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VVS Board of Trustees

The Verde Valley School Board of Trustees is the governing body of the school.  The diverse group comes from a broad cross-section of the country and is comprised of former students, parents, faculty, local Sedona residents and people from across the country who have skills and values aligned to the school’s vision.

At Verde Valley School we welcome individuals willing to serve on the Board of Trustees, in particulars those who possess a specific skill set, such as financial, business, legal, or fundraising skills.


The Board of Trustees is composed of not less than nine nor more than eighteen members. Board members serve a term of three years, beginning July 1. Board members are limited to three consecutive terms of three years (except the immediate past president, who serves no less than one year past the end of her or his term). Board members must attend eight telephonic board meetings per year and two on campus meetings. On campus meetings are held in January and June. The Board of Trustees works closely with the Head of School, and the relationship should be one of trust and transparent communications. It is not the role of the Board to be involved in the day to day operations of the school, such as specific management, personnel, or curricular issues.

Current Board Members

The Role of the Verde Valley School Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees is the governing body of the School. Its role is to perform the following duties:
  • Policy development and approval
  • Hiring and regularly evaluating the head of school
  • Approving an annual budget
  • Developing and implementing a strategic plan
  • Overseeing financial accountability
  • Ensuring that in broad terms the school is fulfilling its mission
  • Fundraising and promoting the image of the school
  • Ensuring the school is following good governance models
  • Responsibility for filling board positions and ensuring those individuals are committed to the mission of the school
  • Ensure all actions are transparent, observe appropriate confidentiality, and are in furtherance of the best interests of the school
The obligations of a VVS Board of Trustees Member include:
  • Regularly attend board and committee meetings.
  • Actively serve on at least one, preferably two, board committees.
  • Donate time and expertise to the school.
  • Financially support the school in an amount that trustee can afford and help with fundraising. 100 percent board financial support is required.
  • Understand the duties of a board member:
    • Policy development and approval
    • Hiring the head of school
    • Approving an annual budget
    • Developing a strategic plan
    • Overseeing financial accountability
    • Ensuring that in broad terms the school is fulfilling its mission
    • Fundraising and promoting the image of the school


Verde Valley School Board of Trustees serve on six standing committees: Finance, Executive, Governance, Education Program & Services Committee, Advancement Committee and Head of School Annual Evaluation and Compensation Committee.

The Finance Committee is chaired by Tom Standring and is commissioned by and responsible to the Board of Trustees. It has the responsibility for working with the Head of School and Chief Financial Officer (CFO)/ Business Management Provider to create the upcoming fiscal year budget; presenting budget recommendations to the Board; monitoring implementation of the approved budget on a regular basis and recommending proposed budget revisions; recommending to the Board appropriate policies for the management of the School’s assets. The finance committee shall be assisted by the Head of School and CFO/Business Management Provider.

The Executive Committee is chaired by Richard Greenberg. Members are limited to President, Vice President(s), Secretary and Treasurer of the Board. The Executive Committee is responsible for general oversight of the Board; offers guidance and support to the various Committees and the Head of School on an ad hoc basis. 

The Governance Committee is chaired by Frances Smith-Hawley and is commissioned by and responsible to the Board of Trustees to assume the primary responsibility for matters pertaining to the Board of Trustees, orientation, training, and evaluation in accordance with the bylaws of the school as well as established policies and practices approved by the Board of Trustees.  The Governance Committee also vets nominees to the Board of Trustees and makes recommendations to the Board as a whole.

The Education Program & Services Committee is chaired by Johanna McPherson and is commissioned by and responsible to the Board of Trustees to assume the primary responsibility for working with the Head of School to define academic excellence, ensure that all Board Members know the educational promises that were made to the Community, understand the applicable accreditation processes, and to devise clear and consistent measures to monitor these goals.

The Advancement Committee is chaired by Akshay Agrawal and assumes the primary responsibility for Board of Trustees recruitment and nominations, alumni relations and raising non-grant funds to support the School’s Mission. The Board president, Vice-president(s), and Secretary, as well as several board members of the VVSF serve on this committee. Non-Board members can serve as advisory members.

The Head of School Annual Evaluation and Compensation Committee shall be comprised of President, Vice President(s), Secretary, Treasurer of the Board and a Board Member who is a professional educator. 

VVS Board of Trustees

Akshay Agrawal, '06

Board of Trustees & VVS Foundation Board

Akshay Agrawal has spent as much time in the IT field as he has tinkering with cars in the past 9 years. His latest venture is renting out cars on a car sharing platform. Akshay enjoys traveling, something that is probably a result of having lived in 3 different countries and 9 different cities. Him and his wife Mary take a lot of road trips along the east coast. In his day job, Akshay is a customer success manager for Flexera Software. His passions include cars and people, thus aptly named his latest venture, Cars & People. His goal with joining VVS is to increase young alumni engagement as the school moves into a phase of growth. Akshay graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering.

Chris Means, '75

Board of Trustees

I hope to contribute to VVS as a board member or consultant as a means of giving back for all that it has done for me and my goal is to help with the building improvements for the school and enhance the VVS experience for students and faculty.  I found my passion for building early in life. I have been working in construction since 1977. I have been a general contractor for the last 39 years in both residential and commercial projects in my home town of Santa Rosa, CA. I have had the pleasure my having both of my sons work with me on their journeys to their own careers.  I enjoy active outdoor activities, mushroom foraging, home winemaking, cooking, and collecting Native American art.

Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim

Board of Trustees

Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim is a contributing classical music critic for the New York Times and the founder and artistic director of Beginner’s Ear, where she curates listening experiences combining meditation and music.
Corinna has won honors for her fresh writing and for her ability to demystify classical music with empathy and humor.  She is the recipient of the 2015 Cremona Mondomusica Prize in Communication and was the critic in residence at the American Academy of Rome in 2018. Before joining the team of Times critics she contributed articles to the Wall Street Journal, the Jerusalem Post, Tablet, the Classical Review, Symphony Magazine, and other publications.  
Since creating Beginner’s Ear in 2019, Corinna has led live music meditations for a diverse range of listeners in places including a yoga studio, a high school, a federal detention center, a sunken garden and a dance studio. Corinna uses meditation and sound to help people become better at listening – not just to music, but to themselves and each other.
Born to German parents in Brussels, Corinna obtained a B.A. in music and psychology from Royal Holloway College (University of London), an M.A. in Renaissance Theory and Culture from Sussex University and a doctorate from Cambridge University. She wrote her Ph.D thesis on the 17th-century Jewish Venetian poet Sara Copio Sullam. In February 2020 she completed the Mindfulness Teacher Training Program through MNDFL in New York City.
Corinna lives in Westchester with her husband, three children, and a goldendoodle named Lucky.

Frances B. Hawley

Secretary, Board of Trustees 

Frances Hawley lives in Sedona with her husband, Randy Hawley, and their two four-legged dog children, Muffy and Kitty. She has been on the VVS Board for 2 years and is on the Governance and Finance committees and  chairs the Education and Services Committee.

Frances graduated from Texas Western College/University of Texas at El Paso with a B.A. in 1967 and North Texas State University, Denton, Texas, with a Master’s of Education Degree in 1975 and a Ph.D. in Administrative Leadership in 1981. After graduating with her B.A., Frances began her career in education while teaching in San Antonio, TX and continued in Oklahoma City, OK and Richardson, TX, where she became a district consultant and elementary principal.

During her tenures in Texas, she was active in the local and state principal’s associations, holding offices in both and chair of the local YMCA. She wrote and presented two of the modules in The National Elementary Principal’s Association’s Principal’s Academy and was active in national staff development, and curriculum and supervision organizations. Frances created and administered one of three year-round elementary schools in her district of 35 elementary schools.

Moving back to the Mid-west, Frances became a director of instruction and superintendent in two K-8 districts before retiring in 2006. During her career she presented staff development internationally and nationally in effective instructional practices, evaluation strategies, discipline and classroom management.

She and Randy moved to their Sedona home in 2013 where Frances serves as president of her homeowner’s association, editor of the newsletter, and is a committee chair.

Gregg Ramer, '85

Board of Trustees 

Gregg Ramer was born in Los Angeles, CA, but was re-born in Sedona at VVS.  Following his graduation from VVS in 1985, Gregg returned to Los Angeles, establishing a diversified career in the entertainment industry, ranging from personal management to motion picture production and development, culminating in his career as an entertainment transactional lawyer practicing over two decades with some of the premiere law firms in the industry.

Gregg proudly counts among his best friends fellow VVS alums, and when approached to join the VVS Board of Trustees, could not say “yes” fast enough, feeling that giving back to the place and community that gave him so much was really the least he could do.  

Aside from his legal career and service to VVS, Gregg spends his time with his life-long, reunited love Caschia Jones (VVS, class of 1986), raising 2 dogs, 7 tropical fish, 26 koi, and a 140 lb. giant sulcata land tortoise, while working on his cooking skills (which are strong) and his golf game (which is weak).  

Jeneda Benally '92

Board of Trustees

Jeneda Benally plays bass and sings with her brother Clayson Benally in the multi-award-winning duo Sihasin. In 2012, they formed Sihasin, the Navajo word for “hope”, releasing their Ed Stasium-produced debut album, Never Surrender, in 2012 to critical acclaim and numerous awards on the American Indian Music scene, and received the honor of being called the "#1 Freedom Fighting Band to Get You Through the Trump Years” byThe Huffington Post in December 2016. Sihasin’s latest album “FIGHT LIKE A WOMAN” has also won numerous awards internationally and nationally. They also collaborated on the song “Sister Moon and Brother Sun” for the 2017 Grammy-nominated album by roots children’s duo The Okee Dokee Brothers. Their punk rock version of the Christmas classic, “Winter Wonderland” was featured in an ad campaign with Tony Bennet for Hyundai. Jeneda has had a long musical career that first began with her brothers in the Native American iconic punk band “Blackfire” formed in 1990.

Jeneda Benally also performs in the internationally acclaimed family's dance troupe, The Jones Benally Family. Benally has toured throughout the world to share her Dine’ (Navajo) culture as a means to build respect and understanding for Indigenous Nations. Not only does Jeneda advocate for indigenous teachings, she is a traditional practitioner of Navajo medicine and works alongside her father, Jones Benally, a Navajo medicine man.  Benally is also well-known for her work as an advocate for human rights, sacred sites, youth empowerment, and environmental and animal rights. Jeneda was part of the Delos Convention for the United Nations in Greece and was a plaintiff in the federal court case against reclaimed wastewater in order to protect the Sacred San Francisco Peaks.  Benally has been featured on NPR, as an actress in Nanobah Becker's film The Sixth World, and has appeared in numerous TV specials and in national and international media formats.
"Verde Valley School deepened my values and core commitment to ideals that I didn’t realize extended beyond the embrace of my family. These values of being connected to our global community, appreciation for nature, the creative force of art, the beauty of diversity and the thrill of education connected me to a bigger family, my Verde Valley School family. I carry these values with me everyday. I am still supported by that embrace of a growing global family as I consistently work as a positive change maker to build bridges of respect and unity."
Jeneda Benally: musician/advocate/cultural consultant/mom/1992 VVS alumni

Joanna McPherson

Board of Trustees

I am Joanna Horton McPherson, educator, and writer-actor-artist originally from Maine.  I came to Sedona in 2014 to serve as the dean at Verde Valley School, and fell in love with the vision & future of the school. My background is in theatre and education for social justice, teaching youth and adults all over the country, including with resettled refugee youth to tell their stories in original plays for public performance. One recent program brought me to Rwanda to develop a play exploring girls leadership and gender equality. Learning as my purpose; seeking and facilitating diverse ways to discover and uplift the world around us, starting from within. I have founded a few non-profits and a private acting studio over the years. Most recently, I founded a preschool in Sedona. My educational background is from Vassar College where I received my Bachelor’s degree and Harvard University for my Master’s in Education. 

Melissa Shanahan, '83

Board of Trustees

With over twenty years experience working with adolescents and their families, Melissa and her company Educational Pathways, have over twenty years experience working with adolescents and their families.  Her work focusses on offering a personal approach to navigating the best possible educational pathway for a child, whether in a more traditional school setting, therapeutic environment or wilderness program. As a counselor in drug and alcohol programs, residential treatment facilities, public high schools and outdoor education programs, Melissa clearly understands the turmoil students face today and the need for parents to stay committed to keeping their children on track. Melissa works face-to-face with families all over the United States, regularly tours schools and programs, and attends conferences in order to stay current with the various issues and special needs that affect students today. Melissa earned a M.A. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver and lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband and two children.

Pat Goudvis, '71

Board of Trustees

Pat was born and raised in a small town in Ohio. After Verde Valley she studied photography and film at the California College of Arts and Crafts and some years later completed an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. She is fluent in Spanish.
She credits her Verde Valley experience with sparking her interest in crossing borders and exploring other cultures. She became a photojournalist and then an independent documentary filmmaker, focusing primarily on the struggle for human rights and social justice in Central America. She is done with filmmaking but still active in organizations working on human rights and mental health and the conservation of tropical ecosystems in Central America. She is a volunteer interpreter for lawyers representing asylum seekers and unaccompanied minors.
She lives in Cambridge, MA in a cohousing community where she much prefers doing physical labor as opposed to attending meetings, another characteristic she attributes to her VVS days. She has two grown children.

Richard Greenberg, '71

President, Board of Trustees & Foundation Trustee

Executive Committee Head

Richard Greenberg is a father of four and the author of “Raising Children That Other People Like to be Around”. A native of Los Angeles, California, Richard attended Verde Valley School from 1967 to 1971. While at VVS, Richard learned the value of community, hard work, and intercultural understanding. Following Verde Valley, Greenberg graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in English and immediately went to work as the personal assistant to Art Garfunkel. Choosing to stay in Los Angeles and marry his childhood sweetheart, Richard became active in the television industry while he and his wife, JoAnn, began building their family. Three sons and one gorgeous, intelligent, and flawless daughter later, the Greenbergs were regularly asked how they got “such good kids.” In response, Richard wrote “Raising Children That Other People like to be Around.” His objective was to offer logical, common sense guidelines for people creating their own families and to help young parents, especially mothers, understand a father’s point of view.

Robyn Coley

Board of Trustees

Robyn Coley is proud to hail from Metro Detroit. It was in Detroit, Michigan that she developed a passion for community and service at a young age. In addition to being a youth motivational speaker-talking about subjects like the beauty of diversity- she also became the youngest voting member for the Board of a large Community Foundation and was Chairwoman of their Youth Advisory Committee (YAC), managing more than $500,000 in grants - all by the age of 15. After graduating from the University of Michigan,  she turned her love of community into a career - working for the Detroit Empowerment Zone and then the New Far East Side Development Company. Robyn also continued with a variety of speaking engagements including with the American Heart Association’s Speakers Bureau and served on the Board of Directors of Detroit Synergy. 
After the recession hit and paused major real estate development, Robyn and her family made the move to Scottsdale, Arizona and she reinvented her professional life in the healthcare industry. Robyn has spent almost a decade working at Magellan Rx, currently as a Director, focused on innovations in account & client management. 
Engrained in Robyn’s life experience is the reality of navigating life as a Black woman in the US. She speaks openly about her family’s journey from slavery to success in a world that continues to challenge their right to earn the same levels of success that white counterparts are welcomed to. She is proud that her daughters, Reagan & Riley, have the confidence to be bold enough to believe that there are no glass ceilings that they cannot shatter. Robyn firmly believes that Reagan’s experience as a student at VVS adds to the diverse tapestry of global citizenship. In her capacity on the VVS Board of Trustees, Robyn is on a mission to see that more Black and Brown students have access to the rich experiences that a VVS education can provide.

Shawn Krause

Board of Trustees & VVS Foundation Board 

Shawn Krause grew up in St. Louis MO. He graduated from the University of Missouri, Columbia, where he earned a degree in Art and a Minor in Art History and Archaeology. He went on to study Character Animation at California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts), and after a year continued on to his career at Pixar.

Shawn joined Pixar Animation Studios during Toy Story. He worked as an animator on a number of Pixar’s feature films including A Bug’s Life,  Toy Story 2Monster, Inc., CarsFinding Nemo, and The Incredibles.

Krause served as directing animator on the Academy Award®-winning feature, Up and as a supervising animator on Disney•Pixar’s Academy Award®-winning feature Inside Out.  He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Shawn is married to Hamilton and Babs Warren’s granddaughter, Fiona. They currently live in the San Francisco Bay area with their two young children.

Tom Standring, '78

Treasurer, Board of Trustees

After graduating from VVS, and starting and stopping on multiple paths, Tom graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in Business Administration and immediately started studying for and passing the CPA exam in Tucson.
Tom worked at public accounting firm Clifton Gunderson (now Clifton Larson Allen) in Tucson, then started another path and moved to San Diego to work for an Audit client. After working there and a couple smaller firms, Tom moved away from traditional public accounting once again and joined a business that audits Real Estate Brokers throughout North America.
Became owner of that business in late 2007 and continues actively participating in all aspects of the business today.
Tom is currently licensed as a CPA in both Arizona and California.
After 20+ years in San Diego, Tom recently moved back to Tucson, which has “always felt like home”.
When not traveling for work, Tom enjoys:
  • traveling for fun with his lovely wife Bridget
  • being an avid fan of University of Arizona Sports
  • collecting antique bottles-  from the turn of the 20th Century. Before machines !
Verde Valley School is an International Baccalaureate boarding and day high school for students in grades 9-12.