Leadership Spotlight: John Alvendia, CEO

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John Alvendia is known for three things: his lifelong love of New Orleans; a passion for dynamic, accessible education; and an entrepreneurial spirit that just won’t quit. Roll these together, and you’ve discovered their perfect blend: NOLA Education.

But before John became CEO of NOLA, an education company that’s served tens of thousands of students nationwide, John had a simpler role: tutoring one student at a time. That’s right, John’s journey in education began with a good, old-fashioned college job: tutoring high school students part-time while enrolled in the University of New Orleans’ Electrical Engineering program. Little did he know that planted the seeds for his life’s work.

Following Graduation from UNO, John took a job as a project engineer at a chemical plant. His innate interest in science and math, along with his intrinsic desire to push the bounds of innovation, eventually led him to the field of educational software.

 In 1998, John co-founded JRL Enterprises, Inc., an educational technologies company where he designed and coded the “I CAN Learn” algebra software. In a few short years, the program blossomed from a startup to a $35 million company that served learners from K-12 classrooms and colleges to correctional facilities and adult learning programs. That gratifying work laid the foundation for his true calling: NOLA Education, a company focused on delivering innovative, research-backed education technologies to local, state, and federal clients seeking at-risk student intervention.

NOLA Education: A Southern Company in Full Bloom

Over the last decade, NOLA has grown steadily, with an impressive boom occurring in the past two years. The culprit of the company’s meteoric ascent? COVID-19. While the pandemic didn’t serve as a catalyst for growth for most industries, it did for NOLA, which specializes in helping students catch up in the classroom.

Over the last decade, NOLA has grown steadily, with an impressive boom occurring in the past two years. The culprit of the company’s meteoric ascent? COVID-19. While the pandemic didn’t serve as a catalyst for growth for most industries, it did for NOLA, which specializes in helping students catch up in the classroom.

Despite online learning efforts, the average student fell behind at least 12 months during the pandemic. Some students, including those from lower socio-economic backgrounds with limited academic resources, found themselves more than 18 months behind.

But that is where NOLA Education’s offering Star Academy steps in.

Star Academy is a proven academic accelerator that uses project-based learning, situated within inclusive classroom environments to keep learners coming to school and on track towards graduation. That’s why school districts, cooperatives, and state leaders have partnered with NOLA over the past 24 months to help reach their students before they slip out of their hands.

Following the pandemic, NOLA has blossomed into an education innovation company that serves thousands of students each semester. Our staff and facilities have also grown to accommodate an increasing demand for our product and services.

Our growth cycle is nowhere near complete, however, as the company is still seeking innovative leaders and passionate educators to round out its team.

NOLA’s Executive Leadership Team (L-R): Robin Mussa, Chief Experience Officer; Virginia Robinson, Chief Education Officer; John Alvendia, Chief Executive Officer; Jay Wehrer, Chief Operations Officer.

Now Hiring: Motivated Leaders, Ready to Inspire.

“At NOLA, we think ‘outside the box,” said John. “We don’t hire based on job history alone – we are open to applicants with unique skillsets that could benefit the company. It’s about the WHO, not WHAT.”

Are you a prospective employee, AND you’re crazy about New Orleans? Let’s just say that’s a big plus here. That’s because John believes there’s no place like the South, and more specifically, there’s no place like New Orleans.

You see, New Orleans itself shares similarities to what a NOLA employee should be: passionate, vibrant, imaginative, and committed to having a good time while making an impact. And at the end of the day, that warm spirit of New Orleans hospitality permeates our team – we strive to connect with one another, appreciate each other’s skills, and enjoy one another’s company, too. And the opportunities for advancement and role development within our team: virtually endless.

Now that NOLA is a bonafide success, people often ask John what’s next for him. For John, that answer is simple: Growing their clientele until there’s a Star Academy program in every state – and hopefully, then every county – across the nation. Retirement isn’t – and probably won’t ever truly be – on the table.

“Star Academy is my life’s work,” said John. “There’s nothing more gratifying than seeing lives changed through this program. Having parents chase you down in a parking lot and thank you for what you’ve done for their child with tears in their eyes – that’s what this work is all about.”

Heartfelt Gratitude & Appreciation

John pointed out however that NOLA wouldn’t be what it is today without those who have loved, supported, and inspired him throughout the years, especially his wife, their four wonderful sons, and his executive team—Jay Wehrer, Virginia Robinson, and Robin Mussa.

John’s long-time love and supporter, his wife, Angele, and his new inspiration: his first grandchild!

The Original Fab Four: John and Angele’s four sons, as well as their beloved daughters-in-law, and sweet grandbabe!

“Everything I’ve been able to accomplish is because of the unwavering support of my wife, the love of my sons, and the loyalty of my leadership team, even when times were tough,” John said. “I’m forever grateful to them, and hope to make them even more proud in the years ahead.”

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