Please refer all communications to the Kauffman School Board of Directors to firstname.lastname@example.org or 4801 Rockhill Rd. Kansas City, MO 64110.
Mayra Aguirre is Vice President and Secretary for the Hall Family Foundation, a private philanthropic organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in Greater Kansas City. The Foundation supports a number of non-profit organizations and community initiatives and contributes, on average, about $40 million to such programs annually. Mayra focuses on strategic grantmaking primarily in the areas of children, youth and families, health and neighborhood revitalization.
Prior to joining Hall Family Foundation, Ms. Aguirre was the executive director of the Greater Kansas City Hispanic Development Fund and Senior Program Officer at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation.
Ms. Aguirre holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Emporia State University and a law degree from the University of Kansas. Ms. Aguirre currently serves on the following boards: Greater Kansas City Hispanic Development Fund, UnidosUS, formerly NCLR, and University of Kansas Medical Center Advancement Board.
Joe Allen is the Executive Director of the Sherman Family Foundation; an organization whose principal mission is to improve Kansas City area schools, and whose work is based on the conviction that education is singular in its ability to address society’s inequalities.
Mr. Allen's life has closely revolved around public education. After graduating from a north St. Louis public high school, and then the University of Missouri – St. Louis, Mr. Allen spent 31 years working in four St. Louis area public school districts as a classroom teacher or school administrator. During this time, he also served more than 10 years as an adjunct instructor at several area universities. Nearly five years ago, Mr. Allen relocated to the Kansas City area and, wanting to stay active in the educational community, worked for two Kansas City area high schools
Kristin Bechard (Board Treasurer)
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.
Gloria Jackson-Leathers is director of the Kansas City Civic Engagement program at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. She is responsible for leading and funding initiatives that address various civic and social issues in the Kansas City area that fall outside the Foundation's core focus areas of education and entrepreneurship.
Prior to joining the Kauffman Foundation, Ms. Jackson-Leathers worked for many years in the banking industry as a bank examiner for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and as a community reinvestment act officer with Commerce Bank of Kansas City.
Ms. Jackson-Leathers holds a bachelor's degree in business administration-management from Park College and a master's degree in public administration from the Bloch School of Public Administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is a graduate of both the Kauffman FastTrac New Ventures program and the Kansas City Tomorrow program. She is a former commissioner of the Greater Kansas City Housing Authority, and currently serves on the boards of Visit KC and Kauffman School.
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 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.
Aaron North (Board Chair)
Aaron North is the vice president of Education at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where he serves as a member of the Foundation’s senior leadership team and leads a team of program officers who are funding or researching programs designed to ensure more Kansas City students of all ages have access to education options preparing them for learning, work, and life after high school.
Prior to joining the Kauffman Foundation, Mr. North served as the founding executive director of the Missouri Charter Public School Association (MCPSA). Before leading the startup effort at MCPSA, Mr. North worked for the education team at Volunteers of America of Minnesota, as a school resource center director at the University of Minnesota, and in the Minnesota Department of Education’s Office of Choice and Innovation. He taught high school English in rural North Carolina as a Teach For America corps member and worked for Andersen Consulting and Sprint PCS prior to his teaching experience. Mr. North has helped create or catalyze several education programs in Kansas City, including the Ewing Marion Kauffman School, Kansas City Scholars, and SchoolSmartKC. He is a Pahara-Aspen Fellow and serves as board chair of both Kauffman Scholars, Inc. and the Ewing Marion Kauffman School.
Mr. North earned a Master of Public Policy from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Kansas.
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 became Chairman of Husch Blackwell in 2012. In this role, he is responsible for developing and communicating the firm’s strategic direction and ensuring that its policies and culture align with this direction. He serves as the firm’s visible leader and public ambassador. As a member of the firm’s Healthcare, Life Sciences & Education industry team, Mr. Watson’s practice focuses on the representation of educational institutions, including public and private schools and school systems, colleges and universities, and regional and national education associations. He has represented clients in state and federal courts in complaints brought by employees for employment discrimination, harassment and alleged violations of statutory and constitutional rights and cases filed by students for alleged violations of statutory and constitutional rights with favorable results.
Mr. Watson also advises public, private and nonprofit boards of education in sensitive investigations of misconduct involving executives, administrators, and directors. He regularly speaks at national and regional meetings and conferences on the legal rights of students and employees in the school setting and also works with boards on best governance practices.
In addition to his role as Chairman, Mr. Watson is a member of the firm’s Executive and Partner Boards, and he serves on the firm’s Diversity Council. Before joining Husch Blackwell, Mr. Watson was a senior aide to U.S. Sen. John Danforth in Washington, D.C.