Elgin Academy Board of Trustees

The National Association of Independent Schools issues “best practices” guiding the role of trustees. They are as follows:

The Elgin Academy Board of Trustees is the guardian of the school’s mission. It is their responsibility to ensure that the mission is relevant and vital to the community it serves and to monitor the success of Elgin Academy in fulfilling that mission.
The Board is made up of several trustees. A trustee’s role is many-sided. All trustees have a fiduciary responsibility to Elgin Academy for sound financial management. Trustees participate in the development of a strategic plan and are actively involved in providing financial support through annual and capital giving campaigns. Each trustee has the responsibility to support the school and its head while demonstrating that support within the community.
While a trustee must actively support and promote Elgin Academy’s mission, vision, strategic goals, and policy positions, he/she must also share Elgin Academy’s commitment to equity and justice, representing the school appropriately and accurately within the community. The Board’s role is to set policy and to focus on long-range, strategic issues. Individual trustees do not become involved directly in specific management, personnel, or curricular issues. They take care to separate the interests of the school from the specific needs of a particular child or constituency.   
The Board as a whole will have active debates concerning a multitude of issues concerning the governance of the school, but all trustees must accept and support any final board decision and refrain from responding to any situation individually. As authority is vested in the Board as a whole, once a decision has been made, the Board speaks as one voice, keeping all board deliberations confidential.


2019-2020 Board of Trustees

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

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

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.

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

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

Laura Anderson

Trustee & Past Parent

Laura is a long-term resident of Elgin. She is a widow and the mother of two Elgin Academy graduates Nathan ’98 and Katy ’00 as well two stepchildren, Terry and Tommy. She has owned her landscaping business, Gardens by Design, for over 30 years and has been instrumental in making Elgin Academy's campus bloom with lovely flowers and greenery. Laura has served on the Elgin Academy Board of Trustees for 29 years and as a volunteer for 34+ years in several capacities throughout the school. She was the guiding force behind EA's Extravaganza for 25 years, dedicating 3 months each year to overseeing the auction for EA's largest fundraising event. Laura was the chair of the Development Committee for 10 years during the Capital Campaign for the Rider Center and currently serves on the Admission and Marketing, and Trustee Committees.

We've come a LONG WAY in the last 35 years. It has taken a LOT of dedicated and hard-working volunteers and an excellent administration and faculty to get Elgin Academy to be the best independent school that it is today. I have enjoyed volunteering all these years and being a part of the process.
- Laura Anderson

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

Steven Dadouche

Trustee & Current Parent

Steven and his wife Lindsay live in Hoffman Estates with their daughter Lily. Steven studied Computer Science and Japanese at the University of Wisconsin Madison and later, Digital Media and Film at Tribeca Flashpoint in Chicago. He is the founder of a Home Automation startup, and a Spatial Audio Technology startup for Virtual Reality. In between, Steven spent time on the NBC Universal Studios lot in Los Angeles, California working on international content licensing and monetization strategies for new and emerging digital platforms. Currently, Steven is involved in Artificial Intelligence Research and Development and works as an advisor and consultant in a variety of industries.

It is an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to serve this great, storied institution. It is important to me to help ensure future families are able to benefit as much as our family has from the incredible Elgin Academy educational experience.
- Steve Dadouche

Rhonda Dwyer

Trustee & Current Parent

Rhonda and her husband, Richard, are the parents of two children – one EA alum, Rachel '17 and one current student, Reagan '25. The Dwyer family lives in Elgin. Rhonda holds a B.S. in Business Administration and an MBA, both from the University of Alabama, and works for American Express in Sales Enablement. Rhonda has been an active volunteer for EAPA over the years and this year serves as a Middle School Vice-President. She is currently serving her third year as a Trustee on the EA Board and has been a member of both the Finance and Facilities Committee and the Audit Committee for the duration of her tenure on the Board.

We feel privileged to be part of the Elgin Academy Community for over eight years. Over that time, we have received great support from the school and have forged friendships with many EA families. I feel honored to be a member of the Board, able to support the school’s future direction, and “give back” to this school that has done so much for our children and for our family! It’s especially great to see new families experience this same sense of community.
- Rhonda Dwyer

Fred Masnato

Trustee & Past Parent

Fred and his wife Maria are parents to three Elgin Academy alumni David '07, Christina '11 and Laura '16. Fred holds a BS from Fairfield University in Connecticut. He is retired after having worked for 40 years in Financial Services at G.E. Capital. The Masnatos are residents of North Barrington. Fred has been on the Board of Trustees since 2003. He is a past Board Chair and a past Board Treasurer as well as a past member of the Admission and Marketing Committee. In addition to being a member of the Audit Committee, Fred is currently on the Finance and Facilities Committee which he has chaired in the past and has served on for the entirety of his tenure on the Board.

EA provided an invaluable experience for our three children. Serving on the EA Board has been rewarding and a way to give back for the personalized education provided to each of our children
- Fred Masnato

Harold Rider

Trustee & Past Parent, Treasurer

Harold is not only the husband of an Elgin Academy alum, Susan '61 but he is also the father of four more alums Harold ‘84, Hugh ‘86, Sam ‘89 and Steve ‘90. Harold holds a B.S. in Chemistry from Colorado College and is the Chairman Emeritus of Realty Mortgage, a company that he joined in 1967 and which is now under the direction of two of his sons. Harold is EA’s longest serving trustee, currently in his 30th year of trusteeship. Throughout his tenure, Harold has sat on numerous committees including Finance and Facilities, of which he has been a past Chair. He has also held the positions of Treasurer and Vice-Chair of the Board. The newest construction on our campus, the Rider Center was named in his family’s honor in recognition of their myriad contributions, and in January of 2019 he was the recipient of the Seymour Preston Award, a national philanthropic award given by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education to a school trustee who has exhibited exceptional commitment and leadership in developing voluntary support for his or her institution.

The time and effort invested in my 30-year commitment to Elgin Academy was not difficult. In fact, it is easy to say yes to a school that, for the last 180 years, has provided students with truly meaningful and transformative experiences. I am also so proud that my entire family has supported the Academy over the years and has also had a strong commitment to it.
- Harold Rider

Alan Scimeca

Trustee & Current Parent

Alan is the parent of two Elgin Academy "lifers" who are now attending Stanford University (Valerie '16) and the University of Colorado, Boulder (Renee '18). He is grateful that his family was able to find Elgin Academy as a path for his daughters to accelerate their academic careers. Alan is the Operating Partner in a 160-suite assisted living community, managing 100 team members and has also served as a construction manager in over two billion dollars in building projects, skyscrapers, food factories and housing. Alan is serving his 12th year as a Trustee. He currently sits as a member of the Finance & Facilities Committee, the Audit Committee, the Development Committee, and the Trustee Committee. He was also a past Chair of the Trustee Committee.

Of all the boards I have had the honor to serve on, Elgin Academy is the hardest working, most thoughtful board I have known. One might say the group is truly inspired as most have experienced the school's great benefits through the experience of their own families.
- Alan Scimeca

Michael Warren

Trustee & Current Parent

Mike and his wife, Laurel, have been married for 28 years and are the parents of EA graduate Derek '19 and current EA student Lindsey '21. Mike and Laurel are faithful volunteers in the EA Athletic Booster Club organization and huge EA sports fans. Mike is the product of U-46 Schools, Elgin Community College, and in his words, "the school of hard knocks." He is a past Elgin City Councilperson (2009-11), current Board Chair of Food for Greater Elgin, and past Chair of the Elgin Chamber of Commerce, Elgin Breakfast Rotary, and Well Child Center. Mike works for Rieke Office Interiors as well as managing the family business, Brittain's Car Wash. Mike has been a Trustee for 6 years. He is currently a member of the Admission and Marketing, Development, and Trustee Committees, and he has also served as a past Chair of the Trustee Committee.

I enjoy community service and being involved in our kids' education. I have a unique network that allows me to make many wonderful connections to a wide variety of resources, and I love to help people and organizations.
- Mike Warren

Jay Wittmeyer

Trustee, Alumni Parent, & Current Parent

Jay Wittmeyer is the executive director of the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center, which focuses on leadership development, peacebuilding and conflict transformation. Before joining LMPC, Wittmeyer served as the Head of Mission with the Church of the Brethren, headquartered in Elgin, IL, where he oversaw ministries related to volunteer service, hunger, international development, education, health and peace for the denomination. Wittmeyer has lived and traveled extensively throughout the developing world with a special focus on South Asia, Haiti and Nigeria. Wittmeyer holds a M.A. in Conflict Transformation, an M.A. in English as a Second Language, and a B.A. in English Education; he is a certified teacher in Illinois. Jay currently serves on the board of Heifer Project International and has served on the boards of Growing Hope Globally, Churches for Middle-East Peace and National Farm Workers Ministry. Jay and his wife Sarah live in Elgin. They are the parents of two Elgin Academy graduates, Alysson (‘15) and Elliott (‘17) as well as two current EA students Amity (‘23) and Annie (‘21).

Obsolescence, not Adolescence, is the key word in education--everything is changing very rapidly. As we help children become courageous, creative, and compassionate, we prepare them to be flexible problem-solvers in a tumultuous world.
- Jay Wittmeyer

2019-2020 Ex-Officio Board Members

An ex officio board member position is an obligation, privilege, or set of privileges that are given by virtue of the position of serving on a particular board or committee. They should not be counted when determining if a quorum is present and are a non-voting member of the board and its committees.

Jennifer Bellini

EAPA President

Jennifer Bellini is married to Scott Richardson and they are the proud parents of Isabella (’16) and Alexander (’21) Richardson. She is an independent school graduate of Culver Academies in Indiana and holds a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Justice and Peace Studies from the University of St. Thomas. In addition she has a J.D. from Wm. Mitchell College of Law. She was formerly a Director, Assistant Secretary, and Associate Counsel for a General Motors’ Financial subsidiary. Jennifer was also Counsel, Secretary, and Communications Director of the Homeownership Preservation Foundation. Jennifer founded the fair trade company Cultivated Community in 2019. She is co-chair of the Conservation Committee for the Chicago Zoological Society Women’s Board and a past Director of the Barrington nonprofit Music Blocks. Jennifer enjoys traveling, riding, reading, learning, and spending time with family and friends. She lives in Barrington Hills with Scott, Alex, two Golden Retrievers, two cats, nine hens, and a (nearby) horse. She is a long time volunteer at Elgin Academy and is happy to be of service as the EAPA President for the ’20-’21 school year.

Our son Alex graduates in 2021, ending 15 years of having a student at Elgin Academy. I’m happy to end this era in our family by being of service to the Academy as its Parent Association President. So many parents have become my family and my goal is to help foster a warm, fun, and welcoming community for all families while supporting the school and enhancing each student’s experience.
- Jen Bellini

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.