Ravi Gupta, Executive Director (Founder)
Ravi Gupta is the Founder and Executive Director for Nashville Prep. In 2010, Mr. Gupta joined the Building Excellent Schools Fellowship, where he studied and learned from best practices used by the highest-performing schools and school leaders in the nation. He recently served as Special Assistant and Speechwriter to Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Mr. Gupta previously spent two years working for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign – joining then-Senator Obama’s exploratory committee and working through the primary and general elections. He ran fundraising, voter registration, and voter turnout operations in more than a half dozen states during the primary election and served as assistant to Chief Strategist David Axelrod during the general election. Prior to joining Obama for America, Mr. Gupta served as the Director of Development for Orphans of Rwanda, an organization that provides comprehensive educational support to children in Rwanda orphaned by the 1994 genocide and/or HIV/AIDS. He also founded the Atuu International Scholarship Fund in 2003 to establish scholarships for children in Ghana, West Africa to attend high school and college. Mr. Gupta received his J.D. from Yale Law School in 2009, where he was a Harry S. Truman Scholar, and his B.A. from Binghamton University, where he received the university's highest honor, the University Medal, and was named the 2011 Winter Commencement keynote speaker and 2012 Convocation keynote speaker. In 2012, he was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 List.
Kate Cooper, Director of Operations
Kate Cooper is the Director of Operations at Nashville Prep. Ms. Cooper received her B.A. in History from the University of Virginia in May 2012. At the University of Virginia, she was an Alternative Spring Break site leader and a member of Alpha Chi Omega. She previously served as Nashville Prep’s Chief of Staff, and she also coordinated the Prep Plus Summer Math Skills Institute for Nashville Prep.
Anthony Fowler, Principal
Anthony Fowler is the Principal of Nashville Prep. He previously served as the Dean of Students, 6th Grade Chair and 6th Grade Social Studies Teacher at Nashville Prep. Mr. Fowler was a 2010 Teach For America Corps Member where he taught 5th, 6th and 7th Grade Social Studies at New Vision Academy in Southeast Nashville. At New Vision Academy, he served as grade level team lead and was named Teacher of the Year for the 2011-2012 school year. Mr. Fowler graduated from the University of Florida in 2010, where he received his B.S. in Telecommunication. He recently received his M. Ed. from Lipscomb University.
Arlyn Ilgenfritz, Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Arlyn Ilgenfritz is the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Nashville Prep. She previously served as the 5th Grade Reading Teacher and 5th Grade Chair. Ms. Ilgenfritz completed her commitment as a Teach for America Corps Member in the Mississippi Delta. While in the Delta, she taught 7th and 8th grade English at Forrest City Junior High in Forrest City, Arkansas. At FCJHS, she began several new programs, including after school and Saturday tutoring programs. Additionally, she coached a state award winning Future Problem Solvers team. Ms. Ilgenfritz graduated from Wake Forest University in 2009, where she received her B.A. in Political Science and Sociology.
Christina Lea McDonald, Assistant Principal for Culture and Arts
Christina Lea McDonald is the Assistant Principal for Culture and Arts. Ms. McDonald recently worked as Executive Assistant for the co-founder of the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) charter schools network and a chorus teacher at KIPP Infinity Charter School in New York City. Ms. McDonald taught in the Metropolitan Nashville Public School system after graduating with her B.A. in Music Education from Belmont University. Ms. McDonald recently completed her first album and performs as a singer/songwriter in NYC and Nashville.
Greg Schermbeck, Director of Innovation and Science Department Chair
Greg Schermbeck is the Director of Innovation at Nashville Prep. He also serves as the 7th Grade Chair and Science Department Chair. Before coming to Nashville Prep, Mr. Schermbeck was a Teach For America Corps Member in Charlotte, NC, where he taught high school Science and coached varsity football at West Charlotte High School. While at West Charlotte Mr. Schermbeck was named the 2008 - 2009 First Year Teacher of the Year, leveraged $30,000 to create a character development program for high school seniors and was accepted into the inaugural class of the Aspiring Leaders Program for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. Mr. Schermbeck graduated from the College of Wooster in 2008 where he majored in Urban Planning and wrote his senior thesis on neighborhood revitalization in Philadelphia, PA. Mr. Schermbeck previously served as Nashville Prep’s Science Chair, Founding Dean of Students and 5th Grade Science teacher at Nashville Prep. He is currently finishing graduate school at Vanderbilt University, pursuing his M.Ed in Leadership and Organizational Performance.
Dana McGarty, Director of External Affairs
Dana McGarty is the Director of External Affairs at Nashville Prep. Prior to coming to Nashville Prep, Ms. McGarty completed a year-long internship providing GED and supportive services to adolescents in the Mid-City and Central City neighborhoods of New Orleans. During her six years in New Orleans, Dana worked with several charter schools and community organizations, as well as with private practice mental health clinicians. Ms. McGarty, a Maryland native, graduated cum laude from Tulane University in December 2009 with a B.S. in Psychology. She received her MSW in December 2012, also from Tulane, with a professional project focusing on Afrocentric-informed program development. She is currently a licensed Social Worker in the state of Tennessee.
Catherine Olson, Operations Associate
Catherine Olson is the Operations Associate at Nashville Prep. She graduated magna cum laude from Rhodes College in May 2011 with a B.A. in Economics and Mathematics. At Rhodes, Catherine served as president of the Mathematics Club, family coordinator of the Rhodes Chapter of Habitat for Humanity, as well as a middle school mathematics tutor. She co-founded Rhodes first intentional community which focused on sustainable living and community service. After graduating from Rhodes, Catherine worked in Hyderabad, India for nine months, where she worked to improve the quality of affordable private schools as part of the IDEX Fellowship in Social Enterprise.
Jenny Tabor, Literacy Coordinator
Jenny Tabor is the Literacy Coordinator at Nashville Prep. She previously taught 8th grade math at Chickasaw Middle School and 9th grade math at The Soulsville Charter School in Memphis for 3 years. She was a 2008 Teach For America Memphis Corps Member and also worked at Teach For America as the Development Associate. Mrs. Tabor graduated from Louisiana State University in 2008 with her B.A. in Mass Communication and received her M.A. in Teaching in 2010 from Christian Brothers University.
Ashley Smith, LCSW
Ashley Smith, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is Nashville Prep's school-based psychotherapist from Vanderbilt University Department of Psychiatry. In 2007, Ms. Smith earned her MSW degree from the University of Denver with a special focus on clinical work with high-risk youth. From 2007-2012, Ms. Smith worked at Children’s Hospital Colorado as a Child and Family Therapist on the Intensive Services Team (inpatient, outpatient and therapeutic day treatment) in the Department of Psychiatry. From 2012-2013, Ms. Smith worked at University of Kentucky’s Center on Trauma and Children providing assessment and psychotherapy to youth and families and concurrently teaching a graduate clinical practicum course at UK’s College of Social Work.
Eric Austin, Student Supports Teacher
Eric Austin is a Student Supports Teacher at Nashville Prep and a 2013 Teach for America Corps Member. He graduated cum laude from Auburn University in December 2012 with a B.A. in Political Science. At Auburn, Mr. Austin held editorial positions with the campus newspaper, The Auburn Plainsman, and was a Collegiate Correspondent for USA Today College. His passion for writing led him to become a tutor and the publicity intern with the Miller Writing Center. He also completed a Senior Honors Thesis on political economy from a Catholic perspective. In addition to his campus achievements, Eric has worked and interned with the Tennessee Democratic Party, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, and Amnesty International USA in New York City. He attended Metro Nashville Public Schools K-12 and graduated from Hume-Fogg High School in 2009.
Ali Deissler, 5th Grade Math Teacher
Allison Deissler is a 5th Grade Math Teacher and Grade Level Chair at Nashville Prep and is currently serving as Principal in Residence for the Nashville Academy of Computer Science. In June of 2013 she ran Nashville Prep’s Prep Plus Summer Math Skills Institute. Ms. Deissler has previously worked for Teach For America as a campus recruiter at Vanderbilt University, as well as an Operations Coordinator in New York City. She has also spent time working for U.S. Congress members Carolyn McCarthy and Steve Israel, as well as for a global multi-strategy trading firm, First New York Securities. A Teach For America Corps Member, Ms. Deissler graduated cum laude from Vanderbilt University with a B.A. in Political Science, and is currently working towards a M.Ed. in Instructional Practice at Lipscomb University.
Christina Iatridis, 5th Grade Reading Teacher
Christina Iatridis is the 5th Grade Reading Teacher at Nashville Prep. A 2013 summa cum laude graduate from Gonzaga University, Ms. Iatridis worked for Miss School, Miss Out, a non-profit attendance incentive program in Spokane, Washington. She earned degrees in English, Psychology and Gender Studies. Throughout her undergraduate studies, Ms. Iatridis spent a semester each in Florence and Dublin. Consecutive summers found her studying chimpanzees and teaching English in Zambia. Most recently, she investigated gendered educational and scholarship opportunities in rural Southern India.
Kayla Lindsey, 6th Grade Writing Teacher
Kayla Lindsey is the 6th Grade Writing Teacher at Nashville Prep and a Teach for America 2013 Corps Member. Before joining Teach for America, Ms. Lindsey worked as a production editor in the publishing industry. Ms. Lindsey graduated from King University summa cum laude with a B.A. in English and graduated from Appalachian State University with an M.A. in English. She also taught a first-year English course at Belmont University in fall 2012 and taught first-year writing as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at Appalachian State University.
Stephanie Kahn, 5th Grade Math Teacher
Stephanie Kahn is a 5th Grade Math Teacher as well as a 2013 Teach for America Corps Member. Ms. Kahn graduated from Hope College summa cum laude with a B.A. in Business Management and a B.A. in Psychology. During undergrad, Ms. Kahn was President of Business Club, a Resident Assistant Coordinator, and a tutor/mentor for middle school and high school students through various programs including STEP and LdOut3. After graduation, Ms. Kahn spent two years working in a business leadership rotational program where she worked in various roles including a human resources generalist and a production line supervisor.
Hannah Kamau, 5th Grade Teacher
Hannah Kamau is a 5th Grade Teacher at Nashville Prep and a 2013 Teach for America Corps Member. Ms. Kamau graduated from the University of Georgia in 2009 with her B.A. in Journalism. Upon graduation she worked for CNN On-Air Promotions before moving to Seoul, South Korea in 2010 to teach English as a foreign language. While in Korea, Ms. Kamau produced a weekly English video series for elementary school EFL learners. She also founded and hosted a weekly showcase for expatriate performing artists and musicians. Ms. Kamau returned to America in 2012 and worked in early childhood education before joining the Teach for America Corps. Ms. Kamau is currently pursuing a M. Ed. at Lipscomb University.
Rachel Klein, 6th Grade Science Teacher
Rachel Klein is the 6th Grade Science Teacher at Nashville Prep and a 2013 Teach for America Corps Member. She graduated from Brandeis University in 2012 with a B.A. in International & Global Studies and Women & Gender Studies. She most recently completed a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Nepal, where she taught English at a government school in the Gorkha district to students in Kindergarten through 10th grade. While at Brandeis, she was a gallery guide at the Rose Art Museum and a student research assistant at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism.
Hayley Morton, Student Supports Teacher
Hayley Morton is a Student Supports teacher at Nashville Prep, as well as a Teach For America 2012 Corps Member. During her years as an undergraduate student, she studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain as well as Munich, Germany. Ms. Morton worked closely with the Ronald McDonald House of Columbia, S.C. and developed public relations campaigns for the educational nonprofit City Year Columbia. Ms. Morton is a native of Centreville, VA. She graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2012 with a B.A. in Public Relations.
Liz Mullins, 6th Grade Math Teacher and Math Department Chair
Liz Mullins is a 6th Grade Math Teacher and Math Department Chair at Nashville Prep. Ms. Mullins recently completed her commitment as a Teach For America Corps Member in Nashville, where she was a Transition Team Coordinator and part of the Recruitment Team. For the past two years Ms. Mullins has taught 9th Grade Algebra at Maplewood High School. At Maplewood, Ms. Mullins was the Director of Speech and Debate and led a tutoring program, Maplewood Mentors, in conjunction Vanderbilt University. Ms. Mullins received her M.Ed. in Leading, Teaching and Learning from Lipscomb University in 2011 and her B.A. in Psychology from Western Kentucky University in 2010.
Adnan Pirzada, 7th Grade Science Teacher
Adnan Pirzada is a 7th Grade Science Teacher at Nashville Prep. Before coming to Nashville, Adnan spent two years in the Mississippi Delta teaching 7th and 8th grade science at West Bolivar Middle School as part of a Teach for America commitment. At West Bolivar, Adnan started an after school tutoring program and developed their first literacy-based science curriculum. Adnan graduated from the University of Michigan in 2010 with a B.S. in microbiology and economics.
Christine Rua, 6th Grade Reading Teacher
Christine Rua is the 6th Grade Reading Teacher at Nashville Prep, as well as a 2012 Teach for America Corps Member. Ms. Rua recently graduated cum laude with honors from Davidson College where she received a B.A in English. In her time at Davidson, she served as the Defense Advisor of the Honor Council and as the captain of the Division I Varsity Field Hockey team. Ms. Rua has worked as a fundraising intern at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and as a U-19 coach for the Team Golden Triangle Field Hockey Club. Ms. Rua attended Shadyside Academy in Pittsburgh, PA.
Stephanie Shultz, 6th Grade Social Studies Teacher
Stephanie Shultz is a 6th Grade Social Studies Teacher at Nashville Prep and a 2013 Teach for America Corps Member. Ms. Shultz attended the University of Tennessee, where she graduated magma cum laude with a B.A. in Theatre and Political Science. In her time at UT, Ms. Shultz was involved in the theatre arts, working as a stage manager and production assistant for The Clarence Brown Theatre. She also served Teach for America as campus recruiter during her senior year.
Anne Smith, 5th Grade Science Teacher
Anne Smith is the 5th Grade Science Teacher at Nashville Prep, as well as a 2013-14 Nashville Teaching Fellow. Mrs. Smith graduated in 2005 from the University of Virginia with a B.A in Politics, and in 2007 received her M.A in Conflict, Security and Development from King’s College, London. Most recently, Mrs. Smith served one and one-half years in Afghanistan as a Foreign Affairs Specialist with the Department of Defense working with the local government and communities to promote peace and development. Prior to Afghanistan, Mrs. Smith worked for the International Republican Institute in Washington D.C., where she oversaw international elections and governance programs. Mrs. Smith began her career in politics and public service as a 2004 White House Intern and a staffer for Senator John Warner.
Mara Truslow, 7th Grade Writing Teacher
Mara is a 7th Grade Writing Teacher at Nashville Prep, as well as a 2013 Teach for America Corps Member. Ms. Truslow graduated cum laude from Vanderbilt University in May 2013 with a degree in Human and Organizational Development and a minor in History. At Vanderbilt, she was an Ingram Scholar, a Head Resident of a First Year dormitory, author of Fifteen Fragments, and on the Nestle Foundation Board.
Cari Turner, 6th Grade Math Teacher
Cari Turner is a 6th Grade Math Teacher at Nashville Prep. Ms. Turner completed her commitment as a Teach For America Corps Member here in Nashville, TN in 2012. Over the past three years, she taught 9th grade Algebra 1 at Cane Ridge High School in Antioch, TN. At Cane Ridge, she served as Algebra 1 Team Leader, Freshman Academy Team Leader, and advisor to the National Honor Society. Ms. Turner is currently working towards her M. Ed. at Lipscomb University. She also graduated magna cum laude from Franklin and Marshall College in 2010, where she received her B.A. in Business.
Kira Walmer, 5th Grade Writing Teacher and Writing Department Chair
Kira Walmer is the 5th Grade Writing Teacher and Writing Department Chair at Nashville Prep. She recently completed her commitment as a Teach For America 2011 Corps Member in Nashville, TN. Prior to joining Nashville Prep, Ms. Walmer was a Litigation Associate in the Washington, D.C. and New York City offices of Dickstein Shapiro LLP, working primarily on False Claims Act Investigations and Defense. While attending law school, she provided legal assistance to the United States Attorney's Office in Washington, D.C. and the Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney in Louisa, Virginia. Ms. Walmer received her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 2008 and her B.A. in Journalism from Pennsylvania State University in 2003.
Casey Ward, 7th Grade Reading Teacher
Casey Ward is the 7th Grade Reading Teacher at Nashville Prep, as well as a 2013-14 Nashville Teaching Fellow. In 2005, Mr. Ward received his B.A. in English from Michigan State University where he studied Anglo-Irish literature, spending one of his terms at the Irish Writer's Center in Dublin, Ireland. In 2009, Mr. Ward received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from The Ohio State University, where he worked as a Teaching Associate for three years. Additionally, Mr. Ward has taught as an English Instructor for the Japan United States Teaching (JUST) Institute and Kirtland Community College.
Brooke Yoder, 7th Grade Writing Tutor
Brooke Yoder is the 7th Grade Writing Tutor at Nashville Prep. Ms. Yoder graduated from Grinnell College where she received a B.A. in Anthropology and Art History. At Grinnell, she worked as a Content Curation and Research Intern with the College Special Collections and Archives. During that time, she curated a display for the college libraries commemorating the 40 year anniversary of the unique freshman tutorial at Grinnell. She also served as the captain of the Varsity Volleyball team at Grinnell and as a student member of the college’s Student Educational Policy Committee, developing new curriculum for the college libraries. Ms. Yoder most recently worked as a tutor with the East Village Youth Program in Chicago, Illinois.
Rick Zadd, 7th Grade Math Teacher
Rick Zadd is a 7th Grade Math Teacher at Nashville Prep. After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2008, Mr. Zadd worked at Lenovo in Raleigh, NC where he sold technology to K-12 districts and universities. As a 2011 Teach For America Corps Member, Mr. Zadd taught Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Precalculus at Cheatham County Central High School in Ashland City, TN. Mr. Zadd received his M. Ed. in Instructional Practice from Lipscomb University in August of 2012.
Madalena Aspiras, Spring 2014 Fellow
Madalena Aspiras is originally from Washington, DC where she worked as the Director of Guest Relations for SANTOY Hospitality, assistant Marketing and Event Planning for Cady’s Alley Restaurant Concepts and as a second language reading tutor for Reading Partners. She graduated from the University of Central Florida with a B.S. in Elementary Education with a certificate in English as a Second Language. At UCF, she was a Division I varsity athlete on the Crew team and a member of the Filipino Student Association. Her teaching experience in Florida includes co-teaching in a bilingual fourth grade classroom at Pine Hills Elementary School, teaching a fourth grade ESOL class, serving as an assistant teacher for Exceptional Student Education, assistant second grade teacher and instructional tutor all at Hiawassee Elementary School. She is currently at Vanderbilt University working on her Masters in International Education Policy and Management.
Board of Directors
Bob Bernstein, Founder and Owner, Bongo Productions, LLC
Bob Bernstein is a former newspaper reporter and the founder of several Nashville restaurants. The Chicago native moved to Nashville in 1988 to cover small business and state government issues for the Nashville Business Journal and Memphis Business Journal. Two years later he became Associate Editor of the Tennessee Journal, and one year later he opened Bongo Java - now the city's oldest and most honored coffeehouse. He has since opened five other food establishments including the only Certified Organic coffee company (Bongo Java Roasting Co.) and the only Certified Kosher restaurant (Grins Vegetarian Cafe). Mr. Bernstein is the operating partner of Fido, Cafe East and Hot & Cold. He earned an M.S.J. from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a B.A. from San Francisco State University.
Crystal Bradford, Account Manager for Dell Computers and Nashville Prep Mom
Crystal Bradford is an Account Manager for Dell Computers in Nashville. Crystal manages an Outsource Partner site that’s in El Salvador. In this role she ensures the outsource partner has all the tools they need to provide service for US Spanish and Outlet customers and meet the goals set by Dell. She acts as a liaison between Dell and El Salvador, to ensure both are parties needs are met. She is a native of Nashville, where she is a class of 89 graduate of Whites Creek High School. Crystal has been married for 15 years and has 3 kids: a 4 year old son, 13 year old daughter, and a 10 year old daughter who attends Nashville Prep. In her spare time she enjoys catering various parties and events.
Hal Cato, Founder and CEO, Zuemo
Hal, who has held leadership roles in the private and non-profit sector for more than 25 years, is a passionate youth advocate who spent the past decade leading Oasis Center in Nashville, TN. Under his leadership, the organization grew more than 500% and received numerous regional and national awards. Prior to joining Oasis Center, Hal spent 11 years helping build what is now known as Bright Horizons, where he served as Vice President of Client Services as well as the Founder and President of the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children. As a young man out of college, Hal founded Hands on Nashville. In 2009, Hal was named Nashvillian of the Year by the editors of the Nashville Scene for creating the Youth Opportunity Center.
Ron Corbin, Principal RBBC Holdings
Ron Corbin is the Principal of RBBC Holdings. Ron Corbin enjoyed a 35-year career as a leading executive for Allstate, America’s largest publicly traded auto and personal property insurer. In addition to his high-level of expertise in developing proven financial and management systems, Corbin leveraged his expertise for the betterment of a wide array of social and community issues. Corbin also served in the U.S. military, where he earned the rank of Sergeant E5 in the United States Army. He served a year in Vietnam and was honorably discharged in November 1967. Corbin is a Distinguished Alumnus of Central State University in Edmond, Oklahoma, where he earned a BS Degree.
Vince Durnan, Director, University School of Nashville
Since 2000 Vince Durnan has been the Director of the University School of Nashville. Prior to USN, Mr. Durnan was the Academic Dean at Suffield Academy, where he also taught history and economics. Additionally Mr. Durnan has experience teaching and coaching at Hawaii Preparatory Academy, Kingswood-Oxford School, and Harvard-Westlake School while also serving as a Reader and Faculty Consultant for the Advanced Placement Economics Exam for seven years. In addition to our Nashville Prep board, Mr. Durnan also serves on the Board of Centerstone and the board for the Hermitage. He participated in Leadership Nashville in 2002-2003 and has served recently on the Board of the Red Cross, Oasis Center, Tennessee Repertory Theatre, and the Tennessee Association of Independent Schools. Mr. Durnan was a Tyng scholar at Williams College where he received his BA, holds a Master’s in Education from Harvard, and is currently writing his dissertation for an Ed. D. in Leadership Policy and Education from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University.
Leah Granderson, Project Manager, Gobbell Hays Partners, Inc.
Leah Granderson is a Project Manager at Gobbell Hays Partners, Inc. an architectural, environmental and project management firm. In this capacity, Leah manages several new construction, renovation and environmental projects with locations throughout the United States. Leah is native of Atlanta, Georgia but now calls Nashville, Tennessee home where she graduated from Tennessee State University and received her B.S. in Architectural Engineering and Facilities Management.
Chris Sloan, Co-Chair - Emerging Companies Team, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC
Chris Sloan is a corporate and intellectual property lawyer specializing in (1) representing entrepreneurs, start-ups and other emerging businesses and (2) handling complex software and other IT transactions for both small and large companies. He has represented many early-stage, high-growth businesses in connection with business planning and formation, venture capital funding, drafting and negotiating vendor and customer agreements, strategic contract negotiations, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property protection, and other general business law and intellectual property law issues. He often serves as outside general counsel for these types of companies. Mr. Sloan received his J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School and B.A. from the University of Virginia.
Aneesh Sohoni, Chief of Staff (Teachers and Leaders), Tennessee Department of Education
Aneesh Sohoni is the Chief of Staff, Teachers and Leaders at the Tennessee Department of Education. In this role, he works closely with the Assistant Commissioner for Teachers and Leaders to oversee and plan the strategic vision of the division. The division’s work includes teacher and principal evaluation, licensure, talent development, strategic compensation, and leadership effectiveness strategy. Prior to joining the department, Mr. Sohoni started his work in education with Teach for America as a high school English teacher in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He received his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota and is currently a Masters in Public Policy (Education Policy) candidate at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
John Spragens, Attorney
Mr. Spragens is an attorney. He previously served as Communications Director for U.S. Representative Jim Cooper (TN), a 10-term Democratic congressman from Nashville. In the years before he joined Cooper’s office, Mr. Spragens was a reporter and columnist for The Nashville Scene. He graduated from Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School, has a B.A. from Kenyon College, and a J.D. from Vanderbilt University.
Wendy Thompson, Vice Chancellor for Effectiveness and Strategic Initiatives for the Tennessee Board of Regents
As Vice Chancellor, Wendy Thompson provides leadership to teams working to increase the number of credentials awarded by the system. Her twenty five plus years in higher education began at the University of South Florida where she served as the principal legal officer in the area of labor, faculty relations, employment and civil rights. Prior to joining the Tennessee Board of Regents staff, Wendy served as University Counsel and Assistant to the President at Middle Tennessee State University. She received her Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, and her B.A. from Bethune-Cookman University.
Rev. Neely Williams, Program Director, Interdenominational Minister’s Fellowship Peniel Initiative
Rev. Neely Williams has more than twenty years of experience as a community organizer. She is currently the Program Director at the Interdenominational Minister’s Fellowship Peniel Initiative, where she has provided administrative leadership to the development of myriad coalitions and non-profit agencies, including the IMANICoalition (a network of service-providers community residents with HIV/AIDS and/or substance abuse issues), the PenielInitiative Collaborative (a network of crime victims’ service providers, faith leaders, and other community leaders) and the Nashville Community Coalition for Youth Safety. She provides pastoral support for two local congregations – the Metropolitan Interdenominational Church and the Old Ship of Zion Baptist Church. She serves as guest preacher/speaker to many other churches and organizations. Rev. Williams is a graduate of American Baptist College, Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Chaplain Training at the Nashville Veterans Administration Medical Center and the Vanderbilt University School of Divinity. She completed a one-year intensive institute program in community-based program design, development, and implementation from South Carolina University School of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Lindsay Wright, Managing Director, Teach For America
Lindsay Wright is the Managing Director for Programs, Teach For America – Nashville. In this role, she leads her team to select, train, and support a corps of over one hundred first and second year teachers working throughout Metro Nashville Public Schools and many of our local charter schools. The vision she has been driving toward with her team and teachers is one where all students, regardless of where they are born, have the opportunity to access a high quality education. As part of her work with TFA, Ms. Wright has directly trained and supported an annual cohort of approximately 30 teachers to achieve ambitious goals with their students. She started her education career with Teach For America as a fifth grade teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina. Ms. Wright received her B.A. from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.