The Foundation for Excellence is governed by an unpaid, 13-member Board of Trustees who work alongside the part time Executive Director. Trustees are chosen if they meet these one or more of these qualifications:
Currently must have one or more children in the Clarke County School District, or
Must have had one or more children in the Clarke County School District, or
Must have been educated in Clarke County public schools, or
Must be a former or retired educator of the Clarke County School District, or
Be one of the two (2) at large Trustees who do not meet the requirements 1-4.
No more than two (2) of the thirteen (13) Trustees who meet qualifications of 1-5 may be nonresidents of Athens-Clarke County.
Current full time employees of the Clarke County School District are not eligible to serve as Trustees.
Lillie grew up in Hammond, Louisiana, a product of both public and private education. She has lived in Athens since 2008, with the exception of the 2.5 years she spent in Jackson, MS and Monroe, LA. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communicative Disorders from the University of Louisiana at Monroe including coursework towards a Masters of Teaching. Lillie has worked as an ABA therapist to children with Autism in Southern California, a 2nd grade teacher in West Monroe, LA, and a paraprofessional in CCSD at Cedar Shoals HS and Barrow Elementary.
Her husband, Josh, is the J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics at the University of Georgia. They have three sons, twins James and Jackson, and Davis who attend Clarke Middle School. All three attended Timothy Road Elementary and Barrow Elementary Schools. The boys are all very active in local athletic programming, including the YMCA, Athens Little League at Holland Park, and Sirius Athletics. Lillie has been an active participant in the PTA/PTOs of all her children’s schools. She also enjoys volunteering with her church, Athens First United Methodist, and other local nonprofits as the opportunities arise. Lillie and Josh thoroughly enjoy living in Athens and outside of all the UGA sporting events they attend, they love taking in live concerts with a great local dinner in Athens. They are very passionate in their support for CCSD and the students, teachers, & staff that they serve.
Tina is a Professor of Accounting, EY Faculty Fellow & Terry Instructional Innovation Fellow in the Terry College of Business, at the University of Georgia (UGA). She earned her Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD), Master of Accounting, and Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Florida State University, and she previously worked as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) for Arthur Andersen for three years in between her education. She and her husband, Don (Internal Auditor & CPA, UGA), have lived in Athens since 2004. They have two children, Daly (14) who attends Clarke Middle School, and Court (11) who attends David C. Barrow Elementary School. Tina was recently awarded UGA’s Creative Teaching Award, and received UGA’s Learning Technologies Innovation Grant for her innovative teaching, fraud simulation & use of emerging technologies. She currently serves on the Local School Governance Team for Clarke Middle, and has previously served as President and Treasurer of Barrow Elementary School PTA. Growing up in a wonderfully diverse county in Florida similar to Clarke County, where teachers, principals and counselors believed in her, Tina hopes to pay it forward by investing in and recognizing our amazing teachers, administrators and staff in Clarke County.
Lauren is a native Athenian, having attending Timothy Road Elementary School, Clarke Middle School and Clarke Central High School. Lauren received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication with a concentration in Public Relations and Print Journalism from Georgia College & State University. She has worked at the University of Georgia for the last seven years and is currently the Assistant Director for the Office of Research Communications at UGA.
Evan was born and raised in Athens and is a product of the Clarke County School District. From Whitehead Rd, to Clarke Middle, to Clarke Central, to UGA, Evan has lived here his entire life because he knows that Athens is the best town in the world. He has been with his wonderful wife, Victoria, for almost 10 years, and loves spending time with her and their two dogs and one cat (sometimes). He has a deep love of music, LIVE music, and the performing arts in general. He and Victoria love to explore cities and towns all over the world at every chance they get. Evan has been with Synovus Bank since June of 2008, earning Employee of the Year honors for the NEGA Division in 2019. He currently serves on numerous non-profit boards supporting many local and regional missions, including the Classic Center Cultural Foundation, the YWCO, the Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia, and the LEAD Athens Alumni Association to name a few. While he doesn’t have children in the Clarke County school system, he feels that the district played a huge role in his life growing up and wants to support the educators that are so impactful in any way he can.
Stella Guerrero is a retired educator, who has been an Athens resident since 1984. Stella taught science at Cedar Shoals High School for 23 years and enjoyed her time at Cedar immensely. Her four children are all products of the Clarke County School District.
Stella grew up in Colombia where she obtained a bachelor's degree in Biology, later on, she
received a Master's degree from UC Berkeley in Parasitology. She stayed at home caring for her children until her youngest son started kindergarten, and then Stella obtained her teaching certificate from the University of Georgia. After teaching for many years, she went on to receive her specialist degree in education from Piedmont College. Throughout her career, she received several grants and awards from the Foundation For Excellence.
Since retiring in 2017, she has been spending time with her family and enjoying her three grandsons.
Glenn is a Georgia native who grew-up in Mississippi. Glenn has lived in Athens since 1987, having moved here to attend the University of Georgia, where he earned a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science. After graduation, he spent over 30 years working in various Information Technology positions at UGA and the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, most recently as the Executive Director of Enterprise Services at the Board of Regents, before retiring in 2022. Glenn is married to Linda Leavell, a veterinarian at Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health. They have two children, Simon, who graduated from Clarke Central HS in 2020, and Hannah, who is currently a senior at CCHS. Glenn served two years as Barrow Elementary PTA treasurer, represented Barrow Elementary for two years on the CCSD Parent Advisory Board, and served two years as Clarke Middle PTA treasurer. Glenn also serves on the board of the Friends of Five Points neighborhood organization. Glenn began serving as a Foundation for Excellence trustee in 2016 and has served as treasurer since 2018.
Trustee, Past President
Tad currently teaches in the Education Department at Piedmont College, and also serves as the Alumni Transition Coordinator at Foothills Charter High School. He retired after 32 years with Clarke County Schools, having served as a principal, instructional coach, and language arts and social studies teacher.
During his tenure with Clarke County Schools, Tad worked to support the Grow It-Know It program and other school gardening-culinary arts initiatives. He also helped to implement the Restorative Justice initiative at CMS. Tad also championed CCSD’s former Professional Development Schools partnership efforts with UGA, serving on the PDS National Board as the K-12 representative and helping to develop the PDS school model at Clarke Middle. Tad received the FFE's Kathryn Hug Leadership Award as well as the Foundations's Excellence in Classroom Teaching Award. Tad has also served on the Samaritan Counseling Board, the InterFaith Hospitality board, and the Friends of the ACC Library board.
Tad grew up in Atlanta, and attended public schools and the University of Georgia. Tad's daughter, Dory, attended Barrow Elementary and Clarke Middle, and graduated from Clarke Central High School (and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.) Dory was the honored recipient of the Foundation's Eve Carson Award in 2013. Tad's wife, Amy, a lawyer with 35+ years of diverse experience, is also a public school graduate, served on CCSD's Multicultural Task Force, and helped to coach the mock trial team at Clarke Central. She formerly served as Athens-Clarke County’s chief assistant attorney, and now, has her own practice.
Kent Middleton is professor emeritus of journalism at UGA, where he taught
journalism and communication law for 35 years, 13 as head of the department of
Kent’s three children attended Eastside schools in Clarke County, including Barnett Shoals Elementary, Hilsman and Coile middle schools and Cedar Shoals
High School. When Kent’s son Arthur was killed in 2000, Kent and Art’s mother
established through FFE the Arthur Moog Middleton Memorial Fund for the purchase of contemporary literature, a fund which was converted in 2018 to the Arthur Moog Middleton Writing Awards for high school juniors. In 2018, Kent established the Arthur Moog Middleton Memorial Writing Grants to be awarded to one high school teacher each year for 10 years.
Kent’s community activities have included president of the Green Acres- Crestwood Community Association; chair, WUGA Citizens Advisory Council;member, board of directors, Red & Black Publishing Company and moderator, speaker and panelist in professional and community venues.
Kent served in the Peace Corps in Tunisia, 1966-68.
Born in Massachusetts and raised in upstate New York, Kent earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Michigan State University and his doctorate in journalism and mass communication at the University of Minnesota. He worked on newspapers in Rome and Buffalo, N.Y., Detroit and Minneapolis.
Executive Director (Ex-Officio)
Catherine Neace has been a resident of Athens for over 35 years. She attended Hilsman Middle and Cedar Shoals High School. She later graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She and her husband Keith have owned and managed Barberitos Downtown Athens since 2006. They have three children who attend Cedar Shoals High School and Hilsman Middle School. All three Neace kids attended Whit Davis Elementary.
Catherine became a Trustee on the FFE Board in July 2013. She was the FFE President of the Board of Trustees in 2016. She served on the Steering Committee for Envision Athens in 2016. Catherine was the President of the Whit Davis PTO in 2016-17. She is currently the President of the Cedar Shoals High School Aqua Jags Swim Team Booster Club and the Co-President of the East Athens Sea Turtles Swim Team (out of the Green Acres - Crestwood Pool). She also serves as a caregiver advisor for Clarke County School District's 5 Year Strategic Plan.
When not driving her kids to their swim practices and after school activities, Catherine enjoys a nice hike, reading, and a good laugh. She looks forward to continuing her support of the staff & students of the Clarke County School District.
Sam Preston retired from a career in education in May of 2022; he had been CCSD’s hearing officer for student discipline for a little over ten years. Over the years, he has also served as a classroom teacher, assistant principal, and alternative school director.
Sam and his wife, Suzy, were married in 1987 and raised three awesome children who now reside in Texas, Alaska, and Michigan. His interests include Disc Golf, cooking with fire, and volunteer work with other senior citizens.
Bio coming soon!
Dr. Marsha Thomas
Marsha recently retired from the Clarke County School District after 32 years as an educator. She served 22 of these wonderful years in this district in several capacities which includes that of a teacher, a district family engagement specialist, and an administrator. Although a native of Eatonton, Georgia, Marsha has spent over half her life as a resident of Clarke County. She began her teaching career at Barnett Shoals, and served as administrator at Winterville Elementary School, Judia Jackson Harris Elementary School, Howard B. Stroud Elementary School, and W.R. Coile Middle School. She retired as the principal of Coile Middle School in 2020, and has since served as Interim Chief of Operations. Because of her love for this district, she currently serves as a part time Early Intervention Teacher for her neighborhood school at Whitehead Road Elementary School.
Her dedication and compassion have always been shown in her commitment to this district. Her spouse, as well as her three children are a product of this school system, and received some of the best education here as students. They are all thriving in their current careers as a result of the hard work teachers put forth daily to ensure that they were successful.
Marsha’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Education from the University of Georgia, a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Piedmont College, a Specialist Degree from Cambridge University in Cambridge, MA, and an Educational Doctorate Degree of Leadership and Supervision from St. John’s University in Queens, NY. In addition to her educational background, some of the highlights of her career include being honored as Teacher of the Year, being honored as a retiree from CCSD, and being nominated for the Teacher of Excellence and the Hug Leadership Award during her tenure. Marsha continues to look for ways to serve and support the CCSD learning community, and you will always find her working around the schools in some capacity to help our students. She looks forward to serving as an FFE trustee.
Dr. Xernona Thomas
Dr. Thomas is a native Athenian and has spent her entire career serving the Athens area
community. She currently serves as the Executive Director of College Factory, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to providing college and career planning resources to youth and families in Athens, Georgia and Head of Schools . Prior to this role, she served as Superintendent of the Clarke County School District, the first female to work in this capacity. During her thirty years in education, she has worked as a school social worker, assistant principal, principal and chief of staff.
Dr. Thomas has dedicated her professional career to supporting students academically and
socially in order to improve their future opportunities. She has shown a commitment to equity and ensuring that all students and families have access to the resources needed. She believes in the potential for every child to experience success when given the appropriate support.
Dr. Thomas currently serves on the Peach State Advisory Board and Supervisory Committee.
She is also a member of the Piedmont Athens Regional Foundation Board. Dr. Thomas earned a Bachelors in Journalism, Masters of Social Work and Doctorate of Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Georgia. She is married to Reginald Thomas and they have two children, Jameson and Camille.