Tanya Bryant remembers the day she decided to leave home and move to the South. She was scraping ice off her windshield in the harsh Chicago winter when it became clear: the next stage of her life would be in New Orleans. She still loves the Windy City, often going back to visit her parents and grandparents, but has found a home in New Orleans and at ReNEW Schools.
When Tanya was an accountant, straight out of college, she longed for a deeper connection to her work. Her colleagues were encouraging; they appreciated the way she could explain complicated ideas. It was this inspiration that led her to teaching, and that career brought her to the Crescent City. She taught elementary school with Teach for America. With a strong accounting background, she was recruited to ReNEW Schools to take the helm of the organization’s finances. She says the job “always offers something new to figure out, a challenge. It always keeps me on my toes.”
At ReNEW, Tanya has built a thriving finance office. The team’s success, she says, is due to having “a ton of smart people with very different personality types.” Under Tanya’s leadership, team members shine: task managers, analytic thinkers, and social butterflies who always keep it fun. Together, they handle the finances for five bustling schools. They tackle small issues, like tracking down receipts, and large projects, like closing out the fiscal year each fall. To prepare for audits, everyone on the team plays a part in coding, reconciling and staying organized. It may sound like a lot of work, but for Tanya, “it’s a little bit fun.”
Mother of two and wife, Tanya has a lively home life. Her son is a freshman who plays for Lusher Charter School’s Varsity team as starting left tackle. Her first-grade daughter enjoys playing handstands in the pool with her mom. They score each other’s performances; Tanya regularly gets eleven out of ten, while her daughter receives a more moderate 7 or 8. “I’m an honest parent,” she says, laughing. “She’ll never learn if she’s all lopsided and I give her a ten.”
If you catch Tanya with a book in her spare time, expect to see a management tome like “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” by John C. Maxwell and Steven R. Covey. If she’s reading for pleasure, however, she’ll pick up a fantasy book like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. The whole family enjoys watching American Ninja Warrior and Saints football games each week. They’re big fans. They have no plans to leave the city, where all of them feel at home. In fact, Tanya’s mom, who is her personal hero, may just move to New Orleans instead.