About Us

Who We Are

Ebbie Parsons, EdD

Ebbie Parsons, EdD

Founder + Managing Partner

Dr. Ebbie Parsons, III is the Founder and Managing Partner of Yardstick Management. Ebbie, a seasoned business executive with a passion for education, has been applauded for his strategic thinking, engaging leadership and results orientation throughout his career. After working at Fortune 500 companies including Intel, Medtronic and American Express, Ebbie made the decision to transition from a promising career in business in 2007 to join the prestigious Broad Residency Program in Educational Leadership. The Broad Residency was his first introduction to the inner-workings of America’s public schools where he served as the Chief Operating Officer of Hartford Public Schools. Ebbie championed the overhaul of the district’s school funding methodology, negotiated the state’s first pay-for-performance teacher union contract and led the redistricting of the city to an “All-Choice” system of schools. Following his time in Hartford…
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Founder + Managing Partner

Ebbie Parsons, EdD

Dr. Ebbie Parsons, III is the Founder and Managing Partner of Yardstick Management. Ebbie, a seasoned business executive with a passion for education, has been applauded for his strategic thinking, engaging leadership and results orientation throughout his career. After working at Fortune 500 companies including Intel, Medtronic and American Express, Ebbie made the decision to transition from a promising career in business in 2007 to join the prestigious Broad Residency Program in Educational Leadership. The Broad Residency was his first introduction to the inner-workings of America’s public schools where he served as the Chief Operating Officer of Hartford Public Schools. Ebbie championed the overhaul of the district’s school funding methodology, negotiated the state’s first pay-for-performance teacher union contract and led the redistricting of the city to an “All-Choice” system of schools. Following his time in Hartford…
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Co-Founder + Senior Advisor

Ayana Parsons, MBA

Ayana Parsons is the Co-Founder of Yardstick Management and serves as Yardstick’s Senior Advisor. Ayana is a Principal in Heidrick & Struggles’ Atlanta office and a member of the Consumer Markets Practice. She is focused on placing Chief Marketing Officers, General Managers and other commercial C-suite executives into consumer-facing companies.

Prior to joining Heidrick & Struggles, Ayana served as Global Head of Retail, Consumer & Lifestyle industries at the World Economic Forum where she regularly engaged leading chairmen, CEOs and other C-level executives in dialogues and initiatives that support the WEF mission. She also hosted forums in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Latin America to address the many challenges facing today’s global business leaders.
Prior to the World Economic Forum, Ayana spent 17 years in commercial leadership roles. She was global marketing and strategy leader for Kimberly-Clark’s health and well-being division. At Procter & Gamble, Ayana held various leadership assignments, including general manager in the beauty division. She also led global business and brand-building efforts at Philips and Pfizer.

Ayana is active in numerous prominent organizations. She is an advisor to the World Retail Congress and a board member of the Retail Leader’s Circle and A Better Chance of Westport, CT.

Ayana graduated summa cum laude with a BS in management and her MBA in Marketing from the Sybil Mobley School of Business & Industry at Florida A&M University. She has also completed leadership programs at Smith College, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Senior Consultant

Melanie Calhoun, MBA

Melanie Calhoun leads Yardstick’s Diversity and Inclusion line of business. As a senior consultant with expertise in marketing management and diversity and inclusion initiatives, Melanie helps organizations improve D&I strategies by conducting assessments, helping to establish clear and measurable D&I goals, and creating long-term roadmaps to address the structural inequality that may exist.

Before joining Yardstick, Melanie spent time as a researcher in the Relationships and Social Cognition Lab at the University of California, Berkeley Psychology Department. Under the leadership of Rodolfo MendozaDenton, Ph.D., Melanie developed an active research interest in stigma, intergroup relations, and stereotyping. Much of her racism and bias research is informed by her experience working as a marketing executive for over fifteen years.

Prior to her work at UC Berkeley, she was Head of New Customer Acquisition and Experience for Invisalign® clear aligners at Align Technology. Under her leadership, Melanie launched new advertising campaigns to recruit new dentists to become providers. Before working at Align, Melanie spent time as the Senior Marketing Manager of Product Marketing for Vocera Communications. In her role, she oversaw competitive strategy. As Marketing Manager at Ecolab, she managed the Surgical Patient Care products, increasing sales to $12MM. She also spent time at Medtronic supporting surgical procedures in endovascular aortic aneurysm stent graft repair, pediatric deformity spinal surgery, and neurostimulation for obesity and chronic stomach disorders. She received various awards for her leadership including the Medtronic Emerging Leaders and was one of the first participants in the Leadership Development Rotation Program.

Melanie is committed to her community and through her leadership has made a significant impact on women and children’s issues. She has held various positions in the Junior League of Atlanta and served on the Executive Board of the San Jose Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Currently, Melanie is a Board Member of the Atlanta Chapter of It’s My Birthday, Inc. and The Atlanta Birth Center.

Melanie earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Florida A&M University. She currently resides in Atlanta with her husband, two-year-old son and newborn daughter. She is an avid reader, loves cooking, traveling and yoga.

Senior Designer

Kae McGowan

Kae’s interests have always been split between sports and the arts, and she attended Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) as an undergrad in order to be able to grow in both areas. She learned a lot about balance as a student-athlete as she earned a BFA in Advertising Design with a specialization in Graphic Design. After graduation, she made the move to the Atlanta campus and obtained her masters degree in Interactive Design and Game Development.

Kae brings over 7 years of Art Direction experience to the Yardstick team, while providing print and digital design solutions for the firm and its clients. Today, Kae maintains her balance by skating for the Atlanta Rollergirls.

Co-Founder + Senior Advisor

Ayana Parsons, MBA

Ayana Parsons is the Co-Founder of Yardstick Management and serves as Yardstick’s Senior Advisor. Ayana is a Principal in Heidrick & Struggles’ Atlanta office and a member of the Consumer Markets Practice. She is focused on placing Chief Marketing Officers, General Managers and other commercial C-suite executives into consumer-facing companies.

Prior to joining Heidrick & Struggles, Ayana served as Global Head of Retail, Consumer & Lifestyle industries at the World Economic Forum where she regularly engaged leading chairmen, CEOs and other C-level executives in dialogues and initiatives that support the WEF mission. She also hosted forums in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Latin America to address the many challenges facing today’s global business leaders.
Prior to the World Economic Forum, Ayana spent 17 years in commercial leadership roles. She was global marketing and strategy leader for Kimberly-Clark’s health and well-being division. At Procter & Gamble, Ayana held various leadership assignments, including general manager in the beauty division. She also led global business and brand-building efforts at Philips and Pfizer.

Ayana is active in numerous prominent organizations. She is an advisor to the World Retail Congress and a board member of the Retail Leader’s Circle and A Better Chance of Westport, CT.

Ayana graduated summa cum laude with a BS in management and her MBA in Marketing from the Sybil Mobley School of Business & Industry at Florida A&M University. She has also completed leadership programs at Smith College, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Senior Consultant

Melanie Calhoun, MBA

Melanie Calhoun leads Yardstick’s Diversity and Inclusion line of business. As a senior consultant with expertise in marketing management and diversity and inclusion initiatives, Melanie helps organizations improve D&I strategies by conducting assessments, helping to establish clear and measurable D&I goals, and creating long-term roadmaps to address the structural inequality that may exist.

Before joining Yardstick, Melanie spent time as a researcher in the Relationships and Social Cognition Lab at the University of California, Berkeley Psychology Department. Under the leadership of Rodolfo MendozaDenton, Ph.D., Melanie developed an active research interest in stigma, intergroup relations, and stereotyping. Much of her racism and bias research is informed by her experience working as a marketing executive for over fifteen years.

Prior to her work at UC Berkeley, she was Head of New Customer Acquisition and Experience for Invisalign® clear aligners at Align Technology. Under her leadership, Melanie launched new advertising campaigns to recruit new dentists to become providers. Before working at Align, Melanie spent time as the Senior Marketing Manager of Product Marketing for Vocera Communications. In her role, she oversaw competitive strategy. As Marketing Manager at Ecolab, she managed the Surgical Patient Care products, increasing sales to $12MM. She also spent time at Medtronic supporting surgical procedures in endovascular aortic aneurysm stent graft repair, pediatric deformity spinal surgery, and neurostimulation for obesity and chronic stomach disorders. She received various awards for her leadership including the Medtronic Emerging Leaders and was one of the first participants in the Leadership Development Rotation Program.

Melanie is committed to her community and through her leadership has made a significant impact on women and children’s issues. She has held various positions in the Junior League of Atlanta and served on the Executive Board of the San Jose Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Currently, Melanie is a Board Member of the Atlanta Chapter of It’s My Birthday, Inc. and The Atlanta Birth Center.

Melanie earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Florida A&M University. She currently resides in Atlanta with her husband, two-year-old son and newborn daughter. She is an avid reader, loves cooking, traveling and yoga.

Senior Consultant

Neil Van Leeuwen, Ph.D.

Dr. Neil Van Leeuwen serves as a Senior Consultant on the Yardstick team leading the Customer Value Creation process for Yardstick’s commercial client portfolio.  Neil’s interests and expertise combine education, arts, and entrepreneurship. He earned his BA summa cum laude in Classical Studies from University of Pennsylvania, where he was also a researcher at the Wharton Entrepreneurial Center, a percussionist in the Penn Symphony Orchestra, and an inductee of Phi Beta Kappa. Leveraging his Marketing, Strategy and Entrepreneurial expertise, Neil successfuly co-authored (with strategic consultant Paul Morin) the business plan for Penn’s Wharton West campus in San Francisco, now named Wharton San Francisco and is in its 18th year having awarded over 1,100 degrees.

After Penn, Neil went on to earn his M.St. with distinction in Classical Languages and Literature from Oxford University and his PhD in philosophy from Stanford University, where his research combined philosophy, cognitive science, and cognitive neuroscience. Neil’s understating of cognitive neuroscience has helped him to become an expert at understanding the psyche.  In addition to his academic pursuits at Stanford, Neil focused on creative writing, and he has since written the libretto for one full-length opera (Oxford Companions, with composer Giancarlo Aquilanti) and the lyrics for one full-length musical (Song of Solomon, with composer Andrew Beall).

Neil’s academic career includes fellowships and teaching at such diverse institutions as Rutgers University, Tufts University, and University of Johannesburg; he is currently an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Associate of the Neuroscience Institute at Georgia State University in Atlanta. He has published extensively in philosophy and cognitive science and is currently under contract for a book with Harvard University Press. Throughout his academic career, he has maintained his commitment to entrepreneurship, serving as Strategic Advisor to the HiPER Solutions Group (HSG) in San Francisco and as Sr. Consultant for Yardstick Management.

Senior Designer

Kae McGowan

Kae’s interests have always been split between sports and the arts, and she attended Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) as an undergrad in order to be able to grow in both areas. She learned a lot about balance as a student-athlete as she earned a BFA in Advertising Design with a specialization in Graphic Design. After graduation, she made the move to the Atlanta campus and obtained her masters degree in Interactive Design and Game Development.

Kae brings over 7 years of Art Direction experience to the Yardstick team, while providing print and digital design solutions for the firm and its clients. Today, Kae maintains her balance by skating for the Atlanta Rollergirls.

Who We Serve