Dena Johnston has been the Executive Director of the Lawrence Schools Foundation since January, 2016. The Holton, Kan. native has three children in the Lawrence Public Schools – Skyler (Free State), Braycen (West Middle School) and Bentley (Quail Run).
She spends most of her time driving her “mom taxi” and is the biggest fan to her three children in their sports of basketball, football and competitive dance. When she isn’t working or chasing her kids around, Dena enjoys cooking, cheering on her K-State Wildcats, traveling, being active in the community and organizing (yes, this is a hobby!).
“What I have enjoyed most about my experiences within the Foundation is seeing all of the amazing ideas and impactful contributions being developed in the Lawrence community,” she said. “I have not only been inspired for my future, but provided with a friendly reminder of what first sparked my passion for nonprofit work.”
Fun Fact: Dena once opened a Vanilla Ice concert as a backup dancer.
Jamie Sinclair began working at the Foundation in 2011 and is the coordinator of the Lawrence Schools Foundation and Lawrence Education Achievement Partners (LEAP). A Lawrence native, she and her husband Jason have three children (Logan and Lauren, both at Free State and Piper at Southwest Middle School).
As a mother of three, her hobby is driving her kids to their hobbies. She and her family are avid Jayhawks fans and enjoys spending time at The Lake of the Ozarks with her family in the summer.
“My favorite thing about the Foundation is working with my awesome co-workers and I am sure they feel the same,” she said. “It feels like we work for the prize patrol being able to give out grants, awards and scholarships to the students and teachers. Our community business partners are so generous with their time and resources, whether it is speaking in a classroom or donating straws for science projects, they step in and help support our schools."
Fun Fact: Jamie has a blue belt in Tae Kwon Do, but being only 4’ 10 ½” tall, she is not sure how much of an effect it would have.
Michelle Jennings joined the LSF staff in 2020 as a Bookkeeper. Michelle has a BA in English/Speech Education from Washburn University. She retired from being a commercial lender at Central Bank of the Midwest this past summer; however, before working at the bank, she taught English at Free State High School. All four of her children, and her husband Tom, are Lawrence High School graduates. Her education background, and her experience in finance, make a great combination for the Foundation.
Michelle’s favorite pastime is playing with her grandsons, Lincoln and Finn. She loves to travel, knit and cross stitch, and read mystery/suspense novels. She is an avid professional football and college basketball fan.
“My favorite thing about the Foundation is being able to help both teachers and students. Dena and Jamie are great to work with, and they keep the Foundation connected to our school community’s needs. It is so rewarding to see how our Lawrence community comes together to support our kids and our teachers.” ”
Fun Fact: I’m a NASCAR fan, and my favorite driver is Chase Elliot..