Mr. Hileman joined Highmark School Development in 2008. In his role as CEO, he leads the company’s efforts to provide facility solutions for the nation’s growing charter school movement. Additionally, he has expanded the company’s focus to include independent schools and early learning centers. Collectively, he has developed educational facilities of over 2.3MM square feet, valued over $500MM. In June 2016, Mr. Hileman was recognized as the Utah Region EY Entrepreneur of the Year. Prior to joining Highmark, he spent 21 years in the Consumer Packaged Goods industry, having worked with Kraft Foods and Sara Lee Corporation in the capacity of sales management, strategic planning and customer marketing. His experiences required 9 relocations across 7 states and included 2 corporate assignments. He is the father of 6 children and enjoys time with his family, especially biking and hiking adventures. Mr. Hileman holds a BA in Communications from Brigham Young University.
Mr. Beausoleil joined Highmark in September 2011. As Vice President of Business Development, Patrick leads our market entry and “first call” efforts with school boards, authorizers, management companies, industry associations, and school founders.
He is responsible for assessing market topography; analyzing school budgets; assembling relevant data; monitoring legislation; and extending that first hand of friendship to prospective clients. His early role assists the team in developing effective and appropriate customer solutions. Professionally, he is passionate about fact finding, data analysis, process improvement, and demystifying facility development for school founders and boards.
Prior to Highmark, Patrick served as the Director of Business Development for the largest builder of charter schools in the nation. And before that, he served the same role with a Midwest regional design/builder, expanding the firm’s reach into numerous states on both public and private projects. Before entering the charter school space, he was an English teacher and corporate trainer. His teaching resume includes US and Japanese universities, community colleges, and corporate training for several Japanese industry giants such as Toshiba, Hitachi, NSK, and Taiho Pharmaceuticals.
Patrick holds Bachelors’ degrees in English and Psychology from Grand Valley State University in Michigan and an MA in English from Indiana State University.
Patrick is a Life Member of the National Rifle Association and is passionate about Second Amendment rights. His other loves include amateur mycology and growing heirloom tomatoes, exotic pumpkins, hardneck garlic, and just about anything that can be planted, picked, and pickled.
Mrs. Nichols joined Highmark School Development in September 2008. Always searching out new ways to improve operations and elevate best practices, she has implemented multiple systems leaving the organization sustainable for growth well into the future. Driven by a strong sense of urgency and efficiency, she enjoys and thrives on incorporating the economics of complex real estate deals into the organization’s financial modeling tool which she has been solely responsible for building and maintaining over the years. She started her career as a successful Operations Manager for Target Corporation where she managed a crew of three supervisors and twenty employees in back-end operations. In less than a year, she was promoted from a $15M store to a $30M store. She then took a position in corporate retail where she gained valuable experience in compiling and analyzing profitability reports and building long-term business relationships. While working in corporate retail, Mrs. Nichols earned her Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer certificate and started a career in technology with 3M Health Information Systems and Ebix Life, Inc. Prior to joining the Highmark team, Mrs. Nichols worked for WhiteStar Consultancy and has extensive experience with QuickBooks, payroll processing, and general accounting.
With a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida and more than 21 years of corporate retail, technology, and accounting experience combined, Lana brings versatility and understanding of operations on a very deep level. Her passions away from work include rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, snowboarding, and hiking. She loves dogs and is a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Mrs. Sweeris brings to Highmark School Development an extraordinary blend of construction and financial expertise. Before joining Highmark in July 2011, she spent the past 5 years with Bouma Construction, specializing in the areas of pre-construction and land use. In her most current 3 years, she supported Highmark as a Design/Build Project Developer, assisting in over $50MM in construction projects. Tammy brings to Highmark a passion for educational construction with over 300 projects completed, spanning more than 25 years. She started her career in finance/credit and transitioned her expertise to the construction industry where she served as CFO, while focusing on project management, business development and operations. As VP of Construction & Facilities, she will manage the different processes needed to provide facilities that appropriately serve the programming needs of our various charter school clients. She will continue to mitigate asset risk by supporting our end-users with proper facility care. Tammy’s vast experience in educational facilities allows her to assist our clients in proper space utilization ensuring programming and vision are brought to reality. Her credentials also include US Department of Labor OSHA instructor, ACCE Construction Management Accreditation Visiting Team Member and active participation in many construction industry related organizations. Her other past projects include hospitals, public libraries and public works projects, which enhance her ability to work with the various municipalities associated with project development.
Mr. Skousen joined Highmark School Development in April of 2008 bringing 15+ years of experience in finance, sales, and marketing from an array of different industries. As President of Highmark School Development, Mr. Skousen is responsible for the execution of the company’s strategic plan; including all sales and marketing efforts.
Prior to becoming President, Mr. Skousen held positions of VP of Sales and Marketing and Director of Investment Banking. Mr. Skousen has been influential in helping Highmark become recognized as a leading national provider of charter school facilities with operations in 16 states. Highmark has developed over 50 educational facilities totaling 2.5 million square feet. These school facilities educate nearly 23,000 students.
Prior to joining Highmark, Mr. Skousen co-founded and was the President of a financial service Mortgage Company for six years. Mr. Skousen began his professional career as a consultant for PriceWaterhouseCoopers, where he prepared tax compliance and managed financial portfolios for high net worth clients. Mr. Skousen holds a BS in Finance and Marketing from Brigham Young University.
Ms. Provost joined Highmark School Development in May of 2016. As Manager of Business Development, Melissa will work in parallel with Mr. Beausoleil, building and strengthening industry relationships; increasing market recon and penetration; and developing effective customer solutions.
Prior to Highmark School Development, Melissa served as Manager of Business Development and Director of Marketing in food service management for charter and private school schools. In that role, she successfully identified markets, developed business plans, strategies, and tactics, and coordinated the transition of projects and relationships to actual development, while maintaining excellent relationships with her clients.
Before moving into the charter and private school arena, Melissa began her career in information technology development working in the aerospace and telecommunications industry. Quickly realizing her passion for sales and marketing, Melissa spent the next 10 years in the healthcare industry where she was responsible for analyzing, building, and maintaining client portfolios and relationships with all client key decision makers. She also trained and managed call center staff and health insurance agents on industry specific products and tools, while creating a highly productive work environment.
Melissa’s passions outside the office include international travel, paddle boarding, cycling, and her two dogs, Radar and Bossman.
Amy Ruck Kagan
Amy Ruck Kagan joined Highmark in August of 2016 as the Director of Portfolio Management. Amy is excited to be a resource for and partner to Highmark’s growing portfolio of schools, school communities, and key stakeholders. Amy is a key contact for our schools from early in the process throughout the school’s occupancy in a Highmark facility. She builds and maintains relationships, while monitoring school compliance and success. She is always happy to provide information and answers.
Amy and her team ensure that Highmark understands what makes each school unique and how best to highlight the mission and vision of each community, bringing the school stories to life for Highmark, our investors, and the public at large. Prior to moving to Utah with her family, Amy served as the founding Executive Director of Philadelphia Charters for Excellence, Philadelphia’s leading advocate for quality charter schools. Before Philadelphia, Amy was the Deputy Commissioner of Innovation for the state of New Jersey. In this position, she oversaw all things school choice for the Department of Education- charter schools, interdistrict public school choice, non-public schools, portfolio districts, and all related practices and policies.
Amy brings fifteen years of public education experience and has been in the charter sector for the last nine. Amy has a strong background in building accountability and performance management systems and in finding areas of flexibility and autonomy for quality operators. She supports building policy that is predicated upon improving educational options and outcomes for students and has committed her career to being choice oriented and reform centered. Amy started her career as a teacher and remains committed to ensuring that the quality of a child’s education is not dictated by his or her zip code.
Mr. Chase joined the Highmark team in October of 2014. He has been in commercial construction for 30 years. Starting as a union carpenter on retail build outs he has been a superintendent and project manager for the past 17 years. With this vast array of experience Mr. Chase knows what it takes to get a project completed on time, on budget, and to client specifications. His hands-on understanding of quality construction processes gives him an eye for detail that works to the client’s advantage. His knowledge and skills as a project manager entail all phases of construction from estimating, bids, and contracts, to scheduling of trades, permits, inspections, change orders, and punch lists. Mr. Chase has honed his communication and people skills through years of building relations with clients, architects, inspectors, contractors, and trades. For Highmark, Mr. Chase will be overseeing projects from contractor selection to project completion with emphasis on evaluation of contractor site performance, quality of construction, and safety. Mr. Chase attended Louisiana State University, has current OSHA 30 certification, and has participated in a Habitat for Humanity project in New Orleans. He loves spending time with family, especially his two grandchildren. He also enjoys his dog, fishing, college football, and photography.
Kelsy Vargo joined Highmark School Development in April 2013 and brought with her private and public sector work experience. As Risk Manager for Highmark School Development, Ms. Vargo is responsible for proactively ensuring the stability of Highmark’s growing portfolio through compliance monitoring and managing all insurance related matters.
Prior to her role as Risk Manager, Ms. Vargo spearheaded the development of Highmark’s Asset Management department and served as the Director of Asset Management. At that time Highmark’s portfolio had nearly 50 educational facilities (private, charter, and early education) in 16 states educating 23,000 students.
Ms. Vargo holds a BS from Brigham Young University in Landscape Management and a Masters’ degree in Public Administration with endorsements in Finance and Local Government, also from Brigham Young University. Ms. Vargo is mother to one and resides with her family in Salt Lake City.
Faye Staskewicz joined Highmark in 2014 to support the Construction and Facilities team with over 30 years experience working in the construction industry. Faye has worked in the contract administration department for a military supplier, as the office manager of a general trade contractor, and as project coordinator for a large mechanical contractor. For the last sixteen years she has worked for a construction management/general-contracting firm with emphasis on educational, municipal, State and Federal defense projects. For eight years she was involved with project pre-bid, subcontractor awards, submittals, project manager assistant and closeout procedures. The last eight years included responsibilities of corporate officer for multiple entities. She was also responsible for accounting functions, annual audits, Treasury audits, and all financial management of annual revenues from $22M to $49M. She managed all human resource tasks, commercial insurance, corporate fleet, payroll to include all related tax reporting, accounts payable, accounts receivable including all contract billings and office operations. Faye has been very involved with her local chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction serving as President for three terms, Secretary, Treasurer and Director. Faye is committed to community benefit involvement, which includes working on several Habitat for Humanity projects.
Mr. Bourne started with Highmark in 2014 as the Director of Project Development and brings with him more than 13 years of real estate and finance experience. Prior to Highmark, he worked as a mergers and acquisitions Senior Manager for Lennar Homes, the third largest homebuilder in the country, where he led the valuation and due diligence process for corporate real estate transactions valued between $20M and $2B. He also worked as a financial analyst for Bel Air Investment Advisors, a boutique private wealth management fund based in Century City, CA. Mr. Bourne began his career working for KPMG, helping provide business solutions to financial services clients throughout the country. He holds an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA and a BS in Accounting from Brigham Young University.
Julie is a dynamic, resourceful administrator who brings excellence in analytics, project development and creative solutions to the Highmark School Development team. She’s demonstrated superior standards throughout her education and business endeavors. She attended Westminster College and graduated with a perfect 4.0 in International Business. Additionally, she successfully managed over $200 million in subcontracts on the award winning Utah State Capitol Renovation Project, and undertook the massive subcontract billing management of 25,000+ invoices and $400 million in subcontract values for the expansive City Creek Center – projects valued at over $1 billion. Prior to this, Julie enjoyed a diverse career in business development having served as the COO of a large California law firm, and later established Heritage Funeral Services with three successful funeral homes in the central California valley. Living up to her record of excellence, Julie takes pride in exceeding expectations on all fronts. Julie is the quintessential “Nuevo Grammi”. She absolutely adores her grandchildren who are spread across the world and spends her spare time visiting them in Hong Kong, New Zealand and everywhere in between. If you want to work your way into her heart, talk about travel or her kiddos!
Wilford Puertas joined the Highmark team in February 2016 as the Accounting Analyst. As part of the accounting team he oversees the accounts receivable of the company, he also helps in the collection and maintenance of financial data for Highmark School Development and associated project companies. Prior to joining Highmark, Wilford spent 7 years working in the airline industry as a Product Coordinator for the marketing department. As a Product Coordinator he worked directly with business partners coordinating the implementation of their contracts and promotions onto the airline website. Mr. Puertas also has more than 8 years experience in the car retail industry. Wilford holds a Bachelors degree from the Brigham Young University in Latin American Studies, he loves spending time outdoors with his family, he enjoys sports but he has a passion for soccer. He tries to be a positive influence to his peers. He spent 2 years on a service mission in Peru.
Amanda Poster joined Highmark School Development in September 2014. As the Accounting Assistant she works with clients, vendors and banking contacts to collect and maintain the financial data for Highmark School Development and all associated project companies. Prior to joining Highmark, Mrs. Poster has more than 15 years experience in Accounting. Her diverse accounting background includes retail, manufacturing, transportation and financial industries. For the last 4 years she worked in the airline industry as a Product Coordinator for Marketing. This included maintaining contracts, promotions and preparing website content. She has a passion for travel and has had the opportunity to visit many places in world. She is always looking to broaden her horizon and embark on new adventures.
Mr. Talbot joined Highmark in July of 2013. His background in the construction industry will add to the Highmark School Development suite of services. Mr. Talbot will work with the Design and Construction teams to facilitate the construction process, provide insight to alternate building methods and the impact they have on cost and schedule. Prior to joining Highmark Mr. Talbot worked with a nationally recognized General Contracting firm where he managed projects from preconstruction to project turnover. Many of these projects were completed utilizing the Design Build delivery system where his responsibility was to lead the development of the design/engineering and manage the construction process ensuring that the Owner’s requirements were met. Mr. Talbot began his career constructing retail stores throughout the country. This experience brought many challenges and lessons learned while working in various regions of the country. Mr. Talbot’s many years in the construction industry will benefit you, the Highmark client, by providing proven construction leadership in design and engineering, value engineering analysis of building systems and evaluation of contractor site performance, quality and safety. Accreditations: LEED AP, DBIA Certifications, Total Quality Management Certification.
Mr. Miller joined the Highmark team as Accounting Manager in 2013. He helps maintain accuracy and financial integrity on each project. His expertise in accounting helps create a smooth transition from construction phase to a fully operating school. His diverse career has included accounting and operations leadership in several industries. He helped a startup online retailer grow to join INC 500’s fastest growing companies list. Later he co-founded a new private school as Financial Aid Director where he implemented their federal Title IV funds program. In 2016 he took on increased responsibility as Highmark’s Director of Accounting. He holds a BS in Economics from the University of Utah.
Ms. MacKenzie Thorn joined Highmark School Development in June of 2015. As Director of Acquisitions she manages the entitlement process of land and buildings throughout the more than fifteen states Highmark is currently active. She utilizes her development experience to ensure Highmark can provide a facility solution for our clients.
Prior to joining Highmark, Ms. Thorn managed luxury residential ground-up and conversion development projects in NYC with HFZ Capital Group. She was responsible for managing three key development projects that have an estimated sell out value of $1billion. In addition, she managed the marketing and sales of five projects totaling nearly 350 units ranging in price from $1m to $47m throughout Manhattan.
Ms. Thorn previously worked for the City of New York in the Department of Design and Construction where she assisted in managing the construction of the New York Police Academy project in College Point, Queens; 3 buildings on 35 acres with a $656million construction budget. She was also an adjunct professor at NYU’s Schack Institute of Real Estate.
Ms. Thorn began her professional career working for Sony Electronics as a financial analyst before pursuing her passion for real estate development. Ms. Thorn graduated from New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate with a Master’s in Real Estate with a concentration in Development. She also holds a BSBA in Accounting and Finance from the University of Denver. She was awarded Top Women to Watch in Real Estate in 2015. Ms. Thorn resides in Salt Lake City with her husband.
Sami Denos joined Highmark School Development in April of 2015. As Bookkeeper and Office Coordinator she works alongside the accounting and the asset departments assisting in the collection of financial data from Highmark’s client schools. She also has the responsibility to help the company run smoothly by maintaining the company website, publishing the quarterly newsletter, coordinating company events, among many other duties. Prior to joining Highmark, Mrs. Denos spent six years working in the healthcare industry for a national leader of disposable medical supplies. As the Store Front Supervisor Mrs. Denos managed five retail stores, coordinated the opening of a new store, and worked directly with customers. Most recently she worked as an Equipment Coordinator specializing in Diabetes equipment sales where she coordinated the purchase of Insulin Pumps and Continuous Glucose Monitors between the patient, doctors office, insurance, and the manufacturer. Mrs. Denos is exceptional at multi-tasking and is detail oriented. Mrs. Denos has a passion for traveling, camping, hiking, river rafting, snowboarding, shopping, and spending time with her family.