Workshop Facilitators


Tracy Benson


Waters Foundation

As a leader, author and innovator in the fields of systems thinking and organizational learning, Tracy Benson, Ed.D. brings extensive practitioner experience to her organization’s education and corporate work. As an educator, she has taught at elementary and secondary levels and has been a school principal and district level instructional coach and evaluator. In addition to K-12 experience, Tracy has served as an adjunct professor in both undergraduate and graduate university programs for teachers and administrators. She has been a contributing author to several books and most recently is co-author of the Habit-forming Guide to Becoming a Systems Thinker.

Tracy leads a national team of exceptional educators who skillfully make systems thinking concepts and tools accessible to real-world, practical applications. From the classroom to the boardroom, her capacity building and coaching sessions engage, motivate and inspire people wanting to make positive differences in their thinking, learning and leading.


Mary Quinnan

Executive Director, Leadership & School Improvement

Waters Foundation

Mary Quinnan, M.Ed. builds on her experience as former Director of Elementary/K-8 Leadership for Tucson Unified School District to facilitate and coach district and school leaders, including teachers, in the tools and strategies of systems thinking and deeper learning.  Mary has an extensive administrative background working with schools in improvement in high minority, high poverty communities to ensure equity and access to quality, research-based best practices.  She believes that building professional capacity in the application of systems thinking with educational leaders, and addressing the cultural impact of our work, allows the education system to foster an engaging, effective, student-centered learning environment for every child.


Joan Yates

Vice President

Waters Foundation

Joan Yates spent the first 15 years of her educational career teaching middle level English and mathematics and serving as a middle school administrator. Since then, Joan has been devoted to bringing the concepts and strategies of systems thinking to young people by building the capacity of the adults who work with them. For 17 years, she did that by serving as Director of the Systems Thinking Project in Tucson, Arizona’s Catalina Foothills School District. Now she facilitates professional development and follow-up coaching sessions nationally and internationally, believing that systems thinking provides powerful Habits and visual tools that can enhance everyone’s critical thinking and questioning skills.
Joan also derives great pleasure from working closely with many of the Waters Foundation Associates, assisting them throughout their certification process and continuing as a resource to them once they become facilitators.

Pete Reynolds


Learn Deep Milwaukee

Pete Reynolds has spent much of the past 25 years managing cross-functional teams in the development and implementation of new technologies for new andrapidly growing companies. That brought with it a need for immersion in the methodologies of Design Thinking,

Agile Software Development, User Experience Design, and the Lean Business Canvas — tools and processes designed to foster the rapid understanding of a problem from the customer’s perspective and iterate quickly to arrive at a sustainable solution.

Pete holds master’s degrees in Architecture and Urban Planning from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a B.S. in Urban and Regional Studies from Cornell University.

Joost Allard


Learn Deep Milwaukee

For the past several years, Joost Allard has chosen to apply his 25+ years of experience to the intersection of technology, innovation and education. His breadth of experience includes starting and advising startups, designing and coaching growing companies on how to develop partnerships successfully, as well as managing IT development projects at a variety of companies. Joost has served in leadership roles in charitable and professional associations throughout his career in the Netherlands, Germany and the US.

Joost has a graduate degree in Business from the University of St. Thomas (MN), a combined business and technology management degree from the City College of Frankfurt and a B.A. education (TOEFL and Dutch) degree from teacher training college in the Netherlands.

Ellen Grasley

First Grade Teacher

Humboldt Park School, Milwaukee Public Schools

Ellen Grasley is an early childhood educator with 30+ years in Milwaukee Public Schools. She has a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from UW Milwaukee and has used systems thinking Habits, tools and strategies with students and staff at Humboldt Park School for over four years. This is Ellen’s second year involved in the Milwaukee Systems Thinking Institute.

Betsy Markwardt

Middle School Teacher

Humboldt Park School, Milwaukee Public Schools

After 20 years as an accountant, Betsy Markwardt shifted gears. For the past 18 years, she has been a middle school teacher, and loving it, with Milwaukee Public Schools. Betsy has a master’s degree in Curriculum Design and finds that systems thinking has made learning and teaching more of an inquiry of the subject at hand. She is gratified to see middle school students truly grappling over an issue as systems thinking guides her students to look deeper. This is Betsy’s second year involved in the Milwaukee Systems Thinking Institute.