Our Board of Directors

Jenny Flinn, President

Jenny joined the board in January of 2019 and currently serves as Board President. Born in the Northeast, Jenny Flinn considers New Orleans to be her true home. Jenny moved to New Orleans in 2002 to attend Tulane University and besides a brief stint in New York, has lived in the city ever since. Jenny received her Master of Science in Education from Bankstreet School of Education where she focused her studies on Early Childhood and Childhood Education. She began working in the New Orleans school system in 2007 for a local nonprofit providing enrichment programming and most recently as the Early Childhood Coordinator for a local charter school. 

In 2012, Jenny met her now husband, Sean Flinn. They welcomed James (Fish Cove) in 2016 and Anders (Beehive) in 2018. Jenny and Sean could not imagine a safer and more loving environment for their children than Abeona House. As a family, they love long walks with their dog, Winnie, Saints Sundays, and of course, Mardi Gras! 

Kenny Francis, Vice President

Assistant Director of School Performance, Orleans Parish School Board

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, Kenny graduated from the University of Virginia in 2011. After graduation, he headed to New Orleans for what he thought would be a two-year adventure as a Teach for America corps member, teaching Kindergarten. However, like many before him, the amazing people and specifically the children of New Orleans became a part of his soul. After his corps service ended, Kenny remained in the city and continued as an early childhood educator teaching Kindergarten and Pre-k at several schools across the city. These experiences taught him the paramount importance that a child’s early educational experience plays not just in their academic development but life outcomes. Currently he is employed as the Assistant Director of School Performance at the Orleans Parish School Board working to build equity in our public school system. Kenny enjoys indulging in all of the great music and delectable food New Orleans has to offer and can be found hosting “Resistance Radio” a podcast that centers of local and state politics.

Anna Whitlow, Secretary
Owner, Be Nimble Public Relations

Anna Whitlow is a a small business owner of a public relations agency working with clients in New Orleans and around the country, focusing on helping them develop their messaging and strategy to bring them to new audiences. She grew up in Richmond, Va. and Baton Rouge, La. and has since lived in Boston, Miami, Los Angeles and New Orleans. She is delighted to be partnered with her husband Jose in raising their children Nelmy June (3.5) and Theo (1) in New Orleans–seeing the unique culture of the city through their eyes. 

Cynthia Bankston, Treasurer

Audit Manager at Postlethewaite & Netterville

Cynthia recently joined the board in June 2018 as the treasurer. Cynthia works closely with the board and executive director to monitor the budget and report and help maintain the fiscal health of Abeona House.

Cynthia is a native of Washington Parish, Louisiana and graduated from Mt. Hermon High School. Cynthia earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting and minor in professional writing from Southeastern Louisiana University. Cynthia has worked as an auditor for Postlethwaite and Netterville since 2014. She holds various industry certifications such as Certified Public Accountant and Certified Fraud Examiner which equip her to serve a wide range of clients such as local governmental entities, non-profits, and for profit companies.

Cynthia resides in Covington with her husband of seven years and dog, Google. Cynthia enjoys mastering excel formulas and spending time with her six nieces and nephews in her free time.

Mercedes Montagnes

Executive Director of the Promise of Justice Initiative

Mercedes Montagnes is the Executive Director of the Promise of Justice Initiative. Mercedes was born and raised in Toronto, Canada and first moved to New York City in August of 2001. A passion for criminal justice reform and love first brought Mercedes to New Orleans in 2007. After graduating from law school and clerking, Mercedes made her permanent home here in 2012. Since then, she has been working with the vibrant community of justice seekers in Louisiana. Mercedes is the proud mother of Hugo in the Beehive and is grateful every day for the love he gets at school.

Kenn Barnes

Born in Baton Rouge but relocated to New Orleans, Kenn Barnes, Jr. serves as Special Counsel- Criminal Justice to the Louisiana Supreme Court. In this capacity Mr. Barnes has assisted in the use of best practices and implementation of the Laura and John Arnold Public Safety Assessment risk assessment tool in Orleans Parish to assist judges during the setting of a bond by providing information on an accused’s likelihood of new criminal activity while on bond and likelihood of failure to appear. Additional duties of Mr. Barnes include assisting with the Court’s reentry court, drug court, mental health court and other specialty court programs across Louisiana, serving as liaison between the Louisiana Supreme Court and the Felony Class System Task Force, Louisiana Public Defender Board, and Louisiana State Law Institute, and has recently been appointed by Governor John Bel Edwards to the Justice Reinvestment Implementation Oversight Council.  

In addition to his work at the Louisiana Supreme Court, Kenn is an initiate and member of the Nu Psi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, Fraternity Inc., the American Bar Association, National Bar Association, New Orleans Bar Association, Gala chair and member of the Greater New Orleans Louis A. Martinet Society, and is a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association Diversity Committee. Kenn also serves his community as a member of the Louisiana New Leader’s Council Advisory Board, and board member of the New Orleans Abeona House Child Discovery Center. In Kenn’s free time, he enjoys strolling the French Quarter with his wife, meeting new people and animals, and volunteer coaching high school wrestling.

Berre Burch

Berre Burch, a native Arkansan, is the Director of Project LAST at the
Children’s Bureau of New Orleans, where she leads a program that
provides no-cost, high quality mental health services to children and
adolescents in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. She is the proud mom of
Wren (Garden Room) and Gus (Beehive). Her son Elliott attended Abeona
House in 2012, before the family relocated to Maryland. Berre earned a
PhD in school psychology at Tulane in 2014. She previously received a
Master’s degree in art therapy from George Washington University and a
bachelor’s degree from Hendrix College.

Spencer Leggett

Senior Tax Specialist, Entergy Services, LLC

Born and raised on the Oregon coast, Spencer graduated from Oregon State University in 2011.  While studying abroad his senior year in Cape Town, South Africa, he met his now wife Ashley.  In the summer of 2011, he moved to New Orleans while Ashley attended medical school.  Eight years and two kids later, the Leggetts made the easy decision to make New Orleans their home. 

Spencer has a business degree and is a licensed Certified Public Accountant in the state of Louisiana.  He has worked in Entergy’s tax department since 2014. His additional duties at work include heading up the diversity and inclusion counsel for Entergy’s finance department as well as tutoring local high school students preparing for the ACT exam.  He also has public accounting firm experience working with non-profits, individuals, and small businesses. 

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