Below are the fine folks that keep the varied cogs of The Clearing running smoothly. Some of these folks might greet you at the door, answer a question about your class registration over the phone or serve your morning coffee. Others work behind the scenes to schedule classes, weed a planting bed or fix a sqeeky door. Still others help to guide The Clearing by serving on The Clearing's board of directors. All of these folks help to ensure that Jens Jensen's dream lives on!

Michael Schneider |

Executive Director

Mike is entering his 14th year at The Clearing. When asked about his job description, he says "Anyone who works for a not-for profit organization, or any small business for that matter, has the same job description: Do what needs to be done that day!" This suits Mike just fine. He enjoys the variety of work his job requires, including program planning, facility management, teaching and writing, along with all of the day-to-day administrative tasks associated with running The Clearing. He still feels incredibly lucky to be working for such a unique and wonderful place and to be living in beautiful Door County! Along with his wife, Cindy, and their two cats, George and Oliver, he lives near Ellison Bay, where he spends his spare time gardening, landscaping, camping, birding, reading, writing and working with stained glass. Mike and Cindy's two children, Katherine and Jeffrey, are students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Erik Rinkleff |

Assistant Director

Erik first came to The Clearing in 1993 as an Iowa State landscape architecture student. His love of the outdoors, council fires and smores led him back to this land of oatmeal in 1997 for a three month summer job. That was a while ago and the rest, as they say, is history. And oh what an interesting history it has been. Erik's work at The Clearing takes him inside and out. Whether he's behind the computer, teaching a carving class, at the table saw or out on the trail, Erik enjoys the infinite creative currents running through The Clearing and the many people it calls to.

Tammy Musiel |

Program Director

Tammy grew up in Racine, WI and Door County is now home after traveling extensively throughout more than 20 years in her Human Resources career. Life continues to be made interesting through The Clearing community of Winter, Summer and Workshop Program students, its many volunteers, and The Clearing's long-standing traditions. To be able to come to work in this beautiful place with the creative spirit that permeates it, and have a role in its operation is a lucky position to be in.

Kathy Swanson |


No one knows The Clearing as well as Kathy. She grew up at The Clearing (with her dad and mom, Don & Louise Buchholz, Resident Managers from 1976-1999). Can you imagine having The Clearing's 128 as your very own backyard! Kathy never ventured too far from Door County and returned to work here in 1993. If you call The Clearing, you will not find a more kind or more informative person than Kathy. When not registering students, Kathy can be found quilting or out on the water in her kayak with her paddling buddy and husband Mike. And on land, she is closely followed by her two doggies, Connor and Ruby.

Melinda Schaufer |


Born in Ogden, Iowa, Melinda Schaufer has traveled a long, winding road -- teaching 7th & 8th grade English in Elgin IL, owning a shop in Door County for 3 years, marrying and moving to DC in 1980 and finding wonderful jobs along the way. In 2001, Melinda found her way to The Clearing, where her life has taken a decidedly new turn-seeing a monarch chrysalis open for the 1st time, watching fantastic luna moths and meeting wonderful people learning and growing at this folk school in the woods. All these life lessons and fabulous people continue to add unique dimensions to Melinda's life. Occasionally, challenges with copy machines and coping with this new technical world pop up, but they always pale in comparison to her 2 sweetest joys, grandsons Cooper and Xavier. Melinda lives with her husband Bruce up north - on Bluebird Trail

Barb Vondras |

Kitchen Manager and Head Cook

Lee Berkhoff |

Evening Cook

Brian Buchholz |

Buildings and Grounds

Mary Green |

Guest Check-In

Pat Lee |

Kitchen and Housekeeping

Diane Linden |

Kitchen and Housekeeping

Rita Maiworm |

Kitchen and Housekeeping

Jane Neave |

Kitchen and Housekeeping

Sandy Olson |

Kitchen and Housekeeping

Jennifer Vick |

Kitchen and Housekeeping

Gary Chaudoir |


Dan Poulson |

Vice President

Marilyn Peterson |


Steve Uglinica |


Dave Bultman |

Friends of The Clearing President

Nancy Akerly

Lou Covotsos

George Cobb

Mike Gilson

Nita Herreman

Ron Hupe

Carolyn Kimbell

Glenna Peters

Gloria Dougherty |

Director of Photography

With my husband Ron Klimaitis and dog, Amos, I've lived in Door County for 6 years and am grateful for the full life we have experienced here. Closeness to the Clearing was one of the main reasons we bought our home in Ellison Bay and, as a keen amateur photographer, being able to wander about the Clearing property and peek into classes while snapping photos is my dream 'volunteer job'. I never know what to expect as I head down to the Workshop or the Schoolhouse but the thing I hear most often is the sound of laughter. Lucky me.