Ann Kelly

Ann Kelly - Executive Director

Leaving a place better than when you came is the ideal received from her mother. In Mendocino County, Ann Kelly was the founding curator of the Grace Hudson Museum in Ukiah, co-published books on local history, started a youth hockey program that served kids for over 10 years, and was a founder and director of La Vida Charter School since 2001. Born in North Dakota, raised in Ohio, Kelly came to California during the “back to the land” movement reliving the experiences of her pioneer ancestors. Family, especially her creative parents have been a great inspiration. Her father, a photo-journalist interviewed such greats at Caesar Chavez and Mother Theresa and covered the great March on Washington where Martin Luther King gave his I Have a Dream speech. Her mother started school programs, battered women shelters, sponsored Viet Nam refugees, and volunteered in the prisons.

Events within the educational setting have been important highlights in her life such as taking astronomy in a huge planetarium; being at Sonoma State in the experimental ‘70’s, when there was always some surprise happening in ones path. Then in graduate school at Oberlin, assisting at one of the finest college museums in the country, handling ancient artifacts as well as works by great masters both ancient and modern. Then travelling the country, looking at art and interviewing important artists. Finally being a part of the inventive charter school movement and getting a masters in charter school leadership. At La Vida, Kelly believes that working toward a personalized education embodying freedom is both inspiring and satisfying.

Magery Hinton - Business Manager

Lisa Burgess

Lisa Burgess - Business Secretary

Danielle Canaris

Danielle Canaris - Student Services

Andrew Miller - Information Technician


Michael Charnes

Michael Charnes - Music and Movement Teacher, Special Ed Resource Teacher

Music has been the driving force in Michael’s life. He studied music throughout his college years, including composition. Michael has composed, acted, and sang in musical theater. He continues to perform locally in a band. Michael worked as a teacher’s assistant in a group home and it was the teacher there who encouraged him to pursue study in education. He received his teaching credential from San Francisco State University. Michael’s current interests include making more CDs and assembling a band at La Vida that could perform at local venues. Michael holds a Multiple Subject Credential with a Certificate in Music, and a Special Ed Credential.

Cody Dooley - Kinder Assistant

Suzanne Farris

Suzanne Farris - Educational Coordinator, Elementary and High School

Karen Walsh

Karen Walsh - Science Teacher and High School Educational Coordinator

Karen Walsh brings to La Vida a love for the sea, the woods, and wildlife. Karen’s love of the sea dates to her teen years when she began fishing out of Bodega Bay. It became a fifteen-year career, including diving for sea urchins and fishing for herring, salmon, crab, and albacore. At the same time, she worked for Bodega Marine Laboratory, California Department of Fish and Game, and the National Marine Fisheries Service. She even operated a marine oil spill response business serving San Francisco Bay. These experiences eventually led her to a degree in watershed science at Santa Rosa Junior College. Karen obtained her B.A. in Liberal Studies from Chico State University and her teaching credential from Dominican University. Among her goals as a teacher is to educate others about wildlife and watersheds and to inspire kids to do good in the world. Nurturing her special interest in science curriculum at La Vida enables Karen to create opportunities for students to learn about and have a positive impact on the natural world around them.