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Schedule, Descriptions & Presenter Information

HR Workshop, Facilities Workshop & Annual Meeting & Conference

Sunday, May 5 & Monday, May 6 2024

The Garland Hotel, North Hollywood, CA

Our conference planning group has designed an outstanding program! Plan your time during the workshops and conference using the descriptions below.

Schedule and Breakout Session Descriptions

Day 1: Sunday, May 5, 2024

2024 HR Workshop

8:15am – 8:30am

Newcomers Welcome & Orientation - Garland Ballroom South

Join us for a brief introduction to Cal-ISBOA and the programs we provide. This time is for you to ask questions and meet other first-time attendees.

Hosted by Angela Oliver, Director of HR, Sage Hill School

8:30am – 9:15am

Registration & Breakfast - Courtyard & Garland Ballroom South

9:15am – 9:55am

Welcome, Introductions & Warm-Up Activity - Garland Ballroom South

Test and expand your HR knowledge in a fast-paced AND informative round of HR Kahoot.

Jessica McCullagh, Director of HR, The Archer School for Girls and Michael Blacher, Partner, Liebert Cassidy Whitmore

10:00am – 11:30am

General Session Keynote - Garland Ballroom South

Handling Conflict through the ARTful Conversation

Ashley Virtue

Communication is a big part of our daily lives – in the workplace, in the community and at home. Yet we sometimes find ourselves unable to express what we intended or needed to say. Perhaps this is because we are reluctant to offend the other person, or we don’t want to escalate a situation.

The National Conflict Resolution Center (NCRC) understands: The desire to avoid conflict is natural. That’s why they developed The ARTful Conversation, an interactive method that helps leaders communicate their needs in a way that builds relationships, rather than hurting them. This session uses real examples, developed with the participants in mind, to help you practice the ARTful Conversation structure in a practical way. You will gain a deeper understanding of how others perceive and process conflict and learn how to adapt your own style to work more effectively with others in all settings.

By the end of this session, you will have new tools to:

• Apply the principles of collaborative communication in interactions with others;

• Utilize new communication skills that reduce tension;

• Express your perspectives in non-confrontational ways;

• Resolve differences, even when engaged in confrontational dialogue.

12:45pm – 1:45pm

Session Option 1 - Garland Ballroom South

Make Your Life Easier: Human Resource Efficiencies  

Michelle Jones, Elizabeth Hoffman

Engage in a Q&A session with our panel of HR experts. Join us to explore Creating Efficiencies in the Human Resources Department, encompassing sustainability, technology integration, partnership with IT teams, vendor utilization, and fostering collaboration through HRIS systems. Simplify your workload with our workshop dedicated to maximizing Human Resource efficiencies through collaboration and leveraging technology resources. From fundamental principles to advanced streamlining techniques, we'll cover strategies to enhance daily HR operations.

Session Option 2 - El Camino

Building Your Toolbox for HR: Developing a hiring and retention framework with a DEIJ focus

Mary Rose Fernandez, Orpheus Crutchfield

Expand your hiring and retention toolbox with expert guidance on developing a hiring and retention protocol with a DEIJ focus that will benefit all candidates and employees.

2:00pm – 3:00pm

Session Option 1 - Garland Ballroom South

How to Conduct a Workplace Investigation

Cliff Hahn, Angela Oliver, Sheba McCoy, Grace Chan

This session will provide tools and best practices in conducting workplace investigations and our role as HR Professionals. We will focus on employee vs. employee issues. We will start with the basics of ensuring a clear process and proper documentation procedures. This will lead the discussion into best practices when conducting the interviews and setting the right tone for the meetings. We will look at criteria when considering using a third party investigator and conclude with our experiences on outcomes and the communication plan during and after the investigation is completed.

Session Option 2 - El Camino

Mining Generational Gems: A Facilitated Conversation About How to Navigate Generational Interactions at Work

Lise Porter, Rebecca Rowland

At this unique time in history when there are employees from as many as five different generations in your school’s workplace, how can we learn to appreciate our differences and share our strengths? Come prepared to join the discussion during this facilitated conversation.

Day 1: Sunday, May 5, 2024

2024 Facilities Workshop

10:30am – 11:00am

Registration - Courtyard 

11:00am – 11:15am

Welcome & Introductions - Cabrillo

11:15am - 12:00pm

Session One - Cabrillo

Using The Magic of AI To Enhance School Security

Marco Del Prince, Tor Warmdahl

Join us for a workshop exploring how Artificial Intelligence can revolutionize school safety. Discover how AI-powered solutions can empower your security team ("Doing More With Less") through a virtual Security Operations Center. See a live product demonstration showcasing the latest advancements in AI for school security, and participate in a Q&A session to address your specific questions.

12:45pm - 1:30pm

Session Two - Cabrillo

Best Practices in Facilities Management

Nic Guedenet, Dave Coffman

If you asked 50 different independent school professionals, "What does your facilities department do?" You’ll probably get 50 different answers.The answer is not straightforward, as each school has its unique landscape, budget, and their practices vary from one to another. Don’t worry though, we have got you covered! With over 20 years of experience working with private schools, we have gained a lot of knowledge and expertise in what works for many schools, and we are excited to share them with you!

Our presentation will give you insight into the minimum requirements that every school facilities department should know about, while taking a deeper dive and sharing the best practices in the areas of procurement processes for repair or replacement, asset management, and the responsibilities of facilities departments.Additionally, we will discuss how some public school, university FM, and other industry practices can benefit learning.

1:40pm - 2:25pm

Session Three - Cabrillo

Budget Planning for the Facilities Manager: How to Stand Out and Get What You Need

Joe Rayburn, Shayne Hale, David Marcus

A budget discussion to talk about properly planning for all of your facilities needs for the next 20+ years. This interactive planning session will take you from forecasting budgets for fields and pools up to HVAC and roofs and beyond.

2:35pm - 3:20pm

Session Four - Cabrillo

Classroom Evolution: Using the Environment to Create ProSocial Learning Experiences

Victoria Veneziano, Heather Bohannon

In a 2022 global survey about the future of the workplace, the top three needed “soft” skills were identified as: Teamwork, Communication, and Problem-Solving. Are our learning environments preparing students for the world we’re already living in? Join us to discuss how using intentional, science-backed ProSocial design principles support learning experiences that are proven to create collaborative, communicative problem-solvers.

Day 2: Monday, May 6, 2024
2024 Annual Meeting & Conference

7:30am – 8:30am

Registration & Breakfast - Garland Hotel Courtyard & Ballroom

8:30am – 8:45am

Welcome and Introductions - Garland Ballroom

8:45am – 10:15am

General Session Keynote - Ballroom

Joyful and Effective Leadership: Applying Positive Psychology, Emotional Intelligence, and Mindfulness to your life and work

Roni Habib

Connections matter more than anything.  Effective leaders understand that.  And in this dynamic keynote, you will gain tools to bring more joy, connections, and meaning to your work and life, and learn how to enhance your ability to courageously and effectively lead. You will experience actionable practices that can create a culture that values the wellbeing of staff and students and that leads to bottom line results. Topics such as Social Attunement, Self-Regulation, Self-Management, Empathy, Stress-Reduction, Effective Communication, and the role of Play and Joy in schools will be covered. These concepts are research based, grounded in the science of the fields of Positive Psychology, Emotional Intelligence, and Mindfulness. This will be a highly interactive, energetic, and experiential keynote so get ready to have some fun!

10:45am – 12:00pm

Session Option 1 - Cabrillo

Listserv Live! Don't reinvent the wheel!

Natalie Morales

Curious about how others solved a challenge? There are times where you or others will ask, "What do other schools do?". This is your chance to ask.  Participate and listen live to questions from colleagues and gain solutions to take back with you. This session is just like asking a question on our Listserv but in real-time! We will learn from each other, make more connections, and collaborate!

Session Option 2 - Ballroom

Getting it Built Part 1: Navigating Your Next Capital Project – From Financing to Finishes 

Chad Christoff, Steve Bajc, Jerry Mullaney, Brian Hollis, David Sterlace

This session begins by understanding where many schools start as they begin planning for a capital project – what can we afford and how will we pay for it?  Learn how schools explore the full universe of their funding sources, including fundraising, debt financing, and/or the use of reserves – and the long-term impact of each source on financial sustainability.  The session continues by examining the changed landscape for tax-exempt financing – specifically for schools in California amidst a still ongoing regional banking crisis.  How can schools protect low interest rates on existing debt while considering financing for new projects?  How and why are some schools forgoing bank financing and using the public bond market?  Next, after the financing is closed, what are the key steps in the transition from financing to project construction?  What is the OAC and how important is this to the success of a project?  Who are the parties, and who is on your side?  This session includes commentary from two industry experts and three veteran CFOs who have navigated recent financing and construction projects.

Session Option 3 - El Camino

Sleep Better at Night: Handling and Mitigating Risk at Independent Schools 

John Amussen, Jamie Gershon, Mark Haderlein, Brendon Pollis, Jennifer Macias

What is the current state of the insurance market? What trends are affecting your renewals? How can you partner with your broker, insurance company, and other agencies to mitigate risk and minimize premium increases? Hear from Representatives of IMA/Bolton, Gallagher, and Philadelphia Insurance, as well as fellow business officers on navigating the volatile insurance market.

12:15pm - 1:30pm

2024 Cal-ISBOA Annual Meeting and Lunch - Ballroom

Annual Members Meeting Business Agenda 

1. Welcome/Call to Order

2. Annual Executive Director's Report

3. Announce 2024 Election Results

4. Recognize Outgoing Board Members

5. Present Martha Ambros Community Impact Award

6. Overview of Pilot Mentor Program

7. Adjourn

1:45pm - 3:00pm

Session Option 1 - El Camino

How to Handle Head Transitions

Jane Davis, Nick Hernandez, Lisa Turchan

What happens when the Head of School leaves either by choice or unexpectedly? The role that the Business Officer plays in this transition is critical. Join us for a discussion among CFOs who have experienced multiple head changes over their career working in schools. We will offer practical advice on best practices along the timeline from separation to seating of the new Head.

Session Option 2 - Cabrillo

DEI: An Investment in the Whole School Community

Stephanie Carrillo, Elana Stone, Sandi Pierce

Allocation of resources for school initiatives includes some combination of time, talent and funding. Using concrete examples from our schools, we will explore how varying combinations of these resources have moved DEI initiatives forward and the metrics used to measure the significant impact they have had on our whole school communities. It is good business when schools collaborate, especially true given we are not competitors in the DEI space. It behooves us to pool our resources to do this work, and this session will provide opportunity to collaborate and connect.

Session Option 3 - Ballroom

Getting it Built Part 2: Budgets, Bids and Land Use, oh my!

Manuel Pardo, CJ Laffer, Elaine Nesbit

The panelists will share their experiences and explain the entitlements process in getting a 650-seat, 33,000 square-foot Performing Arts Center approved and permitted to be built in the City of Santa Monica, from the design phase, the Planning Commission process and the approval by the local Architectural Review Board to the contractor bidding phase, including the negotiations and tradeoffs needed to obtain clearance by the City’s administrators.

3:15pm - 4:40pm

Session Option 1 - Ballroom

Emerging Legal Issues for California Independent Schools

Michael Blacher, Grace Chan

Keeping up with changes to the law and evolving best practices can be challenging! This interactive workshop is designed to inform independent school business officers of current and emerging legal issues by exploring relevant cases, statutes, and other developments from California and around the country. Business officers will leave this workshop with insights that will help them manage developing trends and evaluate risk.

Session Option 2 - El Camino

Critical Technology Concerns for the Business Office: AI, Cybersecurity, and Data Protection (oh my!)

Christina Lewellen

Business officers don't need to be technology experts, but they do need to understand where the school's risk lies when it comes to artificial intelligence, cyber threats, and student data privacy. In this comprehensive session, attendees will explore the current technology landscape at independent schools, evaluating what business officers need to know about protecting their schools' sensitive data, when it's time for a cybersecurity audit, how to appropriately evaluate cyber insurance, and what the impact of AI in education is, specifically through a business officer lens. Session attendees will begin to build a plan for implementing contemporary, post-pandemic cyber safety and data protection standards for their schools. The session will also provide a strong foundation to understand the current state of AI in education and explore innovative ways that schools are harnessing its power both in the classroom and in school operations. By the end of this session, attendees will be equipped with the knowledge, insights, and practical tools to understand, explore, and leverage AI's potential in education, enhancing their role as business officers in shaping their schools' AI, cyber safety, and data privacy strategies.

Keynote Presenter Information

Roni Habib, Founder of EQSchools, Author, Speaker, Expert

Roni Habib is a speaker, author, and wellness expert who specializes in helping school leaders, educators, and parents become happier, more resilient, more playful, and more connected to their purpose. Roni founded EQ Schools following a 15-year career as an Economics and History teacher during which he experienced a student tragedy and the all-too-common educator burnout. His personal journey led him to discover the power of integrating wellness strategies into his life and work. This transformation was so impactful in Roni’s life that he felt called to share his epiphany with the world.

Since 2016, EQ Schools has taught and inspired thousands of teachers, principals, superintendents, administrators, business leaders, and parents to thrive at work and at life using skills rooted in the fields of Emotional Intelligence, Positive Psychology, Mindfulness, Leadership Development, and Neuroscience.

Roni lived in Israel and Belgium prior to earning his Masters of Education and teaching credential at Harvard University. Roni now speaks and leads workshops in schools and organizations all over the world. His insightful and dynamic keynotes leave audiences laughing, elevated, and inspired to take action to create a more joyful and psychologically safe climate where adults and students can thrive socially, emotionally, and academically.

Ashley Virtue, Director of External Affairs, National Conflict Resolution Center

Ashley Virtue has been with the National Conflict Resolution Center (NCRC) since 2005. She has been instrumental in the development and promotion of multiple mainstay programs at NCRC and has focused much of her career expanding NCRC’s work nationally and internationally. In recent years, Ashley has worked diligently to position NCRC as a global thought-leader in the field of conflict resolution. NCRC has appeared on hundreds of local, regional, and national media outlets, oftentimes with Ashley as the spokesperson. She has been featured in media outlets such as Forbes, The Washington Post, C-SPAN, NPR, PopSugar, and many others. Ashley has also helped expand NCRC’s reach to clients around the U.S. and abroad and has led hundreds of workshops. As one of the senior leaders at the organization, Ashley has also helped develop training curriculum and some of NCRC’s signature communication methodologies.

Ashley has received a number of awards recognizing her commitment to the community, including being a finalist for San Diego Magazine’s Woman of the Year and being honored as a “KNX Hero” by Los Angeles’ KNX 1070 News Radio station. 

Breakout Presenter Information

John Amussen, Director of Finance and Business Operations, Marlborough School

John Amussen has been working at independent schools since 2015. He is the Director of Finance and Business Operations at Marlborough School in Los Angeles. Previously, he was CFO/COO at Milken Community Schools. John received an A.B. in American Civilization from Brown University. He moved to Los Angeles to attend the Anderson School of Business at UCLA, and spent nearly two decades in the film industry, working for Columbia Pictures, Paramount Pictures, and 20th Century Fox. After leaving Fox in 2006, John consulted for a wide variety of clients on financial projects before focusing on the nonprofit sector. When not at work, John can be found driving his 10 year old twins to various destinations in the San Fernando Valley.

Steve Bajc, CFO/COO, Chinese American International School

Steve Bajc is the CFO/COO of the Chinese American International School in San Francisco. Steve has over 39 years experience working in various financial leadership roles in a variety of industries, with the last 14 years working in independent schools. He has been a CALISBOA board member for the last four years and currently is Vice-Chair of the Finance Committee and serves on the Conference and Program and Professional Development Committees. Steve is originally from Ohio where he graduated from Miami University with a BS in Accounting and holds a CPA, CFE, and a MBA in Marketing from Kennesaw State University in Georgia. He is married with 4 children. When Steve is not working, he enjoys coaching baseball, golfing, traveling and is known to host a memorable CalISBOA Karaoke Night.

Michael Blacher, Partner, Liebert Cassidy Whitmore

Michael Blacher is a partner and Chair of the firm’s Private Education Practice Group. His practice is solely focused on representing California private schools. He brings passion and creativity to the practice of law and works collaboratively with clients to solve their most challenging and important issues. His approach is proactive and thoughtful. Michael works with schools on virtually every aspect of education law. He frequently advises boards on governance issues and administrators on employment and student matters.

Heather Bohannon, Learning Environment Specialist, Meteor Education

Heather Bohannon is a Learning Environment Specialist with Meteor Education. She earned her Master of Education with an emphasis on technology. Heather taught in the classroom for six years in both private and public school systems. Since then, Heather has remained immersed in education by partnering with educators to design and furnish prosocial learning environments that increase student and teacher engagement. In her free time Heather enjoys spending time with her three daughters, husband, and three goldendoodles. She can often be found in the kitchen whipping up new recipes and entertaining family and friends.

Stephanie Carrillo, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Crossroads School for the Arts & Sciences

Stephanie Carrillo is the Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion K-12 at Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences in Santa Monica. Stephanie has worked in independent schools since 1998 and has been a DEI practitioner for the past 10 years. Stephanie is also on the staff of the National SEED Project, where she trains educators from around the country to facilitate DEI conversations and build inclusive environments in their school communities. An LA native, Stephanie has a passion for exploring Los Angeles history and culture.

Melissa Cerny,  Area President, Gallagher

Melissa Cerny is Area President at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., a US-based global insurance brokerage and risk management services firm. In her role, Melissa manages 300+ people across three states.

Grace Chan, Partner, Liebert Cassidy Whitmore

Grace Chan represents independent and private schools and focuses her practice on education law, employment law and risk management. Grace serves as a trusted advisor to boards, heads of school, business officers and human resources professionals, and works with clients to mitigate risk and develop best practices, while supporting the advancement of each client’s operational needs and mission. A sought-after presenter and trainer, Grace regularly gives presentations, workshops and speaking engagements with expertise and relatability for schools, associations and regional, statewide and national conferences.

Chad Christoff, Managing Director, Stifel Public Finance

Chad Christoff is a Director in Stifel's Education & Nonprofit Finance practice. Mr. Christoff specializes in transactions for independent school borrowers across the country as well as private colleges and universities. He has spent more than 10 years at George K. Baum & Company (now Stifel) working with educational institutions to prepare for, evaluate, and execute tax-exempt debt financings.

Orpheus Crutchfield, President and Founder, StrateGenius

Orpheus has almost 35 years of experience working in and with independent schools across the country, and globally. His career has been devoted to helping independent schools work towards equity and inclusion, diversifying and training their personnel and boards, as well as cultivating and mentoring diverse educators for success and leadership. Orpheus has been a trustee of five different independent schools and is currently on the board of the San Francisco Boys and Girls Club.

Jane Davis, Associate Head of School for Finance & Operations ,The Archer School for Girls

Jane Davis is the Associate Head of School for Finance and Operations at The Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles. She has over 35 years experience working in various financial leadership roles in a variety of industries. She has been working in independent schools for the last 14 years. She has been a CALISBOA board member for the last four years and currently chairs the Conference Committee and is Vice-Chair of the Governance Committee. 

Marco Del Prince, Key Account Manager,

Marco helps security professionals leverage AI across multiple disciplines to help shift their posture from proactive to reactive. Marco has a 10+ year SaaS background and works with some of Ambient's largest customers.

Mary Rose Fernandez, VP for Recruitment, Partnerships, and Strategy, StrateGenius

Mary Rose joined Strategenius in the spring of 2015. She started her education career as a teacher at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, TX. She then became the Western Regional Director of the Multicultural Alliance, an initiative by independent schools to develop a pipeline of diverse teachers through internships and fellowships. Mary Rose later co-founded and directed the TEAMS Program (Teacher Education for the Advancement of a Multicultural Society) at the University of San Francisco to recruit, train and develop teachers of color for urban public schools across California and Washington State. She serves as a trustee for French American International and International High School and has served on other non-profit and charter school boards.

Jamie Gershon, EVP Education Practice Group Leader, IMA Financial Group

Jamie Gershon has over 16 years of experience in the insurance industry with a focus to support and grow IMA’s Education Practice. Jamie is responsible for the overall strategy, long term goals, initiatives, and innovation as the leader of the Education Practice Group. The Education Practice Group consists of both for profit and not for profit independent, charter, and Higher Education institutions. His passion for education lead him to design and implement insurance and risk management programs to help educational risks protect their organizations while fulfilling their mission and vision. He does this through a process of strategic thinking and collaboration with key stakeholders; to create proactive solutions for each school’s needs. Jamie is a frequent speaker on various risk management topics for the education sector. He has achieved the Certified Schools Risk Manager and Accredited Advisor in Insurance designations, and he holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Nic Guedenet, VP of Operations,

HBM Facilities and Operations Management

Nic Guedenet is the Vice President of Operations at HBM Facilities & Operations Management, the leading facilities service provider for independent schools in California. With a career spanning over two decades in schools, Nic began as a maintenance technician and has since progressed to encompass extensive experience in school facilities management across both independent and public schools.

Mark Haderlein, Vice President, Marketing, Philadelphia Insurance

As Vice President, Marketing, Mark is responsible for all broker agency partners throughout the Southern California region. He has been with Philadelphia Insurance for 9 years. Mark currently oversees the marketing department which is made up of 10-12 sales representatives throughout Southern California, Arizona and Las Vegas. His region is responsible for approximately $400M in insurance premiums of which schools make up a large majority of that premium. Philadelphia Insurance has been insuring independent schools for 30 plus years and we pride ourselves on industry leading coverages and risk management offerings.

Cliff Hahn Director of Human Resources, Harvard-Westlake School

Cliff Hahn is the Director of Human Resources at Harvard-Westlake School serving grades 7-12 with two campuses in Studio City and Los Angeles. Prior to HW Cliff was the Human Resources manager at Marlborough School. Having been born and raised in rural Northeast Ohio, Cliff moved to Los Angeles in 2011 to pursue a graduate degree in Clinical Psychology. He also possesses an MBA and a Bachelor of Science in Human Resources Management. When he is not conducting investigations, Cliff is usually eating, seeing movies, or traveling with his husband Brian. Cliff is also a devoted dog-dad to Daisy, a 6lbs Shi Tzu/Bichon mix.

Shayne Hale, Director of Facilities,

The Harker School

Shayne Hale, Director of Facilities for The Harker School located in the San Jose, CA, oversees 4 school campuses and various other properties held by the school.

With over 20+ years managing school facilities in the public and private sector including numerous K-12 schools, districts, community college sites and private schools in San Jose, San Francisco and Stockton. Shayne is also a Cal-ISBOA board member serving on the facilities outreach committee.

Nick Hernandez, Associate Head for Finance and Administration, Marlborough School

Nick Hernandez has served as the Associate Head for Finance & Administration at Marlborough School since 2007. Nick oversees all business and administrative operations of the school, including areas relating to budget and planning, accounting, human resources, facilities, auxiliary services, and risk management. Nick also serves as a strategic liaison to the Audit, Building & Grounds, Executive, and Finance Committees of the Board of Trustees. He has led the school’s Campus Master Planning efforts with respect to new construction and capital improvement projects totaling over $100 million. Nick served on the Secondary Board of Standards for CAIS from 2009-2015 and Cal-ISBOA’s Board of Directors from 2014-2021, including three years as Board President. Nick holds a B.A. and an M.B.A. from UCLA. He resides in Tarzana, CA with his wife, Laura. Together they are the proud parents of three daughters – Simone, Renee and Nina (ages 25, 24, and 20).

Elizabeth Hoffman, Director of Human Resources, Providence High School

Elizabeth Hoffman, MBA, SHRM-SCP is the Director of Human Resources at Providence High School, a co-ed, independent, Catholic, college preparatory high school founded in 1955. She has served in several business office roles and has more than 12 years’ of HR experience.

Brian Hollis, CFO, Curtis School

Brian graduated from Hofstra University with a BBA in Accounting. He is a Certified Public Accountant (inactive) in the State of CA. Prior to joining Curtis School as Chief Financial Officer in February 2022, Brian was the Director of Finance for 8 years at Vistamar School, an independent college preparatory school in El Segundo, CA. His corporate experience includes working in industries such as Beauty and Cosmetics, Healthcare, Telecommunications, and Consulting. Brian is a Board Member of the California Independent Schools Business Officers Association (Cal-ISBOA) and Co-Chair of its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force. Outside of work, Brian’s interests include Health & Wellness, Music, and Art.

Michelle Jones, Director of Human Resources, Branson High School

Michelle Jones is the Director of Human Resources at Branson, a 9-12 high school in Ross. Michelle, with over 25 years' experience in human resources, joined Branson in 2018. Her dedication to fostering positive workplace relationships is evident through her extensive professional background in both independent schools and corporate settings.

CJ Laffer, Partner,

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal LLP

C.J. Laffer is a partner at the land use law firm Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP in Santa Monica and advised Crossroads School in obtaining its approval to build the Performing Arts Center. He has extensive experience representing real estate developers, property owners, investors, public agencies and nonprofits in connection with complex regulatory, approval and permitting processes and transactions. He advises clients on a broad range of land use and development issues, including zoning, planning, subdivisions, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and coastal development. He earned his J.D. from the University of Southern California and has a Masters in City Planning from UC Berkeley. C.J. is also the parent of a Crossroads student.

Christina Lewellen, CAE, Executive Director, Association of Technology Leaders in Independent Schools (ATLIS)

Christina is a seasoned association executive who has served industries ranging from window manufacturers to court reporters to proposal writers. She brings a data-driven framework to business planning and strategy, having earned her MBA from the Rochester Institute of Technology and the Certified Association Executive designation from the American Society of Association Executives. She was named the Executive Director of ATLIS in 2019, and serves in a variety of ways as an advocate for independent schools and their leadership teams. She and her family live in Virginia and tweets at @christinaATLIS.

Jennifer Macias, Director of Finance & Operations, Sonoma Country Day School

Jennifer Macias brings over 20 years of experience to her role as Director of Finance and Operations at Sonoma Country Day School. Starting in law enforcement, she moved into education in 2003 and has since held various administrative positions, including in Human Resources and the Business Office. Jennifer oversees finances, HR, facilities, tuition assistance, food service, technology, security, and legal matters. With a degree in business administration and an Executive Educational Business Certificate, she's well-equipped to handle school financial complexities. Jennifer is also active in the educational community as the Wine Country/North Bay Regional Liaison, showing her commitment to educational excellence. She's dedicated to driving success and sustainability and enjoys partnering with schools across California.

David Marcus, Director of Facilities,

de Toledo High School

Prior to working in schools in 2001, David Marcus worked for 15 years in accounting and quality assurance. He was the founding board member of New Community Jewish High School, which has since been renamed de Toledo High School. He was the school’s first business manager and was responsible for a new facility including construction, maintenance, security, and rentals. He is passionate about speaking to schools and other groups on a variety of topics such as institutional security and emergency preparedness, maximizing resources to update, refresh and maintain campus facilities, and creating a profitable, legal, and risk-wise school auxiliary income program.

Sheba McCoy, Director of Human Resources,

The College Preparatory School

Sheba is the Director of Human Resources at The College Preparatory School in Oakland, CA serving grades 9-12. She is a dedicated human resource professional with a passion for fostering a positive workplace culture and supporting faculty and staff from a holistic place. She believes in "People, not Paper" as her motto. With over ten years of experience in HR operations. She loves creating new processes that foster integrity and compassion. She believes her HR superpower is that she can build connections within all levels of an organization. She enjoys traveling with her husband to new places. Her favorite music is 80's alternative rock. She finds Jeff Dunham's character, Peanut, hilarious.

Natalie Morales, Director of Finance,

Chandler School

Natalie Morales is a seasoned finance professional with a solid educational background and over two decades of experience spanning various industries. She holds a Bachelor's in Business Administration (BBA) and a Master's in Business Administration (MBA) with a specialization in Finance. Throughout her career, Natalie has honed her expertise in finance, operations, and business strategy through roles at renowned organizations such as CVS/Caremark, PepsiCo, Paychex, and KIPP Houston Public Schools. Her extensive experience has equipped her with a deep understanding of financial management, strategic planning, and operational efficiency. Beyond her professional endeavors, Natalie finds joy and rejuvenation in the great outdoors. Whether it's going for a jog, hiking through scenic trails, or strolling along the beach, she embraces an active lifestyle that balances her passion for adventure with her commitment to well-being.

Jerry Mullaney, CFOO, Head-Royce School

The majority of Jerry Mullaney's career has been in the for-profit world but a relocation to the SF Bay Area from Wisconsin almost 20 years ago provided an opportunity to make a career change to the non-profit sector. Jerry has served as CFO for several independent schools in the Bay Area, including Blue Oak School, Bentley School and Katherine Delmar Burke School, in addition to his current role as CFOO at Head-Royce, where he is finishing his 7th year of service. Jerry earned his undergraduate degree from Santa Clara University and completed his MBA at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, and he still holds a CPA license in the State of Wisconsin. Jerry lives in Danville with his wife Gita. They have two grown children, a son and a daughter.

Elaine Nesbit, Project Manager & Owner’s Representative, Crossroads School

An architect by training, Elaine Nesbit is the Project Manager and Owner’s Representative for Crossroads School’s multi-year $58 Million Performing Arts Center Project and assists Crossroads with a number of other ongoing renovation projects. She has also managed similar projects for The Getty Trust, The Wallis Annenberg Performing Arts Center, The Hollywood Bowl, the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) Center @Inglewood and others. She is a graduate of Cornell University.

Angela Oliver, Director of Human Resources, Sage Hill School

Angela Oliver is the founding Director of Human Resources at Sage Hill School and is in her 22nd year at Sage Hill. She started as the Controller in 2001 and moved into the HR in 2007. She has served as a Board member of Cal-ISBOA and helped to launch the HR Symposium. She has presented on HR topics at both national and state conferences. Prior to being in HR, she worked at Windward School as their Business Manager. Angela enjoys watching sports of any kind and Hallmark movies!

Manuel Pardo, CFOO, Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences

Manuel Pardo is the Chief Financial and Operating Officer at Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences in Santa Monica. For the last 30 years he has held similar roles at Village School, Windward School and Wildwood School in Los Angeles, as well as the California State University system. He holds an MBA degree from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. Manuel is the current Cal-ISBOA Board President and was also a Board member for 7 years at the CAIS’ Board of Standards.

Sandi Pierce, Assistant Head for Finance and Operations, Cate School

Sandi Pierce is the Assistant Head for Finance and Operations at Cate School in Carpinteria. For the last 30+ years she has served the school with a focus on financial sustainability, facilities, risk management, construction oversight, board liaison for a number of committees and investing in employee and student life as a partner for human resources, an advisor and dorm parent. A graduate of UCSB with a degree in Economics, previous experience includes contract dining services management in the education sector. Sandi is currently a board member of CalIsboa, Co-chair of its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force and a member of the TABS (The Association of Boarding Schools) board. Previously she has served on the boards of NBOA, CAIS Board of Standards, and several local youth athletic organizations.

Brendon Pollis, Area Vice President, Gallagher

Brendon Pollis is an Area Vice President with Gallagher and is a seasoned insurance professional with over a decade of experience, including two years spent within the excess and surplus lines market (Risk Placement Services). Brendon is a Property, Casualty, and Surplus Lines expert with a particular emphasis on Education, Non-Profits and Real Estate. Brendon’s accomplishments within Gallagher include assisting with the business development of the Scholastic First insurance Program, which includes new coverage development, alternative risk finance programs, shared and layered programs, carrier negations, claims management, contract review, new client development and overall risk management. Brendon is committed to providing comprehensive insurance solutions tailored to meet the unique needs of each client. Brendon is a graduate of the University of San Diego with a BA in both History and Political Science.

Lise Porter, Marriage and Family Therapist

Lise Porter grew up in Southern California and lives in Los Angeles. A licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and drama therapist, she has contributed extensively to the mental health field. As a national trainer for Mental Health First Aid, USA she has been intimately involved with bringing mental health awareness to the general public. She has been published twice in the International Journal for the Arts in Psychotherapy and has taught at Mira Costa College and Antioch University in Seattle. Lise's work as an on-site EAP provider has contributed to her insights into generational dynamics in the workplace.

Joe Rayburn, Director of Partner Development, Building Solutions

Joe Rayburn, Director of Partner Development at Building Solutions, is responsible for new sales and business development. He brings over 20 years of sales and business development experience in the A/E/C industry. Having come from a consultative background, he is well-versed in the many facets of delivering complex projects and effectively communicating those solutions to our clients. Joe has spoken to varying groups including PAISBOA, Cal-ISBOA, MISBO, TCSA, and NBOA.

David Sterlace, Owner, Sterlace Consulting

David Sterlace is the owner of Sterlace Consulting. Mr. Sterlace owns and operates Sterlace Consulting, where he advises other developers, contractors, and owners on real estate development and construction. Specific services include underwriting support, acting as Owners representative and/or Construction Manager, and providing expert witness and delay claim analysis for litigation and construction defect defense support. Mr. Sterlace is also responsible for the execution and management of all entitlement, design, permitting, and construction activities at DM Development where he is a Partner and Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Development & Construction. Mr. Sterlace has strong relationships with industry leading SF Bay Area Architects, Engineers, Consultants, General Contractors, and Sub-Contractors. This extensive network allows Mr. Sterlace to procure the most competitive and comprehensive proposals and bring together the most effective team for any sized project. He has directly managed over $1 Billion in ground up projects. Mr. Sterlace holds the following degrees: University of California at Berkeley, Walter A. Haas School of Business, MBA in Real Estate Finance; University of Southern California, M.S. in Civil Engineering; University of California at Berkeley, B.S. in Civil & Environmental Engineering; and holds a Professional Civil Engineer License. Mr. Sterlace also serves as an advisor to Cloud Apartments (a start-up modular construction company).

Elana Stone, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Cate School

Elana Stone has more than 15 years of experience in youth organizing and program management, with an emphasis on education and LGBT-,racial-, and economic equity. A youth-organizer by training, Stone developed strategies for social change with a cohort of radical young people and went on to Whitman College and designed an area of study in Social Power in the U.S. Stone transitioned to Independent Schools after completing their master’s in Public Administration at the University of Washington in Seattle and joined the Cate community in 2018. Stone is passionate about bringing their professional and lived experience working with young people in foster care and youth experiencing homelessness to their work as the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Cate School. 

Lisa Turchan, CFO/COO, The Buckley School

With almost 20 years of experience at Buckley, Lisa has been instrumental in overseeing the finances and operations of the school. Lisa worked to obtain new CUP entitlements for the campus, building out approximately $100M in capital projects, obtaining tax exempt financing and establishing a $50M endowment. Net assets have grown under her tenure from $16M to nearly $100M. Lisa previously served on Cal-ISBOA’s Board as Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee and is currently a Board Member of NBOA serving on the Executive, Governance and Strategic Planning Committees. She is also a Board Member of First Republic Financial Alliance.Before her venture into the independent school world, Lisa was the Senior VP of Finance for the Licensing and Merchandising division of Twentieth Century Fox. She began her career at Deloitte after graduating from The University of Michigan Business School. (Go Blue!)

Victoria Veneziano, Learning Experiences Coordinator, Meteor Education

Victoria Veneziano is Meteor Education’s California Studio Learning Experience Coordinator. With over 18 years of experience in education, she brings the lens of a teacher, administrator, and student advocate to each project we design and offers instructional support to empower teachers to use their new environments most effectively.

Tor Warmdahl, CPP

Director of Security, The Harker School

Tor oversees security operations for all four campuses and various other properties held by the school. Tor has a bachelor of science degree from San Jose State University. Tor has over 28 years working in the security field and over 12 years working in education security management.

Cal-ISBOA is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP®. For more information about certification or recertification, please visit

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