Board of Trustees
Valaida L. Wise, Chair
Dr. Valaida L. Wise (Val) is currently an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University and also consults at area charter and independent schools. She served as the past head of school at the National Child Research Center in Washington D.C, The Harbor School in Bethesda, Maryland and at Henson Valley Montessori School in Temple Hills, Maryland. An educator for almost 20 years, Val received a bachelor’s degree in developmental psychology from Syracuse University, a master’s degree in teaching from Trinity College, Washington D.C. and holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from George Washington University.
A Brava Award Winner, Val has lectured nationally and internationally, most recently on the topic of early childhood education at Tanjian University and other provinces in China. She has presented at a variety of conferences including, National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Education Diplomacy, Children’s Trust, etc. Val has written several articles on educational leadership in early childhood as well as Montessori Education. Her article: A Critical Absence in the Field of Educational Administration: Framing the (Missing) Discourse of Leadership in Early Childhood appears in the International Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation. She is a trustee on several professional and independent school boards.
James Cigliano, Vice Chair
Jim Cigliano is the proud father of 3 boys, including Ben who attends McLean School and loves it. He is the proud husband for over 20 years to Jennifer Rosen, MD, who is Chief of Endocrine Surgery and Vice Chair of Research for the Department of Surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.
Professionally, Jim is Chief Revenue Officer for WorldStrides, the nation’s largest accredited and most trusted educational travel organization. WorldStrides provides a variety of educational travel and study abroad programs throughout the United States and globally (more than 100 countries). Prior, Jim was Chief Marketing Officer and WorldStrides’ lead customer advocate and marketing strategist.
Prior to WorldStrides, Jim served at Time Warner Cable, leading Customer Marketing and Retention. He also led Strategy and Retail Store Transformation for Staples, co-led Customer Retention for America Online, and worked at McKinsey as a leadership member of the Marketing and Retail practices. Jim received his MBA from MIT Sloan and his undergrad in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
John Yonemoto, Treasurer
John is a McLean School parent, and his daughter, Jillian, has been at McLean since kindergarten. John is Co-founder and Chief Investment Officer for Albright Capital Management LLC. He brings more than 30 years of interdisciplinary experience managing a variety of investment strategies and emerging markets products in both institutional capital markets and alternative asset management.
Prior to joining Albright Capital, John was Managing Director and lead public markets portfolio manager for Darby Overseas Investments, Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Franklin Templeton Investments. He also helped establish ING Groep NV as the preeminent emerging markets investment bank, serving in various roles in trading and analytics. He was Global Head of Emerging Markets Proprietary Trading for ING Barings in London in the 1990’s.
John earned a BA in Economics from the University of Chicago. John and his wife, Jeanett, reside in Washington DC with their two children.
Mary Wright, Secretary
Dr. Mary Wright is a hospital medicine physician and researcher in infectious diseases who worked in patient education for eleven years before attending medical school. Long before her son Alexei graduated from McLean’s Upper School in 2017, she was a big fan of its drama and music programs and a regular participant at Cecily’s Advocacy workshops.
Mary brings many years of experience in patient care and advocacy, staff education and government committee work. She has served on executive steering committees involving strategic planning and complex infrastructure projects. In the community, she has hosted for Kidsave which finds adoptive families for older kids, served as Special Needs PTA Rep at a Montgomery County public school, and sat on the Board of Montgomery County CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) while co-leading its parent support group. She is especially interested in the role of the developing brain in learning and mental health.
Mary earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland College Park, a Master’s in Public Health from Johns Hopkins, and a Doctor of Medicine from George Washington University. She is honored to serve on the board.
Bio Coming Soon
Harris M. Bergman '09
Harris Bergman is a process and sustainability leader with a penchant for organizational development and change management. Harris serves as the Director of Process and Technology at FIRST ONSITE, Inc., an international disaster restoration and decontamination firm, where he leads a team working on the creation and implementation of new, industry-leading technology and process change initiatives.
Prior to his role with FIRST ONSITE, Harris worked as a consultant with The Collective Good, LLC helping community serving organizations of all types change the way they change the world. His clients have included a collection of the largest national nonprofits and local grassroots organizations focused on issues like education, housing, racial equity and inclusion, and LGBTQ+ rights. Harris has also spent time working as part of the team of a multinational infection control technology start up.
Harris holds a master’s degree in Sustainability Management from American University and an undergraduate degree in Business Management from the University of Tampa. Harris is a proud alumnus of McLean School’s Class of 2009.
Bio Coming Soon
Norma L. Day-Vines serves as Associate Dean for Faculty Development in the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University. She has a faculty appointment as Professor of Counseling and Human Development. Prior to joining the faculty at Johns Hopkins University, she held tenured faculty positions at The College of William and Mary and Virginia Tech. Dr. Day-Vines’ research agenda examines the importance of multiculturalism as an indispensable tool in the delivery of culturally competent counseling services for clients from marginalized groups. More specifically, she specializes in the measurement of counselors’ attitudes towards discussing the contextual dimensions of race and representation with their ethnic minority clients and the identification of strategies for working more effectively with culturally and linguistically diverse clients. Her scholarship has appeared in leading counseling journals such as the Journal of Counseling and Development, the Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, and the Journal of Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development. Dr. Day-Vines was recognized with an Exemplary Diversity Leadership Award in 2013 by the Association of Multicultural Counseling and Development. In 2018, she received an Excellence in Teaching Award at Johns Hopkins University and in 2019, she was awarded a Presidential Citation from the American Counseling Association, in recognition of her scholarship on multiculturalism. Norma earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her Master’s and doctorate from North Carolina State University.
Faiza El-Hibri '08
Faiza El-Hibri serves as the Director of Operations Management at East West Resources Corporation (EWR), a private investment and business development firm focused on life sciences and emerging technologies located in Rockville, Maryland. She manages and oversees operating businesses and equity investments, focusing on process optimization, strategic planning, and market positioning. Prior to EWR, Faiza worked at Johnson & Johnson’s medical device company, DePuy Synthes, where she managed sales cycles for an inventory conversion program. Before relocating to Philadelphia with her husband of two years, she worked with the Board of Trade in collecting competitive intelligence in support of the Greater Washington Region’s bid for Amazon’s second headquarters. Faiza previously worked on the set of NBC’s television series “Revolution” and on 20th Century Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow.” Soon after, she supported Unity Productions Foundation, a non-profit organization in Silver Spring Maryland, in creating peace through media and increasing religious and cultural pluralism by internally managing the production of an Emmy-nominated historical docu-drama which aired on PBS. She was recently elected as a board member of the El-Hibri Foundation, whose mission “supports building an inclusive America by advancing peace and respect for diversity inspired by the universally shared values of Islam.” Faiza has an MBA from American University and a BA in Film Studies from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She graduated from McLean School in 2008, having attended since grade 3.
Bio Coming Soon
Sarah Haskell recently returned to work as the Director Of Operations for Bellwether Insurance Partners. Hannah ’23, their oldest daughter, has attended McLean School since grade 1. Sarah also has two younger children, daughter, Lulu, and a son, Henry. Sarah loves raising her children and volunteering in her community. She was a board member of Silver Spring Day School where all three of her children went to pre-school. She is also an active member of their church, Christ Episcopal Church of Kensington.
Sarah and her family spend much of the summer in Northeast Harbor, Maine. Sarah has gone to Maine every summer of her life and it holds a special place in her heart. She is an active member of this beloved community, sitting on the Board of the Northeast Harbor Swim and Tennis Club as well as the Northeast Harbor Neighborhood House.
Sarah has been active in the McLean School Parents Association serving as the Vice President for both the Lower and Middle Schools. She and her family are so thankful to be a part of this School community.
Leah received her undergraduate degree from Williams College and her MIPA./JD and PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Having attended a progressive school from kindergarten through grade 12, she recognizes and values the importance of teaching kids how to think, not what to think. Moreover, Leah deeply appreciates McLean’s approach to cherishing the diverse gifts and abilities every child has to offer, while helping them all to be empathetic and engaged citizens of the world.
Following graduation from GW in 1989, Mary began a 20-year legal career in federal energy regulation. From 2004 to 2010, she was a Senior Attorney with Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) based in Washington, DC. As lead attorney of FPL’s federal energy regulatory practice, she oversaw compliance with federal energy regulations and led risk management efforts for the company. In that role, she personally advised the CEO and Board of Directors on federal regulatory standards and codes of conduct. She also led the regulatory compliance efforts and developed training programs for all regulated business units. Additionally, she conducted internal investigations and coordinated the company’s response to federal regulatory investigations and audits.
Prior to joining FPL, Mary was Counsel at LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, a large international law firm for eight years. At LeBoeuf, she represented the nation’s largest electric utilities and natural gas companies before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and their state equivalents. She litigated issues ranging from electricity pricing to marketplace practices to bankruptcy proceedings. She provided advice to a wide variety of energy clients on compliance matters, contractual drafting and transaction issues.
She resides in Washington, DC with her husband, Bill, their two daughters, Catherine and Vanessa, and their golden retriever. She stepped back from practicing law when she and Bill adopted their two daughters from Russia between 2008 and 2010. More recently, in addition to raising the two girls, she has focused her involvement on organizations that address educational and family issues. She serves on the Board of Directors of Blue Star Families, an organization devoted to supporting and strengthening active duty military families, where she also chairs the Advisory Board of outside military experts. She served until last year as Vice President of the Board of Directors of Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, a historical museum in Old Town, Alexandria. She is also an officer of her local Homeowners Association.
She is an active volunteer at her children’s schools, McLean School, in Potomac, Maryland and the National Cathedral School in Washington, DC. She has co-chaired the annual auction at McLean School and she volunteers with fund raising and community outreach at the National Cathedral School. She is also a long-time member of the Girl Scouts Nation Capital’s Council, where she currently leads a Cadette troop that is working on its Silver Award.
Michael Saxenian, Head of School
I have one of the best jobs in the world. My time leading McLean School has been rich in meaning and personal connections, the very qualities of McLean—along with deep classroom expertise—that drew me to the school when I first visited in late 2012. At McLean, I’ve been fortunate to participate in the further articulation of our methodology and the ways in which we explain it, expansion of the student body, implementation of new programming in areas such as mindfulness, robotics, and gardening, the first major capital campaign, and the expansion of our building.
I came to McLean from Sidwell Friends School, where I was the Assistant Head of School and Chief Financial Officer. At Sidwell I was able to pursue twin passions in education, including the opportunity to design and teach an economics elective to seniors, and in the environment, overseeing an expansive green building program that set an international standard for independent schools.
My work in schools has been enriched by board service. I’ve served on the boards of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), including as Treasurer, and of the National Business Officers Association (NBOA). Locally, I serve on the board of the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington (AISGW). I was a founding board member of the Green School Alliance (GSA).
I haven’t always worked in schools. My professional pathway started as a volunteer in non-formal education and “appropriate” (small scale, village) technology in Indonesia in the early 1980s, and includes business start-ups in education and in publishing related to economic development. I led the development of “Conservation Enterprises” at Conservation International through most of the 1990s. In the early 2000s I became a Vice President and General Manager at Discovery Communications, running a business unit dedicated to educational and experiential travel.
I grew up in Concord Massachusetts in a family of educators and attended the public schools there, including the high school where my mother taught English. I was slow to learn to read, and probably would have continued to languish in low level math classes but for testing that suggested—contrary to appearances, I suppose—that I was a bright child. Birth of the Abilities Model®!. We were not a family of significant means, and the first airplane ride of my life took me to my freshman year at Stanford, which I financed through a combination of work study, loans, and financial aid. That flight launched me on a path of work and study that has spanned six continents, and eventually yielded three degrees from Stanford—an MBA, an MA in Development Economics, and an AB in International Relations.
My two years living in Indonesia, immersed in local culture, language and institutions, had a profound impact on my world view. Like many young people who work abroad in this way, I developed a deep appreciation for complexity and nuance, and an understanding that no individual or society has a corner on the truth. The volunteer organization I worked with was grounded in Quaker values, which tend to reinforce those notions, and which recognize the power of diversity and of collective wisdom. These values and perspectives inform my leadership of McLean School.
In addition to my work at McLean, some of my favorite professional moments have included facilitating the launch of ecologically sustainable coffee in every Starbucks store across the country, thereby establishing a partnership with Conservation International that has continued for two decades; creating the first ever LEED Platinum K-12 school building, and converting a fifty-year-old gymnasium into a LEED Platinum Quaker meetinghouse. I also look back fondly on my earlier work co-authoring the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook, an 800-page resource guide to technologies for rural development, with 50,000 copies in print, and creating a 1,250-volume microfiche-based library on appropriate technology that replicated the leading appropriate technology reference collection in 1000 locations around the world.
My three daughters are now young adults, and one of them was fortunate enough to attend and graduate from McLean. Natalie’s time at McLean gave me the gift of experiencing McLean as a parent. I love spending time with family, biking, hiking, reading, and admiring art. I rely on a regular yoga practice to keep my mind and body in tune.
He has completed financings on behalf of a variety of education and non-profit clients. Independent schools served by Mr. Talvadkar include, Georgetown Day School (DC), Groton School (MA), Sidwell Friends School (DC), Grace Church School (NY), Buckingham Browne & Nichols School (MA), Dwight-Englewood School (NJ), Washington International School (DC), Westtown School (PA), Millbrook School (NY), Noble and Greenough School (MA), The Bolles School (FL), Waynflete School (ME), Bullis School (MD), and The Lab School (DC).
Additionally, Mr. Talvadkar has worked with a number of higher education clients including Wentworth Institute of Technology (MA), Gordon College (MA), Colby-Sawyer College (NH), Rivier College (NH), New England College (NH), Assumption College (MA), St. John’s College (MD), and Merrimack College (MA). He has also executed financings for independent research institutes and hospitals including Benaroya Research Institute (WA), Concord Hospital (NH), and Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory (ME).
Mr. Talvadkar has been a presenter at a range of industry conferences, including the National Business Officers Association Symposium, Association of Independent Schools New England Business Officer Conference, Connecticut Health & Educational Facilities Authority Client Conference, Mid-South Independent School Business Officers Annual Meeting, The Association of Boarding Schools Annual Meeting, and National Business Officers Association Summer Institute.
Mr. Talvadkar joined the board of the National Business Officers Association in July 2018, serves on the Alumni Association Executive Board at Sidwell Friends School, and received a BA in Economics and History from Middlebury College and a Master’s of Business Administration from the Johnson School at Cornell University.
Kirsty Whitford, Parents Association President
Bio Coming Soon
Jim Wilson is founder and CEO of JFW, Inc., a project management business in Gaithersburg, Maryland, which has completed more than 300 projects totaling over $3 billion in construction management in the DC metropolitan area and select states. Education projects have been the cornerstone of JFW’s work since 1992, including several projects at McLean School – master planning, refurbished athletic fields, entrance vestibule, second-floor addition, first-floor renovations, support and entry spaces, new sidewalks and crosswalk, and a renovated façade.
A life-long Marylander, Jim grew up in a family of educators and along with his wife, Patti, he has dipped his toe in all methods of education – public, private and homeschooling. Jim is an active member of a local church and for many years led high school students’ small groups. Jim and Patti have five grown children and nine grandchildren with whom they enjoy the beach, tennis, golf, and a good barbeque competition.
Jim has a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park.