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James H. Allen ( Executive Director )

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Since 2001, Mr. Allen has served as Executive Director of the Knowledge-First Empowerment Center.  Through his vision, Knowledge-First, has created an accredited educational environment of learning aimed at motivating students to do more than just acquire knowledge. “At Knowledge-First, we believe education should not only address the intellectual capacities, but should be a matter of attaining proficiencies that lead to lifelong resiliency.”  We believe, as did Plato, that the purpose and ultimate value of education is not to stick thoughts into the pupils’ head, but inspire them to think for themselves.  

As a University of Houston graduate with a Bachelor in Music and a Masters in Education, James has sung with the Houston Grand Opera, the Houston Ebony Opera Guild, and he is a life member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Before arriving at Knowledge-First, James served over 25 years as an educator and assistant principal in the Houston Independent School District.  While with the district, he empowered students to maximize their potential, discover the importance of education, work to break the cycle of dysfunctional behaviors and learned to create their own personal significance.  

In 2013, Mr. Allen transformed Knowledge-First into an accredited K-12 Academy.  This accreditation allows students who have dropout out of school because of personal hardships, an opportunity to return to school and obtain their high school diploma. 
As a 501 (c)(3), Knowledge-First has received major funding which has supported this very unique paradigm.
In 2010, Mr. Allen was presented in Who’s Who In Black Houston for his outstanding contribution and service in education to the City of Houston.  A Houston, Texas native, Mr. Allen is married and the proud father of Thaddeus, Lauren and Gian.

Earnestine Allience ( Registrar )

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Andrea Thompson ( Instructor )

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Paul Stephens ( Instructor )

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Maryann Allen ( Instructor )

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Lisa Sylvester Acogny ( Director of Programs )

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Herve Tchouasi ( Director of African Recruitment )

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Hervé is born and raised in Cameroon and proud father of three very energetic boys. When he is not with his boys, Hervé is networking and bringing people together with opportunities that are of benefit to all.
Hervé currently resides in Houston, Texas where he has built a professional career in oil and gas within enterprise such as Schlumberger and TMK-Ipsco.
Hervé has a passion for philanthropy and values education and service.

He possesses a conservative investment philosophy, a high sense of integrity and enthusiastically gets others involved aspects of volunteer work and related organizations.

With a past experience in a financial firm in Cameroon before moving to the USA, and through that endowment, Hervé has accepted the official role of Director of Recruiting for the African region. He bridges the world of professionalism and philanthropy.

Alan Rodenstein ( Volunteer Grant Writer )

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Mr. Rodenstein is developing as a grant writer after a career in transit consulting that included assisting in the initiation of bus service in Lake Jackson and Texas City.  An accomplished writer, Mr. Rodenstein is publishing his first book, Contemporary Chess in America, in September 2015.  
A graduate of Mc Gill University and the University of Wisconsin with a Master’s in Public Policy, Mr. Rodenstein also had an extensive career in transit administration that included running the public paratransit operation in San Antonio and Columbus, Ohio. 

Married, with a grown son, Alan is originally from Boston, and has lived in Houston for 14 years.

Dr. Michael Swank ( Intern )

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          It is refreshing to work with the Knowledge First team to achieve my academic goals.
John W., Houston, TX
          The courses were well-organized and appropriate for my academic level.
India B., Sugarland TX

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