Board of Directors
Académie Lafayette is governed by an independent Board of Directors that oversees the operations of the school and makes sure it is financially sound and follows the law. The Board also helps to create the vision for how the school should operate and develops the strategic plan. Read the school bylaws.
There are two types of Board members, appointed and parent-elected. Appointed Board members serve three-year terms that can be renewed. Parent-elected Board members are elected by the parents to serve three-year terms. All Board members must pass background checks prior to their election on the Board. Below, get to know our Board members, read about our committees, and learn how to speak at a Board meeting.
Our Board Members
Committee Membership: Diversity, Governance
Bio: Beth McCarthy has been PREP-KC’s College & Career Program Coordinator since 2006 and works closely with Kansas City’s urban schools to support the implementation of research-based strategies to increase college and career readiness for urban students. Her responsibilities include building partnerships with 192 businesses & 32 postsecondary institutions to create opportunities at scale for students to explore college & careers and identify the “right fit” for after high school. She also has experience in new small school development.
Beth brings a wealth of urban school experience to her work with PREP-KC. As a field trainer with the Vera Institute of Justice- Project Affirm, Beth trained school staff & administrators to decrease violence levels in what had been labeled New York City’s 10 worst schools. Her work in the Los Angeles Unified School District helped build community support for the district’s plan to build 85 schools in 5 years. She is an alumna of Kansas City Tomorrow, a local civic leadership program through the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Kansas State University.
Elected president of the Académie Lafayette Board in 2021, Beth joined as a parent-elected member in 2017, has served as chair of the Governance Committee and is a member of the Diversity Committee. She is married and has 2 children at Académie Lafayette.
Committee Membership: Finance, Leadership Review (Committee Chair)
Bio: Michael Bland is a community economic development professional at Travois, a housing and economic development firm specializing in American Indian, Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native projects. He estimates community impacts of potential New Markets Tax Credit projects and documents investment impacts once funded. Michael was previously employed by the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C. Before his work with the federal government, he was an Arabic language instructor at the University of Texas and Trinity Washington University in D.C.
Michael holds a bachelor’s degree in history and Middle Eastern studies from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in Middle Eastern studies from the University of Texas. He was appointed to serve on the Académie Lafayette Board in 2017 and serves on the finance committee and chairs the leadership review committee. He is married and has three children, all of whom attend Académie Lafayette.
Committee Membership: Development (Committee Chair)
Bio: As owner of EAG Advertising & Marketing, Michele works with growing companies and non-profit organizations of all sizes, primarily in the Kansas City metro area. She has decades of experience that she can share with others to help them grow, including previous roles as president of a large national advertising agency, and as owner of a 3-location boxing franchise in the Dallas area. Michele is also currently president of the KC Chapter of ANA Business Marketing after a 2-year term as a Board Member and Officer, was a previous board member of the Local Search Association, and was a co-op officer during her tenure as a franchise owner. With vast experience in organizing priorities and making decisions that benefit all stakeholders, she brings a balance of compromise and conviction to all that she does, and has a true passion for the mission of this school for the families and community it serves.
Michele was appointed to serve on the Académie Lafayette Board in 2020, was elected to the leadership team as Secretary in 2021, and also chairs the Development and Governance Committees. A native of KC, Michele attended public schools and she and her husband have a 4rd grade daughter and Kindergarten son at Académie Lafayette.
Committee Membership: Development, Diversity (Committee Chair)
Bio: Kelly Baker is a business professional currently working as a Project Manager for United Health Care and has 15 years of experience working with KC Communities through the Health Department and Neighborhood Housing Department for the City of Kansas City. She graduated from Baker University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, spent 15 years with the City of Kansas City, MO as a Business Office Manager, and has five years of project management experience with United Health Care. In addition, Kelly has experience in Corporate Partnership Management, Communications and Stakeholder Resolution and Coordination and Delivery of Training Curriculum.
Kelly was appointed to serve on the Académie Lafayette Board in 2018 and also serves as chair of the Diversity Committee as well as a member of the Development Committee. Together with her husband Arthur, she resides in downtown Kansas City, Mo, where she raised two boys, London and Antonio, and one daughter, Meredith, all graduates of the Kansas City, MO area.
Bio: Jennifer is a pediatric infectious diseases physician at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. She provides medical care to children in the hospital and leads a research group supported by the National Institutes of Health focused on medication safety. She became very involved working with educational systems during the COVID-19 pandemic serving as a regional expert related to COVID-19 – focused on the well-being of children and how to help facilitate a safe return to school. She has collaborated with countless schools in Missouri and Kansas to provide up-to-date information and interpretation of data that is continuously changing as related to COVID-19 and children. She has collaborated with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of Health and Human Services, American Academy of Pediatrics, and National Education Association. She also works with the National Institutes of Health to help determine how COVID-19 testing can best be effectively integrated into schools.
Jennifer joined the Académie Lafayette Board in 2021 as a parent-elected member. She is from Kansas City and she and her husband are proud parents of 2 daughters who attend Académie Lafayette.
Marvin Lyman has served on the Académie Lafayette Board since 2013, first as a parent-elected Board member. In 2015, he was appointed to serve on the Board. Marvin graduated from Kansas City Public Schools and later earned his bachelor’s degree from St. Cloud State University. He has served as a Governor’s Fellow at Ferris State University in Michigan and a congressional intern for the Senate Republican Conference. Marvin is a former high school and middle school teacher and is the President of Kansas City’s oldest community development corporation, the Black Economic Union.
Marvin is the proud father of Madison and Morgan Lyman, both Académie Lafayette students. In addition to serving on the Board at Académie Lafayette, Marvin serves on the Truman Medical Center Board of Directors with governance duties on the fiscal responsibility and capital improvements committee. Likewise, he serves on the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority for the City of Kansas City, Missouri and is a committed community servant.
Committee Membership: Finance, Governance
Bio: Jon Otto is an attorney at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, LLP and works in the law firm’s Structured Finances practice group, focusing on public finance, commercial real estate transactions, and corporate transactions. Prior to joining Bryan Cave, Jon was an attorney with Polsinelli working in the financial services practice group. Before becoming an attorney, he worked as an actuarial analyst at General Electric Insurance Solutions (later Swiss Reinsurance Corporation) and as an IT project manager at General Electric Capital Corporation.
Jon received his juris doctorate from the University of Missouri–Kansas City and his Bachelor’s in mathematics from Clark Atlanta University. He was appointed to serve on the Académie Lafayette Board in 2010, elected President in 2018 and also serves as a member of the Finance and Governance Committees. In addition to his service to Académie Lafayette, Jon serves as a board member for Truman Medical Centers, Child Protection Center, and is an advisory board member for the Urban Land Institute of Kansas City.
He is married and has four children, all of whom attended Académie Lafayette.
Committee Membership: Finance (Committee Chair), Leadership Review
Bio: Harriett’s commitment to Académie Lafayette dates back to the late ‘90s when she and her husband, Ed Rucker, founded the school. The original charter was written at the dining room table in their Hyde Park home.
Harriett has a Bachelor’s in finance from Drake University and a Master’s from Rockhurst University. Harriett is also a real estate agent with Reece & Nichols, and also serves as the chair of the Board at the Ward Parkway Preschool in Kansas City.
Harriett was appointed to serve on the Académie Lafayette Board in 2012 and also serves as chair of the Finance Committee and a member of the Leadership Review Committee. All three of Harriett’s children, Mary (2002), Barnett (2006), and Ben (2009) are graduates of Académie Lafayette.
Committee Membership: Leadership Review
Bio: Dr. Gwen Poss is the Director for the Career Education Consortium (CEC), serving Center, Grandview, Hickman Mills, Independence, Lee’s Summit, and Raytown School Districts, and Metropolitan Community College. The CEC represents a diverse learning community working to leverage career opportunities for all students to meet the workforce development needs of the Kansas City region.
Dr. Poss is an innovative visionary who led key initiatives for the Olathe School District, serving over 30,000 students in Metro Kansas City. In 2003, she opened Olathe Northwest High School with two specialized programs in Aerospace and Engineering and eCommunication with strands in graphic design, web design, animation and entertainment/broadcast journalism. Prior principal positions include Olathe South High School, Green Springs Elementary school in Olathe and a rural K–8 school in Onaga, Kansas.
Dr. Poss holds graduate and advanced degrees in Curriculum and Administration from Kansas State University. She is passionate about College and Career Readiness for All students and trained principals in AVID’s (Advancement Via Individual Determination) Leadership for College Readiness. Gwen is an alumna of Greater Missouri Leadership Challenge, a statewide year-long leadership program providing a unique introduction to the complex issues facing our communities, state, and nation. She has been in many leadership roles at the district, state, and national levels.
Gwen joined the Académie Lafayette Board in 2019 bringing over 30 years of experience in elementary, middle, and high schools, and serves on the Leadership Review Committee. Gwen is married and loves serving the Académie Lafayette school community.
Read more about the committees in which Board members participate.
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2019 Audit Report
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