Kate Mehok is the founding Chief Executive Officer and brings 13 years of experience in district, charter, and private schools to the work in New Orleans. Kate received a BA in political science from Haverford College and an EdM in Educational Leadership from Columbia University's Teacher's College. She began her teaching career as a corps member in Teach for America, teaching math and science to seventh and eighth graders in Baltimore. Kate moved to New Orleans to serve as the Dean of Faculty for the Summerbridge program at Isidore Newman school, coached basketball, and taught a 9th grade Civics class. As Dean of Faculty, Kate recruited, trained, and supported high school and college students to use the resources of Newman to teach and motivate students from the New Orleans public schools. At Summerbridge, Kate began her work on curriculum and instruction, and learned the value of using well-crafted long term plans to guide young teachers as they learned to teach. It was at Summerbridge where Kate first saw the inequities of education in New Orleans; there were few public school options for Summerbridge families and few could afford private school tuition.
With school leadership in mind, Kate returned to the Northeast to attend graduate school at Columbia University Teacher's College, where she spent two years examining the factors that go into creating great schools. Visiting and working in some of the most successful schools in New York City, Kate was able to refine her vision on high-performing schools and earned her EdM in Educational Leadership, receiving both her Principal's and Superintendent's License.
In 2003, Kate had the opportunity to put many of her theories to practice as the founding Assistant Principal for curriculum and instruction at KIPP STAR College Prep Charter School in Harlem, New York. Working closely with a founding school leader, Kate set the vision for instruction, put practices and procedures in place to ensure that teachers were holding students to the highest expectations, and influenced every aspect of student learning. Over the next five years Kate witnessed the amazing things that occur when a school fuses great systems around behavior management and school culture with great systems around teaching and learning. Kate led the early charge to use data to drive instructional decision-making which lead to KIPP STAR becoming a national model for strong academic planning and strong instructional delivery. During Kate's five-year tenure at KIPP STAR, the school was one of the highest performing schools in Harlem. Students who entered as 5th graders in 2003 performing in the 35th percentile in reading and 44th percentile in math, graduated as 8th graders performing in the 60th percentile in reading and 75th percentile in math. In 2007, on the New York State math exam, 8th graders at KIPP STAR outperformed their Harlem peers by over 40%. In 2007, Kate received the Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award, given yearly to the top educators in the KIPP Network. Founding and leading in a school for five years gave Kate the incredible experience of growing a school to full capacity. The lessons learned from founding a school and adjusting it to meet student needs each year is invaluable, and Kate has been able to bring this experience to her current work coaching principals in New Orleans charter schools.
Kate's journey back to New Orleans was inspired by the educational reforms taking shape in her former city. Since the fall of 2008 when she bought a house and moved her family to the city, Kate has helped launch and support ten charter schools by providing direct support to new school leaders at New Schools for New Orleans. This work has confirmed Kate's belief that strong systems around culture and instruction are the key to creating and maintaining a successful school. As CEO, Kate will bring leadership, vision, and a commitment to raising student achievement in New Orleans public schools.
Julie Lause, the founding Chief Academic Officer, is principal of Harriet Tubman Charter School, the first school within the Crescent City Schools network. She has taught and lead in New Orleans public, private, and charter schools for the past 15 years. Julie received a BA in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, an MA in English from Middlebury College, and an EdM in Educational Leadership from National Louis University. Julie started her education career as Dean of Faculty at New Orleans Summerbridge where she hired, trained, and coached high school and college students to teach public-school fifth and sixth graders. Julie developed the summer and year-round Summerbridge program, taught English at Isidore Newman School, and stepped in to fill a math vacancy at Marshall Middle School, one of Summerbridge's tutoring sites. Teaching in both public and private schools, Julie was introduced to the educational inequalities in the city and got involved in the educational reform movement.
In 1997, Julie followed a cohort of Summerbridge students to Metairie Park Country Day, where she served as Director of Diversity and ninth grade English teacher. Julie supported these students and their families closely, gaining first-hand knowledge on what preparation students needed for success in competitive schools. Julie went on to join the executive leadership team as the Assistant to the Head of School at Country Day. In that role, she advised the Head of School, coordinated faculty recruitment and hiring, and headed up the school's strategic planning process.
Inspired by the charter movement in New Orleans, Julie joined the founding faculty of KIPP Phillips Academy, a takeover school for 8th graders in the St. Bernard Housing Project. Six weeks into school, Hurricane Katrina struck and Phillips staff members traveled to Houston to locate their students. Finding so many families without school options, the Phillips faculty opened KIPP NOW (New Orleans West) two weeks after Katrina. The school enrolled 350 students, the largest concentration of New Orleans students at any school in the country. Julie served as the Gold School Principal, managing eight first year TFA corps members and 110 fourth and fifth grade students. In just six months of school, students improved from the 15th percentile in reading to the 26th percentile. In math, students went from the 19th to the 32nd percentile.
Julie was granted the Fisher Fellowship in 2006 and spent a year training to found and lead a KIPP school. It was Julie's vision to provide the students of Central City, one of the city's most impoverished areas, a high-quality school choice where there was no option before. Working with residents and neighborhood groups, Julie was able to navigate the post-storm environment and garner a $24 million FEMA renovation of the Guste building, located inside the Melpomene Housing Development and originally on the demolition list. In the fall of 2006, Julie founded KIPP Central City Academy. She wrote the charter application, hired a founding staff, developed school curriculum, recruited 90 students primarily from the Central City neighborhood, and managed a $1.5 million dollar budget. The school will grow to serve K-8th grade students and is one of the highest performing schools in New Orleans.
Julie went on to serve as Director of Organizational Development at FirstLine Schools. There, she developed as a network leader, initiating a network-wide formative assessment program, supporting curriculum development, re-creating the special education department, and supporting the growth and expansion of the organization and its two K-8 charter schools. Working for New Schools for New Orleans, Julie coached new charter school principals on school leadership and raising student achievement. Julie is thrilled to bring her experience starting and leading schools to Crescent City Schools as a continuation of her personal mission to increase the excellent school options for the children of New Orleans.
Christopher Hines graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree from Vanderbilt University and began his career in education as a Teach for America corps member in 2002. As a corps member, Chris taught 3rd and 5th grades at Tull Waters Elementary School in Atlanta and served as the grade level chairperson. Chris's students achieved a 100% pass rate on the state-mandated standardized tests and made annual average growth gains of 1.5 years.
Chris then moved north and began working in the operations and finance side of school reform. He joined the Harlem Success Academy during its first year of operation as the Associate Director of Operations and was quickly promoted to be the Director of Finance and Operations of the Success Network of charter schools. In this capacity he helped grow a single high-performing school into a network of 4 high-performing schools serving elementary students in Harlem. Chris managed all of the finances, non-instructional operations, and family affairs at the 4 schools as well as at the central office. While working at the Success Network, Chris also worked with the ProTesters providing SAT tutoring services to low-income students in the New York City area.
Looking to further develop the impact he could have on education, Chris chose to attend graduate school and pursue a joint JD/MBA program at Yale University. While a graduate student, Chris spent one summer doing program design and business modeling at the "I Have A Dream" Foundation and another summer as a legal intern at New Leaders.
After graduation, Chris moved to New Orleans excited about the opportunity to work in a city with so many exciting things happening in the education scene. He brings his strong operational and financial background to Crescent City Schools and is dedicated to its mission of raising student achievement and preparing students for college.
Anna Burrell firmly believes that a quality education is the key to our children's success and our city's economic future. She is a proud graduate of Orleans Parish Public Schools and an outspoken advocate for improving our city's public school system. She obtained a bachelor's degree from Southern University at New Orleans. Anna has served on numerous boards and civic organizations, often as Chairman of the Board. Those boards and civil organizations include: Algiers Economic Development Foundation, Algiers Presidents Council and the Delgado Community College - West Bank. She also was a founding member of the McClendonville/Tunisburg Square Homeowners Civic Association, Inc. She retired after a long career with Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans as an Administrative Services Supervisor. Currently, she is the administrator for Simply Bella's, LLC. Anna has two adult children.
Carolyn Chandler was raised in Texas and earned her bachelor's degree in English, cum laude, from Vanderbilt University. Subsequently, she earned her master of arts in secondary education from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, with a specialty in mathematics. Now serving in her fifth year as Head of School at Metairie Park Country Day School, Ms. Chandler was Assistant Head of School and then Associate Head of School at Country Day in the three years prior to her appointment as head. Formerly, Ms. Chandler served as Director of Studies for five years at Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga. During her previous fifteen years of teaching experience, Ms. Chandler received GPS's Distinguished Teacher Award and was honored with the Hubert Smothers Award for "distinguished teaching and dedicated service" from the Tennessee Association of Independent Schools. Ms. Chandler taught English and French in a public school in Chattanooga before entering the independent school world. As Associate Head, Ms. Chandler reestablished Country Day's full academic, athletic, arts and community programs in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. As Assistant Head for the previous two years, she had a leadership role in implementing the academic portion of the School's 2003 Strategic Plan, the main goal of which was "academic excellence for all." Specifically, Ms. Chandler instituted a comprehensive faculty development and evaluation process; led the Technology Committee in the writing of a three-year technology plan; worked with the Curriculum Committee on a curriculum summary and mapping; and was involved in crafting the School's five-year financial plan and preparing the School for its self-study and ten year accreditation.
Ms. Chandler is committed to the greater New Orleans community. She served on the board of the International School of New Orleans from 2004-2008, serves on the board of Longue Vue House and Gardens, and is a member of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation and Trinity Episcopal Church. The mother of two grown sons, she now joyfully dotes on her small grandson, Orrin Heath Chandler.
Aimee Eubanks Davis joined Teach For America's staff in 2002 as vice president of new site development, helping to grow the organization's presence into Miami and Philadelphia, as well as doubling Teach For America's presence in New York City. In 2003, Ms. Eubanks Davis moved to the regional operations team, where she managed Teach For America's executive directors and helped ensure maximum impact in each of the organization's 22 regions. In 2005, Ms. Eubanks Davis became the chief people officer, and has overseen the organization's staff growth from 200 to close to 1,200 staff members. Additionally, she has worked on the development of a comprehensive competency model for staff recruitment, selection, performance management, and learning and development, and ensured that the Human Assets team is positioned to fuel the growth and success of Teach For America through being a strategic business partner to organizational leaders and teams.
Before joining Teach For America's staff, Ms. Eubanks Davis was a program officer at The Breakthrough Collaborative (formerly Summerbridge National) and, prior to that position, she led the Summerbridge New Orleans site to become one of the most successful sites in The Breakthrough Collaborative. A graduate of Mt. Holyoke College, she was a 1995 Teach For America corps member and taught sixth grade social studies and language arts in New Orleans.
Jean Paul (JP) Hymel, Board Chair, is an account manager with Johnson Controls, Inc. Mr. Hymel's primary focus is developing energy conservation and asset renewal programs for Higher Education campuses - including demand-side energy savings, renewable energy solutions, and innovative funding strategies. Prior to joining Johnson Controls, Inc., Mr. Hymel served as an electronic warfare officer on the F-15 platform in the United States Air Force.
He graduated from Tulane University in 1996 with a BS in Electrical Engineering and received his MBA from Georgia College & State University. Mr. Hymel serves on the Newcomb-Tulane College Dean's Advisory Council, the University of New Orleans Engineering Advisory Committee, the St. Francis of Assisi Pastoral Council, and is President of the Maisonette Condominium Association. Mr. Hymel and his wife, Erin, live in New Orleans.
Agnieszka McPeak, Board Secretary, will join the faculty of Loyola College of Law in New Orleans, Louisiana in Fall 2012 as a Westerfield Fellow, where she will teach legal research and writing and publish scholarly articles on law and technology topics. She previously practiced at Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann LLC in New Orleans in the area of complex commercial litigation, including trademark disputes, legal malpractice defense, and mass tort. Agnieszka is also a frequent lecturer on social media and emerging technology, particularly with respect to discovery in civil litigation, law practice management, and ethics and professionalism. She received her J.D., magna cum laude, from Tulane University School of Law in 2007, where she was a managing editor of the Tulane Journal of International and Comparative Law and an active participant in Tulane's Moot Court program. She received her B.A., with honors, in Literature and History from University of California, Santa Cruz in 2001. Prior to attending law school, Agnieszka handled contract negotiations and international sales for a computer book publisher in the San Francisco Bay Area. Agnieszka was named a "Rising Star" by Louisiana Super Lawyers magazine in 2012. She was also recognized in the 2009 edition of Benchmark Litigation for her work in commercial litigation.
Mary Lee Murphy joins Crescent City Schools after having served as an Akili Academy Board Member since 2007. Currently, Mary Lee serves as the Development Director for City Year New Orleans, a non-profit, Americorps program that serves in public schools with the goal to keep students in school and on track to graduation, thereby reducing the dropout rate. Prior to her employment at City Year, Mary Lee was the Marketing and Recruiting Manager for Strategic Comp, a worker's compensation insurance company in New Orleans. Before that, she was a Senior Account Executive for Peter A. Mayer Public Relations, also in New Orleans. Mary Lee is from Jackson, Mississippi and has made New Orleans her home for the past thirteen years. She is a graduate of the University of Mississippi, from which she acquired her B.A. in English and History and, later, her M.A. in English.
Bob Stefani is a member of the law firm of King, Krebs & Jurgens, PLLC in New Orleans, Louisiana. He practices in the areas of financial, commercial, and corporate transactions, commercial litigation and government regulation. He represents clients in financial services, chemical and industrial manufacturing, transportation, agricultural, marine, oil and gas, and construction businesses as well as public port authorities. Bob handles a wide variety of commercial transactions, including major development and construction projects, asset and stock purchase agreements, and public and private works and supply contracts and advises business owners on corporate organization, governance, succession and ownership matters. He also represents companies in resolving commercial disputes, workouts, collections, complex reorganization and liquidation cases and the prosecution and defense of bankruptcy-related claims. Bob is licensed to practice law in Louisiana, Texas, New York and the District of Columbia. Before joining the firm in 1998, Bob was a partner with Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi in Washington, D.C. He graduated with a J.D. degree from Tulane University in 1987, and a B.A. from Brandeis University in 1983. Bob is a member of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, the Louisiana Bankers Association and the Turnaround Management Association. In 2011, New Orleans City Business as a Leader recognized Bob in Law.
Julius E. Kimbrough, Jr. is the manager of Liberty Bank's Community Development Group, which is responsible for the bank's CDFI activities, bank-sponsored community development initiatives and alternative investments. Over the past fifteen years, he has worked as an urban economic analyst, public sector consultant and as an investment banker.
Mr. Kimbrough has broad experience in urban planning, economic development and financial analysis. He earned a B.A. in History from Hampton University and graduate degrees in public policy and business administration from the University of Chicago.
In addition to his work with Crescent City Schools charter organization, Mr. Kimbrough is a board member of the Institute of Mental Hygiene (which funds initiatives designed to foster positive mental health in New Orleans area youth) and the New Orleans Neighborhood Development Collaborative (a community development company focused on the revitalization of the Central City community in New Orleans). Finally, he is also an amateur African-American historian.
Tim Bryant is the President of Churchill Downs Louisiana Horseracing Company, LLC (d/b/a New Orleans Fair Grounds) and Senior Vice President of Churchill Downs Incorporated. Bryant joined Church Downs after 15 years of experience in the gaming industry and previously worked at Harrah's New Orleans, where he served as vice president of operations and finance. Tim's business background includes a Leadership Award given for inspiring others to provide excellent service and superior business results. Improved margins and efficiencies, with reduced costs and a commitment to customer service is a resounding theme in his work experience. He graduated from the University of Central Missouri in 1992 and successfully completed the Certified Internal Audit program to become a CIA in 1996. Tim was a board member of Akili from June 2010 through 2012 before transitioning to the Crescent City Schools Board of Directors. He also serves on the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation Board of Directors and is a member of the Dawn Busters Kiwanis Club.
Doug Harrell, Board Treasurer, is a BS/MBA graduate of Louisiana Tech University and has in excess of 30 years of experience in various business settings. He served a wide variety of clients while a CPA for Deloitte, Haskins and Sells, specializing to public utilities, higher education, not for profits and healthcare. Mr. Harrell has vast experience in financial reporting, budgeting, forecasting, financial audits, tax reporting, corporate treasury work, accounting, endowments, grants administration, corporate governance, bond financing, business systems, evaluating prospective new business arrangements and other business matters. He is currently Vice President for Finance and University Controller for Tulane University, a role he has served in for over 10 years. He is a member of the Louisiana Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Mr. Harrell is very interested in the role of public education in our city and believes that Crescent City Schools can make a meaningful contribution.
John Hummel is a retired executive of Shell Oil Company where he worked for 37 years in new facilities construction in numerous United States locations as well as Saudi Arabia. Mr. Hummel has a BS in Civil Engineering and an MS in Engineering Mechanics from St. Louis University. He also serves on the boards of Pump-to-the-River, Boy's Hope/Girl's Hope and Catholic Charities.
Coleman D. Ridley, Jr., Board Vice-Chair, is a partner with the law firm of Jones Walker, L.L.P. where he is a member of the firm's Business and Litigation practice group. Mr. Ridley joined Jones Walker in August 1999, and has been a partner since 2006. He was named a "Rising Star" in the area of Business Litigation in the 2012 edition of Louisiana Super Lawyers. Mr. Ridley received his J.D., cum laude, from Tulane University School of Law in 1998. Prior to joining Jones Walker, Mr. Ridley clerked for Judge Slyvia R. Cooks, Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal. He is active in the New Orleans legal community. He is a member of the American Bar Association (Member, Sections on Litigation and Antitrust Law; Member, Young Lawyers Division), the Federal Bar Association, the Greater New Orleans Louis A. Martinet Legal Society, the National Bar Association, the Louisiana State Bar Association and the New Orleans Bar Association (Member, Young Lawyers Division). A native of Newport News, Virginia. Mr. Ridley received his B.A., Economics, from the College of William & Mary in 1995. Mr. Ridley and his wife, Chandra, live in New Orleans.
Julie MacFetters graduated in 2001 from Indiana University with a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology. She joined the Teach For America*Greater New Orleans 2001 corps right after graduation and after an intense summer training in Houston, joined the staff at Henry W. Allen Elementary School as a first grade teacher. Julie was at Allen for 3 years, and in her third year served as the school's building representative for the United Teachers of New Orleans. Julie then joined the local Teach For America staff as the Director of Operations, where she helped orient new teachers to the city, ran the office, and planned events. After Hurricane Katrina closed the New Orleans office for several months, Julie and the rest of her teammates moved in with the Teach For America*South Louisiana staff in Baton Rouge, where she became the Program Director for teachers who were unable to return to their classrooms and were assigned to work in FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers.
After working with FEMA and feeling very removed from working directly with students and their families, Julie decided to return to a school setting. She started by working at the 2006 Teach For America Summer Institute in Houston as a Corps Member Advisor, where she coached 12 brand new teachers. Upon her return to New Orleans, she became a founding first grade teacher at KIPP: McDonogh 15, a school for the creative arts in the center of the French Quarter. By teaming with the other first grade teacher and two intervention teachers, she was able to hone her craft. She served as a mentor to two student teachers and briefly considered accepting a spot at Teacher's College in NYC to earn a degree focusing on reading development, but chose to stay in New Orleans and become a founding first grade teacher at Akili Academy of New Orleans instead. Upon arrival at Akili in 2008 she worked with another founding teacher to complete home visits of over 120 scholars. After a year in the classroom she served as the school's Director of Student Support, where she managed the school's discipline policies and systems, as well as connected scholars and their families to outside mental health resources when necessary.
The 2012-2013 school year marks Julie's second year as Principal at Akili.
Litouri Smith graduated with a B.S. in Psychology from Xavier University of Louisiana in 1999 and M.ED in Educational Leadership from American College of Education in 2011. Litouri worked as a store manager in the field of retail sales for six years. He began his career in education in 2007 with an alternative certification through teachNOLA where he taught biology at Sarah T. Reed High School during the program's summer institute. He continued with the Louisiana Practitioner Teacher Program while working as a founding science teacher at Algiers Technology Academy on the Westbank of New Orleans. His fellow colleagues voted him "Teacher of the Year" in just his second year of teaching. He also played a significant role in the school's development as part of the school leadership team. He worked as a TAP Mentor Teacher and New Technology Network Advocate where he supported and coached fellow teachers in improving their instructional practices. He was part of the team that removed Algiers Technology Academy from the "Academically Unacceptable" list by improving its School Performance Score by 23 points in the 2010-2011 school year.
During the 2011-2012 school year, he worked as a Master Content Instructional Specialist for the Algiers Charter Schools Association where he focused his coaching and support on the middle school teachers at the association's five elementary schools. The experiences he gained in retail management and in education positioned Litouri to become Crescent City Schools' first School Principal Fellow. As the School Principal Fellow, he received extensive training in educational leadership from the likes of Nancy Euske, Building Excellent Schools, and Uncommon Schools. He has also gained experience working as the Assistant Principal of Harriet Tubman Charter School. Litouri spent a considerable amount of time working visiting and studying successful school programs that influence the design of his own school.
Crescent City Schools was awarded the charter to run Paul Habans Charter School opening Fall 2013. As the school leader, Litouri is committed to establishing a clear vision of academic improvement. Through this dedicated work, he will position Habans to carry out Crescent City Schools' mission of preparing students for college by providing them with an excellent education.
Julia McNabb brings over 15 years of experience working in high need communities in the U.S. and abroad. She currently serves as Crescent City Schools's Director of Human Capital and is dedicated to recruiting and retaining highly qualified, proven, and diverse professionals. Prior to CCS, Julia was an Urban Innovation Challenge fellow, sponsored through the Rockefeller Foundation and Tulane University, where her research focused on retirement and healthcare benefit plan designs for local nonprofit employees, including teachers and charter school organizations. Previously, Julia worked for United Way for the Greater New Orleans Area, where she was accountable for building, maintaining and monitoring efforts for the New Orleans Kids Partnership, the Unified Summer Grant Collaborative and major areas of investments for children and families. In addition, she worked with a start-up foundation in Ghana to develop long-term strategic plans for impact and sustainability. Beyond these philanthropic positions, Julia was responsible for developing outcome metrics for youth development programs at the Department of Human Services at the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and creating out-of-school youth programs in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Julia has a BA from the University of Texas, Austin and an MPA from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
Karen Feldman recently completed her two-year Teach For America commitment where she taught second through fifth grade special education at Woodmere Elementary School in Harvey, LA and Johnson Gretna Park Elementary School in Gretna, LA. Her students grew an average of 1.5 years in English language arts and nearly two years in math. In the summer of 2011, Karen was a School Operations Manager for Teach For America's summer institute in Atlanta, GA. In this role, Karen created and managed operational systems to support the school staff and over 60 corps members. In the summer of 2012, Karen returned to institute in an instructional role as a Corps Member Advisor where she managed 11 incoming Teach For America corps members that filtered into five regions across the country.
Alison Mehr has almost 15 years of experience in operations, strategy, management and development. After teaching Biology at Marion Abramson Senior High School for two years, Alison began her career in non-profit management. Prior to joining Crescent City Schools Alison ran her own consulting firm working with non-profit and community impact organizations to provide strategic management solutions and capacity and development support. Alison has also held management and development positions at the Louisiana Children's Museum, Tulane University, The American Red Cross and Loyola University, overseeing departmental strategy, capital projects and major fundraising campaigns.
Alison has raised over $40 million for the organizations she has worked with. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). She has presented and conducted seminars at numerous conferences, including national CASE conferences. Alison also serves on the Board of Directors for the New Orleans Friends of Music and the Partnership for Youth Development and is a New Leaders Council Fellow. Alison has a BA and an MBA from Tulane University.