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.
DENISE HOWELL, as CDL’s program administrator, spends much of her time organizing CDL’s annual Plain Talk about Literacy and Learning Institute. She also coordinates the logistics and collects data for all professional learning sessions conducted by CDL professionals. She provides support to the CEO by supplying necessary statistical information needed for grant and funding applications, corresponding with CDL’s Board of Trustees, maintaining attendance records for CDL’s Board of Trustee meetings, and maintaining records and donation acknowledgements of contributions to CDL. 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.
CINDY PHILLIPS is CDL’s business manager. 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 POTEET is an early childhood coordinator 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.
JONATHAN WILLIAMS, Ph.D., is CDL’s inaugural director of leadership and talent management. He joined CDL to lead our work that supports school leaders in their efforts to improve teacher quality through talent management and development. Jonathan brings over 20 years of experience as an educator to our team. He has worked as an elementary teacher, elementary school principal, associate director of curriculum and instruction, national consultant/principal coach, and, most recently, as director of schools for the Louisiana Recovery School District. Through his work in schools, he has gained extensive knowledge and experience in comprehensive school reform, teacher effectiveness, teacher evaluation methods, and robust, data-driven professional learning communities. A native of New Orleans, Jonathan received his bachelors’ degree in elementary education from Xavier University of Louisiana; and both his master’s in curriculum and instruction, and his doctorate in educational administration from the University of New Orleans.