Toby Brooks | Brenda AlexanderJoJo Gilbert-Ross | Anne-Pierre Goursaud |Lynn Holliday | Dave Nelson |Rich Perano | Jocelyn Ralston |Jay Sampson |David Vigilante

Toby Brooks | Chair

Toby - March 2014 head shotToby Brooks has served on The Community School board since 2007.  He is most excited by the growth of programs at the school to serve young adults, an otherwise under-served population, but one still needing support in their efforts at independent living.  Toby has a nephew, living in Baltimore, MD with ASD.

His professional experience is primarily in corporate management, having worked for 20 years for Columbus, IN-based Cummins, Inc.  At Cummins, he worked in a variety of operational, marketing and business strategy positions.  In addition to serving on The Community School board, he currently serves on the board of Paideia School as treasurer, and as vice-president of the board of the Olmstead Linear Parks Alliance.

Toby graduated from Yale University in 1981 (BA – Architecture) and from the Yale School of Management in 1986 (MBA).  He and his wife Martha live in the Druid Hills neighborhood and have three sons.

Brenda Alexander

Brenda is a native of Atlanta and graduated from Mercer University in 1977 with a degree in Education.  She is Mother of three children; two married daughters and her son Charlie, who is a participant at TCS.  Although she discontinued teaching after the birth of her first child, her love for education continued.  She served for many years on the PTA board of Smoke Rise Elementary, taught children’s church at Smoke Rise Baptist Church and was very involved at Greater Atlanta Christian School.  Her youngest child Charlie was diagnosed with Autism in 2000.  Brenda knew that education for Charlie was going to be very important and seeking the best possible opportunities for him became paramount in her decisions and efforts.

She enrolled Charlie at the Coralwood School and quickly became involved.  She served on both the PTA board as well as the Coralwood Foundation.  Later as Charlie advanced to Hawthorne Elementary School, Brenda served on the PTA board and was recognized as an outstanding volunteer at Hawthorne.  She brought all of this educational and volunteerism spirit with her when Charlie became a participant at TCS.

In 2008 Brenda fulfilled a dream of owning a Boutique when she and two friends opened the “Shops at Tucker House” which became a popular and successful fixture in her  home town.  Brenda has served her community through many different Organizations and Charities.  She and her husband, Andy, are active members of Smoke Rise Baptist Church and founders of Smoke Rise Country Club.  They enjoy spending time with their four grandchildren and following along on Charlie’s many adventures.

Brenda is proud to wear two hats at TCS, both as a parent and Board Member.


JoJo Gilbert-Ross

dsc_0621-1Joye “JoJo” Gilbert-Ross has owned Operation Boot Camp Decatur since 2007. In that time she’s helped to whip hundreds of Atlantans into shape and loved every minute of it. In addition, she also owns an interior design/home staging business, Prior to stepping out into the entrepreneur world, JoJo worked at several non-profit agencies in the Atlanta area as well as South Florida. Her love of helping others and interest in what each individual brings to the world is part of what fuels her passion for TCS. “TCS provides something that is so basic to what so many of us lack: somewhere we are celebrated just as we are. TCS goes one better-bringing out that potential that students themselves didn’t even know they had. If I can do anything to create more of that in the world, I am in!” JoJo lives in Kirkwood with her wife, Melissa.

Anne-Pierre Goursaud

Anne-Pierre Goursaud, Ph.D., is a researcher by training. She was born and raised in France where she earned her doctorate with distinction from the University of Tours for her work on mother-infant relationships in sheep. She moved to the USA in 2000 to pursue her research adventures at the California National Primate Research Center at UC Davis, CA. After a couple of years she joined the Health Science Center at UT Houston, TX, and finally arrived in Atlanta, GA, in 2004. She has been a behavioral neuroscientist affiliated with the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, since then. Her research focuses on the brain mechanisms underlying social, emotional and cognitive behaviors in primates, which led her to the world of autism.

Anne-Pierre also enjoys teaching and is currently part of the Biology Faculty in the School of Science and Technology at Georgia Gwinnett College (since 2013). She previously taught for 5 years at Georgia State University in the Psychology Department. She also enjoys mentoring others, including autistic persons, and sharing her experience and knowledge with the hope that mentees become intellectually and emotionally richer and ultimately fulfilled individuals.

Most importantly, Anne-Pierre serves as the Executive Director of the Atlanta Autism Consortium, Inc., a 501 c 3 corporation, since 2010. She has been, and still is, a key player in the development of the consortium as a dedicated and recognized organization in the Atlanta area, which serves everyone with a link to autism.

Since 2013 she has also been serving as a scientific advisor to, and committee member of, the Council for the Implementation of the Autism Plan for Georgia. She is honored to serve on the Board of Trustees of The Community School and hopes that her international academic research and teaching experience, as well as her multilevel knowledge of autism and dedication to others, whoever they are and whatever they wish to be, will be assets to The Community School and its students.

When she has time left, Anne-Pierre likes to care for her plants and animals. She currently has several fish tanks, a psychedelic water turtle and birds. She used to have a cuddly cat and a funny parrot. She also enjoys yoga, plays competitive volleyball, and when possible goes outdoors to hike or climb, or simply, to watch nature living. She loves spending time around wine and cheese with old friends as well as meeting new ones.

Lynn Holliday

Lynn HollidayLynn Holliday is a partner in the Real Estate group of the national law firm Seyfarth Shaw, LLP, and the parent of 2 young men on the autistic spectrum.  She grew up at the beach on the panhandle of Florida, graduated from Florida State University in 1975 with a BS in Biology, and then Emory University in 1978 with a degree in Medical Science under the Physician’s Assistant program.  She worked as a physician’s assistant in oncology for 10 years in Atlanta.  Subsequently, she attended and graduated from Georgia State law school in 1990, and has a national practice in  commercial real estate. She has lived in the Emory/ Virginia Highlands area of Atlanta since 1978, and is very grateful for proximity to the young adult program of The Community School, which has provided a constant, responsive and tailored support to her family in the phase of life following high school.

Dave Nelson

Dave NelsonDave is the Executive Director of The Community School. Dave is involved in every aspect of the entire program, including teaching and support, curriculum design, and administration. He is a licensed counselor (LPC) who specializes in working with children, adolescents, adults, and their families with a focus on developing the interactive, emotional, and learning capabilities of all individuals. He also specializes in helping parents understand and address the variety of issues in nurturing the growth of a challenging child.

Based on his experience using Stanley Greenspan’s Developmental, Individual-difference, Relationship-based approach (DIR/Floortime) with his own son who was diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder at age three, he changed careers to begin working with children facing developmental and learning challenges. Prior to opening The Community School in 2005, he started a middle/high school program at another specialized school in the metropolitan Atlanta area. Through his work with adolescents in school settings, he is on the forefront of creating and implementing curricula that integrates social-emotional development and intellectual learning.

Dave has an M.S. in Counseling and an M.A. in English Literature from Georgia State University, as well as an M.B.A. from Duke University. He is licensed as a professional counselor in the state of Georgia. He has a DIR expert certificate and is a DIR Training Leader. He is an Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS). Dave is also part of Floortime Atlanta, a professional group of clinicians in the Atlanta area who use the DIR approach. He sees a small number of individuals in private practice, and tutors and supervises a range of professionals.

Dave is the father of two adult sons an elementary age stepdaughter. His interests include golf, literature, skiing, hiking, and biking. He is originally from Massachusetts, and still visits New England regularly. Before becoming a counselor, he taught Business Communication at GSU in both the undergraduate and graduate programs, and worked in the computer industry, providing development office turnkey systems to non-profit organizations.

Rich Perano

Rich PeranoRichard Perano is First Vice President/Investments in the new Atlanta Office of Janney Montgomery Scott, LLC with over 28 years of experience in the financial services industry.  Before joining Janney, he was Executive Director/Investments at Oppenheimer & Co., Inc where he was Senior Portfolio Manager in their fee-based, discretionary OMEGA Program and the only Financial Advisor approved to be a Portfolio Manager in their incentive-fee based, discretionary DELTA Long/Short Equity Program.

A graduate of Villanova University, Rich holds a B.A. Degree in English Literature.  Rich loves to fish, is an amateur portrait/human figure artist and is completing his 20th consecutive month of Operation Boot Camp in Candler Park/Decatur.

Rich has known Dave Nelson for a long time, having watched him raise his son Graham and reject a business career in order to start TCS to make a difference with children and young adults who face some of the same challenges as his son. He is happy to serve on The Board of Directors because of the courage it took to start TCS and the courage and effort it takes to keep it running.

Jocelyn Ralston

Coming soon!

Jay Sampson

sampson-jayJay is a managing director at Beecher Carlson, a boutique property/casualty insurance broker headquartered in Atlanta.  He has been in the risk management profession since 1987 after graduating with a BBA in risk management from the University of Georgia.

Jay grew up in the Atlanta area, and his interest include running, golfing, ballroom dancing, flying, and dogs.  He lives in Buckhead with his wife, Lynne, and his two dogs.

Jay is committed to helping The Community School increase its profile in the metro Atlanta to facilitate the fund-raising needs TCS needs to help fulfill its mission.

David Vigilante

David VigilanteDavid Vigilante is senior vice president, legal for CNN and senior vice president and associate general counsel for Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (TBS, Inc.).  Vigilante is based in CNN’s world headquarters in Atlanta and reports to executive vice president and general counsel of TBS, Inc., Louise Sams.

David’s responsibilities include serving as chief editorial counsel for CNN’s worldwide operations as well as oversight of all litigation affecting TBS, Inc. or its subsidiaries, worldwide which, in addition to CNN, includes brands such as TNT, TBS, truTV, Cartoon Network and Turner’s international networks. He is an occasional contributor to CNN, and in 2013 he was awarded a national Edward R. Murrow Award for writing.

David earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland and earned his Juris Doctor degree, graduating with distinction, from Emory Law School.

David is the parent of a former TCS student and saw first-hand the transformation and success that is possible under The Community School model.

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