Jeff is head of Chinese American International School (CAIS), a PreK-8 dual language immersion school in San Francisco. Before coming to CAIS Jeff lived for over a decade in China were he directed the Beijing campus of the independent school consortium School Year Abroad. Previous to that he taught Chinese at Marquette University in Milwaukee. Jeff began his career teaching in public schools in Wisconsin. He has served on various boards including Chinese Early Language and Immersion Network (CELIN) at Asia Society, Keystone Academy in Beijing, the 1990 Institute, and Western Academy of Beijing. Jeff is a life-long devotee of international and experiential education. He believes that the key to a successful school is the quality of its people and their relationships with one another. Jeff holds a BA in history from Lawrence University and MA and PhD degrees in Chinese language and literature from the University of Wisconsin.
After graduating from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in English, Mitch taught and coached at independent schools in Massachusetts and Los Angeles before arriving in the Bay Area in 1992. After five years at Sacred Heart Schools in Atherton, he joined the faculty at Mount Tamalpais School in Mill Valley, where he also served as Dean of Faculty while earning his M.Ed in Organizational Leadership from the University of San Francisco in 2007. In 2009, he joined The Berkeley School as middle school division head, and was appointed Head of School in 2010. Mitch was a founding member of Teachers’ Education Network and is a member of the East Bay Independent Schools’ Association governance group. He believes that transformative teaching and learning practices allow all participants to feel seen and supported simultaneously, and knows no organization better at helping teachers develop those practices than CATDC.
Having worked for over thirty years in independent schools across the country, Travis Brownley, Head of School at Marin Academy, brings a commitment to faculty professional development, student centered learning and experiential education to her work at the CATDC. Travis holds a BA cum laude from the University of Virginia and an MALS with distinction from Dartmouth College. She has taught English, coached and developed leadership programs in schools.
Julia Russell Eells is entering the 35th year of her career in independent education. Before becoming the head of school at University High School, Julia was the head of school at Lincoln School in Providence, RI, from 2005–2013. During her tenure at Lincoln, she established the Center for Peace, Equity, and Justice Through Service to deepen the context of the school’s commitment to community service.
With a BA from Hobart and William Smith Colleges and an MA from Wesleyan University, Julia has held positions as the assistant director of admissions at Hobart and William Smith (NY), director of college counseling at the Ethel Walker School (CT), and dean of admission and college counseling at Miss Porter’s School (CT), and assistant head of school at Westminster School (CT).
Julia was a member of the executive committee of the Board of the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools, and has served as a trustee on the Boards of A Better Chance House (CT), St. Michael’s School (RI) and Community Preparatory School (RI).
Before being unanimously appointed Head of School by Vistamar’s Board of Trustees in 2011, Karen Eshoo spent 20 years as an educator and administrator in independent schools, most recently as the Assistant Head of School at the well-regarded Lick-Wilmerding High School (LWHS) in San Francisco. Prior to LWHS, she served as a teacher and Principal at Sacred Heart Schools in Atherton—her alma mater—and was a teacher at St. Anthony High School in Long Beach. Her career also includes stints as the co-director of a 6-week academic summer enrichment program for high school students from the US and abroad at Stanford University and as co-director of the Summer Arts Programme at St. Clare’s, Oxford.
With a B.A. in Government from Dartmouth College and a M.S. in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Luke assumed the Headship at The Bay School of San Francisco in July of 2015 following a successful decade-long tenure as Head of School at Madison Country Day School, a Pre-K-12 school in Madison, Wisconsin. From a family of educators, Luke has worn many hats over his career from teaching at each divisional level and college advising to serving in a range of administrative positions. Committed to ongoing innovation within the wider independent school community, Luke also serves on the Board of ISACS (Independent Schools Association of the Central States) and has previously served WCRIS (Wisconsin Council of Religious and Independent Schools) and WAIS (Wisconsin Association of Independent Schools).
Valentina is the founding Head of La Scuola International School. She graduated from the University of Bologna and went on to get a Ph.D. in Material Science and Engineering from Bologna University and the University of Cambridge, U.K. She moved to San Francisco in 2000 to work as a researcher in Biomedical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. After the birth of her two sons, Stefano and Matteo, Valentina enrolled her son Stefano at La Piccola Scuola Italiana in 2005 and immediately fell in love with the small small but full of potential educational project and became a vital member of the La Scuola community, rediscovering her passion for children and education. Valentina accepted the position of Direttrice in June 2007 to transform La Piccola Scuola Italiana program into a PreK-8 School built upon the Reggio Emilia philosophy and soon to be the first accredited International Baccalaurate for the primary years program in the city of San Francisco. Valentina is passionate about science, innovation, social constructivism and the Reggio Emilia teaching philosophy. La Scuola has very strong ties to Reggio Emilia and Reggio Children and holds professional development as one of its core values. Teachers are researchers and are encouraged and supported to reflect, innovate and be learners for life. Valentina loves her two boys, Italian food and culture and the beautiful California outdoors.
Elizabeth McGregor was appointed the 11th head of Westridge School for Girls in July 2009. Born and raised in England, Liz attended an all-girls high school and earned a Bachelor of Education degree and Certificate in Education from the University of London. Liz later moved to the United States, where she completed her Master of Education degree at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Her career has encompassed teaching students from kindergarten through 12th grade in South Africa, New York, Connecticut, and Southern California.
After a recent move from the Bay Area to Southern California, Mark McKee is now serving as the Head of School at Viewpoint School in Calabasas. Mark began his journey in education at Polytechnic School in Pasadena, serving as an English teacher, Director of Technology and Director of Summer School. He also served as the Head of Upper School at Chase Collegiate School and most recently held a position as the Head of School at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Day School in San Mateo.
Virginia holds an M.A. in Curriculum and Teaching from Columbia University Teachers College and a B.A. in English Literature from Pomona College. She began her career as a preschool teacher in San Francisco, spent three years at Hillbrook School teaching kindergarten, and arrived at Live Oak to teach third grade. She became Live Oak’s Lower School Director in 2002 and accepted the position of Assistant Head in 2003. In 2010 she was appointed Head of School after a nationwide search. She is also a respected professional advisor and is a presenter for the California Teacher Development Collaborative’s professional development workshops on differentiated instruction and independent school leadership.
Bob Riddle brings three decades of experience as an educator to his role as Head of School at Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences in Santa Monica. Before taking on his role as head in 2009, Riddle served as the assistant headmaster and dean of faculty. He joined the school in 1984 as a middle school math and life skills teacher and served as upper school director, among other positions. Riddle received a master’s degree in educational administration from Columbia University Teachers College in 1994 and was a co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. Bob Riddle is currently on leave from the CATDC Board.
After having served as the senior rabbi for nearly a decade at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood, Ohio, Howard Ruben joined the Jewish Community High School as Head of School in 2008. He previously served as the executive director of Cincinnati’s Bureau of Jewish Education. Rabbi Ruben also has deep roots in the Bay Area Jewish and secular communities. Prior to entering the rabbinate, he served as a partner in the law firm of Severson & Werson in San Francisco, and held lay leader positions on the boards of the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Bulletin of Northern California. Rabbi Ruben graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with honors; the University of California, Hastings College of Law, in San Francisco; and Hebrew Union College, in Cincinnati and Jerusalem, where he studied as a Wexner Graduate Fellow. He also was in the inaugural class of Rabbinic Fellows of the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.
Angela Taylor began serving as Head of Convent of the Sacred Heart Elementary School in fall 2012, although she has long been a part of the Convent & Stuart Hall community, having served as Lower Form Dean at Stuart Hall for Boys from 2000-2012, and interim Head of School there during the 2004-2005 school year. Angela is an integral part of the Campus Ministry Team and offers both an expertise in curriculum development and a passion for the mission created and lived by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Angela began her career in education as a homeroom teacher for grades 4 and 5 in Atlanta, and then as a math and science teacher to grades 6 and 7 in Oakland and Boston. She has a master’s degree in School Administration from the University of Massachusetts in Boston and a bachelor’s degree in Child Development from Spelman College for women in Atlanta.
Eric Temple’s entire independent school career has been spent in California. He currently serves as The Head of School at Lick-Wilmerding High School, a coed day 9-12 high school in San Francisco. Before joining Lick-Wilmerding, for seven years Eric headed The Carey School, a pre-kindergarten through fifth grade coed day school in San Mateo. Eric began his career teaching English and as the Dean of Students at Ojai Valley Upper School, then moved to Crystal Springs Uplands School where he taught English, was the Dean of Studies and Assistant Head of School. Eric has served on many school boards, including Live Oak School, Philips Brooks School, Marin Academy, Trinity School, and Archbishop Riordan High School, and served as the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the California Association of Independent Schools where he chaired the Secondary School Board of Standards. Eric is an enthusiastic supporter of the Klingenstein Center, were he attended the Summer Teaching Institute (’92), the Full Year Fellowship (’95) and the Visiting Head’s program (’10) and is one of the founding editors of Klingbrief a monthly newsletter that identifies sources of interest to independent schools. Eric holds a BA (Boston College) and MA (UMass – Amherst) in English Literature and a MEd in Educational Leadership (Teachers College, Columbia University). In his spare time he enjoys woodworking, gardening, and traveling with his husband.
Jenn Foley Tolbert is in her second year as Head of School at Saint Mark’s School, Altadena, CA. For the past seven years, Jenn served as the Middle School Director at Polytechnic School in Pasadena, CA. Prior to that, she was the Associate Director of Admissions at Campbell Hall School in North Hollywood, CA and Director of Diversity and Middle School Director at the Gordon School in East Providence, RI. Jenn taught English and social studies for nine years before moving into administration. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from St. Michael’s College and a Master of Arts in Educational Administration from Columbia University, Teachers College. Currently Jenn is a board member at The Center for Early Education and CalWest Educators. In her free time, Jenn enjoys being with her family of six children and her husband. Jenn also enjoys gardening, cooking, playing basketball, eating ice cream, and listening to jazz music.