Founder and Executive Director
Maria was born and raised in northern New York and left for a short time to live in the "big city" before moving home with her husband to raise their two children. She returned to school when her children were small and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from SUNY Potsdam in 2003. Maria is a seasoned teacher with fifteen years of experience in alternative educational settings. She is passionate about providing a non-coercive environment where young people have the opportunity to choose their own unique educational path, which is determined by their interests and aspirations. Maria believes that learning is a collaboration based on mutual respect, conversations, questions, experimentation, and playfulness. She has also noticed that, in addition, it is quite often super fun and very messy.
Seedlings Coordinator &
Water, Woods, &
Board of Directors
Board President, Christian Exoo joined the Deep Root Center Board in December 2016. He is a librarian at St Lawrence University who is dedicated to providing his students access to relevant, topical information.
Board Vice President, John Paul Burns is a native of Ogdensburg, NY. He is a recent graduate from SUNY Potsdam and aspires to get his doctorate in Clinical Psychology. JP is very politically active and is the chair of Our Revolution - St. Lawrence County, a local political activist group working to elect progressive candidates that will bring jobs and integrity back to the North Country. He is also a member of Wolf-Pac, an organization that is working to get money out of politics, as well as several other progressive political activist groups. JP volunteers at DRC teaching a civics class.
Board Secretary, Kara McLuckie exemplifies some of the best traits of her Capricorn birth sign: She is patient, disciplined, humorous and reserved. These characteristics come in handy in her role as Secretary of the DRC Board of Directors. Free time usually inspires Kara to read, garden, play with dogs, ride a bicycle long distances, and call people out on subtly racist or homophobic rhetoric on Facebook. For the future, Kara would like to prepare meals in batches for convenience, make gallons of salsa with homegrown tomatoes and hot peppers, be early for appointments, resume teaching writing, and run a Half-Ironman triathlon before she turns 43. Kara also occasionally works with a Nigerian non-profit organization on sexual and reproductive health education for adolescents living with HIV.
Board Treasurer, Candace Cowser, is a local entrepreneur who grew up in the Syracuse area and moved to Canton in 1994. She opened her hair salon, Shapes and Colors by Candace, in 1997. She is the eldest of nine children, eight girls and one boy, and was homeschooled from 7th - 12th grade. She taught for a major hair product manufacturer for seven years. Those who know her would not be surprised to learn Candace is a skydiver. She currently lives in Canton with her two sons, an outdoor enthusiast and a twelve year old chef, who prefers to cook sans shirt and shoes.
Diane Exoo has recently joined the Deep Root Center Board. She is a retired lawyer who has worked with at risk youth in St Lawrence County.