The Stanbridge Board of Trustees
The Stanbridge Academy Board of Trustee’s responsibility begins with supporting and furthering the school’s mission of providing a community and environment where students with learning differences and social communicative challenges can grow academically and socially. In connection with this broad responsibility, the Board has developed a long-range strategic plan through which they will conduct a complete review of the school from the services it provides and the way they are provided to its physical facilities.
The Stanbridge Board is also responsible for ensuring the financial stability of the school. Working with the Head of School and the CFO, the Board sets the annual operating budget, including tuition and overall tuition assistance, and oversees the school’s finances and assets. Closely linked to these tasks is the specific role of the Advancement Committee, which conducts the Stanbridge annual fundraising campaign.
The Stanbridge Board recruits its own members and, in doing so, identifies individuals who they believe have the skills, background, and passion that will fit with the Board’s role and responsibilities. Under the bylaws, Board members may serve for up to three two-year terms.
Our fourteen-member Board of Trustees is comprised of current Stanbridge parents, alumni parents, and outside community volunteers, striking a balance between those who know the benefits of Stanbridge firsthand and those who have more of a historic and outside perspective. Currently, the Board is comprised of individuals whose professional backgrounds include finance, legal, special education, technology, marketing, and board experience with other non-profit organizations. Our Board has grown significantly over the past three years, strengthening its perspective and diversity by considering prospective members’ affiliation with the school, experience or contact with the special education community, experience with non-profit institutions, and area of expertise, among other factors.
The 2019–2020 Stanbridge
Board of Trustees
The 2019–2020 Stanbridge Trustees
John Danner (joined August 2018). John is the father of a current Stanbridge junior high student (Class of 2023). He is an angel investor specializing in education, backing firms like Revolution Foods, Swing Education, outschool, Lambda School, LingoKids, and Kunduz. In 1995, John launched his first startup as co-Founder and CEO of NetGravity, the first internet advertising server company. John's experience in education includes serving as the Chairman of the Board of Directors at Charter School Resource Center of Tennessee for four years and teaching in the Nashville public school system for three years. He also was the founding Director of KIPP Academy Nashville and co-founded Sacred Heart Nativity School in San Jose. Additionally, he co-founded Rocketship Education, which originated the concept combining online and classroom learning, and served as its CEO from 2006 to 2013. John has a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering from Stanford, and a M.Ed. in Education Policy from Vanderbilt. He is an Aspen Institute Crown Fellow, Ashoka Fellow, and was the 2010 winner of the McNulty Prize for Social Entrepreneurship from the Aspen Institute.
Bruce Fielding, Treasurer (joined September 2013). Now retired, Bruce was CFO and a member of the Board of Directors of Children’s Health Council in Palo Alto, CA. CHC’s mission is to support children with ADHD, learning differences, anxiety and depression, and autism spectrum disorders and has impacted almost 1,000,000 children and teens over the past 60 years. Bruce is also a member of the Board of Directors and the Treasurer of National Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy in Woodside, CA which helps children and adults with neurophysiological, cognitive, sensory processing and psychosocial challenges through equine-assisted therapies. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, based in Palo Alto, CA, whose mission is to empower individuals who are blind and visually impaired to embrace life to the fullest. Bruce is an active event volunteer with CHC as well as at the Stanford University Cantor Art Center.
Nancy Lee (joined August 2018). Nancy is the mother of a current Stanbridge high school student (Class of 2020). She is a General Partner and Chief Financial Officer of Alsop Louie Partners, a venture capital firm with an emphasis in early stage investments, located in San Francisco. She is a member of the executive committee and oversees the administration, finance and operations of the firm. Nancy was formerly a board member of Aim High; Community Educational Services; Youth Outreach in Hong Kong; and a founding board member of Presidio Knolls School. She also served as an officer in the parent associations of both Alice Fong Yu Alternative School and Sterne School in San Francisco. Nancy is a CPA and received her BS in Business from San Francisco State University.
Les Lifter (joined October 2016). Les is the Chief Marketing Officer of Stanford Children’s Health and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, which he joined in June 2015. Prior to joining Stanford Children’s Health, Les served as Senior Vice President of Marketing with the University of Phoenix where he led all marketing strategies and initiatives for the university and its colleges. A professional with more than 25 years in marketing and brand management, Les has held leadership positions with such recognized national brands as Unilever, Lennar Homes, AutoZone, and Hasbro. Les earned his MBA in Marketing and International Business from NYU’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business, and his BA from Emory University in Business Administration with an emphasis in marketing.
Chris Mak, Chairperson (joined August 2018). Chris is the father of a current Stanbridge student (Class of 2025). Chris possesses broad experience in operations, product development, and marketing from the tech industry. He is currently the CEO and Co-Founder of TechPRO, a data solutions provider which enables enterprise-level tech companies to sell their products and services more cost-effectively and at greater scale. Chris is also an active real estate investor in San Francisco. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree and MBA from the University of San Francisco. Chris joined the Stanbridge Board of Trustees in August 2018 and was the parent representative on the school’s Annual Fund Committee for the 2018–2019 school year.
Darren Milliken (joined September 2016). Darren is a Senior Vice President and General Counsel of ForeScout Technologies, a network security firm. He has over 20 years of legal, business and compliance experience, working in senior counsel level positions with a variety of technology companies in Silicon Valley, including Accuray, Sanmina, and Voyan Technology. He was also an attorney with the law firm of Blakely Sokoloff Taylor & Zafman. Darren earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics from Washington & Jefferson College, and a JD from Santa Clara University.
Rachel Paley (joined May 2017). Rachel is the mother of a Class of 2015 Stanbridge graduate. Rachel has had two professional careers—in corporate project management for Macy’s NY, Citibank, and Visa USA, then in public school special education (Mountain View-Whisman School District). Her specialized training and experience in Slingerland, Orton-Gillingham, Making Math Real, and Positive Behavioral Management instructional methodologies align with our Stanbridge programs. Rachel has a BA from Yale and an MBA from New York University.
Steve Pollock (joined April 2015). Steve is the father of a current Stanbridge high school student (Class of 2021). He was a member of a consulting team from Harvard Business School Community Partners, which provided pro bono consulting services to the school on its marketing strategy. Steve is founder and CEO of Turnstone Ventures, which advises companies conducting business between the U.S. and Japan. Steve’s specialties include enterprise leadership, team building, corporate strategy, business development, sales management, marketing and PR, operations management, consulting, market research, HR, contracts, finance and administration. Steve is on the Board of Directors of Japan Society of Northern California; Vice Chair of the School Site Council for Bayside STEM Academy; Steering Committee Member and Peninsula Chapter President of AFS Intercultural Programs, an international youth exchange program; and a CEO coach with Vistage International, a peer-to-peer organization for CEOs, business owners, and executives of small to mid-size businesses. Steve received a BA in East Asian studies from Harvard University and an MBA from Stanford University.
Javier Rojas (joined April 2015). Javier is the father of a recent Stanbridge graduate (Class of 2019). He is a Managing Director of Kennet Partners, an international private equity firm, and leads its U.S. investment activities. He is on the board of several companies and lectures regularly on entrepreneurship and bootstrapping. Javier has served on the Board of Directors—including as Chairman—of Arbor Bay School, a pre-K–8 school in San Mateo, CA for students with mild to moderate learning differences. He was also a member of the Board of Trustees for Crystal Springs Uplands School, a private independent middle and high school in Hillsborough, CA with a strong academic focus. Javier is a co-founder and member of the Board of Directors of Palo Alto Solo Project whose mission is to help villages in rural areas across Latin America develop by helping families with basic necessities. Javier received his BS/BA from Georgetown University and his MBA from Harvard University.
Michael Turzanski (joined July 2019). Michael has been involved in education technology for 30 years with Apple, Cisco, and EducationSuperHighway, working at a national level with universities, K–12 schools, state departments of education, and legislative policy committees. He has been an elected school board member in Massachusetts and served on the executive board of International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). His son attended Stanbridge from 2003–2007. Michael enjoys running, riding his road bike and spending time with family.
Michael VanderLey (joined May 2017). Mike is the father of a current Stanbridge high school student (Class of 2021) and was a member of our Head of School search committee. He has served on the board and executive committee for F.A.C.E.S. (Foundation for Autistic Childhood Education and Support). Mike is a Partner and leads the real estate practice for Force 10 Partners, an advisory firm specializing in corporate restructuring and special situations investments, where he advises public and private clients with respect to asset and portfolio-level transactions, debt and equity financings, restructurings and business combinations, and on strategic issues affecting enterprise value. He received a BS in Business Administration and Finance from Arizona State University.
Linda Waissar, Vice-Chairperson (joined September 2013). Linda is the parent of a Class of 2017 Stanbridge graduate. She and Laura Winfrey were co-chairs of the Stanbridge Board’s Search Committee that found the school’s current Head of School. She is an independent consultant to venture capital fund managers, specializing in investment adviser regulation. She was a lawyer for almost 20 years working with private investment firms. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of Ascendigo (formerly Extreme Sports Camp) based in Carbondale, CO, which helps youth and adults across the autism spectrum through experiential and community-based learning opportunities. Linda received her BA in History and East Asian Studies from Columbia University, and her JD from Georgetown University.
Anna Zara, Secretary (joined May 2017). Anna is the parent of a Class of 2015 Stanbridge graduate. She was a member or our Head of School search committee, and was an active parent volunteer for the Stanbridge Parent Association. She has past affiliations with PEN (Parents Education Network), Common Ground Speaker Series, Menlo Park Library Commission, Habitat for Humanity, Bring Me a Book Foundation, the Rosalie Rendu Center, the Ravenswood City School District, and the Endowment Fund for the Junior League of Palo Alto-Mid-Peninsula. She currently serves in a leadership role for the American Association of University Women, Palo Alto Branch as branch coordinator for AAUW's Tech Trek STEM camp for middle school girls. Anna is retired from a 20-year career as a Software Design Engineer and Tech Lead with Hewlett-Packard Company. She received her BA in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley.