Governance

The information below outlines the key aspects of Washington International School's governance.

What is the WIS Board of Trustees?

The Board is the School’s governing body. WIS was founded in 1966 as a not-for-profit corporation, with no shareholders or owners. The founders established an initial Board and specified that the Board would elect new trustees. This is the governance model for most US independent schools.

Who are the trustees and how are they selected?

Trustees are unpaid volunteers from varying cultural, professional, and geographic backgrounds. They believe in and support the WIS mission. They represent no constituency. In some cases, individual trustees devote hundreds of hours a year to the School. The great majority are current WIS parents, but trustees also include WIS alumni, parents of alumni, and friends of the School. The selection process is outlined here, and bios of current trustees are found on this page.

What does the Board do?

The Board’s responsibility is to ensure the long-term success of WIS as an institution. Its primary activities include monitoring the School’s financial management, fundraising, strategic planning, setting high-level policies, ensuring the School has adequate physical resources, and the hiring and evaluation of the Head of School. The Board relies on the Head and the administration — as education professionals — for guidance on many of these issues.

What does the Head of School do?

The Head of School is the chief executive officer of WIS as well as the voice of the School and the liaison between the School and community. She oversees the academic program and manages the School, with responsibility for operational matters including faculty and staff hiring/termination, vendor selection, student admissions, student discipline, space utilization/allocation, scheduling, and snow days. The Board entrusts operational matters to the Head, and the Board does not hear appeals by members of the community. The Head is a non-voting, ex officio member of the Board of Trustees.

Meet the Board

FRIEDA ABUSHACRA: 2013-2019

Frieda Abushacra (2013-2019) was born in Lebanon and attended a trilingual school. Her family moved to Iraq, and then Greece, before settling in England, where she continued her education and obtained an IB Diploma.

After graduating from the University College of London with a bachelor’s degree in architecture, Frieda then earned her masters in computers in art and design while working on architecture and design projects in London and Beirut. Since moving to Washington, DC in 1994, she has been active in the development of the family’s real estate and Firehook Bakery businesses.

Her International experience and multi-lingual education are what attracted the family to WIS. Having been an IB student herself, Frieda is in tune with the educational journey of WIS students and the benefits it presents to them throughout their lives. In addition to volunteering actively within the WIS community, Frieda also supports other non-profit and community organizations in the Washington, DC area.

Frieda is married to Pierre Abushacra. Michael, the oldest of their three boys, is a member of the Class of 2014.

ELIZABETH AHN: 2013-2019

Elizabeth Ahn (2013-2019), who earned her J.D. from the American University School of Law, spent the early years of her legal career working at Arnold & Porter, where she honed her litigation skills and focused primarily on antitrust matters, intellectual property disputes and product liability suits.

After leaving Arnold & Porter, Elizabeth spent nearly seven years as an attorney advisor at the Internal Revenue Service Office of Professional Responsibility. There, she reviewed and analyzed allegations of misconduct by tax practitioners and assisted with investigations related to those allegations. She also took an active role in the litigation process and testified on behalf of the Office Director during administrative hearings.

Elizabeth was born in Seoul, Korea and grew up in Brunei before moving to Canada and then to the United States, where she graduated from The George Washington University with a B.Sc. She is married to John Morris, President and co-founder of Corsec, a company specializing in information assurance and validation services for commercial companies.

Elizabeth and John’s oldest son William is a member of the WIS Class of 2023 and twins Charlotte and George are members of the WIS Class of 2027.

JEFFERSON BURNETT: 2017-2020

Jefferson Burnett (2017-2020) is the Senior Vice President, Education Innovation, at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). His portfolio includes providing thought leadership regarding innovative approaches to learning and teaching; addressing global education and international student issues; and designing financial health and marketing outlook resources for boards and leadership teams. In addition, he represents NAIS on its Commission on Accreditation and ISAnet, which is composed of the organization’s member associations.

Before joining NAIS in 1992, Jefferson was Vice President for Independent Schools at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), where he also directed services for CASE’s two-year institutions and international members. He has been an adjunct instructor in anthropology at Georgetown University, a history teacher at the Robert Louis Stevenson School, and an English teacher at St. George's School.

Jefferson previously served on the board of the Edmund Burke School and is a member of the Association of Independent Schools New South Wales Institute (Australia). He received a BA in anthropology from Columbia University, Columbia College and an MPhil in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge, King’s College.

MELISSA BURNETT: 2018-2021

Melissa Mileff Burnett (2018-2021) is a design professional specializing in residential interiors and historic decorative arts. She has worked for several museums in Washington, DC and California, including in curatorial positions at the Textile Museum and the Monterey History and Arts Association.

Melissa has served on boards of several national and local organizations, including the Monterey Museum of Art, the American Institute of Architects, and the National Architectural Accrediting Board, and has advised other arts, educational, and political organizations. Currently, she serves on the board of Transformer, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit that supports emerging artists.

Melissa holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Oklahoma, where she was recognized as the Alpha Rho Chi recipient, and received her MA in the History of American Decorative Arts from Parsons School of Design. In 2016, she and her husband Jason moved back to Washington from California. Their son Sebastian is a member of the Class of 2030.

PIERRE CHAO: 2018-2021

Pierre A. Chao (2018-2021) has three decades of strategy management consulting, investment banking, equity analysis, investing and policy analysis expertise in the aerospace/defense/government services industry. He is currently a Founding Partner of Renaissance Strategic Advisors, a 39-person boutique aerospace/defense strategy, market insight and M&A planning and due diligence firm; and a Co-Founder/Operating Partner of Enlightenment Capital, an aerospace/defense private debt firm with $477 million of assets under management. Mr. Chao is a Registered Representative of and Securities Products are offered through BA Securities, LLC (RSAdvisors and BA Securities, LLC are separate, unaffiliated entities).

Prior to establishing RSAdvisors in 2008 and Enlightenment Capital in 2012, Mr. Chao was the Director of Defense-Industrial Initiatives at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, DC-based, non-partisan defense and foreign policy think tank, from 2003-2007, where he still remains as a Senior Associate.

Before joining CSIS in 2003, Mr. Chao was a Managing Director and senior aerospace/defense analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston from 1999-2003, where he was responsible for following the U.S. and global aerospace/defense industry. He remained a CSFB independent senior adviser from 2003-2006. Prior to joining CSFB, Pierre was the senior aerospace/defense analyst at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter from 1995-1999. He served as the senior aerospace/defense industry analyst at Smith Barney during 1994 and as a director at JSA International, a Boston/Paris-based management consulting firm that focused on the aerospace/defense industry (1986-88, 1990-93). Mr. Chao was also a co-founder of JSA Research, an equity research boutique specializing in the aerospace/defense industry. Before signing on with JSA, he worked in the New York and London offices of Prudential-Bache Capital Funding as a mergers and acquisitions banker focusing on aerospace/defense (1988-90). Over the course of his Wall Street career, Mr. Chao’s team was ranked #1 by Institutional Investor every year eligible and he was on the Institutional Investor All-America Research Team every year eligible. He was also ranked the #1 A&D analyst by corporations in the 1998-2000 Reuters Polls, the #1 A&D analyst in the 1995-99 Greenwich Associates polls, and appeared on the Wall Street Journal All-Star list in 4 of 7 years. He participated in 31 landmark aerospace/defense equity offerings/IPOs raising $11.7 billion. 

He is also a guest lecturer at the National Defense University and the Defense Acquisition University, he has served on multiple Defense Science Board, National Academies, and Army Science Board task forces, and was a member of the Defense Business Board (2010-2013). He is a member of the board of directors of IIA and SolAero Technologies, and he was a member of the board of directors of KeyW Corporation (Nasdaq:KEYW) (2010-16), Vistronix Intelligence & Technology Solutions (2014-16) and the Truman National Security Project (2007-18). He is a holder of the right to use the Chartered Financial Analyst designation, holds Series 79/63 licenses and a Top Secret security clearance.

Pierre earned dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Political Science and Management Science from M.I.T.

Pierre and his wife Amy have been at WIS since 2006. Two of their three children — daughters Mia ’21 and Chloe ’23 — are in the WIS French program.

STYLIANOS CHRISTOFIDES: 2014-2020

Stylianos Christofides (2014-2020) is a member of the WIS Class of 1982. After leaving WIS, Stylianos went on to McGill University, where he received a BSc in Civil Engineering. He later attended George Washington University to study international business as well as structural engineering.

Since September 2012, Stylianos has served as the principal and founder of SC Squared, LLC, which offers general consulting services in the industry sectors of real estate, energy and infrastructure. He is also a co-founding member of Parking Development Solutions with the purpose of promoting automated parking for all parking needs. Prior to founding SC Squared, he was a principal at ICG properties for 14 years, where he directed business development and implemented infrastructure projects in Pakistan, India, Tunisia and Egypt.

From 1996 to 1998 he was Director of Development at ICG Dubai, where he worked on the development of the pipeline for the company's lead project—a gas-fired combined-cycle power station in Pakistan. He also led other infrastructure initiatives in India and Greece. From 1990 to 1995 he worked in the UK for WS Atkins, as a project manager and design engineer for the Drax Power Station, and on telecommunication design for the NYNEX initiative in the UK.

Stylianos and his wife Kate live in Maryland with their three children.

GIOVANNI DELL'ARICCIA: 2016-2019

Giovanni Dell'Ariccia (2016-2019) is Deputy Director of the Research Department of the IMF, where he supervises the activities of the Macro-Financial Division. Previously he worked in the Asia and Pacific Department. His research interests include: Banking; the Macroeconomics of Credit; Monetary Policy; International Finance. In recent years, Giovanni has worked primarily on the Euro Area Crisis. He has published extensively in finance and economics journals and is a CEPR Research Fellow.

Giovanni grew up in Rome, where he earned a bachelors degree in economics and statistics from Rome University. He moved to the US in 1993 to attend MIT, where he earned a Ph.D. in economics. Giovanni is married to Rachel Howe (who is the Director of Trade Research at the US Trade Representative). Their daughter Julia is a member of the WIS Class of 2023.

AYANNA DUNN: 2014-2020

Ayanna Dunn (2014-2020) is an alumna of WIS. She is currently a Private Banker at Morgan Stanley where she advises high net worth clients, businesses, nonprofits and associations on credit and lending solutions.

Before joining Morgan Stanley, she served as a Financial Advisor at Bernstein Global Wealth Management. Prior to that, she worked for many years at JPMorgan in the Private Bank and in the Equity Capital Markets Division of the Investment Bank in New York and London. She also served as an Account Director at The Corporate Executive Board, and she started her career as an Associate Consultant at Bain & Company.

Outside of the office, Ayanna dedicates her time to working with various art and education organizations in the Washington, DC region. Ayanna has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Spelman College.

DIANA FARRELL: 2013-2019 (Co-Vice Chair)

Diana Farrell (2013-2019) is the founding President and Chief Executive Officer of the JPMorgan Chase Institute. Previously, Ms. Farrell was the Global Head of the McKinsey Center for Government (MCG), providing research, proprietary data and other tools to support government leaders focused on improving performance. In addition, she was a leader of McKinsey's global Public Sector Practice and a member of its Partner Review Committee.

Ms. Farrell served in the White House as Deputy Director of the National Economic Council and Deputy Assistant to the President on Economic Policy from 2009-2011. During her tenure, she led interagency processes and stakeholder management on a broad portfolio of economic initiatives, including financial reform, housing and innovation. Ms. Farrell also coordinated stakeholder engagement around the passage of the historic Dodd-Frank Act and served as a member of the President's Auto Recovery Task Force. She has a B.A. from Wesleyan University and holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

Diana was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia, where she attended an IB school, the Colegio Anglo Colombiano. She and her husband Scott Pearson, the Executive Director of the DC Public Charter School Board, have been WIS parents since 2009: daughter Sonia graduated in 2016 and son Jasper graduated in 2018.

JAMES IKER: 2018-2021

James Iker (2018-2021) has more than 20 years of real estate, finance, investment, and management experience. He is currently the Chief Investment Officer at JBG Smith, an S&P 400 Real Estate Investment Trust that owns and/or operates a portfolio of nearly 20 million square feet in and around Washington, DC. Mr. Iker is a member of JBG Smith’s Executive Committee and Investment Committee. He also served two terms as the inaugural Chair of JBG’s Management Committee.

From 2008 to 2017, Mr. Iker served as a Managing Partner of the JBG Companies and as the co-head of Investments. He was responsible for JBG’s investment strategy including acquisitions, dispositions, financing, investor relations, and fundraising. During Mr. Iker’s tenure, JBG successfully raised seven Opportunity Funds totaling more than $3.6 Billion of discretionary equity.

Mr. Iker formed part of the senior leadership team that merged The JBG Companies with Vornado Realty Trust’s Washington, DC business and created JBG Smith as a publicly traded company in July 2017.

Prior to joining JBG in 2002, Mr. Iker co-founded and managed a real estate investment firm in Orange County, California. He has previously served on the advisory board for the Urban Land Institute and currently serves as a board trustee for the Federal City Council, as a member of the National Council for the World Wildlife Fund, and as a member of the Dean’s Council at the Yale School of Architecture.

Mr. Iker earned his B.A. at the University of Phoenix and his M.B.A. at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Iker and his husband Hayes Nuss have been at WIS since 2014. Their two children, Sophia and William, are members of the Class of 2028.

CYNTHIA JOHNSTON: 2015-2021

Cynthia Johnston (2015-2021) is currently Chief Project Manager with the Facility Services division at a federal agency.

From 2006 to 2013, she was Director of Project Management at Montgomery College, responsible for overseeing construction projects on all three campuses and in off-campus leased space. During her tenure at the College, signature projects included state-of-the-art science instruction laboratory buildings at both the Rockville and Germantown campuses, and visual and performing arts centers at the Takoma Park-Silver Spring campus. Notable smaller projects included nursing and allied health science instructional spaces, including simulation labs.

Prior to public service, Cynthia was a Principal at SmithGroup, JJR. Over a twenty-year period her work with Smithgroup (and its predecessor firm Keyes Condon Florance) included service for a wide variety of institutional and private clients on projects ranging from complex multi-use facilities to historical renovations. Selected projects include New York Law School, a major addition to the Defense Intelligence Analysis Center at Bolling Air Force Base, the Discovery Communications Headquarters building in Silver Spring, renovations to the Old Executive Office Building, the Levine School of Music (which had occupied the site of the WIS Primary School), and 2401 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

Cynthia is an honors graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and has been a member of the WIS Facilities Committee since the Primary School Expansion project. She and her husband Carlos Rojas have one daughter; Maria is a WIS "lifer" and a member of the 50th anniversary Class of 2016!

RUFUS KING: 2013-2019

Rufus King (2013-2019) is now a senior (semi-retired) judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, having served as chief judge from 2000 through 2008. He was appointed to the bench by President Reagan in 1984 and served in its Criminal, Family and Civil divisions. He was presiding judge of the Civil division in 1997 and 1998.

After taking senior status, Judge King joined the McCammon Group, where he has mediated and arbitrated as part of the Group’s full range of Alternative Dispute Resolution services.

Judge King is a graduate of Princeton University and Georgetown University Law Center. Before taking the bench, he was engaged in the general practice of law in the District of Columbia.

Rufus King and Barbara R. Stevens are parents of WIS graduate Alex, a member of the Class of 2006. Alex graduated from Occidental College in 2010 and is an emerging country portfolio analyst in Los Angeles.

KATHERINE KINSELLA: 2017-2020

Katherine Kinsella (2017-2020) is a returning WIS trustee, having previously served from 1990-1996. Kathy’s husband, Ed James, was a WIS Board member from 2000-2006 and both of their daughters are WIS graduates: Erin ’03 and Mara ’06.

Now enjoying retirement, Kathy spent more than two decades managing Kinsella Media, LLC. The core of Kinsella Media’s work was in the design, preparation and dissemination of legal notices for class actions and bankruptcies.

Kathy began her career in strategic communications at The Kamber Group, an independently owned communications company. During her time at Kamber, Kathy’s clients included the National Education Association, Amnesty International, American University, PBS, American Federation of Government Employees, United Food and Commercial Workers, Coalition for America’s Children, and US Committee for UNICEF, among others. She concluded her 12 years at the firm as a senior vice president and director of marketing and advertising.

She earned both her undergraduate and Master’s degree from Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts.

DANIEL PINK: 2013-2019 (Co-Vice Chair)

Daniel H. Pink (2013-2019)  is the author of six books about business and behavioral science, including four New York Times bestsellers—A Whole New MindDriveTo Sell is Human, and When. His books have been translated into 38 languages and have sold three million copies worldwide. Dan was also host and co-executive producer of “Crowd Control”—a TV series on human behavior on the National Geographic Channel.

Earlier in his career, he worked in several positions in politics and government—including serving from 1995 to 1997 as chief speechwriter to Vice President Al Gore. Dan received a BA from Northwestern University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and was a Truman Scholar, and a JD from Yale Law School.

He and his wife Jessica Lerner have one child enrolled at WIS: Saul (Class of 2021). Daughter—and Presidential Scholar—Sophia is a member of the WIS Class of 2015 and daughter Eliza is a member of WIS Class of 2017.

JOHN REPPAS: 2017-2020 (Treasurer)

John Reppas (2017-2020) is a technology expert who operates at the intersection of academic, government, and private-sector innovation. He is the Director of Public Policy for the Neurotechnology Industry Organization (NIO), where he is responsible for government engagement, advocacy, international initiatives, and public-private collaboration to advance commercial neuroscience. John is also an investor in, and adviser to, a number of early-stage companies that operate in regulated markets, and has extensive prior experience in healthcare and technology private equity. 

John graduated from Oxford University with a Bachelors of Medicine, received his MD from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, and his PhD from the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. He received further fellowship and postgraduate training at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

John and his wife Solange Brown have three children: one in the WIS class of 2023, one in the class of 2022, and an older daughter who is a WIS alumna.

KLEBER SANTOS: 2017-2020

Kleber Santos (2017-2020) is the President of Capital One’s Retail and Direct Bank and has been with Capital One since 2006. Prior to joining Capital One he was an engagement manager at McKinsey & Company in Washington DC from 2001 to 2006 and, prior to that, a civil engineer at Odebrecht Engenharia e Construção in Brazil.

Kleber holds an MBA from the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia and a Master’s degree in management information technology from UVA's McIntire School of Commerce. He also holds a BS in civil engineering from Universidade Federal da Bahia, Brazil. Kleber is fluent in English, Portuguese and Spanish.

Kleber is a member of the corporate advisory board of the UVA Darden School of Business, a board member at The Clearing House and a board member at Early Warning Systems. He has two children enrolled at WIS: Luana (Class of 2023) and Leandro (Class of 2026).

MELISSA SCHWARTZ: 2018-2021

Melissa Schwartz (2018-2021) is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. She has considerable experience representing international and domestic clients in a range of corporate matters including joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, financings, and corporate governance. With more than 25 years of experience in emerging markets, Melissa is skilled at advising clients and negotiating cross-border transactions involving complex international trade and policy issues.

From 1997 through 2005, Melissa was a partner with Akin Gump in the firm’s New York, Moscow, and Washington, DC offices. She was the managing partner of Akin Gump’s Moscow office from 1998-2000 and, upon her return to Washington, DC in 2000, she served on the firm’s management committee.

Prior to re-joining Akin Gump in 2014, Melissa served as an independent consultant, advising companies, high net worth individuals, and foundations on corporate governance matters, acquisitions and dispositions, and financings.

Melissa’s current community involvement includes: Board member and Secretary of the Board, The Global Fund for Children (February 2016-present), Board member of the Washington Hebrew Congregation (June 2016-present), co-chair of the Good Neighbor Initiative to welcome refugee families to our community (June 2017-present), and member of the leadership team at the Washington Hunger Project (September 2012-present).

Melissa received her B.A. from Cornell University, with distinction and her J.D. from Harvard Law School, cum laude.

Melissa and her husband David Muenzer have been at WIS since 2006. Their two children, Benjamin ‘20 and Emily ’22, are in the French program. Melissa has been an active volunteer during her children’s time at WIS, including having led WIS Annual Giving as its Chair from 2001-2014.

CONSTANTINE STAVROPOULOS: 2017-2020

Constantine Stavropoulos 2017-2020 is the owner and operator of The Tryst Trading Company, a DC food group consisting of several restaurants (Tryst, The Diner, Open City, Tryst at the Phillips, The Coupe, Open City at the National Cathedral), and a catering operation (Who's Cookin?); Constantine led the design and construction of each.

Constantine is a founding member of Think Local First, with its mission to "transform DC's economy by developing and implementing solutions that strengthen the local independent business community".  He is also the President and founder of the Adams Morgan Partnership Business Improvement District (BID), a non-profit dedicated to promoting a clean and safe Adams Morgan for people to live, work, and play. 

He earned a BA in international business and finance from American University and attended American University in Paris. The family has been at WIS since 2000; wife Djinn is an active volunteer. Their son Romain graduated from WIS in 2014 and daughter Margot is a member of the class of 2025.

ALEXIA VON LIPSEY: 2014-2020 (Secretary)

Alexia von Lipsey (2014-2020) grew up in the Middle East and Latin America. She holds a degree in political science from Bryn Mawr and an MA in Near Eastern studies from Princeton University. Travels have taken her throughout Europe, Central and South Asia and she also resided in the Persian Gulf. She speaks Arabic, English, Greek and Spanish fluently and speaks some Dari, Turkish and Russian.

With expertise in U.S. foreign policy, military presence and security in the Mediterranean, Middle East and Persian Gulf, she has been involved with U.S. national security interests in the Middle East for over 20 years, including work with U.S. Navy and Department of Defense decision-makers in Washington, DC and abroad. Alexia has also worked with corporate and non-profit organizations as a consultant and as a fundraiser. Her current interests focus on cultural and public diplomacy.

Alexia's oldest son Kai is a member of the Class of 2023. Her husband Rod von Lipsey is a Managing Director of UBS Financial Services.

MARC WILLIAMSON: 2015-2021 (Chair)

Marc Williamson (2015-2021) was born and raised in Annapolis, MD. He received his BA in Philosophy from Swarthmore College, his MA in Philosophy from Columbia University, and his JD from New York University School of Law. Marc has lived and worked in London, Brussels and New York. He is a partner of Latham & Watkins, where he practices international antitrust law; his professional focus is on obtaining multi-jurisdictional antitrust approvals for large mergers and acquisitions.

A long-time supporter of independent education, Marc has previously served on the Board of Trustees of Severn School in Severna Park, Maryland.

Marc’s wife Tricia is an Executive Director in the legal department of UBS Financial Services Inc. Marc and Tricia live in the Forest Hills neighborhood of DC with their children William and Daphne. William is a member of WIS Class of 2023.

EX OFFICIO MEMBERS

Suzanna Jemsby, Head of School
Mark Traphagen, WISPA Co-President