Carissa Kolakauskas is the Director of the Aurora Program.
Originally from Connecticut, Carissa relocated to New Orleans in 2001 to attend Tulane University. Three years later, she graduated cum laude, earning her bachelor’s degree in psychology with minors in Spanish and urban sociology. It was during her years at Tulane that Carissa grew connected to the city of New Orleans and formed a strong commitment to community service. Carissa’s experience with the youth of New Orleans stems from extensive volunteer work with programs such as For the Children, America Reads, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters in pre-Katrina New Orleans public schools. Carissa chose to develop her passion for community service, social justice, and educational equality by completing her Master’s degree in Social Work at Tulane University, with a concentration in child and adolescent development.
She has a number of years of experience as a clinician with the Jefferson Parish Juvenile Court and Jefferson Parish Public School System. In 2007, she joined the founding team at New Orleans College Prep Charter School, where she served as the school Social Worker. During her seven years with New Orleans College Prep, Carissa built the mental health, social-emotional learning, and family supports programs while establishing strong connections with community organizations and stakeholders. As a member of the middle school leadership team and adjunct faculty at Tulane University, Carissa discovered a passion for supporting professionals to more effectively change the lives of youth and the educational and social systems of New Orleans.