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Board of Directors

Meet the Board

The Board of Directors for Genesis Academy have a wealth of experience in Education, Law, Business, Development, and STEM fields, which they are committed to using to ensure that the school and its scholars are successful in every sense of the world.

Board Meeting & Notes

Gavin A. Samms, Ph.D.

View Gavin's Bio (click here)

Gavin Samms, Ph.D. is the founder of Genesis Innovation Academy and will serve as Head of Schools.  He has spent almost 30 years successfully raising the performance of students at every level of education.

From 2010 to 2014, Dr. Samms served as the founding Principal of Fulton Leadership Academy, an all-boys charter school in South Fulton.  The Academy exceeded state performance objectives in each year under Dr. Samms tenure, with a population that was 100% young men of color (typically the lowest scoring students on standardized tests).

FLA was ranked #2 in the state by Georgia DOE’s 2013 “Beating the Odds” analysis of charter schools. A 2013 study commissioned by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement ranked FLA #1 among Fulton County middle schools in terms of “Value-Added” (the ability to raise test scores). The report also ranked FLA in the top 3% of schools in the state.

Dr. Samms was part of the founding leadership team of Harvard’s Education Innovation Laboratory (EdLabs). While there, he managed large scale educational interventions in partnership with urban school districts, including Chicago, New York City, Houston, and Washington D.C.  During his tenure, Dr. Samms also trained and coached principals on successful school turnaround strategies.

He also served as the Managing Partner for Georgia Tech’s OMED: Educational Services unit, where his team’s nationally recognized efforts led to the closing of the achievement gap between black and white students and helped Georgia Tech become the top producer of African American engineers in the country.

Dr. Samms has a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard University, with concentrations in Economics and Education Policy, as well as Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. 

He is very happily married to his wife Kimberly and they have four wonderful children: three sons and one daughter.  Dr. Samms is also a lay minister at Fellowship of Prayer International and a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

A few articles about Gavin's accomplishments:

Georgia Charter Schools Association: Let Us Now Praise Extraordinary Principals 

NY Times: To Raise the Performance Of Minorities, a College Increased Its Standards  (Gavin's program dramatically improved minority college success and was copied by other colleges nationwide)

Chicago Tribune: Learning To Build A Better Bridge

Ed Barber, CPA

View Ed's Bio (click here)

Edward Barber carries over 30 years of local and international experience in real estate, finance, development and acquisitions. His areas of specialization include strategic planning, capital procurement, investment and the development and implementation of real estate solutions. In 1997, he launched the company CRE Services, a private real estate consulting firm that specializes in capital placement and asset management. Since 2015, Ed has served on the Board of Directors of Jamaica Broilers Group, a publicly held international poultry company based in Kingston, Jamaica. 

Though he is an astute businessman, he is also an active philanthropist, as he serves as a Director of the Global Orphan Project, a global orphan care and orphan prevention ministry.  He has also served multiple terms on the Board of Trustees for Whitefield Academy, as Chairman of the Board of Deacons for Second Ponce de Leon Baptist Church and was a founding member of Buckhead Church.  Ed graduated in 1978 with a BBA degree in accounting from the University of Georgia and successfully passed the CPA exam.  When not engaged in business or social outreach, Ed enjoys outdoor adventures and being with family. Noteworthy is his completion of three marathons and successfully climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in 2006. He has been married for 27 years and has a twenty-year old son that attends SMU in Dallas, Texas.

Erika Blair McGrew

View Erika's Bio (click here)
Erika Blair-McGrew is the Founder, CEO, and Chairperson of Young Wall Street Traders, Inc. The non-profit organization seeks to educate students in the areas of entrepreneurship, finance, investments, technical analysis, and trading. To facilitate the goal of creating financially literate young people,

Mrs. Blair-McGrew develops innovative, thought-provoking, and practical education curriculum for the students that participate in the Young Wall Street training program. Mrs. Blair-McGrew also consults academic institutions on creating innovative curriculum for quantitative subjects such as finance, accounting, and statistics. She is currently consulting with Clark-Atlanta University to direct initiatives for their quantitative lab. Mrs. Blair-McGrew received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Tennessee State University, where she graduated magna cum laude. She received her MBA in finance from Clark-Atlanta University.

She is a member of the National Black MBA Association, National Association of Securities Professionals (NASP), and the Atlanta Society of Finance and Investment Professionals (CFA Society). She is also a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Daryl C. Jones

View Daryl's Bio (click here)
Daryl C. Jones currently serves as Vice President of The Integral Group’s Development Division and as the Leader of the company’s Senior Housing Platform. In this capacity, Mr. Jones is responsible for Integral’s senior housing product line, which includes affordable independent senior living residences (known as Veranda) and assisted living residences (known as Oasis). He has dedicated the last several years leading the company’s efforts in obtaining the necessary resources and formulating the required policies to launch the affordable assisted living product.

Mr. Jones is no new player at initiating new business lines. His perseverance, leadership skills, and knowledge paid off while working for a previous employer. Prior to joining Integral, Mr. Jones was the Senior Vice President and Regional Partner for The Shelter Group, where he successfully launched a new business unit for the new construction of elderly projects by utilizing a newly built financing model. In addition, under Mr. Jones’ leadership at Shelter, his group acquired and sold over $1 billion of multi-family assets, primarily in the mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Texas. As a results oriented leader, he was able to achieve for Shelter and its equity partners an overall leveraged return of over 25% through these investments. Mr. Jones continues to employ his “out of the box’ and innovative financing techniques to accomplish the tasks necessary to achieve bottom line results.

Complemented by his extensive experience, Mr. Jones is a High Honors Graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he holds a B.S and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering. He is currently the Chairman of the Board of the MuniMae Foundation, a board member of The Foundation of Wesley Woods, a founding board member of Genesis Innovation Academy (charter school), and is on the REAP Advisory Committee (diversity initiative for professional commercial real estate training).

Marcus Shute, Sr., P.E., Ph.D.

View Marcus' Bio (click here)
Marcus W. Shute, P.E., Ph.D has actively participated in R&D, engineering, agile product and technology development, and manufacturing activities across several technology sectors since 1983. He is experienced in leading cross-functional teams to transition technology innovations from laboratory prototypes to products in compressed timeframes with a wide variety of organizations from start-ups to established corporations. During his tenure at Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, he developed expertise, led development efforts, obtained several patents, and is widely published in optical fiber communications, wireless communications, optical fiber amplifiers, planar waveguide technology, polarization phenomena, electronic materials, and initiatives related to increasing minority participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Dr. Shute is CEO of Shute Enterprises, Inc., a firm specializing in technology development and commercialization as well as consulting in various areas. During his career, Dr. Shute has served as a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff at Bell Laboratories, AT&T and Lucent Technologies; Vice President of Engineering and as Vice President of Advanced Technologies at Luxcore Networks, Inc., an optical networking systems start-up company; President and Chairman of Nile Valle Investment Group, Inc., a real estate investment company; Co-founder and Director of Aspire 2B, Inc., an educational non-profit, and as Vice President for Research and Sponsored Programs and Professor in the College of Engineering, Technology, and Computer Science at Tennessee State University where he was responsible for managing and leading the research enterprise at the University. Dr. Shute also served as the Vice President for Research and Sponsored Programs and Professor in the Physics Department and the Dual-Degree Engineering Program at Clark Atlanta University. Currently, Dr. Shute is the Vice President for R&D and Commercialization at 510nano Inc., a renewable energy and technology development company, and also serves Group President of Scarab Technologies LLC, 510nano’s technology subsidiary.

Dr. Shute has received numerous awards and honors including the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, Senior Member of IEEE, selection as Distinguished Member of Technical Staff by Bell Laboratories for sustained technical contributions, 1994 Most Promising Engineer by U.S. Black Engineer magazine, 1999 Golden Torch Award for Engineering Excellence by the National Society of Black Engineers, 2005 NTA Technical Achiever of the Year Award - Engineering by the National Technical Association, 2006 Golden Torch Award for Alumni Technologist of the Year by the National Society of Black Engineers, 2011 Distinguished HBCU Alumni Award by U.S. Black Engineer of the Year/Career Communications Group and finalist in the 2000 Mission Specialist Astronaut Program of NASA. He was also appointed to serve on The National Academies Emerging Research Institutions Committee in 2007 and as a member of the Army Science Board in 2013. Dr. Shute earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Tennessee State University becoming the first student to graduate with a 4.00 out of 4.00 cumulative grade point average, an S.M. in Materials Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Dr. Shute is also a life member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., an All-American and world-champion USA Track and Field Masters track athlete and currently a sprinter with the Southwest Sprinters Track Club, Houston, TX, and serves as vice chair of the founding board of Genesis Innovation Academy, Inc. 

Audrey Tolson, Esq.

View Audrey's Bio (click here)
Audrey Tolson, Esq. is the founder and managing partner of The Tolson Firm, LLC. She founded The Tolson Firm in 2011 after 16 years of practicing law in Atlanta, Georgia. The Tolson Firm is a boutique law practice that focuses on the compassionate representation of seriously injured clients and their loved ones, with an emphasis on the representation of victims of medical malpractice. Attorney Tolson also practices in the areas of wrongful death, catastrophic personal injury, premises liability and trucking accidents.

Ms. Tolson received her undergraduate degree from The Georgia Institute of Technology where she was a founding member of the university's Pre-Law Society. She then went on to study law and obtain her Juris Doctorate from Georgia State University. Ms. Tolson has been a member of the state bar of Georgia since 1995. Over the years, she has litigated numerous multi-million dollar cases on behalf of her injured clients and their loved ones. As a result of her education and experience, Ms. Tolson is regularly invited to provide legal commentary for local media outlets, including both television and radio. She is active in several professional organizations and serves on the board of directors of various non-profit organizations, in an effort to give back to the community.

Ms. Tolson and her husband John are the proud parents of two beautiful daughters.

Darrell Groves, Ed.D.

View Darrel's Bio (click here)
Darrell Lee Groves was born outside Philadelphia, PA, attended public schools there and graduated with several honors from North Penn High School in Lansdale, PA. He then graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in religion with a pre-medicine course of study. Upon moving to Atlanta, GA, he earned a master’s degree in Educational Administration and Supervision from Georgia State University. His terminal doctoral degree was earned at Temple University in Educational Leadership. He has written and presented papers at various educational conferences, and has conducted consultations for several clients throughout his career.

His thirty-five plus years of educational experience began with teaching and coaching in Philadelphia, Southern New Jersey, and Atlanta, GA. His administrative career began as the Founding Head of Middle and Upper Schools at the Atlanta International School. He then served as Middle School Head at the Pennington School in NJ, Assistant Upper School Head at the Lovett School, Founding Director of Bethel Academy (later Victory Charter School), and Head of Middle and Upper Schools at Harrisburg Academy in PA. His higher education career includes serving as an Adjunct Professor at Temple University, Clinical Professor at Georgia State University, Adjunct Professor at Mercer University, and he presently serve as Assistant Professor at Clark Atlanta University.

Arle Wilson

View Arle's Bio (click here)
Arle Wilson-Dixon, J.D., M.A is a recent law school graduate who worked for over ten years in Atlanta Public Schools. Her most recent job with APS was as an Education Coordinator for Project G.R.A.D., where she was responsible for overseeing the program that would increase the graduation rate and post secondary options for students who were typically less likely to graduate or go on to complete any type of formal training after high school.

Arle has always been a parent advocate and was awarded the Parent of the Year Award in 2014 by the Georgia Charter School Association for her vigorous work for Fulton Leadership Academy. She wore many hats; student, vocalist, actress, mother, mentor and advocate for educational equity, but is most proud of the title of mom. Arle serves as the secretary for The Genesis Innovation Academy for Boys and Girls and is excited to be a part of such a wonderful school that will change the life of so many young people and the people who are blessed to be engaged with these students.


To contact the Head of Schools, Gavin Samms, please e-mail gasamms@GIAcademy.org (for quicker response, please e-mail info@GIAcademy.org)

To contact the Governing Board please e-mail Board@GIAcademy.org