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Board Members

Board Members

Rise Above Academy is a team effort; community members have joined hands for the betterment of our future generations.

Calvin Swan

Calvin Swan

Founder & President

Calvin Swan, the founder, and president of Rise Above Academy grew up in Chicago as a ward of the state following the tragic death of his grandparents. His parents were never able to care for their children, and as a result, Calvin and his siblings were split throughout the foster care system. Leaving the system at the age of 18, Calvin found himself affiliating with gangs and selling drugs to fill the void in his life and as a way to survive. Throughout his tough childhood and adult life, Calvin’s love for the game of basketball was always present which ultimately lead to the opportunity of playing basketball in college. With hard work and perseverance, Calvin managed to turn his life around. He is now dedicated with full energy to help youngsters avoid the dangers and heartaches that he faced.

Fr. Glenn Kohrman

Fr. Glenn Kohrman

Vice President

Father Glenn is currently the pastor of Holy Family and St. John the Baptist Parishes on the west side of South Bend. He was ordained in 1992 and has been in both rural and urban ministry assignments. Father Glenn is the author of two books including Reflections of a Catholic Priest which offers an insightful perspective on living a holy and happy life in modern society. Additionally, Father Glenn has an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University.

Mark Melnick

Mark Melnick

Vice President

Mark has extensive experience in workforce development spanning over 20 years. Prior to Ivy Tech, he served as the Technical Training Manager for Benteler Automotive US Facilities coordinating training maintenance technicians located in MI, IN, and SC. His background includes curricula design, management of a maintenance training school, consulting, industrial safety management, quality standards management, and designing and implementing apprenticeships. He holds a B.Mus degree from Evangel University, MO; M.Ed from IUSB; and a Postgraduate Certificate in Human Performance Improvement from Capella University.

Mark is a Board Member of the Career and Success Academies Charter School and has served on Karios teams at Indiana State Prison in Michigan City and on their advisory board.

Mark’s role on the Ivy Tech campus includes working to bring education and industry into collaborative and meaningful conversations and partnerships, resulting in creative and innovative solutions for businesses, students, and the development of the workforce of the future.

Kirby Whitacre

Kirby Whitacre

Board Chair

Kirby is a retired teacher, coach, and athletic director having most recently served as District Director of Athletics for South Bend Community Schools. In 2014, he was recognized, by the NAACP, for his work as leader of the District PBIS Team that produced a new Student Code of Conduct. He is the author of over 25 professional articles and two books. He has been a guest speaker/presenter at state, multi-state, national, and international professional conferences and workshops. Kirby earned his degree in Secondary Education from Ball State University.

Jim Groves

Jim Groves

Attorney

Jim F. Groves is a South Bend attorney engaged in Civilian and General practice with the Law Firm of Lee, Groves, and Zales. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a philosophy and classical literature degree from the Great Books Program and also with a law degree. He enrolled in the United States Army as an infantry captain, after which he took up the practice of law. Jim has served on various not-for-profit boards, including the St. Joseph Valley Notre Dame Alumni Club (past president), the St. Joseph Valley Scholarship Foundation, The Fischoff Music Association, the South Bend Symphony, and various others. He is the past president of the St. Joseph County Bar Association and has served in numerous other professional organizations.

Vastenia White

Vastenia White

Secretary

Vastenia has worked for over a decade in various jobs dedicated to serving others. For several years she was an Administrative Secretary with Benton Harbor Schools. In 2010, she was the winner of the “Principal’s Award” at Benton Harbor High School for her dedication and passion for the students. She is currently working at the Indiana Parenting Institute where she manages the programs under IPI and the 21st Century Afterschool Program, which involves South Bend Riley and Washington’s students. Vastenia received her Associate Degree in Accounting, graduating with a 3.139 GPA and Honors distinction. She is very excited and optimistic about the new challenge of serving on the board of directors of Rise Above Academy.

Ladawn White

Ladawn White

Treasurer

LaDawn is the proud owner of Labor of Love Childcare, LLC, serving the South Bend area, since November of 2018. Labor of Love is a Family Childcare Home that provides childcare services for families with children ages birth to 3 years old. Before her current position, LaDawn had over a decade of experience in the field of Early Childhood Education. During that time, she held positions ranging from Teacher’s Assistant to Director. In addition to her experience, she has earned her Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education from Western Governors University. She is currently finishing her Master of Arts Degree in Adult and Community Education, from Ball State University. With her credentials and experience, LaDawn plans to offer a comprehensive ‘wrap-around’ childcare program that provides education and activities for the entire family.

Cassandra Davis

Cassandra Davis

Board Member

Cassandra is a licensed mental health counselor at Oaklawn Psychiatric Center, Inc. in Mishawaka, IN. She works at their residential campus with at-risk youth. She specializes in helping youth with trauma and behavioral issues and is also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and works with youths that have Autism and intellectual disabilities. She has been working in the mental health field since 2008 and her passion is to help others become successful in their own lives. She has her Masters Degree in Counseling and Human Services from Indiana University South Bend and a Masters Certificate from Penn State in Applied Behavior Analysis

Jason Jenkins

Jason Jenkins

Board Member

Jason has been a big advocate for volunteer work in the South Bend area. He has volunteered for several years at Hope Ministries, United Way, and Granger Church service projects. Jason’s passion is to help fill needs in the community and to assist those around him. His Christian faith has played a significant role in his service and in the several leadership positions that he has held. Jason is a father of three children, which he feels helps him see the need to raise future “givers” in the world.

Andrew Lewis

Andrew Lewis

Board Member

Andrew Lewis is a Financial Services professional who works in Business Capital Underwriting as a Commercial Relationship Manager at 1st Source Bank. Andrew is a graduate of the Judd Leighton School of Business at Indiana University of South Bend campus. Andrew has spent the majority of his life working and living in the community of South Bend. He has a vested interest in seeing to the growth and success of the local businesses and communities in the South Bend area. In addition to his work with Rise Above Academy, Andrew volunteers with the Human Society of St Joseph County and Junior Achievement of St Joseph County. He also serves on the board of Federal Ecosystems Development, a non-profit focused on developing resources and networks to help drive federal R&D and contract dollars to Northern Indiana.

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What Our Members Say

We cannot express our happiness when we receive positive feedback from the members of our society. Here are a few of them so we can share our joy with you.

We are so grateful that we found you guys, we were struggling to provide opportunities for our child, but thanks to you we now have peace of mind that. Thank you so much.”

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Andrea B.

“I’m going to be honest with you all, at first we were having doubts that your team didn’t have the experience because you guys started just last year. But boy did you guys proved me wrong. Highly Recommended”

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Thomas G.

“A friend of ours recommended Rise Above Academy to us, and we have been a part of them ever since. They have a highly professional team, and they go above and beyond to help the youth.”

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Andrew K.