Meet the SVSA Staff
- David Brown and Nancy Parsons-Brown, Co-Directors of Residential Life
- Tracey Caraluzzi, Residence Hall Chef
- Chris Martella, Academic Coordinator
- Jonna Mendes, Program Director
- Johnie Michael, High Performance Specialist
- Karoline Droege '88, Sports Medicine Coordinator
David Brown and Nancy Parsons-Brown, who oversee all aspects of student life for boarding students at the Ketchum Campus Residence Hall, are long-time Wood River Valley residents, parents to three Community School alums, and avid outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to her role as Co-Director of Residential Life, Nancy, who holds a BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder and her Masters in teaching from Graceland University, teaches Middle School French at Community School. David, a graduate of Stonehill College and Boston College Law School, is an accomplished attorney, writer, and avid woodworker. Both Nancy and David are hockey players, alpine and cross country skiers, and long-distance runners. Together, the couple’s goal is to make the Residence Hall a warm, safe, and encouraging place that allows students to feel at home.
Tracey Caraluzzi’s official role is Residence Hall Chef, but her maternal nature (she has five grown children) has led her to another, unofficial, role as boarding students’ “other mom.” In the kitchen, Tracey’s goal is to debunk notions of institutional food by providing students with healthy, delicious, locally-sourced food that fuels body, mind, and soul. With 30 years of restaurant and catering experience behind her, she strives to offer nutritionally balanced and tasty meals that are thoughtfully planned to appeal to a wide variety of taste preferences and cultural backgrounds and to offer a warm, welcoming meal-time experience to unite the Residence Hall family.
As SVSA’s Academic Coordinator, Chris Martella oversees the academic progress of all SVSA student-athletes throughout the competitive season. When a high number of student-athletes are on the road, Chris will travel with them to provide one-on-one tutoring, study halls, and guidance. As a student-athlete at Dartmouth College, Chris rowed for the Division 1 varsity heavyweight crew team and skied for the alpine club team—and earned a B.A. in neuroscience. In 2013, Chris, an avid outdoorsman, joined a six-man canoe expedition team and paddled for 58 days to the Arctic Ocean. He has worked with children of all ages in multiple settings, most notably the outdoors, as an outdoor educator with Calleva Outdoor Education, where he guided and supervised students in rafting, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, climbing, and environmental education. He most recently worked as a wilderness therapy field instructor with Second Nature Wilderness Programs in Utah. In his free time Chris loves to play his bright green ukulele, shred sick lines on the slopes, and, occasionally, juggle.
In her sixth year as the director of the Sun Valley Ski Academy, Jonna Mendes has an impressive background as an athlete and coach. A two-time Olympian—at the 1998 Nagano Olympic Games and 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games—Jonna was also a four-time National Champion (twice in downhill, twice in giant slalom) and earned a bronze medal in super-G at the 2003 Alpine World Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Following her 2006 retirement from the U.S. Ski Team, Jonna honed her coaching skills as a U.S. Ski Team development coach from 2006-10, working with athletes at national and regional projects and competitions. In addition to her role as SVSA Program Director, Jonna coaches the U16s with Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation. Jonna’s unique perspective and experience as an elite athlete and coach is an asset to the development of our SVSA student-athletes. In her free time, Jonna loves chasing her son, Declan, down the mountain and camping with Declan and her husband, Will.
Johnie Michael joined Community School in 2017 and serves as High Performance Specialist. Johnie manages the school's Julia Argyros Training Center at the Ketchum Campus and coordinates strength, conditioning, and sport science services for high school athletes participating in a wide variety of Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation and Community School sports. In addition, Johnie designs, implements, and monitors all aspects of athletes' yearly plans for athletic development.
Prior to joining Community School, Johnie most recently worked at the U.S. Ski & Snowboard's Center of Excellence in Park City, Utah providing strength and conditioning training for all disciplines with a focus on freestyle. His experience with Olympic athletes included all aspects of athletic development, including strength, power, speed, agility, and more. Prior to his time with U.S. Ski & Snowboard, Johnie served as a strength and conditioning graduate assistant for Oklahoma State University Department of Athletics.
Johnie holds a MS in health and human performance and a BS in health and education and promotion from Oklahoma State University. He is also an NSCA Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist. In his free time, he enjoys camping, fishing, skiing, and the outdoors.
Karoline Droege offers SVSA residential student-athletes sports medicine education, physical therapy evaluation, and treatment, as well as periodic sports medicine-related seminars for all students. A Community School and SVSEF alumna, Karoline raced alpine for NCAA Division 1 University of Utah from 1989-93, while earning her exercise and sport science degree with a psychology minor. Karoline went on to receive a master’s degree in physical therapy from Idaho State University, and she has been practicing physical therapy in the Wood River Valley for the past 16 years. Karoline and her husband, Chris, have five-year-old twin boys, Finn and Axel. When she is not working or chasing her boys, Karoline loves to take advantage of all the outdoor adventures Idaho offers; you might find her training for or competing in cross-country mountain bike events across the Pacific Northwest or camping with her family.
From every angle, the SVSA program is one that I wish I had access to as a young ski racer. While I did get the opportunity to play soccer and ski, I feel like I missed out on being a ‘normal’ high school student. For SVSA student-athletes, the sky’s the limit: from dances, to drama, to music, our kids have endless opportunities at their fingertips. While most come here to ski, they are able to do so much more.
-Jonna Mendes, SVSA Program Director