Board of Directors

Learn about the function of Académie Lafayette’s Board.

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

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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, a board member of the Hasna Sal Public Art Foundation, 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 the Académie Lafayette Board in 2020 and served as Secretary from 2021-2023. She chaired the Development Committee from 2020-2023, the Governance Committee from 2021-2023 and currently chairs the Finance Committee. A native of KC, Michele attended public schools and she and her husband have a daughter and son at Académie Lafayette.

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McCarthy, Beth

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Committee Membership: Diversity, Governance (Committee Chair).

Bio: Beth McCarthy is PREP-KC’s Director of Community & Industry Partnerships. With the organization since 2006, she 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.

Beth joined the Académie Lafayette Board as a parent-elected member in 2017 and served as president from 2021-2023. She has served as chair of the Governance Committee and is currently a member of the Diversity and Governance Committees. She is married and has one child attending and one who has graduated Académie Lafayette.

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Committee Membership: District Performance

Bio: Lauren Allen has been a practicing attorney for 8 years and currently serves as General Counsel for the Housing Authority of Kansas City, Missouri. She is responsible for risk mitigation, litigation management, and all legal strategies and components necessary to ensure defensible legal action. Lauren has served on several boards in the Kansas City area using her passion for inclusiveness, performance assessment, stakeholder interests, legal skill and knowledge to assist with the growth and development of each organization/corporation where she has served.

Lauren holds a bachelor’s degree from Philander Smith College, a law degree from the University of Georgia, and a Master of Laws from American University in Washington D.C. She joined the Académie Lafayette board in 2022 as a parent-elected director, serves on the Leadership Review Committee, and currently chairs the Governance Committee. Lauren is the proud mother of one daughter who attends Académie Lafayette.

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Committee Membership: Diversity (Committee Chair)

Bio: Kelly Baker is a business professional currently working as a Senior 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. 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.

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Committee Membership:  Diversity

Bio: Lisa Benson is a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant for Winning Truths International, LLC. WTI is a Kansas City-based diversity, equity, and inclusion consulting firm that has facilitated DEI training sessions for non-profit organizations, major tech firms, and small businesses to help create more inclusive cultures.

Lisa is a master communicator and Emmy-award winning journalist with more than 20 years of media/television news experience. She’s also the author of “Anchored in Bias, Fired Over White Tears.” A book detailing her personal journey battling a media giant over discrimination and retaliation claims in a federal courtroom.

Lisa’s understanding of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belongingness was enhanced through her studies at Cornell, Northwestern, and Cambridge Universities, in addition to her Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Clark Atlanta University, Lisa and her husband are also the proud parents of two Académie Lafayette students at the Cherry Campus.

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Committee Membership: Development (Committee Chair), Diversity

Bio: With over 40 years of experience in residential real estate, Pam is dedicated to preserving the historic integrity of homes in Kansas City. She and her husband raised their two daughters in an 1889 Victorian house in Hyde Park. When their older daughter started kindergarten at Ecole Longan in 1990, Pam became a strong advocate for the Kansas City Missouri School District’s language immersion magnet schools.

This passion led Pam to play an integral role in founding Académie Lafayette in 1999. She helped acquire the lease on the Temple B’nai Jehuda building, recruit the inaugural class of 250 students, and organize a system to get students on and off the buses. Pam joined the Académie Lafayette Board in 2003 and served actively for 16 years in leadership roles including Secretary, Chair of the Recruiting Committee, Chair of the Diversity Committee, and membership on various other committees.

After a brief break, Pam rejoined the board in 2023 as a member of the Diversity Committee. She will also volunteer as Chair of the Development Committee. Both of Pam’s daughters were active AL volunteers and remain committed to the school. One daughter was a member of the inaugural 6th grade class, graduating in 2002.

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Committee Membership: District Performance.

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.

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Committee Membership: Finance (Committee Chair)

Bio: Olivier Griot is an accomplished CFO with more than 15 years of experience leading the
financial operations of organizations across a variety of industries, from startups to established
companies. Olivier is currently the owner of Kansas City-based BKS Advisors, a Fractional CFO
firm whose mission is to empower small and mid-sized businesses with the financial expertise
and insights they need to succeed.

Previously, Olivier held senior finance positions at several notable organizations, including The
Walt Disney Company, where he oversaw financial planning and analysis for the company’s
North American Licensing division, and Hearst Magazines, where he managed finance and accounting for the Brand Development division. He also ran a software development agency,
supporting, among others, multiple clients in the EdTech space.

Olivier holds an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and
an Engineering Degree in Computer Science from ENSTA in France. He was appointed to the
Académie Lafayette Board in 2024. With dual French and American citizenships, Olivier relocated to the Kansas City area in 2016. His daughter and son have been attending Académie Lafayette since Kindergarten.

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Committee Membership: Development

Bio: Terrell “TJ” Jolly is the CEO and Managing Partner of Integrity Capital Management, Jolly & Associates, and Legacy Asset Group – organizations that oversee residential and commercial real estate.

Born and raised in Detroit, TJ holds a degree in Communications and Public Relations from Alabama State University and a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix.  Upon graduation, he was recruited by Southeast Wood Treating (dba Hixson Lumber Sales) located in Pleasant Hill, MO.  As Plant Operations Manager, TJ had oversight of an $8 million dollar budget while implementing strategies to increase productivity and profits.

During this time, he developed the confidence and expertise to launch his own Property Management company, Integrity Capital Management (ICM).   Since 2013, TJ has been actively overseeing properties across Greater Kansas City effectively managing single-family homes and multi-unit properties including residential and commercial real estate. He has proven expertise in all aspects of property management including daily operations, marketing and leasing, asset management, finance, and budgeting all while establishing strong relationships and ensuring compliance with all applicable policies and regulations.

As ICM evolved, TJ was exposed to the greater needs of the community which led to the establishment of Jolly & Associates and Legacy Asset Group. These two property acquisition branches were established to focus on revitalizing the urban core by restoring homes to their natural beauty and offering affordable housing as well as pathways to homeownership.

Appointed to the Académie Lafayette Board in 2021, and with strong ties to the community he calls home, TJ is always looking for ways to help improve his community. A member of the Centurions Leadership Program since 2022, he has also provided leadership to several charitable and community initiatives with Community America, ULI Kansas City, Kauffman Scholars, 100 Black Men, Prep-KC, 20/20 Leadership, and R.U.B.I.E.S, Inc. He holds certifications in Commercial Real Estate, Entrepreneurship/Entrepreneurship Sales, and Construction Management, and has fallen in love with Midwest hospitality, planting roots here with his wife Krystal Jolly, son Tyson and daughter Taylor.

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Committee Membership:

Bio: Nathaniel Newbill is an accomplished executive known for his strategic planning, operations management, and project management, which have significantly contributed to operational and technological advancements across various industries. Currently, as the Director of the Client Contact Center at American Century Investments, Nathaniel oversees all operational elements, including budgeting, training, and policy development. He plays a crucial role in enhancing the customer experience, managing over 300,000 contacts annually, and devising strategies to broaden the client base and elevate service quality.

Prior to this, Nathaniel worked at H&R Block for 15 years, where he was also responsible for their contact centers. The centers received 36 million contacts across multiple platforms annually and peaked at 1,500 representatives across 38 states and offshore in Manila, Philippines. He also held other key positions at H&R Block, such as Director of Field Technology Support and Director of Franchise Operations Support.

Nathaniel was appointed to serve on the Académie Lafayette Board in 2024. Nathaniel and his wife, Jessica, both graduated in the Kansas City, MO area, and currently reside in Liberty, MO, where they are actively raising one boy and one girl, Liam and Leah. Mr. Newbill serves on American Century’s Mosaic Business Resource Group, which is dedicated to linking American Century’s work with our internal and external communities and providing a space that allows our teammates to be their authentic selves. Mr. Newbill also coaches a non-profit basketball organization called It’s Bigger than Basketball (IBTB) in Kansas City, MO for at-risk youth, where the organization promotes education first, athletics second.

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Committee Membership: District Performance (Committee Chair).

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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