Staff and Team
Amanda Kruger Hill, Executive Director
Amanda is an award-winning educational leader with a deep commitment to the success of New Orleans youth. She co-founded the first youth-initiated high school in the United States and the Reach Institute for School Leadership in California. Additionally, she was a lead design team member of New Harmony High, the award-winning XQ Super School. Amanda is a former principal, master teacher, and college counselor. Prior to leading the Cowen Institute, she was Director of School Reviews with New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO). Amanda holds her Master’s in Educational Leadership, Principal Licensure, and Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and is pursuing her Doctorate in Educational Leadership at Johns Hopkins University. She has served as an adjunct faculty member with Columbia University, Tulane University, and Relay Graduate School of Education. She also serves on the boards of Bard Early College New Orleans and the Tulane Center for Teacher Preparation and Certification as well as on various task forces for the Department of Education. Amanda is the Cowen Institute’s lead for Harvard University Strategic Data Project Fellowship. She enjoys living in New Orleans with her husband, Graham, and sons, Benjamin and Louis.
Amy Barad, Deputy Director
Amy launched and now directs the Cowen Institute’s Reconnecting Opportunity Youth initiative, which addresses youth disconnection in New Orleans. Over the past 10 years, she has worked in the for- and nonprofit sectors in program and project management, business development, policy analysis, and systems and operational management. Prior to joining the Cowen Institute, she held managerial positions in systems design, finance, and operations at McMaster-Carr and consulted on development projects in Johannesburg, South Africa. Amy serves on the boards of Tulane Hillel, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Cookbook Project. In her free time, she enjoys teaching group exercise classes at Barre3 New Orleans. Amy holds her Masters in Business Administration from Tulane’s Freeman School of Business and a Bachelor’s from Brown University.
April Rice, Director, Upward Bound
April Rice has spent the past 10 years in education as a teacher, curriculum specialist, and coach. Her experience and passion lie with teaching disadvantaged students in extenuating circumstances. With a background in curriculum and instruction, April has implemented and developed programs and courses to help students transition between high school and college at the high school level. She has developed dropout prevention and credit recovery courses for her district. She has also trained new teachers for the Department of Education at the state level and presented at regional and national conferences on 21st century learning, Career Pathways, and STEM Initiatives. Although she enjoys training teachers, April’s passion is inside the classroom with her students. April received the Teacher of the Year Award in 2008 and 2009 from Rankin County, Mississippi. She received her Bachelor’s in Health Science from Brigham Young University-Idaho and her Master’s in Higher Education Administration at Mississippi College.
Vincent Rossmeier, Director of Policy
Vincent’s work focuses on the areas of post-secondary education, workforce development, and economic development. He most recently worked as chief of staff to District “C” Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer of the New Orleans City Council. Prior to his work with the city, Vincent worked for the Bureau of Government Research and Partnership for Youth Development. He holds a Master’s Degree in Journalism from New York University and has worked both at the New Yorker and Salon.com.
Alida Murray, Senior Program Coordinator, Upward Bound
Alida has been working with Tulane Upward Bound since September 2016. She started off in a contract position of Counselor/Instructor but was recently hired on full time as Senior Program Coordinator. Alida has been helping youth prepare for post-secondary options over the past 12 years. She has had the opportunity to work as an Academic Advisor for Collin County College in Dallas, TX, as an Associate Director of St. Tammany Educational Talent Search at the University of New Orleans and as a Mentor and Program Coordinator for College Track New Orleans. As a native of New Orleans, Alida feels a personal responsibility to give back to the youth in this area. She is a graduate of Southern University of New Orleans with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a graduate of Amberton University with a Master’s degree in Counseling. In 2014 she completed the Orleans Public Education Network’s (OPEN) Parent Leadership Training Institute and received her certification in Parent Leadership. Alida is also very passionate about sexual assault awareness/advocacy and co-founded the Men Ask for Consent (MAC) campaign along with her daughter.
Alison Barker, Manager, Earn and Learn Program
Alison Barker started her teaching career in 1999 with a start-up nonprofit in urban Boston neighborhoods whose central mission was to inspire middle school students’ unique voices in writing through a variety of hands-on activities. Ever since she saw the caliber of creative writing produced after a night spent in a yurt in the middle of a Vermont pine forest, she’s been hooked on the healing power of the creative process in learning communities. Alison has spent the past 15 years in education; she has taught history and English at the middle school level and creative and research writing at the college level. She earned her B.A. and Teaching Certification in Political Science from Wellesley College and her M.F.A. in creative writing from LSU. She is a published creative and freelance edtech writer and sees most writing projects as an opportunity to connect through story. Alison is particularly interested in how community partnerships can create transformative learning experiences, and before coming to the Cowen Institute, she founded and curated a community arts blog and co-created pilot enrichment programs with Historic New Orleans Collection, Bard Early College of New Orleans and Youth Empowerment Project. Most recently, she was a faculty member of the Communication Division at Delgado Community College, and before that, she was a post-doctoral instructor of English and creative writing at LSU. Her passion lies in supporting and bearing witness to growth and perseverance of the young people she works with.
Nicole Burse, Manager of Finance and Operations
Nicole Burse joins the Cowen Institute as Manager of Finance and Operations. In her previous role, Nicole managed operations and finances for Tulane summer school at Newcomb Tulane College. In her nine years at Tulane, she has also worked with the School of Liberal Arts and University Relations. Nicole holds a Master’s in Emergency Management and is pursuing her Master’s in Business Administration from Tulane’s Freeman School of Business. Nicole is passionate about access and equity in our education system and currently serves as the treasurer for Tulane’s First-Generation College Faculty and Staff Council. She also volunteers with Evacuteer in support of city-assisted evacuations and emergency preparedness throughout the year. She is a long-time resident of New Orleans along with her husband, Jon and daughter, Kamryn. She is thrilled to join this dynamic organization and to play a role in advancing education and career opportunities for New Orleans youth.
Christina Carr, Program Officer, Office of Advancement
Christina holds a joint appointment to Tulane University’s Department of Corporate and Foundation Relations and the Cowen Institute. In this role, she is responsible for coordinating the fundraising efforts of the Cowen Institute, including managing the institute’s annual fund program and the stewardship activities for both corporate and foundation representatives and individual prospects. Before joining the Cowen Institute, Christina served as Grants Manager at the New Orleans Museum of Art; Assistant Director of Development Writing at Tulane; and Director of Development at the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Boston University and a Master of Arts in Arts Administration from the University of New Orleans. A long-time New Orleans resident, Christina is an arts advocate and volunteers as a writing coach for Posse Foundation and to help restore Louisiana’s coast.
CJ Brumfield, Assistant Director, Upward Bound
CJ is a native New Orleanian. He attended Xavier University of Louisiana, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Master’s in Counseling with a Post-Secondary Education concentration. He was the first recipient of the CASE/Clarence J. Jupiter Fellowship for Institutional Advancement and spent several years working in Development and Alumni Relations at Xavier University of Louisiana. CJ was also the managing partner of a local business for three years before being displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Having worked with the Ronald E. McNair TRiO program prior to his time in Development, he decided to return to New Orleans and rejoin the education community. CJ served as Assistant Director of the Upward Bound TRiO program at Loyola University New Orleans before joining the Cowen Institute in the same role. He looks forward to continuing his work with the youth of New Orleans, providing academic support systems and improved post-secondary opportunities.
David Collier, Program Manager, Hilton Riverside Earn and Learn
David manages a partnership between Earn and Learn and the Hilton Riverside New Orleans hotel that provides an on ramp for opportunity youth to meaningful careers in the hospitality industry. David spent the previous nine years in public education in New Orleans, holding roles of Assistant Principal, Dean of Students, Math Coach, and 5th Grade Math Teacher with ReNEW Schools. As a school administrator he worked to transform school culture by providing meaningful behavior interventions, decreasing the suspension rate, and recognizing student voice in decision making. David’s students consistently achieved among the highest 5th grade math scores in New Orleans. He grew up in Baltimore, MD and holds an undergraduate degree in Politics Science and Economics from Columbia University.
Eric Cherrie, Manager, Strategy and Impact
Eric’s work focuses on the design, implementation, and growth of strategic initiatives aimed at improving educational and employment outcomes for young people. He previously worked at the Cowen Institute as the EMPLOY Collaborative’s Senior Program Coordinator, where he assisted with strategic development, communications, alignment, logistics, program design, and supported a community of practice. Eric is a native New Orleanian. He holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Colorado – Denver and is a dual MBA and Global MBA candidate at Tulane University. He served two years with AmeriCorps, working in Austin, Texas and Boulder, Colorado. During that time, he worked with youth on dropout prevention, college access, and career readiness.
Faith Robinson, Earn and Learn Career Pathways Program Administrative Coordinator
Faith Robinson is a New Orleans native and currently serves as the Earn and Learn Career Pathways Program Administrative Coordinator. She began her work with Tulane as a Web Development Apprentice through the Earn and Learn Career Pathways Program. While completing her apprenticeship, she co-founded the Youth Action Team (the YAT). The â€˜YAT’ is a leadership group of young adults who address issues impacting the community and coordinate events to support New Orleans youth. She co-planned the 100k Opportunities Youth Forum in 2017 and continues to serve as a senior mentor on the Youth Action Team. Faith has experience in youth engagement, technology, hospitality and is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She plans on creating her own organization to support women entering male-dominated industries.
Kate Babineau, Senior Research Fellow
Kate is a Senior Research Fellow with the Cowen Institute and with Harvard University’s Strategic Data Project. Her work focuses on college persistence, early warning systems, accountability, mixed-methods research methodologies, measurement development, and making educational systems more equitable for underrepresented populations. Prior to joining the Cowen Institute, Kate earned her MSc in Applied Social Research and her PhD in Social Policy in 2014 from Trinity College, Dublin. Her academic research focused on diversity and social integration in elementary schools. Prior to that, she earned a Bachelor’s in Philosophy from Loyola University in 2006 and taught elementary school in New Orleans. She’s interested in data visualization, graphic design, multimedia, and finding new and interesting ways to bring data to the people.
Kerry Hegarty, Manager of College and Career Counseling and Alumni Services – Earn and Learn
Before coming to the Cowen Institute, Kerry most recently worked for Communities in Schools as a clinical mental health counselor at Renew Accelerated High School. There, she provided therapeutic interventions to over-age and under-credited students in New Orleans. Prior to graduating from the Loyola University New Orleans Master’s of Counseling Program, she served individuals in the Orleans Parish Prison Reentry Program by providing post-traumatic stress and substance abuse counseling through the Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. Kerry also taught high school and middle school Art and English at Frederick Douglass High School and Renew Cultural Arts Academy. She is a licensed secondary education teacher, a certified guidance counselor, and a provisionally licensed professional counselor.
Latisha Robertson-Williams, Administrative Program Coordinator, Upward Bound
Latisha has been with Upward Bound since February 2006, as New Orleans began to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. She is instrumental in developing administrative procedures, maintaining student records, and supporting staff and faculty in programming initiatives. Additionally, she handles finances, budgets, reports, communications, field trips/college tours, and recruitment for Upward Bound. Latisha and her husband are proud parents of 5 children. In her spare time, she enjoys coordinating weddings and events. She looks forward to finishing her business degree in the near future.
Shakari Fraser, Manager of On-the-Job Training, Reconnecting Opportunity Youth – Earn and Learn
Shakari, a New Orleans native, joined the Earn and Learn Program as the Manager of On-the-Job Training. She is a former high school social studies teacher and former lead of the College and Career Readiness Team at ReNEW Accelerated High School. In that role, she developed, organized and tracked individual college and career plans for nearly 100 over-age and under-credited seniors annually. Shakari attended LSU, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, and she also possesses an advanced degree in Computer Information Systems from Southern University at New Orleans. She is responsible for strengthening existing and cultivating new apprenticeship sites along with professionally developing business partners that supports them in effectively hiring, retaining, and advancing opportunity youth.
Tania Matos-Lozano, Operations Coordinator
Tania leads the organization’s operations, supporting approximately 90 team members and suitemates. She oversees the organization-wide internship program which recruits from local universities including Xavier, Loyola, Dillard and the University of New Orleans. She also assists on personnel matters including payroll and leads event logistics. She has lead investigations and presentations in D.C. on services received by her hometown Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria. Currently enrolled to finish her Bachelor’s Degree in Paralegal Studies from Tulane University, she looks forward to pursing a law degree in the near future to aide her commitment to an equitable education and resources.