Key Staff Member Biographies

Administrative Leadership


The guiding force behind CCA since its beginnings is Myra Sampson, Ed.D. Chief Education Officer of CCA. She founded CCA in 1978. Sampson earned her BS from Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, North Carolina and the M.Div. from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston.  She received her doctorate in educational leadership from Nova University.  Among her many honors are a 2000 Denali Institute Fellowship from the Steans Family Foundation, a 1999 BP Amoco Fellowship, and the Northeastern Illinois University Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa's 2004 Educator of the Year Award.  Chicago's Expo for Today's Black Woman honored her as the 2004 Phenomenal Woman in Community Service.  Upon presenting her with the 1999 Town Hall Education Award from the 7th Congressional District of Illinois, U. S. Congressman Danny K. Davis stated that in the 20 years that he had known Sampson, "she has taken the concept of alternative education and turned it into an art.  Myra is truly one of the gurus of alternative education.”

Schultz_croped Genessa Schultz, Ed.D. is the  Interim Principal at CCA Academy.  She earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Special Education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in December, 2002 and began teaching in Chicago immediately upon earning her degree.  In June of 2007, she earned her Master’s in Educational Leadership at Benedictine University in Lisle, IL.  As she continued her education career, she obtained her Doctorate in Educational Administration from National Louis University in June of 2014.  Schultz began her tenure at CCA Academy in August of 2011 as a Reading and English Instructor.  She holds her LBS1 and Type 75.  Schultz lives in North Lawndale with her son. She is very active at CCA Academy and the surrounding North Lawndale community.

Nahid ZahDSC_0707edi is the Academic Dean. Zahedi holds a BS in Thermo-Mechanical Engineering and Energy Conversion from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a MS in Mechanical Engineering in Thermal Science from the Illinois Institute of Technology.  A veteran of CCA since 1997, she is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering and the Society of Women in Engineering. Zahedi provides overall leadership for the faculty to ensure the highest of teaching standards.  She has a Type 09 Certificate in Physics and Mathematics.

Emerald BettsEmerald M. Betts, Chief Financial Officer, joined the CCA family in 2005.  Betts earned the BS in Accounting from the University of Illinois at Champaign, and the MS in Communication/ Management from Northwestern University. She achieved Certified Public Accountant (CPA) status in 1991 from the State of Illinois. She has worked as a federal reviewer to monitor Head Start Programs at Danya International, Inc. and as Assistant Director of Finance and Administration for the Ounce of Prevention Fund in addition to earlier work at other not-for-profit and for-profit corporations in Chicago, Naperville, and Dallas.

DSC_0713Crystal Williams, Director of Student Services, CCA’s 1990 valedictorian, was the first CCA graduate to join the school's professional staff.  In addition to providing leadership to the Student Services Department, she counsels students and coordinates the Pregnant and Parenting Teens program.  Williams earned a BSW cum laude from Mississippi Valley State University where she completed an internship as a legislative lobbyist for the Mississippi Human Services Agenda.  Upon graduation, she returned to CCA as a case manager and later enrolled in the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago earning the Master of Social Work (MSW) with a concentration in Child and Family Welfare. Upon graduation, she worked as a foster care case manager at Circle Family Care and soon returned to CCA in her current position.  Williams holds a certificate in Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocols and in Child Welfare Licensure. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers