Board of Directors

Dr. Ebbie Parsons III

Board Chairman, Founder and Managing Partner, Yardstick Learning

Ebbie Parsons, III is a seasoned business executive with a passion for education.  Having spent most of his career at Fortune 500 companies including Intel, Medtronic and American Express, Dr. Parsons made the decision to transition from a promising career in business in 2007 to join the prestigious Broad Residency Program in Educational Leadership. The Broad Residency was Parsons’ first introduction to the inner-workings of America’s public schools where he served as the Chief Operating Officer of Hartford Public Schools. Dr. Parsons championed the overhaul of the district’s school funding methodology, negotiated the state’s first pay for performance teacher union contract, and led the redistricting of the city to an “All-Choice” system of schools. Following his time in Hartford, Dr. Parsons was on the founding team of the groundbreaking Relay Graduate School of Education where he led the Human Capital function of the organization. Following Relay, Dr. Parsons took on a new challenge to serve as the Chief Operating Officer of the third largest Charter Management Organization in the nation, Mosaica Education, Inc. At Mosaica, Dr. Parsons managed over 80 schools across 8 states, Washington, D.C., the Middle East and Asia. Parsons led Mosaica to their two consecutive most profitable years in the company’s 14 year history while simultaneously leading the company to their highest academic performance results in years.  Dr. Parsons leveraged his wealth of experience in business and education to launch Yardstick Learning. Yardstick Learning provides specialized management consulting services to renowned mission driven organizations.

Dr. Parsons holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Florida A&M University, an MBA from the University of Minnesota, a Performance Management Certificate from Harvard University, and a Doctorate in Educational and Organizational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. He’s also a Faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. Parsons has extensive board leadership experience, including serving on the boards of the Metropolitan Opera Guild, Children’s Orchestra Society, Georgia Symphony Orchestra, Urban Ministries, Inc., the Atlanta Music Project (an El Sistema Program), The Winans Group, and the Finance Corps.

Dr. Karl Lawrence PhD, FRM, CFP

Board Treasurer, CFO and Dean of the School of Business & Technology, Excelsior College

Dr. Lawrence’s experience in higher education spans over 17 years, 7 of which have been in academic leadership.  During this portion of his career Dr. Lawrence has demonstrated leadership in high-quality instruction, course design, academic rigor and outcomes assessment.  As Assistant Finance Professor at the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, he taught industry-based courses that prepared students for lucrative careers in investment banking and portfolio management.  His tenure as Department Chair at Fort Valley State University, where he also served as Chief Planning Officer, was characterized by a strategic approach to course and program design, student recruitment and engagement, sound fiscal management and stakeholder engagement.

Dr. Lawrence’s leadership in the School of Business and Technology has focused on improving the academic success and learning experience of the student without sacrificing rigor.  He has overseen reaccreditation initiatives involving IACBE (Business) and ABET (Technology) designations.  His fiscal and human resource stewardship has infused an entrepreneurial mindset into the strategic endeavors and daily operations of the Schools and also increased fiscal accountability, student engagement and a results-oriented approach to performance.  The results of this approach include increasing the market-competitiveness of the Bachelor of Science in Business program through a competency-based education model.

Outside of higher education, Dr. Lawrence has over 15 years of experience in a variety of industries including finance, engineering and government.  A trained financial economist, Dr. Lawrence served as risk manager for Florida’s $125 billion pension fund from 1996 to 1999.  His industry titles include financial consultant, senior risk management analyst, vice president and executive director.

Dr. Lawrence holds a PhD (Finance) from Florida State University in Tallahassee, MBA from Florida International University and BA in Finance from Florida State University.  He expects to complete a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from Harvard University in December of 2016.

Dr. Lawrence is an avid golf player and demonstrates a competiveness that is only tempered by a strong sense of humor.

Mr. Glenton "Glen" Gilzean, Jr.

Board Secretary, President and CEO, Central Florida Urban League

Throughout his career, Glenton “Glen” Gilzean Jr. has been recognized as a courageous leader and advocate for disadvantaged youth and families.

At the age of 26, Glen established Educate Today, a non-profit organization with the mission of ensuring that disadvantaged youth had a safe and nurturing destination after completing the school day. Over the next three years, Educate Today blossomed into a multimillion-dollar organization, serving hundreds of youth in Pinellas county.

In 2012, Glen moved onto his next challenge and brought his advocacy skills to the Florida’s largest educational non-profit organization Step up for Students, serving as Vice President of Family and Community Affairs. Along with his team, Glen worked tirelessly in Tallahassee to ensure that families had the right to choose the education path that met their needs, guaranteeing the best development for their children.

Prior to becoming President and CEO of the Central Florida Urban League, Glen served as a member of the Pinellas County School Board, as a University Trustee at Florida A&M and he sat on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity.

Currently, Glen serves on the Alumni Association Board of Directors for the University of South Florida. He was also named a James Madison Institute (JMI) fellow and is a member of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) leadership network. Most recently, Glen was appointed by Governor Rick Scott to serve on the Ninth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission.

Glen holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of South Florida and a Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship from the University of South Florida’s Center of Entrepreneurship.

Ms. Mary Anne Lock

Co-Founder, Lock Educational Consulting, LLC

Ms. Mary Anne Lock is a consultant and co-founder with Lock Educational Consulting, a company that offers customized educational services to schools and school districts in the areas of Standards and Indicators for School Improvement, standards-based curriculum and instruction, arts infused instruction, literacy, leadership, instructional coaching and program evaluation. She brings over thirty years of diverse educational experiences to provide consulting which includes designing professional development, implementing professional development training and mentoring teachers and administrators in elementary, middle and high schools across the nation.

Prior to co-founding Lock Educational Consulting with husband, Larry, Ms. Mary Anne Lock was a programs consultant and an artist and instructional coach at the Collaborative for Teaching and Learning, a non-profit organization that works with educators to improve instruction and increase learning for all students. While at CTL she worked with projects such as the Striving Readers National Literacy Initiative, the Lumina Foundation Community College Literacy Initiative, the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Level Reform, Gear Up, Accelerated Schools and Different Ways of Knowing, a comprehensive arts-infused, interdisciplinary curriculum for elementary and middle school. Starting her career as a public school teacher, Ms. Lock taught at the elementary, middle and high school levels, as well the college level. In 1989, she was named the Kentucky Teacher of the Year. Over the course of her career, Ms. Lock has done extensive coaching, consulting and presenting in the public and private sectors for local, state and national audiences, including the U.S. Virgin Islands. Ms. Lock holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree and a Master of Arts degree, both from Western Kentucky University.

Mr. Andrew Towne

Consultant, Boston Consulting Group

Mr. Andrew Towne is a Consultant in the Minneapolis office of the Boston Consulting Group.  Mr. Towne previously worked for CarVal Investors, Goldman Sachs, and the Central Intelligence Agency.  He currently promotes intercultural exchange as a Trustee for Youth For Understanding.

The son of a music professor and a symphony manager, Mr. Towne attributes much of who he is today to his arts-infused upbringing.  He holds a B.A. with honors in political science from Yale University, and he spent a year at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, as a Boren Scholar.  A member of the Minnesota Bar, Mr. Towne earned his JD/MBA from the University of Pennsylvania as a Friedman Scholar, Morgenthau Scholar, and Institute for Law and Economics Scholar.  An avid outdoorsman, Mr. Towne is a national champion rower and runner and has climbed six of the “7 Summits.

Mr. Joe Finney

President - Mainstreet Division, Baldwin Risk Partners

Joe is the President – Mainstreet Division of Baldwin Risk Partners. He previously served as an Operating Partner with Concentric Equity Partners (CEP) and was the Chief Executive Officer of Environmental Pest Service (EPS).  As one of CEP’s holdings, EPS operates Arrow Environmental Services, Bug Out Service and Skyline Pest Solutions in Florida and Georgia and Joe grew the company tenfold to $50 million in annual sales.

Joe has climbed the ladder of success since graduating from Slippery Rock University.  He began his career with Service Master in 1987 as a Branch Manager for Terminix, and continued to advance to Regional Manager, Division Sales Manager, Regional Vice President and European Managing Director, where he recruited and turned around a $165 million business group.

Next, he was Division Vice President of TruGreen Lawn Care/Land Care and then Senior Vice President of Operations for American Residential Services, a $550 million nationwide HVAC and plumbing operation.

Joe then became Chief Executive Officer and President of Tire Centers Division for Michelin North America and turned around a $1 billion subsidiary with 2,100 employees in 40 states.  Next, Joe moved to Sears Automotive Group where he was the Senior Vice President then President, responsible for 14,000 employees and annual sales of $1.6 billion across 802 Sears Auto Centers and 1,200 Kmart locations.

His vast experience in a variety of enterprises, ability to be a change agent known for growing shareholder value, operational excellence, employee engagement and passion for delivering superior customer service, has led Joe to an impressive and successful career.  He is a proactive leader with excellent interpersonal, motivation and communication skills and has the ability to organize, direct, influence and motivate diverse workforces.  Joe returned to Slippery Rock University as a role model in the 2009 College of Business Speaker Series, and in 2015 to received the “Distinguished Alumni Award.”

Joe is also a loyal husband and father.  He met his wife, Pamela ’86, at Slippery Rock University in the Alpha Kappa Psi Business Fraternity.

Joe currently resides in Tampa, FL.

Education:

Joe graduated from Slippery Rock University in 1986 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Business, majoring in Marketing.  He went on to complete the ServiceMaster MBA program.

Mr. Khori Whittaker

President and Chief Executive Officer, Lighthouse Academies, Inc.

Mr. Whittaker started his career as a fifth grade teacher in Long Beach, California through the Teach for America movement. He was an early employee at InsideTrack, Inc. working to improve college access and completion for students across the country. Mr. Whittaker led recruiting at InsideTrack during a critical growth phase and led InsideTrack’s Community College Impact Initiative team, successfully launching, for the first time, unique student coaching and train-the-trainer programs in two states and ten college campuses. He also served as Assistant Director for Undergraduate Admission at Stanford University. Prior to joining Lighthouse Academies, Mr. Whittaker launched and led the grassroots and community engagement team at the Foundation for Florida’s Future. He serves on the board of directors of Global Glimpse, Inc. and the advisory board of the Drug Free America Foundation. Mr. Whittaker earned a BA in Economics from Princeton University and a MA in Political Science from California State University, Long Beach.