Board of Trustees

Our Board of Trustees

The EBI Board of Trustees consists of up to 21 members from within and outside of our school community. New board members are elected for a term of three years and can serve a maximum of two consecutive terms. The President of EBIPA and the Head of School attend all board meetings but are non-voting members. The board members elect a chair, vice-chair, secretary, and treasurer who serve two-year renewable terms. The board normally holds eleven meetings a year and all board members serve on at least one board sub-committee.

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. EBI community members, who are not board members, also contribute their leadership and expertise by volunteering to serve on a number of these sub-committees.

The current sub-committees of our Board of Trustees are:

  • Finance Committee
  • Committee on Trustees
  • Building and Grounds
  • Board Diversity Committee
  • Audit Committee
  • Advancement Committee
  • Strategic Plan Committee (ad hoc)


Our 2018-19 Board Members

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).





Gerry Beaudin. Gerry Beaudin was born and raised in Canada. He graduated with a BA(H) from Queen’s University and a Master of Science in Planning degree from the University of Toronto. His professional experience includes work in the private, non-profit, and public sectors. Gerry currently serves as the Community Development Director for the City of Pleasanton where he is able to work with elected officials, the community, and multi-disciplinary teams on some of the Bay Area’s most challenging topics: housing, transportation, environmental sustainability, and quality of life. He believes in the mission of EBI, and he and his wife are committed raising their two children with a perspective that embraces global citizenship and stewardship.


Maya Chakko, Maya grew up in San Diego and spent her childhood exploring sandstone cliffs, playing at the beach, and watching the acrobatics of ravens. Maya has a B.A. in Sociology from Haverford College and a Masters in Public Policy from UC Berkeley. She is a policy analyst for the federal government. Her two kids thoroughly enjoy EBI, and Maya delights in how they continually quiz her about what they learn. She is a voracious reader and loves art. 






Eric Elia, Board Chair. 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.






Javiera Flores.  Javiera was born in Santiago, Chile and raised in Northern California, Javiera has spent much of her professional life in Spanish speaking countries where she had to learn to perfect her written and oral Spanish. Today she is in awe of her children's capacity to articulate often complex concepts and ideas in both written and oral form.

While Spanish immersion was what initially attracted her to EBI, it has been the school's mission and focus on developing individuals with a strong sense of self and community that motivates her work as a trustee.

Javiera has spent most of her professional life in different aspects of organizational development, She is a founding member of Plurlaistic Networks. Javiera has a BA in Sociology/Social work from UC Davis. She lives in Emeryville with her husband Marcos and two daughters, current EBI middle schooler and EBI Alumna.




Lauren Gonzales, Vice 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.





Michael Huff (bio to follow)







Valentina Imbeni. Valentina is the founding head of La Scuola International School, a preK-8 Reggio Emilia inspired, IB accredited and Italian Immersion program. Valentina was born in Modena, Italy and grew up in Bologna in a family of educators and politicians and policy makers, where the importance of high-quality education in society was a frequent topic of conversation at the lunch table. She graduated from the University of Bologna and received a PhD in Engineering of Materials from Bologna University and the University of Cambridge, U.K. After living and working in the UK she moved to San Francisco in 2000 to work as a researcher in Bioengineering for UC Berkeley and then at the Stanford Research Center (SRI) where she continued her research on biomedical devices and managed large grant proposals and a not-for profit scientific organization. Valentina enrolled her son Stefano at the Italian playgroup that was to become La Scuola in 2005 and immediately became a vital member of the LPSI community.
After the birth of her second son, Matteo, Valentina re-discovered her passion for education and accepted the position of Direttrice in June 2007, with the goal of growing the small family day care into a fully-fledged PreK-8 school. La Scuola is now IB, CAIS, WASK and CIS accredited and leader in Reggio Emilia education in the US. Valentina is passionate about science, social constructivism, the Reggio Emilia philosophy and International and bilingual education. In her free time Valentina loves to spend time with her husband and her 2 boys, to learn new things, cook delicious Italian food, and run and walk along the Pacific Ocean.

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.





Amber McClure, Secretary. Amber McClure was born and raised in the small town of Boonville, CA, two hours north of EBI. Amber earned her bachelor’s degree in Math and Economics from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR and her master’s degree in Statistics from University of Connecticut. Amber has spent her career at Wells Fargo working in the Foreign Exchange division, assisting multinational companies mitigate their currency risk due to conducting business globally. Amber is passionate about the IB mission of teaching students to become global citizens, especially as the world becomes increasingly interconnected.  When not at work or EBI, Amber enjoys international travel, snowboarding and playing ultimate frisbee.  Her two daughters, Jillian and Ainsley, both attend EBI. 





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.






 Jennifer Nice, Jennifer, a first generation American, has spent the last 20 years empowering social entrepreneurs both domestically and internationally primarily through investment, but also creating platforms that facilitate community building, mentoring, education and networking.  Through this work, she has gained a greater appreciation of understanding through the lens of a different culture and language.  She now practices her Spanish skills with her fluent EBI students, Dylan and William and enjoys photography and seeking out street art on her many travels.





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. 





                                    Loa Ortiz (photo to follow). Though she was an engineer in a past life, Loa’s true calling is working with young people during that most cherished and mysterious time of life: middle school! She currently teaches sixth grade at The Berkeley School and is excited to bring her experience and perspective to EBI’s board. Having grown up with the gift of a second language, she knew she wanted the same for her own daughter, Viola, and was thrilled when she found EBI. In her copious free time, she can be found swimming with the Temescal Masters, going on adventures with her family and cooking all kinds of delicious things.

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.




Anyé Spivey. Anyé Spivey was born and raised in San Francisco, CA. He attended Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. with a degree in Finance. He's spent the [ast 15 years working initially in investment banking and later as a mixed-use real estate developer. Anyé is an avid basketball player and golfer, amateur chef and will be working diligently to improve his Spanish language abilities during his time at EBI. He lives in Oakland with his wife Jackie and their two sons, Massai and Kamau.





Monique Spyke, is a Bay Area transplant from the State of Connecticut. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and African-American Studies from Smith College. Monique is passionate about serving her communities. She is a Managing Director and partner at PFM, a financial services firm committed to doing meaningful work by partnering with institutions transforming their world. Monique also sits on the board of the Oakland Parks and Recreation Foundation.

Monique believes in the mission and core values of EBI. She is focused on raising her two daughters to be good stewards, productive citizens of the world, and effective change agents.



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.





                                   Luz Cazares (photo and bio to follow)