Louisiana faces so many challenges. One in five residents lives below the federal poverty level and nearly half the population is considered working poor. Our health outcomes are among the worst in the nation and so are our schools. How do we change policies to help everybody in the state? And what will it take to turn our schools around?
Ashley Shelton has answers to these questions.
Ashley is founder, president and CEO of the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, a statewide 501(c)3 organization in Louisiana that uses a broad-based strategy of community organizing, issue advocacy, and civic action to give underserved populations a voice in the halls of power. They specialize in in focusing on workers’ rights, community health and criminal justice reform.
Ashley has led several nonprofit advocacy organizations over the years, where she has made a significant impact on policy at the state and local level. She also served as executive vice president at the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation, which was created to help improve the quality of life for all Louisianans after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Prior to that, Ashley served as Director of Grant-making at the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, one of the most impactful organizations in this region.
Chris Meyer is CEO of New Schools for Baton Rouge, an organization that was created by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation in 2010 to help attract and grow the most successful non-profit-run public charter schools to Baton Rouge.
In the years since, New Schools has helped attract two-dozen high-performing charter schools that are on track to serving half of public school students in Baton Rouge. Under Chris’ leadership, the organization has raised and deployed more than $70m in its first two Excellence Funds, and spurred more than $150 million in new school facility investments.
Chris began his educational career at Teach for America, where he taught social studies at a public school in New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina, Chris led over 200 students who had evacuated to a rural parish to achieve significant academic gains. More recently, he served as deputy superintendent of the Louisiana Recovery School District and, prior to that, as Director of Policy in the Louisiana Department of Education.