At the time of this writing and about 20 months before the opening day of our Shenzhen and Washington campuses in fall 2019, the Whittle team consist of 60 full-time professionals as well as 100’s of supporting “extended family members” in institutions deeply involved with us. Our full-time team is divided equally across an HQ group of about 30 in New York and “launch teams” of roughly 15 team members each already on the ground in Shenzhen and Washington.

As our campus leaders, faculty, and staff on each campus arrive and as we fill out our global team, our full time team will grow to over 400 staff members in the two years ahead with roughly 175 team members on each campus on opening day and an HQ group of over 60 at about that time.

The depth and talent of our team drives the quality of our education so we hope you’ll carefully study in the following pages. We believe this group—and those who will be joining them every week in the years ahead—represent the key reason parents will entrust their children with us.

Our global leadership team and staff has been recruited over the past three years from three primary sectors: education (both from leading independent schools and top tier universities); the school reform movement (individuals who have played leading role as change agents in schooling worldwide); and global enterprise (individuals who have held leadership roles in organizations which have global reach and operations.)

Global Executive Team and Management Committee

  • Chris Whittle

    Chairman and C.E.O

    Chris is an entrepreneur with four decades of leadership experience in the fields of education and media. He conceived of and founded Edison Schools (now EdisonLearning) in 1992 with Benno Schmidt. Edison has been instrumental in establishing the charter-school movement and has served 450,000 students on three continents.

    Chris is the author of Crash Course: Imagining a Better Future for Public Education. He sits on the board of the Center for Education Reform in Washington, D.C., and he has funded over 180 full scholarships for students at the University of Tennessee, his alma mater. He began his career in publishing, building a single college magazine into Whittle Communications, one of America’s top 100 media businesses in the 1980s. At the age of 32, his company bought Esquire magazine, where he served as chairman and publisher for many years. He founded Channel One, a national in-school television news program (first anchored by Anderson Cooper), which reached eight million students daily in 12,000 schools. Channel One’s programming has received a host of awards, including the Peabody Award, one of television journalism’s highest accolades.

    Chris has a B.A. in American studies from the University of Tennessee.

  • Ian Thomas, Ph.D.

    Vice-Chairman & President

    Ian Thomas was born in New York City and raised in Texas. He has 30 years of global experience spanning four continents, including 15 years with The Boeing Company, where he served in a variety of leadership roles in Europe and as C.E.O. in India, Australia, and China. Prior to this, Ian served in the office of the secretary of defense at the Pentagon. He holds an M.Phil. in international relations and a Ph.D. in history, both from the University of Cambridge, as well as a graduate diploma in social sciences from Stockholm University. He received his bachelor’s degree (cum laude) in history from Amherst College and also studied art history and Italian in Florence, Italy. He was named a Young Leader of the French-American Foundation (2005) and a Companion of the Royal Aeronautical Society (2006). He is a recipient of the Defense Exceptional Public Service Medal (2001) and the Sir Charles Kingsford Smith Medal (2013) for outstanding contributions to aviation. He has served as a director of the U.S. India Educational Foundation and of the Australian American Fulbright Commission. He is the author of The Promise of Alliance: NATO and the Political Imagination. He joined Whittle School & Studios because he was drawn to its meaningful mission and the extraordinary team of innovators, educators, and business leaders who have joined together to build a global school for the Innovation Age.

    Ian Thomas
  • Nicholas Dirks, Ph.D.

    Vice Chairman & Chancellor

    Nicholas Dirks (who will join in July) is a professor of history and of anthropology at the, University of California, Berkeley, where he served as the 10th chancellor until mid-2017. An internationally renowned historian and anthropologist, he is a leader in higher education and well-known for his commitment to and advocacy for accessible, high-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, to the globalization of the university, and to innovation across the disciplines as well as in applied and basic fields.

    Before coming to Berkeley, Dirks was the executive vice president for the arts and sciences and dean of the faculty at Columbia University, where, in addition to his work on behalf of undergraduate programs, he improved and diversified the faculty, putting special emphasis on interdisciplinary and international initiatives. The Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and History, Dirks joined Columbia in 1997 as chair of the anthropology department. Prior to his appointment at Columbia, he was a professor of history and anthropology at the University of Michigan for 10 years, before which he taught Asian history and civilization at the California Institute of Technology.

    Nicholas Dirks
  • Rebecca Upham

    Vice Chancellor & Chairwoman of D.C. Campus

    Born in Washington, D.C., Rebecca Upham comes to Whittle School & Studios after leading Buckingham Browne and Nichols School for 17 years. She has also held senior leadership posts at the Ellis School and the Harvard-Westlake School. In addition to earning a B.A. from Middlebury College and an M.A. from Columbia University, Rebecca has a background in molecular biology, which led to a research stint at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. She currently holds leadership positions in various professional organizations, including the Cum Laude Society, Country Day School Heads Association, and Headmasters Association. She has also traveled the world as a mountaineer and was a member on international expeditions to Greenland and to Himanchal Pradesh, India.

  • Jim Hawkins

    Vice Chancellor & Global Head of School Heads

    Jim Hawkins is currently Head Master of Harrow School in London, one of the world’s great learning institutions with over four centuries of educational excellence. Jim read Mathematics at Brasenose College, Oxford University, where he also completed his teaching qualification. He then taught at Radley College before being appointed Head of Mathematics at Forest School and subsequently Deputy Head of Chigwell School. He was appointed Head Master of Norwich School in 2002 and started as Head Master of Harrow in 2011. Jim has held several state and independent school governorships and is Vice-President (Europe) of the International Boys' Schools Coalition. His sporting interests include rowing, rugby, soccer, and basketball, all of which he has coached. His wife, Zoe, is an artist, with whom he has a teenage daughter.

  • Tino van den Heuvel

    General Counsel, N.Y.C. HQ

    Tino is Whittle’s general counsel. Prior to that, he was a member of the corporate-development team and head of global tax and structure at Patheon, where he played an integral part in its I.P.O., debt funding, management of the I.P./contract portfolio, and mergers and acquisitions. Prior to joining Hill Smith King & Wood, Tino was a tax partner at an international law firm. He also serves as an adjunct professor of taxation in the graduate tax program at the University of Utrecht and its affiliated universities in the U.S., and is a frequent lecturer at seminars for Bloomberg. Tino received his LL.B. and LL.M., with honors, from the University of Utrecht & Amsterdam, the Netherlands, including completion of a joint program with the University of California, Berkeley. He received his LL.M. in U.S. taxation, cum laude, from Washington School of law. He has published various articles that focus on international taxation. He is a member of the bar in New York and Amsterdam.

Global Executive Team and Management Committee

  • Joe Keeney

    Chief Operating Officer, N.Y.C. HQ

    Joe Keeney has opened and operated over 100 schools in his 20-plus years in the field of education. He is the founder of 4th Sector Solutions, a provider of charter-school shared services, and was formerly president of Edison Charter Schools, where he led a national network of schools. Joe was also a divisional president and the C.O.O. of a Fortune 1000 global manufacturer, and he has lived in London and Hong Kong. He has a B.A. from Columbia College, an M.B.A. with high distinction (Baker Scholar) from Harvard Business School, and an Ed.M. in education leadership from Teachers College of Columbia University.

  • Jing Li

    Global Head of Enrollment, Marketing, and Communications, Beijing & N.Y.C. HQ

    Li Jing has extensive senior leadership experience in education, helping connect schools in China and to those in the rest of the world. Prior to joining Whittle, she was secretary-general at YK Pao School, China’s top independent school, where she headed external affairs, enrollment, and strategic development; before that, she served as assistant principal at RDFZ, a top Chinese school, overseeing international programs and curriculum. In New York, she worked in the president’s office at Teachers College of Columbia University, focusing on international advancement, and also conducted research on accountability at Columbia Law School. She earned a master of public administration in international finance and economics from Columbia University, as well as an M.A. and B.A. at Beijing Foreign Studies University.

    Jing Li
  • Peter Merrill, Ph.D.

    Co-Chair of the Education Design Team, N.Y.C. HQ

    After attending Phillips Exeter Academy, Peter earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in Russian at the University of Pennsylvania, and then an M.A. in linguistics and a Ph.D. in Slavic languages, both at U.C.L.A. He spent nearly 30 years teaching Russian and German at Phillips Academy, Andover, where he led the division of world languages and spearheaded new initiatives in global programming in China, Brazil, India, and South Africa. He also served two terms as president of the American Council of Teachers of Russian.

    Peter Merrill
  • Andrew Meyers

    Co-Chair of the Education Design Team, N.Y.C. HQ

    Andy Meyers is the proud son of two prominent psychoanalysts, the father of two amazing women, and a native of the Bronx. He received his A.B. in architecture from Princeton University, his M.A. in architectural and planning history from Yale University, and his M.Phil. in American urban history from Columbia University. He has taught at Connecticut College, Yale University, Empire State College, and Columbia University. At the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, he taught history for 23 years and held the roles of history-department chair, college counselor, director of interdisciplinary studies and experiential education, and founding director of the City Semester Program. He joined Whittle because he wants to create truly meaningful learning experiences for students with brilliant and caring colleagues.

  • Richard Pratt

    Education Design Team, Hangzhou, China

    Richard hails from Huddersfield, England. He studied as an undergraduate at the University of Oxford and has master’s degrees from University College, London, and the Open University of the U.K., as well as teaching qualifications from the University of Huddersfield and the University of Melbourne. His teaching career includes stints at universities in China and independent schools in the U.K., including 15 years at Eton College, before taking the position of founding director of the Hangzhou campus of the Chinese International School of Hong Kong. He speaks and reads Chinese.

  • Manuel J. Rivera, Ph.D.

    Global Head of Faculty Recruitment, N.Y.C. HQ

    Manny earned both his doctorate in education and his master’s degree in education from Harvard University. He also holds a B.A. in urban studies from Brandeis University. Manny’s 40-year career in education as a teacher, principal, school superintendent, chief executive officer, and senior policy adviser to two New York State governors has been recognized nationally in the field of education. He was named the New York State Superintendent of the Year in 2005, and a year later, he was named the National Superintendent of the Year.

Global Executive Team and Management Committee

  • Elizabeth (Betsey) Hun Schmidt, Ph.D.

    Global Head, Centers of Excellence, and Vice President, Studios, N.Y.C. HQ

    Born in Washington, D.C., Betsey has lived in New York for most of her life and has taught at every grade level from elementary school through graduate school. She earned her B.A. from Wesleyan University, where she now serves as a trustee, and her Ph.D. in American literature from New York University. Most recently, Betsey worked for seven years for Ascend Public Charter Schools in Brooklyn, which serves some of the lowest-income neighborhoods in New York. As chief curriculum and innovation officer at Ascend, she helped the network scale from 3 schools to 10—educating over 4,000 students—and led the development of an inquiry-based, liberal arts K-12 curriculum that helped Ascend close the racial achievement gap in New York State. Betsey speaks French and reads Italian, and at Whittle she leads the Global Centers of Excellence initiative and works on both the Educational Design and the Studios teams.

  • Morgan Silver-Greenberg

    Chief Product Development Officer, N.Y.C. HQ

    As chief product development officer at Whittle School & Studios, Morgan is responsible for developing an innovative and holistic experience for the students, teachers, and stakeholders of our network. His career spans innovation and technology, global branding, and product development. He was previously the U.S. director of innovation at Omnicom Media, where he worked closely with G.E., Pepsi, Cigna, and other Fortune 100 companies on global innovation. After graduating with honors from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study with a degree in complex systems, Morgan worked with Stephen Wolfram’s mathematics think tank in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was a founding member and managing director of the creative agency Doubleday & Cartwright, and led a founding product team at the Los Angeles start-up Scopely. He is an active member of the World Economic Forum Global Shaper Community, which is tasked with infusing the organization with a younger perspective.

    Morgan Silver-Greenberg
  • Alan Smith

    Global Head of Human Resources, N.Y.C. HQ

    Alan has broad H.R. experience from working at such firms as Pfizer, Wyeth, Aon Consulting, and John Hancock. Prior to joining Whittle School & Studios, Alan spent eight years with TE Connectivity, a $12 billion global industrial electronic-components manufacturer. In his last role with the company, Alan was based in Shanghai, leading the global H.R. function for the communication-solutions segment. Alan has a B.A from Wesleyan University and an M.B.A. from Columbia University. In addition to extensive global business travel, Alan has lived in Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Shanghai.

    Alan Smith
  • Saibaba (Sai) Tata

    Head of Development, Middle East, India, and Far East, N.Y.C. HQ

    One of the earliest members to come on board Whittle School & Studios, Sai brings more than three and half decades of corporate expertise and educational prowess to his position. Prior to joining the company, he was a founding member of GEMS Education, the largest pre-K–12 company in the world. Sai worked in several countries on four continents, establishing educational and health-care institutions. He worked as C.E.O. of Aga Khan Education Service (A.K.E.S.) in Kenya and also served as regional coordinator for A.K.E.S. in Africa. An experienced financial professional, Sai also served as finance manager for Coats in India. Sai received his bachelor’s degree in commerce from Andhra University and his law degree from S.P. University, both in India.

  • Christine Y. Zhao

    Chief Financial Officer, N.Y.C. HQ

    Born in China, Christine holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.S. in economics with distinction from Fudan University in Shanghai. She comes to Whittle School & Studios with a wealth of experience in the finance sector. She previously served in high-level positions at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, J. P. Morgan, American Express, and Goldman Sachs. She served as group chief financial officer of Best Inc. She has worked in New York, London, Singapore, Hong Kong, and China, and has managed teams across four continents. She is fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese.

Staff & Faculty

Growing daily, the Shenzhen and Washington launch teams are charged with the “pre-opening” operations of the school including faculty recruitment, student recruitment, campus construction, and the setting up of all operating functions prior to opening day.

Global Leadership and Staff

  • Greg Carlson

    Education Design Team, N.Y.C. HQ

    Greg Carlson has led the design and implementation of transformative learning experiences for students in K–12 schools in China and the U.S. At Fudan International School in Shanghai, Greg served as deputy director and taught history. Greg subsequently headed innovative American charter schools as assistant principal at Manara Academy and director of instruction at Codman Academy. Greg earned a B.A. in history from Yale University and his Ed.M. in school leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

  • Ryan Chorazy

    Vice President, Business Development, N.Y.C. HQ

    Originally from Reston, Virginia, Ryan has lived in New York City for the last decade. He earned his B.S. in commerce, with concentrations in finance and management, at the University of Virginia. Ryan spent over 10 years in private equity and investment banking at Liberty Partners and at Rothschild. While at Liberty Partners, he led the investment in Avenues: The World School, where he witnessed the power of a premier primary education. He was drawn to Whittle School & Studios by the opportunity to create a global school network and its potential to have a transformational impact on its students and the world.

    Ryan Chorazy
  • Jules L. Coleman, Ph.D.

    Senior Academic Adviser and Director of Research, N.Y.C. HQ

    A Brooklyn native, Jules Coleman earned a B.A., magna cum laude, at Brooklyn College of CUNY, a Ph.D. from the Rockefeller University, and a graduate degree in law from the Yale Law School. The author of a dozen books and more than 100 articles and peer-reviewed essays, Jules spent nearly 30 years as the Wesley Newcomb Hohfeld Professor of Jurisprudence and Professor of Philosophy at Yale University, and nearly 15 years as senior adviser to the president and provost at New York University, including five years as senior vice provost for academic planning at N.Y.U. Jules helped develop N.Y.U.’s global network of campuses and joined Whittle School & Studios to extend that idea to a system of PreK-12 schools.

    Jules Coleman
  • Laura Eshbaugh

    Office of the C.E.O., Knoxville, Tennessee

    Laura has worked with Chris Whittle on all his communications and education initiatives. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Tennessee and holds an M.A. in English from the University of Florida. Prior to joining the Whittle team, she served as senior adviser and as chief administrative officer for Avenues: The World School. She worked for EdisonLearning (earlier known as Edison Schools and, before that, Edison Project) from its inception (in 1992) to 2007 in capital formation and investor relations. Her last position there was executive vice president for communications and corporate secretary. Before that, she was vice-chairman of Whittle Communications, where she served for 24 years and, in various positions, managed editorial operations, headed research and product development, ran a sales-and-marketing division, handled public affairs for the launch of Channel One (Whittle’s in-school television program), and managed major equity transactions.

Global Leadership and Staff

  • Jan Lippert

    Finance, Knoxville, Tennessee

    Jan Lippert has over 25 years of experience working at Whittle Communications, Edison Schools (now EdisonLearning), and Avenues: The World School. Her responsibilities have included marketing, investor relations, capital formation, budgets, and finance, as well as corporate events, such as client conferences and shareholder meetings. Jan is a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, and graduated from the University of Tennessee with a B.S. in real estate and finance. She is an avid sports fan and roots for the University of Tennessee Volunteers. A music lover, she plays the piano and enjoys the variety of music offered in East Tennessee.

  • Lindsey Nelson

    Associate Director of Product Development, N.Y.C. HQ

    Born in Dallas, Lindsey spent most of her childhood in the South before moving to Manhattan to attend New York University, receiving her B.A. with honors in architecture and urban design and environmental science. Following three years in the publishing industry, she attended the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where she obtained her M.L.A. Lindsey was drawn to Whittle by the holistic approach to education design, where everything a student experiences has an impact on learning.

    Lindsey Nelson
  • Matthew Pohl

    Director of Enrollment Strategy/Associate Director of College Counseling, N.Y.C. HQ

    Matthew’s upbringing extended from Salem, Massachusetts, to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. He earned his B.A. from Tufts University and his M.Ed. from the University of Pennsylvania. Most recently, he led global marketing and recruitment for Penn’s undergraduate schools as associate director of admissions. He lived briefly in Israel after years of Hebrew and Arabic studies. He joined Whittle to be part of a pioneering venture that will upend conventional thinking in education.

    Matthew Pohl
  • Vriti Saraf

    Deputy Head, Centers of Excellence, N.Y.C. HQ

    Born in India and raised in New York, Vriti earned her B.A. from Macaulay Honors College and went on to serve as a Teach for America corps member in Brownsville, Brooklyn, at Ascend Public Charter Schools. At Ascend, Vriti was a founding teacher and dean of instruction while also earning her M.A. in early-childhood education and teaching as an adjunct professor at Relay Graduate School. Most recently, she served as network director of talent development at Ascend, where she created a professional learning infrastructure for 600 educators across its 10 schools, and coached deans on leadership and facilitation of adult learning. Vriti also worked in the higher-education sector at Pearson Education as a product manager. She is fluent in Hindi.

  • Mike Stakias

    Director of Global Marketing and Communications, N.Y.C. HQ

    Originally from the Philadelphia area, Mike Stakias joined Whittle School & Studios in September 2015. He received a B.A. in political science from Hobart College and an M.B.A. from the Mason School of Business at the College of William and Mary. Mike spent nine years in Washington, D.C., in various legislative, political, and government-affairs capacities. Previously, he worked for Senate majority leader Bill Frist, served on Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign, and advised sitting senators and political candidates throughout the country. Mike joined Whittle School & Studios to be part of an unrivaled opportunity to join leaders in education and other industries to create the first truly modern school of the 21st century.

  • Laura Coleman

    Education Design Team, N.Y.C. HQ

    Laura Coleman grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, where she studied dance and cultivated a passion for the performing arts. She moved to New York City to dance professionally and study at N.Y.U.’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where she designed an interdisciplinary curriculum in psychology and the arts. After graduating, she toured the country, playing drums in a band and dancing with the Peggy Spina Dance Company before returning to N.Y.U.’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, receiving an M.A. in human development and social intervention. While there, she worked at the Mindful Education Lab at the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools, researching psychological and neurological effects of mindfulness on student learning, teacher effectiveness, and school climate. She has also worked at the Center for Arts Education in research and advocacy and at the New-York Historical Society in the education department.

Global Leadership and Staff

  • Haisheng (Eric) Lin

    Vice President, Business Development, China

    A former senior business leader for Lafarge China and G.E., Eric held positions in strategy planning and business development, sales, and marketing for over 20 years. Eric was an Experienced Commercial Leadership Program member and Six Sigma black belt for General Electric, and was also the China youth envoy to UNESCO and a member of its Antarctica expedition (1997). He has extensive work experience in China, Europe, Africa, the U.S., and South America. Born in Guangdong, China, he holds an M.B.A. from Glasgow University. Eric was a guest professor at Sichuan International Studies University.

    Haisheng (Eric) Lin
  • Fred Yasin

    Corporate Controller, N.Y.C. HQ

    Fred joined Whittle as the corporate controller in October 2017. Prior to that, he was a finance executive for publicly traded companies. From 2014 to 2017, he served as vice president and corporate controller at SIGA Technologies, where he was responsible for S.E.C. reporting, accounting, taxes, finance, and the execution of business strategies. Prior to joining SIGA, Fred was an executive director at Estée Lauder and, before that, a director and a corporate controller at Comverse Technology. Previously, he was an assurance senior manager at Ernst & Young, responsible for audits of Fortune 500 companies in the media, consumer-products, pharmaceutical, and technology industries. Fred holds a B.S. in accounting from Hunter College and is a certified public accountant.

    Fred Yasin
  • Wendy Zhou, Ph.D.

    Associate Director of Partnerships and Communications, N.Y.C. HQ

    Wendy was born and raised in China. After earning her B.S. at Tsinghua University, she moved to the U.S. to pursue graduate education. She earned a master’s in public administration at Columbia University and a doctorate in engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. She has 10 years of research and work experience in academia as well as in the public and private sectors, focusing on environmental and energy policy and social-impact investments. She was a Stanton Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a policy adviser in the New York City mayor’s office. As a mom of two, she is particularly interested in personalized education to improve children’s learning experiences and performance.

    Wendy Zhou
  • Sandra (Sandy) Schulz

    Global Faculty Recruitment Manager

    A Philadelphia native, Sandra joins the Global Faculty Recruitment team with extensive leadership and operational experience in both education and the corporate arenas. Sandra began her career in education as an English teacher. However, during a corporate relocation to Salt Lake City, she was offered the opportunity to utilize her education background in a corporate setting, creating an employee training program for an upstart healthcare agency servicing the entire state. This position ultimately evolved into overseeing and directing the formation of its Human Resources department. Sandra then served at the helm through a successful corporate merger with a national healthcare corporation until her relocation back East, when she re-entered the education arena. For the past 15 years, Sandra has worked in both public and private PreK–12 sectors utilizing her operational and entrepreneurial acumen, where she has served as a Director/Head of School of two private schools, and Principal of one charter school in the NYC metro area.

    Sandra earned her B.A. in English and B.S. in Education from Bloomsburg University, in addition to earning an M.A. in Organizational Management during her tenure in Salt Lake City. She is excited to join Whittle School & Studios, sharing her passion for education reform, recruiting like-minded educators to join us on the journey of the transformation of global education.

    Sandra Schulz

Washington, D.C. Launch Team

  • Rebecca Upham

    Vice Chancellor & Chairwoman, D.C. Campus

    Born in Washington, D.C., Rebecca Upham comes to Whittle School & Studios after leading Buckingham Browne and Nichols School for 17 years. She has also held senior leadership posts at the Ellis School and the Harvard-Westlake School. In addition to earning a B.A. from Middlebury College and an M.A. from Columbia University, Rebecca has a background in molecular biology, which led to a research stint at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. She currently holds leadership positions in various professional organizations, including the Cum Laude Society, Country Day School Heads Association, and Headmasters Association. She has also traveled the world as a mountaineer and was a member on international expeditions to Greenland and to Himanchal Pradesh, India.

  • Dennis Bisgaard

    Head of School, D.C. Campus

    For the past 30 years, Dennis has worked at top U.S. schools, most recently as head of school at Kingswood Oxford. Dennis served on the board of the National Association of Independent Schools and previously held positions at Bryn Mawr College, Shady Hill School, Collegiate, and Vejlefjord Højere Skole. Born in Germany, Dennis has also lived, studied, and worked in Denmark and Canada. He holds a candidatus magisterii degree from Odense University and a master’s degree from Columbia University. He speaks English, Danish, and German, and has studied French and Latin.

    Dennis Bisgaard
  • Stephanie Fitzgerald

    Head of Early Learning Center, D.C. Campus

    Stephanie Clark Fitzgerald brings over 25 years of experience in PreK-12 education leadership to this role. Beginning as a teacher in Chicago, she founded and led three schools, including two early childhood programs. Most recently, she served as director of a nationally recognized project-based early childhood program in New Jersey. Previously, she prepared principals through New Leaders and was the founding President and CEO of Rodel Foundation Delaware. She holds a B.A. from Harvard University and M.A.’s from University of Illinois and the University of Delaware. She and her husband have four children who are excited to be among Whittle’s first students.

    Stephanie Fitzgerald
  • Susanna Stossel

    Head of Lower School, D.C. Campus

    Susanna joins Whittle School & Studios from Beauvoir, the National Cathedral Elementary School in Washington, D.C., where she taught both math and science before taking on her most recent role as Director of Early Childhood Teaching and Learning. She received both her B.A. in Child Study and M.A. in teaching from Tufts University. Prior to joining Beauvoir, Susanna taught at Belmont Day School and Arthur D. Healy School in Massachusetts and has led professional development for educators in math curriculum and pedagogy. She also co-wrote Baby’s Wild Adventure, a math unit guide and accompanying picture book for kindergarten geometry that was published in 2015.

  • Marek Beck, Ph.D.

    Head of Middle School, D.C. Campus

    Marek has a 20+ year career in education working at some of the nation’s finest schools. He has taught students and led faculty at the K-12 and college levels. Marek holds five degrees, including a Ph.D. from Fordham University and master’s degree from Columbia University. He has thirteen certifications and is among the few educators worldwide to be recognized as an Apple Distinguished Educator, Google Certified Innovator, and Microsoft Certified Innovator. Marek was raised in New York and spent his career in Connecticut. Marek joined Whittle because he believes that it will lead to a complete transformation in education globally.

  • Ara Brown, Ed.D.

    Head of Upper School, D.C. Campus

    Over the past two decades, Ara has held numerous leadership and teaching positions within K-12 and higher education, including his most recent role as Upper School Dean of Boys at Cranbrook Kingswood School, which he has held since 2010. Before joining Cranbrook Kingswood, Ara co-founded and developed the curriculum for a summer Chinese language program for children ages 5-12. He received his B.S. in Psychology and Sociology from Ursinus College, and an M.A. in Organizational Psychology and M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. Additionally, he earned an Ed.D. in Education Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.

Shenzhen Launch Team

  • Xianzhang Shen

    Chairman, Shenzhen Campus

    As the former vice-president of RDFZ, the former president of the RDFZ Chaoyang School, a professor at Renmin University of China, Mr. Shen is a distinguished educator in China. He possesses more than 30 years of experience as a secondary school Chinese teacher, and has taught high school seniors for 20 years, with a special focus on education administration. He has deep experience in helping high school seniors prepare for examinations. During his 12-year tenure as RDFZ’s administrator, more than 2,000 of his students were admitted to Peking University and Tsinghua University, with another 600 to prestigious universities abroad and 280 to prestigious universities in Hong Kong. Each year, he achieved a 100% matriculation rate. Under his tenure, the school produced the top-scoring student in Beijing on the National College Entrance Exam (Gaokao) for 11 years, with an additional 10 of his students receiving the 2nd place, and his students also earned 13 gold medals at the World Olympics.

  • Rhiannon Wilkinson

    Head of School, Shenzhen Campus

    Rhiannon Wilkinson is currently Headmistress of Wycombe Abbey School in Buckinghamshire, England, one of the world’s leading girls’ boarding schools. She will take up her position in Shenzhen in April 2019. She read History at St Hugh’s College, Oxford University, and completed her teaching qualification, with distinction, at the University of Bath. She also gained an M.Ed. degree in Leadership and Management at the University of Manchester. She has wide experience in state, independent and international education. She held senior positions at schools in Hong Kong, Brunei and England before being appointed Principal of Harrogate Ladies’ College, in North Yorkshire, England, in 2009. She took up her post at Wycombe Abbey in 2013. Rhiannon holds governorships at state and independent schools and is involved in several national committees in British independent schools’ organizations.

    Rhiannon Wilkinson
  • Patrick Hoey

    Chief Operating Officer, Shenzhen Campus

    Patrick Hoey was previously the Greater China president of Wycombe Abbey International Schools at BE Education, opening and managing holistic, hybrid-curriculum, co-educational boarding schools that targeted affluent Chinese families. He was also the managing director of Dulwich College China, where he established a network of international schools for expatriates. Patrick studied Chinese at Fudan University in Shanghai, holds a bachelor’s degree in Chinese studies from the State University of New York at Albany, and received an M.B.A. from the University of Southern California. Patrick is from New York, but he has lived in China for more than 20 years and is fluent in Mandarin.

    Patrick Hoey
  • Donald Wilkinson

    Interim Head of School, Shenzhen Campus

    Donald Wilkinson was born in Scotland but spent most of his formative years in Lancashire. He gained a First Class Honours degree in Modern History at Oxford where he also completed a research degree in early modern history and played cricket for the University and soccer for his College. His career has been spent in the independent school education sector and he has over twenty years’ experience as a Head in three schools in England, one in Brunei, one in Saudi Arabia and at a pre-university college in Malaysia. Married to Rhiannon, they have three children and two grandchildren between them, not to mention four cats and two dogs. He has always believed that there is no more important profession than teaching and that the fundamental aim of schools should be to encourage young people to make the most of their lives.

  • Jin (Hilda) Huang

    Finance Director, Shenzhen Campus

    Hilda grew up in Shanghai, Beijing, and Henan provinces. She studied at Chongqing University, majoring in accounting. She is a member of C.I.M.A. (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) and C.G.M.A. (Chartered Global Management Accountant), and has broad experience in audits, internal controls, financial planning and analysis, mergers and acquisitions, and legal compliance in international companies and major Chinese companies. Hilda was an auditor at Arthur Anderson and PwC and finance director of Intersport in the Asia-Pacific region. A Shenzhen resident, Hilda joined Whittle because she is impressed by the vision of innovation in education in a global network.

  • Xiaoheng (Mellissa) Wang

    H.R. Director, Shenzhen Campus

    Melissa Wang has joined Whittle School & Studios as the head of human resources for the Shenzhen site. She is an outstanding H.R. leader with deep experience in both multinational corporations and Chinese companies. She spent four years in the U.S. with Emersion Electric and then returned to China to work for Oracle, serving for almost seven years as head of H.R. at its Shenzhen center. Melissa has her master’s degree in labor and human resources from Ohio State University.

Shenzhen Launch Team

  • Xiufang (Susan) Chen

    Director of Marketing and Communications, Shenzhen Campus

    Originally from Guangdong, China, Susan earned her B.A. at Hubei University of Technology in 2006, launching her 11-year career in the hospitality business. Susan was the founding member of two internationally known hotels, where she specialized in administration, sales, and marketing. The idea of a different future for education drew her to Whittle School & Studios. Susan is fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese, and English.

  • Yajing (Kara) Gao

    Associate Director of Admission, Shenzhen Campus

    Kara earned her B.A. in accounting at Tsinghua University and an M.B.A. in finance at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She has a background in sector-wide and company research, developed while at Bosera Asset Management Co., one of the first fund-management companies established in mainland China. After entering the education field, she served as senior manager at a private kindergarten and innovative public school and established a wide outreach in the early-education sector in Shenzhen. She also served as a strategic consultant for several education funds and institutions. In 2015, she was elected secretary-general of the Alumni Association of Shenzhen Tsinghua School of Economics and Management in charge of network building and event planning.

    Kara Gao
  • Xi (Allen) Zhang

    Director of Enrollment Operations, Shenzhen Campus

    Originally from Fujian, China, Allen Zhang, C.F.A., has lived and worked in four countries: China, Romania, France, and Singapore. He earned his B.A. from Xiamen University and an M.B.A. from INSEAD. He spent seven years working in the financial sector: four years at PwC and three at Huawei as financial manager in charge of finance and accounting operations in the Europe-region shared-services center. He joined Whittle because of its grand vision and the people on the team.

    Xi (Allen) Zhang
  • Dimian (Connie) Wu

    Associate Director of Admissions, Shenzhen Campus

    Originally from Shenzhen, Connie has lived in Hong Kong for more than 14 years. She earned her B.B.A. in accounting and finance, with honors, at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and an M.Sc. in psychology from Hong Kong University. She also studied finance and psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to taking her position at Whittle School & Studios, she served as executive director of a hedge fund based in Hong Kong. She was attracted to Whittle by the global vision of the school, its commitments to innovation, and its community of talent.

  • Cheng (Brian) Yang, Ph.D.

    Director of Center of Excellence, Shenzhen Campus

    A native of Hunan, China, Brian Yang received his bachelor’s degree from Peking University and a Ph.D. from Yale University. Brian then went on to work for McKinsey & Co., first in Chicago and later as the founding member of McKinsey’s office in Shenzhen. Having experienced the best of what both China and the U.S. have to offer in education, Brian is attracted to Whittle by the vision of a global school that leverages the best resources, talents, and capabilities from around the world.

  • Chang Liu

    Copywriter and Administration, Shenzhen China

    Chang Liu earned her B.A. in English at Dalian Maritime University in Dalian, China. As an undergraduate, she spent two years as an exchange student in Buffalo, New York, and earned her second B.A., at Medaille College. In Buffalo, she served as a volunteer tutor for Literacy New York. She went on to study in the U.K. and graduated with a M.Sc. in business-technology consulting from the University of Reading. She has also worked as a book editor in Beijing.

Shenzhen Launch Team

  • Xiaoxia (Rachel) Yong

    General Administrative Associate, Shenzhen Campus

    Rachel was born in Lanzhou, China, in the Gansu province, and moved to Shenzhen in 1992. She earned her B.A. in international business economics from the University of the West of England and an M.Sc. in economics, finance, and management from the University of Bristol. She is a native speaker of Mandarin and Cantonese and is fluent in English. She is drawn to Whittle School & Studios by its pioneering educational philosophy.

  • Yanan (Jane) Zhang

    Admission Associate, Shenzhen Campus

    Jane received her M.A. in cultural management from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She is the founder of World Top School Exchange Education Consulting Services which helps students from Asia and their families to experience top schools in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan. Previously she worked at Zuoyou Management Consulting.

    Jane Zhang
  • Mengya Zhang

    Admission Associate, Shenzhen Campus

    Mengya holds a master’s degree in guidance and rehabilitation from Columbia University. She is a trained behavior analyst in autism-spectrum disorders, and also a founding member of the first national special-education foundation in China. After a career in marketing, Mengya pursued her passion in developmental psychology, which ultimately led her to working with families and children of diverse backgrounds and needs. After nine years spent in developmental psychology and childhood behavior intervention, she still enjoys working with children of all ages, and believes that every child thrives in his or her own way, which is the reason she was attracted to Whittle.

    Mengya Zhang
  • Brian Lee

    Admission Associate, Shenzhen Campus

    Born in the USA, Brian has lived in 8 countries and studied at 20 different schools in pursuit of a global education. After graduating from Phillips Exeter Academy, Brian earned a B.A. in Psychology at Swarthmore College, where he served as an Admissions Fellow. He then completed an M.A. in China Studies with Highest Honors from Zhejiang University. During the past several years in China, Brian worked with leading education organizations to guide local and international high school students on outdoor experiential learning trips. He conducted education field research in rural China under a Fulbright grant, and was named a 2014 Project Pengyou Leadership Fellow. Brian speaks English, Korean, Mandarin, and Japanese, and joins Whittle to empower students of all backgrounds to access a rigorous and globally-minded education.

  • Chuyi Zhao

    Business Development Specialist, Shenzhen Campus

    A native of Chongqing, China, Chuyi speaks Mandarin, English, French and a bit of Farsi. She holds an M.A. in Teaching & Learning from McGill University and a B.A. in Business English (summa cum laude) from Sichuan International Studies University. She became a certified ESL teacher in Canada after earning her Master’s and has taught in several French school boards in Québec, CA. She worked as an Ambassador for the Youth Empowerment Project in Sri Lanka and served Vice President of the Student Society during her undergraduate studies. Chuyi also had marketing and PR experience working for a Fortune 500 company and a Canadian start up. As a globe-trotting educator, she is fascinated by Whittle’s vision of a global school with a holistic curriculum and a diverse student body.