The Top Shelf

Board Member Focus

How did you become involved with Louisiana Connections Academy?
My involvement with the school actually goes back to well before the school was formed. From 1995-2010, after teaching in the EBR public school system for ten years, I served as an administrator for LSU Independent and Distance Learning (IDL), which provided distance learning courses to high school and college students through traditional correspondence and online formats. It was during these years that I learned the value of offering students educational opportunities with an excellent curriculum, dedicated instructors, and outstanding student services -- provided at a distance.


How did you become involved?
I am the President of two non-profit boards which govern two K-8 charter schools, Lake Charles Charter Academy and Southwest Louisiana Charter Academy. Our high school, Lake Charles College Prep, will open in August 2014. My involvement in mentoring and leadership development programs with the 100 Black Men of Metro Lake Charles, while helpful, demonstrated the need to develop a more systemic approach to address problems of educational inequality and unequal access to quality education. A group of community activists approached the 100 Black Men, and I was appointed to chair a committee investigating the feasibility of a charter school. After three years of study, we interviewed three education management companies to assist us in preparing the application and in managing the school once it was approved. We selected Charter Schools USA, which is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. BESE approved our application for Lake Charles Charter Academy in December 2010 and for Southwest Louisiana Charter Academy in December 2012. Using tax-exempt bond financing, the charter boards have built a $9 million facility to house Southwest Louisiana Charter Academy. Lake Charles Charter Academy has 872 students in K-8 grades with a waiting list, and Southwest Louisiana Charter Academy has approximately 700 students in grades K-7 (grade 8 will be added in August 2014). 


How did you become involved with KIPP New Orleans Schools (KNOS)?
Jodi Aamodt - a past KNOS chair - had been extolling the virtues of KNOS for years before I joined the board. I knew Jodi well and the immediate past chair (John Landrum) who slowly began "kippnotizing" me. I visited a couple of Kipp schools and was instantly hooked on the extraordinary work of the KNOS staff. After becoming a board member, I visited KIPP Believe Primary and had a fantastic morning. The energy and warmth of the kindergarteners couples with the caring and nurturing instruction left an indelible impression.


How did you become involved with ReNEW Schools?
I first applied to The Top Shelf at the request of a friend and fellow YLC board member, Derrick Rogers, who as extremely involved with the organization. I was asked to be a part of the Development and Marketing Committee because my previous job and volunteer experiences have been in those fields.


How did you become involved with Bricolage Academy?
I met Josh Densen, the found, when Bricolage Academy was a dream of his that he was determined to open in New Orleans. I was very impressed with what he wanted to do and immediately recognized not only the need but the impact that his plan could have on education in New Orleans. I worked side by side with Josh as he started formulating his board and staff. I was looking to be very closely involved but told him not to worry about my being a board member. I wanted him to enlist the services of young people available for the Bricolage board. I assured him that I would maintain my involvement without needing board recognition. 


How did you become involved with this charter school?
I got involved with the Board of Trustees for the Lafayette Charter Foundation in March 2012. At that time it only existed as a dream in the hearts of a few community members and a charter school management company known as Charter Schools USA (CSUSA). Once I heard about CSUSA's dream to open a charter school in Lafayette Parish, it took hold of my imagination and piqued my interest!


How did you become involved with ReNEW Schools?
I was asked to join the Marketing and Development Committee by a friend, Heather Evans, who was working with people from ReNEW.


It's refreshing when people are naturally inclined to give back and realize the power and influence of service. David Barr's life experiences have a common thread weaving throughout that link him from one service opportunity to another. 


If you look up the word ambitious in the dictionary, you may find a photo of Brian Egana, President and Founder of Circular Consulting, LLC. In addition to this robust role at the helm of a consulting firm, Brian is also the Vice Chair of FirstLine Schools. A board member since 2010, Mr. Egana has chaired both the Advocacy and Facilities Committees. 


Kris Cangelosi is a free spirit with a concrete purpose to connect students with arts education. A graduate of both the Baton Rouge Area Chamber Leadership Program and the Barton Leadership Program, Kris increased her awareness about Baton Rouge's community needs and concerns. She discovered that the Baton Rouge public education system was suffering and required attention. As a business owner and a civic leader involved with the Baton Rouge Mardi Gras Krewe Mystique, Playmakers, a local professional theater group in Baton Rouge, and Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana, Kris finds joy in service.