Board of Trustees
The role of the EBI Board of Trustees is to support the school’s mission by ensuring the long-term health and sustainability of the school. The Board’s role is one of policy and not day-to-day administration and it is therefore primarily responsible for setting EBI’s strategic plan, hiring and evaluating of the head of school, and acting as the school’s fiduciary and financial stewards. Additionally, Trustees are volunteers who advocate on behalf of the school with their respective networks and communities.
The Board of Trustees consists of up to 21 members from both inside and outside of the immediate school community. Nominees for these positions are selected by a nominating committee composed of Board members and are subsequently approved by the entire Board. From a variety of sources, the committee solicits candidates who will be representative of EBI’s community and have demonstrated a strong affiliation with the school.
New members are elected for terms of three years and can serve a maximum of two consecutive terms. The President of the EBIPA and the Head of School attend all meetings but are non-voting members. The Board members elect a chair, vice-chair, secretary, and treasurer who serve two year terms (renewable). The Board normally holds eleven meetings a year and all Board members serve on at least one sub-committee of the board.
In keeping with National Association of Independent Schools best practices, EBI’s Board of Trustees has both standing and ad-hoc sub-committees. The latter are convened on an as-needed-basis. The current Sub-committees of the Board are:
- Finance Committee
- Committee on Trustees
- Building and Grounds
- Board Diversity Committee
- Audit Committee
- Advancement Committee
- Strategic Plan Committee (ad hoc)
EBI community members who are not board members currently volunteer to serve on a number of these sub-committees, bringing valuable professional expertise and leadership. If you have interest in serving on a sub-committee or have questions about the board, please contact Jen Merovick, Chair of the Committee on Trustees.
Board of Trustees for 2016-2017
Amin Azzam is a passionate educator who works with students at the opposite end of the age-spectrum of the wonderful students at EBI: he works with graduate and professional students at UC Berkeley, UCSF, and Samuel Merritt University. Amin is a psychiatrist by training— but don't let that prevent you from engaging him in conversation! He is excited about learning how to serve on a board of trustees for a community that embraces international-mindedness as enthusiastically as he does. He and his wife June are the proud parents of two EBI students— Margo (5th grade) and Remy (K).
Eric Elia, Secretary. Eric is a proud Philadelphian who has lived in the Bay Area for most of his adult life. He's been fascinated by the intersection of storytelling and technology, which led him him down a career path at the intersection of media and technology, particularly online video. He is Managing Director of Cainkade, a product design and development studio that makes websites, mobile and tablet apps for companies large and small in education, digital health and media. Previously he was part of the founding team at Brightcove, the leading online video platform company, led the online service at Comcast, and worked on industry-first broadband products at @Home Network. When he's not diving with sea lions in Monterey, Eric lives in Oakland with his wife Cindy and two spirited boys who enjoy teasing their parents in Spanish.
Adriana Fajardo de Martinez was born and raised in Mexico. She graduated from law school at Universidad de Guadalajara. She moved to California in 2005. Adriana is very excited to be part of the board of trustees at EBI where her kids, Sienna and Leo, love to go everyday. It warms their mother’s heart that they are learning how to read a great book in both English and Spanish. Currently Adriana works at Arizmendi on Lakeshore and lives in El Sobrante.
Lauren Gonzales, Chair. Lauren was born and raised in the Bay Area where she attended a bilingual immersion school through fifth grade. Learning in another language and culture made her deeply appreciative of the benefits of a bilingual education. She went on to graduate from Rice University with a double major in economics and French. Her interest in bilingual education led her to the study of Spanish, an ongoing project that has been fascinating and fun. Lauren is a high school mathematics teacher who began her career at a charter school serving at-risk youth in Austin, Texas. In 2005 she joined the faculty at College Prep where she is also an alumna. In her free time she can be found curled up with a Spanish book or out for a long run. She lives in Oakland with her husband, Edward, and two children, Mari and Mason, both at EBI.
Edwin Kirimi is a technology professional who believes that independent schools provide a safe, nurturing environment in which students are encouraged to reach their full potential. He believes these schools play a crucial role of shaping young minds and awakening intellectual curiosity in their students. After coming to the U.S to pursue a graduate degree in Computer Information Systems, he fell in love with the independent school setting. He is currently the Director of Technology Operations at the College Preparatory School in Oakland CA. His passions include figuring out how to leverage technology to facilitate teaching and learning. He is an avid runner and has done a few marathons.
Jen Merovick grew up in California and never became bilingual. She graduated from Harvard-Radcliffe College and received an MSW from Smith College School for Social Work. She was a high school science teacher in New Haven public schools before becoming a clinician. She is currently a psychotherapist in Berkeley. Both her children attend EBI.
Steven Oliver was born just outside Dayton, Ohio and grew up in Orange County, CA. He moved to the Bay Area to attend UC Berkeley where he received both a BA and PhD in Physics. After graduation, he moved from the academic world to the world of business, first as a McKinsey consultant and now as a Principal in the Google Business Operations and Strategy team. At both McKinsey and Google, Steven has worked closely with people from around the world. Seeing the diverse perspectives that they bring to a problem and watching them operate at such high levels in a second or third language has led to an appreciation for the value of multilingual education. When not at work or EBI, Steven enjoys making wine, brewing beer, sailing and skiing. His two daughters, Leila and Elise, both attend EBI.
Annie Rodriguez, an East Bay native, pursued a BA in English Literature at UC Berkeley, and landed in the "dot com" space. She continues to work in technology as the VP of Global Services for Taller Technologies - a global Agile development firm providing mobile, web and embedded software solutions. After living in Spain (and several other foreign countries) for 8 years and managing globally distributed and culturally unique teams for over 15 years, Annie values the opportunities that derive from diverse environments. She is passionate about growing her family to explore, respect, and proactively participate in the many differences that make up our greater community. These values are what led Annie and her husband, Freddie, to EBI's doorstep in the Fall of 2008, where, today, their three children, Aidan (4B), Isabella (3B) and Max (KA) enjoy their days.
Paul Sytsma, Treasurer. Paul Sytsma's professional experience spans the technology and sustainable food sectors. He currently works for Cunningham Collective, an innovation-to-market consultancy, where he directs engagements related to strategic positioning, marketing execution, data strategy and analytics. Additionally, Paul serves as an instructor for the Food Craft Institute in Oakland, CA, teaching marketing strategy and data analysis techniques to food entrepreneurs. He holds a BS in mechanical engineering from Northwestern University and an MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. In his free time, you can find him skiing at Kirkwood, rock climbing, baking bread, and spending quality time with his wife and two sons.
Sarah Varela was born and raised in the East Bay. She graduated with a BA from Harvard University and a law degree from Stanford University. Sarah proudly works as an attorney representing unions and working people, allowing her to celebrate daily her core belief that solidarity makes each of us stronger. She lives in Oakland with her husband Doug and their two kids, Penny and Max, both happy EBIers.
Nicole Walthall, Vice-Chair is a 5th generation Oakland/Berkeley native, though she spent her high school years in Connecticut. She graduated with a BA degree from UC Berkeley and has a law degree from UCLA. Nicole practiced environmental law in the private, public and non-profit sectors. She spent eight years with U.S. Department of the Interior providing legal advice and guidance to the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service in all aspects of land management, water use and natural resource management, law enforcement, environmental cleanup, permits, and contracts. A competitive beach volleyball player, Nicole spends an inordinate amount of time at the UC Berkeley sand courts practicing for her next tournament and working as an Assistant Coach for UC Berkeley's Women's Beach Volleyball team. Nicole and her husband, Chick, live in Berkeley with their daughter, Kalea.
Scott Watkins was born and raised in the Philippines, growing up both bilingual and bi-cultural as a result of having an American father and a Filipina mother. Since meeting his wife Lina, who is from Colombia and having their son, Tarak who studies here at EBI, he still has a long way to go to speak Spanish fluently. Scott graduated with BA in Philosophy from the University of the Philippines and an MS in Organization Development from the University of San Francisco. While he spent the early part of his career in consulting and the private sector, the last 15 years have been in a variety of positions with several Federal government agencies. In addition to family, work and being a member of the EBI Board, he also currently serves as a commissioned officer in the US Army Reserves.
Daniel Wong was born and raised in San Francisco. In high school, he spent summers volunteering as a Day Camp Leader and enjoyed helping kids. He later studied and graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering from UC Berkeley and is currently working as a Project Engineer in the oil refining industry. Daniel enjoys long distance running and playing tennis, and is mastering his skills at making Kombucha. He and his wife are the proud parents of their son, who attends EBI.
Olga Yunak was born and raised in Kazakhstan. She started her professional career with international donor organizations working on privatization projects in Central Asia. Olga has been exposed to government, non-profit and private sectors through various consulting engagements in Europe, the U.S. and Central Asia. She holds a graduate degree in marketing and management from CSU-Hayward. She is a mom to two spirited girls at an independent school in Oakland, California, a painter and a supporter of the farm-to-table movement and urban gardening.