Board of Directors

Board Meetings

Excelsior Classical Academy CFA’s Board generally meets at 5:30 every third Thursday. Regular meetings are held at the school at 4100 N Roxboro Street in Durham. In the summer, the Board holds a day-long retreat for planning, team-building, and training. The Retreat replaces either the June or July meeting.

Board Retreat: June 30, 2018, from 8:30 am to 3 pm at the American Underground.

Request for Public Comment

Excelsior Board reserves time in the agenda of its meeting for public comment.

In order to be included in the agenda, a speaker must fill out a public comment form at least 48 hours in advance. All information in the form will be used in the minutes of the meeting and becomes part of the public record under open meeting laws. The Board may also use the information for follow-up with the speaker.

In order to be able to finish all required business at meetings, the Board limits the amount of public comment time for each speaker to two minutes. Comments must be limited to the topic listed on the public comment form.

All public comments are subject to ECA’s rules of decorum. The use of profanity, personal insults, or hate speech will result in the immediate cessation of the speaker’s time.


June 18, 2018 (Special Meeting)

May 17, 2018

April 19, 2018

March 15, 2018

February 15, 2018

January 18, 2018

January 14, 2018 (Special Meeting)

December 14, 2017

November 16, 2017

October 19, 2017

September 21, 2017

August 17,2017

No July Meeting

June 15, 2017

May 18, 2017

April 20, 2017

Archived Minutes

Board Service

To express interest in serving on Excelsior’s Board of Directors, please contact the Chair of the Board Development committee.

Board Committees

The Board of Directors of Excelsior Classical Academy has various committees mandated to carry out specified functions, programs, or projects of the Board. Some committees are standing and others are ad hoc. Each committee is chaired by a member of the Board of Directors. The Board is recruiting members for the following standing committees:

Board Development and Governance – Vicki Gunto (

Facilities – chair: Rob Klinedinst ( co-chair: Monica Gainey (

Finance – chair: Jason Lefler (, co-chair: Tom Nechyba (

Fundraising – chair: Kimberly Crockett (

Publicity, and Marketing – chair: Mark Simmons (

Please contact the chair by email if you are interested in serving on a committee.

Board Standing Policies Manual

To view the Board’s approved Board Policies, open the following document.

Board Members

Mark SimmonsMark F. Simmons, President

Mark F. Simmons earned his Bachelor of Science in biological anthropology and anatomy from Duke University. He is the founder and chief strategist of Mixed Digital, a Durham based digital marketing agency and has been involved in a number of community based organizations in the past.

As the son of an educator, he brings with him a desire to work alongside the board and school administration for the betterment of the school. As a small business owner and marketing professional, he plans to leverage that experience to increase exposure and strengthen fundraising efforts.

Mark is a resident of Durham, husband, and father of two precocious girls. He enjoys supporting local businesses and causes, is an avid runner with a marathon under his belt, and enjoys tending his vegetable garden in his spare time.


Vicki Gunto headshotVicki Tibbs Gunto, Vice President

Vicki Gunto is the US Head of Regulatory Affairs R&D – Pipeline at Chiesi USA, Inc., an Italian pharmaceutical company. She is a firm believer in the value of education. Taking the lessons her mother instilled in her through a poem entitled “Don’t Quit,” Vicki achieved educational success as a graduate of Northwestern University, where she earned both her Bachelor’s and PhD in pharmacology.

Vicki is a strong adherent to the classical model. She’s ready and equipped to help us continue establishing our strong foundation and help guide us as we grow into the future.



Thomas J. Nechyba, At-large

Thomas J. Nechyba has been a professor of economics and public policy at Duke University since 1999. He has served as Director of Undergraduate Studies as well as Department Chair in the department of economics and is currently the Director of the Social Science Research Institute (SSRI), one of seven university-wide interdisciplinary signature institutes at Duke University. He recently co-founded the university-wide Initiative in Education and Human Development (IEHD) and leads the Education Theme of Duke’s recently announced Bass Connections Initiative. In the Economics Department, he continues to lead the EcoTeach Center that he founded in 2000, a center devoted to excellence in teaching of undergraduate and graduate students at Duke. Outside of Duke, Tom serves as a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (Cambridge, MA) and as a research fellow at the Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, Germany.

Tom was born in Austria and emigrated with his family to Florida at the age of 13. He earned his BA at the University of Florida and an MA and PhD in economics from the University of Rochester. He has taught at Stanford prior to teaching at Duke. In his teaching and research, Tom specializes in the connection of public and urban economics to the economics of education, and focuses especially on public policy in relation to disadvantaged families, the functioning of local governments, and primary and secondary education.


Rob KlinedinstRob Klinedinst, At-large

Rob Klinedinst earned his Bachelor of Architecture at Cornell University and his Master of Business Administration in Management and Organization at Pennsylvania State University. As an architect with twenty-seven years of professional experience designing educational facilities, Rob has a broad understanding of the best school planning, design, and construction practices. HIs K-12 school planning, design, and construction experience has involved both renovations and new construction and includes thirteen elementary schools, eight middle schools, and fourteen high schools. He brings the expertise needed to guide the development of comprehensive short-term and long-term facilities plans to address the needs of our growing school.

He believes in the mission of Excelsior Classical Academy and has supported the school in various ways as a volunteer since its opening.


Kimberly CrockettKimberly Crockett, At-large

Kimberly J. Crockett is a nonprofit professional who has 15 years of experience. Her leadership experiences are within the spaces of nonprofit community development and higher education. She has provided organization leadership nationally and abroad. Kimberly practice a mix of applied knowledge coupled with old fashioned persistence that serves her well.

Kimberly is from Stone Mountain, Georgia and specializes in organization sustainability and capacity building for npo through program development and implementation, resource development (grants and fundraising) and initiative support. Kimberly is mission-driven and service-oriented and believes in outreach, innovation and activities that create partnerships and stimulate community participatory engagement. She ensures that all stakeholders and decision makers are appropriately recognized and receive regular communication by making stewardship a priority.
Kimberly is married to Dr. Hasan Crockett, PhD and they have a daughter, I’Nasah Crockett. She holds a Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership from La Salle University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Jason Lefler

Jason Lefler, TeamCFA Representative, Treasurer

Jason has had a passion for education throughout his adult life fueled by his time as a middle school social studies teacher at Brevard Academy, a charter school in Brevard, NC. He left teaching in 2000 to enter a career in finance, but he has always missed the time he spent in education and is enjoying the opportunity to support this great new charter school in Durham.

Jason has served on and volunteered his time with numerous boards and community-minded organizations including: the Brevard Academy School Board, Backpack Buddies, Blue Ridge Community College Ambassador Program, Rotary Club, Brevard Philharmonic, and Whitewater Cove Children’s Home. He is the proud father of 4 children who have benefited greatly from their charter school education. He graduated from UNCG with a BA in English in 1994.

Jason has recently joined the team at Stifel Financial Corp., a full service brokerage and investment banking firm.

Non-Voting Members

Lower School Teacher Representative

Upper School Teacher Representative

Representative from Excelsior’s Parent Teacher Forum

Non-Member Attendees

Cynthia Gadol, Executive Director

Ms. Gadol earned a BA in Statistics from the University of Georgia, after majoring in Art the first two years. She worked as a Programmer/Analyst and Technical Writer for a number of years. Cynthia has a Master of School Administration from Appalachian State University. She holds a NC K-12 Principal’s license and is also licensed to teach High School Mathematics.
As one of the founding teachers at Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy, Cynthia helped develop the high school curriculum. Over a period of twelve years she taught various courses: Art and Art History, Logic I and II, Rhetoric, Algebra I and II, Geometry, and AP Statistics. She served as Chair of the Mathematics Department and the Trivium Department. She was a member of the Curriculum Committee, the Scheduling Committee, the Scholarship Committee, the School Improvement Team, and the Accreditation Team. Ms. Gadol’s fellow teachers elected Cynthia as the upper school teacher representative to TJCA’s Board of Directors. Cynthia was a TeamCFA Fellow, working in administration at two TeamCFA schools, Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy and Lake Lure Classical Academy.

Ms. Gadol led professional development courses at TJCA on teaching critical thinking and logic throughout the curriculum, Socratic questioning, and Paideia seminars. She was the National Honor Society adviser and oversaw Prom and Graduation activities. The National Society of High School Scholars recognized Cynthia as an Educator of Distinction after one of her students who was a member nominated her. She was selected for Who’s Who among American Teachers for three years, nominated by four different students. Her school nominated Cynthia for Disney’s American Teacher Award for creativity in teaching and for NC Charter School Teacher of the Year.

Ms. Gadol is the author of the charter application for Excelsior Classical Academy CFA.

Monica Dodson, Lower School Dean

Kim Carpenter, Excelsior’s Operations Manager, Secretary to the Board