Governing Board

The Rise Schools 

Board of Directors


Mr. Durran Z. Dunn, Treasurer, Term Ends June, 2023

Mr. Durran Dunn is an award-winning auditor and accounting leader with 14+ years of experience leading internal and external audits, as well as finance and accounting functions for both publicly traded and privately held companies. His work spans multiple industries including manufacturing, distribution and construction with roles in one of the Big Four Public Accounting Firms and Fortune 500 companies.The contributions that he has made to the community at large varies from serving as a board member at Camp Horizon, youth soccer coach, and the United Way among several others. In addition, Durran is an active member of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) for over 10 years through the Atlanta, GA Chapter and has served in the capacities of presenter and panelist at multiple Southern Regional NABA Conferences. Durran’s board experience includes Camp Horizon where he served on the Finance Committee. He is also a professional track and field athlete and enjoys spending time with his family.

Ms. Jennifer Freeman, Term Ends June, 2023

Jennifer Freeman has developed a successful track record as a professional within the public-private sector and community recognition in the areas of community engagement, parent-teacher involvement, sustainable partnerships, organizational development, stakeholder collaborations, and research and evaluation. With over 25 years of experience in city, county and state government, higher education and K-12, she infuses best practices, reasoning and a sincere compassion, recognizing that all gifts and talents play a viable role in civic, community, and nonprofit leadership. Freeman has worked with the Atlanta City Council, Georgia Department of Economic and Community Development, Atlanta and Fulton County Public School Systems, Georgia General Assembly, Fulton County Board of Commissioners, University System of Georgia, serves on the Executive Board as President of the Atlanta Planning and Advisory Committee, and is an Education Chair in the Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU). She has also served on the Atlanta District Board of Directors for the PTA, as well as the Literacy Leadership Through the Arts Academy Board, and is the Former Chairperson of the Atlanta Board of Education Ethics Commission. Ms. Freeman currently serves as the Senior Managing Partner of the Freeman Young Group LLC, as well as the Senior Vice President of Community and Government Affairs for BOOK ATL.

Mr. Desmond Hardy, Treasurer, Term Ends June, 2023

Atlanta native Desmond Hardy is a writer, mentor, philanthropist, technology consultant, youth advocate, and podcaster. He’s worked for Fortune 500 companies such as Ryder, AT&T, and Vmware, and he’s also volunteered with organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Boys and Girls Club, the AME Church, the Red Cross, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Desmond is also a prolific writer, with published work in The Guardian, All Digitocracy, and the popular question and answer website Quora, where his content has generated 2.5 million views. Mr. Hardy believes that we can do all things through Christ and therapy, and is a champion of Dr. King’s vision for the “Beloved Community.”

Ms. Justine Ingram, Term Ends, June, 2024

Justine Ingram, a native of Warner Robins, GA, currently works for Southern Aids Coalition, as a Capacity Building Specialist for Community Investments.  In her former role, Justine served as a Public Health Educator for the Fulton County Board of Health where she was instrumental in planning, implementing, and facilitating public health initiatives targeted towards Fulton County’s most marginalized communities. In addition to her professional duties, Justine sits on the Executive Board for Trans Housing Atlanta Program (THAP), serves as the board secretary for The Equality Foundation of Georgia, as well as serves as a board member for the I AM HUMAN Foundation. A Graduate of Clayton State University, Justine new early on that her passion was in advocating for equal and accessible healthcare, social services, and education for ALL marginalized communities across the South. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, spending time with family, and reading.

Ms. Tanisha Taylor Jones, Term Ends June, 2023

A young vibrant personality that seeks to make a difference in the lives of our youth. Tanisha, is a native of New Jersey but has lived in Georgia for over twenty years. A graduate from Georgia State University and a veteran educator. Tanisha has experience working with students of all ages, 2-18. She is passionate about their growth and she loves finding new, creative ways to engage their learning. In addition to education, Tanisha is a wife, mother of two and a business owner who has a great deal of experience managing others and leading teams of people to greatness. A team player and a visionary for change, Tanisha works to ensure that everyday is a day for growth.

Dr. Andrea Smith, Secretary, Term Ends June, 2024

Dr. Andrea Smith is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Early Childhood through Secondary Education at the University of West Georgia. Prior to working in higher education, she worked in K12 education as a teacher and administrator in which she was committed to an interdisciplinary approach of inquiry and advocacy in urban contexts. Additionally, she is committed to embedding relevant issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion into her practice, scholarship, and service to K12 and higher education.

Ms. Lara Sterling, Chair, Term Ends June, 2023

Lara is a Corporate/Commercial Real Estate Paralegal with a mid-sized Atlanta based law firm and has worked in the legal industry for over twenty years. Lara’s previous experience involved interning with Destiny’s Daughters of Promise, a Cobb County nonprofit organization whose mission and programming focused on impacting and elevating the lives of at-risk teenage girls in Cobb County, Georgia. Lara has volunteered with The Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity and the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Lara has a Masters’ Degree in Public Administration from Kennesaw State University and a Bachelor of Science in English Literature from Georgia State University. Lara is a member of the American Society of Public Administrators, National Association of Black Public Administrators, and Pi Alpha Alpha (International Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration).

Dr. Shelicia Terry, Term Ends June, 2024

Dr. Terry recently completed her 10th year with Gwinnett County Public Schools. Working mostly with Title I schools, she has been a teacher, department chair, curriculum liaison, and positive behavior intervention coach. Dr. Terry earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Hampton University, a Master of Education Management degree from Strayer University, and a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Northeastern University. 

Governing Board Meeting Dates
Meeting Agendas & Minutes
Executive Session Affidavit
Proposed RISE Grammar Budget
Proposed RISE Prep Budget

 Grievance Process

Strategic Plan

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