A former mayor of Princeton, NJ Michele has served as Academic Manager of the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University, Executive Director of the Women’s Fund of New Jersey, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Delaware-Raritan, Inc., interim Executive Director of the YWCA of Eastern Union County, assistant counsel to Governor Jim Florio, assistant director of the New Jersey Division on Women and New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, director of development and public affairs at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and congressional aide to former US Representative Louis Stokes and the late US Senator Frank Lautenberg. She also was a community builder fellow with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development in Camden and has served as a lecturer at Princeton and Rutgers Universities. Michele has served as a trustee of New Jersey After 3, Princeton United Methodist Church, Leadership New Jersey and the Center for Non-Profit Corporations. A graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Tuck-Ponder is married to Rhinold Lamar Ponder, Esq. and is the mother to daughter, Jamaica, and son, William D’Artagnan.
Director of Strategic Partnerships & Advancement
With more than a decade of experience in the educational non-profit industry, Andrew has had the privilege of serving Destination Imagination, Inc. in a variety of capacities. As the Director of Strategic Partnerships & Advancement, Andrew applies his multi-faceted business and educational background to lead the development and strategic implementation of DI’s mission and vision as it relates to forging and deepening mutually beneficial relationships with corporations, foundations and individuals.
In his previous role as Associate Director of Educational Experiences, Andrew led the development and execution of Destination Imagination’s educational programming. In that time, he also led the development of kid-focused learning programs and Challenges with well-known organizations including the Walt Disney Company, the United States Air Force, 3M, National Geographic Society, Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation, Ford Motor Company, Oracle Academy, Motorola Solutions Foundation, Velcro, Volvo and many others. Andrew has also traveled all over the world to help train educators, provide keynote presentations and present at educational conferences and events on the importance of experiential and project-based learning.
Before joining the DI staff full-time, Andrew was an original member of the organization’s first intern class, a former DI 4-Life Camp Director and 10-year Destination Imagination participant.
Outside of the office, Andrew has volunteered for FIRST Robotics, the Competition Sciences Institute, Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Philadelphia and Kreyatif, a non-profit organization that provides 21st-century learning opportunities for kids in Haiti.
Andrew is a certified Project Management Professional through the Project Management Institute and an Eagle Scout through the Boy Scouts of America. He graduated from the College of William & Mary with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Marketing with a concentration in Accounting.
Director of Affiliate Relations
As an alumnus and a longstanding volunteer, Adam has served in some capacity with the Destination Imagination family for nearly 30 years. In his last position as the Co-Director of the Virginia Affiliate, Adam gained a deep knowledge of Affiliate operations. In his role as the Director of Affiliate Relations, Adam uses this knowledge to support Affiliates around the globe as they work to support their teams and grow our impact.
Adam has had the opportunity to work in a variety of fields from television production to marketing. In his last career iteration before joining the DI staff, Adam ran his own creative design and communication business.
He graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in Film & Television.
Affiliate Relations Program Coordinator
Kelsey Celek is a proud Destination Imagination alumna and has volunteered with the organization as an Appraiser and Challenge Developer. In her role as the Affiliate Relations Program Coordinator, Kelsey facilitates communication among DI’s Affiliates and participants and creates resources to support their efforts.
Kelsey comes to DI from the world of theatre education, having served as a director and teaching artist for 10 years in 38 U.S. states. Kelsey has worked closely with students both onstage and in the classroom, building curriculum for acting, creative drama, and arts-integrated content. Kelsey holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Acting/Musical Theatre from Wright State University.
Manager of Internal Operations
Leonard Greenwood is the Customer Fulfillment Coordinator at Destination Imagination, Inc., where he processes team applications, product orders, payments, invoice distribution and team registrations for Global Finals. He is also cross-trained with other staff to provide support. His previous professional experience includes working in the health insurance and collection industries. Leonard spends most of his free time with his family. He also enjoys traveling, sports, music and gaming.
Leonard attended The Richard Stockton College of NJ where he majored in Political Science and minored in African American Studies. Leonard holds a professional certificate from Rutgers University in Customer Service and Human Resources Management.
International Territory Consultant
Renee Rainville is the International Consultant for Destination Imagination, Inc., focusing on strategic international development and professional training in more than 16 countries. She has 20-plus years of experience in the global education field, including practical teaching experience in project-based learning and socio-constructivism.
Renee has a wide appreciation and perspective on the effect a country’s culture, economy and political climate play in education and has provided training in several countries throughout her career, including Australia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Mexico, Poland, Nigeria, Pakistan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Renee holds a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Elizabethtown College and has developed curriculum and courses for a variety of educational pilot programs in the United States and Mexico.
She is the founder of Quanticopia, a consulting business that offers creative solutions to the development of communication, creative thinking and diversity awareness. One of her most rewarding developments is the implementation of the Destination Imagination Challenge Experience in Qatar with a 1,300-percent increase in participation over three years.
Renee was previously a Destination Imagination, Inc. Board of Trustees member, where she served as the international strategist. She is a member of the Project Management Institute Educational Foundation (PMIEF) community and serves as a School Governor for Millthorpe School in York, England. Renee is also a certified Life Coach and a Certified TetraMap Facilitator.
Director of Education
Johnny Wells’ 31 years as an educator demonstrated his commitment to students and their futures. He began his career in 1983 at Sulphur Springs Middle School in Texas, where he taught, and spent the majority of his teaching career as a dedicated advocate for gifted and talented education. As a volunteer, Johnny donated his time to Destination Imagination by serving on the Board of Trustees as vice-chairman, serving on the Texas Creative Problem Solving Organization Executive Board as president, and working as a co-director of the East Texas DI Region. He also volunteered as an Appraiser and Team Manager at the regional, state and global levels and as a Challenge Master for Instant Challenge in the East Texas Region. In 2009 Mr. Wells was honored as the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented Teacher of the Year. He and his wife of 37 years, Kathie, have two married children, Megan and Ian, who are both DI alumni and involved in Destination Imagination as Appraisers, Challenge Masters, and team trainers.
Johnny has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a major in accounting from East Texas State University. He completed graduate work at East Texas State University and the University of Northern Colorado.
Director of Educational Alliances and Training
Kris comes to Destination Imagination with more than 20 years of nonprofit management experience, 2 years as an Affiliate Director, and over 13 years of experience as a Team Manager. Professionally, Kris’ experience includes work with the National MS Society and PowerUP, a past program of the Case Foundation. She has expertise in designing adult education programs, budget development and administration, grant writing, data management, and operational improvement.
Kris has a bachelor’s degree in human services from Metro State College of Denver and a master’s degree in organizational management and leadership from Capella University.
Associate Director of Educational Experiences
Amanda Potter is the Program Coordinator at Destination Imagination, Inc., where she is involved in program and resource development. Amanda began her Destination Imagination participation at a young age, developing a deep passion for the creative process, teamwork and making a positive difference in the lives of young people. Using the skills and lessons learned as a 13-year DI participant and volunteer at all levels, she began her professional career as a choral music teacher, developing thriving programs in Marietta, Georgia and Durham, North Carolina. There, she also produced and directed musicals such as Honk! Jr., Beauty and the Beast Jr., and The King and I.
Amanda holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Education from Elon University. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, cooking, trivia nights and playing with her dog Banjo.
Educational Experiences Coordinator
Erica Begun-Veenstra is the Educational Experiences Coordinator at Destination Imagination, Inc., where she assists in program and resource development. She is a Destination Imagination alumna and has been active in volunteering for the organization since its inception. In addition to her roles as an Appraiser and Challenge Writer, Erica served as the Chair of the Alumni Council. She has a deep passion for creative problem solving and the impact it has on the lives of children and adults.
Erica holds a doctorate in Anthropology from the University of Iowa where she specialized in the archaeology of Ancient Mexico. She spent many years on the faculty at Grand Valley State University in Michigan before joining the DI staff.
In her free time, Erica loves creative writing, teaching and making pottery, spending time with her family, and daydreaming about dragons.
Thalia A. Faison is the Bookkeeper at Destination Imagination, Inc., where she reviews all vendor and independent contractor invoices for proper documentation, coding and approvals. She processes and records all accounts payable transactions, cash disbursements, and credit card transactions for the organization; as well as all accounts receivable transactions, cash and credit card receipts, cash sweeps, and donations. She also assists the Senior Accountant as needed.
Thalia enjoys spending time with her daughter, reading and traveling. In her spare time, she is a volunteer tutor teaching ESL and Basic Literacy (Reading and Math) to adults 18 and older.
Thalia has a B.S. in Business Administration from Pierce College in Philadelphia, PA. Her previous professional experience includes working in the financial service field in the banking industry and as a substitute teacher in Camden County, NJ.
Managing Director of Internal Operations
Kevin McDonough has been with the company since 1994 and currently oversees Administration, Human Resources, Finance, IT, Purchasing, Customer Service and Shipping. The teams strive to support the organization internally and externally and provide the best experience possible at all interface points.
Kevin has Bachelor of Arts degrees in International Relations and History from Drake University where he also studied German. He spent 4 years in the Army as a Russian voice interceptor and managed a non-profit prior to working with the organization.
In his spare time, Kevin likes to relax in Telchac Puerto, a small village in the Mexican state of Yucatan. While there, he supports Telchac Education, an organization that aims to relieve poverty through education, and Bonnie Beach Animal Rescue.
Director of Software Engineering
Prior to working with Destination Imagination, Inc., he worked on freelance web development projects and managed his own web development business. Don has a Masters Degree in Computer Science from Rowan University.
Don’s hobbies including gaming, collecting video game memorabilia, listening to music, and playing drums.
Darlene Courter is Destination Imagination, Inc.’s Administrative Manager. In previous years, Darlene assisted in facilitating DI Air Force Summer Camps, ESF Camps, and Family Camps at Global Finals.
In her free time, Darlene enjoys spending time with her family and being outdoors. She is also very active in her church. Darlene is no stranger to adventure, having parasailed and skydived. She is also an NAUI certified scuba diver.
Darlene graduated from Camden County College of New Jersey with an Associate’s Degree of Applied Science in Business Administration.
Director of Strategic Planning and Special Events
Paige Curtis oversees the planning, communications and facilitation of the organization’s strategic relationships and special events. Paige has a professional background in communications, non-profit event management, and creative programming development.
She is an alumna of the program and previously worked for the NFL’s Green Bay Packers as a Web and Digital Production intern and as an Athletic Communications intern at the University of Arkansas. Paige was also a Media Relations intern for USA Swimming during the 2012 Olympic Trials and subsequent Olympic Games.
She graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in Media Studies. Since graduating from the Destination Imagination program, Paige has volunteered in a variety of leadership roles for DI, including leading Instant Challenge Camps at Global Finals and volunteering within the Virginia and Wisconsin Affiliates. Paige also worked for DI as an Air Force Camp Counselor and has helped develop camp curriculum for both DIHQ and DI Wisconsin.
In her spare time, Paige enjoys traveling, spending time with friends and family, keeping up with a wide assortment of television programs and cheering on the University of Virginia’s athletic programs.
Lauren Burns is the Event Manager at Destination Imagination Inc., where she provides project support and execution on Strategic Initiatives and Events, including the annual Global Finals event.
She graduated from The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and a minor in Fine Art. While at TCNJ, she was also a member of the Women’s Varsity Soccer team. She has a professional background in event management and marketing and has previously worked for the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia and Technically Media. While at Technically Media, a niche news site, Lauren spearheaded large-scale events such as the annual Philly Tech Week.
In her spare time, Lauren enjoys spending quality time with friends and family, exercising (sometimes) and binge-watching TV shows. Ask her about her favorite Netflix original series.
Director of Creative & Marketing
Kate Grimes is the Director of Creative & Marketing at Destination Imagination, where she collaborates with a fantastic team of designers, writers, video producers, marketers, and web developers. They’ve created apps, websites, contests, brochures, merchandise, videos and much more.
Kate also has experience teaching computer graphics courses at Cumberland County College. Teaching gave Kate the opportunity to meet future designers and help them realize their potential.
When Kate isn’t working, she enjoys traveling, making pottery and biking. Kate holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Design from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
Social Media Director & Executive Editor
Tina Shaffer oversees Destination Imagination’s online communications, including the organization’s social media and blog. She also assists with the creation and editing of all program and marketing materials. Prior to joining Destination Imagination, Tina worked as both an arts & entertainment reporter and a technical writer. She authored content for a variety of print and online publications, including the Philadelphia City Paper, The Houston Chronicle and Salon.com.
Tina graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Women’s & Gender Studies.
In her free time, she enjoys playing piano and guitar, traveling and spending time with her family.
Senior Designer/Merchandise Manager
Christie Casselring is a Graphic Designer at Destination Imagination, Inc., where she is involved in the production of various marketing materials and creative projects. In her spare time, Christie enjoys riding her bike, listening to music and making anything from curtains to cheesecakes.
Christie graduated from Rowan University in 2001 with a Bachelor of Art degree and in 2008 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a specialization in Graphic Design.