In 2006, Julie Scott and Kacy Edwards made the transition from public high school teachers to social entrepreneurs, and they’ve never looked back. Today, their model for increasing college access has impacted thousands of Louisiana students.
Recognized experts, Julie and Kacy have been invited to serve on numerous advisory boards and task forces focused on college access, career and tech ed, and workforce development. Their work is shaping policy and practice on a statewide scale, as the Career Compass model is quickly becoming known as a best practice in the state of Louisiana.
The former teachers’ personal and professional mission – to increase the number of students in Louisiana who attend a post-secondary institution upon high school graduation (technical, community and four-year universities) – creates and sustains social value for individual students, their families, and for the state of Louisiana.
Kacy Edwards oversees the organization’s programs, community and school relations, and fund development. She is the organization’s data chief and spearheaded the creation of Career Compass’ data collection system. She focuses on nurturing and cultivating the relationships with school districts and institutions of higher education that want to procure Career Compass’ services for their schools. With an uncanny ability for finding and seizing new opportunities, Kacy is always looking for new partnerships to bring Career Compass services to new students. Fund development is a major focus of her work, and she actively seeks to bring funding to the table when working with a new school district. She also heads up program expansion efforts, having identified several years ago that college and career awareness and coaching was a need in lower grade levels.
Kacy earned a bachelor’s degree in History from Louisiana State University (LSU) with alternate certification in Secondary Education Social Studies in 1997. She completed her master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from LSU in 2005. Kacy has nearly ten years of experience teaching secondary social studies at Tara High School in East Baton Rouge Parish School System. In 2011, she was recognized by The Baton Rouge Business Report’s “Top 40 Under 40” list.
Julie Scott oversees Career Compass’ administration, budget, policies and procedures, and personnel. She manages a budget that has increased approximately 3,000% since 2006. She is constantly pursuing partnerships with school districts and institutions of higher education that want to procure Career Compass’ services for their schools. Julie draws upon best practices from both the for-profit and the nonprofit worlds to achieve the mission of Career Compass. The organization has grown from two coaches serving two schools to 70 coaches serving hundreds of middle and high schools in more than half of the state's school districts. Julie and Kacy’s goal is to eventually have a presence in all Louisiana school districts.
Julie earned a bachelor’s degree in Social Studies Education from Southeastern Louisiana University in 1999. She has eight years of experience teaching secondary social studies at Tara High School in East Baton Rouge Parish School System. In 2009, Julie was recognized as the St. George Catholic School Alumnus of the Year. In 2011, she was recognized by The Baton Rouge Business Report’s “Top 40 Under 40” list.
Director of Strategic Partnerships
Crystal Burch joined the Career Compass team in 2012 as the Central Louisiana Director. Prior to working with Career Compass she had experience as a high school and junior high school counselor. She was also formerly employed by Central Louisiana Technical Community College as one of the first college and career coaches in Central Louisiana. She holds a master’s degree in School Counseling and bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Northwestern State University. This experience helped her to see the significant needs that students have in transitioning through their educational careers.
Born and raised in central Louisiana, Crystal is passionate about helping improve the community and state where she, her husband, and three children live. “I have found great joy in helping students realize and achieve their potential through my work at Career Compass. My favorite memories involve being the first person to tell a student that they can go to college. It is easy to become passionate about such an important and inspiring work. I am also honored to help impact the future of my community and the state of Louisiana by increasing the number of individuals who obtain a higher education across the state.”
Director of Administration
Stacie Gardana joined Career Compass in 2009 as a college and career coach. As Career Compass expanded to new areas of the state, she was integral to helping replicate the organization’s successful college and career access model, focusing on implementing the model with fidelity, while taking into account schools’ unique needs. Stacie now oversees all of the college and career coaches across the state of Louisiana. A major part of her work still involves ensuring consistency in all Career Compass programs across Louisiana.
Her favorite moments with students are when the “light bulb” turns on for them. She loves seeing when they realize that they have hope. Stacie believes that assisting students to find what they are interested in, and the right place to pursue that interest, makes a difference not only in that one child’s life, but also in the community.
Stacie graduated from Louisiana State University (LSU) with both a Bachelor’s of Arts in General Studies and a Master of Social Work. As a lifelong resident of Louisiana, she values her work as a means to develop the state’s future workforce. More importantly, she aspires to help children find meaningful careers in Louisiana so that they can live and work here.
Career Compass Starting Year: 2007
College Alma Mater(s): Louisiana State University
Major(s): B.A. Studio Art, M.Ed. Education
High School Alma Mater: Brusly High School, Brusly, LA
Being a Career Compass coach is the best job ever because I get to have real conversations with students about things that they struggle with, worry about, don’t understand or need help with. I get to be the person that calms their fears, explains how it all works and convinces them that they can handle it with confidence. These students are the future of our state, and I get to help them make some of the first steps toward making it a better place! Who wouldn’t want to spend their day doing that?
Boo Grigsby Scholarship Coordinator
Key Speaking Engagements and Committee Invitations
2015: Served as featured speakers at the state Department of Education’s inaugural Jump Start Convention, which attracted 750 attendees from across the state.
2015: Selected as Course Choice independent reviewers for the Louisiana Department of Education.
2013: Invited to work on Louisiana’s new Jump Start initiative, a multi-stakeholder initiative between school districts, industry partners, the Louisiana Department of Education, Louisiana Economic Development, and the Louisiana Workforce Commission, which takes advantage of public-private partnerships to help high school students get workplace experience, and get them certified for the career fields most likely to lead to high-wage jobs.
2013: Invited by the prestigious Grantmakers for Education group to participate in a conference session entitled "Beyond Graduation Rate: Preparing High School Students for Future Careers," speaking to a national audience.
2012: Invited by the Louisiana Workforce Commission to participate in the Craft Workforce Development Task Force and contributed to the report “Building Louisiana’s Craft Workforce” (published June 2013).
2012: Invited by the Community Foundation of North Louisiana to participate in its pilot program “Good to Great Outcomes.”