Board of Trustees

 

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
 
 
OFFICERS

Kate Sigafoos, President
Kate has one current Valley School student and one Valley School alumni who is now in middle school. She is an employment attorney at Microsoft and was a member of the Families at Valley leadership team. Kate also serves on the board of the American Justice & Equity Group, a non-profit working to provide visibility into criminal justice data. If you can't find Kate in the city, check the Methow where she and the family can often be found (hiding) hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, and lounging by the river.

Scot Partlow, 1st Vice President
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 Valley alum and after amassing a box of woodchips found in the washing machine, returned them 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.
 
Megan Gebhardt, 2nd Vice President
Megan has two Valley School students, Mason (4th ) and Wyatt (2nd ). She is a practicing attorney with her own firm, with a focus on estate planning. On the side, she helps her husband John with the Taco Bell restaurants they own and operate in Eastern Washington. They are proud that their company was recently awarded a good neighbor award at the state level for the community outreach program that they developed to support the local communities where their restaurants are located. From 2017-2020, Megan served on the leadership committee the Community Alliance of Parents (now called Families at Valley). She also serves on the Board of Directors of Junior Achievement and is a lecturer for the annual PEPS parent lecture series. Megan grew up locally, went to St. Mary’s School of California for undergrad, where she studied the classics and ran Division I cross-country, and then came back home for law school at Seattle University and has stayed ever since.

Tuney Kannapell, Treasurer
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. In her spare time Tuney plays soccer and spends as much time in the mountains as she can.

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 after 20+ years working at Fortune 500 companies. He retired from a career in engineering and management in 2019.  He’s now hoping to address income inequality and climate change issues as a small business owner.
 

MEMBERS
 
Seth Bergeson
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!

Julie Bisson
Julie is the founding director of Epiphany Early Learning Preschool (EELP) which is a play-based, Reggio Emilia-inspired preschool for children ages 18 months to five years old. Julie has 35 years of experience as an early childhood educator and administrator and brings valuable early childhood learning experience to the Valley Board. In addition to this experience, Julie brings previous board experience, and has taught at the college level with a focus on program leadership and establishing values and vision.

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.

Thea Handelman
Thea is a parent of two current Valley students, Elias (second grade) and Dashiell (kindergarten), as well as Sidney who hopes to join Valley in 2023. Thea is the Vice President of Tax at Zillow Group where she leads a team focused on helping the company solve its customers’ real estate needs. Thea earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Yale University, a Juris Doctor from the University of Oregon School of Law, and Master of Laws in Taxation from NYU Law School. Thea is also a board member of the Women’s Justice Initiative, which seeks to combat gender based violence and inequality amongst indigenous women in Central America.
 
Gary Manca
Gary is a current parent of two children, John (2nd) and Mary (PreK). Gary actively served as a Class Rep last year for First Grade. Professionally, he is an Appellate, Personal Injury, and Litigation Attorney with Manca Law LLC. He is the former President of Friends of Seattle, an organization focused on building a community of voters who inspired elected officials to support a more urban, livable, and sustainable city in the late 2000s and early 2010s. He has a B.A. and a J.D. from the University of Washington. Gary brings to the Board a passion for The Valley School and its mission and a commitment to diversity and evolving the equity and awareness of marginalized members of our community.

Shavette McGhee
Shavette has worked in the education field, both in higher education at Seattle University, Lewis & Clark College, and Western Washington University and, for the last eight years, in independent school education at University Prep as the Director of Diversity and Community and currently as the Director of Enrollment Management. Shavette is a proud Army brat who went to four high schools in three states and two countries. She received her BA from Washington State University and her M.Ed. from Western Washington University. She has two children: a daughter in middle school at UPrep and a son, Kamden, who will be in kindergarten at Valley. Thanks to her experience in PreK, she is now the proud mom of three hermit crabs. Shavette loves to travel and is an extreme Disney fanatic. 

Kathi Rosen
Kathi is lucky to parent two girls, and the youngest, Kestrel, will be a fourth grader at Valley this year. She is honored to care for many other children through her work as a pediatrician. After putting herself through college, Kathi started her career as an engineer working on medical devices. Over time, the desire to care directly for patients drove her to become a pediatrician. These days, when not caring for children, both her own and others, Kathi tries to keep active through (very slowly) running and rock climbing. Her favorite times are adventuring in the mountains with her family. Kathi is excited to support The Valley School’s incredible mission.

Aravind Swaminathan, Past President
Aravind is the parent of two Valley alumni, and a future Valley School student (starting in 2021). 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). 

Melinda Torres
Melinda is mom to Stella, class of 2019, and Derek, class of 2021. Melinda has co-chaired the Valley FUNdraising (auction) committee for four years and the forecast is that she may keep doing so for the rest of her life. Melinda is a principal and Director of Client Development at branding and marketing firm Doubleknot Creative. When she's not running auctions or new business meetings, Melinda spends her time reading, labeling bins and such in her house, and planning the next adventure with her husband Mike and the kiddos.      

Megan Wyatt
Megan is the Managing Director of Programs and Strategy at the Bezos Family Foundation where she oversees early childhood grant making and programs. As the Foundation's first hire in 2008, Megan has worked closely with its leadership to build a team and increase impact through funding and Foundation-led initiatives. Prior to her role at Bezos, she spent seven years at the Robin Hood Foundation, a poverty-fighting organization in New York City. She is also the mom of two curious and energetic Valley School boys.