Board of Trustees
Lake Tahoe School is fortunate to have an outstanding Board of Trustees, steadfastly dedicated to creating a superlative independent school in the Lake Tahoe region. Lake Tahoe School’s trustees represent a balance of skills, interests, and experience that together provide an essential environment of effective governance and a philosophical foundation for the future growth and success of the school.
Rob Alston, Chair
Rob Alston was born and raised in Kailua, Hawaii. He and his wife, Amy, have two children, Turner and Kieran, at LTS. They moved to Incline Village in 2010. Rob is the Chief Executive Officer of Access Information Management, a high growth, private equity backed acquisitive information management company. In addition to his executive management responsibilities, Rob focuses on driving Access’ growth strategy, including over 100 acquisitions. Rob has over 15 years of experience with private equity and in the information management industry. Rob is also a member of the board of directors of the OASIS Group, European records and information management provider. Rob has also served as the President of the Domestic Violence Action Center in Hawaii, Hawaii Chapter of ARMA International and held a position of Director for PRISM International through December 2013.
Jennifer Watts, Vice Chair
Jennifer spent twelve years building and managing innovative and global online and mobile products. Jennifer co-founded and launched a mobile payments company in Singapore, heading product management. Jennifer later held product management roles in PayPal, Inc.’s International, Global Trust & Safety, and Global Merchant Services teams. At Wells Fargo, Jennifer worked as a Vice President in its Digital Channels Group (“DCG”), where she and her team oversaw product strategy and management of various consumer and small business online and mobile payment products. She also led the integration of digital payments products for the bank’s merger with Wachovia and supported a new cyber threat strategic initiative within DCG.
Jennifer spent her early career in higher education, working in college admissions and in the Education & Training department of a Washington D.C-based non-profit in International Education. She most recently served as Vice President and Treasurer on the Board of Directors for Tahoe’s Connection for Families.
Jennifer earned a B.A. in Spanish and Religion at Bucknell University, an M.A. in Hispanic Civilization from New York University in Madrid, Spain, and an MBA from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Jennifer and her husband reside in Incline Village and have two children, one currently enrolled in LTS.
Dana Kirkland, Secretary
Dana has an undergraduate degree in Theatre from UC San Diego and earned her J.D. from Santa Clara University. She practiced civil defense law in Santa Rosa, California before her family moved to Incline Village in 2007. She has been a prolific volunteer at Lake Tahoe School, including serving on the Parent Association board and the Crystal Ball Auction committee for several years. She has been a room parent and committee co-chair for Trail of Treats, helped with teacher appreciation activities and End of School BBQ, and volunteered in the classroom and on outdoor education trips. Most recently she helped establish the Newcomer Committee. After years of volunteering, Dana is looking forward to bringing that diversity of experience to the Board of Trustees and fostering positive connections in the LTS community. Dana resides in Incline Village and has one child enrolled at the school and another who graduated from LTS.
Keith R O’Donnell, Treasurer
Keith O’Donnell is a co-founder and Managing Director of Castle Crow & Company, a merchant banking group with offices in San Francisco, Incline Village and Atlanta. Keith has over 25 years of investment banking, private equity and venture capital experience and has been responsible for all operational functions of the firm including transaction sourcing, structuring, negotiating, working with portfolio companies and maintaining relations with institutional investors.
Prior to co-founding Castle Crow in 2001, Keith played an integral role in the growth and success of the Arch Group, a private equity merchant banking firm in Northern California and spent over six years with Graham Partners, the Philadelphia based private equity, M&A and corporate finance arm of the privately held Graham Group.
Keith is currently a board member of Stuhlmuller Vineyards & Winery and is a graduate of the Villanova University School of Business. Keith and his wife, Kristen, reside in Incline Village and have had two children enrolled at Lake Tahoe School since 2012.
Brad Bergstrom, or Coach Brad as he is known by many, was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. Brad attended Oregon Institute of Technology where he played football and later joined their coaching staff. He completed his education at Portland State and founded B4 Logistics, a transportation and technology company in 2004. B4 Logistics has expanded their operations throughout the western United States, and Brad currently serves as their CEO. In addition to his business success, Brad has always managed to find time to be involved in his community as a coach and mentor. Brad has four children and he currently resides in Incline Village with his partner Karen, his daughter Brittany and his grandchildren Evee, Micah and Elana. Evee and Micah currently attend Lake Tahoe School. Brad is looking forward to serving on the Lake Tahoe School board of trustees and hopes his diverse background and experience will continue to strengthen our community.
Jason is a Manager of NextG, LLC. a family office located in Incline Village. He is responsible for investment strategy, asset allocation, and performance of a diversified pool of assets. He is also responsible for all tax, accounting, and finance functions at NextG and various related entities. Prior to joining Hallador, Jason held several positions within Hewlett Packard and related subsidiaries. Jason earned a B.A. in Business Administration at Oregon State University and an MBA with a concentration in Finance and Securities Analysis at the University of Oregon. Jason and his wife Melissa reside in Incline Village and have two children enrolled in Lake Tahoe School.
Rebecca is a partner with Gilbert LLP. She is an experienced litigator who represents large and small businesses, policyholders, contractors, employers, executives, and entrepreneurs in a variety of litigation and advisory matters. Rebecca’s seventeen years of experience includes insurance recovery, exclusively representing policyholders in coverage disputes, in the purchase, renewal, and evaluation of coverage, in analyzing potential claims that may trigger coverage, and, when in the best interests of the client, negotiating resolutions with insurers. Originally from Minnesota, Rebecca and her husband Kevin spent 12 years in the San Francisco Bay Area before relocating to Incline Village. Rebecca has three children at Lake Tahoe School.
Shawn has 20 years of management and entrepreneurial experience developing software platforms used by hundreds of millions of people. Most recently Shawn was President of Opera Mediaworks and spent his early career with Openwave, Critical Path, and Visto. Shawn and his wife Kristen lived in San Francisco for 10 years before moving to Incline Village in 2013. They are now proud parents of three young children; two attending LTS, and a third Bobcat in training. Shawn was born and raised in Toronto, and earned Engineering and MBA degrees from Queen’s University, Canada.
James Uyeda is a nonprofit and fundraising professional and is currently the Director of Development with the National Hemophilia Foundation. James has over 10 years of experience in various nonprofit organizations helping each organization. Previous to working at the National Hemophilia Foundation, James worked as the Director of Annual Giving and Parent/Alumni Relations at Sierra Nevada College, where he successfully re-established and led many successful giving campaigns. Prior to working in fundraising, James was a special education teacher with an emphasis on students diagnosed with autism. He is a proud graduate of the University of San Diego.
Robert E. Graves (ex officio)
Head of School at Lake Tahoe School, Mr. Graves has been involved with independent school education for over thirty years in locales as diverse as California, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Virginia, and now, Nevada. Mr. Graves holds both B.A. and M.A.T. degrees in history from the University of California/Davis. Graduating high school in Bishop, California, he is looking forward once again to the different seasons’ mountain living has to offer. Mr. Graves’ hobbies include spending time with his family, golf, and reading history.
The Role of the Lake Tahoe School Board of Trustees
Like most independent schools, Lake Tahoe School is governed by a board of trustees and the head of school, each with distinct and complementary responsibilities that are necessary to achieve the mission of the school and preserve the school’s long-term health. The all-volunteer board of trustees ranges in size from 8 to 12 and is made up of community members, educators, and current and alumni parents. Starting with new trustees joining the board in 2011, trustees are elected to three-year terms and may serve for more than one term.1 The head of school serves as an ex-officio member of the board.
The board’s responsibility includes: selecting, supporting, and evaluating the head of school; setting the broad, long-range strategic direction of the school; and ensuring the school’s financial sustainability. The board as a whole and the trustees as individuals follow the NAIS Principles of Good Practices for Board of Trustees and Independent School Trustees.
The head of school is the professional, institutional, and educational leader of the school and is authorized to oversee all administration and day to day operations of the school. At a strategic level, the head of school collaborates with the board of trustees to establish and refine the school’s mission; and to articulate the mission to all members of the community. In addition, the head of school works in partnership with the board, faculty, and staff to implement and manage the board’s long-term strategic plans, policies, and budgets. The academic and co-curricular programs of the school are the responsibility of the head of school, the administrative team and the faculty. The head of school has complete authority for faculty, staff, and student selection, evaluation, and dismissal. The head of school follows the NAIS Principles of Good Practices for Heads.
Board of Trustees Committees and Meetings
Work by the board is done via board of trustees meetings, standing committees, and task forces that are convened from time to time to address specific issues. Each committee meets several times per year and all trustees are normally active on at least one committee. Standing committees may include non-board members. The standing committees of the board are: Finance Committee, Investment Sub-committee, Building and Grounds Sub-committee, Development Committee, Strategic Planning Committee, Education Sub-committee, and the Committee on Trustees. Descriptions of standing committees, current task forces, and trustee membership are listed below.
The LTS Board of Trustees along with the head of school meets five times a year. A good portion of each meeting’s agenda follows an annual schedule based on key decisions that must be made to ensure the long-term viability of the school. To aid in making these decisions, the board hears reports from standing committees and task forces, the head of school, faculty representatives, and the parent association president. Decisions made by the board are communicated to the LTS community using a variety of standing communication vehicles following a regular time schedule. Summary of board meetings are available in the head of school’s office for viewing after they have been reviewed by the board which occurs at the subsequent board meeting.
Board of Trustees Selection Criteria
Partnering with the board chair and the head of school, new trustees are identified, cultivated, recruited, and nominated for board election by members of the Committee on Trustees. Individuals, who will complement and enhance the board’s composition in areas of diversity, strategic thinking, and providing special skills, are considered for nomination. Candidates must be able to meet the time commitment required to attend meetings and complete committee work. Although candidates do not need to be persons of great financial means, candidates should be willing to support all fundraising activities of the school. Parents are primarily identified via their participation in school events and volunteering on committees and for programs that further the long-term development of the school. Criteria considered when identifying new candidates is listed below.
To ensure the best possible leadership for the school, today and in the years ahead, it is critical to identify the essential criteria that every individual must meet to be considered for a position as a trustee. We also believe in creating a diverse board made up of trustees that bring different time, talents, and treasury to the table. To that end, the LTS Board of Trustees has identified a number of essential criteria and an ideal board makeup that is considered when identifying trustee candidates and diversifying the board.
- Strategic and broad thinker
- Strong business sense
- Team player
- High integrity
- Strong supporter of the LTS mission
- Ability to focus on long-term viability of LTS while leaving school administration to the head
- Willing to support all fundraising activities of the school although individual does not need to be person of great financial means
- Leadership orientation
- Fulfill one or more of the expertise areas listed below
IDEAL BOARD MAKEUP
- Eight to twelve in number
- Blend of current parents (Lower and Middle School) and community members
- Diversity in demographics reflective of LTS community
- Blend of professional expertise across entire board
- Education K-12
- Building and Property Management
- Human Resources
- Organizational Management
- Blend of other qualities across entire board
- Time availability for board work and to complete full term
- Financial wherewithal
- Community connections
- Independent school experience
- Board experience
SOURCES: DeKuyper, M. H. (2007). Trustee Handbook. National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)
LTS Board of Trustees Standing Committees
In concert with staff, this committee develops the long-range financial plan and yearly operational budget; recommends tuition levels for board approval; monitors the implementation of the budget; makes periodic reports to the board on the school’s financial status; and educates the board on nonprofit financial reporting and trends affecting the school’s finances.
This sub-committee develops and recommends to the board for its approval policies that delineate how the school’s cash balances will be invested and what amount of return on investment will be used in the yearly operating budget; monitors the investment portfolio’s return, including setting investment objectives, and meeting with outside professional advisors (if any); and periodically reports to the board on the portfolio’s performance.
Building and Grounds Sub-Committee
This sub-committee develops the master plan of the school’s buildings and grounds with the staff and outside consultants as needed. The overall transportation strategy for the school is under the purview of this sub-committee as well. It monitors implementation of the plan; reports to the board periodically on major plant, campus, and transportation issues; keeps the Finance Committee informed on building, grounds, and transportation needs. This committee also provides board oversight of major building projects, but does not act as the project manager. The building and grounds committee does not get involved in the day to day aspects of facility management but is attentive to the deferred maintenance needs of the physical plant and school transportation vehicles.
This committee coordinates the fundraising activities of the school and assists in its marketing efforts; advises the board on the financial goals of the annual campaign through the budget process, and on any capital or endowment campaign; reviews the case statement for any fund appeal; facilitates the inclusion of all trustees and other volunteers in fund- and “friendraising” activities; and raises funds.
Strategic Planning Committee
This committee works in concert with the head to develop the strategic plan for board approval, including its mission statement, goals and strategic issues. The head is responsible for developing action plans.
This sub-committee concentrates on education at the broadest level; develops and recommends to the board educational goals at a strategic level; and assesses the overall school performance against the strategic plan. This committee does not determine the curriculum or evaluate teachers.
Committee on Trustees
This committee coordinates the identification, cultivation, recruitment, and orientation of new trustees, including parents, who will complement and enhance the board’s composition; re-nominates officers; facilitates board self-assessment; identifies board’s needs for education and training and designs vehicles to meet the needs; and organizes the recognition of individual trustees. The committee is charged with nominating individuals to serve as trustees. All nominations are sent to the board for its approval. In addition, this committee oversees the school’s conflict of interest policy, the school’s bylaws, and other governance matters.
NOTE: The board chair and the head of school is an ex-officio member of all committees and task forces unless otherwise indicated as a full member.
SOURCE: DeKuyper, M. H. (2007). Trustee Handbook. National Association of Independent Schools.