Who We Are

About Show Me KC Schools

The mission of Show Me KC Schools: To empower families on their educational journey by providing vital information about their school options, inspiring school pride, and increasing access to free public education across the KC Metro area.

The vision of Show Me KC Schools: That all systems work for Kansas City families and community members have confidence in their school options.

Our burning questions: We approach our work guided by the principles of equity and transparency. In all that we do, we ask: Is it transparent? Does it work for families?

Our Core Values:

Transparency

Belonging

Trust

Community-Driven

Joy

Systemic Change

Meet Our Staff

At Show Me KC Schools we are very lucky to have an outstanding team supporting the families of Kansas City. We are proud parents. We are also proud Kansas Citians and are thrilled to be raising our children here. Between us we have children learning and thriving across KCPS neighborhood and signature schools, as well as charter schools. We know first-hand how important it is to know your options when it comes to our educational landscape and we are dedicated to helping you find a great school for your child just like we have.

Leslie Kohlmeyer

Executive Director

Leslie Kohlmeyer

“I chose the ‘art alley’ in the Crossroads as my iconic Kansas City location because I love seeing all the creative energy being displayed across our city and the ability for these artists to express their political opinions, fear, and hopes for our city.”

Leslie Kohlmeyer has lived and worked in KC most of her life. She has been watching as the city has shifted and shaped itself into one of the most beautiful, culturally significant, and family-friendly cities in which to build a future. Leslie has three great kids and has made the Historic Northeast her home for over 20 years. She is excited to share that passion for equity in educational options with all families across the city that she loves.

Danielle Dispenza

Director of School Navigation

Danielle Dispenza

“To say that the Kansas City Public Library system is an essential resource for me is an understatement. That is why I chose the Central Branch parking garage as my iconic Kansas City landmark. The individuals there have played an integral role in supporting me as a parent, from storytimes to lifelong friendships, I am forever grateful.”

Danielle Dispenza is a Kansas City area native who has lived in KCMO for over 14 years with her family. Prior to staying home to raise their two children, Danielle received her Child Development Associate Certificate through the Family Conservancy and worked for 12 years in early childhood and elementary special education. During her time as a paraprofessional in two local school districts Danielle worked one on one with students with special needs to provide them the best and most inclusive educational experience. Danielle spent 8 years providing home health care services for families of children with developmental and medical disabilities. An avid volunteer, Danielle is a mentor with Kansas City Public Schools District. When not working or volunteering Danielle and her family enjoy hiking and camping especially within the National Parks.

Nina Ward

Director of Programs and Events

Nina Ward

“I chose the Gem Theater on 18th and Vine as my iconic Kansas City location because the Gem Theater is a staple in my personal history and the history of the black community in Kansas City. That history symbolizes creativity, pride, & community-all things that ignite my passion for serving Kansas City.”

Nina Ward is a lifelong resident of Kansas City, Missouri, and a graduate of Paseo Academy of the Fine & Performing Arts High School. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Central Missouri, where she studied Sociology and minored in Child and Family Development. Nina is currently pursuing her Masters of Business Administration from the University of Missouri Kansas City’s prestigious Bloch School. Prior to her role at SMKCS, Nina worked at a local charter school, and in the Jackson County child welfare system.

In addition to investing in and developing communities and people, Nina is interested in coordinating collective community improvement efforts. In her free time, you can find Nina delving into a good book or podcast and spending time with her husband and daughter.

Edward Perry

SchoolAppKC Manager

Edward Perry

“My profound fondness for the jazz museum is rooted in its vibrant historical context, as music effortlessly communicates to the soul. The museum’s exhibits featuring iconic figures like Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald are among my personal favorites. Visiting the museum often feels like a vivid journey through history, allowing me to relive those remarkable moments and people in person.”

Edward Perry is a seasoned leader with extensive experience in program development and project management. He possesses expertise in various areas, including Agile Scrum methodology, process and workflow development, communication and alignment across cross-functional teams, budgeting, risk mitigation, and federal contract management. Edward’s educational background includes a Master’s in Higher Education and a Bachelor’s in Management/Economics. He holds certifications such as Certified Scrum Master, Project Management Professional, and SCRUM Agile Master Certified, among others. Additionally, he is certified in Restorative Justice, Trauma-Informed Care, Diversity Equity Inclusion (DEI), and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Most importantly Edward is passionate about helping people and making a difference in the community.

Citlali Valdes

Bilingual School Navigator

Hablo Español

Citlali Valdes

Coming soon…

Parent Advisory Board

As an organzation created for families by families, we continue to engage parents and guardians on the quality of services that Show Me KC Schools’ provides.

Isca Dolfina

Isca Dolfina

Coming Soon…

Jimena Galan

Jimena Galan

Born in Mexico City, my mom is from Mexico City and my dad from Oaxaca Mexico, married, mother of 2 , Aamir & Farai. 

I been in USA for about 15 years, New York City was my second home for about 10 years, New York City was the perfect platform to learn about other cultures, languages, food and traditions, but most of them a that time we have one thing in common, we emigrate or our parents where the bravest to move to another county and left everything behind and here we are having a better future.

5 years ago I moved to Missouri to have a better future  for my kid & I don’t regret it. It is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. 

 

My mission is to break the language barrier that we have and keep us together in our community and build better opportunities for everyone. 

Danielle Holcomb

Danielle Holcomb

Coming Soon…

Shonta’ James

Shonta' James

Shonta’ James, 44, was hired in 2021 as Associate Administrator for the Black Archives of Mid-America.   She reports to the CEO, Dr. Carmaletta Williams. In addition to assisting Dr. Carma on various projects, she supports the Kansas City community in many ways.

Before joining the Black Archives, Shonta worked for Fortune 500 companies such as Farmers Insurance, WellCare Health Plans, and Humana.  She is a certified Health and Life Insurance Agent and is very passionate about informing people about ways to create generational wealth through Life Insurance.  

Shonta is a graduate of Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO where she studied Business Administration.  She was a recipient of the Family Award at LU where she is the 5th generation in her family to obtain a degree at this prestigious HBCU.  As a Senior, she interned with State Representative Jim Murphy out of St. Louis Missouri (R) while running the Capitol Report, a newspaper that was created by State Rep. Jim Murphy and is now published by the Capitol regularly.

She currently is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, a Board Member of the Oak Park Neighborhood Association, and serves as the secretary of Palestine Missionary Baptist Church of Jesus Christ Usher Board.

Kevin LaClair

Kevin LaClair

Coming Soon…

Dacia Martin

Dacia Martin

Coming soon!

Adriane Vancleave

Adriane Vancleave

Adriane is a long-time resident of Kansas City.  She has been married to her husband for fifteen years and has two children ages 22 and 11.  Adriane received her bachelor’s degree from UMKC while working at a local Early Education Center. This summer she celebrated her 25th anniversary of working in the field of Early Childhood Education as a teacher and administrator.  She has worked with children from infancy up to Kindergarten over the years. Adriane has a background in visual art as well as education. In her spare time she enjoys crocheting, sewing, and listening to audiobooks.  She is looking forward to meeting with other parents from the community and sharing her passion for education.

Marissa Williams

Marissa Williams

Marissa currently resides in The Historic Northeast with her wife and two daughters, Olivia and Ronin. Olivia attends Kansas City Girls Preparatory Academy and Ronin attends Citizens of the World. Marissa is a Kansas City native and attended Northwest Missouri State University for a B.A. in Psychology 

 

Marissa is the Chief of Staff at Ruby Jean’s Juicery. She is passionate about enriching the lives of underserved individuals in the community, and ideally would like to see a world in which everyone has access to food that promotes longevity. In her spare time, she likes reading, yoga, running, and preparing meals for her family. Marissa is excited to be given the opportunity to be a voice for caregivers in KCMO.

Meet Our Board Members

Nicole Collier White, CNP

Board President

Nicole Collier White, CNP

Nicole Collier White joined Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) in January 2011. Currently, she serves as the Director of the Kansas City Public Schools Education Foundation where, she works to enrich and enhance the educational experience of all KCPS students by providing financial support and other resources to supplement district-wide programs and activities.

Nicole’s career has focused on community development in the public, private and non-profit sectors. She currently serves on the Advisory Board for WIN for KC, KC Rising: Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, and Big Brother Big Sisters Kansas City.

Collier White received a Bachelor of Arts degree from William Jewell College in Nonprofit Leadership and a minor in Entrepreneurial Leadership in the spring of 2010, she just joined the WJC Alumni Board of Governors in 2017 with the intention of increasing diversity enrollment on campus.

Susana Elizarraraz

Vice President

Susana Elizarraraz

Susana Elizarraraz is an educator from & in the community where she’s lived her whole life, Northeast Kansas City, Missouri. She has committed to the work of urban education since she graduated with her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education with an emphasis on Urban Education from UMKC. She began teaching 6th grade at a school in her home neighborhood. In 2017, she then graduated with a Master’s of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language from Webster University.

After teaching for 5 years, the systematic problems in education were as clear as ever & they encouraged her to make a move. She has more recently been committed to equity in education, especially now through her work with the Latinx Education Collaborative. As the VP of Educator Supports of the LEC, she works to increase Latinx educator representation in K-12 classrooms by establishing & fostering relationships amongst all community stakeholders to promote equitable access to Latinx educators, thus working toward an equitable education for all students.

Julie Steenson

Secretary

Julie Steenson

Julie Steenson is co-founder of PorchLight Insights, a data and performance consulting firm based in Kansas City. Her work centers on helping organizations achieve positive and human-centered outcomes by using data. Prior to launching PorchLight Insights, Julie spent sixteen years working in local government for the City of Kansas City, Missouri in various roles. In 2011, she helped launch Kansas City’s DataKC program, where she built successful data and performance systems and led employee engagement and empowerment initiatives. Julie also served as Kansas City Parks and Recreations’ Chief Financial Officer and as the city’s Strategic and Capital Plan coordinator. Outside of work, Julie is an active volunteer in the Kansas City community and spends most of her free time at middle school orchestra concerts, sitting on her porch with family and friends, or biking around her neighborhood. Julie is a graduate of the University of Evansville and the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University.

Dalton Mott

Treasurer

Dalton Mott

Dalton Mott is an attorney at Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP in the environmental group. Dalton lives in the Kansas City area with his wife and baby girl Hazel. He also serves on the board of directors of Inclusion Connections, Inc., a nonprofit, that provides educational services to young adults with disabilities.

Cornell Ellis

Board Member

Cornell Ellis

Cornell Ellis is a native to Kansas City and is a product of a diverse Kansas City public and private education. After graduating from Rockhurst High School he played football at the University of Missouri-Columbia for two seasons. While in college, Cornell began his passion for education and justice. He became the Director at Boys and Girls Club Teen Center in Columbia, MO, while also managing curriculum for trauma informed English Language Arts practices at Roosevelt University in Chicago, IL. Cornell received his Bachelors of Arts in History from Avila University with a specialization in Ancient World Studies. After graduating, Cornell taught, managed, instructional coached and worked in administrative duties for 8 years. Through his teaching success he was able to participate in and lead advanced professional development opportunities like the National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education (NAATE) and Better Lessons Master Teacher program. Through Cornell’s passion and vision, he helped found AMPLIFY! Teachers of Color Conference and Brothers Liberating Our Communities (BLOC), which both exist to sustain and increase teachers of color in education. Cornell uses his educational and professional experience to provide a strong understanding of equitable and justice centered surroundings for schools and leaders through public speaking and consultation with his LLC– Eggshells Inc.. It has been Cornell’s goal in his career to create safe spaces for difficult conversations around race and equity. By curating liberatory curricula, creating anti racist professional development, and providing school systems with supplemental tools for teacher evaluation, Cornell aims to make all schools places where all teachers can thrive and all students can achieve.

Torey Everette

Board Member

Torey Everette

Torey Everette is an educator and has been in the field of education for 20 years. Originally from South Louisiana, she has had the privilege of teaching in three states and understands the importance of parents having access to relevant information pertaining to their children’s education. Torey feels that the mission of Show Me KC Schools goes hand in hand with her belief that equitable education should be provided to all.

Torey is happy to call Kansas City home, and has spent the majority of her teaching career here, in the Metro area. Torey received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Southern University and A&M College, and a Masters of Education from Webster University. Torey also serves on the board of directors of the Southern University Alumni Chapter, Kansas City.

In her spare time, Torey enjoys reading and spending time with her husband and children.

Tricia Johnson

Board Member

Tricia Johnson

“As a parent, I see tremendous momentum building among parents, eager to seek out great schools and recognizing their capacity to help improve and create quality schools in every neighborhood.”

Tricia Johnson has taught middle school in Chicago and internationally. Originally from Southern California, Tricia earned her master’s degree from Teachers College, Columbia University, and worked in Indonesia in support of post-tsunami development before moving to Kansas City in 2009. In seeking a school for their two children, Tricia realized that many KC parents were struggling to find answers to their school-related questions and ended up moving from the city. Tricia founded Show Me KC Schools to help parents find the right information and the right school for their child, right here in Kansas City. In 2020, Tricia joined United Way of Greater Kansas City as their Director of Education Initiatives and is pleased to watch the continuous growth of Show Me KC Schools as a board member. Tricia enjoys jogs on the Trolley Trail, rousing games of UNO with her children, and discovering Kansas City’s many great neighborhoods.

Lindsay Mathews

Board Member

Lindsay Mathews

Lindsay is a family law attorney who represents individuals going through a divorce, modification of custody and child support, paternity, third party custody, stepparent adoption, or minor guardianship in Cass, Clay, Jackson, and Platte Counties in Missouri. She is regularly appointed as a Guardian ad Litem for children and is a trained mediator. She graduated from the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law with an emphasis in Family Law. Prior to attending law school, Lindsay spent five years working in the education field. She taught for three years in the classroom and worked with teachers on their professional development for two years. Lindsay studied Spanish, Latin American Studies, and History at the University of Kansas where she rowed on the Crew Team and studied abroad in Costa Rica. When she isn’t working, Lindsay enjoys spending time with her family and friends exploring Kansas City.

Dr. Kia Turner Ed.D

Board Member

Dr. Kia Turner Ed.D

Dr. Kia Turner Ed.D is President of Red Apple Education, a Kansas City based non-profit that partners with K-12 public school systems to elevate marginalized parent voices, create on ramps for authentic parent engagement and ensure student school and workplace success. As President of Red Apple EdCo, Dr. Turner has helped organizations revamp their theories of change, core values and strategic plans as well as analyze their data and operational processes, using a more inclusive asset based lens.

Our Supportive Funders