Paris Woods, Co-founder & Executive Director
Prior to starting College Beyond, Paris was the founding Director of Alumni Support at Cohen College Prep High School in the New Orleans College Prep Charter Network, where she developed programming to support students through to college graduation. In year one of the program, Paris led the CCP Class of 2014 to a 100% FAFSA completion rate, 90% college enrollment rate, and 85% intended first-to-second year college persistence rate. She is the Vice President of the First Generation Harvard Alumni Organization where she ran the first alumni mentoring program for first-generation Harvard students. She is also the Diversity Chair for the Harvard Black Alumni Society’s National Board where she manages African American recruitment efforts on behalf of the university. She has worked in admissions and financial aid at Harvard College, in admissions at Phillips Exeter Academy, and as a scholarship administrator for the QuestBridge Program. Paris completed an Education Pioneers Fellowship with the Broad Center for the Management of School Systems in the San Francisco Bay Area. Woods received her Bachelor’s Degree in African American Studies and Master’s Degree in Education Policy and Management from Harvard University.
Sarah Payne, Co-founder & Director of Strategy
Prior to starting College Beyond, Sarah served as the founding Director of College Counseling at Cohen College Prep High School, where she directed College Prep’s college readiness programs and supports and served on the school leadership team. Prior to her role at College Prep, Sarah served in the Superintendent’s Delivery Unit at the Louisiana Department of Education and as the founding Managing Director at the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition. She moved to Louisiana in 2005 to teach middle school with the Teach For America program, and holds bachelor’s degrees in International Relations and French from Wellesley College. She is a doctoral student in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, where her research is focused on college persistence and post-college outcomes.
Erica Martinez, Founding College Success Coach
Erica brings more than 10 years of training and experience in clinical psychology and direct service with youth populations, and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Psychology from Mississippi State University. Specializing in case management, youth development, program development, and crisis support, Erica leads College Beyond’s direct student services, on-the-ground partnership management, data tracking, and student-facing communications.
Board of Directors
Ben Kleban, President
Mr. Kleban is the Founder and President of New Orleans College Prep (NOCP), a charter school management organization launched in 2007 to provide a high quality college prep education to underserved children throughout New Orleans. NOCP now operates three charter schools, Sylvanie Williams College Prep, Walter L. Cohen College Prep, Lawrence D. Crocker College Prep, serving over 1,400 low-income students in grades PK-12. In 2014, Cohen College Prep enrolled the highest percentage of its graduates in college vs. all other open enrollment high schools in New Orleans, and Crocker College Prep achieved the highest state test score gains in the city. NOCP plans to continue to expand its network of schools via the turnaround of additional failing schools or the creation of new schools over the next several years. Ben has experience as a high school math teacher in Philadelphia, and began his career in corporate finance at Boeing. He received an MBA from Harvard Business School, completed the Teacher Certification Program in Secondary Education at the University of Pennsylvania, and holds a B.S. In Business Administration from Pepperdine University.
Carlos Zervigon, Secretary & Treasurer
Mr. Zervigon is a native of New Orleans where he graduated from Eleanor McMain High School. He holds a BA in History and a BFA in Glass Sculpture (both cum laude) from Tulane University and a Masters in History Teaching from the University of New Orleans. Carlos taught history at Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans from 1994 to 2000. Since leaving teaching, Carlos has worked as a freelance sculptor. His work has been shown in such cities as Settle, New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and New Orleans. In addition to Collage Bridge, Carlos currently serves as Secretary of the Board of the Louisiana SPCA, Member of the Board of Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans, as well as Member of the Board of Trustees of both the RosaMary and Keller Family Foundations. Carlos’s past board experience includes founding Board Chair of Audubon Charter School serving in that capacity for five year, Founding Treasurer of the Board and later President/CEO of the New Orleans Creative Glass Institute, Member of the Board of the Ruby Bridges Foundation, and Member of the Board of Trustees of the NOCCA Institute.
Carol Asher, Board Member
Carol Asher has extensive background in professional marketing and development for non-profit organizations, with particular emphasis on national fundraising and converting non-profit charities into productive and accountable business operations. She has worked as Executive Director at both the Legacy Donor Foundation and the Tipitina’s Foundation, leading their development and community awareness efforts and playing a key role in restoring the musical culture of New Orleans post Katrina. She served for three years as Founding President of the Board for RENEW Charter Schools. Prior to that, she served for three years on Lafayette Charter School Board. Carol is currently completing her term as Board President of the Youth Empowerment Project.
Sean Blondell, Board Member
Sean A. Blondell is an attorney with a Rouzan & Associates, LLC. He concentrates his practice in the area of complex commercial litigation, business torts, serious personal injury, and contract negotiation and drafting. Sean began his legal career as in-house staff counsel for one of the nation’s largest insurance companies. After his tenure in insurance defense, Sean worked for a highly regarded personal injury firm where he represented clients in serious personal injury matters. Prior to law school, Sean worked in real estate finance and banking. He also worked in public relations, sponsorship and marketing for two NBA franchises. Sean is a graduate of Howard University’s School of Business in Washington, D.C. and received a Bachelor of Business Administration in International Business and Marketing. He received his Juris Doctorate degree from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge. Sean is a resident of New Orleans East where he and his wife Laci are raising their four children.
Malana Joseph Mitchell, Board Member
Malana M. Joseph Mitchell, a native of Edgard, LA, is an award-winning public relations professional. She is the director of public relations for Spears Group, an-award winning PR firm. Malana brings 10 years of public relations, media, journalism, communications and event planning experience to the company. Prior to joining Spears Group, Malana served as the Communications Specialist for Georges Enterprises, LLC, one of the largest private employers in Louisiana. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Dillard University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communications with a minor in Speech Communications. Malana earned her Master of Arts Degree in Mass Communication with a concentration in PR from Kent State University. She is a board member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau’s PR Council, the National Association of Black Journalists, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the all-female Krewe of Muses. Malana is also listed in the 2012 & 2013 Edition of Stanford’s Who’s Who.
David Page, Board Member
Mr. Page is currently the Vice President of Enrollment Management at Dillard University. For more than twenty-one years, Mr. Page has worked in the financial aid arena in multiple capacities. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University and his Master of Arts in Higher Education (College Student Affairs) from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Prior to his current position, he served as the Vice President for Enrollment Management and Director of Financial Aid at Philander Smith College where he oversaw the Office of Recruitment and Admissions, the Financial Aid Office and the Registrar’s Office. Prior to moving to Philander Smith College in 2005, he was the associate director of financial aid at Dillard University in New Orleans, LA for six years. He has also worked at the University of Tulsa. In 2006, Page was elected the 2008 president of the Southwest Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (SWASFAA) representing over 1600 financial aid members from the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.