Meet the Admin Team
Mark Rosenblum, EdM Mark Rosenblum, EdM
Head of School

Raised on the East coast in a family of doctors, Mark’s early love of French in middle school later developed into an ardent commitment to master the language. His first immersion adventure began at age 19 in the South of France. While studying there, he fell in love with the Provençal way of life.

After college, Mark explored a career in international law before embracing teaching. To formalize his pedagogical skill and solidify his French language expertise, Mark took on a Master’s Degree program in Paris and then stayed to teach middle and high school History-Geography and English in the American Section of the Lycée International de St. Germain-en-Laye.

Upon returning to the United States, Mark settled in New York City where he taught French at a well known independent school in Brooklyn Heights. At the age of 30, Mark embarked on a journey to learn Spanish through immersive travel-study in language schools with host family stays all around Spain, Mexico, Central and South America. Mark also served for years as a Master Teacher leading month-long immersion homestay summer trips for teens with Rassias Programs Abroad headquartered on the Dartmouth College campus.

After completing a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership at Columbia University Teachers College, Mark moved to San Diego with his family to take on the position of World Language Department Chair JK-12 at La Jolla Country Day School. During his time there, Mark also helped found and direct Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy‘s first summer language immersion program in immersion in French for Middle and High School students within a “language pledge” environment. These varied roles prepared Mark, before coming to SDFAS, to successfully lead the High School division at the French-American School of New York. In that role, Mark gained valuable leadership experience and expertise with both the French system curriculum and the International Baccalaureate program.

Mark was recruited as the third SDFAS Head of School in August 2017. His younger son Julian is an alumnus of our 8th grade and now attends Mission Bay High School in the IB program. Mark's older son David lives in Brooklyn, New York and works for Condé Naste in the Freedom Tower. Mark is passionate about the SDFAS mission and the value of an exceptional bilingual education. Indeed, open-mindedness and intellectual curiosity, an abiding appreciation of people from around the global, adaptability and resilience are in his mind essential in preparing children to lead enriched lives of meaning and impact.


Stéphanie Humbert Stéphanie Humbert
Front Office Manager and J-1 Visa Coordinator

Originally from France, Stéphanie moved to San Diego in 2002, after living in Seattle and Montreal, and joined SDFAS in 2004. She graduated from Université Lumière Lyon 2 and Université de Montréal, with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Archeology. Prior to working at SDFAS, Stéphanie worked at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla. Stéphanie loves to travel and discover cuisine from around the world.


Leïla Welton Punelli Leïla Welton Punelli
Director of Enrollment & Financial Aid

Leïla was born in Paris to a French/Spanish mother and American father. Dual nationality (American and French) and a perfect trilingual English-French-Spanish, she grew up in a multicultural family where she discovered her passion for music and education. Leïla attended Ermitage International School of France outside of Paris where she earned her advanced bilingual international baccalaureate diploma before attending university in the United States. An accomplished violinist, Leïla has participated in many concerts all over the world in prestigious venues such as Lincoln Center, UNESCO Paris and the Grand Palais. She also brought music to a slum in Mumbai, India during several humanitarian trips. Leïla was responsible for the creation of the association Music for Life which was founded in 2011 with an initiative on the web in commemoration of 9/11 in New York encouraging many concerts to be organized on all continents. Her career has been focused in higher education where she helped establish what is today the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business during the creation and merger of the college. She then moved back to France to join HEC Paris and work on the strategy and positioning of L'École de Coaching. Today the École de Coaching, considered the jewel of HEC Paris Executive Education, has played its part to achieve the rank of triple #1 worldwide in the Financial Times 2022. Crossing continents again to join SDFAS, Leïla wishes to help all current and future parents give their children the best education whilst also wearing the hat of a mother with her young daughter.


Véronique Rahmati Véronique Rahmati
Director of Development

Véronique Rahmati has worked at SDFAS since 2006. Involved in the move to the La Jolla campus, she played an integral role in making possible many mission-enhancing capital and program improvements. Véronique holds a Master’s Degree (DEA) in International Relations from La Sorbonne, Paris. After having worked four years in an international organization (UNESCO), she joined the Cabinet of the City Hall of Rueil-Malmaison in France where she was in charge of international and external relations for the City. She moved from Paris to San Diego in 1997 and served as a software linguist developing the French-German program in a machine translation company before joining SDFAS. Véronique has a son, Adrien, who attended SDFAS from PK0 to 8th grade.


Sarah Blek Sarah Blek
Director of Marketing & Communications

Sarah grew up in France where she attended a Classe Préparatoire aux Grandes Écoles in the city of Marseille, before graduating from Science Po with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications & Journalism four years later. Passionate about languages, she took advantage of her Junior Year to attend a study abroad program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. This first experience led her to follow a Master’s program in Arts Management at Lindenwood University, in Missouri. Shortly after graduating, she started a successful 12-year career in Public Relations, Marketing, and Communications in corporations, agencies and finally education, in France and the US. After managing press relations at CMA CGM, the world’s 3rd largest container shipping company, she permanently relocated to the United States in 2011 where she specialized in Marketing, working for a well-established agency called Ansira. There, she managed top clients such as Ford, Lincoln, Mazda and Fiat, acting as an account executive, then account director for their brand compliance programs in the US and Canada. In 2014, she used her expertise to co-found Premier Armor, a company specializing in automotive aftermarket services. However, it’s her experience in education since 2018 that has proven to be the most fulfilling. As a Marketing and Admissions Director at the International School of OC, she significantly increased enrollment by redesigning the admission process and implementing a strong marketing and local outreach strategy while also re-opening the Summer Camp and acting as an events planner. Sarah brings her experience, dedication and passion for bilingual education to SDFAS where her boys continue their education.


Mike Wegner Mike Wegner
Director of Campus Operations

Mike grew up in Southern California and attended UC San Diego for university. It was there that he fell in love with both San Diego and the woman who would later become his wife. He studied Spanish and Italian in school and spent time abroad studying in Sienna, Italy and traveling extensively throughout Europe. These experiences sparked a desire to learn new languages and build relationships with people from different cultures. After earning a bachelor's degree in History and a master’s in education, Mike worked in outdoor recreation for a few years before accepting a teaching position in Bucaramanga, Colombia. After a year of teaching abroad he returned to California and began working for John Muir Charter Schools. Across his fourteen-year tenure with this school, Mike worked his way up from a part-time teacher to be the Chief Operations Officer and Interim-CEO, developing an extensive understanding of school operations along the way. Mike is an avid cyclist and outdoor enthusiast and enjoys adventuring with his wife and three daughters. He and his family have returned to San Diego after 10 months on the road traveling the United States and “road schooling” the kids. With a lot of enthusiasm, Mike joined the SDFAS team to be part of a multi-lingual, multi-cultural community.


Alice Kong Alice Kong
Director of Technology

Alice began her career as an IT project manager at Disney in Burbank, California. She honed her skills at Hewlett Packard for over 13 years as a Research & Development project manager and then as a global supply chain manager partnering with Fortune companies like Adobe, Apple, Foxconn, Microsoft, and Samsung. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Computer Information Systems and a Master’s Degree in Education from UC San Diego, with additional certifications in Bilingual Education, Mathematics, Business Management, and Computer Applications and Concepts. She is trilingual in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese. When she is not in the Innovation Lab inspiring STEAM projects, she loves to play with her dogs.


Veronica Covarrubias Veronica Covarrubias
Director of Enrichment

Veronica grew up in a small town in the mountainous region of Michoacán in Mexico. Born in Ventura with dual citizenship, she graduated from Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara with a bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering and communications and later, following her passion to pursue a career in education, became certified to teach Languages other than English (LOTE) to grades K-12. Her career as an educator began at Westlake Academy, an International Baccalaureate World School where she was passionate about the mission to provide students with an internationally minded education so they are well-balanced and respectful life-long learners. There, she taught IB Spanish in the PYP and MYP. At Polytechnic School in Pasadena, where she has been for the past six years, she’s taught language, collaborated in aligning the Spanish curriculum K-12, been a Global Initiatives Program and Outdoor Ed co-leader and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee member. Additionally, she has co-led international enrichment trips for students in Nicaragua, Peru and Puerto Rico, in which students immerse themselves in local language and culture to gain a rich understanding of socio-economic and political issues. Veronica believes in a global, bilingual education that helps students become world citizens and life-long learners.


Coming Soon Coming Soon
Director of Finance & Accounting

Babeth Esterly Babeth Esterly
Administrative Director of Pre-Elementary and Admissions Associate for Pre-Elementary

Babeth Esterly grew up in a twelfth century château in the Loire Valley where her father worked as the gardener and on-site manager. She has lived and worked in Paris, Israel, New York, Belize, Guatemala, and Key West, all before moving to San Diego in 1999. Seeking the best education for her daughter at that time, she enrolled her at SDFAS. Babeth soon began volunteering at the school herself, and eventually transitioned to a full-time position. For the past 22 years, Babeth has been a driving force in the growth of the school and a tireless advocate for young students. In recognition of her dedication to early childhood education, Babeth was inducted into the Ordre des Palmes Académiques in 2018 by the French Ministry of Education for services rendered to French national education. Babeth finds joy each day in ensuring that every child has a happy, safe and healthy learning environment, and that all children respected for who they are.


Minu Martin Minu Martin
Senior Finance Associate

Minu was born and raised in South India and moved to San Diego in 2016 -- she Joined SDFAS in 2019. Minu has a B.A. in Finance and loves to play badminton and listen to music.


Ana Laura Carrillo Ana Laura Carrillo
Family Engagement & Development Associate

Ana Laura Carrillo was born in Los Angeles and raised in Tijuana, Baja California. She obtained her B.A. in Tourism Management in UABC (Tijuana). She then extended her studies with a Professional Certificate in Meeting and Event Planning at San Diego State University. Ana has worked for weddings and concerts organizers, the "San Diego Latin Film Festival," and an event production company behind the San Diego Beach and Bay half marathon. She can also count in her resume the "Valle Food & Wine Festival" in the Valle de Guadalupe wine production area south of the border, and most recently, Baja Wine + Food, where she coordinated events and luxury travel.
Ana Laura is passionate about promoting Baja and outdoor activities.


Jane Ackels Jane Ackels
Enrollment & Communications Associate

Jane grew up on the East Coast until she attended Santa Clara University, where she obtained a double-major B.A. in Communication and Visual Arts, with an emphasis in Design Thinking. After graduating in June of 2021, she moved from the Bay Area to San Diego. Jane has always had a passion for helping others, through hospitality, or customer service and relations. She is also passionate about the arts, and for many years has created personalized commissioned works (whether paintings, digital illustrations, or customized pieces) to help bring visions to life. When she is not working at SDFAS, she enjoys exploring San Diego, finding new music, and doing crossword puzzles.


Marilyn Rakow, RN BNS Marilyn Rakow, RN BNS
School Nurse and Pandemic Coordinator

Marilyn was born and raised in San Diego, CA. While obtaining her first B.S. degree from UCSD in biochemistry, she volunteered her time in the emergency room at UCSD Hillcrest. Here she discovered her passion for medicine. She was inspired by the nurses’ sharp decision-making along with their deep compassion, which compelled her to pursue nursing. Marilyn graduated from National University with a B.S. in Nursing with honors. Throughout her coursework Marilyn soon realized she had both the aptitude and demeanor for caring for pediatric patients. Her genuine compassion, flexible communication styles, and strong advocating voice helped secure her first nursing job at Rady Children’s Hospital in their emergency department, where she practiced for 2 years. Her bounding interests then lead her to Bend, Oregon, where she backpacked and hiked to her heart’s content, while rounding out her nursing knowledge caring for both adult and pediatric patients at St. Charles Medical Center for 3 years. After 5 years of dedicated pediatric and mixed adult/pediatric ER experience, Marilyn set her sights back on her hometown and pursued her dream job of becoming a school nurse. At SDFAS Marilyn enjoys being a kind, protective, and healing presence for the students, as well as a straightforward, approachable resource for their families.


Beverly Portillo Beverly Portillo
School Counselor

Beverly Portillo was born and raised in Southern California and moved to San Diego in 2013. She studied psychology at CSUSB and obtained her graduate degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Loma Linda University. For over 10 years she has worked with children in families in underserved communities, most recently with San Diego Center for Children. She also provides services in her private practice located in Solana Beach. When not working Beverly enjoys walking to the beach, playing with her dog Kai and spending quality time with friends and family.