Our Story

We care deeply about Catholic schools. They positively impact more than 35,000 preschool–eighth grade students in Minnesota, as well as families, employees and local communities.

Over the last two decades, more than 20 Minneapolis-St. Paul area Catholic schools closed their doors. Others teetered on the brink of closure. Many more were fast losing the funds to invest in their classrooms. The conversation was one of decline.

We wanted to help change that narrative to one of hope, possibility, growth and thinking big for Catholic schools. In 2014, we conducted an extensive school survey and personally visited every preschool-8th grade school to understand their challenges and our opportunities to support them.

Armed with the survey results, CSCOE was formed as an independent nonprofit composed of lay people who love Catholic schools and work tirelessly to see them thrive. The vision and generosity of our key funder, Dick Schulze and the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, make our mission possible.

Here’s what our principals are saying!

How we work

We are entrepreneurial and driven. We relentlessly pursue excellence. And we honor and respect our schools.

Our approach is bottom-up. We listen to principals and teachers and implement the best ideas that will have the greatest impact. We are 100% opt-in, and are proud that every preschool-8th grade school in the Archdiocese has chosen to join us.

When looking for solutions, we seek out the best of the best to provide world-class partners and top resources for our schools, whether that be found at home or across the country. And we recognize the local experts within the walls of our schools.

We also understand that when you’ve seen one Catholic school, you’ve seen one Catholic school. No two are entirely alike. Thus, we fund solutions that increase excellence in the system as a whole while respecting the uniqueness of each school.

Join Us Catholic Schools Center of Excellence MN

Our Board

Gail Dorn

Executive Chair

Gail Dorn - Catholic Schools Week 2020 - Catholic Schools Center of Excellence St. Paul Minneapolis MN

Steve Hoeppner

Interim President, CSCOE, and Vice President, Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation

Michael Cole

Global Business Educator for L’Oreal

Father Kevin Finnegan

Pastor at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church

Steven Ryan

Partner-in-Charge at Taft

Michelle Schlehuber

Title I Reading Teacher

Michelle Schlehuber

Kathy Schneeman

Catholic Author and Community Volunteer

Anita Arockiasamy Wills

Former Director of Enrollment Management for Visitation School

Anita Arockiasamy Wills

Robert Wollan

Former Global Managing Director for Accenture Strategy

Robert Wollan

Our Team

Gail Dorn

Executive Chair

Gail Dorn - Catholic Schools Week 2020 - Catholic Schools Center of Excellence St. Paul Minneapolis MN

Steve Hoeppner

Interim President

Mike Halloran

Vice President of Development and Operations

Robert Behr

Director of Finance

Ben Tierney

Director of Excellence

Gretchen Berkebile

Excellence Manager

CSCOE excellence manager Gretchen Berkebile

Oona Myhre

Director of Preschool Excellence and Enrollment

CSCOE manager of preschool excellence and enrollment Oona Myhre

Kelly Refsnider

Director of Enrollment

Emma Creger

Enrollment Manager

CSCOE enrollment manager Emma Creger

Maureen Lodoen

Director of Communications

Sharon Wilson

Event Manager

CSCOE event manager Sharon Wilson

Breanna Walrath

Office Manager

Helen Dahlman

CSCOE Growth Team

Dr. Nes Rotstein

CSCOE Growth Team



Are you interested in pursuing a vocation at a Catholic school? Click here to learn more about serving as a teacher or principal in our Catholic schools. Current job openings can be found through the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis website.

If you feel a calling to serve as a Catholic school leader, consider the Institute for Catholic School Leadership at the Seminaries of St. Paul in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Institute provides holistic and integrated formation for those entrusted with the administration of Catholic schools.


CSCOE’s Associate Director of Excellence will work with the Director of Excellence in many areas, including:

This position will report to the Director of Excellence.

For more information, click here.

To apply, please send a cover letter and résumé to Director of Excellence Ben Tierney, by June 11, 2023.  Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

Catholic Schools Center of Excellence