Goodman Community Center | Leadership Team

Letesha Nelson, President & Executive Director

Letesha Nelson joined the Goodman Community Center as its President and Executive Director on Jan. 25, 2021. Letesha brings more than 20 years of nonprofit experience that ranges from working directly with program participants all the way up to leading an organization as its Executive Director.

Prior to joining the Goodman Center, Letesha was the Executive Director of Children and Family Enrichment at Idlewild, in Memphis, and before that, she held a number of positions with the Girl Scouts that spanned more than 17 years and a range of responsibilities. Thanks to this breadth of experience, Letesha brings expertise in operational efficiency, fiscal responsibility, donor relations, grant writing and programming to the Goodman Center.

A naturally authentic person, Letesha’s greatest strength may be the compassion and transparency she brings to every leadership role she’s held. In her career, she has demonstrated a level of direct but caring communication with staff, colleagues, donors and the community. Letesha couples this with a demonstrated ability to think creatively and pragmatically to ensure budgets are optimized to their greatest effect while members of the community receive the services they need.

Perhaps this strength of leadership and caring comes more naturally to Letesha because for her, this work is personal. As a young, single mother, she relied on services like those the Goodman Center provides to balance taking care of her children and getting her degree. She understands just how important the work GCC does is – because she was once in the very same shoes many of our families are in right now.

Read Letesha's monthly letters to the community.

Dani Luckett (she/her/hers)

Chief Development Officer

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Dani Luckett has a passion for education and lifelong learning, and she brings more than 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience to the Goodman Center. Prior to joining GCC, Dani was the Director of Development for Madison Children’s Museum, where she oversaw all of the museum’s development and fundraising efforts. She also led the Our Future in Play campaign that helped sustain the museum through the COVID-19 crisis and rallied community support to build Wonderground, a new 10,000 square foot outdoor play exhibit. Additionally, Dani was a past leader of United Way of Dane County’s workplace giving campaign and loaned executive program, as well as the University of Wisconsin Foundation's $20M matching gift campaign to establish the Great People Scholarship program that supports UW undergraduate students with financial need.

Dani is a past recipient of In Business Magazine’s 40 Under 40 Award and past board president of Madison Youth Choirs. She currently serves on Destination Madison’s Community Relations Committee.

Dani is originally from Louisville, KY where she started her development career working with nonprofit arts and culture, and theater companies. She holds a master’s in business from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Bolz Center for Arts Administration, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky.

Dewayne Powell (he/him/his)

Vice President of Finance & Business Services

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Dewayne Powell has been serving the Goodman Community Center for more than 10 years, growing in his role and capacity in financial services to oversee all of the Center’s finance and technology operations. And, he was a Goodman kid himself, participating in Center activities for more than eight years. Dewayne holds a Master of Professional Accountancy and brings with him more than three years of auditing experience as well as a drive to solve problems through research and collaboration with colleagues and community partners.

Sara Nowakowski (she/her/hers)

Vice President of Mission & Strategy Management

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Sara Nowakowski was first introduced to Goodman in October 2016 when she joined the center's board as a student member. She joined as an official staff member in November 2017. Sara began her career in direct service work with youth, and it brought to places such as Mozambique where she worked as a Peace Corps volunteer. Sara received her MPA from the UW-Madison La Follette School of Public Affairs where she was trained in strategic planning, program evaluation, qualitative and quantitative analysis, public programs and grant administration, and more. She loves using an analytical mindset to find ways to continuously improve our community while also integrating diverse perspectives in the process.

Hope Ballentine (she/her/hers)

Vice President of People & Culture

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Hope Ballentine is the Vice President of People & Culture at Goodman Community Center. Hope holds a B.S. in Counseling & Human Services, an Administration Credential and is currently finishing her MBA with a concentration in HR. Hope is originally from New Jersey and after her military career she came here to Wisconsin. She is also a mother of three beautiful children. Hope's experience of being adopted brought her to a passion of wanting to help her community and make a difference. Hope also has a strong passion for creating relationships and providing resources/training to help others evolve and be the best person they can be. All these things led her to where she is in the Human Resources field.

Catie Tollefson (she/her/hers)

Vice President of Mission & Programs

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Catie Tollefson is the Vice President of Mission & Programs at the Goodman Community Center. Catie is a lifelong Madison north-sider and a graduate of East High school and UW-Madison. She gained much of her youth employment experience managing teen employees for more than 20 years at Ella’s Deli. In 2018, Catie began volunteering at GCC, became the FYI Teen Employment Program Coordinator in 2019, and moved into her current role in 2023. Catie believes in youth employment training that exposes youth to different work experiences in a supportive environment. To her, a successful teen employment experience develops not only employment skills but also confidence, initiative and a better understanding of long-term, post-high school goals. Catie feels very fortunate to be a part of the amazing Goodman Community Center family!