MEMBER

Louisiana A+ Schools is a public non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

© 2019 by Louisiana A+ Schools

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Instagram
locd.jpg
NEA.jpg
windgate_edited.png
grfa.png

Board of Directors

Jacques Rodrigue

Chairman of the Board, New Orleans

Executive Director, George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts

Jacques Rodrigue graduated from Louisiana State University in General Business Administration and later received his law degree from Tulane Law School in 2007.  Jacques currently lives in New Orleans, where he also serves as House Counsel for Rodrigue Studio, his late father's art gallery. As Executive Director of the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, he publicly advocates for an arts-integrated education system, oversees the Foundation's Annual Scholarship Art Contest for Louisiana high school students, and provides leadership for the Louisiana A+ Schools program. Jacques is also a member of the Louisiana State Arts Council, is the 2013 winner of Louisiana's Arts Education Award, and the 2015 National Arts Educators Association Award for Distinguished Service Outside the Profession.

Laura Ashley

Partner, Jones Walker LLP, New Orleans 

Laura Ashley is a partner practicing in the firm's Business & Commercial Litigation Practice Group. She joined the firm after graduating from Loyola Law School where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Loyola Law Review and after served as a law clerk to the Honorable Ivan L.R. Lamellae of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. She represents and counsels a diverse group of national and international companies, particularly in the areas of commercial bankruptcy litigation, out-of-court workouts, foreclosure litigation, and complex litigation.

Charmaine Caccioppi

Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, United Way of Southeast Louisiana, New Orleans

Charmaine Caccioppi serves as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the United Way of Southeast Louisiana and oversees the Community Impact Department. She is responsible for the development and implementation of United Way's government relations strategies in alignment with the Blueprint for Prosperity through  the development of relationships with key internal and external constituents. These relationships result in funding and legislative support and strengthen the organization's visibility and image throughout the public sector. She currently serves as a board member of the Bureau of Governmental Research and is Chairman of the Louisiana Women's Policy & Research Commission.

Jason Doré

Jason Doré is leading the Office of Information and Public Affairs as Advocacy's assistant chief counsel for external affairs. He served as the leader of Republican Party of Louisiana since 2011. He has extensive campaign, outreach, and media experience in this position. Doré has been a partner in his own law firm in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, since 2009, and he is a member of the bar in Louisiana and Texas. Doré received his J.D. from Louisiana State University's Hebert Law Center, and he received his Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications from LSU. He also studied at Université Sainte-Anne in Nova Scotia, Canada. A native of Lafayette, Lousiana, Doré displays his Louisiana roots with pride. He is a member of the Krewe of Endymion, and during his time in Washington, D.C., he now belongs to the Mystick Krewe of Louisianians.

Dr. Sonia Fields Gutierrez

Assistant Superintendent, St. Helena Parish School District, Greensburg

Dr. Sonia Fields Gutierrez has spent her entire career as an educator, first serving as an elementary educator, where she primarily taught kindergarten. She has also fulfilled the role of Professional Development Presenter for Catapult Learning. She currently serves as Assistant Superintendent for St. Helena Parish School District, where she has been instrumental in developing  partnerships for the Early Childhood Community Network, professional development programs including New Teacher Induction, and developing PK-12th grade pacing guides aligned to tier I curriculum. She also has two children, Carmelo Jr. and Mia, with her husband Carmelo.

Mary Harris

Principal, South Highlands Magnet Elementary, Shreveport

Mary Harris has served in education for 30 years and currently serves as the Principal of South Highlands Elementary School and as a Fellow for Louisiana A+ Schools. Degrees and certifications include Elementary Education, Masters in Counseling, Education Specialist, Educational Leadership, Reading Specialist, and National Board Certification. Mary has been awarded local, state, and national awards that include National Milken Family Foundation Award, Caddo Parish Teacher of the Year, Louisiana Regional Teacher of the Year, LSU Distinguished Educator Award, Joyce/Revenna Exemplary Teacher Award, the Louisiana Art and Culture Award, and served on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Mary is married to Keith Harris, a retired Battalion Fire Chief for the city of Shreveport and current Fire Chief for Caddo Parish. They have three children and three grandchildren.

Dayna Haynie

Lobbyist, Haynie and Associates, Baton Rouge

Dayna Haynie attended New York University where she earned a master's degree in Art Therapy. She has experience providing mental health services in hospitals and clinics, as well as art enrichment in schools. Dayna has returned to Louisiana and is interested in collaborating on initiatives that assure that excellent education opportunities and mental health services are readily available to all.

Devin Jenkins, MHA

 Chief Operating Officer, Specialists Hospital, Shreveport

Devin Jenkins serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Specialists Hospital Shreveport which is one of the highest rated hospitals in Louisiana for orthopedics and spine care. Devin is a native of southeast Louisiana has worked in the healthcare industry in northern Louisiana for over 17 years. He is committed to providing high quality, efficient, low cost health care services to his community. Music and art has always played a big part in his life. He and his wife Caryn are passionate about ensuring that children have access to a quality education. They are active in their local church and in serving their community.

Beth Zuschlag LeBlanc

Acadian Ambulance, Lafayette

Beth Zuschlag LeBlanc is a native of Lafayette, Louisiana. She holds a B.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, a J.D. from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, MN, and an M.A. in Communications from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. She worked as an intern for ABC World News Tonight while completing her degree at Georgetown University. She then worked on Capital Hill as a Congressional staffer before joining the Governmental Affairs team at Shaw Group. She now works as Associate General Counsel for Acadian Companies, headquartered in Lafayette. Beth enjoys giving back to her community and proudly serves on the Board of Directors for 232-HELP, Saint Thomas More Catholic High School Foundation, and the ABC Fund. She is an active parishioner at St. Pius X Catholic Church. She and her husband Ross have three children: Annie, Andrew, and Audrey. When she isn't working or running around after her kids, Beth enjoys reading, traveling, and sleeping.

Hollis G. Milton
Hollis G. Milton

 Superintendent at West Feliciana Parish Schools, St. Francisville

Hollis Milton has served as the Superintendent of the highly rated West Feliciana Parish School District since June 2010. The district letter grade improved from  a "B" to an "A" that year, and has continued at the top level for six consecutive years. The graduation rate has improved by 13% in a period of six years. Hollis is a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University and holds a Master of Educational Leadership from LSU. Previously, he has been recognized as a two-time Teacher of the Year in East Baton Rouge Parish, and Principal of the Year in East Baton Rouge Parish.

Sheryl Pedersen
Sheryl Pedersen
Sheryl Pedersen

Lake Charles

Sheryl Pedersen is a retired Certified Health Education Specialist. She obtained her MPH degree in Health Education from Tulane University in 1990 and was employed as Health Educator and Promotions Coordinator for NIH-funded multi-site research trials including Child and Adolescent Trial for Cardiovascular Health, Trial of Activity for Adolescent Girls and ACTION! Health for Life. Her research portfolio has focused on school-based health education and health promotion, specifically relating to student diet, physical activity habits, and school personnel wellness programs. She has co-authored numerous publications on health education curriculum outcomes and a diabetes prevention curriculum for grades 3-5. Upon leaving Tulane, she became Director of Slidell Memorial Hospital's Parenting Center until she retired in 2014. She now devotes her time managing and promoting her husband's children's book series "The Adventures of The Swamp Kids" and his latest book "Bayou Santa". She and her husband Leif reside in both Slidell and Lake Charles, LA. They have one son Dane, who is working on his Bachelor's Degree in Kinesiology at SLU in Hammond, LA.

Henry Price

President at Shreveport Regional Arts Council, Shreveport

Mr. Henry E. Price has a B.S. Degree and an M.A. Degree in Art Education. He has more than 30 plus hours from various universities around the country. Several years ago, he was selected to join a group of scholars from around the country to travel to the Italian Riviera to study Italian culture and arts integration. Mr. Price works with the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts as a Founding Fellow as part of Louisiana A+ Schools. He currently serves as President of the Board of Directors of the Shreveport Regional Arts Council (SRAC) and since 1995, he has worked as Supervisor of Art (K-12) for Caddo Parish Public Schools. Prior to the job Supervisor of Art, he was the Assistant Principal of Caddo Magnet High School in Shreveport for 15 years.

Margaret-Mary Sulentic Dowell, Ph. D.

Professor, Literacy and Urban Education, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge

Margaret-Mary Sulentic Dowell, Ph.D., is professor of Literacy and Urban Education at Louisiana State University's School of Education in Baton Rouge. She is Director of the LSU Writing Program and Coordinator of the Grades 1-5 Teacher Education Program. Her research agenda focuses on literacy in urban settings, specifically service-learning as a pedagogical pathway to preparing  pre-service teachers, providing access to literature, writing, and the arts, and the complexities of literacy leadership. Sulentic Dowell has been nationally recognized for her scholarship and teaching, has numerous publications, and frequently presents at national and international conferences. She is also a National Board Certified Teacher.

Professor, Literacy and Urban Education, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge

Margaret-Mary Sulentic Dowell, Ph.D., is professor of Literacy and Urban Education at Louisiana State University's School of Education in Baton Rouge. She is Director of the LSU Writing Program and Coordinator of the Grades 1-5 Teacher Education Program. Her research agenda focuses on literacy in urban settings, specifically service-learning as a pedagogical pathway to preparing  pre-service teachers, providing access to literature, writing, and the arts, and the complexities of literacy leadership. Sulentic Dowell has been nationally recognized for her scholarship and teaching, has numerous publications, and frequently presents at national and international conferences. She is also a National Board Certified Teacher.

Judge Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux

President, Board of Trustees, Lake Charles Charter Academy Foundation, Lake Charles

Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, a graduate of Dartmouth College and Tulane Law School, where he was an Earl Warren Scholar, is the Chief Judge of the Third Circuit Court of Appeal. He is a member of the 2017 Hall of Fame Class of Tulane Law School. He is the past President of The National Council of Chief Judges, and organization consisting of chief judges of the intermediate appellate courts in the United States and its territories. He practiced law for seventeen years in New York City and Lake Charles before his election to the Third Circuit in 1992. Judge Thibodeaux is active in the community as a Board Member of several organizations:  SWLA Center for Health; founder of three Type 2 charter schools with enrollments totaling 2,000 students; Lake Charles Memorial Hospital; and Calcasieu Association for Retarded Citizens. He is a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church and is married to Phyllis Dugar Thibodeaux.

Patrick Widhalm

Head of School, Benjamin Franklin High School, New Orleans

Patrick Widhalm's life and career in music has its origins in the commitment to arts education in Nebraska public schools as he was growing up. Band, orchestra, jazz band, and choir were the highlights of his high school experience, along with serious studies of classical piano. He holds degrees in piano performance from the University of North Texas; studied at the Hochschule fur Musik in Vienna; and earned a Doctorate in Musical Arts form the University of Missouri - Kansas City. After several years of teaching, Patrick moved to administration. He serves as Head of School at Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans, following 15 years as Executive Director of the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts. He is also vice-chair of the Louisiana State Arts Council, and recently completed work on the Advisory Board of the LSU Ogden Honors College.