Board of Directors

Board Meetings

Excelsior Classical Academy CFA’s Board meets at 5:30 every third Thursday each month except June, when they hold a day-long retreat for planning, team-building, and training. Regular meetings are held at the school at 4100 N Roxboro Street in Durham.

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 Application

To apply to serve on Excelsior’s Board of Directors, please download and fill out the application below.

Board Application Forms

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, Publicity, and Marketing – chair: Mark Simmons (, co-chair: Yuly Garcia-Gadea

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.


Gunto headshop 2Vicki Tibbs Gunto, Interim 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 adherant 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.



Yulyney Garcia-Gadea, At-large

Yulyney Garcia-Gadea is from Colombia, South America. She is fluent in English and Spanish. Yuly has a strong desire to be involved in the community through her church and through other organizations. The opportunity to serve on the Board of Excelsior Classical Academy means a lot to her. She wants to reach out to the Latino community to open doors and to help them be a part of their children’s education.

Yuly is currently a stay-at-home mom. She has three daughters under the age of six. Yuly has a college education. She likes to stay active and get her girls involved in different activities. She and her family live in Durham and are very excited about the educational choice Excelsior offers. The education that her daughters receive is very important to her, and she wants to be very involved in their education and growth. She loves meeting the parents of the children her girls interact with. Her oldest daughter attends Excelsior.


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

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.


Monica Dodson, Teacher Representative, K-6, Non-votingMonica

Monica Dodson is a Kindergarten teacher at Excelsior Classical Academy and serves as Lead Teacher. She was elected by her peers to serve as the Teacher Representative to the Board.

Monica has lived in Durham since she was 10. She has a Bachelor of Science in Special Education from UNC Pembroke and an Master of Education in Special Education from NCCU. She is certified in Elementary Education and Special Education, and has completed an Academically and Intellectually Gifted Certification Program for K-12 at Duke University. Before coming to Excelsior, Monica taught for 18 years in Special Education and in General Education, most recently at the Kindergarten level. She was the Kindergarten Team Leader and served on the Leadership Team. She was named Teacher of the Year for 2014-2015 at her former school.

Ms. Dodson is married and has three daughters, the youngest of whom attends Excelsior.


Non-Member Attendees

Cynthia Gadol, Excelsior’s Executive Director

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

Representative from Excelsior’s Parent Teacher Forum