New Board of Trustees President Craig Appel

SFWS is delighted to welcome Craig Appel as the new president of the Board of Trustees. Craig takes over from Michael Gowe who has led the Board these last three years. (Thank you, Michael!) We are fortunate to have Michael continuing to serve as a member of the Board. Craig was first approached to join the Board by trustee and SFWS parent Paul Hurley when they were looking for help and expertise to strengthen the school’s structure for fundraising and broad community support. Craig, with his master’s degree in non-profit management from the University of San Francisco and experience as Director of Partner Relations for the Energy Foundation, brings a valuable perspective to the Board. 

Craig and his wife, Kate Holcombe, have three boys—Calder in grade 4, Hayes in grade 1 and Samson who is almost three years old. Craig begins his days during the school year by making breakfast and lunch for the boys and then biking with them to school. The bike is his primary means of transport to his job at the Energy Foundation, which works to promote clean energy technology. 

Craig and Kate, who met in San Francisco, began their married life living in Madras (now Chennai), India, where Kate headed up the study abroad program for Colgate University. They resettled in San Francisco after two years, where, in addition to Craig’s work, Kate teaches yoga to individuals and underserved populations. They have maintained their connections to India and last year they returned to India with their boys for six months while Craig worked to set up an organization in India based on the Energy Foundation model. Many of you may have seen Craig playing his veena in one of the scenes at Fairy Walk as well. 

As a child, Craig attended public schools. He noticed early on that as an independent school, SFWS rises and falls on the participation of parents in all their various relationships to the school. Many parents give tireless support to the teachers in the classrooms, and with school events. He joined the board out of a belief in the importance of every parent finding a larger relationship to the school. He felt it was his duty to contribute beyond his children’s classrooms and realized his background was particularly well suited to the Board’s needs at the time he joined. He is inspired by the fact that SFWS was founded by a group of parents, many of whom continue to serve on the Board, Faculty, Administration, and the College of Teachers. It is a daily reminder of the importance of parent involvement in maintaining a successful school. 

Another reminder of this spirit that has inspired Craig is the story of the Dakin Family. Henry Dakin, who passed away in the summer of 2010, and his wife Vergilia were a key part of the group of parents that set out to learn about Waldorf education and establish a Waldorf school in San Francisco in the late 1970’s. The Dakins soon became the principal early financial benefactors of the school. Craig points to their generosity and remarkably long-range view of what the school could become long after their own children would be involved in it. This fall we will officially acknowledge the renaming of the grade school’s Main Hall to Dakin Hall in honor of their support.

Craig feels grateful for the fact that the Dakins and other early families have made a Waldorf education possible for his own family. He sees his job as board chair as a way to contribute his part for the next generation. If you are interested in Board work or would like to contact Craig about another aspect of SFWS, he can be reached at