Meet The Candidate
Kayonna is a native New Orleanian hailing from Uptown, the BW Cooper, to be exact. As such, she is no stranger to Orleans Parish Schools. Her experience began at Florence Chester while later years would see her matriculate at Andrew Wilson, Samuel Green, and Eleanor McMain, where she ultimately graduated in 2006. Throughout these many institutions, Kayonna remained an active student and extra-curricular participant in activities such as band, concert choir, honors society, and Big Brother/Big Sister. She also boasts of being a twice-degreed alumni member of the Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College’s Jaguar Nation. There she received her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice in 2011 and her Master of Arts in Political Science in 2014. The latter of which was obtained while giving birth to a son, Lance, in October of that same year. Presently Kayonna is in pursuit of her Master of Arts in Public Administration, also from Southern University.
Kayonna’s educational career is just as robust as her educational background. After her experiences with the Big Brother/Big Sister program at McMain, she continued to mentor and tutor in 2008 with the Southern University TRIO Upward Bound Program. Her work with 8 grade through high school students would continue for the next four years. In 2013 she began working at the Jetson Center Youth Detention Facility counseling youth during their time at the center. The year 2014 would begin Kayonna’s movement into education serving as Paraprofessional for early childhood students at Advantage Academy of Baker, Louisiana and ultimately continuing that mission in New Orleans serving as a center aide of Kingley House with infants and toddlers, continuing as a Paraprofessional for students with exceptionalities at Harriet Tubman, a substitute educator with New Orleans College Prep, and a Reading Interventionist Teacher with grades 3-8 at Sci-Tech Academy. These different roles started to light a fire and zest for advocating for the needs of the underserved children in New Orleans and she attempted to quench that desire through her work with a non-profit organization advocating for children and their families. This advocacy, while satisfying, only led to an aspiration to do more by attempting to bring the necessary change to the Orleans Parish School Board in facilitating the courage and motivation to run for the seat in District 7.
Kayonna has been a resident of District 7 since 2004, but since Katrina, has lived in various areas including Baton Rouge, LA. She returned to New Orleans in 2015 to assist with her grandfather, Nathan Dupree. Since his passing, she has resided in Gentilly with her mother and Lance advocating for children of New Orleans and being an asset to her community.
As a member of the Order of Eastern Star, Queen of Sheba #7, Kayonna serves as Treasurer and also sings soprano as a part of the New Orleans Gospel Soul Children. She is also a part of the Louisiana Federation or Democratic Women, New Orleans Coalition, a member of the Educational Committee in the community improvement organization NOLA Black Wall Street, and the Independent Women’s Organization New Orleans. She currently interns for BAR None, a non-profit grassroots-minded organization offering seven elements of service to currently and formerly incarcerated African Americans. These seven elements of service include: therapeutic healing, education, entrepreneurship, arts, homes, community-driven justice, and partnership.
District 7 covers parts of Algiers, parts of Downtown, and the 7th Ward which covers Treme, St. Bernard, and Gentilly.
Values/Why I'm Running
• Truth Matters. Our district and city deserve school board members who will be committed to transparency and accountability. Our families and parents deserve truth as opposed to carefully constructed reporting of outcomes that is nothing more than clever marketing.
• Priorities Matter. Our district and city deserve school board members who will make children a priority and not an option by allowing the voices of parents and children to be heard at all times. This includes a reduction in closed-door discussions on matter integral to children’s success. As your school board representative, I will always work to put children FIRST on the agenda in meetings.
• Accessibility Matters. Our district and city deserve real leaders who will communicate with their constituents; ones who elected to serve families, not continue with the profits of the businesses that are Charter Management Organizations.
• Experience Matters. Our district and city deserve school board members who are experienced in working in education.
• Culture Matters. Our district and city deserves school board members who are natives of New Orleans, born and raised in the districts they attempt to serve. My roots have sprouted in both Uptown and Gentilly, I respect innovation that respects tradition.
• Advocacy Matters. Our district and city deserves school board members who will continuously advocate for children and parents; members who will continue to work for the children and their families by any means necessary. We cannot afford any other option!
• Equity and Equality Matters. Our district and city deserve school boar members who will do more than just having the hard conversations. In the reforms the city has implemented since Hurricane Katrina, our children continue to see overcrowded classrooms, a lack of resources, and an over-criminalization of our children preventing them from obtaining education. My plan is to develop strategic resolutions to address these issues as well as teacher turnaround by involving the community.