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.
director of venture excellence
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.
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.
DIRECTOR OF CREATIVE AND MARKETING
Amanda’s favorite movie is Stranger Than Fiction, partially because of a surprisingly heartfelt scene of sad Will Ferrell eating chocolate chip cookies but mostly because it is a story about storytelling. Growing up as a military brat, Amanda read voraciously to keep herself occupied on long drives. She fell in love with the grace and strength of narratives as a way to connect with new people and places. Amanda pursues this passion at Camelback where she runs all things communications from being brand guru and creating swag to leading and implementing marketing strategy to curating and creating content (like our blog posts featuring Fellows and our manifesto, Ruthless for Good). She graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Creative Writing where she co-founded a culinary arts magazine. She has worked in a variety of fields including book publishing, film and television, advertising, and education. In her free time, Amanda enjoys improv, dumplings, and excuses to have celebratory dinners.
Tony Zanders is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Camelback. He 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. He is also a Startup Coach for 2018.
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.
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. 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.
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.