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.


2021-2022 Board of Trustees

Margie Ward

Trustee & Alumni 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 & Alumni 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 & Alumni 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 & Alumni 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, Alumni Parent, & 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 & Alumni 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

Rhonda Dwyer

Trustee, Alumni Parent & 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

Colette Givens Lanton

Trustee, Current Parent

David Huang

Trustee & Current Parent

David and Diana has a daughter Lily’27 who is a student at Elgin Academy since kindergarten. The Huangs reside in Elgin, Illinois. David himself went to Valporaiso University and got B.A from their business school. David is the president and CEO of World Richman Manufacturing Corporation, which he established over 30 years ago.

I realized education was very important since I was a kid. When my daughter came to the age, I wanted to find a good school for her. EA has been great since the beginning. I want to help to keep this wonderful school grow and flourish. I believe in EA and everything it represents.
- David Huang

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

Praveen Medikundam

Trustee, Current Parent

Praveen C. Medikundam, Esq. and his wife Haripriya Medikundam, Esq. have two children who are attending Elgin Academy. Praveen is a founding partner of the law firm International Legal and Business Services Group, LLP. He is an alumnus of Temple Law School in Philadelphia earning his Master of Laws. Praveen is licensed to practice law in New York and in U.S. Federal Law. With extensive knowledge in U.S Immigration laws, corporate transactions and international litigation, Praveen represents clients all around the world in U.S Immigration laws, complex corporate restructuring, mergers, and acquisitions. With experience in Federal and New York Corporate Law, a license to practice in the United States, and corporate law admissions in the United Kingdom and India, Praveen assists clients in all forms of immigration and corporate strategies.

We believe that good education is the best gift we can give to our children. I feel honored to be the member of the board and work towards the school's mission.
- Praveen Medikundam

Alan Scimeca

Trustee & Alumni 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 & Alumni 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

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.

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.

Rachel Zonts

EAPA President

Rachel and her husband, Rick, are parents to EA Alum Reece ‘21 (currently attending Earlham College) and Ryan ‘24. They reside in Geneva. Rachel and Rick are avid supporters of Boys and Girls Club Elgin, with Rick serving on the Board of Governors and Reece having served as a Clubhouse Leader. Rachel and Rick are enthusiastic EA athletics fans and have enjoyed experiencing many athletic success - including the EA Baseball team and their multiple IHSA Regional Championships.

I enjoy volunteering for the Elgin Academy Parent Association it has been a great way to meet parents across all divisions.
- Rachel Zonts