Board Member Focus: Kitty Cook Ramsey, CFRE, Élan Academy Charter School

How did you become involved with your school?
The board was expanding and looking for people who lived locally with fundraising expertise, so Board Chair, Darren Patin, reached out to me. I had recently moved to New Orleans and was beginning to look for volunteer opportunities when Darren emailed me. We talked, I learned about this amazing “little school doing great things under the bridge” in my neighborhood, and I leapt at the chance to be involved with such a positive educational institution.

What makes your school special or unique?
Élan Academy Charter School is a free public college preparatory charter school. We currently educate PreK-4 through 4th grade and are scheduled to add 5th grade in the fall of 2020.

At Élan, we maximize individualization and propel early technology literacy through rich and frequent blended learning. We stand firm on three concepts – grammar, logic, rhetoric – and three components – structured learning, Great Books, spoken language. Our 21st century approach to learning, joined with a classical curriculum, provides an innovative and powerful option for preparing students with the foundation necessary for lives of opportunity.

Why did you choose to serve on your school’s board?
I have never entered a school where the atmosphere was so joyous and where the students were so happy and comfortable. After I understood the “nuts and bolts” of the school and board’s needs, all it took for me to support this school was to see the Head of School spontaneously interact with a child after school one day. That child was so happy to see the H.O.S. Every child should have the opportunity to feel so comfortable and confident in themselves and with their education leaders and teachers.

What leadership roles have you had while serving on the board?
I serve on the Development Subcommittee of the Finance/Development Committee.

What is your Superpower?
My superpower is building connections. In my work as a nonprofit consultant, I connect clients with partners, funders, new systems for administrative work, strategies, and ideas. In my volunteer work, I support Élan Academy’s mission and vision through building connections to donors whether they be individuals or corporate or private foundations.

How can people help your school if they are interested?
Like all charter schools, Élan needs students, funding, and volunteers. Families who are interested in finding out more about Élan, please visit our website ( and feel free to call and speak to one of our education leaders. For those wishing to financially support Élan, you can visit our website ( and click the “Donate” button OR support us through the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s #GiveNolaDay page ( Our donate page lists all sorts of ways you can support us! For those interested in volunteering, we would love to speak with you! Give us a call at 504.619.9720.