Jonta is a leader with an unwavering commitment to equity and justice. As Legacy Prep’s Founder and CEO, she is passionate about creating lives of choice and opportunity for Legacy Prep’s children and families; empowering them to redefine what is possible in their lives, community, and world.
It is her firm belief that a school should always be the heartbeat of a community, and that it is the job of educators to pour into the lives of students in a way that prepares them to step into and lead in the purpose assigned for their lives. Jonta has been a leader in education reform for the past decade. Prior to her current role, Jonta served as both an Assistant Principal and Principal Resident at a priority turnaround school within Denver Public Schools. Prior to joining DPS, she served as both the founding reading teacher and was asked to be the founding assistant principal at KIPP Montbello College Prep in Denver, Colorado. Jonta also spent time as a Kindergarten teacher at KIPP Academy Elementary in Bronx, New York. As a 2008 Teach For America Corps Member, Jonta taught first grade within Atlanta Public Schools. In the summers of 2009 and 2010, she was able to engage her love for building a strong adult and student culture and effective instruction as a Teach For America Atlanta Institute staff member. Jonta holds a Master of Education in Administration and Supervision from National Louis University. In addition, she also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Missouri-Columbia,where she graduated with highest honors.
Our Board of Directors
Ruqayyah AbdullahBoard Chair
Orazio MancarellaVice Chair
Darlene L. WilsonTreasurer
Adam ArringtonBoard Member
Brian HamiltonBoard Member
Van MoodyBoard Member
Abby Guerin RussellBoard Member
Ruqayyah is an Agile Discipline Leader at BBVA USA where she brings innovative expertise and adaptive best practices to lead the organization’s agile transformation. A certified project management professional, Ruqayyah has lead initiatives in all phases of the project delivery life cycle for more than a decade. Her diverse experiences coupled with her ability to manage complex projects have resulted in substantial cost savings and on-time performance within budget using multiple frameworks and methodologies.
Prior to her role as Agile Discipline Leader, Ruqayyah served as a Regional Operational Manager, responsible for the operational efficiency, regulatory compliance, and business continuity for 15 branch locations at a national financial institution. In this role Ruqayyah was recognized by her peers and received the “Best by Any Measure” award.
Additionally, Ruqayyah has served in supply chain and senior sourcing roles at the bank where she was recognized as the #1 Top Sourcing Manager for two-consecutive years.
Community oriented and service focused, Ruqayyah has served as a volunteer and Board Member for Cahaba Valley Healthcare and a past Jr. Board member of the YMCA. Ruqayyah is an active member of the Jefferson County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc.
A product of the Birmingham City School System, Ruqayyah graduated from the University of Alabama-Birmingham and obtained her Executive MBA from the University of Alabama. She is the proud mother of 2 loving and active children, Yusuf (son) and Sahirah (daughter).
Driven, methodical, faithful and passionate all describe Orazio Mancarella, a VP and HR Solutions Developer at BBVA. Also a Major in the U.S. Army Reserve, Orazio Mancarella received the Bronze Star for his work with the U.S. Department of State to stabilize the Iraqi banking industry while deployed.
Mancarella extends his personal and professional talents and resources to many organizations including Omega Psi Phi fraternity, INROADS and the United Way where as a loan executive he raised over $1.3 million. Orazio was named to the Alabama Leadership Initiative Class III, and has established the Jennica Kimberly Endowed Scholarship at the University of Alabama in memory of his late wife.
Orazio is a native of Mobile, AL with a B.S. in Finance and an MBA from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Dedicated and committed to family and community, Orazio currently resides in Hoover with his three energetic children; son Oliver and daughters Haley and Sophia.
Darlene Wilson is a distinct representative of how Birmingham businesses operate given effective and efficient leadership of their organization. With more than twenty-five years in the corporate
banking and public accounting industry, more than fifteen of those years as an entrepreneur in our city qualifies her as a leading entrepreneur in Metro Birmingham and many other regions and states.
Darlene received her Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Montevallo. She is honored for being recently named to the 2020 Birmingham’s Most Influential Executives – Power 60 and 2019 National List of the Top 100 Influential Execs in Finance. Her firm was also recently nominated for ICIC’s 2019 Inner City 100 Award. The Inner City 100 is a national ranking of America’s fastest-growing urban businesses in inner cities. She completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program at Babson College in the Fall of 2018 and Emerging Leaders through the U.S. Small Business Administration in 2017.
Darlene was selected to serve on Legacy Prep Charter School Board and the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham Board of Directors in 2020. She serves on Regions Bank Advisory Board for the Birmingham market and is also a member of the Inaugural Small Business Council for the City of Birmingham where she serves as the chair of the City Services Committee. Darlene was appointed by Mayor Randall Woodfin to Birmingham Airport Authority Board of Directors in 2018 where she serves as the Chair of the Audit and Finance Committee. Darlene also serves as Treasurer of The WellHouse and Alabama Women in Business. She is Immediate Past Board Chair of REV Birmingham. She is also a Member of Foundation Capital where she serves on the Loan Review Committee.
She has been a mentor for Bizwomen Mentoring Monday for the past four years. Darlene was recognized as BBJ’s Women to Watch 2017 and 2015 CEO Finalist of the year in the Small Business Category presented by Birmingham Business Journal.
Darlene is the mother of one son, Christian is a Senior at MSU in Denver studying accounting. As Darlene says it best, this is by far her greatest accomplishment in life and family brings her the most joy! She is a native of Lake Charles, LA and has been in Birmingham, AL for thirty years and both are home to her. She enjoys cooking, wine tasting, traveling the world, flower/vegetable gardening and reading. She simply loves life!
Karen Johnson is a Birmingham native and a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham where she received her Bachelors of Sociology in 2008. Karen has served in a variety of professional and board development roles in the nonprofit sector with organizations such as The Greater Alabama Council – Boy Scouts of America, Teach for America, Real Life Poets, Inc., and NHBW, Inc. – Birmingham Chapter. With a passion for community engagement, Karen created Launch Solutions, LLC in 2015 to facilitate connections and collaboration between businesses, entrepreneurs, and community organizations. Karen is a Commercial Lending Specialist at BBVA and resides in Tarrant, Alabama with her husband Darnell and their children Malachi, a 2nd grade Prepster, Micah, a Kindergarten Prepster, and Mercy, a future Prepster of Legacy Prep.
Equipped with lessons from the past and plans for a better future, Adam Arrington, strives to serve his community by helping empower people financially and spiritually. Adam attended Oral Roberts University, where during his senior year, he was elected president of the student body. Gaining valued experience from this time, he went on to complete his studies at Oral Roberts University in 2008, earning a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Administration.
With his degree in tow, he gained the position of Southeast Territory Manager with his Alma mater. Following this position, he held several roles in the financial industry which included his time as an Insurance Adjuster, Banker, and Wealth Management Advisor. Today, and utilizing these past experiences, he now serves as an Officer and Wealth Management Banker with Merrill Lynch in Birmingham, Alabama.
Alongside this and his previous roles, he has held several dedicated organizational roles in the fields of politics and advocacy. Adam used his time outside of his work in finance to aid his community by serving as the Chairman of The Jefferson County Citizens Coalition. He has also served as a Lobbyist and Delegate for AIPAC in the summer of 2008, Vice-President for the Jefferson County Millennial Democrats, and was a member of The Committee to Save Jefferson County. He currently serves as a board director and Chairman of the Economic Empowerment Commission of The Black Legacy Advancement Coalition, a national public policy think tank.
No matter where he is serving, Adam has stayed committed to using his life to lift and empower others. Adam also commits the best parts of himself to his family. He and his wife of 11 years, Denise, are the proud parents of 7-year-old, Leona Diane. When he is not spending his free time with his family and friends, he enjoys serving as a minister in his church, reading, and continuously increasing his knowledge in finance.
Brian Hamilton is president and CEO of Trillion Communications Corp., a national supplier of Telco infrastructure products and services in the connectivity industry. Hamilton previously had a variety of roles at AG Gaston Enterprises, including CEO of AG Gaston Engineering and managing director of AG Gaston Construction. A native and resident of Birmingham, Hamilton received his juris doctor from the Birmingham School of Law, bachelor of science in civil engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a bachelor of science in general science from Morehouse College.
Van Moody has a passion for transforming people, organizations and the world. With a background in leadership, business and ministry, he is qualified uniquely to position and empower people for success in every aspect of their lives.
From his Ted Talk to The Tom Joyner Morning Show, Van Moody’s compelling voice has been heard around the world and on various stages, a few of which include at the 30th Anniversary of the March on Washington, with Pope John Paul II and his Pontifical Council in Rome, in Tokyo as an associate trainer for Dr. John Maxwell’s EQUIP leadership organization, in Melbourne for Planet Shakers and as a keynote speaker for Bishop T. D. Jakes’ Woman Thou Art Loosed Conference.
In 2016 Moody became a member of Dr. Oz’s Core Team and has been featured several times on the Dr. Oz Show on ABC. He writes frequently for The Christian Post and Fox News and his other articles have been featured in Essence Magazine, Investors’ Business Daily, Forbes, American Express Open Forum, Maxim and many others. He is the author of seven books, three of which have been bestsellers The People Factor, The I-Factor and Desired By God.
Moody also assist’s in leading Macedonia International Bible Fellowship (MIBF), a global network of pastors and churches.
The Atlanta, Ga native is a graduate of DePauw University (Greencastle, Ind.), the Interdenominational Theological Center (Atlanta), Harvard Universities Summer Leadership Institute (Cambridge, Mass.), and he has participated for several years in continuing education summer sessions at Oxford University (Oxford, England). He is currently pursuing his second doctoral degree at Biola University (La Mirada, CA)
In March 2006, Moody established The Worship Center in Birmingham. This thriving church serves more than 5,000 members in three locations, with five weekly services and an online campus viewed from as far away as Kuwait.
With his unique ability to understand and communicate timeless truths in relevant, contemporary ways, Moody challenges and equips his congregation and the world to fulfill their potential and live their purpose. Known for his keen insights, Moody is a strong visionary, and a sought-after speaker and leader.
Moody serves on various boards and is an active member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. He is an avid CrossFit athlete and he also enjoys running, cycling and snowboarding. He lives in Hoover, AL with his wife Dr. Ty, their two children Eden Sydney and Ethan Isaiah and their golden-doodle dog Teddy Bear.
Abby is a native of Auburn, AL, attended Vanderbilt for her Bachelor’s degree and received her MBA and Master’s in Counseling from UAB. After leading fundraising teams at UAB, Harvard, University of Nevada Las Vegas, and UC Berkeley, she moved back to Birmingham in 2016 to launch and lead Innovate Birmingham, a city-wide collaborative initiative and tech workforce development program. There she worked to grow a strong talent pipeline for Birmingham and now she works the flipside of that coin to recruit great talent to Birmingham. Abby is the Senior Director of Birmingham for Venture For America, an entrepreneurial fellowship program bringing talented young people to the city who are interested in growing local startups and a vibrant emerging city. She has recruited Birmingham’s largest class of VFA Fellows and retained over 60% of the Fellows who have moved to Birmingham since VFA’s start here in 2015.
Abby was part of the inaugural cohort from Birmingham to attend Harvard Business School’s Young American Leaders Program (YALP) in 2018, was a member of the 2020 Leadership Birmingham Class, and was a 2020 Top 40 Under 40. Abby and her husband, Blake Russell, have two boys, ages 9 and 13.
Legacy Prep is expanding our Governing Board of Directors. Our selection process:
Upload resume and complete brief application.
Complete a school tour and interview with the CEO.
Complete interview with the Governance Committee and/or full board and/or board vote.
Interested in joining us?