School Board

Kauffman School board of directors and staff members are the foundation of the school. Regularly scheduled board meetings and committee meetings are posted at the school at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled meeting time.

Please refer all communications to the Kauffman School Board of Directors to [email protected] or 4801 Rockhill Rd. Kansas City, MO 64110.

Board Members

Kelley Barnes

Kelley Barnes is the Senior Director of Program Operations for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City, where she oversees all programmatic offerings for the organization’s 11 sites. She has been with the Clubs for 8 years and has also served as the Director of Education and Post-Secondary Planning. Prior to her current role, she has worked as a middle and high school teacher with Kansas City Public Schools and the Hickman Mills School District; as well as a Post-Secondary Coach for Kauffman Scholars, Inc.


For the past 17 years, Kelley has dedicated her career to helping children and teenagers identify their interests and establish their post-secondary plans. She is passionate about helping others live up to their full potential and believes this starts with all children having access to high quality educational experiences. She approaches the work she does by keeping in mind one very powerful quote: “In a global economy, where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity, it is a prerequisite.” -Barack Obama


She is a firm believer that it takes a village to raise a child, hence her involvement in organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Suburban Balance, and Prep KC.

Kelley holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Jackson State University, and a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Central Missouri.



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.

Vickie Harris

Vickie Harris is the owner of Integrity Consulting Solutions, LLC; a company focused on mediation, investigation, and human resource services. Vickie conducts investigations and mediates in Kansas and Missouri's civil and workplace conflict areas. In addition, Vickie partners with companies on human resources: strategy, coaching, and counseling; diversity and inclusion: strategy, initiatives, measurement; coaching workforce and workplace conflict. Vickie’s clients have included the City of Kansas City, MO; Dispute Resolution-Seventh Judicial Circuit Court, Liberty, MO; United Missouri Bank; Public School Districts within Kansas and Missouri; and several private businesses and nonprofit entities. 

As the former Director of Corporate Diversity and Inclusion for Hallmark Cards, Inc., Vickie set strategic direction and provided leadership that fostered the company's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the areas of marketplace, workplace, and workforce. These nationally recognized initiatives resulted in a more diverse, inclusive, and engaged workforce for Hallmark Cards and enhanced the ability to connect with diverse consumers within the marketplace. During Vickie’s tenure, Hallmark Cards was recognized as one of the 100 Best Companies and benchmarked locally, regionally, and nationally for diversity and inclusion processes and results. 


Brett Hembree


Brett Hembree is a Senior Strategy, Learning, and Evaluation Officer at the Walton Family Foundation. In this role, Brett provides measurement and learning support to inform strategic decision making and ultimately increase the impact of the Foundation’s work on students, families, and communities.

Previously, Brett was the Senior Evaluation Officer at the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, where he led the organization’s strategic learning initiatives and supported program teams in crafting rigorous and meaningful evaluations. In this role, he designed and managed evaluations of several Kansas City-based education organizations, including: the Kauffman School, the Kansas City Teacher Residency, Kansas City Scholars, and SchoolSmartKC. Brett also previously served as the Managing Director of Research and Evaluation at Teach For America and began his career as a middle school science teacher at Paul Public Charter School in Washington, DC.

Brett earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Kansas State University and a Master of Public Affairs from Princeton University.


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. 


Juan Rangel (Vice-Chair)

Juan Rangel, is the Chief Partnership Officer for SchoolSmartKC. As Chief Partnership Officer, Juan oversees the collective work of SchoolSmartKC’s (SSKC) partners, and work with schools, peer organizations, and philanthropies to build out new strategies for system-wide success. A cornerstone of the continued vision for SSKC’s work, the partnership-based endeavors will accelerate and codify city-wide work to close the achievement gap and provide valuable supports for students.  Prior to this role he served as the Family Engagement Director for SSKC.

Juan previously worked at Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas where he led programs to support disadvantaged high school students in successfully transitioning and persisting through college as the Director of Gateway to College. Prior to Donnelly, Juan was the Director of Community Engagement for Metropolitan Community College/Institute for Workforce Innovation in Kansas City and also spent 12 years at the National Conference for Community and Justice, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting bias, bigotry and racism through education, awareness-building and conflict resolution training.

Juan holds bachelor’s of science degrees in international business, marketing, and Spanish from Northwest Missouri State University and has his master’s degree in urban education from Kansas State University.


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.

Jerry Williams (Board Chair)

Jerry Williams is Senior Practice Manager of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) at T-Mobile.

Jerry retired from T-Mobile April 2022 after 30+ years and rejoined the company later in 2022 (part-time) to continue efforts started decades earlier to support and mentor underrepresented employee communities.  Current responsibilities include daily engagement and issue resolution with Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) including those focused on Black, Hispanic, Asian, Indigenous, LGBTQ, Disabled and Veteran Employee communities.  Before transitioning to the new role, Jerry held several executive level positions at Sprint/T-Mobile including director of Solutions Engineering, director of Customer Care, and director of Staff Operations for The Office of the CEO. 

The part-time role at T-Mobile allows Jerry more time to participate in community efforts focused on helping people in underserved communities.  In addition to EMKS, he currently serves on boards at Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, Swope Health, and The Menorah Heritage Foundation.

Jerry received B.S. Degrees in 1984 from Texas Southern University (Chemistry) and Rice University (Chemical Engineering).  He also received an MBA from The University of Texas at Austin in 1988, where he met his wife, Debbie Williams.  Jerry and Debbie reside in Fairway, Kansas, and have two sons: Jeremy (Atlanta) and Jordan (KCK).



  • July
    • Committee: July 17th, 2023
    • Board: July 19, 2023
  • August  N/A - No Meetings
  • September 
    • Committee: Monday, September 11th, 2023
    • Board: Thursday, September 14th, 2023
  • October
    • Committee: Monday, October 2th, 2023
    • Board: Tuesday, October 3rd, 2023
  • November
    • Committee: Monday, November 6th, 2023
    • Board: Wednesday, November 8th, 2023
  • December
    • Committee: Monday, December 4th, 2023
    • Board: Tuesday, December 5th, 2023
  • January
    • Committee: Monday, January 8th, 2024
    • Board: Wednesday, January 10th, 2024
  • February
    • Committee: Monday, January 29th, 2024
    • Board: Wednesday, January 31st, 2024
  • March
    • N/A - No Meetings
  • April
    • Committee: Monday, April 8th, 2024
    • Board: Wednesday, April 10th, 2024
  • May
    • Committee: Monday, May 13th, 2024
    • Board: Wednesday, May 15th, 2024
  • June
    • N/A - No Meetings