Board Members


John A. Brown, Sr. – District 1, President – View Map

John Alan Brown, Sr, is a lifelong and proud native of New Orleans. He is a graduate of Walter L. Cohen, Class of 1966. After high school, John left New Orleans to pursue his educational and athletic aspirations at Winston-Salem State University. While at Winston-Salem, he was a member of the football and track programs. John earned his Business Education Bachelor’s degree from Winston-Salem in 1970, and a M. Ed. Special Education/School Administration from the University of New Orleans in 1977.

John’s passion for educating young inner city youth led him back to his hometown of New Orleans. His career in education started at Rabouin High School in 1970 before he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1971. After receiving an Honorable Discharge in 1973, he returned home to work as a Supervisor/Coach for the New Orleans Recreational Department (NORD). John spent countless hours at St. Roch Playground implementing recreational programs for area youth, many of which have developed to be not only productive and contributing citizens of our community but also prominent leaders. Later that year, he returned to a teaching position at Fortier High School, where he served as a Special Education Business Ed teacher and Administrative Assistant for 8 ½ years.

A retired OPSB educator of 30 years, John has remained committed to the needs and challenges of OPSB and the broader educational landscape. Prior to his retirement in 2003, John served as Principal of Alcee Fortier High School, Harriet Tubman Elementary School and Phillips Junior High School. John was selected as Principal of the Year for the 1991-1992 and 1999-2000 school years, respectively. Prior to that time, he served as Assistant Principal of Joseph S. Clark High School, and as Administrative Intern to his mentor, the late Dr. Norward Roussell.

In April 2006, John returned to New Orleans after eight months in Chicago, Illinois following Hurricane Katrina. His decision to return home was purely out of a strong desire to see New Orleans reach higher, envision greater and be better than ever before. Upon his return, John joined the School Leadership Center (SLC) of Greater New Orleans as its Fellows Director, the mission of which is to inspire and develop instructional leadership among principals and other educators, thereby advancing student achievement In the schools of those school leaders. Over the past 10 years, he has visited with and come to know more than 300 of the principals and assistant school leaders from Orleans and surrounding parishes who enrolled and completed the SLC Fellows Leadership Program.

John is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., a brotherhood and service organization for which he continues to actively serve as President (Polemarch) of the New Orleans Alumni Chapter. He also serves as Chairman of a mentoring program at Lake Area High, a collaboration between Urban League of Greater New Orleans and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., as well as the RPGA Chairman for an annual benefit golf tournament benefiting Children’s Hospital. John is also a member of St. Peter Claver Catholic Church.
John and his wife of over 43 years, Wynella, have three children, Jawan (Henry), Jade (Donnie) and John, Jr.; and three grandchildren, Honree, Jadon and Dorsett.

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Ethan Ashley – District 2 – View Map

Ethan Ashley was born and raised in Compton, California. At the age of 16, he graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School, a law magnet high school in Los Angeles, California.  After high school, he continued his education at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Juris Doctorate by the age of 22. While in D.C., Ethan worked for Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section, and the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

During his studies at Howard and after the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Ethan dedicated over a week’s worth of service each year since 2006 to the city of New Orleans. To continue his efforts of rebuilding New Orleans, Ethan, immediately after graduation from law school, moved to New Orleans to work as a first-year staff attorney and project director at the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, where he was tasked with running their project to end juvenile life sentences in the state of Louisiana. In this position, Ethan worked in a legal, organizational, and policy-based capacity.

Ethan’s passion to change the infamous school-to-prison-pipeline is what motivated his career change into the field of education. For almost two years, Ethan worked as the New Orleans Director for the Black Alliance for Educational Options, where he was tasked with organizing, fundraising, and developing programs focused on increasing high quality educational options for black youth who come from low income and working class families.  In September of 2014, Ethan Ashley joined the Urban League of Greater New Orleans as the Director of Community Engagement. As Director of Community Engagement, Ethan leads the community and partnership based work in education, criminal justice, and civic engagement. Ethan created and leads an educational leadership community program called Urban Leaders for Equity and Diversity (ULEAD), a juvenile alternative to detention program called Community Coaching, and various civil engagement activities including the High School Civic Engagement Challenge. Currently, Ethan is the Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Louisiana Children’s Research Center for Development and Learning, where he leads the community, organizing and partnership based work as well as the policy initiatives statewide and nationally.

With regard to service, Ethan has raised thousands of dollars for and as a board member of Youth Run NOLA, a local non-profit organization focused on empowering underserved youth through running. Ethan has served as immediate past community service chair for the Louis A. Martinent Legal Society, a voluntary bar association whose mission is to balance justice and effect change. Ethan was also the previous director of a voluntary literacy program at the Youth Study Center in New Orleans. He is a proud member and mentor for the Son of a Saint, a non-profit focused on enhancing the lives of fatherless young males. Ethan is an advisory board member for Bard Early College New Orleans, a rigorous, credit-bearing, tuition-free college course of student in the liberal arts and sciences available to junior and senior level students. Ethan is also a board member of the Boy Scouts of America Southeast Louisiana Council.

Ethan has conducted 4 graduation ceremonies, including most recently Joseph S. Clark Preparatory High School, and 3 college declaration ceremonies. He has presented at numerous conferences, including the National Charter School Conference, Teacher for America Leaders of Color Conference, PIE Conference, and the Black Alliance for Educational Options Conference. He has also conducted “Know Your Rights” trainings to over 1,000 youth in New Orleans.

Ethan is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc. Ethan is a 2014 fellow of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Community Leadership Network. During his fellowship, he created and still maintains a Black Male Leadership program called the New Orleans Black Male Achievement Network (NOBMAN).  Ethan is the proud co-owner of JE Howard Ventures, an investment company that specializes in community development. Above all, Ethan is a member of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church and is a strong advocate for youth justice, civil rights, and servant leadership.

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Sarah Newell Usdin – District 3 – View Map
Sarah Newell Usdin is the Founder and past-CEO of New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO), a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and developing the people, resources and environment necessary to achieve excellent public schools for every child in New Orleans.  NSNO directly launched/expanded charter schools, invested in recruitment/training for principals and teachers, and incubated quality support providers to serve schools citywide.  The positive changes in the New Orleans public school environment were validated by the award of a $33 million Investing in Innovation (i3) grant  to NSNO and the RSD to turn around schools in New Orleans and Tennessee.Sarah’s entire professional career has been in public education.  In 1992, after teaching in Germany on a Fulbright Scholarship, she joined Teach for America and taught 5th grade for three years before becoming Teach for America’s Executive Director in Louisiana.  She went on to serve as a partner with The New Teacher Project (TNTP), working to recruit, train, and certify thousands of high-quality public school teachers.  Sarah is a member of the Pahara-Aspen Institute Global Leadership Network and was the recipient of The Peter Jennings Award for Civic Leadership.Usdin majored in religion and German at Colgate University and holds a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Louisiana State University. She represents District 3 on the Orleans Parish School Board.
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Leslie Ellison – District 4, Vice President – View Map

The Honorable Leslie Ellison serves the citizens of Algiers, Faubourg Marigny, Bywater and the French Quarter on the Orleans Parish School Board, District 4. Ms. Ellison was first elected to the Orleans Parish School Board on November 6, 2012, and has held numerous leadership positions since assuming office. She currently serves as Vice President of OPSB, and is a member of the board’s Legal, Budget and Finance and Property committees.

A strong visionary and passionate education leader, Ms. Ellison’s commitment to service rests in putting the needs of children and the community first. She has displayed astute prowess in these capacities for more than 20 years through legislative and policy advocacy on education reform as well as intergovernmental affairs at the local, state, national and international levels.

In addition to her service on the Orleans Parish School Board, Ms. Ellison is a member of various community, business and service organizations. She is owner and CEO of the Ellison Group, LLC and serves as administrator at Gideon Christian Fellowship International.

Ms. Ellison obtained a degree in business administration from Southern University at New Orleans. A graduate of Orleans public schools, she attended Paul B. Habans Elementary, Edna Karr and Oliver Perry Walker Senior High School, respectively. Ms. Ellison is a lifelong resident of the historic Tunisburg/McClendonville community in Algiers, Louisiana.

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Ben Kleban – District 5 – View Map
Ben Kleban was the Founder & CEO of New Orleans College Prep (NOCP), a charter school network he founded in 2007 to provide a high quality college prep education to underserved children in New Orleans from birth through 12th grade.  Under Ben’s leadership, NOCP achieved significant academic gains for its students, including two successful school turnarounds.  Cohen High School improved from an “F” to a “B” letter grade with 100% college acceptance after the first four years of NOCP management, and Crocker Elementary School improved from an “F” to a “C” in only two years.  In January 2017, after being elected to the Orleans Parish School Board without opposition, Ben stepped down from his position at NOCP.  In addition to his service on the OPSB, Ben currently chairs the board of a new non-profit, College Beyond, which provides direct coaching, mentorship, and micro-grant financial support aimed at improving the college graduation rate for low-income, first generation college students from across New Orleans and our region.
Ben has prior experience as a high school math teacher in Philadelphia, and began his career in corporate finance at The Boeing Company.  He received an MBA from Harvard Business School, completed the Teacher Certification Program at the University of Pennsylvania, and holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Pepperdine University.  In his final years at NOCP, Ben served on the statewide MFP task force, an advisory council for the public school funding formula in Louisiana.

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Woody Koppel – District 6 – View Map

Woody Koppel, a native New Orleanian, attended Henry Allen, Jean Gordon, De La Salle and the University of the South at Sewanee, Tn., where he earned a B.A. in fine arts.

Now a successful businessperson, Koppel was an award-winning teacher at James Lewis Elementary, who travelled as far as the Anna Freud Centre in England to learn strategies for teaching at-risk youth. He actively volunteers and is a board member of Boys Hope, Girls Hope. He is married and has a son.

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Nolan Marshall, Jr. – District 7View Map

Mr. Marshall was elected to the Orleans Parish School Board in 2012 representing District 7. He has served on several local non-profit boards and has been a member and officer in many school and community organizations. He presently serves on the board of directors for the Bayou District Foundation, which has the responsibility for the redevelopment of the St. Bernard Housing Development area. He is also a board commissioner for the New Orleans Recreation Department.

Nolan Marshall, Jr. is a native New Orleanian, educated at Macarty Elementary in the Lower Ninth Ward (now Martin Luther King Elementary), St. Augustine High School, Loyola University and the University of New Orleans. Known in the community mainly as a photographer, Nolan operated the business his father started in 1948, Marshall Studios, from 1972 to 2013.  He is the father of two daughters and one son, five granddaughters and three grandsons. All have been educated in traditional public schools as well as private, parochial and/or charter schools.

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