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.
Ted Hamory is the Head of School at The Oaks School. Ted’s career in education began over twenty-five years ago, as a bilingual teacher with Teach for America. Within a decade he had co-founded a small, bilingual charter school in downtown Long Beach, California. This school, which opened in 2000 with 70 students, brought progressive, public education to an underserved, ethnically diverse community. He then led the expansion of the school to three campuses, serving grades K-12, with 700 students. In 2010, Ted became the fourth Head of The Oaks School, a progressive K-6 school in Hollywood, where he is thrilled to help build on the school’s solid reputation for creating thoughtful, compassionate students who love to learn. Ted earned a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, a Master of Arts in Education from Pepperdine University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University, where he studied Economics and Spanish. Ted enjoys spending time with his large family of six children, ranging in age from 24 to 1 year old, reading and working in his garden.
Joe Harvey has been the Head of School at Mark Day School since July of 2011. Prior to Mark Day School, Joe served in the senior administrative post of Academic Dean at Marin Academy. In his ten years there he was also Junior Class Dean (2001 to 2004) and athletic director (2004 to 2007); he taught English throughout his time at MA. In 2002, he earned his master’s degree from the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College.
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.
Crystal is an experienced educator, facilitator and conference leader. She has served in many positions in her 25-year career at the Head-Royce School in Oakland including Assistant Head/Academic Dean, Director of Admissions and her current position as Head of School. She coaches school teams, leads in-services and finds innovative ways to make schools vibrant (and fun) places to work and learn.
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.
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.
Meera Ratnesar has over 20 years of experience in teaching and administration at independent schools. At Bryn Mawr College, Meera majored in Mathematics, minored in education and was SGA president her senior year. During her college years, she student taught at the Baldwin School for girls and worked as an intern in their admissions office. For nine years, she was a math teacher at the Collegiate School in New York City. She was also a debate coach, director of community service, math department chair and the Director of the Collegiate Teaching institute – a summer fellowship for young teachers of color in independent schools. After Collegiate, Meera returned to her home state, California, and served as Head of the Upper School at Harbor Day School for five years and was appointed Head of School at Curtis School in Los Angeles in 2016. She has a masters in Mathematics education from Columbia University Teachers College and a Masters in Private school Leadership from the Klingenstein Center Columbia University. Meera is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Education from the University of Pennsylvania in Education Leadership. Meera serves on a number of boards and advisory councils including California Teacher Development Collaborative and the advisory council for The College Preparatory School. Her interests lie in innovative teaching and curriculum, diversity and inclusivity in independent schools, and change management in schools and education.
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.
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.