Board of Directors

Darren Patin

Darren Patin is an attorney with Hailey, McNamara, Hall, Larmann & Papale, L.L.P., and serves as Board Chair for Élan Academy.  A native New Orleanian, Mr. Patin is a graduate of Redeemer High School (where he was recognized as “Most Likely To Succeed”), Fairfield University (Fairfield, CT) and the George Washington University National Law Center. (Washington, D.C.) He is married to the former Chantell McConduit (daughter, Deryn.) Mr. Patin who has served on the Boards of several non-profit organizations, has been appointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court to serve as Judge Pro Tempore for the New Orleans Municipal and Traffic Courts, and currently serves on the Louisiana State Bar Committee that is tasked with the development of certification and testing for the legal specialization in the area of employment law. He is a 2010 Fellow of the Loyola Institute of Politics, an Ambassador for Our Lady of Holy Cross College, and a 2002 participant in the International Association of Defense Counsel Trial Academy. Mr. Patin brings his strong legal leadership and deep community networks to support the success of Élan Academy.

Board Chair

Daniel Willeman

Mr. Willeman is a resident of Orleans Parish and has over 15 years of leadership in engineering, business management, and operations. An Assembly Supervisor for Intralox, LLC, Mr. Willeman manages 60+ direct reports and is responsible for ensuring customer orders are completed accurately and shipped on-schedule, overseeing employee trainings and evaluations as well as coordinating communication across multiple stakeholders and managing complex operations.  Committed to the community, he serves as a member of the Rotary Club of New Orleans Riverbend. With an MBA from Wright State University and a BS in Business Administration from Penn State University, Mr. Willeman brings strong leadership in finance and business management to support the success of Élan Academy. 


Todd Taylor

Mr. Taylor is a resident of Orleans Parish and a parent of an OPSB student.  He has over ten years of leadership in the real estate industry.  He has won real estate industry awards for his hard work and dedication to helping local residents and businesses manage real estate opportunities for themselves, their families, and their organizational needs. He is a 1984 graduate of the Gilman School, Inc. in Baltimore, MD, and he has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the School of Business and Industry at Florida A & M University (FAMU).  Mr. Taylor is a member of the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors (NOMAR), a board member of the Uptown Triangle Neighborhood Association, and has served twice as the president of the Friends of Audubon Parent Teacher Organization.  Mr. Taylor brings his knowledge in finance and facilities, and his deep commitment to education in our city, to support the success of Élan Academy.


Kitty Cook Ramsey

Kitty Cook Ramsey is a Mississippian who recently transplanted to New Orleans. After a career in corporate communications and teaching college English, she focused her talents on the nonprofit sector where she has been responsible for raising over $30 M in nonprofit funds since 2008. She owns Bellwether Strategic Partners, LLC and specializes in nonprofit startup; fundraising analysis, strategy, and planning; development operations analysis; organizational strategic planning; board development; board and staff training; development staff and CEO coaching; grant writing and review; capital campaign strategy; and working with philanthropists, corporations, and wealth advisers to fulfill personal and corporate philanthropic goals. Ms. Ramsey holds a M.A. in Creative Writing and B.A. in English from the University of Mississippi and is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE).  Ms. Ramsey is delighted to apply her fundraising, marketing, and board development experience to Elan Academy Charter School.


Jonathan Stewart

Jonathan B. Stewart is the President and Chief Executive, of Jonathan B. Stewart Insurance Agency, Jonathan is responsible for producing sales in different insurance lines such as auto, homeowners, flood, life, and health insurance. Jonathan specializes in working with individuals and local businesses, helping them in areas such as retirement planning, estate planning, college funding, and executive planning. A graduate of Tulane University A. B. Freeman School of Business, Jonathan excelled in the classroom graduating with Bachelor of Science Management in Marketing and Management.  Jonathan participates in various civic leadership roles within the community. He is the current Chairman of City Planning and the former Chapter President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Sigma Lambda Chapter, Past Vice Chairman of Jericho Road Episcopal Housing Initiative, and the Vice President of New Growth Economic Association. Additionally, Jonathan serves as a motivational speaker, encouraging elementary, middle, and high school students to strive to be successful and productive in their academics. Jonathan is married to Candace and they have two sons that attend Élan. 


David Hoover

Professor Hoover has taught in the Department of Film and Theatre at the University of New Orleans for 28 years. He comes from a family of educators, who taught him that education was paramount to a successful career and life.  This is what drew him to want to serve on the board of Elan Academy. He has a BA in Theatre Arts from New Mexico State University and an MFA in Theatre Directing from Lindenwood University.  He has taught extensively in Italy and lectured at the Sorbonne in Paris.  His creative research has been rewarded with numerous accolades including an Artist Fellowship from the Louisiana Division of the Arts and an Excellence in Research Award presented by the UNO Alumni Association.  Professor Hoover hopes to bring his 30 years of teaching, 10 years of chairmanship of the Department of Film and Theatre, and his creative background to help Elan Academy continue to realize it’s mission.  



Roger Watkins

Roger Watkins is a Sr. Business Banker with Capital One, where he works with local businesses and nonprofit organizations to help them reach their financial goals.  Mr. Watkins grew up in Pearl River, La. and attended college at the University of Kentucky, where he received a BS in Finance and Information Systems.   He is a current resident of Algiers Point, along with his wife Annie Watkins, son Walton, and daughter Alice.  Mr. Watkins is passionate about improving the quality of life in the community and enjoys working as a Board Member of the Algiers Point Neighborhood association.    He brings knowledge in finance and operations, as well as a strong commitment to supporting the success of Elan Academy. 


Ashley Shabankareh

Ashley Shabankarehhas over 10 years of experience in music education, coupled with a background in the Music Industry and non-profit sector. She received her M.M. from Loyola University, New Orleans, with a concentration on conducting and brass instruments. Ashley is a certified K-12 music educator and spent her early years in New Orleans working not only as an after-school music teacher at places such as St. Paul's Episcopal school, but also as the General Music Instructor at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School. After deciding to take a break from music instruction, she served as a consultant and aided in the creation the curriculum and program guidelines for the Tulane University Music Rising Program. As a musician, Ashley has performed alongside acts such as Aretha Franklin, Allen Toussaint, Jimmy Buffett, Theresa Andersson, Big Sam's Funky Nation, Flow Tribe, The Toasters, and in her own projects, Marina Orchestra and The Asylum Chorus. Ashley currently serves as the Board President for the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans (MaCCNO), Membership and Outreach Chair for the Loyola University, New Orleans Alumni Association Board, Board Chair for Electric Girls, and Diversity and Inclusion Chair and Vice President for the Jazz Educators Network (JEN). Named Director of Programs of the Preservation Hall Foundation in 2011, Ashley strives to push forward programming that empowers the youth of New Orleans through music education and mentorship, while preserving and protecting the cultural heritage that is such an integral part of New Orleans. In 2016, she was named a Top Female Achiever by New Orleans Magazine, a New Orleans Hero by the Times-Picayune, and a Woman of the Year by New Orleans City Business. In 2017, she was named a Top Millennial in Music by the Spears Group and I Heart Media.


Anane Olatunji

A native New Orleanian with more than 30 years of experience as both educator and researcher, Dr. Olatunji is founder and president of Align Education, LLC. Under his leadership, the education consulting firm has conducted evaluation and training in projects funded at more than $65 million dollars! The firm has served twice as external evaluator of the Charter Schools Program federal grant administered by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education in Washington, DC. Dr. Olatunji also has led a team in evaluating the after-school federal grant program (21st CCLC) administered by Mississippi State Department of Education. Over the course of his career, he has earned distinction in numerous leadership roles, including in the Louisiana State Department of Education, Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, and Dillard University in New Orleans. He has published research in the Harvard Educational Review, taught students from kindergarten to college, and trained educators across the U.S. and in Latin America. Dr. Olatunji is an alumnus of Tulane, Teachers College, and Harvard University.



Daphine Barnes

Daphine Barnes is a Site Mentor with the Norman C. Francis Teacher Residency at Xavier University of Louisiana. In this capacity, she strives to enhance the teacher pipeline through training, coaching, and mentoring teachers for placement in our local charter schools. A native New Orleanian, Daphine is a proud graduate of St. Mary’s Academy and is a devoted member of St. Raymond –St. Leo Catholic Church.  Ms. Barnes earned her Bachelor’s degree from Nicholls State University, her Masters in Arts of Teaching (Biology and Chemistry) and Masters in Educational Leadership from Xavier University of Louisiana. She previously taught 10 years as a certified, secondary high school teacher in Plaquemines, St. Charles, and Orleans Parishes. Throughout her career in our local schools, she has served as a Louisiana Teacher Leader, TAP Mentor teacher, Project Lead the Way Engineering Instructor, and Departmental Head. In addition to her experience in the classroom, Ms. Barnes has served our schools in leadership positions such as Student Liaison, District Science Curriculum Coordinator and Assistant Principal. She is a devoted educator and is proud to bring her experience as a highly successful classroom educator, school leader, and district leader to serve as a member of the Academic Committee on Elan’s Board. Outside of her professional life, Ms. Barnes enjoys being a Cub Scout mom, camping in Louisiana’s beautiful natural parks, worldwide traveling, community organization, and spending time with her amazing son, close-knit family and beloved dogs. 



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Élan (āˈlan) – Enthusiasm and Liveliness