Our Board of Trustees
Highland School's Board of Trustees is made up of 18 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.
Mrs. Lesley Soltys, Chair*
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.
Mrs. Jody Warfield*, Vice Chair*
Jody joined the Board in 2011 and has served 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.
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. Dave Turner, Treasurer*, Chairman of the Finance 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.
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, Chair of Governance and Nominating Committee*
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, Chair of Audit Committee*
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. 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. 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.
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., Chair of the Facilities Committee*
Rick was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Fairfax, Virginia 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, North Carolina 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.
Crystal Taylor recently served as Parents Association President after serving as Vice President and grade level representative. She grew up in Virginia, graduated from Virginia Tech with a B.S. in Animal Science, and a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from VMRCVM at Virginia Tech. Following further certification from Colorado State and University of Tennessee, she is certified in Acupuncture and Canine Rehabilitation. She has practiced in the Northern Virginia area for 14 years. For fun, she received her Winemaker’s Certificate through UC Davis and started a vineyard with her husband. After the sale of the vineyard, the family moved to their farm in Warrenton, allowing Crystal to volunteer time at Highland and pursue horseback riding. Her two sons attend Highland: Grant ’28, and Oliver ’31.
Mrs. Danielle Desalu
Mrs. Danielle Desalu is the Global Security Services Practice Manager at Cisco where she leads the Americas South Security Organization in the development and delivery of cybersecurity services. As a trusted advisor, Danielle has successfully led fortune 100 customers through the creation of security strategies that include risk management, technology enablement, governance and compliance, resulting in an increased security posture for their organization. Danielle has held various technology leadership roles for 18+ years and has a demonstrated track record of building strong technical teams to drive customer engagements, architect solutions and grow customer revenues.
With a strong passion for inspiring young girls to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), Danielle has served on the Board of Directors for Girls, Inc., and has served as a Junior First Lego League (Jr. FLL) Co-Facilitator where she worked to expose elementary and middle school girls to the diversity and excitement of careers within Engineering and Science. She is the Troop Leader of an energetic multi-level Girl Scouts Troop in the Gainesville area that enjoys baking, dancing, crafting and science experiments.
A Native New Yorker, Danielle holds a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Computer and Systems Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and has several career certifications including Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP). She is a graduate of Cisco's SE Transitions & Leadership Development Program as well as a graduate of the ITSMF Executive Program. She has received the National Women of Color STEM Rising Star Award, the Modern Day Technology Leader Award of Black Engineer of the Year Conference and was recently awarded the 2018 ITSMF Mentor of the Year award. Danielle and her husband Ademola moved to Northern Virginia in 2005 and reside in Gainesville with their two daughters.
Dr. Bill Condrell
Dr. Bill Condrell is the current parent of two Highland students, one in Middle School and one in Upper School. Dr. Condrell is an alumni of Sidwell Friends and Georgetown University Medical School. He has been in private medical practice for over 20 years as an internist, primarily in Washington, DC. His wife, Wendy, has been an active at Highland as a volunteer as well.
*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.