The Valley School

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


Aravind Swaminathan, President

Aravind is the parent of two current students (a Valley alum and a third 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).

Mark Potvin, Vice President

Mark currently serves on the Building Committee, and his experience and judgment have been invaluable as the building project has unfolded. Mark is a partner at Gerard Beatty & Knapp Realtors, and his professional experience as a banker, business owner, realtor, developer, and Valley parent will be put to good use as the Board turns its attention to strategic initiatives in the coming years. Mark and his wife Michelle have two children who both graduated from Valley.

Karen Conover, 2nd Vice President

An engineer, entrepreneur, activist, and mother (of a current Valley 5th grader and a Valley alum). She was one of the co-founders of Valley’s parent committee and in recent years she’s worked on the Building Committee, Communications Committee, and as an auction co-chair. 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.



James Barrett

James has 25 years of management experience in the technology and financial segments. He is currently the Managing Director of Institutional Sales and Service at Parametric Portfolio Associates and has expertise in sales, client relationships, and strategy. He is a member of the Investment Committee for The Bush School Board of Directors. When not at the office, he is putting those same management skills to use navigating life with his four active kids and wife, Emily, a domestic engineer. With three Valley grads, he is truly invested (literally and figuratively) in the Valley School and the magic that surrounds it. 

Sally Bock

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.

Norm Bontje

Worked in the investment industry for over 20 years and is an active member of the Seattle Impact Investment Group. Norm serves on the boards of The Valley School, College Access Now and Social Venture Partners, and loves wine paired with foods that are likely not at all heart healthy. Norm’s oldest child, Nate, and his youngest, Alex, both attended Valley for seven years.

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.

Danny Cage

Danny is the Youth and Family Engagement Director at the YMCA, where he has been for over 10 years, as well as the Head JV Boys Basketball Coach at O’Dea High School.  He is the father of Jayla, a fourth grader at Valley. Danny brings a wealth of experience and great perspective to Valley from, among other things, his 10+ years of working with and for the benefit of children throughout the greater-Seattle area. You may recognize Danny from rain-soaked Y-Guides weekends on Camp Orkila or Camp Coleman, two programs that he supervises. 

Rob Camner

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.

Victoria Mabus

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). 

Kate Sigafoos, Community Alliance of Parents Co-Chair

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 her law career as a prosecuting attorney. She and her husband have two children at Valley, a daughter in third grade and a son in Kindergarten. When she isn't at the gym or camping with the family, you can find Kate running corporate DIY workshops around town. 

Petra Thompson

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 Wilkinson

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.