Derec Shuler, executive director of Ascent Classical Academies, is also the founder of Golden View Classical Academy, a K-12 charter public school located in Golden, Colorado. He was previously involved in a charter startup in Denver Public Schools and was on the Advisory Board of KIPP Colorado. Mr. Shuler is an entrepreneur and previously worked in technology and technical operations with the U.S. government, where he served overseas. He was a special agent and Major in Military Intelligence for the US Army Reserves. Mr. Shuler is also a commercial pilot. He obtained his undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Appalachian State University in North Carolina. He is proud to be a part of the Leadership Network of the American Enterprise Institute, is on the Advisory Board of the Leadership Program of the Rockies, an Education Policy Fellow for the Centennial Institute, and is a graduate of Leadership Denver through the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation. He enjoys travel, road and mountain biking, skiing and snowboarding, and long-distance running. Mr. Shuler is married with two children and lives in the mountains outside Golden, Colorado.
Rick Wrona, chief operating officer, is a retired Infantry Officer and Strategist of the United States Army. He is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and John Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Prior to joining Ascent, Mr. Wrona served as the Chief Operating Officer of Liberty Common School in Fort Collins, CO; as a private consultant assisting clients in leadership development, strategy development, and risk/security assessments; and as a Senior Manager of Strategic Insights at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. He is a Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Chris Scott, chief finance officer, worked for more than six years as a financial consultant to more than 30 charter schools in Colorado prior to joining the Ascent Classical leadership team. Mr. Scott advised school administrators and boards in the areas of budget modeling and forecasting, federal grant management, financial reporting, and the implementation of sound financial policies and procedures. Earlier, he worked for five years as a member of the administrative team opening a charter school in Denver, providing operational management as a Dean of Students. Mr. Scott graduated from Carnegie Mellon University and worked in business management for 8 years before moving to the public sector. He volunteers as a Director for the City of Lakewood’s Budget and Audit Board and was a past member of the Finance Committee of the public charter school attended by his children. Mr. Scott, his wife, and his children reside in Lakewood and are steadfast advocates of school choice.
Matthew Vlahovich, superintendent, joins Ascent Classical after twelve years with Great Hearts Academies, where he served as headmaster over schools in Arizona and Texas. His leadership experience during this time included opening three campuses and reforming another campus. Vlahovich earned a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Arizona and an M.Div from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is currently pursuing a master’s in character education from the University of Birmingham.
Amy Willis, chief marketing and communications officer, joined the Ascent Classical leadership team after more than fourteen years of marketing for higher education institutions in Texas. Mrs. Willis earned a bachelor’s degree in communication design from Texas Tech University and a master’s in business administration from Abilene Christian University. Mrs. Willis also partnered with nonprofit organizations and K-12 public schools to aid with fundraising, grant applications, and branding/advertising design. She is passionate about volunteering in the community and most recently acted as treasurer for the Hoplite Council, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting Founders Classical Academy of Schertz. Mrs. Willis resides in Highlands Ranch with her husband and three daughters, who attend Ascent Classical Academy of Douglas County. They strongly support the arts and enjoy hiking, biking, and camping.