meet our team
Dr. Lydotta M. Taylor is the Founder, President, and CEO of The EdVenture Group, Inc. Beginning as a high school math teacher, Dr. Taylor has built a career through her passion to teach and lead others. An entrepreneur at heart, she founded The EdVenture Group, an educational consulting non-profit, in 2001. With her leadership and educational background, The EdVenture Group has implemented over 7,000 workshops for educators and impacted over 25,000 students. Today, The EdVenture Group are leaders in school culture, technology integration, and youth programming and have managed over $20 million in federal, state, and private funding.
Throughout her career, Dr. Taylor has committed herself to a mission of lifelong learning and growth. Her education career began as a high school math and computer science teacher, growing to serve as the Instructional Technology Coordinator for the Monongalia County school system. Prior to founding The EdVenture Group, she served as Vice President for Workforce and Education at the West Virginia High Technology Consortium (WVHTC) Foundation. She completed the Advanced Management Program at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business Executive Education, and completed the Life Success Consulting and Coaching certification in 2009. She earned her Doctoral degree in Curriculum & Instruction with a specialization in STEM Professional Development from West Virginia University in 2011 and continues to seek opportunities to grow both professionally and personally.
Dr. Taylor is an active volunteer in the community and recently led the United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties in a $1,570,000 campaign. She serves on numerous boards and provides mentorship to many organizations. Dr. Taylor continues to utilize her love for teaching and has taught at the collegiate level in Leadership Studies for the College of Arts & Science at WVU, the MBA, eMBA and MSIR programs at the College of Business & Economics at WVU. Dr. Taylor was recognized as the 2019 Distinguished Alumnus by Leadership West Virginia for her service and leadership throughout the state. In 2022 Dr. Taylor was recognized as a West Virginia Executive Magazine Sharp Shooter; a title awarded to honorees dedicated to the pursuit of making West Virginia a better place.
Dr. Taylor is many things – a leader, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, a keynote speaker, a published author, a mother. At the foundation of these many roles and titles, Dr. Taylor remains one thing – a teacher. Today, the world is her classroom.
Kayla Benson, MPA is the Director of Impact at The EdVenture Group. Kayla began her career in the child advocacy field, leading growth efforts at two community-based organizations as a Development Coordinator at the Monongalia County Child Advocacy Center and, prior to EdVenture, as the Executive Director at CASA For Kids of Monongalia and Preston Counties. Kayla applies lived experience as a non-profit leader and nearly a decade working with children, families, and team members to support professional development, advocacy, and leadership efforts that benefit education communities across West Virginia and the nation. Kayla’s unique background in the child advocacy field adds perspective and an understanding of the strengths, complexities, and challenges of the families and communities served to her work in K-12 education with EdVenture.
Kayla earned her Master’s degree in Public Administration from West Virginia University in 2011, supported by a B.A. in Multidisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Leadership Studies, Entrepreneurship, and Communication. She completed her certificate in Executive Leadership from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business Executive Education in 2022. She remains personally committed to advocating for and supporting children who are in the system through no fault of their own as a CASA volunteer and mentor with Harbor 58. Kayla’s passion for helping children and families, combined with her background and experience in prevention and leadership, drive her current efforts in leading the development and implementation of The EdVenture Group’s Prevention Program, and the Leaders Investing in Family Engagement (LIFE) Program. Kayla currently serves as the Assistant Director of the West Virginia Family Engagement Center (WVFEC), leading efforts to enhance family engagement across the state and serves as the co-lead of the REL Appalachia Kinship Caregivers and Grandfamilies Community of Practice (CoP). Kayla strives to use innovative strategies to build partnerships and programming to solve generational and community-specific challenges to her work at The EdVenture Group.
Amber Ravenscroft is the Director of Innovation at The EdVenture Group. With an eye for design, Amber began her career at the organization as a marketing intern. She quickly found her passion in K-12 educational programming and today brings entrepreneurship education, workforce development, and STEM innovation to the forefront of The EdVenture Group’s professional offerings.
Amber serves as the Project Director for the West Virginia Entrepreneurship Pathway, a collaborative effort between the Marshall University, the WV Department of Education, and West Virginia University to develop and pilot the state (and nation’s) first formal career and technical education (CTE) entrepreneurship program, supported through funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).
Amber has also served as the Program Manager for The National Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education (EntreEd)’s ARC-funded entrepreneurship programs for the past five years, impacting over 55,000 Appalachian students.
Amber serves as Co-Chair of the West Virginia Entrepreneurship Ecosystem, Co-Chair of National Entrepreneurship Week, and Special Interest Group Chair for the K-12 SIG of the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE). She is an avid volunteer and mentor and has judged and mentored students within several national and state-based entrepreneurship competitions and programs.
Amber led The EdVenture Group to be one of only 29 internationally-awarded Google RISE organizations for the CS EdVenture program in 2016, and was a featured breakout speaker at the 2018 National Title I Conference in Philadelphia, PA, where she spoke of the organization’s work on female students in STEM and Computer Science. Today, she manages a portfolio of education initiatives focused on K-12 education innovation.
Amber earned her B.S. in Strategic Communications from West Virginia University in 2015 and her M.S.Ed. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2019. With a skill for finding, framing, and solving problems in the education sector, Amber’s passion for K-12 innovation has led to over $4.5 million in grant funding and impacted thousands of students and teachers across Appalachia and the country.
Dr. Megan Mikesell is a Sr. Program Manager and Family Engagement Specialist with The EdVenture Group. Megan completed her doctoral program at West Virginia University (WVU) focusing on Human Development and Family Studies, specifically on early childhood educators’ attitudes toward addiction and how it relates to their relationships with students. She received her Master’s degree from West Virginia University in Educational Psychology in 2014, and her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Marshall University.
Prior to joining The EdVenture Group, Megan worked as the program coordinator for Project TRAIN (Teacher Resources for Addiction Impact Now), an initiative at WVU that seeks to meet WV K-12 teachers’ expressed needs regarding the impact of the opioid crisis. She has also previously worked as a primary instructor for beginning-level undergraduate courses in WVU’s Child Development and Family Studies program and as an Assistant Preschool Teacher at WVU’s Early Learning Center.
Megan is excited to bring her human development expertise to work with a passionate, like-minded team whose primary goal is to support families, schools, and communities for a safer and healthier future.
Jennifer Wotring, SHRM-CP, began her career and project development experience over 20 years ago when she played a lead role in the design and implementation of the Internet Fraud Complaint Center. Through strong management and oversite, this project later developed into a joint partnership between the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) and the FBI. Jennifer served in a supervisory role where she trained, guided, and led a group of 15 analysts, while also serving as the liaison between the NW3C and FBI. Shortly after joining The EdVenture Group in 2006, Jennifer was able to bridge her two passions of criminal justice and education by developing an internet safety training CD for school administrators and staff.
Jennifer is a skilled presenter with over 14 years of experience developing and delivering educational programming and professional development to students, staff, and administrators, including the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Preston County’s After School Explorers Staff and numerous other clients. In her current position she excels at providing event planning and logistics facilitation to a variety of educational clients including REL Appalachia, EntreEd, and partners of the ARC-POWER funded CODE grant. Jennifer has previously served as the Director of Lemonade Day West Virginia.
Jennifer holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology. Dedicated to personal and professional growth, she is a 2011 graduate of Leadership Monongalia and a 2012 graduate of Leadership West Virginia. In 2015, Jennifer became a SHRM-Certified Professional and now provides HR oversite to the leadership and staff at The EdVenture Group. Jennifer currently serves on the United Way of Mon and Preston Counties Citizens’ Review Committee and Women United initiative.
Angela Mink is a Program Manager with The EdVenture Group. Prior to her time with EdVenture, Angela taught in the public-school setting as a preschool special needs itinerant teacher and middle school classroom teacher for several years. She has also worked in the private school setting teaching middle school history and helping in other roles in the school’s fine arts program. Angela has more than a decade working with children in and out of the classroom.
Angela is currently working towards her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from Liberty University. She received her Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Marshall University, and her Bachelor’s degree in History from West Virginia State University.
Angela is a lifelong resident of West Virginia and has lived in the southern and northern parts of the state. This has allowed her to see many different views and perspectives of the educational system across WV. With her love of the state and her love for students, she hopes to bring this passion for helping children and families to the educational environment.
Kim Zirk began her career in early childhood development, starting as a teacher’s aide for K-6 students at her local childcare center, and later serving as a teacher for the after-school program. During her undergrad, she also served as a high school student teacher where she focused her action research on differentiating curriculum to address the individual learning styles of students. Kim then worked for West Virginia University after she graduated in May of 2010 with a Master’s degree in Secondary Education, and a Bachelor’s degree in English.
After leaving the education industry, Kim served as a Client Coordinator for a management consultancy that focuses on proven principles of behavioral science to improve organizations from nonprofits to Fortune 50 companies. She has also worked as a Client Manager to recruit talent and build stronger teams for entrepreneurial and corporate companies, while also learning what skills are needed for today’s evolving job market.
Joining The EdVenture Group as a Program Manager is an opportunity for Kim to return to her passion in education and share her classroom and corporate experience to help enable students to prepare for their future careers while also building their skills to be successful today.
Cameron Keefe graduated from West Virginia University in May of 2022 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, majoring in Global Supply Chain Management and with a minor in Entrepreneurship.
During her undergrad, she created her own product and entrepreneurial venture and entered various business plan competitions both state and nationwide. This experience sparked her passion for entrepreneurship and mentoring others to embrace innovation. She has competed in the WV State Business Plan Competition, part of Bridging Innovation Week, and worked with many of EdVenture’s partners within the WV Entrepreneurship Ecosystem.
Cameron will share her enthusiasm for innovation and creativity throughout schools and communities in Appalachia and empower others to chase their dreams.
Victoria Taylor graduated from West Virginia University in May 2021 with a B.A. in Criminology along with minors in Law and Legal Studies and Addiction Studies. She currently is attending WVU to pursue her Master’s in Social Work.
During her undergrad, she completed internships with CASA for Kids of Monongalia and Preston Counties and the Northern District of West Virginia Drug Court Program which allowed her to explore her interests while gaining new perspectives of how she can help individuals in her home state of West Virginia. While interning for CASA for Kids MPC, she created and organized the Back-to-School Supply Drive. Over 1,500 supplies were collected along with donations for children in the community. The NDWV Drug Court Program allowed her to observe and participate as a team member, expanding her knowledge of the rehabilitative program, the criminal justice system, and substance abuse culminating in a capstone project and presentation.
Joining The EdVenture Group as a Family Engagement Specialist with the WV Family Engagement Center program is an opportunity that will allow Victoria to use her beliefs and skillsets to empower and encourage others.