NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Education and Non-profit
Lake Ridge Academy
The Lake Ridge Academy Board of Directors took an unprecedented step hiring Carol Klimas, an individual with a solid track record of success and respect in the banking industry, to serve as the first president of the K-12 school, when the Faculty Search Advisory Committee had made it clear that it wanted someone from the academic world.
The committee wanted someone who truly understands, appreciates and supports academics. You can only imagine committee’s bewilderment and dismay when Klimas, the banker, was hired in 2007.
But it was not Klimas, the banker, who showed up for work. It was Klimas the entrepreneur — an innovative, optimistic and hardworking individual who appeared more inspired by the school’s economic woes than overcome by them.
Rather than focus on introducing short-term solutions, she initiated an endless series of interviews, focus group sessions, and best-practice research to create a plan of action that would resonate with and mobilize a wide array of constituents. She assembled a list of practical tactics, weaving in inspirational strategies, which later became the foundation of Vision Beyond 50.
Any preconceived ideas of whether a banker could successfully lead an educational venture were soon shattered by Klimas’ absolute resolve to tackle each problem in a cooperative and collaborative manner.
Klimas believes the critical backbone of the school is its faculty and has championed efforts to attract and retain exceptional talent. The credentials of the faculty today are quite impressive with about two-thirds of them having taught at a college level and the majority having a master’s or Ph.D. degree.
As a result of Klimas’ efforts, overall enrollment growth at Lake Ridge increased by 12 percent, inquiries are up 45 percent from the prior year and applications have increased by 20 percent since last year. Klimas believes a target student population of 480 will be achieved in the next two years, which is more than 100 students above current enrollment.
How to reach: Lake Ridge Academy, www.lakeridgeacademy.org