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ELAS Ed-visors

  • Stephen M. Clement, III
  • Maureen Fonseca
  • Josie Holford
  • Laura Graceffa
  • Ken Motsenbocker
  • Dane L. Peters
  • Mary Claire Ryan
  • Joan S. Shell
  • Lydia Spinelli
  • Ann Sullivan
  • Kate Turley

Stephen M. Clement, III

After 28 years as a celebrated and distinguished Headmaster, Stephen M. Clement, III recently retired from The Browning School, a K-12 school for boys in Manhattan. Prior to Browning, he was the Director of the Walden School and Assistant Headmaster of the Dalton School. He has been sought after and served on numerous boards, currently the Millbrook School and Robert College in Istanbul, Turkey. He has also served on the Boards of The Brearley School, Brick Church School, The Episcopal School in NYC, and George Jackson Academy.

Steve has assumed leadership roles in associations that support the work of independent schools as Past President of the NYSAIS Board of Trustees, The Guild of Independent Schools (NYC), Interschool (NYC), Independent School Multi-Media Center, Headmasters Association, as well as the Chair of NYSAIS Commission on Accreditation.

Although based in NYC, Steve has deep personal roots in Western New York and strong ties to the Hudson Valley. He attended the Nichols School in Buffalo and The Hill School in Pennsylvania prior to his undergraduate years at Yale and his graduate years at The Union Theological Seminary where he completed his M. Div. He completed his education at the Harvard University School of Education and earned an Ed.M. and an Ed.D.

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 Maureen Fonseca

Dr. Maureen Fonseca has been a leader in independent schools for over thirty years, having served as a head of school in schools with nursery through 12th grade students, in urban and suburban settings,  and in both day and boarding schools.   Dr. Fonseca spent 15 years heading The Masters School, a fifth through twelfth grade day and boarding school, where she increased enrollment from 390 to 644 and raised more than $70 million. The campus is now home to The Maureen Fonseca Center for Athletics and Arts, named in her honor. Prior to this Dr. Fonseca founded St. Philip’s Academy in Newark, NJ, a Kindergarten through eighth  grade school designed to help inner-city students succeed in competitive secondary schools. During her 12 years at St. Philip’s Academy, enrollment grew from 10 students to more than 200.  Dr. Fonseca also  served as the CEO of the Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation/New York Edge, the largest provider of after-school programs to New York City’s underserved public schools. Most recently she served as head of school at The Elisabeth Morrow School, an independent two year old through eighth grade school in Englewood, NJ.

She has served on numerous boards including NYSAIS, NAES, Headmistresses Association of the East.  She has also served as a trustee of school boards including the French American School of New York, Newark Academy and Greens Farms Academy playing a central role in the areas of governance and Head evaluation.  In addition to numerous workshops she has been a team member offering the annual seminar sponsored by The Head’s Network (then NAPSG) for aspiring women leaders.  As a commissioner for NYSAIS as well as for Middle States, she developed a keen sensitivity to and appreciation for the unique and varied missions and cultures of each independent school.  As an immigrant from a developing country, and international teacher trainer she has successfully integrated social emotional learning with diversity, inclusion and global perspectives.   Her work with faculty focused on empowering them to reinvent curriculum for the fourth industrial revolution.    She is known to be a keen listener and highly effective communicator with boards, faculty, students, parents and alumni.

In addition to her educational career contributions and achievements, Dr. Fonseca is active in volunteer work, having been involved with various organizations including the New Jersey Forum for Human Rights, Christian Ministry and Service, and The Reconciliation and Forgiveness Project, as well as designing and leading over several years a train the trainer program for 34 Haiti principals and academic leaders in Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien.

Dr. Fonseca grew up in Guyana and won a competitive scholarship to attend Vassar College, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa with an undergraduate degree in French and Russian.  She later received her master’s and a doctorate in French Literature from Fordham University. Maureen brings experience to ELAS in founding and developing schools, building scaffolds and collaborative processes to ensure a growth plan around a unified vision that is mission driven, strategic and generative.  Her experience founding a school affiliated with the cathedral and her work on the NAES board have served to sharpen her understanding of organizations with more complex governance structures.  Head mentoring, development and evaluation, fundraising, governance and strategic planning are areas of expertise.Josie Holford has had a distinguished career as a leader in independent school education beginning in London. She was the Director of both the Trevor Day School Middle and High School, and most recently the Head of School at Poughkeepsie Day School, retiring after ten years in that role. Among her areas of expertise are board structure and leadership, strategic planning and diversity work.

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 Josie Holford

Josie Holford has had a distinguished career as a leader in independent school education beginning in London. She was the Director of both the Trevor Day School Middle and High School, and most recently the Head of School at Poughkeepsie Day School, retiring after ten years in that role. Among her areas of expertise are board structure and leadership, strategic planning and diversity work.

Currently, Josie serves as a member of the NYSAIS Board of Trustees, a member of the Board of the Independent Curriculum Group, and an Educating Modern Learner advisor. She is also a blogger with a robust following.



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Laura Graceffa

Over a thirty-year career in schools, Laura served as a middle school science teacher and held leadership positions as department chair and middle school division director at PoughkeepsieDay School, before becoming head of Head of Robert C. Parker School, from which she recently retired.

Laura completed the NYSAIS Emerging Leaders Institute (ELI) program. During her years at NYSAIS schools, Laura was a member of and chaired many accreditation visiting teams, She currently serves on the NYSAIS Commission for Accreditation. She has led professional development work about integrating technology, writing across the curriculum, and using projects to broaden the way students learn and are assessed.

She has served on several boards, among them, The Woodhall School i


n CT, The Mid-HudsonChildren’s Museum, and most recently, RISSE, an organization serving refugee and immigrant families in Albany, NY.

Laura’s experience as a school leader has led her to search for the strengths that schools bring to serve their communities and to build upon those when planning for the future. She is enthusiastic when working with or as a member of a board. With experience in leadership at schools with tight budgets, she is sensitive to the constraints that small schools, especially, face as they make strategic decisions. As a head of school during the Covid health emergency, she is particularly keen to explore how schools will emerge from the pandemic with an optimistic vision for serving students in responsive and creative ways.


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Ken Motsenbocker

Ken Motsenbocker recently retired after 13 years as the CFO of The Harley School where he had a broad range of financial and operating responsibilities. Harley is a progressive, 500 student day school in Rochester N.Y, and considered a leader in the community.

His tenure at Harley followed a successful career at The Eastman Kodak Company. After initially starting as a cost analyst, his career ultimately led him to a position as the Director for Mergers and Acquisitions for Kodak’s European region based out of Switzerland. As a director in M&A, Ken was a project team leader and successfully completed over 100 complex strategic transactions such as acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures, equity participation and intellectual property licenses. Ken concentrated on small standalone operations where he had to train and develop a team to work with. Ken has also taught finance at a local SUNY school and was the business manager for a small 2-year college.

Ken brings to ELAS skills in financial analysis, financial modeling, strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions, debt refinancing, and contract negotiations.  While he brings lots of technical expertise, he also believes that success is best achieved by understanding the issues, digging into the details, and developing working relationships with a dedicated team.

Ken is involved in the Rochester community, having received The Rochester Business Journal’s Chief Financial Officer of the Year award, and most recently serves as an advisor to the Rochester Refugee Resettlement Services, as well as Treasurer of the Greater Rochester Summer Learning Association, and Chair of his church’s finance committee. Ken earned his M.B.A from Cornell’s Johnson School of Business and lives on a small hobby farm raising goats and growing lavender.

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Dane L. Peters

Dane recently retired as Head of Brooklyn Heights Montessori School, a Toddler through 8th-grade school in Brooklyn, New York.  Prior to heading BHMS for eleven years, he served as Head of Mooreland Hill School in Connecticut for eleven years. He has served as the Administrator for the New York State Association of Independent School’s (NYSAIS) Experienced Leaders Advising Schools (ELAS) program.

Among his thirty-eight years teaching and coaching in independent school education, ten were served in boarding schools. A Klingenstein Fellow and former lecturer and graduate student Field Coach at the Klingenstein Center, Dane served as Director of the New England New Teachers Seminar, on the faculty of the NAIS New Heads Institute, and as a mentor with the NAIS/E.E. Ford Fellowship for Aspiring Heads. He also served as the Director of NYSAIS Beginning Teachers Institute; served on the Experienced Teachers Institute; and chaired the Professional Development Committee and the Council for Professional Learning and Collaboration for NYSAIS. He has chaired many accreditation visiting committees for both NYSAIS and the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools.

He has served on thirteen non-profit boards, three as president and two as head of school. He recently served as a Secretary on the NYSAIS Board of Trustees and the Treasurer of the American Montessori Society (AMS) Board of Directors where he is currently serving as the Vice President.

His articles have appeared in Education Week; NAIS’s Independent Teacher (currently serves on the Editorial Board), Independent School (served as chair of the Editorial Board), and The Savvy Trustee Newsletter; Montessori Life (currently chairs the Editorial Advisory Board), M: The Magazine for Montessori Families, Montessori Leadership, Parents’ League Review, Public School Montessorian (where he has a regular column), Teaching Children Mathematics, The Head’s Letter, and The Trustees Letter. His first book Independent by Design was published in 2014. You can read many of his articles on his blog, www.danesedblog.blogspot.com.


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Mary Claire Ryan

Mary Claire Ryan was the Co-Founder of the Cornelia Connelly Center on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, an NYSAIS accredited school. This pioneering school has established itself as a model for quality education for underserved middle school girls.  Most recently she served as the President of St. Aloysius School in Harlem and before that as President of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Baltimore, MD, Executive Director of NativityMiguel Network of Schools and Executive Director of the Bronx Charter School for Excellence.

She has served on many boards, among those are NYSAIS member schools: Cornelia Connelly Center, Cristo Rey New York High School and School of the Holy Child.  She has also served on the boards of Public Prep/Girls Prep Charter School, Nativity Mission Center, Oak Knoll School in Summit, N.J. and Connelly School of the Holy Child.

Mary Claire brings experience in founding, leading, and collaborating to guide mission-driven schools and organizations, from start-up through growth, setbacks and strategic choices. She has a great deal of experience working with governing boards, supervision, mentoring, and professional development of staff, the ability to find common ground for setting priorities and devising plans of action within changing situations.


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Joan S. Shell

Joan S. Shell joins the ELAS group having recently retired as Director of Finance at Village Community School, following a 26-year executive banking career at three major banks. She brings broad experience and expertise in the areas of financial planning, which include budgeting, investment management, financing capital projects, debt management, retirement planning, benefit and compensation planning, facility management and financial aid planning.

Joan has served on the Board of Trustees of her alma mater, Vassar College, including membership on its Executive Committee and the Steering Committee of its Capital Campaign. In addition, she Chaired the Board of Vassar’s National Alumni Association. Joan also holds a M.A. from Brown University and a M.B.A. in Finance from Fordham University.

Joan has been active in the philanthropic sector, serving on a number of non-profit boards and their finance committees including treasurer for the Parent Board of Friends Academy on Long Island and Board member of the Youth Service Opportunities Project.


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Lydia Spinelli

Lydia Spinelli recently retired as Director of The Brick Church School having served in that role for 36 years. She founded and continues directing Summer Steps, Brick’s summer program for low-income four- and five-year-old children who are entering or applying to NY independent school kindergartens. Twenty-six independent schools serve as partners in this endeavor. She is also the President of the African Dream Academy Foundation that supports the African Dream Academy (ADA) in Monrovia Liberia. ADA is a Nursery through 11th grade school that provides a free education, hot lunch, uniforms and busing to 850 of the poorest children in the world.

The Brick Church School was the second early childhood school in the state to join NYSAIS and Lydia has chaired many Visiting Committees and served on the NYSAIS Accreditation Commission for 8 years and the Professional Development Committee for 10 years. She initiated a NYSAIS conference for early childhood directors and lower school heads in 2007.

Dr. Spinelli received her Ed.D at Teachers College, Columbia University in Curriculum and Teaching specializing in early childhood education. She has presented at many conferences and authored a number of articles. She is Chair of the Board of Early Steps which seeks to place children of color in independent school kindergartens and first grades. Early Steps collaborates with Summer Steps in identifying children from qualifying families who also come from the partner schools. Lydia also serves on the Board of the Parents League of New York and, throughout her career, filled many roles for the Independent Schools Admissions of Greater New York (ISAAGNY): Trustee, Co-chair of the Executive Board, Chair of the Early Childhood Director’s Group and ERB Liaison.

Lydia brings to ELAS extensive experience in all aspects of leading an early childhood school and was particularly successful at leading a school within a church. Her broad involvement with the NYSAIS accreditation process would make her an excellent resource for early childhood schools thinking of joining NYSAIS.

Her leadership as a Director and Founder with schools and her work as a Trustee and as an instructor at Teachers College, Columbia University, as well as her extensive work on the NYSAIS accreditation process makes her an excellent resource to consult in many areas, especially early childhood schools, mentoring school leaders, navigating schools with oversight organizations such as churches.


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Ann Sullivan

Ann Sullivan was an honored Head of School at The School of the Holy Child in Rye, New York where she served for fourteen years. While at The School of the Holy Child she expanded the arts and athletic programs, expanded and diversified the student population, and initiated the Global Service and Study Programs, now named the Ann F. Sullivan Global Studies Program, which include study and service in Ghana, Italy, China and Peru. Additionally, she presided over the expansion of the school’s campus and the establishment of a robust endowment. Ann has served as the Acting Head of School at the Lincoln School in Rhode Island where she provided support for the transition to the Head of School. Most recently she has served as the Associate Head of School at Rye Country Day.

Prior to the School of the Holy Child, Ann was the Director of Development, Director of Admissions, Director of College Counseling and English Department Chair at Friends Seminary.

Ann has served on a number of Boards of Trustee including Friends Seminary, Windward School Cornelia Connelly Middle School, Rye Free Reading Room and College of the Atlantic. While at the School of the Holy Child, Ann worked with the Generoso Pope Foundation. In addition, Ann was a founding member of the Online School for Girls’ Consortium.

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Kate Turley 

Kate has been an educator for four decades. In 2017, she completed eighteen years as Principal of City and Country School. Founded in 1914, City and Country is a recognized leader in progressive education for children from toddler through 8th Grade. Under Kate’s stewardship, City and Country transformed from a schoolhouse comprising three brownstones and some rental space, to a full campus encompassing seven brownstones and the adjacent courtyards. C&C’s student body expanded from 240 to 360 children and the school’s savings expanded to include an endowment, which included a fund specifically for supporting teachers’ professional development.

Prior to City and Country, Kate was the Middle School Head at the Spence School (K-12) where she started her career teaching French to Middle and Upper School students and serving as the Director of Student Activities. Under her leadership, the Middle School developed its own identity within the larger school. A focus on the developmental and learning needs of middle schoolers and girls, specifically, were hallmarks of her tenure.
Throughout her long career, Kate has been an active member of many professional organizations. She fulfilled numerous roles for NYSAIS (New York State Association of Independent Schools), serving as a Trustee and the Chair of NYSAIS’ Board of Commissioners on Accreditation. She has been a frequent member of Visiting Committees for accreditation and chaired accreditation visits from 2001 to 2019. Along with her NYSAIS work, Kate has served other New York City independent schools, including the School at Columbia University as a member of its Advisory Council. Kate is currently a Trustee of the Lycée Français de New York (N – 12) and the Brooklyn Heights Montessori School (N – 8). She is a member of the Committee on Trustees at both schools.
With decades of working with students and families nursery through high school, and experience with Boards and accreditation, Kate is well-situated to support schools in the areas of: early childhood, K-8, and single-sex education; managing the small school and fundraising; Board governance and Head of School/Board relations; and accreditation.

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