Board of Directors


The LLCA School Board will have a Strategic Planning Meeting today from 4 pm - 5:30 pm


Lake Lure Classical Academy’s Governing Board of Directors establishes and oversees school policy, approves the annual budget, curriculum, school calendar, class schedule, and personnel matters. It is a working board with several active sub-committees. The Board of Directors meets the third Thursday of each month at 4 pm. The meetings are open to the public and agendas are posted online and in the school office 24 hours before the meeting. Meeting minutes are available ten business days following the current month’s meeting. In light of COVID-19, all board and committee meetings are held online through ZOOM. Anyone wishing to speak will need to sign up in advance. Email the school office at or call 625-9292 and press 0.

Note - the meeting dates for our boards and committees are changing and as a result, we are updating the downloadable calendar. For now, here is the new information:

The Personnel and Policy Committee - 1st Tuesday, 4 pm

Academic Excellence Committee - 2nd Tuesday, 4 pm

Finance Committee - 2nd Thursday, 4 pm


Board Chairman, Mark Hamann

Email address

Meet our Board:

CHAIRMAN: Mark Hamann was born and raised in Toledo OH. He is a graduate of the University of Toledo where he played varsity baseball and earned his Bachelor of Education degree. He earned his Master’s Degree in the Art of Education from Marygrove College in Detroit MI.

A history teacher for 32 years at the secondary level, Mark also was the head varsity girls’ fastpitch softball coach for two Toledo area high schools, earning a state championship with each. While with Perrysburg Exempted Village Schools, Mark was gratified to be named Junior High Teacher of the Year in 1994, the George Munger District Teacher of the Year in 1996, the Perrysburg Education Association Teacher of the Year in 2009, and a nominee for Ohio State Teacher of the Year in 2010.

Mark sincerely appreciates the opportunity here in Lake Lure to continue his career-long commitment to education. He hopes to contribute to our effort of creating, maintaining, and enhancing a community-based educational institution that offers an effective and challenging learning program for any and all students who attend.

Todd Morse

VICE CHAIRMAN: After growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, Todd Morse came to Western North Carolina in 1986. He earned his undergraduate degree in Administrative Management from the University of Missouri – Columbia and his Masters of Business Administration from Vanderbilt University. Following two years in Memphis working in operations management for a national department store chain, Todd began work with his 4th generation family business, Chimney Rock Park. Read more

During his 21 years with the park, he led and managed this natural scenic attraction, including development and implementation of yearly operating budgets, marketing and education programs, human resource expansion, outstanding customer service delivery and strategic plans. Along with his team, Todd helped develop a corporate culture centered on integrity, service, stewardship, teamwork, growth, and fun. Todd recently authored a book, For the Love of Chimney Rock, about his family’s 105-year relationship with this special place.

Subsequent to the sale of Chimney Rock to the State of North Carolina in 2007, Todd managed a commercial real estate portfolio and became a licensed NC real estate broker. Having served extensively on non-profit and tourism boards in the region, Todd has most enjoyed serving in various capacities to support Lake Lure Classical Academy through the Finance Committee, Marketing Committee, the USDA application process for LLCA’s new gymnasium and the co-founding of the Lake Lure Community Education Foundation. Being a passionate lifelong learner, Todd firmly believes in our school’s essential role in helping all students reach their full potential and the benefits of a strong school to our community. Todd and his wife, Melinda (a founding LLCA board member), are proud parents of a son who was in the first graduating class of LLCA in 2016 and a younger son who is currently a student in the class of 2022.

Russ Pitts

SECRETARY: Russ Pitts has over three decades of corporate experience in various fortune 500 companies such as General Dynamics, Price Waterhouse, Frito-Lay, and Oracle Corporation, as well as other smaller companies where he has had roles from software designer/developer to global directorship of corporate wide operations. His focus expanded to community service work in the early 2000’s where he served on various local boards and committees as well as serving as a Lake Lure Town Commissioner from 2005 to 2009. Read more

Russ was part of the town leadership team that founded Lake Lure Classical Academy (LLCA) in 2010, and then served on the LLCA school board for six years. Russ currently also serves on Lake Lure Community Education Foundation (LLCEF) and PANGAEA Internet boards, and is very active in helping economic improvement occur in both Rutherford and Polk counties. Russ is passionate about the continued growth and success of the school. Russ's passion is driven by his solid belief that quality education for our children improves quality of life for everyone.

Jack Barton

TREASURER: Jack Barton and his wife Karen moved to Lake Lure in August 2014 after purchasing a home in Rumbling Bald Resort in 2012. Neither are North Carolina natives, but having both graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill (BS Mathematical Sciences, BS Pharm.), they claim “Tar Heels born and bred” status. Read more

They raised two sons in Raleigh and Charlotte, and they now live with their families in Myrtle Beach, SC and Orlando, FL. The four grandchildren love visiting the “mountain house”. Karen retired as a Target Pharmacist in 2013, and Jack wrapped up a 41-year career in software development in 2015, mostly in financial services. Working from home in Lake Lure was a great way to finish.

Jack is looking forward to the opportunity to serve as Treasurer of the Lake Lure Classical Academy board. He believes that supporting the school and its educational opportunities for the community can only make the Gorge a better place. And by helping deliver on the promise of LLCA, we can all support people and organizations that deliver positive change in Hickory Nut Gorge.

Andy Bell

BOARD MEMBER: Andy Bell retired to Lake Lure after a career in professional philanthropy. As President of the Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, he helped individuals, families, foundations and corporations design and implement innovative charitable giving strategies. Read more

In Lake Lure, he has volunteered with efforts such as the Marketing Assessment and Brand Development Joint Initiative of the Town of Lake Lure and Chimney Rock Village and, most recently, Lake Lure’s Asset Management Board.

A 7th generation North Carolinian, Andy married Janie Sailstad in 1973 in her hometown of Davidson, NC and they have three children, all doctors of one sort or another. Janie is a retired educator and counselor. They moved to Lake Lure in 2005 because of its natural beauty and love of “living in the middle of nowhere and the center of everything.” Together, Janie and Andy support education as a means of personal and community growth.

Michael Frierman

BOARD MEMBER: Michael Frierman is a senior level manager with over 17 years of demonstrated organizational leadership delivering innovation through big data predictive analytics in the Financial Services and Software industries. He has a strongly collaborative leadership style focused on personalized support enabling people to achieve success both individually and as a team. Read more

Michael earned a Ph.D. in Economics from Purdue University as well as a Masters in Social Science from the University of Chicago after receiving a BS from UCLA. Michael began his career in academics teaching Economics at the Graduate School of Business at Rutgers University before he transitioned to business.

Michael had the good fortune to begin telecommuting from his home office in Lake Lure more than four years ago. Michael is a strong advocate of local education and believes that the entire Hickory Nut Gorge community is enriched by and will thrive only when its children and young adults are provided an opportunity to receive a rigorous education in a safe and encouraging learning environment. Michael is an ardent believer in the importance of a strong and well-grounded education in critical thinking both for its own intrinsic value and as a means to enable people to achieve the potential they desire for themselves.

Tim Turner

BOARD MEMBER: Tim Turner has spent most of his life in the Lake Lure area. He and wife Whitney have three children Stella, Jed & Silas. He works locally in insurance and has an affinity for the great outdoors, sports & music and believes that this community offers a wonderful quality of life. Read more

He believes a school is an integral part of a vibrant community. To this end he finds it a privilege to be part of the team that is making LLCA a success in the lives of the students & families it serves and seeks to build on the School’s achievements to date.

Crystal Morrison

BOARD MEMBER: Crystal Morrison and her husband Buddy moved to Lake Lure in 2017. They moved to the community from Greenville, NC after Crystal's father moved to Charlotte. They wanted to be closer to him but not live in Charlotte. After looking at many communities, they fell in love with Lake Lure. They also have a condo at North Topsail Beach. Read more

Crystal is a lifelong North Carolinian who has made her way across the state and back. She was born in Gastonia and has lived in Fayetteville, Raleigh, and Greenville. She is a graduate of Meredith College with a double major in History and Political Studies.

During her early career, she worked in the Governor's Policy Office and then a non-profit in Raleigh. In 2000, she went to work for Centura Bank. She is currently a vice president and portfolio manager with PNC Bank, managing several project managers and their suite of projects for bank operations. Crystal services on the boards of the Hickory Nut Gorge Foundation and the Chamber of Hickory Nut Gorge. They are also active in their local church.

Randy Nelson

BOARD MEMBER: Randy Nelson and his wife, Nancy, bought their home in Lake Lure in 2014 and moved here permanently from West Tennessee in 2020. Randy retired from his consulting business in 2020. He has over 35 years experience in planning and community development, working for cities, nonprofits, and for- profit businesses. Read more

Randy's education consists of a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Arkansas and a master’s degree in City/Regional Planning from the University of Tennessee. Randy has always had an interest in the relationship between public education and the quality of life and economic development of a community. He seeks to maximize these relationships for the benefit of the Town of Lake Lure and the Lake Lure Classical Academy. Randy and Nancy love their new home and are looking forward to retirement living in Lake Lure!


BOARD MEMBER: Mary Kreider has lived in the Lake Lure area on her family’s beautiful farm for most of the last 25 years. Before moving to North Carolina, she lived in New Jersey in a small shore community where she raised two daughters and was a small business owner. Promoting downtown business development and community art, Mary was president of the Retail Merchants Association and a member of the local art center’s board of directors. Read more

Transitioning from an art business to becoming a chef, earning a graduate degree in Holistic Nutrition, and later, certification from Duke Integrative Medicine in Health and Wellness Coaching led to a 17-year career as the Integrative Health Director at CooperRiis Healing Community in Mill Spring. Mary is passionate about the importance of whole foods nutrition for optimal physical and mental health development across the lifespan. Currently semi-retired, she continues to consult for CooperRiis and works with clients in her private practice as a health and wellness coach. In her free time, she loves spending time with her husband Paul, gardening, cooking, and riding her horse Cody with friends and family on beautiful local trails.

Steve Milito

BOARD MEMBER: Steve Milito was born and raised in the suburban Philadelphia area. He attended the University of Miami where he earned a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering and a Doctor of Medicine degree. Read more

He completed his residency training in Radiation Oncology at the nationally renowned Fox Chase Cancer Center before becoming an Assistant Professor at the Medical University of South Carolina. He then moved to private practice in South Central Pennsylvania where he partnered with several local hospitals to provide clinical oncology services. Steve, and his wife Judy, retired to their home in Lake Lure. He is a strong proponent of lifelong learning and community service.