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 is the board’s first Utah Connections Academy graduate. She graduated at 15 from UCA as the youngest UCA graduate at the time with high honors and as UCA’s first English Sterling Scholar; she also received 4 scholarship awards for University. Elisa was elected to serve on UCA’s board at the age of 19 which was breaking into new ground. Elisa appreciates the honor of speaking at UCA’s graduation ceremonies (so far 2018 and 2019). She will achieve her Bachelor’s degree in political science, minor in business administration and concentration in strategic leadership at 19 years old and will be continuing her education to achieve her Master’s degree and a Doctorate in the same field which she plans to obtain by the age 24. Elisa is an Ambassador for her University and a listee on the Dean’s list.
After Elisa obtains the schooling she is pursuing, her interests peak in the area of international business and teaching. Elisa specifically has completed countless hours of volunteer service in the area of animal advocacy. Attending UCA challenged Elisa as an advanced student and also gave her time to volunteer. Having graduated from UCA the school is very near and dear to Elisa and her knowledge is important for the board to have further understanding of a student’s perspective; she appreciates the honor of serving on the board.