The Valley School Board of Trustees
The Board is comprised of alumni parents, current parents, community members and the Head of School. The board holds the school in trust and is responsible for establishing long-range strategies and policies that will support Valley’s mission and educational philosophy for many years to come. The board's primary responsibilities are:
Upholding the school's mission and purpose, and establishing strategic plans to ensure the school's effectiveness in achieving its mission
Ensuring that the necessary financial, staffing, governance and community resources are available to the school
Providing oversight to protect the assets of the school, maintain financial stability, mitigate risks and ensure ethical integrity
Hiring, supporting and evaluating the Head of School
Aravind Swaminathan, President
Aravind is the parent of two current students (a Valley alum and a fourth grade girl), and (hopefully) a future Valley School girl (starting in 2020). In a past life, he taught math, science and computer science to middle and high school students in New Jersey, where he grew up. Aravind is a partner at the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, where he counsels clients on cybersecurity and privacy matters. Aravind is an avid runner, and is on the road along Lake Washington many mornings trying to recapture a little of the Glory Days (he is from New Jersey after all).
Kate Sigafoos, Vice President
Kate is a co-chair of the Valley Community Alliance of Parents (CAP) and holds an ex-officio seat on the board. She was a corporate auditor prior to her law career as a prosecuting attorney. She and her husband have two children at Valley, a daughter in fourth grade and a son in first grade. When she isn't at the gym or camping with the family, you can find Kate running corporate DIY workshops around town.
Karen Conover, 2nd Vice President
An engineer, entrepreneur, activist, and mother (of two Valley alumnae). She was one of the co-founders of Valley’s parent committee and in recent years has worked on the self-study advancement accreditation committee. Outside of Valley, she works for a global consulting firm on wind and solar energy projects. Karen grew up on the New Jersey shore (loves the ocean and Bruce Springsteen) and attended Duke University (loves college basketball).
John Albert, Treasurer
John brings over 20 years of experience working as a financial advisor in Seattle and San Francisco to his role on the Board's Finance Committee. Outside of work, he loves his job as Coach Dad for teams replete with Valley School classmates of his two sons. His wife hopes the Board will keep him so busy he won't have time to start another remodeling project.
Matt Langa, Secretary
Matt joined the Valley Board in July 2014, one month after his daughter graduated from 5th grade. Along with a Masters in Education, Matt brings to the Board a corporate perspective with engineering, management and project management experience. He continues to learn and grow at Boeing. Wondering if an old dog could learn new tricks, Matt tackled and succeeded in teaching himself to juggle and solve the Rubik’s cube.
Seth started kindergarten at Valley in 1993 and has fond memories of building forts and playing on the playground. His mother Connie taught first grade at Valley for nearly 20 years and instilled in him a passion for learning and play. Seth attended The Bush School and Whitman College, recently completing an MBA and MPA at the University of Washington. He pursued his passion for education after college as a Watson and Fulbright fellow, researching children's games and teaching English in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Seth has since worked in global development and politics and is now a strategy consultant for the tech sector. Remaining true to his roots, he's excited to return and contribute to the school that gave him his start!
As mom of two Valley alums, Zac and Beatrice, Sally has been a Valley School parent for over 10 years. In her professional life she leads Showpony, a brand strategy and creative agency, where she gets to work on her own creativity and practice kindness every day. For her a good day means time with family, a break in the weather and a lemon bar.
Alan Braun, Head of School
Alan became the Valley School's Head of School in 2014, bringing with him extensive experience as an educator and administrator. Prior to joining the Valley School, Alan spent 23 years at the Northwest School where he served as the Assistant Head of School for 12 years and as Middle School Director for ten years. His teaching background includes five years teaching fifth grade at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC, and three years teaching middle school classes at The Northwest School. Alan received his Master of Education degree at Harvard University where he concentrated on teaching, curriculum, and learning environments. He brings to Valley deep expertise and local educational connections as well as a passion for the holistic development of children, the professional development of faculty, and the building of community.
Rob recently retired after 20 years as Head of School at Charles Wright Academy, in Tacoma. Prior to that he was Head at a K-8 school in Ohio, and before that he was at the Maret School and at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC (where he first met Alan Braun!). Rob has two thirtysomething daughters: Lisa (with grandson Owen) in Boston, and Laura in Oakland. Rob was an active leader in NWAIS (Northwest Association of Independent Schools), and is eager to continue his association with independent education in the Northwest. He is looking forward to retirement as a time when he can pursue further his hobby of amateur photography, spend more time on Skype with Spanish speakers, and getting involved in the community through volunteering.
Megan Gebhardt, Community Alliance of Parents Co-Chair
Megan is a co-chair of the Valley Community Alliance of Parents (CAP) and holds an ex-officio seat on the board. She is a practicing attorney with her own firm, and focuses her practice on estate planning. Her side hustle, and her husband's main hustle, is owning and operating Taco Bell restaurants in Eastern Washington (and being really good employers). She serves on the Board of the Washington First Responder Will Clinic and is a lecturer for the annual PEPS parent lecture series. Megan grew up local, went to St. Marys College of CA for undergrad where she studied the classics and ran Division I cross-country. She and her husband have two children at Valley, a son in second grade and a son in kindergarten. A great day for Megan is saying hi to the fantastic friends and families at Valley School drop off, followed by a walk in the arboretum, enough time to get work done without being rushed, and a ski trip to Montana on the horizon.
Tuney is a long time educator with 20 years experience at the Northwest School as a teacher, Middle School Director and Assistant Head of School. She also previously served on the board of Meridian School for six years. She recently left NWS and is taking a break from paid work (although she has lined up some consulting gigs that are keeping her busy). Tuney has a good grasp of Valley's mission, values and educational philosophy and they align with her values as an educator. We've been looking for the right person to build educator bench strength on the Board, and Tuney is a great fit. In her spare time Tuney plays soccer and spends as much time in the mountains as she can.
Courtney is mom to Elsie, Valley Alum and now at SAAS. She lives in Mt. Baker with her hubby, Chris, Elsie and two dogs. She owned and operated a bakery for 7 years (long ago) and was a personal chef with a few other things tossed in here and there. Courtney was one of the founding leaders of CAP (Community Alliance of Parents), co-chaired the auction and helped out Valley any way she could. Currently, Courtney and her family are raising their second service dog-in-training puppy, Mystic, for Canine Companions for Independence. She is the Vice President and Fundraising Chair of the Puget Sound Chapter of Canine Companions. Never a dull day without dog fur on her pants!
A past Valley parent (Duncan and Gabe) and has professional experience in the banking industry as a project leader and operations executive. She likes bike riding, swimming, family feasts and tending to her dog Sage (who can outsmart anyone in the house when it comes to breaking into the trash).
Scot recently completed a 20-year career in technology management in the Seattle telecommunications sector, and is now working (sort of) on finding a second career. He and his husband have a current Fourth grader at Valley and are amassing a box of woodchips found in the washing machine that will be returned to the playground upon graduation. He is passionate about The Valley School, has served on the FUNdraising (auction) committee for four years, been an Admissions Ambassador, and also serves on the Philanthropy Committee. When he isn’t at the school, you can find him mowing the lawn, walking (or at least trying to) in the Arboretum, and being attacked by his two kitties. Oh, and finding that second career.
Petra Thompson is a Valley School alumni and works in HR and Leadership Development at ClassPass (a fitness/tech company). Prior to ClassPass, Petra worked at lululemon athletica helping them scale from an emerging brand into a globally recognized Company. Petra’s Mother, Paula Rees, served on the Valley Board for 12 years and Petra followed in her footsteps. Petra and her husband Zac live in Madison Valley, just walking distance from Valley.
Zahraa is an attorney with more than 15 years of employment law experience. For the last 10 years, she has worked at the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, defending the City in employment lawsuits and advising City departments on how to handle difficult workplace issues. Zahraa is mom to two recent Valley students and thought serving on the Valley Board would give her a good excuse to continue showing up at All School Sing on Fridays. When not at work, with her family, or at All School Sing, Zahraa likes doing yoga, playing tennis, cooking, and going for long walks while listening to episodes of The Moth podcast.