Leadership Team

Our Leadership Team provides direction and vision to the CWC Kansas City school system and provides administrative support to the school.  Details of our leadership team are below. 

Mr. Jon Hile (Interim Executive Director)

Prior to this appointment, Jon served as COO with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City. Under his leadership, BBBSKC was recognized as a top performing ‘Gold Standard’ agency and was awarded BBBS Agency of the Year in 2011, 2013 and 2015. Locally, the organization more than doubled the number of children served, executed three successful strategic plans, and completed a capital campaign to purchase and renovate a new administrative headquarters in Kansas City. In 2012, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America recognized Jon as the most outstanding BBBS staff leader in the country.

Jon has a Bachelor’s Degree from Truman State University and a Master’s in Public Administration from UMKC. He is a graduate of the Centurions Leadership Program (2012) and was recognized as one of Ingram’s 40 under 40 in 2016. Jon was elected to the Kansas City, Missouri School Board in 2012 and served four years, including two years as President. During his term on the Board, the KCPS demonstrated four consecutive years of academic improvement under the Missouri School Improvement Plan, maintained a balanced budget, and had four consecutive years of clean financial audits. Additionally, Jon led a successful master planning effort that allowed for the redirection of nearly $8M in revenue directly back to classrooms. Jon also led the Board through the search process that culminated with the successful hiring of Dr. Mark Bedell.  Currently, Jon serves as a board member for City Year and for the KCPS Foundation, as a mayoral appointee to the midtown RAMP program, and as President of the Longfellow Neighborhood Association. Since leaving the KCPS Board in 2016, Jon has remained active in the Kansas City educational ecosystem in an advisory capacity around good governance, early learning, and system collaboration. 

Jon and his wife, Allyson, have two children, Ellery and Owen, and live in Kansas City’s historic Longfellow neighborhood

Dr. Kristin Droege (Head of School)

Dr. Kristin Droege began her work as Founding Executive Director on July 1, 2015, having been heavily involved in the launch of CWC Kansas City in the months preceding her start date.  Over the past three years, she has worked to guide the school through the process of securing a facility, recruiting and enrolling students, hiring the founding faculty and staff, supporting the Board of Directors, and building partnerships with stakeholders across the city - all while creating and sharing the vision of the mission and model of CWC Kansas City.  Dr. Droege transitioned into the Head of School role in late 2018, enabling her to focus on the academic growth across both of our campuses.

Kristin has been a professional educator for more than 25 years, teaching elementary, undergraduate, and graduate students, as well as serving in administration.  Kristin has played a role in charter school leadership for the last 18 years.  In 1999, Kristin and a colleague founding Mountain View Montessori Charter School in Victorville, CA, where she negotiated the governance structure with the district, served as head of curriculum, and developed/implemented a teacher evaluation system.  By 2008, Kristin became the founding principal at Larchmont Charter School - West Hollywood (LCW), growing the school to K-8th grade, and overseeing the merger with the Larchmont Charter School network.  In 2013, Kristin was appointed Head of K-8 for Larchmont Charter Schools, overseeing instruction for 1,100 students across four campuses.  During her tenure, LCW, another "diverse by design" school, received an Academic Performance Index (API) score of 932 in 2013, compared to a district wide score of 750 and statewide score of 790. The API includes the results of state assessments and generates an overall score.

Kristin graduated from Duke University and holds a Masters and Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of California - Los Angeles.  


Ms. Erika Gibbs (Dean of Primary School)

Ms. Gibbs is beginning her fourth year at CWCKC and will serve as the Dean of Primary School in 2019-2020.  She has a B.S. from the University of St. Mary and an AMS Montessori Certification.  Across her 17-year teaching career, she has worked in early childhood settings, including specialized settings for supporting children experiencing trauma.


Mrs. Alisha Gripp (Dean of Middle School)

Alisha Gripp joined the CWCKC team in June of 2018 as the Founding Dean of Middle School and was charged with leading the Fall 2019 middle school launch.  In the past year, she worked on hiring the founding staff, family recruitment, and program development. Additionally, Mrs. Gripp completed a school launch fellowship through the Diverse Charter Schools Coalition (DCSC). 

This is Alisha’s 16th year in education.  She began her career as a high school English teacher in Raytown, MO.  There, she taught 9th-11th grade, coached multiple sports, and completed her administrative internship.  Mrs. Gripp served as a building-level administrator in both the Independence and Shawnee Mission School Districts before coming to CWCKC.  In both of these administrative experiences, she focused on building relationships with families and students, raising student achievement, and reducing the amount of time students spent out of class and/or school. 

Alisha earned a Bachelor of Science in English Education from Northwest Missouri State University.  She earned a M.S.Ed in Building Level Administration and an EdS in District Level Administration, both from the University of Central Missouri. 


Mr. Brennan joined the CWCKC team in October 2015, just prior to the school receiving its charter.  Throughout the planning year (2015-16), Ryan worked closely with the build-out team to bring the vision of a bright, joyful campus staffed with an experienced and passionate educational team to fruition.  Ryan supports the school in the areas of finance, recruitment/enrollment, human resources, school operations/administration, and strategic planning support.  Ryan has also works closely with our Board, Sponsor, and Department of Education to ensure compliance across all areas of operations.  Ryan earned an MBA from Colorado Christian University and a BS in Business Administration from Colorado State University, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude.  

Ms. Caldwell is beginning her fourth year at CWC Kansas City and will co-teach Kindergarten in 2019-2020.  In her new role as Director of Family Learning, Karnissa will create family clubs, activities, and events to support student learning and growth.  She has a B.S. in Education fro the University of Central Missouri and taught Kindergarten in other settings for 7 years prior to joining CWCKC. 

Mr. Johnson is one of the founding parents of the Midtown Community School Initiative, the grassroots group of parents that partnered with CWCS to bring its innovative school model to their Kansas City community.  Andrew helped support the school’s launch in various ways over the past five years and now supports the collaborative work among teachers, parents, and community members.  His role at the school includes community engagement, communications, and implementing Restorative Justice practices.  Prior to CWCKC, Andrew served as Executive Director of Pilgrim Center, taught composition courses at the University of Missouri - Kansas City, and worked in program development and community engagement at Harvesters (Kansas City’s food bank).  Andrew is also a freelance writer who has published in various literary journals and newspapers including Crazyhorse, Guernica Daily, the Kansas City Star, and elsewhere.  Andrew earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Missouri - Kansas City and a BA in Communication from William Jewell College.  

Ms. Murphy is beginning her fourthyear at CWCKC and will continue to lead our Student Services team in 2019-2020.  She has a B.A. from Kansas City Art Institute and an M.A. in Special Education from the University of Missouri - Kansas City.  Across her 10-year career, she has worked with special needs students from Kindergarten through High School.

Ms. Quance is heading into her fourth year at CWCKC.  She has spent over 12 years working in education and youth development, including 6 years in the classroom as a middle school math teacher.  Ms. Quance has taught both locally in Kansas City, Kansas and at an Expeditionary Learning School in Fort Collins, Colorado.  She earned a B.A. from Grinnell College and a Masters in Community Development from the University of California Davis.

Mr. Taylor is beginning his third year at CWCKC and will serve as Director of ACE in 2019-2020.  He has a B.A. in English/Creative Writing from the University of Central Missouri.  Prior to joining our team, Mr. Taylor has worked as a paraprofessional supporting students at the middle school level as well as in the L.I.N.C. after school program and the Boys and Girls club.

Ms. Derakhshanian joined the CWCKC team in March 2019 and is well suited, and excited, to help manage the operations of the school. Her career demonstrates that she’s passionate to help others and build communities. She most recently served the Kansas Homeless Coalition where she supported and led the statewide network of homeless services programs for 7 years.  Raised in South Kansas City, Natasha moved to Midtown in 2002 while pursuing her Business & Information Systems B.S. Degree from DeVry University. She loves to sew, embroider, play violin, volunteer, bake and spend time with her friends and family.

Ms. Mills joined the CWCKC team in April 2019.  She is passionate about building strong communities and learning people’s stories.  Her professional background has been fund-raising/development for the homeless community at the HALO Foundation and City Union Mission and operations within urban education at the Ewing Marion Kauffman School.  Growing up in Shawnee, KS, graduating from the University of Missouri - Kansas City, and living in Midtown since 2013, Ms. Mills loves all things Kansas City.  Outside of work, she loves reading, baking, playing sand volleyball, and especially hanging out with friends and meeting new people.


For a list of all open positions, please visit here.