Our Board of Trustees
Highland School's Board of Trustees is made up of 23 volunteers who bring a wide range of backgrounds and skills to their positions on the board. Board members include Highland alumni, current parents, past parents and members of the local community.
Every trustee shares a commitment to the vision of Highland School as the region's best independent school. To bring this vision to reality, the board provides Highland's students with the tools, resources, and opportunities they need to find themselves and the world around them in a challenging academic environment that is also supportive, engaging, and friendly.
Provides long-term direction for the school
The Board of Trustees is responsible for the long-term direction of Highland School. Working directly with our Head of School, the Board sets the long-term vision and strategy and ensures sound financial management, proper stewardship of resources, and accountability toward future goals. The Board is also responsible for the selection, evaluation and support of Highland School’s Head of School.
The Board of Trustees is responsible for the direction of Highland School. Working in conjunction with our Head of School, the Board sets the long-term vision and strategy and ensures sound financial management, proper stewardship of resources, and accountability toward future goals.
The Board of Trustees are the keepers of the Highland School mission: to provide a demanding academic and co-curricular program that develops the skills and character essential for students to meet the challenges of college and leadership in the twenty-first century. In order to accomplish this important work, the Board meets bi-monthly and delegates projects to a variety of standing committees and task forces.
Mr. Mark Van de Water, Chairman*
Mark joined the Highland board in 2010 and currently serves as the Board's Chair. Mark grew up in Syracuse, New York and Corvallis, Oregon and spent several years living in Europe as a child. Mark graduated from St. Lawrence University (B.A. in Government) and George Washington University (M.A. in International Economics). Mark has spent his professional career in business and market analysis; federal and local public service; and, public policy advocacy. Mark also serves on the Fauquier Hospital and Path Foundation (formerly known as the Fauquier Health Foundation) Boards of Directors. Mark and his wife Read moved to Warrenton from Washington D.C. in 2003 and their three children Parker ’13, Ward ’15 and Logan ’18 have attended Highland since that time.
Mrs. Jody Warfield*, Vice Chairman*
Jody joined the Board in 2011 and serves as Chair of the Advancement Committee. After earning her degree in Journalism and Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Jody spent 25 years in the field of fundraising for political and non-profit clients. As founder and president of Warfield & Walsh, Inc., and National Response List Marketing, Inc., her clients included the Republican National Committee, The Heritage Foundation, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team Foundation and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. She and her husband Nelson chose Highland School for their son Luke ’20 for its commitment to a well-balanced co-curricular program combining excellence in academics, the arts and athletics.
Mrs. Lesley Soltys, Treasurer, Chairman of the Finance Committee*
Having grown up in Warrenton, Lesley graduated from the University of Richmond with a BSBA degree in Accounting, and started her career at Price Waterhouse, LLP. She is a licensed C.P.A. in Virginia and is currently the Director of Financial Operations at CARFAX in Centreville, Virginia. She was previously the Corporate Controller for Apptix, Inc. and has also held positions with the U.S. Department of Commerce - Office of the Inspector General and Ernst & Young, LLP. Lesley has served several years a class captain for Highland’s Annual Fund campaign and actively participates in other fund raising activities, such as the annual Auction. Lesley now lives in Gainesville with her husband George and three daughters, Kayla ’19, Abigail ’21 and Emma ’25.
Dr. George E. Wallace, Secretary*
George has been active in bird research and conservation for over 35 years and serves as Chief Conservation Officer for Rainforest Trust, based in Warrenton. Prior to joining Rainforest Trust , George was Vice President of American Bird Conservancy for 14 years. He has also held conservation positions at Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Bird Studies Canada, The Nature Conservancy, Point Reyes Bird Observatory, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. George holds a BA from Dartmouth College, a BSc from The Evergreen State College, an MSc from the University of Guelph, and a PhD from the University of Missouri. George and his wife, Beth, who works at American Bird Conservancy, met in Antarctica while studying penguins and other seabirds and live in Warrenton. They have two sons: Henry is in the class of 2019 at Highland and Gordon graduated from Highland in 2016 and is studying engineering at Boston University.
Mr. Fred Blackburn, Chair of Strategic Planning Committee
Fred is a native of Northern Virginia, growing up in West Springfield. He and his family became part of the Highland community in 2014. Fred is an Executive Vice President and Partner at Booz Allen Hamilton. He holds a BS in Finance (with an Economics Minor) from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and an MBA from George Washington University. He, his wife Michelle, and three boys Trent '17, Kyle '17 and Gavin '21 live in Aldie.
“When we enrolled our three sons (Trent and Kyle who are juniors this year and Gavin who is a 7th grader) we were confident they would receive a great education. What we have been most impressed by is the great environment Highland offers and the exceptional character of all the kids who attend the school. Highland is truly a very special place and we are so appreciative of the warm welcome we’ve received from the entire Highland family.”
Ms. Darragh Davis
Darragh is a native of Broad Run and has a lifelong association with Highland, graduating from 8th grade in 1969. She received her A.B. from Stanford University in Psychology and Political Science with honors and her J.D. from Boston University.
Darragh has spent her professional career in private law firm practice and chief legal officer roles in the construction, telecommunications, IT and retail sectors, domestically and internationally. Her other board memberships have included the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Global Association of Corporate Counsel, and the Different Drum School in Alexandria, VA.
Darragh returned to the area in 2017 and is a member of the firm of PesnerKawamoto in Tysons Corner where her practice includes corporate law, real estate, estate planning, and alternative dispute resolution. She lives in Herndon and Broad Run where she is a part-time “agpreneur” rejuvenating the family farm.
Ms. Katherine Ellsworth
A native of Alexandria, Katherine graduated from Dartmouth College with a BA in Classical Archaeology and from Harvard University with a Master’s of Landscape Architecture. She worked for several Landscape Architecture firms in Boston and Alexandria before starting a practice of her own. She and her husband Pete Petronzio moved to Warrenton five years ago upon his retirement from the Marine Corps. They have three children at Highland: Molly (‘18), Grace (‘21) and Jake (‘24) Petronzio. Katherine has been serving as an Annual Fund Class Captain for several years and has been involved with the Highland Auction as well.
Ms. Candice Hall
Candice Hall is from The Plains, Virginia where she lives and operates her law practice. She focuses her work on meeting the needs of start-up and established tax-exempt organizations. In addition to her practice, she serves as Town Attorney for the Town of The Plains. She graduated from Columbia University in 2000 and earned her law degree in 2010 and LL.M. in Taxation in 2011, both from the University of Baltimore. She is currently serves as vice president of the
Board of Rappahannock Legal Services, a nonprofit organization that provides civil legal aid to low income individuals and families. She graduated from Highland (8th) in 1992.
Mr. John B. Hannum, III
Jeb Hannum was born and raised in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Jeb graduated from Hobart College (B.A. European History) and later went on to receive a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania.
Jeb and his wife, Emily, lived in London for seven years where Jeb worked for GlaxoSmithKline in Government Affairs and Communications. Upon their return to the United States, Jeb joined Bristol-Myers Squibb and worked in Patient Advocacy. In 2008 Jeb was appointed to the Pennsylvania Racing Commission and would go on to run the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association.
Jeb and his family moved to Virginia in 2014. In 2015, Jeb became the first Executive Director of the Virginia Equine Alliance. The Hannums have three children at Highland - Chloe '21, Jack '23 and Flora '25.
Mr. David Hartley
David has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Middleburg Investment Group since January 2011 and also serves as Secretary on its Board of Directors. Prior to that David served as Senior Vice President of Middleburg Trust Company, a subsidiary of Middleburg Investment Group. He has served on the Middleburg Trust Company Investment Committee since its founding in 2001. He is currently a member of the Government Relations Committee of the Virginia Bankers Association. David holds a BA from Randolph-Macon College. His son Mac ’17 attends Highland and his wife Cathy teaches PK 3/4. Their daughter Campbell is a 2014 graduate of Foxcroft and currently attends the University of Mary Washington.
Mr. Thomas "Ty" Moore Lawson
Ty is a principal in the law firm of Lawson and Silek, P.L.C. with offices in Winchester and Front Royal. His law practice is concentrated in the areas of civil litigation and land use law. Ty has previously served on the Lord Fairfax Community College Educational Foundation, the Clarke County Educational Foundation, and Shenandoah Valley Manufacturers' Association Boards. He is a graduate of Washington and Lee University with a B.A. in European History and George Mason University School of Law where he received his J.D. He and his wife Becky have four children, two of whom are alumni of Highland, Carter '11 and Brantley '14, and Caroline is currently a freshman at Highland and will graduate in '19.
Mr. Jim Mitchell
Jim and his wife Jill have two children in the Upper School, Charlie ’19 and Samantha ’20. Jill has lived in the Warrenton area her entire life, while Jim moved here after graduating from Lynchburg College in 1991 with a B.A. in Business Administration.
They have both served on the board for the Fauquier Family Shelter for over ten years. Jim is the current president of Superior Paving Corporation, Secretary of the National Asphalt Pavement Association, and a board member for the National Center for Asphalt Technology. “Highland is a wonderful place for both of our children to reach their full potential.”
Mrs. Kathy Morehouse
Kathy Morehouse: A native of Rye, New York, Kathy graduated from Boston College with a BA in English Literature and Political Science. During her professional career, she held numerous positions in the fashion industry in New York City, including as a buyer of designer sportswear for Saks Fifth Ave and as merchandise director for Halston International. She and her husband Mark have lived in the Warrenton area since 2006. Kathy has been a committed volunteer for Highland School events, and their three children—Max ’20, Grace ’22, and Sean ’24—are Highland lifers.
Mrs. Diana Norris, Chairman of the Governance & Nominating Committee*
Diana joined the Board in 2014. She graduated from Cornell University (B.A.), American University (M.A), and the Catholic University School of Law (J.D.). She currently is an attorney on the staff of The Piedmont Environmental Council. Diana and her family live in Orlean and she has three children, all attending Highland’s Lower School: Catharine ’26, Elizabeth ’26, and Liam Merchant ’28.
Mrs. Elizabeth "Libby" Robinson
Libby was born and raised in New England. She and her family moved to Virginia in 2004 when her late husband was stationed at USCG Headquarters in Washington, DC. Libby graduated with Honors from Denison University with a BA in Sociology/Anthropology, and Magna Cum Laude from Suffolk University Law School in Boston. She worked as a litigation associate at Hale & Dorr in Boston before moving to a boutique law firm in Newburyport, MA. With the move to Virginia, Libby "retired" from practicing law. She has been actively engaged in the Highland community, including as a Parent's Association Representative, for several years. Her daughter, Mimi, graduated from Highland in 2014 and her son, Seamus, is in the class of 2017.
Mrs. Katrine Pendleton, Chairman of the Advancement Committee*
Katrine grew up in New Canaan, CT and graduated from St. Lawrence University with a BA in Government. Upon graduating she worked for the National Crime Prevention Council as its Development Director. Katrine has been an active volunteer for the Highland Community with activities ranging from Parent Association President to 4th grade reading buddy. Currently, she is finishing up her second year as Annual Fund Co-Chair. Katrine also serves on the Board of the Fauquier Family Shelter, The Parents Committee for St. Lawrence University, and as Secretary for the Eagles Mere Foundation. She and her husband Tripp live in Warrenton and have two children, Henry (’14) and Annie (’17).
“Highland has provided an outstanding environment for both of my children to grow and thrive. Its comprehensive program, caring faculty, and supportive families, create an environment in which students are able to challenge themselves and no matter the outcome, use that experience as a building block for the future. I am excited to see how the school will continue to excel in preparing students for challenges in years to come.”
Mrs. Wendy Rodgers
Wendy joined the Board of Trustees last year and has been an active volunteer since her daughter started Kindergarten in 2004. She currently serves on the Advancement Committee and for the past two years has co-chaired the Highland for the Holidays event. Wendy was born and raised in Warrenton and graduated from Virginia Tech. Before starting a family, she worked at Scott & Stringfellow in Warrenton for five years. Wendy and her husband, Tom, live in Warrenton with their three children, Maddie ’17, Luke ’19, and Charlotte ’21.
Dr. Beejal Taylor
Beejal Taylor joined the Board of Trustees in 2013. Prior to joining the Board, she was a member of the Parents Association. She graduated from Syracuse University with a B.S. in Psychology and a pre-medical focus and attended medical school at Des Moines University in Iowa. She completed residency in the specialty of anesthesiology at University of Washington in Seattle. Beejal is an anesthesiologist with Fair Oaks Anesthesia Associates. Beejal has two children attending Highland, Shivas '25 and Brahm '27.
Dr. Laura Tremblay
Raised in Chapel Hill, NC, Laura and her Canadian husband, Marc moved to Haymarket in 2012. Laura and Marc met at Stanford, where Laura completed her medical residency in Internal Medicine and Marc completed his PhD in Mechanical Engineering. From there, they moved to Boston, where Laura practiced for 10 years as an internist, followed by two years in the pharmaceutical industry. Laura attended Princeton University and graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in Chemistry, then attended the University of Texas Southwestern for medical school, followed by residency in Internal Medicine at Stanford University. Laura and Marc's four children all attend Highland as members of the classes of '19, '21, '25 and '27. Highland remains an excellent fit for the Tremblay family, encouraging each child to reach his/her own unique potential. Laura joins the Board of Trustees after 2 years as Parents Association President.
Mr. Dave Turner, Chairman of the Facilities Committee*
In the 2014/2015 academic year, Dave served as the co-Chair of the Highland Annual Fund. Over the last several years, he has actively worked with the Highland Admissions team to broaden Highland’s reach into the Haymarket-Gainesville-Bristow area. He is the VP of Corporate Development at Akima, a fast-growing government contractor based in Herndon, VA. Previously, Dave was Senior Vice President of ACS/Xerox, leading solutions and business development across the Federal, State and Local government businesses. Dave has a B.S. in Molecular Biology from the University of Michigan and an M.B.A from the University of Pittsburgh. Dave and his wife Julia have two daughters at Highland, Emma ‘23 and Madison ‘19. Madison has been at Highland since Kindergarten and Emma joined as a part of the school’s very first PK3-4 class.
Mrs. Kathy Thornhill
Kathy Thornhill begins her position as Parents Association President after two years serving as a grade level representative. With the belief that volunteering at the school helps not only her own children but all Highland School students and families Kathy has volunteered with other committees such as Highland for the Holidays and the Auction. Her main goal as a volunteer is to get important work done, connect with other families, and have some fun.
Kathy grew up in Vienna, Virginia where she had a 3rd grade crush on her future husband Robbie. They now live alongside a lot of Thornhill family members in Rappahannock County. Two of their children are Highland alumna: Shelby '14 (now at USC Columbia) and Sarah '16 (now at JMU). Their remaining two continue their Highland journey: Grayson '19 and Lyndi '21.
Kathy has a B.S. in Psychology with a Family and Child Development minor from Virginia Tech. She is Office Manager for Central Elevator Inspection Services, a family business owned by her husband, Robbie, and father-in-law, Bob.
Mr. Ali Zarabi
Ali and his wife Karen are proud parents of Yasmin ’20 and Alexander ’24.
Ali native of Iran, immigrated to the U.S. forty years and upon attending schools in the Tidewater and Richmond areas, began a successful career in the beauty industry in Washington, D.C. Ali has owned and operated a salon in Old Town Warrenton for twenty-two years.
Ali is the senior member of the Warrenton Planning Commission, in his seventeenth year currently serving as Vice-Chair. Previously, he served as a board member and secretary on the Mental Health Association of Fauquier County.
When he’s not serving his clients and the community, Ali can be found coaching youth soccer and refereeing games throughout Northern Virginia.
Mr. Richard W. Groux, Jr.
Rick was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Fairfax, VA and Calmar, Iowa. Rick graduated from Flagler College (BA in Business) and George Mason University (Scalia) School of Law (JD).
Rick is the Managing Partner of Groux Investments, LLC a real estate development and investment firm involved in commercial and residential projects throughout Northern Virginia and includes the family organic cattle farm located in Northeast Iowa. Rick serves on the following Boards as a Director or Trustee: Flagler College, Taylor Ranch Ministries, VVIM Ministries, and Middleburg Bank (Advisory Board).
Since 1994, Broad Run has been the home for Rick and his wife Leigh Ann and two daughters. Rosemary is a 2015 graduate of Highland and currently attends Berry College and Margaret will graduate in 2019.
Mrs. Amudha Mahendiran
Amudha moved around a lot in her early years and finally settled in Chapel Hill, NC where she grew up. She graduated from University of North Carolina at Greensboro (B.S.) and Florida State University (M.S.). She currently works with a few Early Childhood Education non-profit organizations in Virginia. Amudha is active in the Highland community through the Parent Association and volunteers in Kindergarten and the Lower School library. Amudha and her husband Gajan moved to Warrenton in 2005 and have two children at Highland, Nithin '26 and Anya ’27.
Bio Coming Soon!
*indicates member of the Executive Committee
Marshall Doeller, Trustee Emeritus
Marshall Doeller graduated from Highland School as an 8th grader in 1967, and served on the Board of Trustees from 1992 until 2004. As Chairman of the Board from 1997 to 2004, he was instrumental in implementing an ambitious 10-year Master Plan that included the construction of Highland’s Upper School, which officially opened in 1996. His two daughters, Kate and Michelle, are Highland alumna.
William A. Hazel Sr., Trustee Emeritus
Prior to his death in 2012, Mr. Hazel had an active life, founding one of Northern Virginia's largest excavation and development businesses, sitting on many Boards, and supporting educational projects all across the area. His longtime support of Highland School permitted major changes to our development, most notably, he provided the lead gift to establish the William A. Hazel Family Lower School - now the only LEED Silver certified educational facility in Fauquier County. His legacy will continue on for years to come.
Paul G. Rice, Trustee Emeritus
Paul Rice served on the Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2012. He was Chairman of the Board from 2006 to 2012 and, along with his wife Gina, was instrumental in the design and construction of the Highland Center for the Arts and The Rice Theater. He received the Founders Award in 2012 for leadership and service that have shaped the School. His two daughters, Lindsay and Ally, graduated from Highland.