BRYC allowed me to not only understand the importance of my future but set real goals for it. - Markayla

BRYC Overview


The Baton Rouge Youth Coalition prepares high-achieving, under-resourced high school students to enter, excel in, and graduate from college so they can become full participants in society.


BRYC will offer its Fellows individualized academic, personal, leadership and college support services that are equal or superior to the services available to their most resourced peers.


BRYC was founded in 2009 when Daniel Kahn, then a high school teacher, recognized that even his highest-achieving students lacked the resources they needed to realize college success.


The Baton Rouge Youth Coalition promotes intellectual and emotional exploration and risk-taking by offering programs that allow students to think and express themselves freely. Our primary aims are cultivating Fellows’ intellectual curiosities, guiding them toward greater self-awareness and self-acceptance, and fostering a space in which we all can develop a critical consciousness. Success in the college application process is crucial, and to that end, Fellows are asked to perform at a high level in a variety of ways. But BRYC’s main goal is to help students become critical and creative thinkers, and thoughtful, resilient, engaged citizens.

The BRYC Model is Built On:

Core Programs

Weekly, grade-specific programs focused on where Fellows are in their personal and academic development.

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Support Programs

Non-grade-specific scholastic, non-academic, and community-building opportunities open to all Fellows.

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Support Services

Specialized services BRYC offers to all Fellows to ensure they can be academically and personally successful.

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Lucas Spielfogel, Executive Director

Lucas joined BRYC in July 2012 as Director of Academics and Programs and the future Executive Director of BRYC. Immediately prior to joining BRYC, Lucas taught 7th grade Social Studies at Baker Middle School—with Teach for America—and was named Teacher of the Year in each of his two years. Originally from New York City and raised in South Florida, Lucas graduated with a B.A. in History from Yale University in May 2010, earning All-Ivy Academic Honors. He was a varsity rower all four years and captained the team his senior year. At Baker Middle, Lucas was not only an effective teacher but also coached the boys’ basketball team, launched a community service club, and raised more than $10,000 to send a group of his students to Washington, D.C. Lucas officially became BRYC’s Executive Director on January 1, 2013. In his time as leader, he has raised almost two million dollars, quadrupled the number of students BRYC serves, and set an aggressive course for expansion within and beyond Baton Rouge.

Megan Feifer, Managing Director of Programs

Megan joined BRYC in June 2016 as the Managing Director of Programs. In this role, she is responsible for the oversight and development of all of BRYC’s programs. Megan also supports BRYC’s Parent/Guardian Committee. Originally from Kenosha, Wisconsin, Megan attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwuakee, where she graduated with a B.A. in English and Women’s Studies with a minor in Africology and Film Studies. After completing her degree, she earned her M.A. in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee while participating in Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program that works to advance new leadership in order to strengthen communities, nonprofits, and civic participation. After finishing her M.A. degree, Megan joined Teach for America in South Louisiana and taught for three years at Southeast Middle School in East Baton Rouge Parish. During this time she also served as a Special Education Seminar Leader for The New Teacher Project and a teacher coach at Teach for America’s Mississippi Delta Summer Institute. Megan is currently a doctoral candidate in English at Louisiana State University. She has completed her coursework and is finalizing her dissertation that focuses on Dominican- and Haitian-American writers’ diasporic perspective on citizenship and historic memory. Meanwhile, she is excelling as the leader of BRYC’s programs.

Josh W. Howard, Director of College and Alumni Affairs

Josh joins the BRYC Community as our Director of College and Alumni Affairs and the first person in BRYC’s history to focus exclusively on assisting Fellows after they leave for college. In this position, Josh will help College Fellows navigate new demands, support our Alumni in connecting with post-college opportunities, and build BRYC’s College Fellow and Alumni network. Josh will work part-time until June and then transition to his full-time position.

Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Josh graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication with a concentration in public relations and minor in Spanish from Louisiana State University. He is currently pursuing his Master’s in strategic communication.

His accolades include having graduated from both the Leadership Baton Rouge and Leadership Louisiana programs, being voted the city’s most eligible bachelor, being named one of 2016’s Top Forty Under 40 by the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, and being nominated for multiple awards for his excellence with social media. His biggest personal accomplishment is losing over 260 pounds. Josh also serves as the student life director and pastor at HeartsEase Family Life Church.

When you see Josh around, make sure to welcome him to the BRYC Community!

LaShawn Robertson, Director of Senior Programs

LaShawn joined BRYC in September 2014 as the Director of Upperclassmen Programs and became the Director of Senior Programs on June 1, 2015. In this role, LaShawn is responsible for supporting BRYC’s 60 Senior Fellows through the college application process. She also oversees BRYC Layers, BRYC’s young women’s club. LaShawn holds a bachelor’s from the
 University of Louisiana Lafayette (ULL) in 
Criminal Justice with a minor in Sociology and is currently working on her master’s
from ULL in Management with a concentration
in Organizational Leadership. In the six years prior to joining
 BRYC, LaShawn worked in ULL’s Office of
 Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment, where she 
guided thousands of students and their families through ULL’s admissions and financial aid processes. During this time, LaShawn also served as the advisor for ULL’s Black Women’s Leadership Association. Prior to working in higher education, LaShawn served in the United State Army for ten years, focusing primarily on human resources.

Lauren Robinson, Director of Junior Programs

Lauren joined BRYC in June of 2015 as the Director of Junior Programs. In this role, she is responsible for supporting BRYC’s 50 Junior Fellows and providing all of BRYC’s ACT preparation programming. Lauren also oversees BRYC’s data collection and analysis efforts and coordinates the BRYC Book Club. Lauren earned the prestigious Dean’s Honor Scholarship to attend Tulane University, where she taught English as a Second Language to immigrants, worked as a research assistant, and graduated cum laude in Economics, Spanish, and Italian. After Tulane, Lauren served as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Mendocino, California before pursuing her master’s in Economics at Texas A&M University. Lauren has presented her research on education and economics nationally, and in November 2015 she published a paper in the Journal of Extension on financial literacy and the difficulties of evaluating data in complex situations. Lauren’s passion for literacy, research, and data informs her holistic approach to ACT preparation and readying BRYC Fellows for the academic rigors of college.

Aaron Randolph, Director of Sophomore Programs

Aaron joined BRYC in July 2015 as the Director of Sophomore Programs. In this role, he is responsible for supporting BRYC’s 50 Sophomore Fellows and running all Sophomore programs. Aaron also founded and leads BRYC’s Young Men’s Club, supports BRYC’s step and poetry teams, sponsors BRYC’s Yearbook Club, and manages BRYC’s Instagram account. Originally from Lake City, Florida, Aaron attended Cornell University, where he graduated with a B.A. in American Studies. After completing his degree, he joined City Year, an AmeriCorps program that enlists recent graduates to serve as tutors and mentors in high-need schools. Aaron worked at Belaire High School and for his outstanding service was named “Mr. City Year” by his peers. He then returned to school to earn an M.Ed. in Teaching and Curriculum from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he was named a Donald Oliver Fellow. After one year in Cambridge, Aaron came back to Baton Rouge to teach 11th-and 12th-grade Social Studies at Career Academy Charter High School and before joining BRYC taught 8th-grade Social Studies at McKinley Middle Magnet. As a teacher, Aaron not only helped his students make major academic gains but he also ran the school’s golf program. He even took some of his students to a PGA Tour event in New Orleans.

Jourden Martin, Director of Operations

Jourden joined BRYC in June 2016 as the Director of Operations. In this role, Jourden is responsible for three major realms: 1) daily operations, 2) Fellow recruitment, admissions, and matriculation, 3) and volunteer coordination. Jourden also oversees the BRYC Youth Government (BYG) and serves as a College Mentor to one of our Senior Fellows. Jourden came to Baton Rouge after earning a B.S. in Business Management with a concentration in entrepreneurship from Hampton University, a historically black college in Hampton, Virginia. She came to Louisiana to join City Year, an AmeriCorps program that helps underserved youth grow academically through specialized tutoring and mentoring. Jourden served her first year of City Year at Capitol Middle School and worked as the Senior Corps Training Leader in her second. Most recently, Jourden worked at Southern University and A&M College, initially as the Membership Coordinator for the university’s Alumni Federation and later as the Interim Executive Director of the Federation and Interim Director for the Office of Alumni Affairs. During her time in Baton Rouge, Jourden has participated in numerous community programs, including the Love Our Community Summer Youth Program and the Urban Leadership Development Initiative through MetroMorphosis. She is also the 2016-2017 Chair of City Year Baton Rouge’s Alumni Board.

Herpreet Singh, Writing Instructor

Herpreet joined BRYC in January 2017 as the Writing Instructor. In this role, she is responsible for guiding 50 Junior Fellows through a workshop in which they will develop personal statements. Herpreet’s career spans eighteen years and includes multiple segments and positions within two broad spheres: writing and community planning. For the past five years, she has focused on her work as a writer and writing coach, creating fiction and personal essays and helping private clients shape their stories into books. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from Texas State University and a Master of Landscape Architecture degree and Bachelor of Arts degree in English, both from Louisiana State University. Exploring the intersection between place, culture, and individual narratives or oral histories, whether applied in writing or in community planning, has been the unifying thread in her career. As a storyteller, she believes in the transformative power of honest, unflinching, and well-crafted narratives. She is excited to help BRYC Fellows realize their own empowering written narratives toward the goal of college entry.

Nicole Quinn, Operations and Recruitment Coordinator

Nicole joined the BRYC team in September 2016 as a member of the Louisiana Delta Service Corps, an AmeriCorps program that pairs community-minded individuals with partner organizations for eleven months of service. At BRYC, Nicole will serve as the Operations and Recruitment Coordinator, supporting the organization’s day-to-day operations, engaging with Fellows, and actively work to recruit new Fellows and volunteers. She will also coach the BRYC’s poetry club. Nicole is a proud Baton Rouge native and graduate of McKinley High School. She has shown her love and dedication to her city in numerous ways throughout the years. While at McKinley, Nicole was in an after-school program called Teen 360 (now known as Forward Arts), which enriched her with a sense of community and artistic expression, and helped her define values. It was at that point that Nicole dedicated her life to serving young people, providing them with the support that they need to achieve even their wildest dreams! Nicole worked as a program instructor at Boys and Girls Club for three years, serving the elementary population. She has also given countless hours to an elementary dance troop that not only focuses on dance technique but providing a value-driven experience for her students. Most recently, she served with City Year of Baton Rouge at Melrose Elementary tutoring fifth grade in English Language Arts. We are so pumped to have Nicole on board!

Darlene Shaffer, Program Coordinator

Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Darlene originally met BRYC founder Dan Kahn when her sons were in his economics class at Belaire High School. She joined BRYC in July 2010 as Dan’s first full-time employee and remains the longest-standing BRYC staff member. As Program Coordinator, Darlene is responsible for supervising BRYC’s academic spaces, ensuring that Fellows are safe and have the resources they need to be successful. Darlene also provides critical support in our admissions process, conducting information sessions for prospective BRYC parents and guardians. Last, but definitely not least, Darlene is the founder of the BRYC Layers, our young women’s club which is still going strong today!

Board Members

Erskine J. Frison, Jr.

  • Baton Rouge Complex Mechanical Division Manager, ExxonMobil
  • Erskine’s term on the board began 5/16 and shall continue until May 2019

Lani L. Gholston, Chairwoman

  • Senior Operations Associate, AARP Louisiana State Office
  • Lani’s term on the board began 1/16 and shall continue until January 2019.

Sarah Kracke

  • Owner & President, Kracke Consulting
  • Sarah’s term on the board began 10/12 and shall continue until October 2015.

John B. (Jay) Noland

  • Owner, Noland Development, LLC
  • Jay’s term on the board began 2/16 and shall continue until February 2019

Kevin Smith

  • Assistant Director, Louisiana Automobile Theft & Insurance Fraud Prevention Authority
  • Kevin’s term on the board began 5/15 and shall continue until May 2018.

Christopher J. Tyson, Chairman Emeritus

  • Assistant professor, LSU’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center
  • Christopher’s term on the board began 11/12 and shall continue until November 2015.

Sonia K. Wagner

  • CEO / Consultant, SK Wagner & Associates College Financial Aid Consulting
  • Sonia’s term on the board began 1/17 and shall continue until January 2020.

Corporate & Foundation Sponsors