Chief Executive Officer of Accelerate Great Schools
Brian Neal is the chief executive officer for Accelerate Great Schools, a multi-million-dollar fund to increase access to high-quality schools for underserved students across Cincinnati. Prior to this role, Brian worked as a program officer for the Farmer Family Foundation (FFF), a private foundation that invests in causes that promote educational opportunities for underprivileged youth, stability for the economically disadvantaged, and healthcare research.
Brian has worked across all sectors to support students and families in Ohio. Most notable is Brian’s work as the Ohio Director for the SEED Foundation’s Ohio expansion effort, a $60M campaign to launch Ohio’s first public, college-preparatory boarding for underserved children. Brian also led the statewide Ohio Parent Information and Resource Center for United Way of Greater Cincinnati, and he was a founding resource coordinator during Cincinnati Public Schools’ district-wide Community Learning Centers’ launch. Brian’s efforts have led to statewide policy changes, Ohio-specific public-private partnerships, and strong local and statewide community collaborations.
Brian received his bachelor’s degree in business management and marketing from the University of Cincinnati. Brian is happily married with four children – three daughters and one nephew.
Paige Elisha Lindy
Chief Program Officer of Accelerate Great Schools
Paige Elisha Lindy has worked in various leadership roles to increase educational outcomes for students. She led instruction as a classroom teacher (9th grade English), has run operations for a national training institute for new teachers, and has served on the board of a non-profit that helps teachers and organizations initiate and run programs to enrich student development and growth.
Paige holds an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke and brings experience building data-driven strategy development and multi-partner project execution, which she honed while working for five years at American Express. She and her husband have two children.
Tanisha Lawson is Accelerate Great Schools’ Public Ally for the 2016 - 2017 and 2017-2018 years. Public Allies is a national movement grounded in the conviction that everyone leads. Their mission is to create a just and equitable society and the diverse leadership to sustain it. Public Allies’ focus is a program that links diverse young Americans who want to make a difference with not-for-profit organizations in their communities who need them. In the process, young leaders are shown how to turn their passion for making a difference into a viable career path, developing leadership qualities, job skills, and work experience.
Tanisha studied Early Childhood Education at Cincinnati State. Her passions are choreographing liturgical dance and completing D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) projects at home. Tanisha is married and has 3 children. She enjoys horseback riding, soccer games and spending time with her family.
School Start Up Consultant
Deb Howard is vice president of programs and impact for Accelerate Great Schools. She brings to the role nearly 40 years of experience across the education, nonprofit and corporate sectors. Through her various roles, Deb has touched the lives of thousands of students, educators and leaders in more than 60 school K-12 systems and some 30 institutions of higher education.
Deb held leadership roles with nationally-recognized KnowledgeWorks Foundation, the Cleveland Education Fund and the North East Independent School District in San Antonio. Deb holds a BA in English and Communication Arts and a MA in Educational Leadership from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. She is married to Ron Howard, a professor of nursing at The Christ College. They have two adult children and five amazingly talented grandchildren.
Manager of Operations
Ryan Caldwell obtained a B.S. in Psychology from Georgia Southern. She later went on to take numerous specialty classes in Early Childhood Education. As a former founding Resource Coordinator for Cincinnati Public Schools, Ryan knows first-hand the importance of partnership and community involvement in education.
Ryan is the Operations Manager for Accelerate Great Schools. She is responsible for creating a positive work culture and overseeing the health of the organization. Ryan lives by the Benjamin Franklin quote “An investment in knowledge pays the best dividends”. In 2012, Ryan opened what became the first minority owned Five-Star Rated child care center in Ohio. Ryan is committed to supporting the needs of children throughout the city and is eager to supporting Accelerate Great Schools’ mission.
Abdine Lewis joined Accelerate Great Schools via the LEE (Leaders for Educational Equity) Public Leaders Fellowship. Abdine, who is originally from Avondale, was responsible for researching and identifying best practices to attract and retain more talented, diverse people of color to education. Abdine is a Withrow University High School graduate who returned to his alma matter in 2016-2017 to teach science to 9th and 10th graders.
Accelerate Great Schools Board of Directors
President, Joseph Auto Group
Trustee, The James J. and Joan A. Gardner Family Foundation
Gary D. Mercer
General Manager, Engineering Division & Vice President, GE Aviation Systems
Partner and President,
North American Properties
Dorothy Battle, Ph.D.
Atkins & Pearce, Inc.
Mary Beth Martin
Farmer Family Foundation