Friends Council extends a warm welcome to 11 new heads/interim heads of Friends schools, including a new co-clerk in 2022-2023. We also welcome the new executive director of our affiliate member, Woolman at Sierra Friends Center. Congratulations to the three heads of school who were interim heads last year and have now moved into full headship at their schools.
Portia Brandt, Interim Head of School, Greenwood Friends School (PA)
Portia Brandt has come out of retirement to serve as interim head of school at Greenwood Friends. Her past experience includes serving as superintendent of the Muncy School District for six and a half years, principal of the Muncy elementary school for seven years, principal of three elementary schools in the Shikellamy school district for two years, among other educational roles. Portia has a bachelor of science from the University of Delaware, a Master's of Education degree from Bloomsburg University of PA, and a Doctorate in Education Administration from Widener University. Portia's two sons attended Greenwood Friends School in the 1980s. She also taught at Greenwood and for many years served as a board trustee.
Ron Dalgliesh, Interim Head of School, Moses Brown School
Ron Dalgliesh has a 14-year history of service to Moses Brown School. He came to the school as the Director of Development and Alumni Relations in 2008 and was promoted to Assistant Head of School in 2015. Throughout his tenure at Moses Brown, he has played a central role in the strategic leadership and community-building that have meaningfully strengthened the school. He led Moses Brown through the planning, launch, and successful completion of a $65 million campaign. Last summer, his assistant head role was expanded, taking on administrative oversight of admissions, communications, development and alumni relations, athletics, and a new department, community engagement. Ron’s knowledge of Moses Brown is described by school trustees as “unparalleled” and his passion for the school’s mission and entire community as “transformational.” As Interim Head, he will be charged with oversight of the day-to-day management and operations of the school, stewarding the school’s mission and values, and ensuring that academic leaders and faculty have the resources to provide a world-class educational experience. Ron is a graduate of Brown University. He is the parent of a Moses Brown graduate, class of 2021.
Christian Donovan, Head of School, Friends School of Baltimore (MD)
Christian Donovan comes to Friends School of Baltimore from Head-Royce School in Oakland, CA. There he served as the Assistant Head of School & Director of Strategic Research, following seven years as the school’s Director of Enrollment Management. Prior to joining Head-Royce, he served as Director of Admissions and Enrollment Management at his alma mater George School and in college counseling and admission roles at the Athenian School in California. “I believe deeply that schools should be places where students and adults pursue academic excellence, seek community, build trust and develop their own sense of identity. My connections to Quakerism run deep, as someone who attended and worked at a Quaker School and as the child of a Quaker,” says Christian. “I look forward to being in relationship with the community and co-creating an environment in which we all can be our best selves.”
Joe Doherty, Head of School, State College Friends School (PA)
Joe Doherty brings 25 years of experience in independent schools, including several years in Quaker education, to State College Friends School. He began his journey in 1997 teaching astronomy and physical science in California. His student-centered approach to teaching, along with a focus on discrepant events and inquiry-based learning, sparked a lifelong passion for teaching and learning. His work at Tandem Friends School as a 6th-grade math and science teacher completely changed his life. The sense of community, commitment to Quaker testimonies, weekly Meeting, and seeing "the light" in each individual helped frame his role as an educator in a profound way. “I couldn't be more excited to rejoin a Friends community!” says Joe. Joe and his wife Laura, who attended Tandem Friends School and Guilford College, are strong advocates for Quaker education and are looking forward to their three children joining State College Friends School starting this fall.
Heather Hayton, Interim Head of School, High Point Friends School (NC)
Heather Hayton comes to High Point Friends School from Guilford College where she served as the Robert K. Marshall Professor of English and directed the Honors Program for the past decade. As the Director of the Honors Program, she grew the program tenfold, increased diversity, and prepared graduating students for grad school and competitive fellowships. Heather is the author of several books, including Monsters in the Classroom: Essays on Teaching What Scares Us. She has published academic articles on pop culture, on medieval literature, and on the state of the humanities. Heather has a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Penn State University. She has consulted with international K-12 schools and developed international study programs. Heather is a proud parent of two (now grown) children who attended Quaker schools.
Linda Herman, Director, Connecticut Friends School (CT)
Linda Herman has been an Early Childhood Educator for more than 30 years. Linda has a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College of Education and a 6th Year Certificate in Leadership from the College of Staten Island. She has taught in both public and private schools in New York City and has helped open and direct two Reggio Emilia inspired schools. She taught Pre-k and kindergarten at Brooklyn Friends School for 10 years and served on the Brooklyn Friends School Committee. Both of Linda’s children, Chris, and Becky, were lifers at Brooklyn Friends School. Linda feels that it is a gift to create a loving and caring place for children and families, and she feels blessed to be at Connecticut Friends School.
Kate Malone, Interim Head of School, Friends Western School (CA)
Kate wasn’t expecting to become a teacher when she took a job teaching stop-motion animation at Moses Brown’s summer camp between her junior and senior year of film school. After graduating with a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design in 1997, however, she found herself repeatedly drawn back to being with children, first in recreational settings and later in schools. Since then Kate has worked in many different types of schools, but Friends Western School is where she has been able to most fully express herself as a teacher. Her guiding principle is that children deserve teachers who cultivate their students’ inherent goodness, wisdom and intellectual curiosity. Her favorite subjects to teach are the history of Earth and the Solar System, human evolution, and working with difficult emotions. She applies progressive teaching theories to craft learning experiences that immerse children in real situations that spark self-directed creative and intellectual activity. As a school leader in a cooperative school, Kate believes that learning happens best through meaningful relationships developed in the context of intentional communities, for children and their families alike. Kate holds a Master’s in Childhood General and Special Education from Bank Street College of Education and is currently pursuing a second Master’s in Progressive Leadership, also from Bank Street. A member of Orange Grove Monthly Meeting, the Friends Meeting with which FWS shares a campus, Kate feels that a Friends education is the best way to prepare children for a conscientious, compassionate life in our complex society.
Amanda Marchesani, Head of School, Friends Neighborhood Nursery (NJ)
Amanda Marchesani comes to Friends Neighborhood Nursery School from Children’s Literacy Initiative where she served as Early Literacy Coach/Specialist in the urban community of Elizabeth, NJ. Prior to that she worked as an early childhood educator and Cooperative Council Member at the Learning Community Charter School in Jersey City, NJ. As head first grade teacher at the Montclair Cooperative School, Amanda conceived, designed, and constructed the first school garden utilizing an original, student-led, project-based curriculum, culminating in a yearly Farm To Table Parent Dinner. During this time, Amanda also founded and facilitated the Annual First Grade School Sleepover and supported the school as a member of the school Leadership Team. She began her career teaching second grade in Teaneck New Jersey Public Schools. Amanda has a Master’s in Education in School Building Leadership and Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank Street College of Education.
Eric Mayer, Head of School, Lansdowne Friends School (PA)
Eric Mayer comes to Lansdowne Friends school after a nine-year stint as Head of School at St. Stephen’s School in Rome, Italy. Prior to St. Stephens, Eric served Westtown School for 20 years as a teacher, chair of the Religion Department, and Upper School Head. A former Westtown colleague remembers him as a beloved teacher and a leader who brought respect, deep listening, and “design thinking” to his collaboration with other educators. An active member of a JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) group, Eric brings a deep and longstanding commitment to inner and outer anti-racism and diversity work. As a lifelong Quaker, Eric is aligned with Quaker principles and is well positioned to lead and support the school's Quaker practice.
Pankti Sevak, Head of School, San Francisco Friends School (CA)
Pankti Sevak brings outstanding credentials as a science and math teacher, a visionary Middle School leader, and a Quaker educator. She has worked in schools for almost three decades, most recently as the middle school head at Friends Seminary. She made significant contributions to instilling a sense of equity and belonging at Friends Seminary through increasing the diversity of the professional community, encouraging equity-centered practices, and contributing to education discourse on belonging. Prior to Friends Seminary, Pankti was recognized as an emerging leader in math and science education during her many years of teaching at private and public schools such as the Brearley School and East Side Community High School. She currently serves as a faculty member and director for the Divisional Leadership Institute of the New York State Association of Independent Schools. Pankti’s commitment to diversity and a sense of belonging come from her own experiences growing up as a first-generation child of immigrants and experiencing schools through this lens. She is fluent in Gujarati and conversant in Hindi and Spanish. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences, and her Master’s Degree in Teaching, from Cornell University where she also was an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship recipient. Pankti, her wife Dr. Josie Rodberg, and their two children are excited to start a new phase of their lives in the Bay Area where they have close friends and family.
Kyle Sullivan (he/him/his), Co-Clerk*, Arthur Morgan School (NC)
Kyle Sullivan is in his second year at Arthur Morgan, where he teaches math, is a houseparent, and has recently been appointed co-clerk. Prior to Arthur Morgan, Kyle held positions focused largely on natural education and mentorship in the outdoors, working with kids of various ages in Connecticut, Alaska, and New Hampshire. He enjoys natural sciences, tide-pools, woodworking and carpentry, hiking, and cooking. He’s excited to support AMS students they learn, grow, and explore the world around them. He has a BA in Ecology with a Minor in Earth Science from Dartmouth College.
Arthur Morgan School uses a model of co-clerk leadership to shepherd the school's "Sense of the Meeting" consensus process.
Affiliate Member Leadership
Coleen Hedglin, Executive Director, Woolman at Sierra Friends Center (CA)*
Coleen Hedglin brings to Woolman more than twenty years of nonprofit management experience, including project startup and fundraising. She enjoys developing programs, leading teams, and facilitating workshops. Coleen holds a degree in education and is passionate about child rights and healthy child development. She lived and worked in Haiti for 16 years, beginning as a Peace Corps volunteer. Coleen values life-long personal growth and learning. She believes in the power of dialogue and loves helping groups hold meaningful conversations. Coleen enjoys hiking, which keeps her grounded, and listening to music, which feeds her soul.
*Woolman offers educational and enrichment programs for youth and adults, including outdoor education programming for schools, residential summer camp with backcountry excursions, and workshops for artists and activists.
From Interim to Full Headship:Congratulations!
Friends Council extends a hearty congratulations to three heads we welcomed as interim heads last year and who have since been selected for full headship.
Chris Benbow, Head, Westtown School
Beth Johnson, Head, Friends’ Central School
Joe Mueller, Head, Friends School of Minnesota