ALICE THOMAS, M.Ed., is the founder, president and CEO of the Center for Development and Learning (CDL). Alice’s work is guided by a steadfast belief that all children, regardless of how they look, where they come from or how they learn, can and will achieve school success when provided with highly effective teachers and positive, supportive learning environments. In addition to executive duties, she facilitates professional learning for school leaders, teachers, and related specialists. Alice previously served as a teacher, counselor, and intervention specialist. She has taught university graduate courses on differentiating instruction for struggling students. She is a Learning Forward Academy graduate. She is the creator and director of the annual evidence-based Plain Talk about Literacy and Learning Institute. Alice is coauthor of the Plain Talk about Learning professional learning curriculum, the Right from Birth parent/caregiver training curriculum, and the Teens & Tots curriculum; and editor of CDL’s online blog. Alice completed a fellowship in neurodevelopmental variations at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and doctoral level studies in change leadership at the University of Toronto. She is the recipient of the New Orleans Children’s Defense Fund’s Champions for Children award and the International Dyslexia Association’s 2013 Presidential Award for Excellence.
FLINT D. MITCHELL, Ph.D., is CDL’s vice president. Flint has more than 20 years of combined health and education experience in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors. Prior to joining the CDL team, he was a program officer at the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF) where he led programmatic work in the areas of health, education, and child and youth development. In 2017, Flint completed a 3-year W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) Community Leadership Network (CLN) Fellowship. The fellowship targeted individuals who could be transformative social change agents in their communities so that vulnerable children and their families could achieve optimal health and well-being, academic achievement, and financial security. Throughout the fellowship experience, Flint immersed himself into the study of the WKKF embedded approach of racial equity and healing as well as other concepts including facilitation, systems thinking, storytelling, and strategic communications. In addition to the WKKF CLN Fellowship, in 2009, Flint completed a fellowship with the Oak Ridge Institute for Science Education at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where he provided research and technical assistance support within the Division of Partnerships and Strategic Alliances, National Center for Health Marketing. Flint is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Undergraduate Studies program at Tulane University in the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine where he teaches Public Health Program Implementation and Management. In his leisure time, he enjoys exercising, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
INGRID ALVARADO currently serves as associate vice president of advancement responsible for the integrated strategy to increase understanding and financial sustainability of CDL. Previously, she was the national development director at Leading Educators for four years, where she developed relationships to secure multi-year investments for the organization’s national and regional operations. Ingrid was Leading Educators’ first development director and led the efforts to secure Leading Educators’ first federal, multi-million dollar grant. Previous to Leading Educators, she worked in fund development for over 10 years, primarily in higher education. Ingrid received her B.A. and M.B.A. from Spring Hill College, and is a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Leadership at University of New Orleans.
ETHAN ASHLEY is CDL’s director of policy and advocacy. As such, Ethan leads the community, organizing and partnership based work as well as our policy initiatives statewide and nationally. With regard to service, Ethan has served as immediate past community service chair for the Louis A. Martinet Legal Society, a voluntary bar association whose mission is to balance justice and effect change. Ethan was also the previous director of a voluntary literacy program at the Youth Jail in New Orleans. Ethan is an advisory board member for Bard Early College New Orleans, a rigorous, credit-bearing, tuition-free college course of student in the liberal arts and sciences available to junior and senior level students. Ethan is also a board member of the Boy Scouts of America Southeast Louisiana Council. In addition, Ethan was elected in 2016 to the Orleans Parish School Board and represents District 2. Above all, Ethan is a member of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church and is a strong advocate for youth justice, education, civil rights, and servant leadership.
DENISE HOWELL, as CDL’s program manager, spends much of her time organizing CDL’s annual Plain Talk about Literacy and Learning. She also coordinates the logistics and collects data for all professional learning sessions conducted by CDL professionals. Prior to coming to CDL, Denise worked with the Youth Service Bureau in St. Tammany Parish as their referral coordinator and the assistant coordinator for the Youth Service Bureau’s annual fundraiser, Chef Soiree.
ANTINEA JOHNSON is an early childhood specialist at CDL. As such, she coaches and mentors teachers in early childhood classroom settings. Antinea believes that all children deserve a nurturing and engaging environment filled with learning and laughter, and finds that providing support to those working directly with young children is the most efficient way to ensure best practices are provided to all children. Antinea is an approved Director for Type III learning centers, a certified Pre-K CLASS observer, and a Louisiana Pathways Trainer. She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Dillard University.
CINDY PHILLIPS is CDL’s director of business operations. Cindy oversees CDL’s accounting and risk management issues. Cindy brings extensive non-profit financial management experience to CDL, having previously worked for the Volunteers of America, managing multi-million dollar budgets with various program delivery models. Cindy holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of New Orleans.
AMY E. POIRIER is an early childhood supervisor at CDL. Amy has held multiple positions in the field of early childhood. Early in her career she worked as a teacher, center administrator, and a curriculum and training director. She has also worked as a program monitor, coach and trainer for several statewide programs and as an independent advisor, trainer and consultant. Additionally, Amy is an approved Child Development Associate (CDA) Professional Development Specialist and an endorsed trainer with Louisiana Pathways. Amy knows that children benefit the most from highly effective teachers, and that relevant, on-the-job coaching and mentoring support significantly increases their skills. As an early childhood specialist, she enjoys working side-by-side with early childhood professionals to provide support and thereby positively affect outcomes for young children.
LAUREN RICHARDSON is CDL’s graphic designer. She designs and prints all training and promotional materials, including all materials for the Plain Talk about Literacy and Learning Institute. Lauren graduated from Louisiana State University College of Art and Design in 2008 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in graphic design. In her spare time, she enjoys creating original oil and acrylic paintings that showcase all that New Orleans has to offer.
SIMON SPADARO-BLISS serves as Advancement Manager at CDL, driving integrated fundraising and organizational development efforts. Simon brings eight years of experience in the nonprofit and education sectors, and is passionate about leveraging systems thinking to build effective program and operations strategies. He brings additional expertise in instructional design, online and blended training development, and project management. Simon began his career as an EFL Teacher in Japan with the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET), before relocating to New Orleans and becoming involved with the education nonprofit sector. Simon holds a B.A. in Sociology from the University of New Hampshire, and is currently pursuing a master’s in Instructional Systems and Learning Technologies through Florida State University.