Press Releases | July 5, 2022

The Mind Trust promotes one, hires five new staff members

INDIANAPOLIS – (July 5, 2022) – The Mind Trust, an Indianapolis based nonprofit, today announced the promotion of one team member and the hiring of five new staff members. Lauren I. Peterson will now serve as the Vice President of Community Engagement. Monica Casillas was hired as Manager of Operations, Jenny Cloncs was hired as Senior Director of Talent, Luke Lennon was hired as Senior Director of Schools, Lisa Miller was hired as Executive Assistant, and Kurt Waywood was hired as Manager of Leadership.

“The Mind Trust is thrilled to continue growing our talented staff and looks forward to their efforts to support our mission of ensuring every student, without exception, has access to a great school,” said Brandon Brown, CEO of The Mind Trust. “I am especially excited for Lauren Peterson to strengthen our community engagement efforts and build on the incredible work she’s led at The Mind Trust over the last three years.”

Each of these roles will deepen and support The Mind Trust’s efforts to expand access to high-quality schools, address systemic racism in education, and triple the number of students in Indianapolis who are academically proficient by 2027. Since 2006, The Mind Trust has supported the launch of 41 public charter schools and Indianapolis Public School’s Innovation Network Schools in Indianapolis that currently serve more than 12,000 students. 


Lauren I. Peterson, Vice President of Community Engagement 

Peterson has been promoted to Vice President of Community Engagement. In this new role, she will develop and execute initiatives to keep the community informed and included in the work of The Mind Trust and local autonomous schools, implement strategies to actively engage parents, and serve as an integral guide and thought partner to Senior Directors and other members within the organization. Peterson will continue working closely on community engagement initiatives with Executive Vice President, Shannon Williams.

A natural relationship builder and collaborator, Peterson has over 25 years experience in community engagement and business development. Her tenure at The Mind Trust began in August 2019 as Senior Director of Community Engagement. Since then, she has been instrumental in enhancing the organization’s community engagement efforts and expanding partnerships with schools, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and faith leaders. 

Prior to joining The Mind Trust, Peterson worked at Enroll Indy, Education Plus Services LLC, and the George and Veronica Phalen Leadership Academies. ​​Peterson holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Marian University.

New hires

Monica Casillas, Manager of Operations

As Manager of Operations, Casillas will provide support to the Operations & Finance team, including accounting functions, database administration, and other administrative duties. She will also support logistics, planning, and implementation of organizational events. 

Casillas most recently served at GEO Foundation as Office Manager. She also worked at GEO Next Generation High School as Office Manager and Registrar. Prior to working at GEO, Casillas spent a number of years in family and community coordination on behalf of schools. Casillas holds an associate’s degree in business management from ITT Tech and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business management with a specialization in human resources from Indiana Wesleyan University. 

Jenny Cloncs, Senior Director of Talent 

As Senior Director of Talent, Cloncs will lead the implementation of The Mind Trust’s talent strategy with a focus on building a pipeline of leaders and educators to support Indianapolis’ education landscape in addition to supporting autonomous school operators in Indianapolis. The role will also manage key partner relationships such as Teach For America and TNTP and initiatives like the Talent Innovation Fund.

Cloncs most recently served as Elementary School Literacy Program Lead for Success Academy Charter Schools (Success) in New York City where she led a reimagining of their instructional guidelines and curricula across 30 schools to support improved literacy outcomes. She has worked in various leadership and teacher roles at Success for over a decade. Prior to her time at Success, Cloncs spent nearly a decade as an elementary school teacher in Pike Township. Cloncs holds a bachelor of science in elementary education and teaching from Ball State University.

Luke Lennon, Senior Director of Schools

As Senior Director of Schools, Lennon will manage school support partner relationships, support The Mind Trust’s school incubation efforts, and work on other school-based initiatives. He will help develop programming for The Mind Trust’s school fellowships, identify and address school support needs, and assist with the recruitment and cultivation of school talent. 

Lennon most recently served as Founding Assistant Principal at KIPP Indy Legacy High, where he helped manage teacher observation and development, weekly data meetings, and other strategies to raise student achievement. He was also previously Principal at Tindley Preparatory Academy and a Building Excellent Schools Fellow. Lennon has consulted on curriculum and teacher development initiatives for the KIPP Foundation, Teach For America, and Relay Graduate School of Education. Lennon holds a bachelor of arts from Notre Dame University and a masters in education from Columbia University.

Lisa Miller, Executive Assistant 

As Executive Assistant, Miller will assist the Strategy & Special Projects team with scheduling, budget tracking, and other administrative duties that support the team’s work to maintain a strong educational ecosystem. 

Miller most recently served at Navient as a Remote Customer Care Specialist. Before that, she worked for over a decade in customer service at FedEx. Miller holds an associate’s degree in accounting from International Business College. 

Kurt Waywood, Manager of Leadership

As Manager of Leadership, Waywood will support the Leadership & Equity team with administrative and project management duties that support progress toward racial equity-focused goals. These include increasing the number of leaders of color in key education leadership positions across Indianapolis and ensuring at least 50% of The Mind Trust’s financial investments are distributed to historically-marginalized vendors. He will also manage event budgets, provide administrative assistance, and oversee back-end technological systems and operations.

Waywood most recently served as a fifth grade teacher for Lebanon Community School Corporation and has been a classroom teacher for the past eight years. Prior to being an educator, Waywood worked in sales, as a community organizer, and on a political campaign. He holds a bachelor of science in political science from Indiana State University and a master’s degree in educational leadership and public policy from American University.

About The Mind Trust

The Mind Trust is an Indianapolis-based education nonprofit that works to build a system of schools that gives every student, no exceptions, access to a high-quality education. The Mind Trust does this by building a supportive environment for schools through policy and community engagement, empowering talented, diverse educators to launch new schools, and providing existing schools with the support they need to hire world-class talent and achieve excellence. Since 2006, The Mind Trust has supported the launch of 49 schools, 15 education nonprofit organizations, and has helped place more than 1,800 teachers and school leaders in Indianapolis classrooms.