Amanda Kruger Hill,

Executive Director

Amanda Kruger HillAmanda Kruger Hill, the Cowen Institute’s Executive Director, is a former principal and award-winning educational leader with a deep commitment to the success of the young people of New Orleans.  She holds a master’s of educational leadership and principal licensure from the University of California, Berkeley.  Amanda co-founded the first youth-initiated high school in the United States and a teacher development institute in California. Prior to leading the Cowen Institute, she was Director of School Reviews with New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) and served on the faculty of Relay Graduate School of Education. Amanda continues to serve on the faculty of Columbia University as a coach for its Principals Academy, which trains aspiring school leaders.

Amanda lives in New Orleans with her husband, Graham, and sons, Benjamin and Louis.

Email Amanda | Phone: (504) 274-3688

Amy Barad,

Director of Strategic Initiatives

ABarad_8094Since joining the Cowen Institute in 2011, Amy has launched and now directs the Reconnecting Opportunity Youth initiative, which aims to create systemic solutions to New Orleans’ disconnected youth crisis. Over the past six years she has worked in the for- and non-profit sectors in business development, policy analysis, and systems and operational management. Most recently, she was an analyst for Urban Conservancy, a New Orleans non-profit organization, dedicated to research, education, and advocacy that promote the wise stewardship of the urban built environment and local economies. She has also held managerial positions in systems design, finance, and operations at McMaster-Carr and consulted on development projects in Johannesburg, South Africa with Urban, Inc. Currently, she serves on the advisory board for Bard Early College in New Orleans and the design team for the Youth Master Plan for New Orleans. Amy graduated with an A.B. in Urban Studies from Brown University in 2007.

Email Amy | Phone: (504) 274-3682

Vincent Rossmeier,

Director of Policy 


Vincent’s work focuses on the areas of post-secondary education, workforce development, and economic development. Vincent most recently worked as chief of staff to District “C” Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer of the New Orleans City Council. Prior to his work with the city, Vincent worked for the Bureau of Government Research and Partnership for Youth Development. He holds a Master’s Degree in Journalism from New York University and has worked both at the New Yorker and

Email Vincent | Phone: (504) 274-3624

Patrick Sims,

Senior Policy Analyst 

PatrickSimsPatrick conducts applied research on public education while continuing the Institute’s work of chronicling the K-12 reform in New Orleans, primarily through the annual State of Public Education in New Orleans and NOLA by the Numbers reports. Patrick received his Master’s Degree of Public Policy at Georgetown University and was recently an analyst for the National Council on Teacher Quality in Washington, D.C. He has also worked for the U.S. Department of Education, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Wake County Public Schools in North Carolina. Additionally, Patrick taught for two years in Poland and has written extensively on PISA, the international student achievement benchmark.

Email Patrick | Phone: (504) 274-3634

Dave Hand,

Senior Policy Analyst

David Hand, Senior Policy AnalystDave came to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to work with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). As a certified teacher, he spent two years working in special education at an alternative public school and three years as a founding teacher at a public school where he focused on instructional technology. He has served as a Project Manager for the Compass Information System, Louisiana’s evaluation platform for managing student learning targets, observations, and evaluations. Recently, he led a team of Data and Technology Specialists at the Louisiana Department of Education that supported district leadership across the state in interpreting and using data to drive decision-making processes. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Politics from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, where he worked for two sessions at the Oregon Legislative Assembly.

Email Dave | Phone: (504) 274-3659

April Rice,

Senior Manager, College & Career Readiness

CI- Staff Photo- AprilApril Rice has spent the past 10 years in education as a teacher, curriculum specialist, and coach. Her experience and passion lies with teaching disadvantaged students in extenuating circumstances. With a background in curriculum and instruction, April has implemented and developed programs and courses to help students transition between high school and college at the high school level. She has developed dropout prevention and credit recovery courses for her district. She has also trained new teachers for the Department of Education at the state level and presented at regional and national conferences on 21st century learning, Career Pathways, and STEM Initiatives. Although she enjoys training teachers, April’s passion is inside the classroom  with her students. April received the Teacher of the Year Award in 2008 and 2009 from Rankin County, Mississippi. She received her bachelor’s degree in Health Science from Brigham Young University-Idaho and her Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration at Mississippi College.

Email April | Phone: (504) 865-5870 office, (813) 454-6140 cell

Nicole Jolly,

Senior Manager, EMPLOY

Staff-Photo-N.JollyNicole recently joined the Reconnecting Opportunity Youth initiative at the Cowen Institute to manage and support a local cross-sector opportunity youth collaborative called EMPLOY (Employment and Mobility Pathways Linked for Opportunity Youth). Her role includes serving as the Enterprise Manager for EMPLOY’s pilot initiative, the Opportunity Youth Data Sharing Council. She most recently served as the Manager of Data-Driven Policy at the Partnership for Youth Development and as the Data and Policy Analyst for New Orleans’ juvenile detention center. She has experience supporting the strategy development and coordination of multiple Collective Impact initiatives, instituting data and performance management systems, and managing and mobilizing data for strategy, decision making, and policy development. Nicole holds a Master’s in Sociology from the University of New Orleans and a B.A in Sociology and Certificate in Native American Studies from Southern Oregon University in Ashland, OR where she served two terms as the Director of Multicultural Affairs and member of the Oregon Students of Color Coalition Board.
Email Nicole

Aundrea Gregg,

Program Manager, Opportunity Works

Staff-Photo-A.GreggAundrea joins the Cowen Institute as Manager of the Opportunity Works, Social Innovation Fund grant. In this role, Aundrea oversees grant compliance measures for Tulane’s Earn and Learn program, the Youth Empowerment Project, and Delgado Community College’s Accelerated Career Education program. Additionally, she manages the collective impact efforts of the grant’s core partner programs. Prior to moving to New Orleans, Aundrea served as a project manager at the Clinton Global Initiative where she led the Reconnecting Youth Working Group. She also served as a college and career readiness research fellow at the Georgia Center for Opportunity. Aundrea graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor’s in Classic Civilizations and Political Science in 2011, and from the London School of Economic with a Master’s in Social Policy and Planning in 2012.
Email Aundrea | Phone: (504) 274-3671

Latisha Robertson,

Administrative Program Coordinator

CI- Staff Photo- LatishapngLatisha has been with Upward Bound since February 2006 as it began to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. Latisha is very instrumental in developing administrative procedures, maintaining student records, and supporting staff and faculty in programming initiatives. Additionally, Latisha handles finances, budgets, reports, communications, field trips/college tours, and recruitment for Upward Bound. Latisha and her husband are proud parents of 5 children. In her spare time she enjoys coordinating weddings and events. Latisha looks forward to finishing her business degree in the near future.

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Matthew Feigenbaum,

Manager, Reconnecting Opportunity Youth – Earn & Learn 

Feigenbaum-page-001M.A. in Organizational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University. B.S. in Finance from Tulane University.

Matthew Feigenbaum found his passion for education when he joined City Year, via Americorps, and dedicated one year to serving in underperforming schools across Louisiana. Matthew then went on to be a high school mathematics teacher at an alternative charter high school (Renew Accelerated High School or RAHS) serving over-age and under-credited students. For the 2013-2014 academic year, Matthew held the Dean of Culture and Community Partnerships position, where his responsibilities included creating, evaluating and implementing all school-wide systems, providing classroom management support and professional development opportunities for all staff, and working with outside organizations and partners to provide college and career options for students.  Outside of the classroom, Matthew has worked with TeachNOLA as a Recruiter and Selector, where he interviewed a multitude of candidates in order to identify the most promising teachers for the students of New Orleans. Matthew was also selected to be a Stand for Children Educator All-Star, which includes him in a statewide network of educators that consult on education policy.  Matthew just earned his degree in Organizational Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University as a member of the 2013 Summer Principals Academy NOLA Cohort. Recently, Matthew has joined the Cowen Institute as a program manager on the Reconnecting Opportunity Youth initiative, which aims to create systemic solutions to New Orleans’ disconnected youth crisis.

Email Matthew | Phone: (504) 281-0480

Liz Santos,

Operations Manager 

Staff-Photo-L.SantosLiz manages budget and accounting processes, oversees daily operations of the office, and assists with financial activities and personnel-related matters. Her inspiration to ensure all students receive a high-quality education derives from her personal experience in failing secondary schools. In addition to her experience leading operations support as the Operations Coordinator at New Schools for New Orleans, she has worked directly with students. Liz taught and mentored underserved students in the Science, Math and Technology (SMT) College Bound/GEAR-UP Program at the Passaic Country Community College in her hometown of Paterson, NJ. She also dedicated a year of service as a City Year Corps Member at Phyllis Wheatley Community School via Americorps, where she provided students in kindergarten through fourth grade with academic, behavioral and attendance support. She is excited to pursue a business degree in the near future.

Email Liz | Phone: (504) 274-3693

Omote Ekwotafia,

Tulane AmeriCorps VISTA 

Staff-Photo-O.EkwotafiaOmote is serving as the Tulane AmeriCorps VISTA; she provides communications and operations support. Prior to moving to New Orleans, she acted as Program and Policy Associate for National Juvenile Justice Network in Washington, D.C., where she assisted in communications, policy research and administrative work. Omote also worked as a law clerk for Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles and taught street law to youth in the delinquency and child welfare systems through the Southwestern Law School Street Law Clinic. Her recent experience in the juvenile justice community exposed her to the need for equality in education and resources for youth. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Writing from the University of Tampa and a Juris Doctor from Southwestern Law School.

Email Omote