Our Team

We have a dedicated group of staff and board members who make our work possible. Staff positions and short bios are below. You can access a list of our Board of Directors and their affiliations here.

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Kellsey Firehammer

Myers-Wilkins Youth Development Coordinator

Kellsey comes to the team with over ten years of experience supporting young people. She moved to Duluth in 2016 and has enjoyed working with youth in a variety of organizations including Neighborhood Youth Services, Safe Haven Shelter and Resource Center, and the Duluth Area Family YMCA. Kellsey has a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Minnesota Duluth and is interested in exploring unique ways to connect people not only to resources and supports across systems but also to each other. In her free time Kellsey enjoys supporting food justice through the Duluth Community Garden Program and exploring Duluth's many outdoor spaces with her husband and dogs. She is excited to foster youth curiosity and connection at Myers-Wilkins Elementary!

Contact: kellseyf@duluthcsc.org

Kelsey Gantzer

Kelsey Gantzer

Executive Director

Kelsey has experience in nonprofit management, educational leadership, and youth development. Prior to joining the Collaborative, she served as Food Access Manager and Rutabaga Project Manager at the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency and the Operations and Communications Manager for the Minnesota Elementary School Principals Association. She has a passion for building sustainable community connections and working with youth. She holds a BA in Business Management and English from the University of St. Thomas. 

Contact: kelsey@duluthcsc.org or 218-212-5952

Athena Hatfield

Athena Hatfield

AmeriCorps VISTA Member

Athena recently graduated from Luther College in Decorah, IA, where they studied sociology and linguistics. They are passionate about addressing barriers to education, which they believe is a foundation for positive social change. This requires supporting students in all aspects of their well-being, including access to basic needs, a supportive community, and programs designed to respond to their and their families’ stated needs. In their free time, Athena enjoys discovering new music and spending time outdoors, as well as exploring the grammar and phonology of different languages.

Contact: athena@duluthcsc.org

Angel Nustad-Peluso

Angel Nustad-Peluso

Director of Programs

Angel has been a youth work professional since 2004, directing programs in mental health, school-based, and community-based settings. Before taking her current role in 2020, Angel joined DCSC as the Community School Coordinator for Denfeld High School in 2018. She has a BA in Studio Arts with an emphasis in Women's Studies from the College of St. Catherine. She has earned several youth work action research fellowships, authored an article for the Journal of Youth Development, and contributed to the Hubert Project E-Study, A Youth Work Lens on Human Development. She also serves on the board of directors and the continuous program improvement systems building workgroup of the MN statewide afterschool network, Ignite Afterschool.

Contact: nd.angelina.peluso@isd709.org

Saraiya Piantek

Saraiya Piantek

Denfeld Site Coordinator

Saraiya began her position as Denfeld Community School Site Coordinator in 2020. She has been working with children in nonprofit settings, including the YWCA Duluth, Boys & Girls Club, and Northwood Children's Services since 2013. She attended the Education Studies Program at the University of Minnesota, focusing on Early Childhood Education and Special Education. Saraiya specializes in mental health, trauma, and emotional and behavioral needs. She currently serves as co-chair for the MLK Planning Committee of the Duluth NAACP. She enjoys going on hikes and spending time outside during her free time. Saraiya cares deeply about building a safe place for all students to meet their needs and reach their full potential.

Contact: nd.saraiya.piantek@isd709.org

Caitlin Smith

Caitlin Smith

Myers-Wilkins Site Coordinator

Caitlin Smith started with the Collaborative in September, 2021. She has more than six years experience working with youth who have been impacted by homelessness living in permanent supportive housing. She attended UMD’s Unified Early Childhood program and has a passion for understanding brain development and the impacts of trauma on the brain. She is an experienced Circle of Security Parenting facilitator and has recently been trained in Restorative Practices. Caitlin also serves on the board of The Duluth Center for Women and Children. She loves to spend her free time with her loved-ones. Any activity by a body of water is her favorite, including paddleboarding, rowing, swimming, fishing, rock-picking, and pontooning.

Contact: nd.caitlin.smith@isd709.org

Rachel Thapa

Rachel Thapa

Lincoln Park Site Coordinator

Rachel works alongside a collaborative leadership team composed of families, school staff, and community partners to create, strengthen, and maintain the bridge between school and community. She has been in her current role since 2016 and has been involved with the Collaborative since 2003, including several years on staff at the Myers-Wilkins site. Rachel has a B.A. in Behavioral Arts and Sciences with emphases in Psychology and Education, and more than fifteen years of experience in youth development and full-service community schools. She is inspired by the strength and resilience of people around her and a vision of a more hopeful future. Rachel is committed to co-creating the conditions of well-being necessary for all people to learn and thrive through authentic connection and collaboration.

Contact: rachel.thapa@isd709.org