Our Board of Directors

Christy McMannen, President
Attorney, Christovich and Kearney, LLP

20170507_Dennard-278 (1)Christy was born and raised in southern Virginia and graduated from the University of Virginia in 2002.  After graduation, she headed to New Orleans to embark on what she thought would be a two-year adventure here as a Teach for America corps member, teaching high school math in eastern New Orleans.  Little did she know that her fellow teacher and New Orleans native, “Mr. Dennard” (Jim), would eventually become her husband and convince her to stay in New Orleans.  It was also during this teaching experience that Christy learned the long term impact that a child’s early educational experience could have. After her service with Teach for America, Christy attended Tulane Law School.  She is currently employed as a civil defense attorney at Christovich and Kearney in downtown New Orleans.  When she’s not in search of the perfect recipe for some of the thousands of pounds of turnips her husband’s family grows on their farm every year, Christy enjoys baking and planning her family’s “imaginary house” that will one day be built on Bayou St. John.  Christy and Jim are the parents of Annabelle,  Irwin and Griffin.


Erika Wright, Vice President

Violence and Behavioral Health Services Manager, New Orleans Health DepartmentDSC_0545

Originally from Sacramento, CA, Erika is proud to be connected to three generations of men who are native New Orleanians; her grandfather, husband, and now 1 year old son Gabriel.  After two years of serving as a teacher in the U.S. Peace Corps in Cameroon, West Africa, Erika returned to the states and continued her youth development work in Chicago, IL, where she originally met husband Kodi.  In 2010, Erika jumped back into to school to pursue a degree in social work, she received her MSW from Washington University in St. Louis in 2012.  Shortly after, Kodi received an offer to teach in LSU’s history department, which brought the couple back home to New Orleans. Currently, Erika is employed with the New Orleans Health Department, where she works very closely with the Mayor’s Office on the City’s violence and murder reduction initiatives.  In addition to this challenging work, Erika continues to pursue her passion around youth development through a small but mighty family literacy project.


Vera Lester
Owner, Yoga teacher and Officiant at ViraYoga, LLC

Kirtan waliVera Lester is a yoga teacher, officiant, and speaker who brings humor and reality to a spiritual way of life. She teaches vinyasa flow and Bowspring classes at Wild Lotus Yoga, and works privately with clients. She is especially passionate about teaching yoga to recovering addicts and alcoholics at Odyssey House of Louisiana. Prior to starting this crazy new life, Vera was a professional fundraiser for several dynamic nonprofits in New Orleans. She’s a proud product of New Orleans public schools, and has always been committed to making an excellent education accessible to all New Orleans families. She’s proud to be “Auntie V” to Max (Abeona alum) and Elizabeth (currently in the Fish Cove).


Cullan Maumas

Director of Development for the New Orleans Redevelopment Fund

cullan.jpgBorn and raised in New Orleans, Cullan Maumus graduated from Ben Franklin High School and attended the University of Massachusetts, Amherst on a baseball scholarship. There, he met his now wife and best friend, Jill.  In 2006, Cullan and Jill moved to New Orleans ready to aid in the rebuilding of New Orleans – Cullan as a real estate developer and Jill as an architect. Their proudest contribution to the City’s renaissance to date has been Maddox (currently a Rabbit in the Fish Cove). “Experiencing the joys of New Orleans through his eyes has become our greatest source of happiness and motivates us to work harder every day.”

Cullan received his MBA from the Freeman School of Business at Tulane where he focused his studies on Entrepreneurship and Real Estate Finance. He is currently the Director of Development for a local private equity fund focused on eradicating blight in Mid-City. Cullan has volunteered with multiple non-profits; most recently serving as Vice-Chair of the Gen Y Board for the YMCA of Greater New Orleans.


Alison Mehr

IMG_7580.JPGAlison Mehr recently joined the Abeona board in March 2017.  Alison has significant experience working with non-profit and community impact organizations and has spent the past 20 years working for local, statewide, and national organizations assisting with strategy, finance, and development needs.  She has worked as a consultant focused on strategic management, financial analysis and feasibility studies and has also held Executive Directorships and senior management positions at Partnership for Youth Development, Crescent City Schools, Louisiana Children’s Museum, The American Red Cross, and Loyola University, overseeing departmental strategy, organizational restructuring, financial analysis, capital projects and major fundraising campaigns.

Ms. Mehr has served on numerous boards and volunteer organizations, including Organizing Network for Education New Orleans (ONE NOLA), New Leaders Council, the New Orleans Children and Youth Planning Board, Partnership for Youth Development, and Algiers Charter School Association.  She has a B.A. in English Literature and an M.B.A. with a concentration in Finance from Tulane University.  She lives in the Bayou St. John neighborhood of New Orleans with Emma Riley (Fish Cove) and Zachary (Beehive).


Kenny Francis

Assistant Director of School Performance, Orleans Parish School BoardIMG_4644.JPG

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: