Robert Berls – Chair
Originally, from Kansas, Rob has moved around while pursuing his education. Rob has a dual BA in History and Theatre from Emporia State University in Kansas; he then pursued a master’s degree in Theatre History from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Rob worked as a professional technical director from 2000 to 2003 before getting his terminal degree from Michigan State University in production design, where Rob also taught. He moved to Asheville in 2005 to begin a tenure track position at UNC Asheville as a professor of Theatre Technology. Rob has been a professor for twenty-five years teaching at institutions around the country including Michigan State University, Albion College, Brevard College and UNC Asheville. Rob’s publications span national conferences and international journals in areas from Theatre Technology to Physics education. Rob’s research mainly focuses on rapid fabrication and 3D printing. He also does fight choreography and is skilled in many types of bladed combat styles. Rob has a passion for experiential learning and innovative pedagogy and looks forward to serving ICI as an advocate and community member.
Adam Kissel – Vice Chair
Adam Kissel is an Atlanta-area native who relocated to Asheville in 2013. He completed a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Georgia in 2009 and a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership in 2013 from Central Michigan University, with a focus in Charter School Administration. He taught music and choir at the secondary level for several years, and has sung and toured with numerous world-class ensembles including the Atlanta Opera Chorus and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chamber Chorus. He also has extensive professional experience managing customer-facing teams and contact centers. He is passionate about 21st-century curriculum, arts education, animal welfare, business ethics, and modern workplace design and policy. In his spare time, he enjoys running in Asheville’s beautiful greenways, hiking throughout western North Carolina, baking, writing buggy apps with ugly code, and spending as much time as possible with his wife, Stephanie, and their two pets, Diego and Pasha.
Dena Rutter – Secretary
Prior to landing in the mountains she studied Visual Communication Design at The Ohio State University and in Berlin, followed by a stint living overseas in South East China where she was a package designer. In the past she’s designed for TEDxAsheville, served as Vice President on the Asheville Affiliates Board and is a member of Asheville’s AIGA chapter. In addition to running her design studio, she is a mother of two, gardener, hiker, and water aerobics enthusiast.
Mia Strauss – Treasurer
Mia Strauss is originally from Pennsylvania. She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park and following undergraduate school she attended the University of Alaska at Fairbanks and spent some summers living and conducting research in a remote field camp setting. Also while in Alaska she and her husband lived and worked as teaching parents in a home with at-risk teens. She and her husband relocated to Asheville in 2006 and couldn’t think of a better place to live. After moving here and trying to find a job to fit with her family she began bookkeeping, which led to general business management and marketing. Currently, Mia is employed as a Project Manager with Beverly-Grant. She has 2 children and has been an IC Imagine parent since the doors were opened in 2014. She finds it really refreshing to have her children in an environment that is always striving to do what’s best for the students and willing to change and make adjustments as needed. In her free time Mia enjoys hiking, cooking and traveling. She is excited to be a board member to help build a solid foundation for the school for years to come.
Caleb is originally from Louisville Kentucky. He started college at Montana State University in Bozeman Montana and graduated from the University of Louisville with a Bachelor’s of Fine Art in Photography. Caleb frequented the Western North Carolina area as a child and young adult to kayak and explore the outdoors. During college he was a kayak instructor and camp counselor at Camp Mondamin in Tuxedo, NC. After the summer of 2001 he moved to Asheville, and except for a 2 year job in Pennsylvania, has been here ever since. He has worked in the outdoor sports industry and furniture/antique industry but eventually got his real estate license in 2009. He currently works for Beverly Hanks & Associates as a Residential Real Estate Agent. He and his wife Megan have 2 boys and their oldest is a champion at IC Imagine. They can often be found on the numerous trails and rivers in the area. Caleb is honored to be part of the school as both a board member and parent and strives to make the educational experience and environment the best possible for all champions and their families.
A native of New Jersey, Rose went into the USAF after HS graduation. She attended technical school at Sheppard AFB for a communication specialist position in both South Dakota and Taiwan. After discharge, she took her skills to the Department of State Foreign Service and lived in Rome, Italy for four years. For twenty years, she had an IT career including her own training and support business and a Network Administrator position at Brown University. After adopting her first child, her passion grew for child welfare and at-risk youth. She began migrating her teaching skills to Moms on Welfare, Job Corp Youth, an alternative school setting, and taught multi-level GED at a local community college. She soon earned a BASW in a child welfare collaborative scholar program, and a masters degree in clinical social work. Throughout her careers, she has always had a passion for teaching, writing, travel, volunteering and learning. She is looking forward to serving on the IC Imagine Board. A Smoky Mountain Elementary, where she tutored at-risk youth and provided behavior intervention, she had the opportunity to teach Goldie Hawn’s MindUP program. She saw the benefits of teaching children how to regulate their emotions, become mindfully aware, and improve focus and empathy.
Katie Ledford is a local to the area. She moved to Hendersonville when she was thirteen and came back home to Asheville in 2009 after completing various degrees. She has a fervor for Education. Katie received her undergraduate degree in rhetorical studies from UNC Chapel-Hill, her masters in English from the College of Charleston and her PhD in Educational Leadership from Clemson University. Now her academic passions are pursued by being involved in IC Imagine and her own children’s educational paths; she has two champions. Apart from academia, Katie is a residential real estate agent at Beverly-Hanks, enjoys spending time with her children and her Great Pyreneese, Millie.
Originally from Virginia Beach, Mark is a Virginia Tech graduate and the founder and principal architect at Vellum Architecture & Design in Asheville. Prior to relocating to Asheville in 2015, Mark spent 15 years in the mountains of Colorado. He is a founding board member for the Aspen Young Professionals Association, and has volunteered for other non-profits such as Habitat For Humanity. An avid traveler, Mark has traveled to over forty countries, lived abroad in Spain, and spent significant time working in Italy. In his free time, he enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife Heather, and their son Quinton. Mark strongly believes that there is not a single “one-size fits all” approach to education, and greatly values what IC Imagine provides for our community.