Please refer all communications to the Kauffman School Board of Directors to email@example.com or 4801 Rockhill Rd. Kansas City, MO 64110.
Kristin Bechard (Board Treasurer): Non-voting Officer
Kristin Bechard is the Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, and provides insight and guidance to support the Foundation's finance initiatives. She is responsible for the Foundation and affiliated organization's finance functions, Grants Administration, Technology and Facilities.
Prior to joining the Kauffman Foundation, Ms. Bechard was a senior corporate tax specialist for American Century Investments, where she applied current tax updates and laws to pursue tax opportunities for the company, and represented the firm with federal and state tax authorities. Ms. Bechard joined American Century in 2000 as an internal auditor. Previously, Ms. Bechard served as a tax accountant with Arthur Anderson LLP in Kansas City, Missouri. She earned a bachelor's degree in accounting and business administration, and a master's degree in accounting and information systems, both from the University of Kansas. She is a licensed CPA, and has been a member of the Missouri Society of CPAs since May 2001.
Hannah Lofthus, (Founder and Chief Executive Officer): Non-voting Officer
Hannah Lofthus is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Schools in Kansas City, Missouri. Before entering EMKS, under a third of the founding class passed their 4th grade state exams. Four years later, the same students outperformed 93% of the state in English Language Arts, 96% of the state in Science, and 99% of the state in Mathematics. A five year study conducted by Mathematica Policy Research shows that students that attend the Kauffman School for three years achieve an average of 4.61 years learning in math and 4.64 years learning in reading. This impact, measured in additional years learning, is nearly double the impact of charter schools in Boston and New York City and 2.5 times greater than KIPP middle schools nationwide. Notably, the Kauffman School achieved these results in its first four years of operation.
Before joining the Kauffman School, Ms. Lofthus worked in the Uncommon Schools Network in New York City and is a 2007 Teach for America alumni. In 2015, Ms. Lofthus was inducted into the Mid-America Education Hall of Fame. In 2016, the Kauffman School was named Missouri Charter School of the Year and Ms. Lofthus received the Ryan Award which is awarded to high-impact leaders who accelerate student achievement.
Tracy McFerrin (Board Chair)
Tracy McFerrin is a philanthropic advisor with more than a decade of experience helping foundations and other organizations engage in strategic and impactful charitable giving. She was vice president of a family foundation that granted more than $35 million annually to the nonprofit sector. In this role, Ms. McFerrin provided leadership in strategic direction, project management and partnership development on community initiatives and grantmaking to address issues such as education equity, neighborhood revitalization and access to high quality social services. She has been sought out as a speaker and thought leader on various topics in philanthropy.
Ms. McFerrin has held leadership roles on numerous nonprofit boards, including serving as chair for the University of Kansas Medical Center Research Institute, Kansas City Public Television – Channel 19, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City. She is an avid volunteer, currently serving as a mentor for high school students with Pathways to Education in Toronto, a director for Scientists in Schools in Toronto, and as trustee of the Ewing Marion Kauffman School in Kansas City, Missouri.
Prior to working in philanthropy, Ms. McFerrin practiced law providing counsel to and representing businesses in legal matters ranging from corporate governance and employment law to general business litigation. She has a law degree from Harvard Law School and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Howard University. She lives in Toronto with her husband and teenage daughter.
John Tyler (Board Secretary): Non-voting Officer
John Tyler has been general counsel and corporate secretary for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation since 1999. Mr. Tyler works closely with other leadership and program personnel to design and operate initiatives, by understanding the theoretical and making it practical while complying with the law. Mr. Tyler frequently contributes to the Foundation’s policy work as a speaker and author on diverse topics such as reforming U.S. policy regarding high-skilled immigration, hybrid forms and their roles and regulation, and the need to improve university technology transfer. He also serves the Foundation as a liaison to national philanthropy and advocates for philanthropy more generally as a scholar and speaker. Among topics for his more than 100 presentations and two dozen publications are challenging presumptions that foundations’ and charities’ assets are “public money,” analyzing calls for mandating greater transparency and traditional notions of accountability, and advocating for greater engagement by foundations with policymakers. Among the national boards on which Mr. Tyler serves or has served are the Philanthropy Roundtable, the Philanthropic Collaborative, NYU law school’s National Center on Philanthropy and the Law, and Independent Sector’s public policy committee. Mr. Tyler’s Kansas City-based board service and leadership positions include the school board for the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph, Genesis School, Archbishop O’Hara High School, Kauffman Scholars, and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City.
Before joining Kauffman, Mr. Tyler was a partner with one of Kansas City's oldest and largest law firms, Lathrop and Gage, where his practice focused on commercial litigation, personal injury litigation for railroads, and employment law. His undergraduate and law degrees are both from the University of Notre Dame.
Maurice Alvin Watson is co-founder and principal of Credo Philanthropy Advisors, LLP, and has more than 30 years of experience in law, social and public policy and board governance as a lawyer, advisor and board member. He has been a partner and chairman of the law firm of Husch Blackwell, which is among the 100 largest law firms in America. When elected chairman, he was the only African American to lead an AmLaw 100 law firm in the country.
Recognized as one of the most influential leaders in the Kansas City community and in the nation, he is a frequent speaker before groups across the country and has been named among the 100 most influential leaders in Kansas City, among the 500 leading lawyers in America, and among the most influential Black lawyers in America.
Maurice was born in Kansas City and grew up in a modest, working-class neighborhood in the urban core. He attended the City’s public schools until he won a scholarship, in high school, to attend Barstow School, a college preparatory school where he was its first Black graduate in its history.
As an undergraduate at Harvard College, he concentrated in Social Studies, a selective interdisciplinary honors program, and received a baccalaureate degree, cum laude . He subsequently received his law degree at Harvard Law School.
In 2018, Maurice stepped down as Husch Blackwell chair and founded, with Tracy McFerrin, Credo Philanthropy Advisors, to help individuals, families, private foundations and other donors sharpen their philanthropic focus and realize their vision to change lives and communities through effective grantmaking.
Maurice has served in numerous leadership roles, including as board chair, of large, national nonprofit organizations and foundations in the fields of education and youth development, biomedical research, health care, higher education, arts and culture, public policy and government.
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