JoJo Gilbert-Ross | Brenda AlexanderBeth Champ | Lynn Holliday | Dave Nelson | Rich Perano | Jocelyn Ralston | Jay Sampson | David Vigilante | Ben Chapman | Laura Akins | Steve Whittington |

JoJo Gilbert-Ross | Chair

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.

JoJo joined the TCS Board in June, 2013.

Brenda Alexander

IMG_9042Brenda 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.

Brenda joined the TCS Board in September, 2016.


Beth Champ

IMG_2468Beth Champ is the Executive Clinical Director at The Community School. She is responsible for all program services and staff development. She also provides direct service in the form of individual and group counseling, as well as crisis support and clinical supervision. Beth has been with TCS since 2009, first as a counseling intern and then as a mental health counselor. Before joining The Community School, Beth was the Associate Director for Career Counseling at Emory University for three years, working primarily with graduate students. Counseling is actually Beth’s second career. Prior to transitioning into counseling, Beth worked as a strategy consultant in the health care field for eight years, living in Dallas and Los Angeles.

Beth has an M.S. in Counseling from Georgia State University, as well as an M.S. in Chemistry and an M.B.A. from UCLA. She is licensed as a professional counselor (LPC) in the state of Georgia and is a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). She has an Advanced DIR Certificate from the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders and has presented locally and nationally on such topics as sexuality and autism and higher level thinking in adolescents and young adults. Beth is also an Approved Clinical Supervisor.

Beth joined the TCS Board in March, 2017.


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.

Lynn joined the TCS Board in June, 2012.

Dave Nelson


Dave is the Executive Administrative Director of The Community School and the organization’s founder. Dave’s role is focused on marketing, fundraising, general administration, professional outreach, strategic partnerships, and business development. He also continues to provide direct service in the form of individual, group and family counseling, as well as crisis support and clinical supervision.

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 (LPC) in the state of Georgia. He has a DIR expert certificate and is a DIR Training Leader with the Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning (ICDL). 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.

Dave is the father of two adult sons and a nine year old 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.

Dave has been a board member since TCS incorporated in 2004.

Rich Perano | Secretary

Rich Perano

Rich Perano has over 34 years of experience managing investment portfolios for an accomplished clientele of high net worth individuals, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers and actors in the motion picture and theater arts.  While working for innovative investment banks such as Drexel Burnham Lambert and Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Rich provided a wide range of sophisticated financial (institutional) services for over 15 years to a few well-known hedge fund managers in addition to growing his private client business.  For the last 18 years, Rich has been managing diversified investment portfolios on both a discretionary and non-discretionary basis; running long/short equity portfolios for a select group of pre-qualified investors; and providing sophisticated and open access to the full range of wealth management options for his diverse client base.

Rich received a Liberal Arts education, earning a B.A. Degree in English from Villanova University.

Rich is a frequent runner; a constant participant in Operation Boot Camp since July 2011; and an amateur portrait and human figure artist.

Rich has one daughter, Kalli, a cum laude graduate of Carleton College with a Master’s Degree from the Hubert Humphrey School of Public Policy at University of Minnesota.

Rich joined the TCS Board in January, 2010.

Jocelyn Ralston

JocelynJocelyn is a native Atlantan and a proud graduate of the University of Georgia with a B.A. in English and Classical Studies.  She and her husband Ward have three children, two daughters and a son who is a participant in the Kirkwood group at TCS. Jocelyn is excited to have the opportunity to serve on the Board at TCS because it has made such a difference in not only her son’s life, but in the whole family dynamic.

Jocelyn retired from the workforce 21 years ago to focus on family.  Jocelyn has spent many years volunteering at all three of her children’s schools.  She spent many years as a volunteer with Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, leading two troops and holding multiple Service Unit level jobs in the Dunwoody Service Unit.  Jocelyn is also an active volunteer at her parish, Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, where she is currently an elected member of the Parish Pastoral Council and serves on the Parish Liturgy Committee.  Jocelyn also enjoys volunteering for The Catholic Foundation of North Georgia.

In her spare time, Jocelyn enjoys reading, cooking, baking, exercising, and watching SEC Football, particularly the Georgia Bulldogs and The Alabama Crimson Tide.


Jay Sampson | Treasurer

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.

Jay joined the TCS Board in September, 2015.

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.

David joined the TCS Board in June, 2013.

Ben Chapman

bjc-professional-head (1)Ben Chapman has been the Assistant Dean for Information Technology and Emory Law School since 2004.  He’s in charge of a team that supports OSX, Windows, Linux, and related technologies for the law school and he’s also been heavily involved in the creation of a new online program at the law school. For the last four years, he has also been an adjunct instructor at Emory Law, co-teaching an advanced legal writing class focused on blogging and social media and teaching a Contracts class for Emory’s online JM students. Earlier in his career he spent five years as a practicing attorney at a mid-sized top-rated law firm in Oklahoma. He is especially interested in the impact of of technology on teaching and learning.

Laura Akins

2017-05-11_8799_edited-1Laura Akins practices law in the areas of estate planning and probate, with a focus on special needs planning and elder law. Based out of Nadler Biernath’s Dunwoody office, she serves clients throughout the greater Atlanta area.
Laura assists her clients in planning for benefit and asset protection, family emergencies, and for the end of life. After a loved one has experienced a catastrophe or passed away, Laura also helps clients navigate through the probate court procedure and legalities.

As a native Atlantan, Laura appreciates the opportunity to serve her hometown community. With
patience and empathy, she guides her clients through the often overwhelming estate planning or probate processes. Laura finds it incredibly rewarding to connect with her clients and make
difficult circumstances easier.

Laura received a B.A. in History from the University of Georgia and a J.D. from Cumberland
School of Law, Samford University.

She is an active member of the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers and the Atlanta Bar Association. Laura also serves as a board member of The Community School in Decatur, C.H.O.I.C.E.S. Inc., and the Elder Law section of the Atlanta Bar Association.

When she isn’t working, Laura is passionate about fitness and nutrition. She loves finding new running routes or hiking trails to explore and enjoys trying new restaurants around Atlanta.

Steve Whittington

Montag_31616_193_BW_web-440x440Steve directs the business development initiatives at Montag, in an effort to grow the firm’s assets under management and to develop existing and new relationships with various referral sources, as well as to help evolve the firm’s marketing program. Steve ascertained a M.B.A. in Finance at the University of South Carolina and received an B.A. in English at Appalachian State University

Prior to joining Montag in 2016, Steve spent ten years in the enterprise valuation industry, where he valued private companies for gift and estate and merger and acquisition purposes, as well as running the employee stock ownership (ESOP) practice line for valuation firms in Atlanta and New York City.  Steve began his career in the investment management field for SunTrust Bank’s Personal Asset Management Division.

Steve is originally from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, but has lived in the Atlanta area, off and on, for approximately 25 years. Steve is an avid runner, soccer player, and former musician.

Steve joined the TCS Board November, 2017.

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