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.”
Dionne Morris is CCA Academy’s Principal. Ms. Morris holds a BS in History from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, a MEd in Administration and Supervision from DePaul University, and an MA in Reading Education from Saint Xavier University. She is a doctoral candidate for the educational leadership degree at Nova Southeastern University. Prior to becoming principal of CCA Academy, Ms. Morris served as the director of specialized services for Youth Connection Charter School (YCCS). Ms. Morris develops and implements policies, programs, and curriculum activities in a manner that promotes the educational development of each student and the professional development of each faculty member. She has a Type 09 Certificate in Social Science, a Type 10 Reading Specialist Certificate, a Type 75 Administrative Certificate, and the Learning Behavior Specialist Endorsement.
Nahid Zahedi 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 where she is PhD candidate. 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.
Van Jewel Marshall is the Director of Operations. Marshall has been with CCA since 1991. She served five years as executive director of a domestic violence program at the Shelter of Wayne County (North Carolina) and ten years as telecommunications supervisor at the University of Chicago. After serving as CCA’s grants manager for 10 years, she became director of operations to coordinate and manage all operations of the school and to ensure grant and contract compliance. Marshall attended Wayne County Community College and the University of Chicago and is currently pursuing the Secondary Education degree from Chicago State University.
Emerald 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.
Crystal 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