Who We Are

Amanda Johnson
Excecutive Director

Amanda Johnson’s breadth of teaching and leadership experience drives her to found and lead a high-achieving charter school in Clarksdale, MS.

Amanda Johnson is the Executive Director of Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School. Ms. Johnson earned a B.A. in Political Science from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN and began her career as an educator with Teach For America in 2003. As a corps member, she taught second grade in Marianna, Arkansas for three years. Next, she taught sixth grade at KIPP Delta College Preparatory School. She was a member of the first cohort of the Miles Family Fellowship before beginning KIPP’s Fisher Fellowship in 2008. A year later, Ms. Johnson founded and led KIPP Delta Elementary Literacy Academy (KIPP Delta ELA) for four years. After leading KIPP Delta ELA, she spent two years co-leading the Fisher Fellowship with the KIPP Foundation and spent a year and a half as Director of Curriculum and Instruction for KIPP Delta Public Schools. Most recently, Ms. Johnson completed the Building Excellent Schools Fellowship.

amanda johnson

Our Board of Directors

board of directors
aurelia jones taylor

Aurelia Jones-Taylor
Board Chair

Aurelia Jones-Taylor currently serves as Chief Executive Officer for the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Services Center, Inc., as well as, other programs under auspices of the corporation.

These include the Delta Area Rural Transit System and the Mississippi Children’s Health Project.   Ms. Jones-Taylor has directed the organization for close to thirty years, after serving in several management and finance positions in non-profit and for profit organizations.  Born and reared in Hollandale, MS, she attended Tougaloo College where she received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics.  She further matriculated at Jackson State University and obtained a Masters of Business Administration Degree in Finance and completed a leadership internship at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland sponsored by the National Association of Community Health Centers.

Ms. Jones-Taylor’s employment experience includes serving as business manager, Chief Financial Officer, Audit Supervisor and accountant for various state agencies, non-profit and for-profit businesses.  During her tenure at Aaron E. Henry she has developed, implemented and expanded on several economic and community development initiatives.   Some of these include programs to address health disparities in chronic diseases, pharmaceutical access, local network development, workforce development, emergency room diversion initiatives, community health education initiatives, health and wellness programs and rural general public transportation.

Ms. Jones Taylor served as president of the Mississippi Primary Health Care Association, member of the National Rural Health Task Force, Geiger Gibson Leadership Advisory Group at George Washington University and on several local, state and national boards and committees.

Ms. Johnson earned her B.A. in Political Science from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN.

billy crews

Billy Crews
Board Vice-Chair

Billy Crews serves as the development officer for the UM School of Education. In this newly housed, full-time role within the School of Education, Mr. Crews helps attract donors, investors and friends to support excellent performance, growth and the important impact of the School of Education on Mississippi.

A longtime proponent of public education in Mississippi. Mr. Crews is the former Chief Executive and Chairman of Journal, Inc., a Tupelo-based media company, where he worked for 33 years. He served as Vice President of Teach for America-Mississippi from 2012 through 2014. Prior to that he briefly served as chief operating officer for the Tupelo Public Schools and was a member of the Board of Trustees for the Tupelo Public School District. Mr. Crews also has a long history of stewardship of significant budgets (1M+) for programs that support teacher development in the state of Mississippi. Most notably, Mr. Crews managed a corporate investment that gave way to a model initiative that laid the groundwork for the Education Reform Act. Mr. Crews received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Ole Miss in 1978, where he was elected Associated Student Body president and was a Rhodes Scholar finalist representing the state of Mississippi.

clifton johnson

Clifton Johnson
Board Treasurer

A native of Tunica, Mississippi educated in the public school system, Clifton Johnson attended the University of Mississippi and received a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Accounting. Soon after graduation, he began employment with the Mississippi State Auditor’s Office.

His career has taken him from being an auditor, to an accounting manager with the City of Dallas, Texas, to being an entrepreneur. Mr. Johnson served as the Tunica County Chief Financial Officer from 1995 to 2005, with fiscal responsibility and oversight of budgets up to $100 million. He served as the Tunica County Administrator from 2005 to 2013 and now serves as Vice President/Loan Officer at the Planters Bank & Trust Tunica Branch. Mr. Johnson’s extensive board governance experience includes serving as:  a founding member of the Robinsonville Rotary Club, a past president of the Tunica County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Tunica County Economic Development Foundation, and a board member of Sacred Heart Southern Missions.

soenda howell

Soenda Howell
Board Member

As a Principal at the Charter School Growth Fund, Ms. Howell leads the Emerging CMO Fund, which provides investment support to high-performing charter networks led by leaders of color across the country.

With over 14 years of experience in education as a teacher and a school leader, Ms. Howell has dedicated her entire career to educational equity in underserved communities. Most recently, she provided direct support focused on instruction, leadership, and strategy for schools in emerging regions at the KIPP Foundation. In addition, she led and expanded three of KIPP’s leadership development programs – the Miles Family, Global, and Fisher Fellowships. Ms. Howell began her career in education as a Teach for America Corps Member in New York City. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Swarthmore College and received a Masters of Arts from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Administration and Supervision from National-Louis University.

barbara logan smith

Barbara Logan Smith
Board Member

Barbara Logan Smith has 21 years of dedicated service to building capacity and has contributed to the development of K-12 children, administrative leaders, educators, college students, and business executives across the country.

Her roots as an educator began while serving elementary students in Milwaukee Public Schools. Her tenure involved myriad of roles, including K-8 school administrator, classroom teacher, Title I teacher, technology teacher, programs implementer, and district trainer for efficacy, quality, and proficiency programs. Dr. Logan Smith served as Vice President for the Efficacy Institute, a national non-profit agency of education reform, dedicated to the mission of proficiency for all children in academics and character. In this role, she was responsible for the strategic development of training, marketing, and client management services. During her employ with the Institute, she trained approximately 10,000 teachers, certified over 200 teacher and parent trainers, and prepared more than 3,000 students to serve change agents in their schools through the Envoy Project, an Efficacy youth leadership program. Currently Dr. Logan Smith serves as the Executive Director of Teach for America – Mississippi, where she continues to fight for educational equity and excellence for the children of the state.

Dr. Logan Smith completed her PhD in Education and Leadership at Cardinal Stritch University, where she also serves as adjunct faculty, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in leadership, management, and business. Dr. Logan Smith earned her M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and graduated cum laude with her B.S. degree in Education (K-8) and Psychology from Lakeland College.