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CDS Board of Trustees

Board of Trustees Description

The CDS Board of Trustees (‘the Board’) serves as the school's governing body.

The Board aspires to reflect the diverse community of CDS and is comprised of current parents, alumni parents, and community members who support the mission of the school. The Head of School and the PTTA President sit as ex officio members.

Trustees serve in a voluntary capacity and come from a wide range of backgrounds, including communications, education, facilities, finance, law and management. Trustees are asked to serve a minimum three-year term and are encouraged to serve two terms, subject to approval by the Board.  

The Board does not make any decisions about the school's daily operations such as admissions, curriculum or personnel. Instead, it thinks strategically to ensure that those operations are in line with the CDS mission, vision and values. In conducting its business, the Board acts as a whole, rather than reflecting the opinions of individual Trustees.

In line with the factors critical to any independent school, the Board’s main areas of focus are:

  • To select, evaluate and support the Head of School, to whom it delegates authority to manage the school.
  • To develop broad institutional policies that guide the Head in running the school.
  • To be accountable for the financial well-being of the school.

See below for information about our current Board of Trustees.  

See here for more information about the responsibilities of independent school Boards from the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).

Meeting information

The full Board meets once a month during term time. Committees and task forces meet regularly; Trustees are also encouraged to attend CDS events and professional development opportunities.

Every year, the Board partners with the Administration to host the ‘State of the School’ evening, which provides a snapshot for the CDS community of how the school and its governing body are performing.

Recruitment

The Board’s Committee on Trustees (CoT) is responsible for identifying and evaluating Trustee candidates against a set of recruitment criteria that includes skills, perspective and diversity of experience.

Each year, members of CoT meet with potential candidates to determine their interests, mission alignment, strengths and discretionary time. CoT then recommends candidates to the full Board, which will elect suitable Trustees in the spring for the following school year.

Carl Schneebeck's picture
Carl Schneebeck
Board Co-Chair
Carl Schneebeck's picture

Carl Schneebeck

Board Co-Chair
Carl Schneebeck, Co-Chair, is a management consultant and coach for clients in the tech, food, and non-profit sectors; he is also a professor of leadership and communication at Presidio Graduate School, where he earned a master's degree in sustainable management. Carl has a bachelor's degree in environmental biology and management from the University of California, Davis and previously worked as a communications and campaign strategist for environmental advocacy organizations in Jackson Hole and San Francisco. At CDS, he has served on the PTTA and coordinated the Buddy Family program. Carl and his wife, Kate Nitze, are the parents of Leo (‘22) and Silas (‘25). Carl prefers getting places by bicycle.
Jeanette Perez's picture
Jeanette Perez
Board Co-Chair
Jeanette Perez's picture

Jeanette Perez

Board Co-Chair
Jeanette Perez, Secretary, has volunteered at CDS as an admission tour guide, class liaison, Advancement Committee member, and auction Communications Committee Chair (2016 and 2017). Previously, she worked for over a decade in the book publishing industry as a Senior Editor at HarperCollins and freelance book editor focused on fiction, memoir, and lifestyle books, working with bestselling authors such as Ann Patchett, Jennifer McMahon, and Nia Vardalos. Jeanette earned a bachelor's degree in American Studies and English from Stanford University and a master's degree in English from Columbia University. She and her husband, James Kim, are parents to Luna (‘25) and Pax (Preschool Starfish). 
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Tina Syer
Co-Vice Chair
Tina Syer's picture

Tina Syer

Co-Vice Chair
Tina Syer serves as the Chief Impact Officer for Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), a nonprofit that was founded in the Stanford University Athletic Department in 1998. In this role, she oversees marketing, programs, evaluation, and strategic planning. Tina has facilitated hundreds of workshops for coaches, sports parents, athletes, and leaders. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative (BAWSI). Tina graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology from Stanford University, where she captained the field hockey team and was named an Academic All-American. Tina and her wife, Jennifer Babik, are the parents of Nathan (’22) and Zachary (’25).
Jen Hamilton's picture
Jen Hamilton
Co-Vice Chair
Jen Hamilton's picture

Jen Hamilton

Co-Vice Chair
Jen Hamilton is the founder of the Room to Breathe Project, which helps empower kids to achieve lifelong success through social-emotional learning. She was also the founder of On The Road Travel, Chief Financial Officer of Kiva, and co-founder of the Perth Bagel Company. She serves on the Board of Mission Graduates and previously was on the Board of Equal Access International. Jen holds a master's degree in business administration from INSEAD (France & Singapore) and a bachelor's degree in commerce from Queen’s University (Canada). At CDS, she has been a classroom liaison, admissions tour guide, and member of the audit committee. She and her husband, Seth, are the parents of Sloane (’23) and Ryan (’25).
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Ryan Kluft
Treasurer
Ryan Kluft's picture

Ryan Kluft

Treasurer
Ryan Kluft, Treasurer, is the Vice President of Corporate Development and Head of Mobile and Search Advertising at Ooma. Previously, Ryan held executive positions at Talkatone and Symphony Teleca, was a technology investor at General Atlantic and Symphony Technology Group, and served as a founding Board Member and Treasurer of Taproot Foundation, a nonprofit provider of pro bono professional services for nonprofits and social change organizations. Ryan earned his bachelor’s degree in international politics from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and his master's degree in management from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Ryan and his wife, Ana Andreescu, are the parents of Emma ('26). 
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Stephanie Holland
Secretary
Stephanie Holland's picture

Stephanie Holland

Secretary
Stephanie Holland is an attorney who has been actively involved in the CDS community throughout her time as a parent here. At various times over the years, she has been a member of the school’s Advancement Committee, the PTTA Faculty Appreciation Coordinator, a committee member procuring live auction items for Bid & Bash, a classroom liaison, and an admission tour guide. Originally from Southern California, Stephanie received her bachelor's degree in economics from Stanford University and her J.D. from Cornell. She practiced labor and employment law at Littler Mendelson and spent twelve years as in-house counsel for AT&T, specializing in telecommunications regulatory law. She and her husband, Ron, are parents to Lily (’19) and Cole (’21).  
Mylene Acosta-Mercado's picture
Mylene Acosta-Mercado
Mylene Acosta-Mercado's picture

Mylene Acosta-Mercado

Mylene Acosta-Mercado immigrated to San Francisco from the Philippines with her parents and five sisters in 1975. She has bachelor's and master’s degrees in education, as well as a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, from San Francisco State University. Mylene has been an elementary school teacher at MP Brown School in the Jefferson School District in Daly City for the past 26 years. She and her husband Nerius have been CDS parents for 14 years. Their oldest daughter Bianca, who is a senior in high school, graduated from CDS in 2015; Bella ('19) and Leo ('22) are current CDS students. She has volunteered in numerous activities at CDS, including in admissions and for the Country Fair.
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Chris Bunga
Chris Bunga's picture

Chris Bunga

Chris Bunga, 2018-2019 President of the PTTA, is a stay-at-home parent to Gabby ('26) and Sasha ('28). He has a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Central Oklahoma. Chris served honorably in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Persian Gulf War, and prior to parenthood he ran a local mortgage brokerage and also worked for Bank of America. At CDS, he has served as a class liaison, Bid & Bash Sponsorship & Underwriting Chair, Country Fair Committee member, Buddy Family Program Coordinator, and most recently the Vice President of the PTTA. Chris enjoys cooking, running, and traveling with his wife, Lorna, and the girls.
Joe Connolly's picture
Joe Connolly
Joe Connolly's picture

Joe Connolly

Joe Connolly is the Chief Advancement and Enrollment Officer at Hillbrook School in Los Gatos, CA and oversees advancement, enrollment, alumni affairs, communications and marketing, community involvement and support, transportation, and summer and after-school programs. Before taking on his current role, Joe was the Middle School Head at Hillbrook. Prior to joining Hillbrook, Joe served several roles, including Dean of Students, Wellness Director, Athletic Director, Coach, and Teacher. After a few years of teaching and coaching directly out of college, Joe enjoyed a 20-year career as a sales and marketing executive, including co-founding and being CEO of two companies. Joe and Mary have three adult children and are proud grandparents of two grandchildren, one a current Hillbrook School student.
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Patricia Kao
Patricia Kao's picture

Patricia Kao

Patricia Kao has spent most of her career in financial services - spanning public finance, fixed income trading, asset management, investment product development, sustainable investing, and commodities risk management. She and her family joined the CDS community in 2016 when they moved to San Francisco from Washington D.C., where she had served as a policy director at the U.S. Treasury Department in the Obama Administration. Patty graduated from U.C. Berkeley and holds an MBA from MIT Sloan. At CDS, Patty has participated as a member of the Finance Committee, donations chair for Bid & Bash, and a one-off volunteer as needed. She and her husband Seth are the parents of Malia (‘23) and Kaia (‘25).
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Kami Kinkaid
Kami Kinkaid's picture

Kami Kinkaid

Kami Kinkaid has been the Director of Education Design at Pfau Long Architecture since 2006. She has overseen and managed the design of numerous local campuses and made many conference presentations on topics such as master planning, learning commons/libraries, and cross-disciplinary learning environments. She recently co-authored an article for Teacher Librarian: “Creating Ever-Evolving School-Specific Learning Commons.” Kami graduated with a bachelor's degree in architecture from the University of Kansas and was selected as a recipient of the Gastinger Walker Harden Merit Award for Design. She and her husband Richard Kim are parents to Tatum (1st grade) and Nelson (PreK), who attend the French American International School in San Francisco.
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Tracy Kirkham
Tracy Kirkham's picture

Tracy Kirkham

Tracy Kirkham, Chair Emeritus, Chair of the Board 2002-2008, is a lawyer specializing in business litigation, with an emphasis on complex multiparty cases and class actions. She is a partner in the San Francisco firm Cooper & Kirkham, P.C. Her eldest daughter Gillian ('07) started preschool at CDS in 1994 at the age of two. Daughters Sydney and Greer Cooper (both '12) joined their sister at CDS in 2000. Along with her husband, Tracy was instrumental in converting CDS from a privately-owned preschool to a non-profit elementary school. In 2001, she negotiated and documented the purchase of the school site from the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. In her free time, Tracy enjoys photography, skiing, and scuba diving.
Liza Ramrayka's picture
Liza Ramrayka
Liza Ramrayka's picture

Liza Ramrayka

Liza Ramrayka is a social justice journalist with 25 years of experience working for print and online media. A freelance features writer and commissioning editor for The Guardian, The Times, and News Deeply, her specialties include migration, equality, and diversity. She is also an editorial consultant and media skills trainer. She holds a bachelor's degree in English and French literature and language, as well as a post-graduate diploma in journalism. At CDS, Liza has been a classroom liaison, event volunteer, and admission tour guide, and she served as Annual Fund co-chair in 2015-2016 along with her partner, Simon Rogers. Liza, Simon, Ella (’18) and Jake (’22) joined the CDS community from the United Kingdom in 2013.
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Michelle Schoen
Michelle Schoen's picture

Michelle Schoen

Michelle Schoen has been actively involved in CDS both inside and outside of the classroom. In 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 she co-chaired the annual CDS community celebration and auction, and her volunteer commitments over the last several years include serving as a classroom liaison and as a member of the PTTA and Advancement Committee. Michelle previously worked in leadership roles at a boutique communications strategy firm and a variety of technology companies in the Bay Area, including NetSuite, where she was responsible for marketing, communications and strategic partner programs. She and her husband, Kent, are the parents of Mia (’21) and Kira (’23).
Ben Spero's picture
Ben Spero
Ben Spero's picture

Ben Spero

Ben Spero is a managing director at Spectrum Equity, a growth equity firm based in San Francisco which he joined in 2001. At Spectrum, he leads investments and serves on the boards of a number of software and digital media businesses. Prior to joining Spectrum, he was a consultant at Bain & Company and co-founder of TouchPak. Ben also serves as board chair at Destination: Home, a public-private partnership to end homelessness in Santa Clara County. He earned a bachelor's degree in economics and history from Duke University. Ben and his wife Leah are parents of Lexi (’22) and Eva (’22).
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David Strandberg
David Strandberg's picture

David Strandberg

David Strandberg is a structural engineer in San Francisco and Founding Principal of Strandberg Engineering. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, master’s in architecture, and master’s in structural engineering from Virginia Tech. Prior to owning his own business, David worked for Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill as a structural engineer and architect. David and his wife, Holly Coleman, are parents to Oskar (’23) and Gus (’26).
Rishi Varma's picture
Rishi Varma
Rishi Varma's picture

Rishi Varma

Rishi Varma was born and raised in Kenya and moved to the United States for further studies when he was 15. He has a bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering and a master’s in Decision Analysis, both from Stanford University. After five years as a decision strategy consultant, Rishi founded a firm focused on market research and consulting for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. He now serves as an independent consultant to his long-term clients and spends time volunteering in numerous ways for CDS. At CDS, Rishi has volunteered as the Fundraising Partnerships Coordinator for the PTTA for 3 years as well as organized grade level sports teams and classroom needs. Rishi and his husband Alex have two kids at CDS, Kalyani (‘27) and Kiaan (‘30). Together they enjoy traveling to see family in Kenya and Brazil and spending time supporting the various communities they are a part of.
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Diane Walters
Diane Walters's picture

Diane Walters

Diane Walters is the Chief Financial Officer for the Urban School of San Francisco. Prior to joining Urban in 2013, she served in the same position for the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco and the San Francisco Ballet. Before discovering her passion for finance, Diane was a mechanical engineer in the automotive, avionic, and high tech sectors (she refers to this period of time as “the dark years”). Diane has an M.B.A. from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University. She lives in Noe Valley with her husband Mark and their daughter. In her free time, Diane enjoys traveling, hiking, and reading. 
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Shelly Luke Wille
Shelly Luke Wille's picture

Shelly Luke Wille

Shelly Luke Wille joined CDS as Head of School in 2018. She holds a master's degree in special education and a bachelor's degree in diversified liberal arts from St. Mary’s College, California, as well as credentials in Multiple Subject Teaching and Special Education. Before coming to CDS, Shelly served as the Head of School at Chadwick International in South Korea, a K-12 school with 1,200 students; she had previously been the Assistant Head and Elementary School Head there. She also served as Assistant Head and Lower School Head at Hillbrook School in Los Gatos, California. Shelly and her husband, Michael, have two sons at CDS: Séamus (’19) and Braden (’21). Their eldest, Kaffie, is a college student.
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Lindsay Woollerson
Lindsay Woollerson's picture

Lindsay Woollerson

Lindsay Woollerson is a stay-at-home parent to Henry (’25). Lindsay has a bachelor's degree in marine biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz and an master's degree in sustainable management from Presidio Graduate School. Prior to parenthood, Lindsay ran Green Business Programs for Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin Counties. At CDS, she served as President of the PTTA from 2016-2018 and was a Co-Chair of the recent Head of School search.
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Vivien Zraick
Vivien Zraick's picture

Vivien Zraick

Vivien Zraick has worked in the medical device industry for fifteen years, running clinical operations in start-ups focused on newborn care, diabetes, asthma, and movement disorders. She has been heavily involved with the CDS community, working on the organizing committee for Bid & Bash, as a PTTA liaison coordinator, and as a classroom liaison. Originally from Brazil, Vivien moved to the United States when she was in high school and later earned her bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Brown University. She relocated to the Bay Area 18 years ago, where she rediscovered the sunshine and received her master’s degree in biomechanics from Stanford University. Vivien and her husband Ben are the parents of Sofia (’22) and Lilah (’24).