Governance

SDFAS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation and an independent school governed by a Board of Trustees. The Board is comprised completely of volunteers who devote their time to oversight and support of the School and bring a variety of professional backgrounds and skills to the Board. The Board has officers, including a Chair of the Board, Vice-Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer, and operates according to Bylaws. Significant parts of the Board work are done through its Committees.

The Board’s main responsibilities include:

–       To set the strategic direction of the School;

–       To select, oversee, and evaluate the Head of School;

–       To oversee the School’s financial health.

The Board does not manage the day-to-day operations of the School. The day-to-day operations of the School are managed by the Head of School, in conjunction with the administrative team.  This includes all student, employee, academic, financial, facilities, and other operational matters. All operational matters should be addressed to the Head of School.

Fernanda Coelho Fernanda Coelho
Chair of the Board; Chair of the Head Support and Evaluation Committee

Fernanda Coelho joined the SDFAS Board of Trustees in 2018. She is originally from Brazil and moved to the United States in 2003. Her children have attended the SDFAS since PK-0. Fernanda is a business executive with over 20 years of experience in strategy consulting, venture investing and operations. She is currently the President of Coelho Consulting LLC, a life-sciences advisory and consulting firm. Fernanda received her BS in Chemical Engineering from Escola de Engenharia Maua in Brazil and her MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business in California.


Etienne Chaponniere Etienne Chaponniere
Vice-Chair; Chair of the Committee on Trustees/Governance

Etienne Chaponniere joined the SDFAS Board of Trustees in 2017 and his two children have been attending SDFAS since PK-0 in 2013. He attended several French schools in foreign countries (including Singapore, Thailand and Austria) and graduated with an MS in Telecommunication from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne. Etienne has 20 years of engineering experience in the areas of telecommunication ASIC design, R&D and Standards. He is currently employed as a Vice President at Qualcomm Incorporated and holds hundreds of US and worldwide patents.


Aaron Brennan Aaron Brennan
Treasurer; Chair of the Finance Committee

Aaron Brennan joined the SDFAS Board of Trustees in 2021. He is a California native and has been in San Diego since 1990. His children have attended SDFAS since preschool starting in 2010. Aaron is a recently retired San Diego City Firefighter and a currently serving officer in the US Navy Reserve. He has a BS in Finance from San Diego State University and an MA in Public Leadership from the University of San Francisco.


 Kurt Oreshack Kurt Oreshack
Secretary of the Board

Kurt Oreshack joined the SDFAS Board of Trustees in January 2020. He and his wife, Bridy, have three children, each of whom has been bilingually educated from the age of two. He enjoys sailing and visiting national parks (13 down, 49 more to go!). Kurt is a corporate lawyer and is currently the General Counsel of Maravai LifeSciences (NASDAQ: MRVI). He has advised a number of Boards of Directors throughout his career and is an expert in corporate governance matters. Kurt received a B.A. in Philosophy from Loyola University Chicago and a J.D. from the University of Notre Dame Law School.


Erica Murphy Erica Murphy
Chair of the Development Committee

Erica Shelby Murphy joined the Board of Trustees in 2018. While originally from St. Louis, Erica
and her family have made Southern California home since 2004. Erica has two children that have attended SDFAS beginning in Kindergarten and PK-0, respectively. Erica’s career as an attorney began at Stradling, where her practice focused on securities and complex business litigation. In recent years she has worked as a contract attorney and consultant. She earned her B.S. in Accounting from Arizona State University and her J.D. from Saint Louis University.


Stacia Balog Stacia Balog
Chair of the Financial Aid Committee

Stacia Balog joined the SDFAS Board in 2020. She has three children, one at SDFAS and two at The Bishop’s School. Originally from Los Angeles, Stacia and her family spent five years living in Paris, France. While overseas, her children attended a French International School, as well as the American School of Paris.
Stacia’s career has been in the investment field. She started in the Securities Research Department at Montgomery Securities, later worked in Institutional Sales at Thomas Weisel Partners before working in research at Nob Hill Capital. Stacia and her partner continue the family office investment company they’ve managed since 2012.
In 2017, Stacia and her family completed construction on a not-for-profit school in Zambia. Stacia has ongoing philanthropic activities with a focus on children’s education, military families, and providing resources for families in need. Stacia has a B.A. in psychology from the University of California, at Santa Barbara.


Mony Liquard Mony Liquard
Chair of the Audit Committee

Mony Liquard joined the SDFAS Board of Trustees in 2021. She was born in Cambodia, immigrated to America at the age ten, and is fluent in Cambodian, Chinese, French and English. Mony is a financial services executive with 20+ years of experience in New York. Her husband is French and their three children have all attended the French American School of New York prior to relocating to San Diego. Her family has been exposed to diverse private and public schools in New York, Melbourne, Australia, and San Diego. Mony received her Bachelor of Arts from Willamette University and her Master of International Affairs from Columbia University in New York.


Emiline Cairncross Emiline Cairncross
Chair of Campus Task Force/Real Estate Committee

Emiline Cairncross joined the SDFAS Board of Trustees in 2019. Her son starts PK0 in 2021. She is half French, half Italian, and she grew up in the countryside outside of Lyon, France. She speaks English and French fluently. Emiline is an attorney, but is not currently practicing. She started her career at Jones Day as an executive compensation and employee benefits associate where she focused on corporate transactions for public and private companies. Emiline received her B.A. in psychology and French from UCLA and her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.


Alexis Nahama Alexis Nahama
Chair of the Strategic Marketing and Community Committee

Alexis Nahama joined the SDFAS Board of Trustees in January 2020. He is a proud global citizen – French by filiation (parents), born in Trinidad & Tobago, and childhood hopping around South America (Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico). He is married to Andrea (Brazilian from Rio) and has two children (Lucas and Camille) in 1st grade (twins). Portuguese, English, and French are the languages spoken at home. Tash, a Havanese dog, adds a flair of Cuban character to the family mix! Alexis is a veterinarian by training, with a vast experience in clinical drug development, business development, commercialization, and international operations. He currently holds a senior executive role in charge of the neuro-therapeutic (pain) business unit at Sorrento (Nasdaq: SRNE), a local San Diego biotechnology company. In addition to his corporate responsibilities, Alexis has served on multiple non-profit boards, scientific councils, and industry trade organizations.


Ann Amukele Ann Amukele
New Trustee

Ann Amukele joined the SDFAS Board of Trustees in 2022. She was born in the state of Kerala, India. Her family immigrated to the US, more specifically New York, when she was 10 years old. She is a general surgeon and a breast surgical oncologist. She has had kids at SDFAS since 2012. Her children are currently in 7th, 5th, and 2nd grade as well as PK1. She has a BS from City College of New York and a MD from SUNY Syracuse.


Zac Cole Zac Cole
New Trustee

Zac joined the SDFAS Board of Trustees in 2022. He has two children who started at SDFAS in PK-1 in 2017. Zac lived in San Diego most of his childhood, returning finally in 2017 primarily to join SDFAS. Zac began his career as an aerospace engineer in 1997 designing, building, and flight testing jet engines around the country and overseas, until co-founding an engineering and manufacturing consulting business in 2015.


Emily Himmes Emily Himmes
New Trustee

Emily joined the SDFAS Board of Trustees in 2022. She and her family moved to San Diego in 2020 and chose SDFAS because of the international community, global education and language immersion. She has two children at SDFAS currently in 5th and 7th grade. Through Emily's career she has worked in different capacities to support women and children's health. As a nurse practitioner she worked in community clinics, hospitals and schools, mostly serving Spanish-speaking communities. In recent years, her work has shifted to global public health and she currently works as a research consultant at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) on women's health projects based in Sub-Saharan Africa. Emily holds degrees from Yale University, UCSF and the Colorado School of Public Health.