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.

Board Retreat: June 22, 2019, from 9:00 am to 3 pm at the American Underground.

Request for Public Comment

It is a fiduciary responsibility and the intent of ECA’s Board of Directors to conduct meetings in an efficient and professional manner. Therefore, as the Board of Directors conducts business at its monthly meeting, it must refrain from engaging in discussion with the audience. However, the Board welcomes public input and any individual may request to be included in the Public Comment segment of the agenda.

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. Individuals shall not yield minutes to other individuals.

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. Please note that it is a violation of law to discuss personnel and private matters in a public meeting. It is also a violation of law to make slanderous remarks or to cast false accusations in a public meeting


September 20, 2018

August 16, 2018

July 18, 2018 (Special Meeting)

June 18, 2018

May 17, 2018

April 19, 2018

March 15, 2018

February 15, 2018

January 18, 2018

January 14, 2018 (Special Meeting)

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:  Tom Nechyba (

Fundraising – interim chair: Mark Simmons

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 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, Treasurer

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.

RobRob 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.

Tia Barnes (3)Tia Barnes, At-large

Tia Barnes is the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs at the Duke University School of Law. She is experienced in academic compliance and accreditation as well as student services such as academic support programming, access to education for diverse populations, creating a healthy and safe learning environment, and a supportive environment for students with disabilities. Tia is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke Law School, a licensed attorney, and a triathlete.

Tia understands the processes by which academic programs are implemented, the evolution of education best practices, and the work involved with developing a school program around the scaffolding of accreditation standards. She supports the tenets of Excelsior Classical Academy and believes that the school fulfills an important need in the Durham community.

Pamela Andrews (2)Pamela Andrews, At-large

Pamela Andrews earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Math and Science Education from North Carolina State University. She is a retiree from Durham Public Schools after teaching 28 of her 30 years in Durham. She also holds certifications in Elementary Education (K-6) and Academically Gifted.

Her passion for learning and our youth has propelled her to work with the board and staff of Excelsior Classical Academy. With the support of the community, parents and staff, each child will show growth each year. As a former educator, she plans to help support staff and students, so they experience success in the classroom. Utilizing strategies and experience gathered over her career, she hopes to be an advocate for Excelsior students and staff.

Pam is a life-long resident of Durham, wife, mom, and Mimi. The joy of her life is her precious granddaughter, Raelynn. In her free time, she enjoys gardening and outdoor activities.

Crystal Scillitani (2)Crystal Scillitani, TeamCFA Rep

Crystal spent the last 25 years working in North Carolina schools and universities – serving in multiple roles from teacher to Principal to course instructor of Elementary Education at North Carolina State University. In 2017 she founded LeadingUp Consulting, a consulting firm based in North Carolina focused on advancing student achievement by strengthening teachers and school leaders.

As the first member of her family graduate high school and attend college, Crystal is a firm believer that education is the pathway to success. She hopes to bring her personal and professional experiences to the Excelsior School Board in order to support the school in continued growth and success.

In her free time, Crystal volunteers with The Center for Volunteer Caregiving and Compassion International. In addition she loves to read, travel, and exercise. Prior to her career in education, Crystal also served in the United States Air Force alongside her husband.

Non-Voting Members:

Monica Dodson, Grammar School Dean, Grammar School Representative

Parent-Teacher Forum Representative 

Non-Member Attendees

Cynthia Gadol, Executive Director

Kim Carpenter, Excelsior’s Director of Operations, Secretary to the Board