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Amanda Aiken, Principal, New Orleans College Prep
"It is easier to build strong children, than it is to repair broken men". This quote by Frederick Douglass serves as a driving principal in Amanda L. Aiken's life. Amanda Aiken is the Principal of Lawrence D. Crocker College Prep. In her first year as Principal, Amanda along with her incredible team of educators, catapulted Crocker College Prep from being the lowest performing school in the city of New Orleans to the most improved school in New Orleans. In addition, to being a principal, Amanda serves as an internship coach with Teachers College, Columbia University. Before becoming Principal of Crocker College Prep, Amanda served as the Principal in Residence and Instructional Performance Manager of Sylvanie Williams College Prep Elementary School. As an Instructional Performance Manager she also taught 4th grade ELA. This resulted in her having the highest ELA scores in the network, and her scholars outperforming the city average. Before moving to New Orleans Amanda taught 4th grade in the Gwinnett County School System in Georgia.
Amanda is a Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude graduate of Spelman College, where she earned her BA in Child Development/Teacher Certification. She obtained her Masters Degree in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is currently a fellow is the National Principals Academy Fellowship with Relay Graduate School of Education. Amanda is originally from Hopewell Junction, New York. She is the daughter of Eugene and Edweana Aiken, and the sister of Eugene L. Aiken III. In addition to her service to the children of New Orleans, Amanda is also an active member of the community. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Alpha Beta Omega Chapter, The Orchid Society, The National Alumnae Association of Spelman College, New Orleans Chapter, and a member of Franklin Ave. Baptist Church. Amanda enjoys traveling and is committed to fitness.
Joshua Cox, Associate, Barrasso Usdin Kupperman Freeman Sarver
Joshua Cox was raised in Gainesville, Florida where he attended Oak Hall High School. Upon graduation, Josh continued his education at Yale University, where he was a four-year letterman on the varsity baseball team and won the coveted William Neely Mallory Award. Josh was also a founding board member of the Yale Black Men's Union and was deeply involved in its mentorship initiative. In fact, his time in the mentorship initiative was so powerful, it led him to become a middle school English teacher at New Orleans College Prep Charter School after graduation.
While in the classroom, Josh noticed that many students were not motivated to get to college because they neither understood its benefits nor could they visualize themselves on a college campus. In response, Josh founded the Harvard-Yale Program (HYP), which took his best students on a Northeastern college tour that mimicked the college experience. On the trip, students met with current college students, professors and even enjoyed cultural performances by acapella groups and step-shows. After two years in the classroom, Josh realized that poverty - and the problems that accompany it - are the biggest barriers to reducing inequity in New Orleans. In 2011, he left the classroom to attend the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Fels Institute of Government to study law and policy. In the future, Josh hopes to do work that reduces inequality and increases economic opportunity for all New Orleanians.
Derrick Frazier, Manager, Development Grants and Analysis, Teach For America - Greater New Orleans
Derrick Frazier is passionate about helping our nation to reach the day when every child can attain an excellent education. He moved to New Orleans in 2013 to join the staff of Teach For America, through which he works to persuade institutional donors to continue investing in the rebirth of public education systems across Greater New Orleans, one decade after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Prior to his current role as Manager, Development Grants and Analysis, Derrick served the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, facilitating grantmaking that reduced poverty and increased graduation rates across the state of Arkansas. Earlier, as a program analyst at Mott Philanthropic, an advisory firm in Massachusetts, he served donors who steer funds toward urban public schools, public policy research institutes, and nonprofit organizations that support K-12 students in low-income communities.
Derrick grew up in New England, earned two Bachelor's degrees at American University in Washington, DC, and earned his MA in Philanthropic Studies and his MPA in Nonprofit Management at the School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. As a young adult he ran off to San Francisco for two years; engaged in nine months of solo exploratory travel through eleven Asian nations; similarly "backpacked" through all 50 American states; and served professionally for seven months as a field organizer for Organizing For America, President Obama's grassroots reelection campaign. He has engaged in a variety of other electoral campaigns as well, serving mayoral, congressional, and presidential candidates who share his commitment to social justice and public service.
Lelia Gowland, President, Gowland, LLC
Lelia Gowland is President of Gowland, LLC, a consulting firm focused on policy and organizational effectiveness. Lelia is highly regarded for her extensive work providing operations, strategic planning, and marketing solutions to a variety of entities from an international energy company interested in assessing its financial and intellectual contributions to not-for-profits seeking a comprehensive audit of, and recommendations for, efficient policy. A New Orleans native and enthusiast, Lelia moved home in 2011 to work for the City of New Orleans where she was jointly responsible for oversight of the city's juvenile detention center. Since that time, Lelia managed a political campaign focused on criminal justice reform, served as Development and Communications Director of a juvenile justice organization, and volunteered with sexual health organizations and local schools. Recently, she was hired to partner with the Louisiana Public Charter School Association on strategic planning for Benjamin Franklin High School. She is also working on special projects for America Achieves, a national education nonprofit, and is presently implementing a sexuality education program she developed based on the needs of her client. Seeking out projects that provide a long-term positive impact and make her smile, Lelia works within a progressive, social justice framework.
In addition to her professional experience, Lelia holds a master's degree in public policy from the University of Michigan where she was a Nonprofit and Public Management Center Board Fellow. Lelia serves as Co-Chair of the Emerging Philanthropists of New Orleans, which inspires and educates young leaders to become effective, lifelong philanthropists. When she isn't working or volunteering with social justice groups, she also enjoys baking muffins, yoga, organizing via spreadsheets, and taking the altogether too rare beach vacation.
Rachel Graham, Communications Manager, Neighborhoods Partnership Network
Rachel D. Graham is a communications veteran with a talent for message development and media relations. She currently serves as communications manager for the Neighborhoods Partnership Network, a New Orleans-based 501 (c)(3) organization that engages residents in community redevelopment and civic processes. In this role, she also serves as Editor-In-Chief of The NPN Trumpet, the organization's bi-monthly news magazine. Additionally, she recently launched Small Hinges SCE, a public relations consultancy dedicated to leveraging her extensive experience in strategic communications and event development to secure tangible wins for political candidates, non-profits and entrepreneurs. As respected blogger and social media influencer Bayou Lois Lane, she is an avid contributor to conversations on economic equity and social justice.
Throughout her career, Rachel has advised clients in diverse industry sectors on strategically linking message to mission. She rose through the ranks of the 1999 campaign of former Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street to serve as site manager for his general election celebration. She would go on to be appointed arrangements committee member and media relations liaison for the City of Philadelphia's 2000 Inauguration Ceremonies. As Manager, Marketing Communications, for the Houston region's leading economic development organization, she served as lead speechwriter for its executive leadership team and board of directors. She would go on to work with leadership in Baton Rouge to develop a five-year strategic plan for economic growth in the region. Recognized for her insight on issues impacting everyday citizens, Rachel was selected to represent the Southern Region of the National Urban League Young Professionals in the 2007 Heineken/NUL Rising Stars Policy Paper competition for her submission on the effects of the Community Reinvestment Act in eliminating discriminatory lending practices. A former board member with the Houston Citizens Chamber of Commerce and the New Orleans Association of Black Journalists, Rachel currently serves on the Crescent City Community Land Trust Board of Directors. She is a member of the Women's Campaign School at Yale's Class of 2014.
Gerald Hampton Jr., Law Clerk, Honorable June Berry Darensburg
Gerald is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. Upon graduating from high school, he joined the Louisiana Army National Guard. Mr. Hampton was honorably discharged from military service after serving 13 years, including two tours of duty in Balad, Iraq.
Mr. Hampton attended the University of New Orleans where he received his Bachelor's of Arts Degree in Political Science. Mr. Hampton accepted a scholarship to attend Loyola New Orleans College of Law, where he graduated in May of 2013. Mr. Hampton was accepted as a 2013 Presidential Management Fellow. Mr. Hampton is an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Louisiana. He currently serves as the law clerk for the Honorable June Berry Darensburg, Chief Judge of the 24th Judicial District Court Division C.
Kevin Lawrence Henry, Jr., Adjunct Assistant Professor, Tulane University
Kevin Lawrence Henry, Jr. is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana where he graduated from Edna Karr Secondary School. Kevin received a full-tuition scholarship to attend Tulane University where he earned his B.A. in Political Science with double minors in African and African Diaspora Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies in 2010. Kevin was also the recipient of the Tulane 34 Award, based on his scholarship, leadership, and service while at Tulane.
Kevin decided to attend graduate school because he was concerned with the state of education for students of color in general and the high rates of educational inequity in New Orleans specifically. He was accepted into the PhD program in Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is the recipient of the Tashia F. Morgridge Wisconsin Distinguished Gradaute Fellowship for the 2014-2015 academic year. Kevin's teaching and scholarship revolves around social stratification, the politics of education, racial and ethnic inequality, educational policy, and counter-hegemonic practices. His dissertation research focuses on the charter school authorization and application process in post-Katrina New Orleans. Kevin's passion is two fold, improving the life chances and opportunities for youth who have been systematically marginalized and assisting these youth to both realize and act on their potential. He mentors young African Americans males at Harriet Tubman Charter School in New Orleans. Additionally, Kevin travels nationally and internationally speaking on issues of social justice and democratic possibilities in education.
Natalie Kaharick, Chief Operating Officer, New Orleans College Prep
Natalie Kaharick was born and raised in Johnstown, Pennsylvania before moving to New Orleans in 2005. She majored in Art History at Duquesne University and worked at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh after college. Natalie loves to travel and be exposed to different cultures and traditions. While in college, she participated in Semester at Sea, a cross cultural study abroad program that traveled around the world, visiting 10 countries in 3 months. From 2005 - 2008, she served as the Director of Hurricane Katrina Relief for the International Association for Human Values, teaching stress-management and leadership programs throughout Louisiana. From 2008 - 2011, Natalie worked for the Art of Living Foundation, teaching social emotional learning programs that incorporated yoga and meditation at various schools and universities across the United States.
Natalie is proud to call New Orleans home and enjoys being involved in the community. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Teaching Responsible Earth Education, is on the Advisory Board of Emerging Philanthropists of New Orleans, is a member of the Junior League of New Orleans, and continues to teach yoga and meditation programs in the community. Natalie joined the team at New Orleans College Prep in 2011, serving as an Operations Manager for three years. She currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer, leading the operations team as they support scholars and staff to achieve academic excellence.
Gordon Kuehl, Assistant District Attorney, Orleans District Attorney
Gordon Kuehl is an assistant district attorney for the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office in New Orleans. He is licensed in Louisiana and Oregon. After graduating from Brother Martin High School, Gordon attended Louisiana State University where he majored in English. Following a period of travelling after Hurricane Katrina, he attended the University of New Orleans to receive a Master's degree in English. While achieving this degree, Gordon worked as a graduate student instructor, teaching freshman composition classes.
Upon completing his master's studies, Gordon decided to move to the west coast to pursue a law degree. Soon after enrolling at the University of Oregon School of Law, he became active in environmental and business curricula and student groups. Desiring to access a global perspective in law, Gordon studied international law for a summer at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University and clerked for a Supreme Court Judge in Hong Kong. By his third year at the University of Oregon, Gordon was the President of the Law and Entrepreneurship Student Association and a founding director of the Green Business Initiative student organization. Gordon graduated law school with certificates of completion in Business Law and Green Business Law.
In 2011 Gordon moved to Portland, Oregon and founded Kuehl Law LLC, a solo law firm focused on business transactions, wills and trusts, and debtor issues. Feeling a need to return to his roots, Gordon closed his practice in 2013 and returned to New Orleans to begin a different law career as an assistant fdistrict attorney. In addition to his legal work, Gordon is an avid hiker and backpacker, frequent volunteer at Habitat for Humanity and devoted New Orleans Saints fan.
Jose Massingue, Attorney-Advisor, Social Security Administration
Jose is a native of New York who obtained his law degree from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. He is a member of the Louisiana Bar and he is currently employed as an Attorney Advisor for the Social Security Administration in New Orleans. Prior to attending Loyola, Jose worked as a Legislative Assistant/Office Manager for a Member of the New York State Assembly. Some of his duties included helping to draft legislation, and organising statewide events.
Jose received a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and obtained a minor in French from State University of New York at Albany (S.U.N.Y. Albany). During his time at S.U.N.Y. Albany, Jose participated in a year-long study abroad program in Pau, France. While at the Universite de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour, Jose studied literature, film, geography, history, and French, gaining fluency in the language. Jose has had the pleasure of serving as a law and research clerk for Barkan, Neff, Handelman and Meizlish, and for International Business Machines (IBM, Inc.).
Hyma Moore, Press Assistant, Office of Mayor Mitch Landrieu
A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Hyma Moore is proud to now call New Orleans home. Hyma attended Morehouse College where he majored in Economics and French Language and Literature. As was his dream, Hyma returned to his home state to begin his career at the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, where he was a Special Projects Manager working primarily on the organization's 5-year capital campaign. In 2011, Hyma relocated to New Orleans after being hired as the first employee of the New Orleans Business Alliance. During his tenure with the New Orleans Business Alliance, HymaÕs career quickly progressed. There Hyma worked as the Public Relations and Communications Manager. In this capacity, Hyma had a consistent record of planning, implementing and leading marketing and communication strategy, managing government relations and media initiatives, as well as analyzing and resolving crises.
Prior to joining Mayor Landrieu's Communications team, Hyma worked as an Account Executive at Deveney Communications. At Deveney, Hyma also managed new business development, and successfully converted $1M in new business revenue in a six month period. As a member of the five person crisis team, Hyma primarily worked with large-scale healthcare, travel and tourism and arts clients. Currently, Hyma serves as a Press Assistant in the Office of Mayor Mitch Landrieu. In this position he develops and implements media, communications, and public relations strategies to advance the city's strategic framework and mayoral priorities. Hyma is an avid golfer and French culture enthusiast.
Colleston Morgan Jr, Director, Performance & Accountability, Charter School Office, Orleans Parish School Board
Colleston Morgan, Jr. is the Director of Charter School Performance & Accountability at the Orleans Parish School Board, the geographic school board and LEA for the city of New Orleans, where he is involved in all aspects of the district's work as the second-largest authorizer of charter schools in the state of Louisiana. During his tenure, he has managed the annual application process for new charter schools, lead efforts to develop the district's first comprehensive Charter School Performance Framework, provided data analysis and policy development support to the districtÕs senior executive team, and conducted a comprehensive review and revision of the district's charter policies in alignment with state and national best practices. Colleston's prior work in education include time with the Superintendent's Delivery Unit at the Louisiana Department of Education, where he advised senior leadership on performance management efforts, assisted in the development of the Department's first strategic plan to achieve STEM goals, and provided targeted data analysis and policy development support to key initiatives. Previously, Colleston taught high school social studies in New Orleans as a Teach for America corps member, serving as a staff member on the School Improvement Team, and earning recognition as his school's Teacher of the Year.
Outside of education, Colleston has spent time in the City of New Orleans' Office of Performance & Accountability, where he supported senior City leadership in the public safety, health, and human services areas. While at the City, he played a key role in the development and initial implementation of a strategic framework for performance management across the city's decentralized criminal justice system, provided analytical and staff support to the New Orleans Interagency Council on Homelessness on the implementation of the city's Ten Year Plan to end chronic homelessness, and participated in the City's ongoing performance management efforts through regular Stat programs and the ResultsNOLA quarterly data reporting process. Colleston earned an A.B. in Government from Harvard University, and an M.P.P., with emphasis in Social Policy- Education from UChicago Harris. He resides in New Orleans with his wife Kristen, and his daughter Charlotte "Charlie" Dawn.
Cat Polivoda, Student Success Counselor, University of New Orleans (Also, Self Employed.)
Cat Polivoda is a woman on a mission. Working in higher education and as a budding entrepreneur, Cat lives her passions and shares them with others. Cat is from Minnesota and has also lived in Germany, Texas, and now New Orleans. She studied German & Global Studies at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN and earned a Master's Degree in Training & Development from Texas A&M University-Commerce. Most of her professional experiences have been in higher education Ð specifically residence life, first year student success, leadership development, and diversity initiatives.
Currently at the University of New Orleans, Cat works as a Student Success Counselor and liaison for the Privateer Bound Bridge Program collaboration with Delgado Community College. She also teaches student success courses at UNO and DCC. Cat seeks to motivate and empower women through her blog and brand, Cat Inspired, and plus-size online thrift shop, Cat's Closet. Cat is also a StrenghsQuest Educator, social justice advocate, and body positive feminist. She loves to travel, journal, and spend time in the sun.
Sarah Schirmer, Criminal Justice Policy Advisor, City of New Orleans, Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice Coordination
Sarah Schirmer, Criminal Justice Policy Advisor, City of New Orleans, Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice Coordination Sarah Schirmer is currently the Criminal Justice Policy Advisor in Mayor Mitch Landrieu's Office of Criminal Justice Coordination where she is responsible for strategic planning, policy research, and cross-agency coordination of the Mayor's priorities for the criminal and juvenile justice systems. She also staffs the Criminal Justice Council. Sarah has worked on a broad range of issues in the criminal justice system for seven years, including murder reduction, policing strategies, information sharing and systems, problem-solving courts, reentry, prison education, sentencing, and budgeting. Her passion lies in developing and supporting the implementation of policies and solutions that will end intergenerational involvement with the criminal justice system.
A native of western Massachusetts, Sarah slowly moved down the east coast working for diverse types of criminal justice organizations: the Center for Employment Opportunities (a reentry services provider), the Sentencing Project (an advocacy organization), and the University of Maryland (as a research partner of the Maryland Administrative Office of the Courts). However, it was early on, while a budget analyst at the New York City Office of Management and Budget, that Sarah discovered a love for working in municipal government. After traveling to New Orleans in 2009 to do recovery work with the St. Bernard Project, Sarah made it a permanent move in 2012 when she became the Performance Management Lead on the Mayor's Innovation Delivery Team, overseeing performance management and measurement for the NOLA FOR LIFE, Customer Service, and Economic Opportunity initiatives, and conducting in-depth data analysis and research pertaining to the murder reduction strategy. Outside of the office, Sarah has honed her construction skills with the St. Bernard Project and Habitat for Humanity, taken on leadership roles on her graduate schoolÕs governing board and Women in Public Policy group, volunteered as a mentor for several sessions with StreetWise Partners in Washington, DC, and is participating in the first class of the City's Welcome Table initiative. Sarah received a Master of Public Administration from the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs at Cornell University and completed her undergraduate studies at Temple University with a Bachelor of Political Science.
Erin Spears, Chief of Staff, Councilman James A. Gray, New Orleans City Council
Erin Spears was born in New Orleans, LA and attended Benjamin Franklin High School. Erin completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh where she earned a B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in Political Science and History. She later attended Washington University School of Law.
After graduating from law school, Erin began working for New Orleans City Councilman James Gray as his Chief of Staff. Erin is committed to improving educational and life outcomes for minority students. Since returning home, Erin volunteers with the Youth Leadership Council's Recreate program. In the future, Erin hopes to develop a regional model for education policy inspired by the K-16 educational model.
Alixzandria Tarnowsky, Program Manager; NOLA Dads, Family Service of Greater New Orleans
Alix Tarnowsky is a Licensed Master of Social Work professional and currently works as the Program Manager of NOLA Dads at Family Service of Greater New Orleans. Through NOLA Dads, Alix focuses on helping young dads develop and improve their skills to become the best father possible. She represents NOLA Dads in several capacities, including as a NOLA for Life service provider, Group Violence Reduction Strategy member, Economic Opportunity Learning Community member, and is part of the Reproductive Health Program Advisory Board.
Alix completed her Bachelors degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2009. Following graduation, she moved to Connecticut and worked as a Visual Merchandising Manger at J. Crew for two years. Alix then moved to New Orleans in 2011 to pursue a Masters of Social Work degree with a certificate in Disaster Mental Health from Tulane University; she represented her class as the President of the Student Government Association for the Tulane University School of Social Work, class of 2012. Alix is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Strategic Management and Leadership from Tulane University's Professional MBA program.
Ciji Tatum, Marketing Manager, Red Bull North America
A recent transplant to New Orleans, Ciji Tatum has immediately embraced the Big Easy vibe and is committed to changing the world one day at a time in her new community. She balances a promise for empowering those around her and succeeds with providing dedicated service to a number of community organizations. Ms. Tatum received her Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations from Clark Atlanta University in 2005. Upon graduation Ciji landed her dream role as an Account Manager for Dyalect Marketing managing clients including the United States Army, Ford Motor Company, Goody Haircare, VIBE Magazine and Boost Mobile. After successfully producing over 300 events, she joined the corporate world as a Field Marketing Specialist for Red Bull North America.
Before moving to New Orleans, she balanced her time thru service in various Atlanta organizations. She serves as the Immediate Past President of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta Ð-oung Professionals. She has served as the Director of External Communications, Co-Chairperson of the Board Readiness committee and Director-Elect of Membership & Recruitment of the Junior League of Atlanta, a volunteer for the Clark Atlanta University Alumni Association and a member of the LEAD Atlanta 2013 class, an intensive eight-month leadership development and community education program targeted at promising young professionals in Metro Atlanta Her relocation has not stopped her commitment to volunteer and she is currently a member of the Junior League of New Orleans and the Urban League of Greater New Orleans. Although her to do list remains full, Ciji lives by the mantra of "Balanced not Busy" and enjoys running, spending time with friends and quiet time filled with a book or magazine.
Cordelia Tullous, Vice President of Human Capital
Cordelia joined Leading Educators from KIPP New Orleans Schools where she served as the Director of Human Resources. Cordelia began her career in education management as a Resident in the Broad Residency in Urban Education, a program that places professionals into management roles in carefully selected education organizations. Prior to the Residency, Cordelia clerked for an employment law firm in Houston, Texas assisting with Title VII, FLSA and other employment related legal matters.
Before returning to law school, Cordelia worked as a Human Performance Manager for a global management consulting firm. In this role, she worked with Fortune 500 as well as federal and state government clients to better understand their organizations, resolve management issues, and develop comprehensive strategies to assist them in successfully managing change. Cordelia holds a B.A. in Political Science from Spelman College as well as a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Houston and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership.