The SFFS Board of Trustees is thrilled to announce that Pankti Sevak will serve as our third-ever Head of San Francisco Friends School; Pankti will assume her duties as head starting July of 2022. The decision came after a lengthy search and interview process, conducted through a Quaker lens that included the participation and discussion of our various community constituencies; the recommendation of a Search Committee composed of faculty, staff, and trustees; careful trustee discernment; and ultimately the unity of the entire SFFS Board. Pankti currently serves as the Head of the Middle School at Friends Seminary in New York City, where she has worked and taught for well over a decade.
From the Board's letter about Pankti's appointment:
"Pankti was selected from a national pool of talented candidates after a thorough search process that engaged students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff, former trustees, and the current Board. Her campus visit brought widespread excitement to every part of our community. After careful consideration of all feedback, and a period of quiet discernment, the Board of Trustees reached unity to ask Pankti to become our next Head of School. Pankti enthusiastically accepted our invitation to join San Francisco Friends.
Pankti brings outstanding credentials as a science and math teacher, a visionary Middle School leader, and a Quaker educator. She has worked in schools for almost three decades, and she currently serves as the Middle School Head at Friends Seminary, a K–12 Quaker school with a 200-year history in New York City. During her 12 years leading the Middle School at Friends Seminary, Pankti has shown unparalleled support for teachers and students in all aspects of Quaker education..."
To learn more about Pankti, please visit our Head of School Search webpage here.
As the 2020–2021 school year comes to a close, we are filled with appreciation for the administrators, faculty, and staff at SFFS who navigated the uncertainties and challenges of this past year with determination, aplomb, grace, generosity, and kindness. The virtual Year-End Celebration and in-person 8th Grade Graduation last week powerfully demonstrated that despite the adversity we experienced, the values and connections that make SFFS unique are enduring—and joyful!
As we transition to summer and anticipate with hope what the new school year will bring for our community, we want to take a moment to share with you the transitions taking place on the San Francisco Board of Trustees. Each year we say goodbye to a number of trustees who have completed their service, and welcome a new cohort of trustees to continue the mission of SFFS. SFFS trustees traditionally serve two three-year terms and are selected according to a wide variety of factors, including professional background, skills and expertise, and volunteer experience both at SFFS and beyond. Additionally, trustees bring diversity across multiple areas, including racial, cultural, socioeconomic, and grades represented for those trustees who are also parents at the school. Trustees demonstrate strong alignment with the school’s values and the Strategic Pathways, and often (but not always) have previously volunteered in support of the school.
This year, we want to extend our deepest gratitude to the following trustees as their terms come to a close:
Shabnam Koirala-Azad has served in many capacities during her tenure as a trustee including SFFS Board co-clerk, co-clerk of the Equity & Inclusion Steering Committee, and co-clerk of the Committee on Trustees. She also served on the Strategic Pathways Committee and Futures Working Group, as well as the Development and Quaker Life committees, among a variety of other special committees and task forces including the 2015 Head of School Search Committee. Shabnam, parent of Alia (SFFS Class of 2020), and Ayan (SFFS Class of 2024), is graciously extending her service by a few months as she serves as co-clerk of our current Head of School Search Committee.
Sam Mogannam has generously given his time and expertise to the Equity & Inclusion Steering Committee during his tenure as a trustee, in addition to participating on several special committees including the Access & Affordability Task Force, the Covid Testing Task Force, and Pauline’s Task Force. Sam is parent to Zoe (SFFS Class of 2017) and Olive (SFFS Class of 2021).
Mark Selcow most recently co-clerked the Development and Audit committees as well as the Strategic Pathways Accountability Group. Mark, parent to Lucy (SFFS Class of 2019), Andrew (SFFS Class of 2021), and Nora (SFFS Class of 2023), also served on the Finance and Investment committees as well as on the Futures Working Group and Friends Forward and Cathy Hunter Fund for the Future endowment campaigns.
Chris Valdez served on numerous board committees and task forces during his tenure as an SFFS trustee. Parent of Jesse (SFFS Class of 2012) and daughter Georgia (SFFS Class of 2014), Chris was a valuable member of the Equity & Inclusion Steering Committee, the Committee on Trustees, and the Finance Committee. Additionally, he served on a number of special task forces including the High School Exploration Task Force and the COVID Testing Task Force.
Shabnam, Sam, Mark, and Chris have provided invaluable leadership and dedication to our community, and they have all helped to shape the future of Friends. We are deeply grateful for their many years of service. As they depart, six new trustees will be stepping in to continue the mission of SFFS. As we approach our 20th year, we’ve learned that it is reasonable to expect some level of attrition among our Trustees, particularly as our city and our school community navigate the pandemic. That consideration informs our decision to bring a larger slate forward this year, and we are honored to welcome the following individuals to the SFFS Board of Trustees:
Lucas Fortier Borden is a San Francisco native and a proud member of the SFFS’s first graduating class. After nine formative years at Friends, he attended the Bay School of San Francisco where he further strengthened his connection to mindfulness and community, becoming an integral part of the school’s admissions program. College on the East Coast brought a change of environment, as did a Junior Year stint in Australia. He graduated from Boston College in 2019, majoring in Economics and minoring in Hispanic Studies. That summer, Lucas returned home to SF where he worked as a bookseller at Green Apple Books, before taking his current position at Square, Inc. in the legal department. For fun, Lucas likes to swim in the bay (no wetsuit required) and create digital art.
Chrysty Esperanza is Foundational Counsel Lead at Square, Inc., where she leads the Litigation, Corporate, Privacy, Intellectual Property, and Trust & Safety teams. At Square, she provides strategic counsel and partnership on a broad spectrum of legal and compliance issues. Prior to Square, Chrysty was Sr. Counsel at Electronic Arts Inc. She previously served as a Deputy Attorney General at the California Department of Justice, and also as an associate at Farella, Braun and Martel LLP. She received her BA in Mass Communications from UCLA, and her JD from UC Hastings College of Law. Chrysty is a Bay Area native, and has been living in San Francisco for over 20 years. She lives in Noe Valley with her husband, Scott, and their three boys, Tayo (class of 2024), Makana (class of 2027), and Koa.
Jennifer Hsieh has spent the last 12 years leading finance teams at various tech start-ups, serving most recently as Head of Finance at CareZone, a digital health company. At CareZone, she led the company through multiple financings and played an integral role in all strategic and operational decisions, culminating in the sale of the company’s technology assets to Walmart. Just prior to making the leap into the start-up world, Jen was with Goldman Sachs in their Technology, Media, Telecom and Leveraged Finance investment banking groups. She started her career at Deutsche Banc Alex Brown in technology investment banking later transitioning to equity research where she covered the internet sector. While Jen was born in New York, she grew up mostly overseas spending 8 years living in Australia and the UK. She received her BA from Wellesley College and her MBA from the Wharton School. She currently lives in Noe Valley with her husband, P.J. Haley, and her two sons, Quinn (SFFS Class of 2028) and Connor.
Elizabeth Longstreth is an administrative leader for The Permanente Medical Group at the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center. She began her public health career helping form the AIDS Research Institute at UCSF, and has worked across the country for organizations ranging from small, rural community health centers to large, urban teaching hospitals. A Bay Area native, Elizabeth earned her BA from Pomona College and her MPH from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. She is also a board member of the San Francisco Public Health Foundation. She lives in San Francisco with her husband Adam and children Birdie (SFFS class of 2025) and Ty (SFFS class of 2028).
Nelly Sapinski is the Executive Director of the Jamestown Community Center, a Mission District based nonprofit serving low income children, youth and their families through programs that include tutoring, before and after school academic enrichment, summer programs, social/emotional support, sports, youth workforce, parent leadership development and organizing, and Afro-Latino arts education and performance. Before becoming Executive Director, Nelly served as both the Deputy Director of Programs and Interim Executive Director. Prior to joining Jamestown, Nelly served as the After School Program Director at Reading Partners, the national literacy non-profit, and managed curriculum, instruction and evaluation for Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County. Nelly holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Northern Illinois University and a Masters of Education from Harvard University. Nelly’s daughter Katherine Sapinski (SFFS class of 2017) recently graduated from high school.
We are deeply appreciative of the leadership, expertise and commitment of trustees on our Board, and look forward to partnering with our new trustees!
A full listing of the SFFS Board of Trustees can be found here.
As 2018–19 moves with lightning speed toward our Year-End Celebration and 8th Grade Graduation in June, we want to take a moment to share with you the transitions taking place on the San Francisco Friends School Board of Trustees. Our trustees traditionally serve two three-year terms and are chosen according to a wide variety of factors, including: professional background and experience; skill sets; diversity across multiple areas including racial, cultural, socioeconomic, and ages of children; volunteer experience at SFFS and beyond; and balancing parent and non-parent trustees. Additionally, we seek a commitment to upholding the mission of the San Francisco Friends School from all prospective Board members.
This year, we want to extend our gratitude to the following trustees as their terms come to a close:
- Seth Brenzel completed his term as SFFS Board Co-Clerk last year, and has also served on the Development, Quaker Life, and Finance Committees, as well as the Committee on Trustees and the Board’s special Future Initiatives working group, among countless other projects, task forces, and committees.
- Betsy Hambrecht is one of the founding parents at SFFS, as well as a founding trustee who has served two tours of duty on the Board and is a part of the original group who helped to mold Friends into the vibrant school it is today. She is the mother of three alums—Courtney SFFS ‘11, Rachel SFFS ‘11, and Jamie SFFS ‘18—and has served on the Finance and Investment Committees. She has also participated in numerous special working groups like the High School Task Force, the Future Initiatives, and the Tuition Working Group.
- Anne Stanton most recently co-clerked the Equity & Inclusion Steering Committee, which recently wrapped up a community-wide survey. She has also co-clerked the Future Initiatives working group; served on the Access and Affordability working group, the Committee on Trustees, and the Development and Community Committees; and is mom to alumna Stella SFFS ‘17.
- Clint Wilkins has served on numerous Board committees during his tenure as a trustee at SFFS, including the Quaker Life, Finance, and Community Committees. He also participated in the High School Task Force and Tuition Working Group.
Seth, Betsy, Anne, and Clint have provided invaluable leadership and dedication to our community, and they have all helped to shape the future of Friends. We will always be thankful for their many years of service. As they depart, four new trustees will be stepping in to continue the mission of SFFS:
- Teuila Hanson is executive vice president, chief strategy and people officer, at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, leading its strategy and people functions. Before working at the Fed, she led talent development and diversity, and managed the global employment law group, at AECOM. She also worked as an employment attorney at ABM Industries and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. She holds a BA in American Multi-Cultural Studies from Sonoma State University and a JD from Golden Gate University School of Law. Teuila and her husband grew up and live on the peninsula with their two sons Zach (Cate School '21) and Josh (SFFS '20).
- Ernie Hsin is a partner at the international law firm Gibson Dunn. He specializes in technology-related litigation, with an emphasis on patent cases covering a broad range of technologies, including telecommunications, software, and medical devices. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Asian Law Alliance, an organization that provides free legal services to under-resourced Asian communities in the Bay Area, as well as of Epic Church in San Francisco. Ernie grew up on the East Coast (Boston and Potomac, Maryland) and received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from MIT and a JD from Columbia Law School. He lives in SOMA with his wife Carla and their kids James (SFFS Class of 2022) and Eden (SFFS Class of 2024), as well as their cat Elmo. When his schedule allows, Ernie likes to play pick-up basketball with faculty and other dads at SFFS, where he tries with difficulty to keep up with the many younger, taller, and more talented players.
- Daphne Li is a managing director at Health2047, the innovation arm of the American Medical Association, where she helps scale portfolio companies. She is also currently chief operating officer for First Mile Care, a chronic disease management company focusing on preventing diabetes. During her career, she has helped launch and scale numerous technology start-ups, as well as identify and develop new growth areas for Fortune 500 companies. Prior to joining Health2047, Daphne was senior vice president of enterprise at Upwork, an on-demand platform for freelancers. She led marketing and product management at ADP and led strategy for Apple’s education business. Daphne currently co-clerks the SFFS Parents Association and serves on the board of the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. She also served on the board of KQED. She holds an MBA and a BA in Economics from Stanford. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, Oliver Chubb, and twin girls, Josephine and Kalista (SFFS '24).
- Rob Lippincott is an educational consultant and edtech executive devoted to pursuing innovation at the intersection of learning and technology. As a senior vice president at PBS, Discovery, and Pearson, he has led the creation of media and technology products that are used in more than half of U.S. schools. He is active on several boards of directors and advisors for edtech firms and initiatives, as well as board chair for Enso Village, a Zen-inspired senior living community under development in Healdsburg. He has previously served on the Board of Sidwell Friends School, Cambridge Friends School, and the New England Aquarium. Rob taught at Newtown Friends School, Abington Friends School, Stowe School, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He lives with his wife, Jenifer, in Mill Valley, across the bridge from two San Francisco-based daughters and has enjoyed watching nephews and niece (Nick, Theo, and Kate Hoffner) thrive at San Francisco Friends School.
We are so appreciative of the sound leadership we have on our Board, and look forward to greater growth under the guidance of our new trustees!
We are excited to share with you a brief update on our strategic planning process. As you know, much work has been done over the past two years to discern strategic goals that will guide us through 2020. This past spring, a group of trustees and administrators met to review the strategic pathways to date. Through our conversation, we recognized that our work more accurately fell into three (3) strategic pathways, and thus distilled the plan from four to three major areas, while keeping the same essential goals and activities, with an overarching vision of working "toward a more caring and just society."
In the spirit of continuing revelation, we have used the process of queries to help guide our thinking. Our three guiding queries for our strategic plan are the following:
- As a school with a public purpose, how might we deepen our commitment to being an ever more engaged and inclusive community?
- How might we continue to ensure our children enjoy a robust and innovative educational experience, animated by Quaker values?
- How might we better support our community, priorities and values through a sustainable financial model rooted in stewardship and inclusion?
We have outlined preliminary goals for each query, and our shared work as a community through this school year (2017-2018) will be to identify what activities are needed to achieve our goals as well as the appropriate metrics and milestones to measure our progress.
Over the summer and past few months, several committees and task forces have been working hard to continue progress on the plan. The Board of Trustees and administrators spent much of their September retreat and October board meeting in working sessions focused on further developing plan goals. This work is now continuing in regular meetings of committees and task forces comprising board trustees and the professional community.
Following are the groups working on each strategic pathway at this time and their goals:
Engaged and Inclusive Community
Equity and Inclusion Steering Committee, Committee on Trustees, Accessibility & Professional Experience Committee (APEC), Quaker Life Committee
- Augment equity and inclusion in hiring, enrollment, and board composition
- Refine the school’s practices to ensure an ever more inclusive and equitable experience for all
- Support socio-economic diversity throughout the SFFS experience
- Increase diversity across multiple demographic areas
- Engage with students, families and communities to further SFFS spiritual vitality, public purpose, and identity
Activities to date have included:
- The Equity & Inclusion Committee has adopted an overall framework of cultural humility to guide its work, and is working with Admissions and Finance to analyze data to better inform our goals.
- The Committee on Trustees is exploring ways to widen its outreach in order to diversify the Board.
- The APEC committee is exploring additional ways to foster socio-economic diversity in all aspects of the SFFS experience.
Robust and Innovative Educational Experience
Administrative Team, High School Working Group, Facilities Committee
- Further our commitment to academic excellence by supporting and refining our robust and innovative educational and co-curricular program
- Design and implement refinements to curriculum and support for a full range of learners
- Develop mission-driven facility master plan
- Explore the potential to increase our reach and impact by developing a high school program and/or expanding student population in middle school and/or range of learners we serve
Activities to date have included:
- The Developmental Support (DS) team, along with faculty and academic admin, are working to review and refine learning support practices in both Lower School and Middle School, with an eye for potential gaps and opportunities, and making improvements where necessary to better support students and teachers.
- The academic admin team has spent the past year working with faculty in a schedule committee to build upon work of the previous schedule committee and research schedules at other schools. The current schedule is dependent on crossover teachers and space restrictions, thus constraining our flexibility for both Lower School and Middle School. The work for this year will be focused on laying the groundwork for a major restructuring in 2018-19, primarily for the Middle School, that will better support our curriculum, project integration, and faculty-student and faculty-faculty collaboration.
- Academic Dean Tracie M. and Lower School Head Jennifer A. orchestrated a comprehensive review last year of science instruction in the Lower School, and the Lower School team is implementing an increasingly inquiry-based approach for the 2017-18 school year.
- The Facilities Committee has begun work on a facilities master plan with our architects Pfau Long, considering our current use and future needs.
- The High School Working Group has been researching and reviewing case studies of Quaker high schools and innovative models of other independent high schools, and opened a conversation with local high school heads of school about our discernment process. The group has refined its list of non-negotiable requirements, reviewed demographic analyses and is currently learning more about potential buildout and program costs. Alumni and alumni-parent surveys are planned for later this year.
Sustainable Financial Model
Finance Committee, Development Committee, APEC
- Fortify our mission-aligned financial model to advance the goals of sustainability, economic accessibility and attracting, retaining, and supporting our talented professionals
- Explore new revenue potential including, but not limited to, re-imagined fundraising strategies
Activities to date have included:
- The Finance and APEC Committees are exploring ways in which to support our professional community in our increasingly expensive local economy, while also keeping the net cost of an SFFS education as affordable as practicable. The group has been taking a comprehensive look at the professional experience, including compensation, benefits, housing, and more, and plans to disseminate a survey to learn more about the needs of the professional community.
- The Development Committee is working to deepen philanthropic support of SFFS. To date, this has included an increased focus on stewardship and donor education around the school’s finances and the importance of fundraising, as well as the exploration of a major gifts program that aligns with the school’s culture and values. We have retained the counsel of Jim McKey, a consultant with Grenzebach Glier and Associates (GG+A) who has extensive fundraising experience with Quaker schools, to help with this initiative.
Throughout the coming 2017-2018 school year, representatives of committees working on common pathways will meet several times to align their work and review progress. We look forward to reviewing output from these groups and continuing to gather your input and communicate our progress over the coming months. If you have any comments, feedback or questions along the way, please do not hesitate to contact either or both of us.