About Us

The Commissioner of Education approved the Minnesota Office of Charter Authorizing in August 2019 to serve as a single-purpose authorizer of public charter schools in Minnesota.

MOChA Mission: to improve all pupil learning and all student achievement.

MOChA Board of Directors
Marcia Houtz, Secretary

A career science teacher, Marcia served in numerous leadership roles including team leadership and staff development chair. Her most enjoyable experiences included designing theme-based interdisciplinary curricula with colleagues. Marcia also designed and implemented a program to compact the curriculum for gifted and talented students.

While teaching, Marcia was a member of the Best Practices statewide teacher network and later the Director of School Service at the Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM) from 1991-2000 where she built and nurtured partnerships with businesses, community leaders, and schools. During her tenure at the SMM, Marcia served as a board member of the Minnesota Academy of Science as the Science Museum of Minnesota representative, as well as serving on the board of the Minnesota Science Teacher’s Association representing Informal Science Education.

As an adjunct faculty member at the University of St. Thomas and Hamline University, Marcia instructed and advised pre-service teachers. Marcia has served as the board chair of a Minnesota charter school as well as an advisor for a Minnesota charter school authorizer.

Contact: mhoutz@themocha.org

Jay Martini, Treasurer

Dedicated to youth development and the well-being of young adults, Jay has decades of school leadership experience. He founded and directed (1993-2017) Rochester Off Campus (ROC) Charter High School (now Rosa Parks Charter High School).

A social worker by training and indefatigable by commitment to serve young adults, Jay has contributed to innumerable boards including serving as the board chair of the Minnesota Association of Charter Schools (2004-2006), the MDE Special Education Advisory Board (1999-2008), and the Governor’s Task Force on Mental Health. Recently, Jay served on the Hazelden Adolescent Programs Advisory Board (since 2009) as well as the On-Belay/Anthony Louis Treatment Centers, Advisory Board (since 2010).

Contact: jmartini@themocha.org

Dave Peterson, Chair

A relationship-oriented and insightful leader adept at successfully transforming organizations and implementing change, Dr. Peterson served 27 years as a practicing school principal – high school, middle school and elementary levels – and 10 years as a charter school administrator, authorizing director and consultant with charter schools in Minnesota.

As a faculty member of the University of St. Thomas, Dr. Peterson provided instruction and advisement for over 750 graduate students as they pursued principal or superintendent licensure. In addition, he served as the Director of Charter School Authorizing for St. Thomas, building a portfolio of charter schools and the infrastructure to support the approval and monitoring of schools.

While at the University of St. Thomas, Dr. Peterson was lead designer and supervisor of the Charter Leader Assessment and Development Center.

Contact: dpeterson@themocha.org

Said Sheik-Abdi

Said Sheik-Abdi is a widely recognized international expert and speaker on humanitarian aid, Somali diaspora communities, and global partnerships. He has provided advice to governments and communities in the US, UK, Turkey, Sweden, Somalia, Denmark, and Norway. He has advised the White House and State Department on issues related to diaspora, remittances, and humanitarian aid. He was one of the few African descendants invited to advise President Obama’s first trip to Africa.
Said is co-founder of Star Finance, a social impact startup addressing housing challenges for minorities in Minnesota. He also serves as Managing Director at Aamin Consulting Group, an International Consulting company that helps build the capacity of nonprofit organizations, government institutions, and the private sector.

As a  Program Manager at American Refugee Committee (ARC)(now Alight), Said led the I AM A STAR campaign, an innovative grass roots platform which brought together members of the global Somali diaspora and others to support humanitarian aid and peace in Somalia. I AM A STAR campaign won the Peter Drucker Award for nonprofit innovation in 2012. In 2019, along with Turkish Airlines, the Global Donor Forum Committee in London named Said “2018 Creative Coordinator” for effective responses to drought in Somalia.

Dedicated to supporting community-driven programs, Said has served on charter school boards in Minnesota.

Contact: ssheik-adbi@themocha.org