Strategic Planning Committee

The purpose of our Elgin Academy Strategic Planning Committee is to provide a disciplined effort to govern strategically with a focus on the future. The committee leads the board's ongoing work on strategy and provides a powerful and effective way to build consensus when defining priorities for the Board, the Head of School and the administrative team.  This work enables our board to effectively allocate our resources intentionally and strategically via our budgeting process for longer periods of time.  This committee's work ensures that we develop goals and action plans to meet our mission with the readiness to face the challenges of our future together as a school community.


Strategic Planning Committee Members

Phillip Cowen

Trustee & Current Parent

Phil and his wife, Elena, live in Batavia and have one child, Cassie '24. Phil holds a degree from Murray State University and is the Owner and CEO of Smith and Richardson Manufacturing Company. He volunteers at Junior Achievement, the Salvation Army, and the Northern Illinois Food Bank. During his time at the Academy, Phil has been a dedicated member of EAPA serving as its President in 2016-17. He is currently serving his third year as an EA Trustee, and in addition to being a member of the Admission and Marketing Committee and the Education Committee, he also chairs the ad hoc Strategic Plan Committee.

I feel it is important to serve on the Board because it affords me the opportunity to give back to the community. Stewardship requires a willingness to invest time, understand your role as an advocate for the entire community, and assist in helping the school fulfill its mission for all constituents.
- Phillip Cowen

Sandy Kirk

Trustee & Current Parent, Education Committee Chair

Sandy and her husband, Alan, are the parents of Aaron '21 who has attended Elgin Academy since Preschool. The Kirks are residents of Algonquin. Sandy holds an Associate of Arts degree from Elgin Community College and attended Judson University. She is the office manager, biller and trainer for their family-owned business, Home Medical, Nursing and Services Company and a volunteer for a number of organizations including in various capacities at Elgin Academy. Sandy has been a steadfast EAPA volunteer over the years, including a term as its president. She and Alan have also served as Extravaganza Event Chairs. She has been an EA Trustee for 12 years and currently serves as the chair of the Education Committee as well as a member of the Admission and Marketing and Trustee Committees. Sandy is also a past chair and member of the Development Committee.

I feel it is my obligation to help each child have the best possible experience toward becoming a life-long learner
- Sandy Kirk

Richard Milone

Trustee & Current Parent, Vice Chair, Admissions and Marketing Committee Chair

Richard and his wife Karen have three children Julian, Melina and Kendall ('22) and a puggle named Sofie. The Milones make their home in Bartlett. Richard holds a BS in Applied Physics from Stockton University and is Co-Founder and Managing Partner for the past 23 years of CNX, a software modernization company based in Chicago. Richard has been an EA Trustee for three years. He is the Vice-Chair of the Board and also currently serves as the chair of the Admission and Marketing Committee. Richard is also a member of both the Finance and Facilities Committee and the Audit Committee.

My family ranks education highly when determining where to invest our time and resources. Serving on the board of Elgin Academy gives me the opportunity to leverage my strengths in entrepreneurship, technology, innovation, and general problem solving to serve the school's unique mission and help to ensure its long-term success.
- Richard Milone

Bill Padula

Trustee & Current Parent, Treasurer, Finance and Facilities Committee Chair

Bill is the parent of Will '23, and Quinn '25. Bill is himself an independent school graduate of The Pembroke Hill School in Kansas City, Missouri. He went on to receive a B.A. in Computer Science from Trinity College. Bill is currently the Executive Vice-President of Strategic Consulting for Evora IT Solutions, Inc. Bill is currently the Treasurer of the Board as well as the current Chair of the Finance and Facilities Committee and a member of the Audit Committee. He has also served as a past Secretary of the Board of Trustees.

An education is one of the most valuable contributions a person can make to a child's life. Serving on the board of EA is important to me to help the Academy provide the best educational experiences possible to all of our students now and in the future.
- Bill Padula

Keith Rauschenberger

Trustee & Past Parent, Trustee Committee Chair

Keith has been married for 30+ years to Dr. Cindy Rauschenberger and they make their home here in Elgin. They have two children Kacy '11 and Karl '16 who were both Elgin Academy "lifers". Keith holds a B.S. from Purdue University and an M.B.A. from American Graduate School of International Management. He worked for 20+ years in corporate banking and is currently President of Rauschenberger Financial Advisors assisting clients with their retirement planning and other financial needs. Keith has served on the Board for 16 years. He is a past Board Chair, a past Board Treasurer, and a past Chair of the Finance and Facilities Committee. He currently sits on the Finance and Facilities and Audit Committees and is the current Chair of the Trustee Committee.

I believe in the mission of Elgin Academy, and I would like to provide the same opportunity my kids experienced at EA for the next generation of students.
- Keith Rauschenberger

Dani Smiley

Trustee & Current Parent, Development Committee Chair

Dani Smiley is mom to Emma '21 and Olivia '23 who both began their Elgin Academy education in preschool. Dani was fortunate enough to have time to volunteer in many different roles early in her daughters' time at EA. She has been a stalwart volunteer in the EAPA organization serving as its President for one term. She has also been an event chair for Extravaganza and volunteers tirelessly to help with the Development Office’s running of the auction. Dani and her family live in Elgin, and she currently works in the financial department of Gail Borden Library here in Elgin. Elgin Academy has become such an important part of her family’s life, and she cherishes the relationships formed with other families, faculty, and staff. Dani has served on the Board for seven years. She is currently the Chair of the Development Committee and a member, as well as past Chair of the Education Committee.

It is an honor to give back to EA for all that it has done for Emma and Olivia. They truly have been inspired to be creative, courageous and compassionate leaders.
- Dani Smiley

John Yavari

Trustee & Current Parent, Secretary, Audit Committee Chair

John and his wife Cindy are the parents of two EA alums (Taylor ‘11 And Jordan ‘14) and one current EA student (John ’21). The Yavaris are residents of Wayne. John is a member of the Board of Trade, and he and Cindy have been very involved volunteers in supporting Extravaganza each year. John has been on Elgin Academy’s Board of Trustees for 10 years. He currently serves as Secretary of the Board and Chair of the Audit Committee. He is also a member of the Finance and Facilities Committee. In the past, John served on the Development Committee and also served as its Chair.

Margie Ward

Trustee & Past Parent, Board Chair

Margie has been married to Andrew Ward for 28 years and is mom to three Elgin Academy alumni Caitlin '11, Colin '13 and Armin '16. The Wards reside in Hampshire. Margie holds a B.S. in Physical Therapy from Northwestern University and is currently the President of the Society of St. Vincent DePaul with St. Catherine of Siena Church in Dundee as well as the Vice President of the Society of St. Vincent DePaul’s Rockford Council. Margie has been a trustee for 13 years. She is the current Board Chair, having been newly elected to that position in May of this year. As Chair of the Board she is a member of all Board Committees, and her past committee assignments include member and past Chair of both the Development and Admission and Marketing Committees and past member of the Education Committee. In addition, she has served as a past Board Vice-Chair and past Board Secretary.

All three of our children have benefitted from the awesome educational experience that IS Elgin Academy. Each of our children brought their own unique gifts and challenges to the table. Elgin Academy faculty helped prepare them for their next steps in life where they are now all thriving and following their dreams. It is my honor to serve this community to thank them for all they have provided our family over the years.
- Margie Ward

Seth Hanford

Head of School

Seth Hanford has been Head of School at Elgin Academy since July of 2012. Mr. Hanford holds an M.A. in Educational Administration from Teacher’s College, Columbia University, with a specialization in private school leadership and a B.A. in history from the University of Pennsylvania. Before becoming Head, he served as EA’s Assistant Head of School and as Upper School Director and as an Upper School history teacher. His past experience in schools also includes teaching and advising in both Middle and Upper School divisions at two other independent schools – Greens Farms Academy in Connecticut and Mary Institute and Country Day School in St. Louis, where he also served as a Dean of Students.

True engagement comes only through authentic experimentation and risk taking. While the classroom experience is the core of any student's experience, administrators are responsible for ensuring that the conditions to learn come not only in classrooms, but also on playing fields and courts, theaters, art spaces, and in the community.
- Seth Hanford

Administrators ensure that the conditions are in place to best support theirschool's mission. At EA, that means safeguarding the crucial relationships that enhance our ability to take learning personally by understanding the partnership between each student, their family, and the school. It is from the security of these relationships that students can progress through the basics of any given subject into true engagement with increasingly difficult material. This true engagement comes only through authentic experimentation and risk taking. While the classroom experience is the core of any student's experience, administrators are responsible for ensuring that the conditions to learn come not only in classrooms, but also on playing fields and courts, theaters, art spaces, and in the community. The results lead to students who are poised to enter the world around them, understand the complex issues that exist, develop solutions for vexing problems, and communicate effectively to lead others as they implement solutions. There is no greater feeling than to hear from our alums when they return to us about all of the many ways they are making real differences in the world.