Board Biographies

Laura Ambroseno

Laura Ambroseno's formal training in Economics and Finance has led to a varied career that started and has returned to microeconomics and urban development, with a detour through global capital markets. Laura started her career at the Federal Reserve Bank of NY with a focus on Community Reinvestment and was soon attracted to global financial crises and their impact on currency markets. She has managed fixed income assets and foreign exchange interventions for the Federal Reserve and quantitative foreign exchange strategies for Morgan Stanley, Capitalia, and State Street Bank in London and Rome. Laura holds and MBA in International Finance from Columbia Business School, magna cum laude, and a BA in Urban Economics from Barnard College of Columbia University.


In addition to volunteering and serving on the SFWS Board of Trustees and the SFWS Finance and Investment Committees, Laura, is currently Chair of the Board of La Cocina and on the Board of the Leonardo da Vinci Society. She is CEO of Lalivara LLC, producing small batch wine in Alexander Valley. She resides in San Francisco with her husband Raffaele, their two children and dogs

Craig Appel

Administrative Director

Craig Appel has a long history of nonprofit leadership, serving as the Executive Director of Hand-in-Hand Parenting and Director of Partner Relations at The Energy Foundation. Craig has a Master in Nonprofit Administration from the University of San Francisco and brings extensive strategic planning, human resources, and development expertise to his role at San Francisco Waldorf School. Craig also served as President of the Board of Trustees from 2010 to 2014 during a period of strong financial growth.

John Burket

HS Biology
Mr. Burket received his Ph.D. in soil science from Oregon State University, his MS in biology from the University of Oregon and his BA in geology from the University of Vermont. After graduating from college, Mr. Burket took over the ownership of his family’s farm in Pennsylvania, converting it to an organic grain and livestock operation. During this time he also earned his teaching certificate in biology and general science and taught science for two years in a public high school. He completed his Foundation Year at the Eugene Waldorf Teacher Training Program and taught math and science blocks in the eighth grade at the Eugene Waldorf School. Mr. Burket completed the High School Teaching Program through Rudolf Steiner College in 2000.

Joan Caldarera

HS Humanities

Joan Caldarera holds a BA in English from the University of Rochester, an MA in Drama from the University of Toronto, and a Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from U.C. Davis. Dr. Caldarera began at San Francisco Waldorf School teaching Kindergarten for four years then graduated her first class, which she took from the fifth grade, in June 1993, before leading a second class from first through fifth grades. Having previously chaired the high school planning committee, she joined the high school faculty in 1997, teaching and serving as High School Chair for five years. From there she moved to the Head of Administration position, which she held for four years. Her two eldest children graduated from SFWS in 1990 and 1994, while son Michael-Tobias was in the first SFWHS graduating class and son Andreas graduated in 2009.

Madhulika Chambers

Madhulika Jain Chambers has an S.B. in Computer Science and an S.B. in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and received her PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of California, San Francisco. She then worked in cancer research at Harvard Medical School before deciding to stay home full time with her children. She moved back to San Francisco with her husband, and their three children attend San Francisco Waldorf. Madhulika is interested in biodynamic food, loves anthroposophy, and also serves on the Board of the Bay Area Center for Waldorf Teacher Training. She has helped to coordinate Winter Fair at our school in past years, and currently serves on the Parent Diversity Committee.

Danielle Dignan

Danielle Dignan is a founding partner of DM Development, a San Francisco-based boutique real estate development and investment firm. Prior to her real estate endeavors, Danielle taught field courses in the mountains and on the water for NOLS (the National Outdoor Leadership School), taught offshore sail training, and wrote professionally for sailing magazines. She is a USCG licensed captain and has a BA in history from the University of Rhode Island, where she rowed crew. Danielle also serves on the NOLS Board of Trustees. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and their two children, and also spends as much time as possible on the southern coast of Maine. She is often found outside sailing, surfing or playing tennis.

Gerhard Engels

Director of Finance and Strategic Planning

Gerhard joined SFWS in 2008, bringing to the school more than 20 years of experience as a management consultant and financial analyst. His work history includes 7 years with Arthur Anderson and Accenture, as well as management consulting nationally and internationally. A few years ago he experienced a shift of values, causing him to change into the nonprofit world. He holds an MS in Mathematics from University of Bonn in Germany. He has two boys currently enrolled at SFWS.

Stephen Goldmann

Stephen Goldmann is a business leader who has spent his career consulting to the top food and restaurant companies and has also helped found numerous food and restaurant brands in the Bay Area. Stephen's unique offering is the clear thinking he brings to complex business challenges and his ability to create products, experiences and messages that align sound strategy with compelling product offerings. Stephen's personal motivation and inspiration come from his wife Amy and the excitement of raising two boys, Jet and Kai. As long time San Franciscans, the city provides a setting for his volunteer focus on education and building community. They are active participants in their school, Children's Day, and as a member of the Waldorf School board Stephen is helping look at diversity in independent education and the role of independent schools in the larger community.

Elizabeth Halifax

Elizabeth Halifax has a PhD from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), a postgraduate diploma in Business Studies from The Metropolitan University, London, a BA in Economic and Social History from the University of York, UK and is a Registered Nurse. Her two children graduated from the San Francisco Waldorf High School (2013 and 2015). She currently is a Research Specialist at UCSF exploring palliative and nursing home care at end of life, and teaches care of older adults at California State University to nursing and social work professionals.

Ghita Harris-Newton

Ghita Harris-Newton is the Chief Privacy Officer and Deputy General Counsel at Quantcast, Inc. She was previously at Yahoo, where she was the Assistant General Counsel, Head of Global Privacy Law & Privacy Policy, and founder and Chair of the Legal Department’s Pro Bono & Community Service Program. Ghita has also worked in private legal practice and in the U.S. courts. Ghita received her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, magna cum laude, and her B.A. from James Madison University, summa cum laude. Ghita has 3 children currently attending the San Francisco Waldorf School.

Paige Hart

Paige Hart is a writer of middle-grades fantasy novels. She has recently completed and is currently editing the first novel of her trilogy. Before moving to San Francisco in 1995, Paige was a mortgage banker and commercial actress. Since moving to San Francisco, she focused on being a full-time mother to her girl/boy twins who both attended the San Francisco Waldorf School from Kindergarten through Grade 12.

Paige’s community service activities have centered on the San Francisco Waldorf School, as class parent, field trip chaperone and later as a member of the Parent Council Executive Committee. Paige attended The University of Texas at Austin where she received a BBA with a concentration in Finance. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, Andy, of thirty-one years and enjoys visits from her successfully launched adult twins.

John Jackson

HS Mathematics, 9th Grade Sponsor, College

Mr. Jackson completed his Waldorf Teacher Training at Emerson College in 1983. He taught for 15 years at the Summerfield Waldorf School in Santa Rosa before coming to the San Francisco Waldorf School in 2001. He was a class teacher for 11 years and now teaches math, movement, and health.

Sami Kudsi

Secretary

Sami Kudsi, Secretary, has been a professor of speech communication at the City College of San Francisco since 1994. He has experience teaching small group communication, interpersonal communication, and public speaking. For 10 years, he served as a coach for the CCSF Speech and Debate Team. Since 2003, he has served as the Coordinator of the CCSF Honors Program. Mr. Kudsi also served on the CCSF Strategic Planning Committee and is certified as a DACUM curriculum development facilitator. Sami earned both his bachelors and masters degrees in Communication from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Heidi Schwarzenbach

Nursery Program Director
Heidi Schwarzenbach is the founding Nursery Program Director and Lead Teacher for Elves Corner. She has been at SFWS since 1999. Heidi was born and raised on the East Coast. She graduated in 1977 from Colgate University with a BA in English Literature and Biology. After working in textiles in New York City for five years, she was transferred to San Francisco. Heidi completed the Rudolf Steiner College teacher trainnig program in 2001 and is also certified by the State of California. Heidi ran a Waldorf-inspired nursery in her home before coming to SFWS. She is an avid cycler who enjoys ocean swimming, backpacking, and reading. She is a founding member of the Magic Lantern Traveling Marionette Theatre. Her twin sons attended SFWS from Kindergarten through 12th grade

.

Melissa Smith

James Stearns

President

Jim Stearns is President of Stearns Consulting, Inc., a political communications firm located in San Francisco, CA. Stearns has extensive experience in all aspects of public affairs and political campaign communication. As a media consultant, he has personally created hundreds of television, radio, direct mail and print advertisements for political and advocacy campaigns. Past and present clients include Governor Jerry Brown, Attorney General Kamala Harris, Assembly member Tom Ammiano, California Teachers Association, California Nurses Association, Save the Bay, Trust for Public Land, Sierra Club, and the California Democratic Party. He has received numerous awards for strategic and graphic excellence for mail and print advertising.

Previously, Stearns was Vice-President and Creative Director at Campaign Performance Group – one of the nation’s leading political direct mail companies. Stearns began his career in public affairs as the Press Secretary for the Democratic House Caucus in Hartford, Connecticut in 1984. Stearns attended Deep Springs College and the University of California at Berkeley.

Tzaddi Thompson

Vice President

Tzaddi Thompson is an attorney with Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, where she advises on Labor and Employment law. Previously, she was an attorney with Nixon Peabody LLP in San Francisco. She received her JD from Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall), and her BA from Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Tzaddi started her education at the San Francisco Waldorf school, where she was a student in the grade school's very first class in grades one to seven. Her children are currently enrolled at SFWS.

Carina Trowbridge

Carina Trowbridge is an attorney and a former prosecutor for the Alameda County District Attorney's Office in California. She has served as a member of the Board of Managers for the Bayview/Hunter's point YMCA in San Francisco, on the Board of Directors of Children in Need International, and as a board member for the Marina Community Association of San Francisco.

William Wolcott

Treasurer

William "Cotty" Wolcott, Treasurer, works as Executive Director for Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management. Prior to joining the bank in 2016, he was an Executive Director in Private Wealth Management for The Private Bank of JP Morgan (2010-2016) and he worked in institutional equity sales for Lazard Freres, Montgomery, and J.P. Morgan Securities from 2002- 2009. From 1993-2001, he worked at the boutique investment bank, Hambrecht & Quist, where he served as a Principal on the Equity Capital Markets Desk. He lives in Cole Valley with his wife and two children (10th and 5th graders) and enjoys spending time fishing, golfing and duck hunting. He received his B.A. in Environmental Studies from Hobart & William Smith Colleges and attended The Cate School. He also serves on the board of The Bay Institute (bay.org) serving to protect, restore and inspire conservation of San Francisco Bay and its watershed from the Sierra to the Pacific.