a dedicated supporter of the foundation and sees an opportunity for further community outreach leveraging the expertise and talents of the Lionsgate Academy staff. Kathy is Co-Founder of The Healthy Organization – a Communications and Employee Development Consulting firm.  Prior to starting this business, Kathy worked for 25 years at General Mills, Inc. most recently as the Director of Learning and Development for the Supply Chain. Kathy earned a Bachelors degree in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, an M.S. in Chemistry from the University of MN, and her Ph.D. in Human Resource Development from the University of MN.


Tom Freeberg (Community Member), Chair

Tom Freeberg joined the Lionsgate Foundation Board of Directors in March 2015. Tom has hosted Lionsgate Foundation event tables in the past and his niece, Sarah, is the drama teacher at Lionsgate Academy. Tom is a former member of the South St. Paul Education Foundation Board, the School of Environmental Studies Education Foundation Board and The Open Door (a Dakota County food shelf).  Tom is a Registered Professional Engineer employed by CenturyLink Communications.  Tom conveys he was moved by Lionsgate students who told personal stories of life before and after finding Lionsgate. Tom is convinced that Lionsgate fills a basic human need in our world that has been too long unaddressed. He is impressed that this education model has been shown to be viable and effective.


Marcy Joseph (Parent)

Marcy joined the Lionsgate Foundation board in November 2015.  Her son, Noah, attends Lionsgate Academy and is thriving there.  Marcy was motivated to join the board after attending several board meetings, where she was blown away by the dedication, integrity and tireless efforts of the school leadership and staff.  Marcy is a senior stewardship specialist at the University of Minnesota Foundation, long-time board member of the Friends of the St. Louis Park Library and member of the Methodist Hospital's patient and family partnership advisory council.


Jeff Mason (Community Member)

Jeff Mason joined the Lionsgate Foundation Board of Directors in 2013 and is currently serving his second term as Chair of the Board.  First introduced to Lionsgate Academy through its theater productions, Jeff became involved with the Foundation due to his enthusiasm for the Academy and the transformative results it produces for students, families and communities.  Jeff is an attorney with the law firm of Stinson Leonard Street LLP, and holds a B.A. (Psychology) from the University of Minnesota and a law degree magna cum laude from the Duke University School of Law.


Laura Nisi (Parent)

Laura Nisi is a proud parent of a student at Lionsgate Academy.  William is the youngest in the family; his siblings attended Edina schools and are now in college. Laura’s education and professional background is in graphic design and communications and she has experience both in advertising agencies and as a consultant, including work for the Edina Education Fund and the Edina Community Foundation.  She has served on committees and on the Board of Directors for St. David’s Center, and is happy to be able to assist the Lionsgate Foundation in its mission.


Kristi Person (Business Teacher, Lionsgate Academy)

Kristi Person joined the Foundation in November 2014.  She began teaching at Lionsgate in 2013 and also serves as the school's Career and Technical Education Coordinator.  She has her bachelor’s degree in communications from Bethel University in St. Paul, and her master’s in business and marketing education from the University of Minnesota.  She began her teaching career in 2009 as the Computer Specialist at Legacy Christian Academy in Andover and also taught for a year in Red Wing Public Schools. In addition to teaching, she is a former board member for the Minnesota Business Educators, Inc. and has been a conference presenter for both the Minnesota Business Educators, Inc. and National Business Education Association professional organizations.


John Villerius (Community Member), Treasurer

John Villerius was elected to the Lionsgate Foundation Board of Directors in August 2012.  The parent of a former student at Lionsgate Academy, John previously served as chair of the Lionsgate Academy Parent Advisory Council for two years.  Prior to that, he participated for several years as a member and chair of the Minneapolis Public Schools Special Education Advisory Council.  John works as Investment and Debt Management Officer for Hennepin County.  He holds an MPA degree from Indiana University and a BA degree from Grinnell College.


Honorary Board Members

Diane Halpin, Ph.D. (Executive Director, Lionsgate Academy)

Dr. Halpin is the executive director of Lionsgate Academy and an honorary member of the Lionsgate Foundation Board of Directors. Previously employed as a research associate at the Institute on Community Integration, she conducted research for the National Center on Educational Outcomes, the North Central Regional Resource Center, and the National Inclusion Project. Her work has included teaching at the high school, undergraduate, and graduate levels. Dr. Halpin is the mother of a daughter on the autism spectrum. She has been active in local autism advocacy organizations and has served on the board of directors for Families for Effective Autism Treatment and the Minnesota Autism Center.  Dr. Halpin holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology/special education from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in education and human development with an emphasis in educational administration from George Washington University. She has developed the Minnesota Visual Autism Symptom Scale, an online assessment/IEP planning tool for teachers of children with autism.


Ron Berger, MBA, CPA (Inactive) (Finance Director, Lionsgate Academy)

Ron Berger joined Lionsgate Academy as Finance Director in 2013.  He has been associated with the school since 2009 (2009 - 2012 as Board Treasurer/Board Chair and 2012 - 2013 as a service provider).  Ron earned a BS in Accounting from St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN and a MBA from the University of St. Thomas.  Prior to Lionsgate, Ron held senior finance roles at three Twin Cities-based companies, following stints as a principal in a private investment banking firm and in public accounting.