Meet our Board of Directors
Vance Van Wey
Chief Executive Office and Board President
Vance Van Wey has volunteered and supported education in various roles for over 20 years. As an undergraduate and young professional Vance raised funds and supported the non-profit boards and foundations of several large American Universities. More recently he has devoted his time and talent to the nation’s oldest retirement company chartered to help educators and public servants, those who work for the greater good, save and invest for retirement.
As the son and brother of educators Vance has firsthand knowledge of the importance of not only teaching our children, but also providing them with engaging, caring atmospheres in which to grow and learn. Vance is a frequent volunteer for many Denver area non-profits. He served as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for Pleasant Hill Academy during the 2009 calendar year.
Dr. Linda Rittner
Chief Operating Officer and Director of Education
Dr. Linda Rittner is a veteran educator, who holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with extensive post-doctoral studies in Gifted and Talented Education as well as in Statistics, Tests and Measurements. Her experience in education spans half a century with adventures in teaching from K-12 in the private non-profit sector, to school administration, to university full professorship of educational sciences preparing both undergraduate and graduate level teachers. In addition, she advised graduate students at master’s levels and served as doctoral dissertation advisor for her graduate students who earned their doctorates from universities other than the University of Central Oklahoma. Many of her graduate students were colleagues in her own research endeavors.
As a specialist in Contemporary Learning Sciences and Gifted And Talented Education, Dr. Rittner created and taught one of only two graduate programs in Gifted Education for the state of Oklahoma. She was Director of Pleasant Hill Academy from 1990 to 2009, when she was recruited by the University of Central Oklahoma.
As a sixth generation Colorado native, the mountains were calling her home from her tenure in Oklahoma. Dr. Rittner is no stranger to alternative education. She home-educated four of her five children, one of whom began university studies at the age of 14. That child is now a faculty member at the University of Northern Colorado. Each of her children has distinguished themselves in their own profession.
Board Member and Communications Specialist
Ms. Susan McKenzie holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Northern Colorado and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Business Administration. After teaching high school choir, guitar, and piano at Greeley Central High School and at Fort Collins High School, Susan became the Marketing Director and Events Manager for The Success Foundation serving Greeley-Evans Schools.
The Foundation was started by a group of community members who saw the need for additional resources in Greeley and Evans Schools. Susan held a role in fundraising and raising awareness, blazing the trail for a district-wide blended learning model. The work of The Success Foundation has given all students in Weld Country District 6 access to needed technology, providing a 1:1 student to device ratio. Alongside this completed million dollar project, Susan helped expand The Success Foundation, creating multiple channels of funding for the district including support for advanced manufacturing, career pathway development, internships, unpaid lunch balances, teacher grants, and most recently, an opportunity fund, dedicated to closing equity gaps amongst the students in Greeley-Evans School District 6.
The Success Foundation has recently started another $1.5 million dollar project to build a SmartLab in every school, giving students a specific time and place to research and create student-driven interests, explore freely, and collaborate.
Susan’s passion truly lies in the nonprofit world. In addition to her full-time work with The Success Foundation she works for The Greeley Chorale as their Digital Marketing Manager and chair of their annual fundraiser Pops & Pasta. Other current positions include Colorado All State Orchestra Executive Assistant, Greeley Chorale ex-officio board member, The Success Foundation board of directors Secretary, The Greeley Philharmonic’s Board of Directors, Governance Committee Chair, and Greeley Chamber Orchestra’s Board of Directors Marketing Chair.
Through these opportunities and her studies in graduate school Susan has discovered a passion for strategic planning and development. She enjoys helping organizations see and grow to their full potential. She often works with these organizations, among others, assisting in strategic development, marketing efforts, and obtaining grants. In her spare time she enjoys playing with her adorable puppy, Paxton, and is teaching herself photography. Susan is a person of many outstanding talents and brings a wealth of experience, wisdom, and energy to PHA!
Lisa Walker (no picture available)
Board Member and Assistant Director of Education
Lisa started her homeschooling journey when her oldest son started receiving bad marks in second grade. Concerned, she met with his teacher and they discovered that he was simply bored, having already learned the things being taught in the classroom at home, so he didn’t always turn in his work. Frustrated, she tried to figure out what she could do to best help him. With the support of her son’s teacher she decided to give homeschooling a try and found that both she and her children loved the experience.
Lisa now has over 25+ years of experience as a home educator. She has taught her children at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, including children with learning disabilities. She currently works with the public-school system teaching and helping children with special needs. Her special role in Pleasant Hill Academy is in communications and counseling parents. Pleasant Hill Academy is fortunate to have her and her unique talents and skills.
As a former foster mother and adoptive mother, Lisa is an advocate for those who can’t always speak for themselves. She has experience working with, teaching, and fighting for the rights of children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), Down syndrome, dyslexia, and other various learning disorders.
Currently, four of her children own their own businesses. Her children have attended various colleges around the country to earn bachelor and graduate degrees in their various fields, including one son who graduated third in his Aerospace Engineering degree despite a learning disorder. She is very excited to see where their futures continue to take them.
Lisa is a mother of nine and a Tutu (grandmother) of seven (and counting). She lives in the mountains of Colorado and loves it. She enjoys hiking, taking some much-needed time to herself to relax and read, and playing games with her family.
Board Member and Executive Director of Kids at Their Best
Since 2006, Jodi Walker has been collaborating with Northeastern Colorado communities to enrich the lives of children and young adults at or below the poverty line. Her own children are former students of Pleasant Hill Academy.
Jodi is the executive director for Kids At Their Best (KATB). KATB is a non-profit organization that began as a dance studio after Jodi discovered the value in using dance as a form of physical and emotional therapy. The studio focused on building self-esteem and healthy habits for young girls in Morgan County. As the program grew to focus on empowering the youth in her community, KATB began to move from an art program to an all-encompassing youth enrichment program. KATB has achieved prominence as an outstanding program for at-risk youth in Colorado and beyond!
Jodi is a human dynamo with exceptional organization talents and a terrific can-do attitude! Pleasant Hill Academy is very privileged to have her as a member of the Board of Directors.