Board of Directors

Learn about the function of Académie Lafayette’s Board.

Académie Lafayette is governed by an independent Board of Directors that oversees the operations of the school and makes sure it is financially sound and follows the law. The Board also helps to create the vision for how the school should operate and develops the strategic plan. Read the school bylaws

There are two types of Board members, appointed and parent-elected. Appointed Board members serve three-year terms that can be renewed. Parent-elected Board members are elected by the parents to serve three-year terms. All Board members must pass background checks prior to their election on the Board. Below, get to know our Board members, and learn how to speak at a Board meeting.

Our Board Members

Jon Otto, President

Jon is an associate attorney at Polsinelli and works in the law firm’s financial services practice group, focusing on commercial real estate transactions, capital markets, and commercial lending. Prior to joining Polsinelli Shughart, Jon worked with the Volunteer Attorney Project at Legal Aid of Western Missouri in the low-income taxpayer clinic. Before becoming an attorney, he worked as an actuarial analyst at General Electric Insurance Solutions (later Swiss Reinsurance Corporation) and as an IT project manager at General Electric Capital Corporation.

Jon received his juris doctorate from the University of Missouri–Kansas City and his bachelor’s in mathematics from Clark Atlanta University. He was appointed to serve on the Académie Lafayette Board in 2010 and chairs the governance committees. He is married and has four children, all of whom attend Académie Lafayette.

Michael Bland, Vice President

Marvin Lyman

Marvin Lyman has served on the Académie Lafayette Board since 2013, first as a parent-elected Board member. In 2015, he was appointed to serve on the Board. Marvin graduated from Kansas City Public Schools and later earned his bachelor’s degree from St. Cloud State University. He has served as a Governor’s Fellow at Ferris State University in Michigan and a congressional intern for the Senate Republican Conference. Marvin is a former high school and middle school teacher and is the President of Kansas City’s oldest community development corporation, the Black Economic Union.

Marvin is the proud father of Madison and Morgan Lyman, both Académie Lafayette students. In addition to serving on the Board at Académie Lafayette, Marvin serves on the Truman Medical Center Board of Directors with governance duties on the fiscal responsibility and capital improvements committee. Likewise, he serves on the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority for the City of Kansas City, Missouri and is a committed community servant.

Chad Phillips

Chad Phillips has served on the Académie Lafayette Board since 2009, first as a parent-elected Board member and then as an appointed member. He was elected president in 2014. Chad received his juris doctorate from Texas Wesleyan University and bachelor’s in computer information systems from Tarleton State University. He is currently employed with the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Chad’s son Seth and daughter Wren are graduates of Académie Lafayette and attend Lincoln College Prep Academy. In addition to serving on the Board at Académie Lafayette, Chad has volunteered at many other school activities, such as Evening in Paris and the first robotics club.

Beth McCarthy

Beth McCarthy, PREP-KC’s College & Career Program Coordinator, has been with PREPKC for 11 years. She works closely with Kansas City’s urban schools to support the implementation of research-based strategies to increase college and career readiness for urban students. Her responsibilities include building partnerships with 192 businesses & 32 postsecondary institutions to create opportunities at scale for students to explore college & careers and identify the “right fit” for after high school. She also has experience in new small school development.

She is an alumna of Kansas City Tomorrow, a local civic leadership program through the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City. McCarthy brings a wealth of urban school experience to her work with PREP-KC. As a field trainer with the Vera Institute of Justice- Project Affirm, Beth trained school staff & administrators to decrease violence levels in what had been labeled New York City’s 10 worst schools. Her work in the Los Angeles Unified School District helped build community support for the district’s plan to build 85 schools in 5 years. McCarthy earned a Bachelors Degree in Social Work from Kansas State University.

Harriett Plowman

Harriett Plowman was appointed to the Board of Directors in 2012. She currently serves as the chair of the finance committee. Harriett’s involvement in the school goes back to the late ‘90s. She and her husband, Ed Rucker, were the school founders. The original charter was written at the dining room table in their Hyde Park home. All three of Harriett’s children, Mary (2002), Barnett (2006), and Ben (2009) are graduates of Académie Lafayette.

Harriett has a bachelor’s in finance from Drake University and a master’s from Rockhurst University. Harriett is also a real estate agent with Reece & Nichols, and she serves as the chair of the Board at the Ward Parkway Preschool in Kansas City.

Kelly Baker

Kelly Baker is a business professional currently working as a Project Manager for United Health Care. Kelly has 15 years of experience working with KC Communities through the Health Department and Neighborhood Housing Department for the City of Kansas City. Kelly graduated from Baker University
with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, spent 15 years with the City of Kansas City, MO as a Business Office Manager, and has years of experience in Corporate Partnership Management, Communications and Stakeholder Resolution and Coordination and Delivery of Training Curriculum.

Kelly has been a part of the Académie Lafayette Development Committee since November 2017. Together with her husband Arthur, she resides in downtown Kansas City, Mo, where she raised two boys, London and Antonio, and one daughter, Meredith (all graduates of the Kansas City, Mo area).

Dr. Carla Mebane

Carla Mebane, was born and raised in the Kansas City area. She currently serves as the Director of the dual credit program at University of Missouri-Kansas City. UMKC’s dual credit program allows high school students to earn college credit from in their high school from their high school teacher. Prior to moving into higher education, Carla taught elementary and middle school in the North Kansas City School District.

Carla, a William Jewell graduate holds an Ed.D. in leadership and policy analysis from University of Missouri-Columbia, an M.A.Ed. in school Leadership and an M.S.Ed. in curriculum and instruction. Carla joined the Académie Lafayette Board in 2018. She has two daughters, and loves to travel.

Tanja Heinen

Joining the board in 2018, Tanja Heinen brings 30 years of professional experience spanning the fields of public relations, communications, marketing, fundraising development and management. She has held multifaceted senior-level roles in the education, medical research and health care sectors. A Certified Fund-Raising Executive (CFRE) since 2000, Tanja also earned her MBA degree from Rockhurst University in 2002 after graduating from Mizzou with a Bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism. In 2014, Tanja became a Fellow in Charitable Estate Planning (FCEP). A collaborative leader, Tanja serves as a consultant to nonprofit boards and executive leaders. A native of Kansas City, Missouri, she attended public schools. Both Tanja and her husband work as entrepreneurs and enjoy parenting two daughters.

Lori Wilkerson

Dr. Gwen Poss

Renee Schloss

Renee is a Kansas City native who currently works as Assistant Director of Northland Dependency Services, a locally-owned company focusing on Alcohol and Drug treatment, offender education as well as probation and pre-trial supervision. After graduating high school, she lived and studied in Niort, France for a year before pursuing dual Bachelor’s Degrees in Criminal Justice and History. She received her MA in History from UMKC in 2005 and taught American History at the college level for 10 years before accepting her current position. In addition to her professional career, Renee has volunteered for the March of Dimes since 2008 and has previously served on their NICU family support board at St. Luke’s Hospital. She is the proud mom of Britton, Simon and Delaney, all current AL students, and two-year old Lennon.

Speak at a Board meeting

Board meetings are open meetings and are typically held on the second Monday of each month at the Armour campus, 6:30 pm. If there is a change in location, date, or time, it will be posted.

The beginning of each meeting is reserved for public comment. A maximum of five (5) speakers total per public comments period, per a single regular business meeting, is allowed. The slots are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

To speak at a Board meeting you must sign up no less than one business day before the regular monthly Board meeting (normally the second Monday of the month). Contact Carlos McClain or call 816.800.8775.

Please include:

  1. Name
  2. Contact information
  3. Specific topic you would like to address
  4. Number of handouts (if any) to send to the Board

Once you are confirmed to speak, it is suggested that you arrive no later than 6:20 p.m. the day of the Board meeting.

During your commentary, the following rules are in effect:

  • Each speaker is limited to three (3) minutes of commentary.
  • Commentary must be acceptable for a business and family-friendly environment.
  • No inappropriate references or personal attacks will be tolerated.

Please note that the Board generally will not respond to questions or comments. The Board views this part of the agenda as a listening period. Contact Carlos McClain to send a message to the Board.

Contact the Board

M. Jon Otto

M. Michael Bland

Mme Beth McCarthy

Mme Carla Mebane

M. Chad Phillips

Mme Gwen Poss

Mme Harriet Plowman

Mme Kelly Baker

Mme Lori Wilkerson

M. Marvin Lyman

Mme Tanja Heinen

Mme Renee Schloss

Parent-Elect Process

Parent-Elect Election Process

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