Executive Leadership Team
Kacy Edwards, Co-Founder, Co-Executive Director
In 2006, Kacy Edwards was a 10-year veteran educator in a Baton Rouge high school. She and Julie Scott, her best friend, saw an unmet need: many of her students were not graduating with plans to attend a post-secondary institution. They took a leap of faith and started a nonprofit organization called Career Compass of Louisiana. That two-woman business has now grown to reach over 100,000 high school seniors across the state of Louisiana, as well as put hundreds of thousands of 6th-12th grade students across the state on track for success after high school graduation. These days, Kacy is focused on organizational and personnel development, and strengthening Career Compass' unique culture. Looking to the future, Kacy aims to continue helping others grow professionally, especially women who are looking to re-enter the workforce and balance work and family.
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. In 2011, she was recognized by The Baton Rouge Business Report’s “Top 40 Under 40” list. In 2018, Kacy received the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation’s “Angel Award”, a lifetime achievement award given to individuals who have done outstanding work for the state’s youth.
Julie Scott, Co-Founder, Co-Executive Director
Julie Scott's classroom days are long behind her, but she'll always be an educator at heart. Now, she's a leader and business owner, too. When she and Kacy Edwards started Career Compass 2006 as its only employees, she dreamed of blanketing the state with college & career coaches. Her dream is becoming a reality, as she is the architect of Career Compass' expansion strategy and manager of its growing budget. Julie’s mission is continual in helping communities realize that post-secondary access will improve a litany of modern society's challenges.
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. In 2018, Julie received the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation’s “Angel Award”, a lifetime achievement award given to individuals who have done outstanding work for the state’s youth.
Stacie Gardana, 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 & career access model, focusing on implementing the model with fidelity, while taking into account schools’ unique needs. Stacie now oversees all of the college & career coaches across the state of Louisiana. A major part of her work still involves ensuring consistency in all Career Compass programs.
Stacie graduated from Louisiana State University (LSU) with both a Bachelor 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.
Crystal Burch, 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 worked as a high school and junior high school counselor. She was also employed by Central Louisiana Technical Community College as one of the first college & career coaches in Central Louisiana. She credits these experiences with helping her to see the significant needs that students have in transitioning through their educational careers.
Crystal holds a master’s degree in School Counseling and bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Northwestern State University. Born and raised in central Louisiana, Crystal is passionate about helping improve the community and state where she and her family live. She was recognized in 2016 as one of Central Louisiana's "Top 20 Under 40," by The Town Talk (Alexandria, LA).
Statewide Coordinator Team
Synomen Hebert, Technology Specialist, College & Career Coach
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?
Carrie Peña, Development Director
Career Compass Starting Year: 2012
College Alma Mater(s): The University of Texas at Austin; The University of Texas at Brownsville
Major(s): B.A. Psychology, M.B.A with focus on Marketing
High School Alma Mater: Lanier High School, Austin, TX
To me, a job is more than a way to make money. The way I choose to spend the majority of my days has to reflect my beliefs about the world. Working for Career Compass is by far one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and career. Although I don't work directly with students as a college & career coach, my work with Career Compass is important because I communicate to others how our coaches and our students change the world. I develop new funding streams to support our work, do special research projects, and oversee our social media efforts.
Dawn Smith, FAFSA Coordinator & Boo Grigsby Foundation Scholarship Award Coordinator
Career Compass Starting Year: 2017
College Alma Mater(s): Louisiana State University
Major(s): B.S. Psychology
High School Alma Mater: St. Michael High School Baton Rouge
I believe that all high school students deserve the chance to attend a post-secondary educational program after graduation. It is such an honor to work with an organization that believes in empowering students to find their passion and pursue their dreams. Helping students achieve their goals is definitely THE BEST JOB EVER!