The Playworks Louisiana Advisory Board is a group of change-makers who believe in the power of play and are active ambassadors for Playworks. These playful professionals contribute their personal time to share the mission of Playworks: to improve the health and well-being of children by increasing opportunities for physical activity and safe, meaningful play.
Anne Kramer– Board Co-chair
Mrs. Anne Achary Kramer is a member of the administrative team at Hynes Charter School in New Orleans and serves as the Supervisor of Curriculum and instruction. After an initial career in banking, Mrs. Kramer was drawn into the field of education. Over 20 years of classroom teaching, coupled with her corporate banking experience, have provided her with a unique perspective on education. In her leadership role at Hynes, Mrs. Kramer has implemented and supported many programs which directly impact the success of Hynes. She has served in various community leadership roles sharing her expertise in leadership with an emphasis on collaboration. She is passionate about providing the students of New Orleans with the skills and strategies needed to be academically and socially successful.
Krystal Allen – Board Co-chair
Krystal Allen is the Founder and CEO of K. Allen Consulting™, a national education consulting firm; a Clinical Faculty member of Columbia University, and a former elementary & middle school principal. As a Consultant, she currently supports K-12 teachers, principals, and district leaders within traditional public, private, and charter schools by providing individualized leadership development and designing, as well as leading, a variety of professional development experiences. As a Clinical Faculty member of Columbia, she has designs graduate seminars on educational leadership for women, as well as advises M.Ed. students during their 1st year of studies. She began her career teaching elementary school; moving on to serve as a Program Director for Teach for America; and later a school leader in New Orleans. Krystal’s track record of work in student culture, social justice initiatives, and experiential learning led her to be a guest of the White House under President Obama’s administration in attendance of ESSA Policy briefings; shadowed and featured by Yahoo News, The Hechinger Report, and The Christian Science Monitor; and highlighted within Education Weekly. Krystal is a 2014 Deloitte Principal Fellow, the 2016 Teach for America-GNO Catalyst Award winner on behalf of her leadership and activism with youth & families, and recipient of the 2016 Urban League of Louisiana ULEAD Activist Award.
As a first-generation college graduate and Selma, Alabama native, Krystal earned her B.A. from the University of Notre Dame, her M. Ed. from NLU- Chicago, and is currently obtaining her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Columbia University (NYC).
Keith is a lifelong resident of the New Orleans area. Keith currently is Southeast Director of Revolution Foods with the mission to provide healthy chef-crafted meals accessible for all kids while teaching habits to build life-long healthy eaters. Keith has also worked in the education space for over 15 years holding key positions in several technology-based education companies. Implementing literacy and mathematics technology-based programs in some of the most struggling areas of the country providing differentiate instruction to the individual student. To meet them at their learning leveling and give them the chance to remediate then excel. Keith also stays active in the local community by serving as a board member with the Legions of Mars and consulting nationally through GLG Council.
Will is the founder and CEO of Pro Placement USA, a job placement firm specializing in career management to former college and professional athletes. Will is a New Orleans native and received his bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from Loyola University, New Orleans. While at Loyola, Will was a member of the basketball team and served as Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach and was responsible for recruiting and evaluating student-athletes. As the Reporter and Co-host of Loyola’s Weekly Basketball Show, Will provided color analyst and play-by-play on radio broadcasts for basketball games. Before starting Pro Placement USA, Will was the Director of Development for the National Kidney Foundation of Louisiana where he was responsible for the development and implementation of statewide fund-raising activities including management, analysis, and reporting of development projects.
LeBron “LBJ” Joseph
LBJ is a 35-year New Orleans broadcast veteran, whose currently co-anchor of News with a Twist weeknights on WGNO-TV. He also hosts the weekly New Orleans Music Playlist on WGNO-TV and WNOL-TV (NOLA 38). LBJ is also a radio broadcaster, having programmed and worked on a number of stations in South Louisiana and currently works on WYLD-FM. His range of humor, practicality, NOLA music history and local charm has helped many companies and organizations build awareness and usage campaigns for their brands. LBJ is also an avid fisherman, husband to Greta and dad to Satchel, Connor and Legend.
Tiffany Martinez is the Resident Services Manager for Operation Pathways New Orleans. Operation Pathways is a national nonprofit organization that provides a comprehensive array of programs and services to enhance the quality of life for low-to-moderate-income families and seniors. After receiving her Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in health education and coaching from Central Michigan University, Tiffany ventured to New Orleans to aid in the relief effort after Hurricane Katrina and fell head over heels for this unique city. Tiffany has over 12 years of health-based youth/family programming experience, one of which she served as a Playworks coach in 2008-2009, at Murry Henderson. Experiencing firsthand the positive impact Playworks has on a whole school paired with her passion for a healthier New Orleans, Tiffany believes that her ideals and Playworks coincide with one another, as well as their love for Ro Sham Bo.
Shawn Richard Persick, is currently the Assistant Principal at Hynes Charter School in Lakeview. She has been in education for over 21 years and is a lifelong resident of New “Orleans. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in elementary education and her Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Holy Cross College. She taught in the Orleans Parish public school systems for over 12 years. Then went on to obtain a second Masters in the area of Educational Leadership, from the University of New Orleans. She is also a current fellow of the School Leadership Center of Greater New Orleans.
Shawn believes that the Playworks model is a transformational program that has impacted student’s leadership skills and lessened opportunities for bullying type behaviors during recess. The “Power of Play” has encouraged more opportunities for social-emotional growth and inclusive play for all strategies. Class game time has allowed a deeper connection between teachers and their students which has led to increased academic achievement.
Fresh off his first outright conference championship in program history, Mark Slessinger returns for his seventh as head coach of the University of New Orleans men’s basketball program in 2017-18. Sless signed a seven-year extension to remain at the helm of the men’s hoops squad in the offseason after leading the club to its first March Madness appearance in 21 seasons.
Year six was the breakthrough season for the Privateers as New Orleans went 20-10 overall and 13-5 in Southland Conference play en route to a regular season and conference tournament crown, the first since joining the Southland in 2013.
UNO was the only Louisiana representative in March Madness and Slessinger received coach of the year honors by the Southland Conference, Louisiana Sportswriters Association, NABC and the Louisiana Basketball Coaches Association. He was also honored with the Eddie Robinson Award by the Allstate Sugar Bowl Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame. The award goes to a sports figure who embodies the attributes on the legendary Grambling State football coach – excellence in athletics, academics, sportsmanship and citizenship.
Slessinger became the 12th head coach in Privateers history on June 28, 2011 and assumed duties when UNO was transitioning away from Division I status before reversing that decision. In six seasons, he has led New Orleans to 77 wins.
Since joining the Southland Conference prior to the 2013-14 campaign, four Privateers have claimed all-league honors on six occasions, including 2016-17 honorees Erik Thomas (Player of the Year), Christavious Gill (HM All-SLC) and Travin Thibodeaux (All-Defensive Team). Thomas received the Pete Maravich Award, given to the Louisiana Major College Player of the Year, Associate Press All-American Honorable Mention and NABC All-District 23 First Team while Slessinger earned NABC All-District 23 co-Coach of the Year accolades. Thibodeaux was selected to the conference all-academic team.
Slessinger graduated from Aurora University with a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1996. He then coached at his alma mater as an assistant basketball coach during the 1995-96 season before moving on to Central Michigan, where he served as an assistant during the 1996-97 campaign.
From there, Slessinger spent three years at Northland Pioneer College (Ariz.), the last two as head coach. His teams posted a 36-25 record with eight players signing on at the Division I level before he departed to take the top assistant and recruiting coordinator position at Northwestern State. In 11 years at NSU, Slessinger helped the Demons win three Southland Conference titles, earned two trips to the NCAA Tournament and posted signature victories over Oklahoma State, Mississippi State, Oregon State and Iowa.
A native of Bloomington, Indiana, resides in New Orleans in Pontchartrain Park with his wife, the former Toni Purvis of Williamston, N.C. The couple has two children, Nola Ann and Holden.
Mr. John Starr is the principal of Marie Riviere Elementary School in Metairie, Louisiana. Prior to his principalship at Marie Riviere, John served as an administrator at Marrero Middle. He began his teaching career as a middle school English teacher in New Orleans. John graduated from the University of New Orleans with his Master’s in Educational Administration, and he received his Bachelor’s degree in English/ Secondary Education from Louisiana State University. He has continued his education by pursuing his doctorate from the University of New Orleans. He is a lifelong resident of New Orleans, and he is excited about bringing the fun back into play.