Board of Directors for the 2019–20 School Year
Stephanie Kinney, Board President
Business Sector Representative
This is Stephanie's first time serving on a Charter Board, and she was one of the original founding members. She first connected with Connections Academy while looking for an alternative for her sister, who was not doing well in a traditional brick and mortar school, but did amazing with the National Connections Academy program and graduated in the spring of 2011. Ms. Kinney felt that more parents needed this program in the state of Utah and is willing to do whatever it takes to make this a successful school. She has a degree from Weber State University and graduated with Honors. Ms. Kinney currently works full time as a Realtor of Exit Realty Legacy in Layton Utah. She is married to Pat Kinney and has a grown daughter who is now married.
Megan Ellis, Board Treasurer/Budget Officer
Megan is a Utah native having lived and appreciated the state all her life. She is married with three beautiful and smart daughters and enjoys crafts, gardening, scrapbooking, woodworking, and participating in her children's learning and activities. Megan believes education is very important and has strong feelings towards the school system so that is why she agreed to join the UCA Board. She is interested in helping children all over the system. She is currently a member of the local PTA and Connections Academy's Club ORANGE which are very important organizations to help support your children's school. Megan is very happy to be working with the UCA Board of Directors and hopes the Board can make great accomplishments for the school that will benefit all children.
Kaydee Phillips, Board Secretary
Kaydee graduated from Weber State University with a B.A. in English, before pursuing her M.S. in American Studies and graduating from Utah State University. After USU, Kaydee studied at the University of Leeds, UK where she researched mountaineering literature and enjoyed time on the cliffs and crags learning about the rich climbing history of the UK. Kaydee has been teaching composition at the university level since 2000—currently at Weber State University and Brigham Young University-Idaho. She has also been teaching at the secondary level since 2005. Kaydee taught for Utah Connections Academy for the 2013-2014 school year. During this time she was impressed with the dedication of the staff to make sure every student was able to succeed. Kaydee is excited to be on the UCA Board because she truly believes this school is providing each student with an individualized education. Kaydee lives in Bountiful with her two young daughters, husband, and pet where they enjoy spending time as a family reading, playing games, and going on walks.
Preston Baxter, Board Member
Preston grew up in Utah, graduating from Utah State University with a degree in Civil Engineering. After earning a dual Master’s Degree from Oregon State University, Preston and his family put down roots in Oregon where he worked for the engineering firm CH2M Hill for 20 years. During that time the family grew to include 6 children, all of whom attended Oregon Connections Academy. Preston also became involved with the parent association, and served as a board member since 2010. During that time the parent association was involved in several legislative issues, parent outreach, and school activity organizing. Except for one married daughter still in Oregon, the family recently moved back to Utah to be closer to cousins and grandparents.
Preston is employed by Bowen Collins & Associates, working as a structural and bridge engineer. He is continuing his National Guard service as a member of the 23rd Army Band. He is a champion of flexible and student-centric education options like Connections Academy, having seen first-hand the benefits. Preston is excited to have the opportunity to help all Utah Connections Academy families as a member of the UCA Board.
Elisa Nelson, Board Member
Community Leader Representative
Elisa Nelson is the first Utah Connections Academy school board member to be a Utah Connections Academy graduate! Elisa graduated from Utah Connections Academy at age 15 with high honors and as the school’s first English Sterling Scholar; she also received four scholarship awards for university. Elisa was elected to serve on the board at age 19.
Elisa had the honor of speaking at Utah Connections Academy’s graduation ceremonies in 2018 and 2019. She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science, with a minor in business administration and concentration in strategic leadership. Elisa graduated magna cum laude at age 19 and is working toward earning her master’s degree and a doctorate in the same field. She is on the dean’s list and serves as an ambassador for her university.
After Elisa completes her education, she plans to pursue a career in international business and teaching. She has been an active animal advocacy volunteer for many years. Attending Utah Connections Academy challenged Elisa as an advanced student and also gave her time to volunteer.
As a graduate of Utah Connections Academy, Elisa can share firsthand knowledge of her school experience with other board members, providing insights that will help them gain an understanding of a student’s perspective. She appreciates the honor of serving on the board.