LIFT Consulting

We are a boutique consulting group that embeds and partners with schools to define and actualize their vision for school culture, all the while pushing schools to expand the breadth and depth of each school’s definition of culture and what is possible.  Front and center is our belief that relationships and systems are the pillars of culture and that we must attend to both.  

What we believe

We believe that in order to be truly impactful, we must be in the work.   More than half of our organization is current school-based practitioners.  We also have invested heavily in strategic development and content creation.   We chose this model for a few reasons. 

  • It will require that we stay attuned to evolving best practices and on the cutting edge of an evolving landscape of schools and school culture.
  • It keeps us thinking like Deans – it helps us focus on immediately actionable work in the culture team’s locus of control.  The feedback loop from the school-based teams to the content and strategy teams is invaluable in developing the most powerful program for you.
  • Each school will have a dedicated project leader, however, this model also allows us to most effectively and most equitably with primary points of contact as well as call on experts who are truly the best in the world at a given competency.
  • To produce the highest quality resources to effect the most change, we have a strong set of associates who are experts in particular parts of the work (culture, academics, curriculum, principal management, adult culture, etc.) That said, each school will have a primary point of contact who will, along with Christopher, be the person most heavily involved with your team. 

How we work…

The use of data has done amazing things for our strongest teachers and schools.  We know that schools benefit by using data to drive parts of culture as well.  Our “Culture IA” is a values-aligned, customizable approach to defining and assessing culture.  We help you define/decide on their vision for culture with all necessary stakeholders.  This results in an aspirational 3-year vision and a “this year” more foundational rubric.  The key here is that you and your team decide what is important, and what we are going to care about, and then we have a way to see if a) those things happened and b) if they had a meaningful impact on school culture.   We provide analysis and strategic plans based on observation and stakeholder input. We focus on solutions and teach skills necessary to execute and lead initiatives.  

How we think…

We reject the belief that systems and relationships are antithetical.  We believe in consistency and we believe in nuance.  We believe in best practices and we believe in the power of innovation.  We believe that “all truly means all” and a High Empathy, High Expectations approach supported by robust comprehensive scholar supports.

What sets LIFT apart from other development opportunities?

We have great respect for and have learned many many things from our friends and colleagues along the way. Without taking anything away from what they do, LIFT sets itself apart in breadth, depth, connection, and expertise.  


  • We believe that culture is like an ecosystem in that it evolves in coordinated stages and that all parts of the system must be working and be in balance.  Incremental change is not as powerful as a well-executed “reorientation”.  Peer organizations give you a piece of the puzzle, we dive in the understand the puzzle and work alongside you all (always developing capacity) to give the collection of practices that, together, will make the school “feel different”. We teach techniques and we coach on those techniques, we are teaching processes; 


  • We take a “whatever it takes” attitude when partnering with schools – we spend significant time in the school, connecting the dots of various culture PDs and techniques.  We do not partner with schools that aren’t committed to this work fully and for a period of at least 3 years.  We coach onsite to support our skill development and make real changes at schools.  Our work requires that we involve the staff and organization as partners in this work.

We are comprised of culture experts with a variety of skills, allowing us to call in additional support / find the best fit as needed.

Who we are...

Jarred Gourrier, Lead Consultant and School Success Specialist

Jarred has served for 5 years as Collegiate Academies (New Orleans, LA) Livingston Academy Dean of Students and recently as principal in residence.  Prior to this, Jarred anchored the culture of KIPP New Orleans High School.   In addition to the transformative work he has done in his hometown of New Orleans, he brings a track record of successful culture consulting.  Jarred quickly builds rapport with his high social intelligence and despite being a really nice person, he pulls no punches when it comes to setting the bar for excellence.

John Pettaway, M.A.T; Lead Consultant and School Success Specialist

John has been the heart and soul of every school at which he’s worked.  John has been a highly successful Dean of Students, Culture Team Leader, Teacher Coach, Athletic Director, and Coach at Achievement First Endeavor MS.  Prior to this he taught at the much-celebrated North Star Academy of Newark (Uncommon Schools).  Along the way, John has started multiple nonprofits dedicated to serving, mentoring, and shaping the powerful identities of young men of color.  John has also completed the two-year principal training program and Achievement First and is a member of the first cohort of The National Fellowship for Black and Latino Male Educators (NFBLME). John brings a gravitas, authenticity, intensity, and passion to this work that is incredibly rare.

Danita Nash, MA/MPA;  Consultant and School Success Specialist

In the best way possible, Danita is a force of nature and a joy to watch work.  Not satisfied with her current MM/MPA, Ms. Nash is currently pursuing her JD after serving as Dean of Students at FirstLine and Crescent City schools in New Orleans.  Over the last 5 years, Ms. Nash has founded and grown Rosenwald Collegiate into one of the best high schools in New Orleans.  Ms. Nash successfully led schools with a bias towards personality and later unlocked even more of her superpowers when she embraced culture-supporting systems and personal effectiveness.  Ms. Nash is always the first one to show up to the meeting.  Scholars, Staff, and Families all sing the praises of this incredibly special cultural leader.

Brian Gilmore, Consultant, and School Success Specialist

Brian is simply one of the best in the business.  After showing videos of Mr. Gilmore for years, LIFT is lucky to have him on board.  Currently, Brian serves as Dean of Culture and Discipline at G. W. Carver High School in New Orleans, LA where, along with Principal of the Year Jerel Bryant he and the team led one of the most dramatic turnarounds in history,  With an effect size higher than any in the nation four years ago, Brian and the team helped Carver turn from a school seeking compliance to a school with smiling scholars who proudly claim their school.  In addition to student culture, Brian comes from a team of adults that may likely be the staff with the best adult culture of any charter school in the nation. Before coming to Collegiate, Brian served in the NOLA PD.  While one might think Brian would rely on the strength to intimidate scholars into compliance, nothing could be further from the truth.  There is no better person out there at holding the line while de-escalating and connecting with scholars.

Christopher Habetler, Founder and CEO

Christopher has been in the School Culture ‘turnaround’ business for the last 20 years – a  teacher @ Sousa Middle School in Washington DC, Dean of Students @ Excel Academy, Boston MA, Chief Culture Officer @Collegiate Academies – LA, and Superintendent, Chief Culture Officer, High School Principal, @ Brooklyn Laboratory. After years of teaching, led the school culture turnaround work at Excel Academy in Boston as Dean of Students with Scott Given and Yutaka Tamura.   After leading one of the strongest school cultures in the country, Christopher was invited to be a consultant at a number of schools and CMOs.  Out of his work as an independent consultant, he is proud to have found the best of the best to partner with on this new venture.

For additional testimonials about our work, click here