Jen Langdon Ramming
Full Time Executive Director
While Jen is an OpenDoors founder, she credits her sons with the inspiration: “My boys wondered why the Black kids in their Asheville public school classes were facing hunger, being labeled with behavior issues, poor attendance, and struggled to learn to read, while the white kids were not. I found myself teaching my kids about racism as I struggled to explain what they were witnessing.” As a transplant from corporate life in larger cities, Jen saw potential for big change in Asheville. Her background in marketing, advertising, and fund development allowed her to grow OpenDoors from a group of parent volunteers to the impactful organization it is today. Jen reflects, “I am an adopted person who was in foster care as a baby. I believe that no one deserves what they were born into, but everyone deserves an equal chance to thrive. I was given that chance by my incredible parents and I need to pass it on.” After 15 years of practicing social work in the Black community she says her eyes are wide open to inequity and bias in our region. She explains, “I am beyond passionate about creating access for student of color and demystifying the race-based achievement gap. In a generous town like Asheville, it’s truly not that hard to give kids what they need.”
Jen has earned her certificate in Non-Profit Management from Duke University and is completing her certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University. She currently serves as an executive Board member of the Key Learning Center, and Carolina Day School, and is also the Managing Director of the regional Hunter Hometown Foundation.
In her free time, Jen is an avid mountain biker, sailor, and gardener, and enjoys trying to keep up with her six mostly grown boys.
Full Time Director of Impact and Program Excellence
A North Carolina native, Katherine has worked as a communications skills instructor for middle school students, a college admissions counselor at a private university, and as a program director and consultant in early learning for sixteen years in Georgia, Massachusetts and Washington, DC. Katherine strives to lead with cultural and community context and with evidenced-based practices to promote program quality. A graduate of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Psychology and Political Science, as well as Harvard Graduate School of Education with a Master’s in Education, she is dedicated to ensuring access to the high-quality education each student deserves and to thrive.
Full Time Program Director
Megan grew up in Miami, Florida and has called Asheville home since 2003. Before joining OpenDoors, she served as Executive Director at Odyssey School and has over 13 years experience teaching students in preschool through college. She studied Creative Writing and Child Development at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, and graduated from UNC-Asheville with her teaching license and a degree in Literature and Language. She is a dedicated lifelong learner and is passionate about guiding students as they discover, pursue, and create positive change for themselves and our world.
Keith D. Knox
Full Time Enrichment Program Coordinator
Keith Knox Jr grew up in Asheville, NC and was educated in the Asheville City, Buncombe, and Henderson County school systems. He has a degree in Political Science and Africana Studies from the University of North Carolina Asheville, where he was very active in student government and the Black Student Association. As a classroom teacher, Keith’s advocacy work is inspired by his perspective and experience working and learning within our local private and public schools. He is particularly passionate about guiding our students to and through college!
Full Time Program Assistant
Tia grew up in Asheville, NC and joined the OpenDoors family as a student in 2009. Inspired by her experience in Asheville’s schools, as a K-12 student and later working as a classroom assistant in a local private school, Tia is an aspiring educator. She sees “the good in the OpenDoors mission” and is inspired “to be a part of building these support systems for local students so they can be successful.” She is a powerful advocate and works tirelessly to create meaningful and impactful opportunities for our students.
Full Time Sustainability Program Coordinator
Lauren deeply believes that education is a human right and values that OpenDoors provides the opportunity to address and dismantle systemic barriers which inhibit students of color from receiving equitable opportunities. She is fervently committed to listening, unlearning, and receiving the gift of education. A graduate of University of North Carolina Asheville, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology and Sociology and concentrations in Africana Studies and Human Rights Studies, Lauren works to support the mission to eliminate the opportunity-to-learn gap for students.
Full Time Logistics Coordinator
Part Time Director of Communications
Since our inception in 2009, Nancy has served as Board Secretary and Board Chair, she has helped create our annual Art Affair and has volunteered as a TeamLeader for students. As staff, she has worked as Education Liaison and is now our Communications Director. Nancy’s commitment to OpenDoors is motivated by the student transformations she has witnessed when race-based barriers and inequities are removed and when students get the support and resources they need to thrive. Before OpenDoors, Nancy, a graduate of University of Richmond with a B.A. in Psychology and an M.A.Ed in School Counseling from Western Carolina University, worked as an elementary public school counselor and ran her own local small business. She has lived in Asheville since 1994.
Part Time Development Officer
Allison is passionate about investing in students and breaking barriers to create a world in which students can thrive in and out of the classroom. With a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing and a Master’s in Business Administration from Pfeiffer University, 12 years of experience as a retail buyer and 7 years of nonprofit development and donor relations experience, Allison is an experienced and ardent supporter of the financial health of our organization that makes our work possible.
Part Time Director of Finance
Courtney moved to Asheville in 2005 as a stay-at-home mom after leaving the world of advertising in Atlanta and New York. After volunteering in the classroom and seeing first-hand the different education systems that allowed some children to thrive while others struggled year after year, Courtney joined OpenDoors in 2012 because of the work we do outside the system, moving stealthily behind the scenes, removing barriers that get in the way of our students’ success.
Part Time Office Coordinator
Melissa was born and raised in the Asheville area and graduated from NC State University with a degree in Interpersonal Communications. Prior to OpenDoors, Melissa coordinated several county and state boards with a focus on improving the lives of children in our community; for 10 years, she coordinated the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council. Through her work with local nonprofits, Melissa developed a passion for working with under-resourced students. Now, working with OpenDoors to shrink the opportunity gap and provide whole-child support inspires Melissa in her drive to see our students and families pave new paths towards a better future.
On Sabbatical, returning August 2021!
I believe that education is the anecdote to poverty, and every child deserves to have someone in their life who advocates for them, every step of the way. I love being apart of a team that is working to help level the playing field for children growing up in under-resourced circumstances.
Photography by Katherine Brooks and Lauren Simms.