Leadership

Leadership

As we look forward to welcoming our first class of students this coming fall, we continue to build our team of world-class educators recruited from institutions of higher education, independent schools, and public schools around the world. On opening day, we will have around 300 passionate and committed faculty and staff members spread between Washington, DC and Shenzhen, as well as experienced senior education design teams of over 30 people in the U.S., China, and the U.K., all working together to put our creative 21st-century curriculum into action.

As our campus leaders, faculty, and staff on each campus arrive and as we fill out our global team, our full time team will grow to over 400 staff members in the two years ahead with roughly 175 team members on each campus on opening day and an HQ group of over 60 at about that time.

The depth and talent of our team drives the quality of our education so we hope you’ll carefully study our team members. We believe this group—and those who will be joining them every week in the years ahead—represent the key reason parents will entrust their children with us.

Our global leadership team and staff has been recruited over the past three years from three primary sectors: education (both from leading independent schools and top tier universities); the school reform movement (individuals who have played leading role as change agents in schooling worldwide); and global enterprise (individuals who have held leadership roles in organizations which have global reach and operations.)

Global Executive Team and Management Committee

  • Chris Whittle

    Chairman and C.E.O.

    Chris is an entrepreneur with four decades of leadership experience in the fields of education and media. He conceived of and founded Edison Schools (now EdisonLearning) in 1992 with Benno Schmidt. Edison has been instrumental in establishing the charter-school movement and has served 450,000 students on three continents.

    Chris is the author of Crash Course: Imagining a Better…

    Read More »
  • Ian Thomas, Ph.D.

    Vice-Chairman/President

    Ian Thomas was born in New York City and raised in Texas. He has 30 years of global experience spanning four continents, including 15 years with The Boeing Company, where he served in a variety of leadership roles in Europe and as C.E.O. in India, Australia, and China. Prior to this, Ian served in the office of the secretary of defense at the Pentagon. He holds an M.Phil. in international…

    Read More »
  • Nicholas Dirks, Ph.D.

    Vice Chairman/Chancellor

    Nicholas Dirks is a professor of history and of anthropology at the, University of California, Berkeley, where he served as the 10th chancellor until mid-2017. An internationally renowned historian and anthropologist, he is a leader in higher education and well-known for his commitment to and advocacy for accessible, high-quality undergraduate…

    Read More »
  • Raymond Bordwell

    Global Head of Architecture

    Ray Bordwell is an architect and school facility specialist who has been involved in hundreds of projects in 13 countries and 26 U.S. states. As an instructor for 13 years at the Office of Executive Education at Harvard University, he created and taught the course Planning and Design of Public Schools. For the past 10 years, he has been a leader in the planning and design of private school…

    Read More »
  • Peter Brown

    Global Head of Design, N.Y.C. HQ

    Architect Peter Brown is a recognized expert in creating responsive learning environments. For over 20 years, Peter has worked with architects and educators—often becoming a translator—to transform educational and curricular ideas into thoughtful concepts for learning spaces. His educational-focused projects in over 25 states and seven countries, including many leading international schools,…

    Read More »
  • Jim Hawkins

    Global Head of School Heads & Vice Chancellor

    Prior to taking on this role, Jim Hawkins was Head Master of Harrow School in London, one of the world’s great learning institutions and boarding schools, with over four hundred years of history. Before beginning his teaching career, Jim read Mathematics at Brasenose College, Oxford University, where he also completed his teaching qualification. He then taught at Radley College before being…

    Read More »
  • Joe Keeney

    Chief Operating Officer, N.Y.C. HQ

    Joe Keeney has opened and operated over 100 schools in his 20-plus years in the field of education. He is the founder of 4th Sector Solutions, a provider of charter-school shared services, and was formerly president of Edison Charter Schools, where he led a national network of schools. Joe was also a divisional president and the C.O.O. of a Fortune 1000 global manufacturer, and he has lived in…

    Read More »
  • Li Jing

    Global Head of Enrollment, Marketing, and Communications, Beijing & N.Y.C. HQ

    Li Jing has extensive senior leadership experience in education, helping connect schools in China and to those in the rest of the world. Prior to joining Whittle, she was secretary-general at YK Pao School, China’s top independent school, where she headed external affairs, enrollment, and strategic development; before that, she served as assistant principal at RDFZ, a top Chinese school,…

    Read More »
  • Li Yin

    Member of Global Education Design Committee, Head of Cities Experience Program

    Li Yin was the founding headmistress of Wuhan Experimental Foreign Languages School and also worked as a consultant at Stoke College in the U.K. Previously, she served as a representative of China’s National People’s Congress for a decade and was named a National Woman Leader. During her 10 years as an NPC representative, she played a role in the revision of China’s Compulsory Education Law…

    Read More »
  • Peter Merrill, Ph.D.

    Co-Chair of the Education Design Team, N.Y.C. HQ

    After attending Phillips Exeter Academy, Peter earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in Russian at the University of Pennsylvania, and then an M.A. in linguistics and a Ph.D. in Slavic languages, both at U.C.L.A. He spent nearly 30 years teaching Russian and German at Phillips Academy, Andover, where he led the division of world languages and spearheaded new initiatives in global programming in China,…

    Read More »
  • Andrew Meyers

    Co-Chair of the Education Design Team, N.Y.C. HQ

    Andy Meyers is the proud son of two prominent psychoanalysts, the father of two amazing women, and a native of the Bronx. He received his A.B. in architecture from Princeton University, his M.A. in architectural and planning history from Yale University, and his M.Phil. in American urban history from Columbia University. He has taught at Connecticut College, Yale University, Empire State…

    Read More »
  • Anand Padmanabhan

    Global Chief Information & Technology Officer

    Anand holds global responsibility for leading Whittle School & Studios’ technology organization and its technology portfolio ranging from digital strategies, learning technologies to infrastructure and technology platforms Anand brings significant experience and achievement in leading technology strategy and innovation in educational organizations. He has been a CIO at multiple…

    Read More »
  • Manuel J. Rivera, Ph.D.

    Global Head of Faculty Recruitment, N.Y.C. HQ

    Manny earned both his doctorate in education and his master’s degree in education from Harvard University. He also holds a B.A. in urban studies from Brandeis University. Manny’s 40-year career in education as a teacher, principal, school superintendent, chief executive officer, and senior policy adviser to two New York State governors has been recognized nationally in the field of education.…

    Read More »
  • Alan Smith

    Global Head of Human Resources, N.Y.C. HQ

    Alan has broad H.R. experience from working at such firms as Pfizer, Wyeth, Aon Consulting, and John Hancock. Prior to joining Whittle School & Studios, Alan spent eight years with TE Connectivity, a $12 billion global industrial electronic-components manufacturer. In his last role with the company, Alan was based in Shanghai, leading the global H.R. function for the communication-…

    Read More »
  • Saibaba (Sai) Tata

    Head of Development, Middle East, India, and Far East, N.Y.C. HQ

    One of the earliest members to come on board Whittle School & Studios, Sai brings more than three and half decades of corporate expertise and educational prowess to his position. Prior to joining the company, he was a founding member of GEMS Education, the largest pre-K–12 company in the world. Sai worked in several countries on four continents, establishing educational and health-care…

    Read More »
  • Rebecca Upham

    Executive Chairwoman & Vice Chancellor, DC Campus

    Born in Washington, D.C., Rebecca Upham comes to Whittle School & Studios after leading Buckingham Browne and Nichols School for 17 years. She has also held senior leadership posts at the Ellis School and the Harvard-Westlake School. In addition to earning a B.A. from Middlebury College and an M.A. from Columbia University, Rebecca has a background in molecular biology, which led to a…

    Read More »
  • Christine Y. Zhao

    Chief Financial Officer, N.Y.C. HQ

    Born in China, Christine holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.S. in economics with distinction from Fudan University in Shanghai. She comes to Whittle School & Studios with a wealth of experience in the finance sector. She previously served in high-level positions at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, J. P. Morgan, American Express, and Goldman Sachs. She served as group chief…

    Read More »

Washington DC Campus Leadership Team

  • Rebecca Upham

    Executive Chairwoman & Vice Chancellor, DC Campus

    Born in Washington, D.C., Rebecca Upham comes to Whittle School & Studios after leading Buckingham Browne and Nichols School for 17 years. She has also held senior leadership posts at the Ellis School and the Harvard-Westlake School. In addition to earning a B.A. from Middlebury College and an M.A. from Columbia University, Rebecca has a background in molecular biology, which led to a…

    Read More »
  • Dennis Bisgaard

    Head of School, DC Campus

    For the past 30 years, Dennis has worked at top U.S. schools, most recently as head of school at Kingswood Oxford. Dennis served on the board of the National Association of Independent Schools and previously held positions at Bryn Mawr College, Shady Hill School, Collegiate, and Vejlefjord Højere Skole. Born in Germany, Dennis has also lived, studied, and worked in Denmark and Canada. He holds…

    Read More »
  • Stephanie Fitzgerald

    Head of Early Learning Center, DC Campus

    Stephanie Clark Fitzgerald brings over 25 years of experience in PreK-12 education leadership to this role. Beginning as a teacher in Chicago, she founded and led three schools, including two early childhood programs. Most recently, she served as director of a nationally recognized project-based early childhood program in New Jersey. Previously, she prepared principals through New Leaders and…

    Read More »
  • Susanna Stossel

    Head of Lower School, DC Campus

    Susanna joins Whittle School & Studios from Beauvoir, the National Cathedral Elementary School in Washington, D.C., where she taught both math and science before taking on her most recent role as Director of Early Childhood Teaching and Learning. She received both her B.A. in Child Study and M.A. in teaching from Tufts University. Prior to joining Beauvoir, Susanna taught at Belmont Day…

    Read More »
  • Marek Beck, Ph.D.

    Head of Middle School, DC Campus

    Marek brings almost 25 years of experience in education working at some of the nation’s finest schools including the Greenwich Country Day School and Harvard University. He has taught students at the elementary, middle school, high school, and college levels. Marek holds five degrees, including a Ph.D. from Fordham University and an M.S. from Columbia University. With over a dozen…

    Read More »
  • Ara Brown, Ed.D.

    Head of Upper School, DC Campus

    Over the past two decades, Ara has held numerous leadership and teaching positions within K-12 and higher education, including his most recent role as Upper School Dean of Boys at Cranbrook Kingswood School, which he has held since 2010. Before joining Cranbrook Kingswood, Ara co-founded and developed the curriculum for a summer Chinese language program for children ages 5-12. He received his…

    Read More »

Shenzhen Campus Leadership Team

  • Xianzhang Shen

    Executive Chairman, Shenzhen Campus

    As the former vice principal of RDFZ, founding principal of RDFZ Chaoyang Campus, Xianzhang Shen is a distinguished educator in China. He has more than four decades of experience as a teacher, administrator, and principal. He formerly served as an expert lecturer at the National Training Institute for Chinese Teachers at the Ministry of Education, as a member at China Entrance Examination…

    Read More »
  • Rhiannon Wilkinson

    Head of School, Shenzhen Campus

    Rhiannon Wilkinson is currently Headmistress of Wycombe Abbey School in Buckinghamshire, England, one of the world’s leading girls’ boarding schools. She will take up her position in Shenzhen in April 2019. She read History at St Hugh’s College, Oxford University, and completed her teaching qualification, with distinction, at the University of Bath. She also gained an M.Ed. degree in…

    Read More »
  • Angela (Pei-Chin) Tung

    Early Learning Division Head, Shenzhen Campus

    Angela (Pei-Chin) Tung served as pre-school academic director for the Elite K-12 Education Group, where she was responsible for the overall leadership and management of all HD kindergartens including those in Shanghai, Beijing, Qingdao, and Ningbo. Angela is a highly qualified Montessori practitioner with experience in both the U.S. and China as a lead teacher, academic director, executive…

    Read More »
  • Rich Kuder, Ph.D.

    Lower and Middle School Division Head, Shenzhen Campus

    Rich Kuder joins Whittle School & Studios from Wyckoff, New Jersey, where he has been superintendent of schools since 2010. In Wyckoff, he led and managed around 300 members of staff and over 2,000 pupils at public schools, some of which are recognized as schools of excellence. Previously, Rich was principal of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School in New Jersey. Earlier in his career, he…

    Read More »
  • Jonny Franks

    Upper School Division Head, Shenzhen Campus

    Jonny Franks was a member of the executive leadership team at Wycombe Abbey as director of sixth form (Grades 11 and 12). In that role, he was responsible for overseeing the academic and social progress of a third of the school’s student population. He led and managed three deputy heads of sixth form, the head of careers, and 18 advisors. Jonny was responsible for all of the school’s…

    Read More »