A free, public K-12 charter school with 7 locations in rural communities of Utah!

Board of Directors

Brett Nielsen   Chairman of the Board


Brett brings a strong energy and excitement for the work of Athenian eAcademy. His background demonstrates incredible achievement as the direct result of focused hard work ethic. He has demonstrated at every turn the ability to recognize a challenge, identify assets at hand and make significant decisions to resolve key problems. This ability has been recognized by others, as evidenced by the many opportunities he has earned.

The focus of his contribution will be not only fiscal responsibility, viability and health of the organization but his understanding of budgets and sound fiscal procedures. His energy will be a great asset in finding key partners within communities and throughout the state. We will seek strong support from key stakeholders and immediately recognized Brett's abilities in this area.

Brett is married to the former Jennifer Redford. They are the proud parents of three beautiful children. Brett received his bachelor with a focus in political science from Utah Valley University, and his masters with a focus in international relations from Kings College, University of London. He has worked tirelessly to contribute through many fine organizations and efforts to the betterment of community.

Holly Richardson    Secretary/Treasurer of the Board


Holly was seen as an immediate asset to the unique challenges we anticipate serving our rural communities. We recognize that a public school is not just a tool of education but a focal point of community within the rural areas we will serve. We recognize the importance of working within the communities as a whole and becoming part of the framework. Research has shown that we will see several key populations of students immediately attracted to our model, which includes many that Holly has natural relationships, due to her background.

In her work Holly has worked with many non-traditional communities through Utah. Through this networks associated with homeschooling and midwifery Holly is well known. Her ability to help guide, direct and introduce our team to key players, communities and ideas will help us better work with and establish long lasting relationships within the communities. It is important that Athenian eAcademy become a contribution to the framework of community that is public education. In fact through Connections 360, a program uniquely developed by Matt Throckmorton and Vanderbilt University, we will work very intentionally to fit within community. Holly is an instant fit into the model and tools of Athenian eAcademy.

Holly is married to Greg Richardson, and have opened their home to many incredible children they love dearly. Holly received her bachelor degree from Midwives College of Utah after study at Brigham Young. She has extensive background in midwifery, a leader in Utah in expertise in this area. She has contributed richly to the lives of thousands with her focus on families within the community.

Matt Throckmorton   Ex Officio


Matt has worked tirelessly in the education reform community of both Utah and Tennessee, with a focus on charter schools. He began his work supporting strong policies that would incentivize the creation of many charter schools, to include supporting many of Utah's early charter schools such as Lincoln Academy, Reagan Academy, American Leadership Academy and others. In 2007 he accepted the responsibilities in Tennessee with the Tennessee Charter Schools Association, where he continued this work with a shift in focus to serving inner-city populations with significant achievement gaps. This work has exposed Matt to an entirely new way of utilizing education reform tools in the charter school framework.

Athenian eAcademy is the result of these two charter school worlds with a new challenge of developing an operational model that will successful serve rural communities. Athenian eAcademy is a collaborative project that will bring together ideas and influences from both Utah and Tennessee to resolve the challenge of creating a truly replicable rural charter school model. Athenian eAcademy will also utilize tools that have so effectively established strong school culture models within the urban education arena. Another opportunity to utilize charter schools as laboratories of learning.

Matt is married to the former Valerie Reynolds and has two daughters. He received his bachelor degree from Brigham Young in political science. He served two-terms in the Utah House of Representatives and his heart and work remain committed to supporting the great state of Utah.

Amy Smith   Board Member


Amy brings with her an incredible strength of academic research and implementation. Our model has several key challenges, which includes the delivery of blended learning. We recognize that we cannot simply rely on vendors, even reports generated through traditional means. We will utilize these though with Amy's contribution we will have a board member with a professional background to help guide the academic discussion.

Dr. Smith has worked extensively with various reform models that have implemented different types of instruction. She has also worked closely with a number of charter schools in various school districts to observe practices and evaluate results. In addition she has experienced private education reform efforts, as well as her exposure into the public education arena. She is very well versed on No Child Left Behind and Race To the Top and Common Core.

By inviting Amy to our board we are adding a strong voice to advocate for quality academics. And someone who can help evaluate the data, be a resource for the Chief Executive Officer and help network into the professional world of education reform as unique challenges or opportunities arise.

Karen Ellingson  Board Memeber


Karen received her bachelor degree from BYU-Idaho and is currently pursuing a master degree in Public Administration through BYU's Marriot School of Management. She has a background in public service, having served on various community boards and with her local PTA. Karen brings with her a passion for access to quality education and for helping children to see the nearly limitless possibilities education and lifelong learning can bring. Karen is married to Brent Ellingson and they are the parents of four school age children.