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Davida Morgan Washington

Davida Morgan Washington

President

Nonprofit veteran Davida Morgan Washington has been named President of the organization effective June 1, 2020. She succeeds Interim President Elyse Klova (Chief Operating Officer for Blaze Leadership) who also led Ferst Readers’ executive search.

 

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Board of Directors

Chaundra Luckett

Chaundra Luckett

Board Chair

CHRIS 180, Chief Marketing Officer

EDUCATION: Bennett College (BA Mass Communications)

Chaundra Luckett is the Chief Marketing Officer at CHRIS 180, an Atlanta based nonprofit working to improve our community by providing children, adults and families with high-quality, trauma-informed mental health and wraparound support systems. Prior to arriving at CHRIS 180 in 2018, she worked as the Public Relations Manager at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Before her career pivot to communications, Chaundra was a well-respected journalist, spending 10 years in the television news industry across the Southeast. During her TV career, she was the recipient of numerous awards from the Associated Press, and three Southeast Regional Emmy Awards nominations.

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Lauri Strauss

Board Vice Chair

Lauri Strauss is president of Strauss Media and Communications LLC. Previously, she served as president of the Atlanta Press Club for more than ten years managing the day-to-day operations, events and fundraising for the professional journalism organization. She also served the club’s mission to support Atlanta’s journalism community and a free press. Lauri’s background is in broadcast journalism. She started her career working for the local NBC affiliate in Tucson, Arizona, before moving to Atlanta to work for CNN. Lauri also worked in media relations for The Coca-Cola Company and was an area manager for the American Cancer Society. Lauri is a graduate of Leadership Atlanta’s class of 2015. She is a board member for Ferst Readers and an active volunteer with the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta and the Junior League of Atlanta. She sits on the advisory council for the Agape Youth and Family Center and serves in advisory roles for other nonprofit organizations.

Susannah Cameron Balish

Treasurer

Susannah Balish is Senior Director of Supply Chain Operations at COX Communications.

An award-winning leader recognized for pioneering forward-thinking projects, Susannah has over two decades of measured success scaling bottom-line results in Fortune 500 telecommunication companies. She is a trusted advocate, mentor, and coach known for the professional development of diverse teams. Most recently, she co-architected MentorUp! a reverse-mentoring program at COX and is actively engaged in a design opportunity to enrich the employee experience.

Susannah is an active volunteer in the Atlanta community and has held board positions in several organizations including Ferst Readers, Voices for Georgia’s Children, Atlanta Children’s Shelter, and Trees Atlanta. Susannah is a past president of The Junior League of Atlanta, a member of the Leadership Atlanta class of 2013, and recipient of the Mentor Award from Women in Cable and Telecommunications SE. She received her MBA from George Mason University, BA from Miami University and studied at the Dolibois European Center.  Susannah resides in Atlanta with her husband Chris and four children.

Michelle A. Valteau

Michelle A. Valteau

Secretary

THOMSON REUTERS, Regional Client Manager

EDUCATION: Wellesley College (BA Political Science), Duke Law School (JD)

Michelle started her career as a commercial real estate finance attorney at two Am Law 200 law firms in Atlanta before transitioning to higher education administration in 2009. She spent eight years providing leadership and career guidance at Emory University School of Law. In 2018, Michelle returned to the private sector as a Regional Client Manager with Thomson Reuters. Her current role sees her providing strategic guidance and support of technological resources to global law firms across the Southeast.

Vicki Cansler

Member-At-Large

Vicki Cansler joined Piedmont in February, 2013, as the Chief Human Resources Officer. She leads system-wide Human Resources, including Learning and Development, Total Rewards, Employee Relations, Talent Acquisition and HR Service Delivery. 

Vicki has extensive HR leadership experience in healthcare, both on the payer and provider sides, as well as healthcare HR consulting. She served as SVP of Human Resources for HealthMarkets, a private equity-owned individual health insurance company based in Texas, and Chief People Officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee. Vicki also held senior global Human Resources and consulting positions with Booz, Allen and Hamilton in Virginia and Deloitte & Touche LLP based in Dallas. 

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Christopher Barge

Christopher obtained his B.S. in Agriculture degree from the University of Georgia. He began his career in Horticulture working in the Southeast, then the Pacific Northwest. He entered the Sales, Marketing, and Financial world when moving to Montana in 2010 and began working in the Agriculture industry.

Currently, Christopher is the US-Product Manager for FMC Corporation responsible for crop protection delivery technologies for both synthetic and biological active ingredients. He analyzes market opportunities and develops go to market strategies, while growing market share.

Read more: Christopher Barge

Dr. Chris Bearden

Dr. Chris Bearden

GRIFFIN-SPALDING COUNTY SCHOOLS, Pre-K and Title III Programs Coordinator

EDUCATION: Rust College (BS Education), Troy State University (MA Educational Leadership & Supervision), Argosy University (Ed.D. Instructional Leadership)

Dr. Bearden has 29 years of experience in public education and is currently a member of the Title III Staff in the Federal Programs Department at Griffin-Spalding County Schools, where she also serves as the Pre-K Program Coordinator. She is an active member of several organizations, including the GA Association of Education, the GA Preschool Association, the National Educational Association (NEA), and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Jany A. Brown

Jany A. Brown
UBS, Certified Financial PlannerTM, Vice President

EDUCATION: Georgia Institute of Technology (BS Management)

In joining the Board of Ferst Readers, Jany will bring over 20 years of service to the literacy community, including volunteer tutoring for low-literate adults, serving as President of the Board of Literacy Volunteers of Atlanta, and chairing the Literacy Alliance of Metro Atlanta. Most recently, she helped lead the efforts to create the Literacy For All Fund alongside the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta. Jany has been a strong advocate for state-wide policy for a more literate Georgia and is honored to be part of the work of Ferst Readers to bring books to children across the country.

Brittany Collins

Brittany Collins

GEEARS, Director of PAACT: Promise All Atlanta Children Thrive

EDUCATION: Spelman College (BA Psychology), Georgia State University College of Education (MA Early Childhood Education)

Brittany Collins serves as the Founding Director of PAACT, an alliance of public and private partners collaborating to improve outcomes for Atlanta's youngest children, led by the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students (GEEARS). She's responsible for building backbone functions, including leading an advisory board, developing cross-sector partnerships, raising private and public funds, and measuring and communicating impact to a broad group of stakeholders.

Cynthia Price Czabala

Cynthia Price Czabala

INTERCONTINENTAL HOTELS GROUP, Vice President

EDUCATION: Indiana University (BS Computer & Information Systems)

Cynthia Price Czabala brings a strong background in IT Strategy, Data Warehousing, Data Architecture, and application development combined with project management and leadership skills. Her community involvement and affiliations include Fulton County Juvenile Courts, DFCS Review Panel, Dream Big Grant Judge, TechBridge, Teradata Partners Conference Steering Committee, President 2016 Junior League of Atlanta, and Nearly New Shop Board Member.

Denise M. Finley, Ed.S.

Denise M. Finley, Ed.S. — Curriculum/Learning Support Specialist K-12

Denise Finley currently serves as K-12 Curriculum Coordinator/Learning Support Specialist for Lamar County Schools. Mrs. Finley holds a dual Specialist degree (Educational Leadership/Reading-Family Literacy) from Georgia College and State University. She has 32 years of experience as an educator working in a variety of public settings with diverse student populations from birth through high school. Mrs. Finley has served in a number of roles as classroom teacher, instructional coach, professional learning consultant and educational curriculum consultant.

Read more: Denise M. Finley, Ed.S.

Staff

    • President/CEO
      Davida Morgan Washington 

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    • Operations and Registration Coordinator
       Simone Escho 

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    • Operations Coordinator and Executive Assistant
       Lina Ho 

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    • Partner Engagement Coordinator
       Cheryl Scramuzza 

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    • Volunteer Engagement Manager
      Michelle Maddox 

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    • Volunteer Coordinator (SW Georgia)
      Edwina Turner 

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    • Administrative Assistant Publications
      Olivia Ramfos 

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    • Database Management
      Glenda Cofer 

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    • Community Engagement Coordinator (Atlanta, GA)/Grants Coordinator
      Jervonia Melton 

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