A company’s services are only as good as the people providing them. Yardstick’s people are the best at what they do.
Dr. Ebbie Parsons, III, founded Yardstick Management in 2012 in response to a call-to-action from his mother, a Detroit Public School educator, and his wife, a global brand executive. When he complained about the lamentable state of education in America, his mother said, “If you’re so upset about it, then DO something about it!” Parsons acted, enrolling in a doctoral program in education at the University of Pennsylvania and working in the charter school space. He soon grew frustrated with merely bringing others’ visions to fruition rather than being able to shape the visions themselves – particularly as he saw minority students being underserved. His wife said, “If you’re not happy with how they’re helping kids, then DO something about it!” Yardstick Management was the response to this latest challenge. As YSM has grown and evolved, one thing remains the same. Yardstick Management is, at its core, committed to the mission of helping organizations that serve underserved communities. And while being “mission driven” has become a buzzword that gets overused, for YSM that catchphrase is not just the latest trend. It is at the very heart of what we do.YSM began as a management consulting firm for public school districts, but has emerged in the last several years as a leader on several fronts. No matter the service solution we are engaging, Yardstick Management’s focus is always to help our clients do more by being the best.
Who We Are
With more than 150 years combined corporate and educational expertise, the Yardstick Management team can assist its clients in achieving extraordinary results. Our consultants create customized solutions for each engagement, moving Yardstick’s clients’ goals from conception to realization.
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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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.
Bernard Ashby, MD, MPP
Dr. Bernard Ashby was born and raised in South Florida by Caribbean parents who were able to instill in him strong qualities such as family values, a strong work ethic, and love of serving others. Dr. Ashby is a Sr. Consultant on the Yardstick team supporting Yardstick’s Healthcare Operational Efficiency practice.
Bernard attended medical school at Cornell University where he excelled academically, worked part time as a skin bank technician, and still found time to volunteer at the local homeless shelter, serve as president of the Cornell chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), conducted cardiovascular research, was appointed as a student member of the medical school admissions committee, and co-founded the Weill Cornell Youth Scholars Program; which is a summer outreach program that educates, encourages, and helps to equip inner-city high school students for future success in academics.
Bernard then went on to train at Columbia University Medical Center to complete his internship and residency in internal medicine. Bernard also participated in cardiovascular research and served as president of the Lindenbaum-Thompson Society.
After residency he was appointed assistant professor of Medicine and Hospitalist at Columbia. He obtained a masters degree in Public Policy at Princeton University while volunteering as a health policy advisor to the AARP in New Jersey.
Bernard then completed his Cardiology Fellowship at George Washington University Hospital where he was elected Chief Fellow by faculty and co-fellows. Bernard also worked nights at the local VA Hospital and completed a vascular medicine postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins. He is currently board certified in cardiology, vascular medicine, nuclear cardiology, vascular interpretation, and internal medicine.
He is a currently a board member of Mount Sinai’s Clinical Integration Network and leading the development of Mount Sinai’s Health Disparities Program and Vascular Institute in addition to serving as the director of the department of Vascular Medicine. Bernard resides in Miami, FL and he is actively engaged in community activities such the “My Future, My Choice Campaign” which is trying to address the rampant gun violence taking place in the inner-city. Recently, South Florida’s Legacy Magazine recognized him as a Top Black Healthcare Professional and one of the 50 Most Powerful Black Professionals in Business and Industry.
Jaime Martinez, MEd
Jaime Martinez is a Senior Consultant on Yardstick Management’s leadership team. Jaime supports Yardstick’s marketing and student recruitment efforts. He brings a wealth of experience as a marketing innovator in the education field. He uses a data-driven approach to branding, advertising, and recruitment. Jaime employs a comprehensive marketing strategy that facilitates connection building; he knows that there is no “one size fits all” approach to marketing.
As a first-generation college graduate, Jaime received bachelors and masters degrees from Arizona State University. Jaime has a personal connection to education that guided his work as a Teach for America Corps member. During his time with Teach for America, Jaime taught upper elementary students in low-income public and charter schools in the Phoenix, Arizona area. He also contributed to the leadership of Teach for America after being selected as a Mentor Teacher. In that role, Jaime provided teachers with support in classroom management, data analysis, setting and tracking goals, and differentiating pedagogical strategies. Jaime was later selected for The New Schools for Phoenix Fellowship in which he emphasized the fellowship’s three central principles: be a visionary; know the possible; and understand school design.
Jaime’s background in education is complimented by his significant experience in the field of finance and marketing. Jaime previously served as the Community Liaison for Ameriprise Financial, where he was responsible for marketing, financial planning, and managing 401(K) accounts. Jaime’s vast experience in education, marketing and finance guides his belief that branding an organization is an introspective process that involves asking difficult questions to facilitate progress, improvement and optimal goal achievement. Jaime resides in Phoenix, AZ with his family.
Jaclyn Carter, MILR
Jaclyn Carter is a Senior Consultant on Yardstick Management’s leadership team. Jaclyn provides leadership and direction in all aspects of managing Human Capital. She brings over 15 years of experience in labor/employee relations, recruitment, training, compensation design, compliance audits, job analysis, process improvement, culture shifts and performance improvement interventions. She has served in leadership roles and provided HR support to a variety of clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies, including DaimlerChrysler, United Technologies and Berkshire Hathaway, to small startups. Jaclyn can successfully re-engineer organizational Human Resource goals and practices to be in alignment with strategic business goals and objectives.
Jaclyn also serves as a trainer and coach for leadership and professional development programs and career transition services. Through her extensive experience with executives and professionals, she has developed a unique ability to help clients identify core values and motivators. She collaborates with clients in developing career management and performance plans to achieve progressive success. Jaclyn brings a broad base of industry experience, which helps her connect with each client and support advancement and success in their profession. Jaclyn customizes her approach to each client, as they build the skills required for the next stage in their career.
Jaclyn holds a BA in Human Resource Management from Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business and an MILR, with a concentration in Dispute Resolution via Mediation and Arbitration, from Cornell University’s School of Industrial & Labor Relations. Jaclyn resides in Hartford, CT with her family.
Melanie Bullock, MBA
Melanie Bullock is a Senior Consultant on Yardstick Management’s leadership team. Her primary role is supporting marketing strategy-related engagements. Melanie is a global marketing expert with extensive experience in brand marketing, strategic planning and consumer strategy, where she has achieved exceptional results developing and executing business strategies for both U.S. and global markets. She excels in providing clients with the tools they need to create a comprehensive plan for reaching existing and new markets in innovative ways.
Prior to joining the Yardstick team, Melanie worked for Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group as the Director of Global Product marketing. Her responsibilities included directing the physical and digital consumer initiatives for the European, Asia Pacific, and Latin American territories for multi-billion-dollar box-off franchises such as The Hobbit and The Dark Knight Rises Trilogy. Melanie’s previous experience includes executive roles with 20th Century Fox, Vivendi Universal Games, Mattel, Inc., and SAS Institute.
Melanie holds an MBA from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill with a focus on marketing, and a BS degree in marketing & management with a concentration in communication studies from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She is also an active board member of the University of North Carolina Greensboro Alumni Association and of the Los Angeles South Bay Chapter of the Boys & Girls Club of America. Melanie is currently based in Los Angeles, CA.
Shermica Farquhar, MBA
Shermica Farquhar is a Senior Consultant on Yardstick Management’s leadership team. Known for her energetic and holistic approach to organization optimization, her work experience spans multiple industries, including media, education, consumer goods, not-for-profit and public sectors.
Most recently, Shermica served as the Director of Operations for New Regions for Rocketship Education, where she led their regional expansion. She has designed and executed record-breaking organizational outreach programs for both Teach for America and Entertainment Weekly. While in Accenture’s Talent and Organization Practice, Shermica designed and delivered Change Management and Organization Design Strategies. She is skilled in helping organizations align on both processes and organizational structures to improve operations. She is also an adept trainer, having designed and delivered training for Fortune 500 companies and multi-billion dollar foundations. Shermica utilizes her ability to establish strong relationships with stakeholders to creatively solve problems and improve efficacy.
She holds an MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business with a focus on Strategic Management and Managerial & Organizational Behavior and a BS in Business Administration with concentrations in International Business and Marketing from Georgetown University. Shermica is based in Washington, DC and enjoys dancing, mentoring and traveling.
David S. Hargrett, MBA
David joined the Yardstick team as a Sr. Consultant supporting Yardstick’s Marketing and Corporate Training efforts.
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.
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.
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.
Erin Threatt, JD
Erin serves as a Sr. Consultant and the Technical Writer on the Yardstick Management team. Erin brings over 15 years of experience in policy analysis, project analysis, legal compliance, and technical writing. Prior to joining Yardstick, Erin worked in education and healthcare management in Texas. Additionally, Erin worked in several capacities of the post- Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts in New Orleans, including the reconstruction of infrastructure and public works and education reform. Erin is a licensed attorney, and she uses her breadth of experience to provide a nuanced analysis to projects. She also earned a certification grant writing and administration from US Government Grants in 2015.
Erin earned her undergraduate degree at Xavier University of Louisiana, and she completed her Juris Doctor at Tulane University Law School. Erin maintains her Louisiana law license, and completes courses to continue building her skills on a quarterly basis. Erin splits her time between the Birmingham, AL metro area and the Atlanta, GA metro area.
Ken Stewart, MSA
Ken is a Senior Business Development Consultant for Yardstick Management. In addition to 30+ years of sales and marketing experience with General Motors and other Fortune 500 companies, Ken excels in effective communication and professional collaboration. Ken notably brought three major automotive manufacturers together to develop a single standardized data transmittal process, that improved operations and performance for all industry participants. Ken’s primary mission is to establish the highest level of customer satisfaction by utilizing his skills in team building and developing high-yielding organizational cultures that exceed all expectations.
Ken also currently serves on the board as President of Bridge to Equity, Inc., a non-profit organization designed to create programs that promote and provide equitable workforce opportunities as well as wellness for all.
Jeana Brown, J.D.
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Kaila Crosse is a consulting intern. She is a fifth year student in the dual degree engineering partnership between Spelman College and the University of Michigan, where she studies mathematics and mechanical engineering. At the University of Michigan, Kaila works as a fabrication consultant were she assists students and faculty with 3D printing, laser engreving, milling, and their general design needs. She previously interned at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center developing standard operating for a software auditing tool and writing test plans for WFIRST part proposal.
Kaila is from Maryland and has three younger brothers. Kaila is passionate about education and improving the lives of those around her. She aspires to be a professor who advocates for the best interest of her students. She enjoys analyzing complex problems and developing efficient ways to address them. Kaila never runs from a challenge, instead, she thrives off of them and uses them to propel her forward.
Bio Coming Soon!