We are a team that believes in the hustle over the hype, that it’s just as important to be humble as it is to be hungry, that America is its most beautiful and prosperous when we utilize the contributions of all people. Our team works out of our headquarters in New Orleans when we're not traveling around the country or hosting Summits.
The Camelback Team
FOUNDER & CEO
Aaron is on a journey to live in the spirit of his baseball hero, Jackie Robinson, who said “a life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” With this ethos, Aaron taught ninth grade English in West Philadelphia, put together deals for companies large and small as a lawyer, and supported new ideas to improve education as a portfolio director for the NYC Fund for Public Schools. Aaron is humbled to say that he graduated from the University of Virginia and Penn Law School. He also knows that this doesn’t entitle him to anything and is ready to earn his keep.
CHIEF OF STAFF
One of the things Ami loves the most about New Orleans is the beautiful architecture, music, and enthusiastic joy that permeates the city. Ami has always been passionate about education, beginning as a Teach for America corps member in Baltimore as an elementary school teacher for four years. After the classroom, Ami then worked for The New Teacher Project to manage the district’s alternative teaching program. She later joined the district leadership team serving as both the Special Assistant to the Chief Human Capital Officer and Manager of School-Based Recruitment and Staffing. She worked as a consultant leading strategic planning, district and school level turnaround as part of Mass Insight Education, and now supports multiple organizations (including Camelback) working to further their organizational growth.
DIRECTOR OF CREATIVE AND MARKETING
Amanda is passionate about the art of communication. She believes in the power of storytelling to empower and accelerate social impact work, and utilizes a variety of mediums such as design, writing, video, interactive, and digital marketing. For the past 2+ years, Amanda has served as the Director of Creative & Marketing for Camelback Ventures; that work includes the organization’s communications and content production, the creation of our manifesto Ruthless for Good, and our collateral. Outside of communications, Amanda has been the lead on Camelback's recruitment strategy and increased applications by almost 300%; developed the organization's overall strategy including rebrand and partnerships; consulted and created work for and with our Fellows; supported our programs; and the evaluation and selection process. Amanda studied Creative Writing with a focus in Race & Ethnicity Studies at Columbia University, and while there co-founded a popular culinary arts magazine. She has worked in television & film, corporate advertising, and education nonprofits. She is a Venture for America and StartingBloc Fellow.
senior director, investor fellowship
Elizabeth was born with entrepreneurship in her blood, having started her first business in middle school (which provided more disposable income than her allowance). She escaped Wisconsin winters to attend Loyola University New Orleans, where she earned her degree in Marketing. A founder three times, she built a residential services company which she sold five years later. She then started two e-commerce businesses, one of which continues to keep her skills sharp as a side hustle. For the past four years, she has led Camelback’s flagship Education Fellowship program, and is now creating a new program for investors and funders. When she is not nerding out on startups and social impact, Elizabeth is probably gushing over her rescue dog, Riley, and working to promote animal welfare.
economic development lead
Nadiyah is a creator of opportunities for individuals where very few quality options exist. She has done just that over her 15-year career, in both the public and nonprofit sectors, utilizing her experience to build innovative systems in workforce development and youth and human services. She is a consummate change manager that effectively (and efficiently) modifies organizational cultures and processes to increase productivity, improve team morale and effectively deliver quality services to all stakeholders and customers. Nadiyah brings to the Camelback team a range of leadership experiences, including serving as the Director of Workforce Development at Ochsner Hospital, Director of Workforce Development for the City of New Orleans, Director of the CP3 Afterschool Zone, and Manager for the Louisiana Office of Social Entrepreneurship, the nation’s first, establishing and supporting the work of innovative organizations across the state. She is thrilled to join the Camelback team where she brings her expertise to lead our new economic development pilot, the Good Jobs Initiative. In her free time you will likely find her in the kitchen cooking her ancestral creole cuisine or curled up reading 3 different books on metaphysics because she has no time to waste -- there is only now.
executive assistant to the ceo
Stacy is a super-fan of tools and systems, and she works to ensure the Camelback Fam can focus on their world-changing work and not get tied up in administrative nonsense. Her love for ironing out complex details grew from previous careers in international education (Willamette University) and arts non-profit administration (Oregon Symphony Association in Salem). Stacy thanks the countless educators in Denver Public Schools and Willamette University who've contributed so much to her ability to relate to others, work hard, and enjoy life. Stay now lives in her hometown, Denver, CO with her writer-in-residence / life partner and their two small children.
strategic partnerships lead
Kelli lives for entrepreneurship, channeling the spirit of her mentor and grandfather, founder of a successful beverage company before his early. Kelli is a goal-oriented operations consultant offering more than 10 years in end-to-end business scaling and strategy expertise that directly results in expansion, efficiency improvements, and cost savings. She has a special talent for identifying and leveraging unutilized capacities and opportunities.After moving to New York, NY in 2006, Kelli spent 11 years at Carol’s Daughter (NY, NY) starting as a temp and working her way to Director of Operations. She was a key strategist in scaling the business from $3MM to $40MM (sold to L’oreal for 100MM+ in 2014) by expanding multi-channel distribution. She also established the vision and expansion of the Operations and Business Development teams through strategic business planning, financial goals, and sales targets by channel to create a collaborative supply and demand division. With one successful start up under her belt, she moved back to her hometown, New Orleans, as a contract consultant to apply her experience and guide other emerging organizations on growing their business. In that capacity, she currently serves as Campaign Manager for the Campaign for Equity: New Orleans, and Strategic Partnerships Lead at Camelback Ventures. Kelli holds a Bachelors of Science and Master of Business Administration from Florida A&M.
Jon is passionate about using data for good and promoting social justice. For 1.5 years he served as the Director of Data & Insights for Camelback Ventures; he now is a nonprofit and social impact consultant. He has worked with data and analytics for over 10 years, and was in the Peace Corps and an Ed Pioneers Fellow. He holds a BA in finance from the University of Nevada, and a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) with a focus in Education Policy Analysis from the University of Washington. He currently resides in Portland, Oregon.
2018 Startup Coaches
Each Fellow builds a 1:1 relationship with a Startup Coaches. Our coaching model gives Fellows a steady, invested mentor for throughout their time with us. This industry expert provides precise feedback, skills, and recommendations, helping Fellows to both build their personal leadership and the venture itself.
Lisa is a growth strategist by trade and storyteller at heart. She's had over 10 years' experience growing start-ups and Fortune 500 companies. The intersection of her work as management consultant, non-profit exec, and brand strategist have all come together for the purpose of creating access to opportunities for black and brown founders. Lisa holds a graduate degree from Pepperdine University in Entrepreneurship and Strategy.
Bob Lesser is a coach specializing in helping start-up founders scale their companies. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bob previously co-founded an innovative school in New York City focused on social-emotional learning. He holds degrees from Vassar and Harvard Kennedy School, and is a trained psychologist.
Leonard Medlock is CEO and Founder of Playback Worldwide which fuses life skills with elite skills training to develop better student-athletes. Leonard spends his time exploring the intersection of culture and social justice, and building education technology products that reach traditionally underserved young people. He resides in San Francisco.
Morgan Carter Ripski
Morgan Carter Ripski is an independent consultant working with charter schools, management organizations, and entrepreneurs to plan and implement scaling strategies, build fundraising plans and teams in support of growth, and manage projects. Previously, Morgan served as the President for Collegiate Academies, where she helped the growing charter management organization triple in size. Morgan has also served as the Executive Director of the Foundation for Science and Math Education (the former fundraising entity for Collegiate Academies) and the Communications and Development Director for New Schools for New Orleans. Morgan holds degrees from Stanford University and Bates College. She lives with her husband and two sons in New Orleans.
Tony Zanders brings over a decade of experience working in sales and marketing for B2B SaaS companies in Silicon Valley and Boston. Tony is an award-winning software entrepreneur in the education space, recognized by Facebook and the Gates Foundation as winner of the 2014 College Knowledge Challenge. A proud New Orleans native, he currently resides in Baton Rouge with his wife and kids.