Board of Directors
Dwight E. Rhodes, Ed. S., currently serves as Chief Advocacy Officer at ReNEW Schools Charter Management Organization. Prior to this role, he also served as the Director of Instructional Programs for ReNEW. In his current position as CAO, he is responsible for providing measurable instructional program leadership and coaching to all school leaders and deans at The Batiste Cultural Arts Academy. More specifically, he is responsible for working with the leaders and deans in planning development, implementation, assessment, and improvement for all academic instructors, who are directly responsible for increasing overall student academic performance.
Previous educational experience includes serving as the Strategic Management & Accountability Coordinator for Clayton County Public Schools, where he assisted the district with regaining its SACS’ accreditation by effective implementation and management of the district’s Strategic Plan, Balanced Scorecard, and Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) mandates; Director of School Reform for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, where he was instrumental in launching the Fund’s National Teacher Preparation Institute and managing six redesigned high schools in four different states for the organization, which was co-funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Principal of Dr. William L. Cobb Elementary School, in San Francisco, CA, where within two years he and his staff effectively worked to increase the school’s Academic Performance Index (API) Score by 23 points; Middle School Teacher at Sutton Middle School in Atlanta Public Schools, where he was named “Teacher of the Year” in 2004, by his colleagues.
Having attended L.S.U., Georgia State University, Central Michigan University, and Cambridge College, he graduated with honors (Magma Cum Laude) from undergraduate school with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Education. He has since completed his Master’s Degree in Instructional Education and earned an Advanced Graduate Education Specialist Degree (Ed.S.) in Administrative Leadership. He also holds leadership and teaching certifications in multiple states.
Sheila B. Matute, M. Ed., was born in Honduras and immigrating to the US in 1970. She quickly adapted to her new way of life and living in New York City where she went to grade and high school. Ms. Matute’s educational accomplishments include: a Bachelor’s Degree in Substance Abuse Counseling and a Bachelor’s in Sociology from Southern University in New Orleans, as well as a Master’s Degree in Education, from Xavier University of Louisiana. Other accomplishments include: Head Start Academy Leadership and Management Graduate, a professional development Trainer III, a Citizens Ambassador to South Africa (2010), and a recipient of the Innovations in Louisiana Government Fellows Program for the Louisiana Department of Children Youth and Families.
Ms. Matute also participates on many state and local boards and committees, including: LAEYC, Education’s Next Horizon’s Early Childhood Council, United Way of Greater New Orleans, Success By Six Collaborative, Early Childhood Council, Co-Chair of Cradle to Classroom initiative.
Emma Herr is a Development Officer with Tulane University. Born and raised in New York City, she came to New Orleans to attend Tulane and worked previously as the Director of Development for the hurricane preparedness non-profit, evacuteer.org (http://evacuteer NULL.org). As a volunteer with Community Works and Young Audiences over the past several years, she has seen the impact arts education has made on the youth of New Orleans and is so excited to be involved as a board member with Community Works.
Mish Warrier, MBA, has a breadth of experience working in various financial, operational, strategic planning, and advisory roles with organizations in differing industries. In his time spent working in private equity, he aided in venture investing activities and was responsible for evaluating business plans, gathering competitive intelligence, and performing financial analyses to determine companies’ growth potential. Prior to working in the field of finance, Mr. Warrier worked in various business roles within the National Football League, for both the New Orleans Saints and the NFL League Office. Mr. Warrier graduated from the Tulane University – A.B. Freeman School of Business receiving a MBA with concentrations in Finance and Strategy with a supporting concentration in International Business. He received his B.A. degree from the University of Wisconsin where he majored in Economics, Philosophy, and Psychology. In addition, he has attended graduate programs and completed coursework in legal and business studies at Loyola University New Orleans Law School and Stanford Graduate School of Business. Mr. Warrier believes that the enriched learning programs provided by Community Works play a vital role in motivating children to enjoy learning, both in the classroom and beyond their traditional schooling.
Morgan Ripski, M. Ed., grew up in Austin, TX, and earned a B.A. from Bates College in Lewiston, ME, in 2003. After three years working in corporate recruitment in San Francisco, Mrs. Ripski pursued her passion for educational justice by earning a M.Ed. from Stanford University’s Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies program. Upon graduation, Mrs. Ripski returned home to the South, first working for New Schools for New Orleans in fundraising and communications, and then serving as Executive Director of the Foundation for Science and Math Education. Mrs. Ripski is currently the President at Collegiate Academies and is excited to be a Community Works of Louisiana board member.
Sayde F. Finkel, JD, originally from New York State, graduated from Brandeis University where she earned degrees in History, Medieval & Renaissance Studies and Fine Arts before attending Tulane University Law School. Ms. Finkel currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Young Leadership Council and Community Works of Louisiana, as well as the advisory council for 504ward and Young Artists Young Aspirations, Inc. She was responsible for community development programming and special event project management as the Director of Special Projects for Councilman-At-Large Arnie Fielkow. Currently, Ms. Finkel volunteers with many New Orleans organizations and is a Research Associate and Greater New Orleans, Inc.
Mary P. Nass, LCSW, earned a B. A. from Newcomb College and a Master of Social Work from Tulane University School of Social Work. She practices as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a specialty in child and adolescent issues. As a community volunteer for over the past thirty years, Ms. Nass has served on the board of Young Audiences, the New Orleans Symphony, Episcopal Community Services and Community Works of Louisiana. Ms. Nass was also recently elected to the National Board of Young Audiences Inc. and serves on their Executive Committee. Her volunteer efforts have been dedicated to the belief that the arts should be an integral part of every child’s education.
Albert Vallotton is co-founder and president of Ardent Services, an industrial electrical contractor serving the process automation needs of oil & gas, petrochemical, refining, pharmaceutical and food processing companies nationwide. Ardent employs over 1,000 skilled craft personnel. Mr. Vallotton has extensive strategic planning, senior management, operational leadership and safety training experience. His service to the community includes teaching coursework in Economics, Personal Finance an Ethics as a high school classroom volunteer for Junior Achievement. He graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering from Louisiana State University, and during the ensuing twenty-five years has lived and worked in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Corpus Christi, Houston and New Orleans. He currently resides in Metairie, Louisiana with his wife and three children. Mr. Vallotton brings critical enterprise development, financial analysis and performance measurement capabilities to our board and organization.
Rebecca Leonard McWilliams is the Director of Development at East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie, LA. A native of Baltimore, MD, she majored in Communications at American University in Washington, DC, where she lived until re-locating to New Orleans in 2007, for what was supposed to be one year. After falling in love with the city, she and her husband decided to make it their permanent home and could not be happier in their new hometown. Ms. McWilliams has spent a decade working in development for various non-profit organizations and higher-educational institutions. She credits much of her personal growth to the role that the arts played in her upbringing, and is thrilled to be a Community Works of Louisiana board member.