Laura Vinsant

A year after longtime leader Michael Tipton announced he was leaving, Teach for America South Louisiana selected one of his top lieutenants as his replacement.

Laura Vinsant, 29, said she learned last week that she landed the executive director’s position and is now ready to get to work.

“I think Baton Rouge has the opportunity to be a proof point of what’s possible in education in this state,” Vinsant said.

Teach for America places top college graduates for two-year periods into public schools across the U.S that are dominated by students living in poverty. The organization started placing teachers in the Baton Rouge area in 1990. It now operates in 40 schools in seven parishes.

Tipton presided over rapid growth in the organization, growing its teacher corps from 50 to 175 teachers. The Baton Rouge native announced in May 2014 that he was leaving the south Louisiana chapter, but he didn’t leave until January.

Tipton endorsed the selection of “my friend and colleague Laura Vinsant,” calling her an “impressive talent.”

“I’m so excited for the south Louisiana community to get to know her and to see the amazing things she and Teach for America will do in the years to come,” he said.

Vinsant has worked since 2013 as the chapter’s managing director of development and alumni impact. She first started with Teach for America in 2007 as an elementary school teacher after she graduated from LSU.

“I came to Louisiana for school, fell in love and never left,” Vinsant said.

Vinsant taught second grade at North Highlands Elementary for a year and taught third grade at Scotlandville for a year. She then spent four years as a Teach for America recruiter.

Vinsant said she has been interested in becoming executive director since Tipton’s announcement, but she wanted to compete against the best applicants the organization could attract.

Vinsant said she has several goals on her agenda, including a fundraising campaign to expand the number of teachers, to expand teacher training and the support available to almost 200 former Teach for America members still teaching in the area, and to strengthen existing partnerships and add new ones with outside organizations.