Governance

The Santa Fe Waldorf School is committed to an active, alive, and transparent process of governance. The school continually strives to integrate and maintain a leadership and administrative structure that is collaborative, efficient and effective. 

Leadership and governance at the school is divided among three primary bodies: the Board of Trustees, the College of Teachers, and the Administration. The Board and College share the management of the school’s operations. The Board is primarily responsible for financial, fiscal, and legal matters, while the College is responsible for pedagogical matters, although each group supports the efforts of the other in various ways. The Administration works to facilitate communication between the different governing bodies, provides the logistical structure required for safe and effective operation and implements the policies and recommendations of the Board and College.  

SFWS Board of Trustees 2014-15 

Dana Barnard (President) is the CEO of Barson Corporation, a collection of high performance materials companies serving the aerospace, energy, biopharma, orthopedic, and dental markets. When he is not at work, he can be found watching Waldorf volleyball, volunteering at SFWS, studying and teaching Chi Kung and other Taoist internal arts, riding motorcycles, skiing, hiking and reading. Dana was first drawn to Waldorf education when his family moved to Santa Fe and his son, Maclean, chose the SFWS high school for 9th grade. Dana and his wife, Leslie, were impressed with the wisdom of the Waldorf approach, the respect for the natural pace of development of the child, and the commitment of the teachers to the kids. Eight years later, the school keeps graduating amazing young adults and he keeps hearing parents say "I wish my education was like this". Dana values the confidence, curiosity, creativity, poise, and flexibility that the school has instilled in his children. Upon graduating, they are well equipped to create very interesting and successful lives for themselves, no matter what the future brings.

Phyllis Gonzales (Vice President) has lived in Santa Fe for over 20 years and worked as a clinical social worker/therapist with children and adolescents diagnosed with chronic mental illness, a consultant to residential psychiatric facilities in New Mexico, and as the president/director of Grand Prix de Santa Fe, a charity horseshow, before going to work with her husband, Brian, at their employee benefits firm, Financial Concepts. In her spare time, Phyllis can be found on a horse, riding with hounds, skiing, fishing, hiking and watching the Waldorf track team. Both of Phyllis’ sons have attended SFWS since preschool and continue to thrive in an educational environment which excites its students with a rich and broad curriculum that is attuned to the development of the whole child and encourages the child to “think outside the box” when crafting solutions to problems large and small.

Betsy Armstrong (Secretary) worked in nonprofit development, primarily for conservation groups, for many years before turning her attention back to the arts after the birth of her daughter, Natalie. She then worked as a jewelry designer and goldsmith and most recently is helping her sister to produce a documentary film project. Aside from work, Betsy likes to get outside as much as possible and loves to hike and ski. She is interested in handwork and design of all kinds and hopes to dust off her drawing pencils once again soon. A certified Montessori teacher, Betsy did not know very much about Waldorf education until she enrolled her daughter in the first preschool class at SFWS. Like so many Waldorf parents, she soon found herself volunteering in different capacities at the school and learning more each year about how and why Waldorf works. The students are guided and encouraged to become independent, creative and adaptable individuals with a strong sense of community, a connection to the natural world and a love of learning. She has watched her daughter and the other children at SFWS grow into grounded, curious, accomplished and interesting people who others enjoy being around. This will serve them well in our rapidly changing world. 

Thomas Baudhuin A member of SFWS since 1985, Mr. Baudhuin loves experiencing how the ideas and insights into child development and the education of children, developed by Rudolf Steiner nearly 100 years ago, remain relevant today. He studied Engineering at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Biology at UNM in Albuquerque, received his Waldorf Teacher Training at Mercy College in Detroit, and completed his Spacial Dynamics Training. He loves the feel of resistance and the letting go of materials and himself when he carves wood and alabaster in his spare time. His three children graduated from SFWS, and has two grandchildren currently attending.

Julia Boaz Cooper spent her childhood in Bernalillo, New Mexico, and then attended Barnard College, Columbia University, where she majored in English and philosophy. After graduating from Yale Law School, she practiced law for many years in San Francisco and the Southeast, specializing in complex civil and commercial litigation. Throughout her years in private practice, she also handled many pro bono cases, and has been especially active in the representation on appeal of defendants sentenced to death. She has served on the boards of many nonprofit organizations, and has served on the Board of the SFWS for the last year. Since returning to New Mexico four years ago, she has been writing a book, acting as librarian for the SFWS Library, and training and competing her dressage horses. Her daughters Sophie, a second year law student at UC Berkeley, and Celia, a senior at Columbia, attended the San Francisco Waldorf School for several years; her son Samuel is a sixth grader at SFWS.  She loves the Waldorf approach to learning in childhood because it engages the whole child, and encourages a deep love for learning. Julia, her husband Patrick Coughlin, and Sam love to spend time on their ranch in Coyote, New Mexico, which they share with their horses, chickens, dogs, and an assortment of other wildlife.

John Braman is an educational consultant dedicated to innovations that take learning off the charts, help make the world more safe and sane, and diversify revenues for schools and colleges. 

He brings to his Waldorf board work a range of experience in teaching and leading and a love for small, independent schools. He is past president of the Chicago-based Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS), where he oversaw the implementation of standards of excellence for 250 independent schools in 14 midwestern states, including Waldorf schools. During this period, he founded the Global Youth Leadership Institute (GYLI) to promote a new science of leadership for the “Age of the Unthinkable.” 

Before ISACS, he was the co-founder and director of the Center for Peaceable Schools at Lesley University. During his eight years in that position, he developed teacher training programs, a national institute on conflict resolution, and a master’s degree program in curriculum and instruction specializing in the “peaceable school.” He also served as a commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Education, overseeing a statewide environmental education and multicultural initiative.

It was his 1989 appointment as vice president of Boston’s Thompson Island Outward Bound that led to the Lesley University post. Outward Bound was embarking on an historic merger with mainstream education. John oversaw programs serving 5,000 youth and teachers in Boston area schools and colleges.

The foundation for all this work was a decade at Albuquerque Academy, where he headed up the experiential education division at Albuquerque Academy. The program established the Academy’s “public purpose” ethos, with interdisciplinary lessons in environmental sustainability, appropriate use of technology, and social responsibility. All studies were deeply connected to New Mexican ecosystems.

John was born in New Haven, Conn., and graduated from Hopkins School. He holds a BA with honors from Brown University and an MA in Educational Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University. His awards include the Klingenstein Fellowship for excellence in teaching at Albuquerque Academy; the Arnold Fellowship, which enabled John to spend a year in the African Republic of Cape Verde; and three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, including a residency at Harvard’s Pluralism Project for the study of diverse approaches to interfaith education in secular schools. 

John is an avid outdoorsman. In 2014 he completed a 1,000-mile crossing of the Gulf of Mexico in a 40-foot sloop, and last spring he was part of an expedition to Comb Ridge in Utah. 

David Burling was a practicing lawyer for 14 years in Washington, DC and the California Bay Area, handling a wide range of business issues before switching to become a solo craftsman, designing and making wood furniture, handling sales, marketing, finance and operations. He has been involved in volunteer board work for almost 30 years, focusing on all aspects of nonprofit work, primarily in the education and theater spheres. He has been on the board at SFWS for 9 years, including as president of the board for three years.

David is an avid tennis player (having formed the SFWS tennis team 9 years ago and coached it for 7), loves to hike, ski, read, watch movies, listen to loud rock music, and garden. He was drawn to Waldorf education by his first visit to an open house about 18 years ago, impressed by the curriculum’s emphasis on handwork, music, the arts, and outdoor experience, as well as the beautiful “textbooks” the students created and its approach to the curriculum. His son started at the SFWS in 1996 and graduated from the high school in 2011 and his daughter from 1998-2009, graduating from the lower school before exploring other options. He especially appreciates the sense of community and curiosity engendered in both his kids by the school’s curriculum and caring faculty. 

Rob Clifford moved to Santa Fe full time in July 2011 after being the boy’s high school basketball coach (2003-2011) and a board of trustees member (2010-2011) at the Austin, Texas, Waldorf School.  He and his wife, Vicki, (a retired psychotherapist) had been visiting Santa Fe since 1986 and dreamed of making it their home some someday.  Well, that someday has come, and they are doing their best to be assets to the city and the Waldorf community. Currently, Rob holds the same positions of basketball coach and board member here. Upon learning about Waldorf education and the type of students that excel here, Rob became a huge admirer of the adults these students become. The confidence that Waldorf education gives each student truly, enables them to be productive citizens of the world. 

Melissa Coleman assumed ownership and management control of La Puerta Originals, Inc. in January 2004.  Prior to assuming ownership of La Puerta Originals, Melissa was managing partner of Chance Companies, LLC an investment and real estate holding company.  Melissa’s professional career includes Director of Campaign and Development for the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Director of Development for the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, New York, and Campaign and Communications Manager for United Ways in New York, Chicago and Memphis.  Melissa holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Memphis, Tennessee.  Her community involvement includes: Foundation Board Member and Chair of Development Committee for the Institute of American Indian Arts; EmergeNM Graduate and former candidate for Santa Fe School Board; Former Vice President of Atalaya PTA; former Public Relations Chair for Buckaroo Ball, Ambassador for Earth Care International.  Her daughter Story has attended the Santa Fe Waldorf School since 2010 and is currently in 7th Grade.  Melissa and her husband, Scott, chose the Santa Fe Waldorf School for its challenging and experiential learning opportunities and its emphasis on teaching the whole child – hands, heart and mind.  For them, it has been the most exceptional education Santa Fe has to offer.

Jennie Salyer has been a Waldorf Early Childhood Educator since 1999 and has taught at Santa Fe Waldorf since 2007. She is in her second term as a faculty representative to the Santa Fe Waldorf School and has served on Waldorf school BOT's previous to her employment with SFWS.  When she is not spending time in her classroom, she enjoys backpacking and hiking in the summer months, and skiing and practicing traditional methods of food preparation in the winter.  She was drawn to Waldorf education because of its emphasis on meeting the child at each stage of development as well as watching how her own children (alumni class of 2011 and 2013) blossomed and became the amazing independent thinking and strong voiced women they are today.

Rebecca Withers has worked as a staff and freelance writer for news agencies, newspapers, and magazines both in the US and abroad, and has co-authored four cookbooks as food writer/restaurant critic under her former byline, Rebecca Chastenet de Gery. Most recently, Rebecca has turned her attention to floral design. She owns and operates a boutique flower business, BK by Bloomstream, and cooks and writes in her spare time. Rebecca is the parent of two Waldorf High School students and one fourth grader, and loves how the Waldorf curriculum engages the imagination at all ages, developing creative, curious, enthusiastic students who are well-rounded and prepared for the many facets of life in our fast-changing society.


Ex Officio

Jeffrey Baker (School Administrator) brings his spirit of collaboration to SFWS and looks forward to engaging the SFWS community in innovations that will benefit the school community at-large. He worked for seven years as a Middle School Teacher at Swallowtail School (a developing Waldorf School), and two years in Administration at Oregon College of Art and Craft. As an administrator Jeffrey designed and coordinated educational opportunities in the arts for adults and children, and ran one of the largest summer arts day camps in Oregon. He finds inspiration in his artwork, producing exhibitions that explore the sublime qualities of nature, memory and photography.

Thomas Keppel (Business Manager) has been a member of SFWS since 2011. When he is not working, Thomas is an avid photographer and information designer. He enjoys producing materials that challenge reality and which can be shaped according to our vision. Thomas loves to witness our students reach their full potential in a joyful way.

Brent Poole (Admissions Coordinator) is the parent of two students at SFWS, in 6th and 9th grades. Before being hired by Waldorf, Brent owned Canyon Road Fine Art with his wife Angela, and enjoyed eleven years of successful art sales in the third largest art market in the U.S. After college during the 1990s, Brent worked in the technology sector as a software testing manager.  He has also been a scriptwriter, actor, director, video editor and videographer.

In addition to enjoying family time, Brent likes to hike, bike, read and take advantage of the numerous cultural offerings of our city. He is drawn to SFWS because it offers a balanced liberal arts curriculum with teachers who strive to bring passion and enthusiasm into the classroom. In a supportive environment, students develop academically, artistically and athletically. Because of the hands on, experiential nature of the school work, the students grow in self awareness. By the time they graduate, they know themselves, their strengths and interests, and how to positively engage in our challenging and rapidly changing world.