Board of Directors

The Board of Directors of The Educators’ Cooperative works to ensure that we have the right tools and resources to support our work on behalf of teachers in all sectors.

Ryan Balch, Program Director, Education Policy, Peabody Vanderbilt
Ryan Balch, Program Director, Education Policy, Peabody Vanderbilt

Ryan Balch is a senior lecturer in the Education Policy department at Vanderbilt University and also coaches science teachers in MNPS through the Teaching and Learning department. He completed his Ph.D. in Education Policy at Vanderbilt, where his dissertation focused on the development and validation of student surveys on teacher practice. Following graduation, Ryan was the director of teacher and principal evaluation for Baltimore City Schools. During this time, he oversaw the creation and implementation of the district’s new systems of evaluation. Before starting full time at Vanderbilt, he started a company called My Student Survey (now known as Resonant Education) that implemented classroom and school surveys across the country.  Previously, Ryan worked as a science teacher and administrator for seven years at Riverwood High School in Atlanta, Georgia. He has a B.A. in Psychology from Duke University and a M.A. in Science Education from Georgia State University.

Christiane Buggs is the District 5 Representative for Metro Nashville School Board.

Christiane Buggs, District 5 Representative for MNPS School Board
Christiane Buggs, District 5 Representative for MNPS School Board

She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Physics and two Master’s degrees in Education—one in Curriculum and Instruction from Tennessee State University and the other in Urban Education from Vanderbilt University. As a former middle school math teacher, consistent volunteer and new mother, she considers herself a life-long educator. Her civil service experience spans the gamut of Nashville’s public education system.

Christiane is a Nashville native and product of MNPS. As a student, teacher, and community member, she has experienced our schools in several different ways throughout the course of her life. Christiane is also a founding board member for the The Equity Alliance, a Nashville based 501c3 that seeks to educate, engage, and empower minorities around the civic process. Christiane’s full-time role still keeps her heavily involved in the MNPS system, engaging with students. Currently, she serves as the Project Manager for the Blueprint for Early Childhood Success, a city-wide initiative focused on increasing literacy in our youngest learners

Dr. Devin DeLaughter
Head of School, New Hope Academy
Dr. Devin DeLaughter
Head of School, New Hope Academy

Dr. Devin DeLaughter currently serves as the 5th Head of School at New Hope in Franklin, TN.  New Hope Academy is an independent Christian School modeled in the Charlotte Mason academic tradition serving students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 6th grades.  New Hope Academy was founded to provide a quality educational experience to all students within the Franklin, TN community regardless of socio-economic status, with a mission to be  a Christ-centered school educating children of diverse racial and socio-economic backgrounds by establishing a biblical worldview and preparing each child to flourish academically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

Prior to joining New Hope Academy, Dr. DeLaughter served at Father Ryan High School in Nashville, as Director of Athletics. Dr. DeLaughter is a native of Chattanooga and Tullahoma, TN.  He attended The University of the South, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics. Dr. DeLaughter began his teaching career at The McCallie School in Chattanooga while simultaneously earning a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Covenant College. From there, Dr. DeLaughter and his family moved to Grace Community School in Tyler, Texas, where he served as Assistant High School Principal and Director of Athletics. While in Texas, Dr. DeLaughter earned a Doctorate of Educational in Educational Leadership from Dallas Baptist University.  Dr. DeLaughter and his wife, Tina a registered nurse and fellow alum of The University of the South, currently live in Franklin, TN with their two daughters, Brianna (15) and Erica (14).

Conor Duggan is a Vice President in the Nashville, TN office at J.P. Morgan Private Bank

Conor Duggan is a Vice President in the Nashville, TN office at J.P. Morgan Private Bank. Prior to his time at J.P. Morgan, Conor worked in law, at a university foundation, and as a corporate trustee.

Conor’s wife, Catherine, is a former SPED teacher for KIPP Harlem and KIPP Nashville and is now pursuing her Ph.D.in Education Policy at Vanderbilt. Conor received his B.A. in Business Administration at Furman University, J.D. at the University of South Carolina School of Law, and LL.M. in Taxation from the University of Alabama School of Law. Conor is an alumnus of Nashville’s Young Leader’s Council and serves on the Board of the Planned Giving Council of Middle Tennessee and the Advisory Board of Next Steps at Vanderbilt University. Next Steps at Vanderbilt is a 4-year inclusive higher education program committed to providing students with intellectual disability an inclusive, transformational postsecondary education in academics, social and career development, and independent living.

Jon Eisen

Jon Eisen is a Nashville native who is passionate about making this city a great place for everyone who lives here. He is excited to be a part of EdCo because of the great work the organization does to support teachers within all sectors in Middle Tennessee. He received his BA in economics and political science from Columbia University and his MBA from Vanderbilt University. Professionally, Jon has worked in sales and account management for healthcare technology companies. Before beginning his healthcare career, Jon played baseball professionally in Europe, Australia, and Illinois, and served as Executive Director at Nashville RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), a nonprofit that runs youth baseball and softball leagues.

Kate Ezell, principal at Ezell Consulting

Kate Ezell, principal at Ezell Consulting, partners with TN schools, corporations, nonprofits & product innovators to improve K-12 and college access & success for Tennessee students. Kate & her team design & implement: development strategies; product market testing & introduction; and strategic analyses for education service providers. 

A graduate of Leadership Nashville and the Mayor’s My City Academy, she is currently holds board positions on the Nashville Public Library Foundation, the School for Science & Math at Vanderbilt, and the Educator’s Cooperative.  She is chairman of UVA’s Jefferson Scholars Foundation Middle Tennessee Committee. Kate is a former member of the Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, the Fisk University Board of Trust, the Women’s Fund Board (Middle TN Community Foundation), co-chair of the YWCA’s Fulcrum Society, the MNPS Charter Review Committee, the UVA Board of Managers and the Jefferson Scholars National Selection Committee.  Kate is an active member of the Downtown Nashville Rotary club, having co-chaired the Program Committee and serving on New Member Welcome Committee.

Kate holds a bachelor’s degree in English & French Literature and an M.B.A. from the Darden School at the University of Virginia.  She and her husband Steven have 3 children: Lauren Ezell Minear, Read Ezell, and Eleanor Ezell.

Ricki Gibbs II, serves as the principal of Warner Arts Magnet Elementary located in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
Ricki Gibbs II, Principal of Warner Arts Magnet Elementary School

Ricki Gibbs II, serves as the principal of Warner Arts Magnet Elementary located in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. He completed his Ed.D. at Lipscomb University in Organization Leadership and Strategic Change. Before serving as principal at Warner, Dr. Gibbs served as principal of Glengarry Elementary, was an Assistant Principal for five years, and taught 3rd grade at Paragon Mills Elementary for four years. He has a B.S. in Elementary Education and a M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision from Tennessee State University. 

Vesia Wilson-Hawkins, a former Metro Nashville Public Schools student, parent, and staffer has spent nearly 20 years in and around the education landscape in Nashville

Vesia Wilson-Hawkins, a former Metro Nashville Public Schools student, parent, and staffer has spent nearly 20 years in and around the education landscape in Nashville.  This work began while at the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce before moving to Metro Nashville Public Schools to work with families in her role as community outreach coordinator and as a liaison between Nashville’s elected school board and the director of schools. For the past five years, Vesia has worked as an independent consultant on local political and issues campaigns and is a staunch advocate for excellence in education for every child in the public school system.

Vesia has a B.S. in political science from Austin Peay State University and an M.S. in Instructional Leadership from Tennessee Technological University.

Chakita Patterson, MSW, United Street Tours
Chakita Patterson, United Street Tours.

Chakita Patterson, MSW, is a game-changing leader in diversity and inclusion. She is the founder of a tour company called United Street Tours. United Street Tours offers black history tours that drive organizational cultures toward more diverse, inclusive, and high-performing transformation.

Chakita received her Master in Social Work from Radford University. Her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Middle Tennessee State University. She currently serves as a Board of Director of Middle Tennessee Society for Human Resource Management (MT|SHRM) and The Educators’ Cooperative. She is also an Advisory Board Member for Walk Bike Nashville and a member of KIPP Nashville’s Emerging Leaders Group (ELK).

We are seeking members of the community who are passionate about education in Nashville to join us in our work. Please contact us with any questions or for more information if you are interested.