Our Team

Patrick Dobard

Patrick Dobard

Chief Executive Officer

Patrick Dobard is the CEO of New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO), a nonprofit organization committed to delivery on the promise of excellent public schools for every child in New Orleans. NSNO serves the city as a strategic leader, accelerates the development of high-quality schools, and provides financial and advisory support to grow, connect, and sustain school support organizations.

Dobard served as the Superintendent of the Louisiana Recovery School District (RSD) from 2012 to 2017. In 2014, the New Orleans RSD became the nation’s first school district comprised entirely of charter schools. Under his leadership, the RSD made significant progress in transforming the most chronically low performing schools in Louisiana—nearly eliminating failing schools in New Orleans. Patrick helped design EnrollNOLA, the centralized enrollment system for New Orleans that provides families with equitable, transparent access to schools. Under his leadership, the RSD reduced expulsions through a common hearing office, passed an equitable school funding policy that takes the unique needs of each student into account, and progressed through the largest school construction project in the nation’s history. Dobard also led efforts to develop New Orleans Youth Opportunity Center to serve high-needs students at risk of dropping out and the Therapeutic Day Program, which serves students with severe behavioral health disabilities. Prior to leaving the RSD, Dobard, in collaboration with the Orleans Parish School Board, managed the process to unify New Orleans two school districts (RSD and OPSB).

Patrick is a native New Orleanian and career educator. He began his teaching career in his hometown after graduating from Southern University of New Orleans.

Nash Crews

Chief Operating Officer

Nash serves as the Chief Operating Officer at New Schools for New Orleans. Most recently she was the Chief of Strategic Advancement for Collegiate Academies, a high school charter network in New Orleans. Previously, Nash was Chief of Staff at the Recovery School District working with then Superintendent Patrick Dobard. Prior to that, she helped found the Cowen Institute and served as the Associate Director of Policy. Before Nash moved to New Orleans in 2006, she was the Health and Legislative Assistant to Senator Mary Landrieu in Washington, DC. Nash holds a M.A. in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi and a B.A. in English from Furman University.

Jen Kurtz

Jen Kurtz

Chief Financial Officer

Jen, a lifelong resident of Greater New Orleans, joined NSNO in 2012. As NSNO’s Chief Financial Officer, she oversees the Finance and Operations team. She is a licensed CPA with a B.S. in Accounting from the University of New Orleans. Jen has worked in private, public and non-profit accounting since 1996.

Jawan Brown-Alexander

Chief of Schools

Jawan Brown-Alexander serves as the Chief of Schools for New Schools for New Orleans.  Prior to joining NSNO, Jawan’s experiences as a school leader included her work as Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Lake Forest Charter School, Interim Director of K-8 Instructional Strategies for ACSA, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Recovery School District, and Assistant Head of School for Accountability and School Performance at Lafayette Charter School.  Jawan also helped found Collab Lab, an organization committed to providing guidance and support to school leaders. She credits her passion for teaching as well as her master teacher and middle school teaching experiences as the catalysts for her work as a leader, mentor, and advisor. Jawan is a New Orleans native who graduated from Eleanor McMain Magnet School, went on to earn a B.A. in English Education from Southern University, and a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Xavier University.

Mandy Folse

Chief Development Officer

A native of Cut Off, Louisiana, Mandy joined NSNO after 10 years of working in international development in Washington, DC. During that time, Mandy led advocacy programs to influence policies related to education, health, and agriculture in developing countries. She has also served as an advisor to Senator Mary Landrieu and former Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu on a variety of domestic social issues. Mandy received her Master in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to graduate school, she worked as a social worker with children in foster care and as a civil rights advocate.

Holly Reid

Chief of Policy and Planning

Prior to joining NSNO, Holly served as the Executive Director of Policy for the Louisiana Recovery School District for six years. In this role, Holly directed a wide range of state and local policy initiatives focused on improving educational outcomes for children through promoting autonomy, accountability, and equity in New Orleans charter schools.  Holly is a former Teach for America Corps Member (Rio Grande Valley ’06) and holds a B.A. in Political Science from Baylor University and a J.D. from Tulane University.

Alex Jarrell

Chief Innovation Officer

Alex is the Chief Innovation Officer at New Schools for New Orleans. Previously, Alex was the Principal at KIPP Central City Academy, consistently the top performing middle school in the New Orleans Recovery School District. While leading KCCA, he also founded KIPP Booker T. Washington High School, working with Booker T. Washington alumni to bring back the historic New Orleans high school. Before becoming Principal, Alex taught 6th grade English. In 2011, his students achieved the highest English scores of any open enrollment school in New Orleans on the Louisiana state exam. Alex received a B.A. in History from Northwestern University, Phi Beta Kappa, and a M.S.Ed. in Education Entrepreneurship from the University of Pennsylvania.

Libby Bain

Executive Director of Teacher Pipelines

Libby Bain is the Executive Director of Teacher Pipelines. Previously, she served as the Director of Talent at KIPP New Orleans Schools for eight years. She was responsible for leading KIPP’s recruitment efforts and working on their broader talent strategy. During that time, she oversaw a 140% increase in hiring for the network while helping to start their teacher evaluation program and launch a teacher residency. Prior to her role at KIPP, Libby spent four years working on recruitment, staffing, and new teacher training. Libby was originally a high-school special education teacher in St. Louis, Missouri. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Virginia.

Stephanie Slates

Executive Director of School Talent

Stephanie manages NSNO’s school talent development strategy.  She began her career as a fourth grade teacher in New Orleans in 2002; following teaching, she worked at Tulane University’s Office of Service Learning, where she oversaw students’ service placements in local public schools. She subsequently worked as a Program Design Specialist on Teach For America’s Teacher Preparation Team and as a Project Manager on the start-up team of New Leaders for New Schools in New Orleans. Stephanie holds a B.A. in History from Harvard University, a M.S. in Urban Studies from the University of New Orleans, and was a U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences Predoctoral Fellow at Johns Hopkins University, where she earned a M.A. in Sociology. She is grateful to work with partners to expand high-quality educational opportunities for all students in New Orleans.

Nancia Sterling (Nan)

Executive Director of Instructional Quality

Before joining NSNO, Nan served as the Chief Academic Officer of New Beginnings Schools Foundation, a charter school community of two elementary schools and one high school in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans, and as the principal of an elementary school in Jefferson Parish. She also formerly worked with the Recovery School District, assisting district-run schools transfer to charter operators. Nan got her teaching start as an English Language Arts teacher in the Richardson Independent School District, a suburb of Dallas, Texas, where 90% of her students mastered Texas’s reading and writing assessments. Before entering the world of education, Nan was an auditor with Ernst and Young in Houston, Texas. Nan earned a B.S. in Accounting from Southern University in her hometown of Baton Rouge, and holds a Master in Education Administration from Grand Canyon University of Arizona. Nan further obtained certificates from the following institutions: Texas Teaching Fellows of The New Teacher Project, New Leaders for New Schools, National Institute for School Leadership, and STAND Educational Leadership.

Shana Applewhite

Director of Development, Grant Compliance and Operations

A native of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Shana completed her bachelor’s degree at Seattle University, where she studied International Business. She then went on to work in operations and fundraising at a Waldorf School in the Seattle area, where she worked for four years. Recalling fond memories of family trips to New Orleans, Shana was compelled to return to her roots and join the movement to ensure that every student receives a high-quality education.

Keisha Calderon

Director of Strategic Initiatives

Keisha grew up in Florida and attended Emory University. After graduation, she worked as an Investment Fund Auditor for PricewaterhouseCoopers and is a licensed Certified Public Accountant. Dance has always been a strong passion in her life, so eventually her career path led back into the arts. Keisha worked as an administrator and teaching artist for several small dance companies and outreach programs in New York before attending Florida State University to complete a M.F.A in Dance and Choreography. While in Florida she served as the Director of The Tallahassee Ballet School and launched a side business to help small business owners with their accounting and bookkeeping needs. She moved to New Orleans in 2014 to teach dance and art at a primary school. Keisha is thrilled to be joining the NSNO Staff as the Director of Strategic Initiatives!

Sarah Morrison

Director of Development, Strategy and Grants

Sarah Morrison graduated from Syracuse University in 2012 with degrees in Magazine Journalism and Sociology. She began her nonprofit communications work as an intern at Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and later became co-lead of the National Youth Advisory Board for Loveisrespect.org, a teen dating violence prevention nonprofit. Sarah has also worked in nonprofit organizing, raising public awareness and building support to overturn Citizen’s United. Most recently, Sarah wrote about global poverty and human rights issues for the Borgen Project. She is thrilled to be NSNO’s Development and Communications Manager, and to be part of such a dedicated team working to ensure access to a quality education for every child in New Orleans.

Grant Adolph

Director of Compliance

A native of New Orleans, Grant joins NSNO following more than five years in public accounting, including substantial experience auditing charter schools and non-profit organizations in the Greater New Orleans area. Grant is a licensed CPA and holds a BSM in Finance and a Master of Accounting from Tulane University.

Qasim Davis

Director of Teacher Pipeline and Recruitment

Qasim previously was the Director of Playworks Louisiana, leading a regional team in delivering social-emotional play to over 15,000 elementary aged students across Orleans, Jefferson and St. Bernard Parish. Before Playworks, he designed and managed programming for youth of color (ages 15-22) who work together to address a specific issue related to educational equity, food and land sovereignty, mass incarceration, youth employment, and community organizing. Qasim is a graduate of Urban League’s Urban Leaders for Equity and Diversity (ULEAD), was part of the inaugural cohort of Emerging Leaders as well as Financial Leadership with Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF), and member of the 2018 Propeller’s Growth Accelerator cohort. Qasim is also a Community Leader for the second class of Tulane Universities Mellon Graduate Program in Community Engagement Scholarship.

Michael Smithers

Director of Portfolio

After graduating from Hampton University with a bachelor’s degree in political science, Michael joined Teach For America as a corps member in the Metro-Atlanta area in 2013. During his time at Teach For America Michael taught high school social studies in Atlanta Public Schools. In the summer of 2014, he joined the Urban Leaders Fellowship where he was introduced to the organization and mission, in which he provided support to NSNO on various projects. Having family roots in New Orleans, he is delighted to now serve as Director of Portfolio where he will contribute key insights to support NSNO in delivering on the promise of excellent public schools for all children in New Orleans.

Shelley Stocker

Director of School Talent Grants

Shelley serves as the Director of School Talent Grants, working on NSNO’s federal Teacher Incentive Fund and Charter Schools Program grants. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University before completing a M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from Loyola University Chicago. Prior to moving to New Orleans in 2003 she worked in a wide variety of campus life capacities at Cornell University and Louisiana State University. As a member of the 2005 University of New Orleans’ Teach Greater New Orleans program she served on the Special Education staff of Nelson UNO Charter School before joining Partnership for Youth Development in the summer of 2006. Over an eight year tenure with PYD, Shelley provided a strong operations infrastructure and grant management for the organization while delivering diverse supports to partner non-profits. She and her husband David are the proud parents of Jakob and Levi.

Katie Luscomb

Director of Policy and Planning

Katie began her career as a prekindergarten teacher in the Greater New Orleans area. Her passion for improving public education for every child in New Orleans led her to transition into system-level work, first at the Recovery School District and later at the Orleans Parish School Board. In these positions, Katie was involved with data analysis, policy initiatives, and strategic projects, with a focus on portfolio management and citywide challenges such as special education and chronic absenteeism. In addition, Katie has worked at a charter network and other education non-profits, serving in roles related to early childhood education, charter school compliance, and school operations. She holds a B.A. in Government and Economics from the University of Virginia and a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Alex Dunkenberger

Project Associate

A native of Southwest Virginia, Alex moved to New Orleans in 2017 after graduating from the University of Virginia, where he received his B.S.Ed. in Youth & Social Innovation and Government. Prior to joining NSNO, he worked or interned with several political organizations and campaigns, the office of a U.S. Senator, and a New Orleans law firm. He is thrilled to be working alongside a great team of people dedicated to delivering on the promise of excellent public schools for every child in New Orleans.

April Carter

School Quality Associate

April attended the University of New Orleans. After graduating from UNO, she worked as an intern and later as an Administrative Assistant for the Recovery School District in the Curriculum Department.  She was responsible for logistics, data disaggregation and assisting with the development of teacher training modules.  Most recently, April worked for Choice Foundation Schools at Lafayette Academy Charter.  Over the last 4 years, her work there focused on logistics, assessment data reporting, grading systems, and strategic planning.

Juan Delgado-Veliz

Data and Planning Associate

Juan comes to NSNO after completing a Master in Public Administration focus on Education from the Harvard Kennedy School. He was awarded with the Mason Fellowship and during his studies he also participated as International Education Chair at Education Professional Interest Council at HKS. Prior to that, he worked for Teach for Peru as first a teacher, and then on Teach for Peru’s regional and national leadership team.  Prior to that, Juan owned and operated an instructional materials distributing company and worked as a lawyer for Peru’s National Health Institute and the General Comptroller’s Office.