The Governance of the Academy is the responsibility of a volunteer board that consists of alumni, alumni parents, current parents, community members, and ex-officio officers, including the Executive Director, Finance Director and Academic Director. It is the mandate of this group to ensure the legacy of Montessori Academy of London and that strong Montessori education in London is protected for years to come.
This mandate requires the group to assume strategic and financial responsibility for the Montessori Academy of London. The group meets regularly throughout the school year and is responsible for several board-mandated committees. MA families receive communication of the board’s work periodically throughout the year, including our Annual Report.
View or download a copy of our new Strategic Plan document: “Building our Future Together – Strategic Plan 2017-2022” (PDF).
Our first Strategic Plan document, “Our Path to 2017” is also available as a PDF.
Learn more about our board members below…
Julie Elgie, President, Alumni Parent
Julie is a graduate from the Faculty of Law at Western University. She has worked and volunteered in the community economic development field for non-profit, charitable and academic organizations and has specific experiences with the design and coordination of community programs, and the development and delivery of training workshops. Her fund development background includes proposal writing, major and planned giving fundraising and partnership facilitation. She believes in the principles of a Montessori education and brings expertise and support to fund development and special event activities. She experienced the impact a Montessori education can have on a child each day as her twin daughters were longtime students in the school, graduating in 2017.
Christine Haas, Vice-President, Alumni Parent
Christine is a chemical/biochemical engineer by education and graduate of Western University. She spent many years working in Pharmaceutical and Food & Beverage manufacturing, which gave her the tools to found an industrial equipment company. She feels fortunate to be part of the MA community – and it continues to be a tremendous experience for her. Christine was regularly impressed by the depth of her children’s learning during their time at MA. She sees MA’s future as the primary responsibility of the Board of Governors: to be continuously inspired by the school’s vision, and to plan for long-term health and success. Her hope as the MA board president is to contribute experience and expertise to the school team as they make decisions and plan for the future.
Rick Santos, Treasurer, Community Member
Rick was born and raised in London, Ontario, attending University at Western and obtaining a BACS – Finance Administration and Diploma in Accounting, with Distinction, in 2002. He obtained his Chartered Accountant designation (CA) in 2005 and his Certified Financial Planner Designation (CFP) in 2006. Rick became a partner at Davis Martindale LLP in January 2009 where his practice is focused on Non-Profit Organizations and Owner-Managed businesses. He is a part-time faculty member at King’s University College, where he teaches “Introduction to Taxation” and “Introduction to Auditing.” Rick joined the board of governors for Montessori Academy in July 2013. His other volunteer experience includes serving as treasurer of the Rotary Club of London, London Community Foundations’ Engage Program and advising numerous not-for-profit organizations in their financial and governance processes. In 2014 Rick was recognized by Business London Magazine and Emerging Leaders London as Top 20 under 40. Rick is married to his wife Andrea and has two children, Lauren and Harrison.
Wilma McIntyre, Secretary, Community Member
Wilma is a business and technology professional with extensive experience in managing, leading and coaching businesses through process re-engineering and technology implementation. Over her career, she has worked in a variety of sectors, including the financial industry, municipal government, industrial wholesale distribution and as a self-employed consultant. Though retired from her career in IT, she continues to consult with organizations to streamline and improve their business processes and technology strategies. Wilma is also on the board of directors for the Women’s Canadian Club of London, a non-profit organization providing a forum for the London community to attend speaker events on a variety of topics. She also served as London Chapter Coordinator for the Tetra Society of North America (for 3 years), a non-profit organization that recruits skilled volunteers to create customized assistive devices for people with physical disabilities.
Sarah Harding, Founding Member representation
Sarah was part of the first group of children to attend the Montessori Academy of London – a truly formative experience. As time went on her education took her across Canada (McGill and Dalhousie), to England (Oxford) and eventually to the United States (Yale). She is currently a law professor in Chicago. Her primary areas of specialty are matters relating to indigenous peoples, antiquities, cultural property and comparative constitutional law. Sarah brings Board knowledge and expertise to MA’s Board of Governors: for 11 years, she was a member of the Board of Trustees of Chiaravalle, her children’s Montessori school. During that time she served in almost every position on the Board including president. She has been involved in three head-of-school searches, three capital campaigns (one that she chaired), a complete overhaul and redrafting of by-laws and the creation of a new yearly head evaluation process. She was also on the founding board for Beacon Academy, an innovative Montessori-based high school that just opened in the Chicago area. She is currently president of the board of the Haymarket Opera Company, a small start-up Baroque opera company in Chicago.
Karen Conway, Community Member
Karen joined the Board on May 31, 2010. As she watched her dear friend’s daughter grow up at Montessori and develop into an independent, clever, polite, young woman, she was inspired by MA’s teaching methodology and values. Karen works in the Human Resources Department at the Ivey Business School. She joined the business school after more than 10 years working in Human Resources in the health care and manufacturing industries. Karen has a passion for ongoing learning and development, and is a Certified Human Resources Professional and Certified Executive Coach. As a board member, she provides input into the direction and priorities of the Academy to help ensure it stays true to its vision and mission.
Jim Middlemiss, Current Parent
Jim Middlemiss is a communications consultant and award-winning business affairs writer whose work appears regularly in North American business, legal and consumer publications. A former press secretary to an Ontario Attorney General, Jim provides media and strategic communications advice to a wide range of organizations. A member of the Institute of Corporate Directors, Jim is a graduate of Dalhousie Law School. Born in Calgary, he holds a journalism and political science degree from the University of North Dakota and an Associate Arts degree from what is now Mount Royal University. Jim has taught at Western University Law School and Western Engineering. He moved to London in 2011, and his daughter attends Montessori.
Sarah Kirshin-Neilans, Alumna
Sarah is a lawyer specializing in personal injury and insurance litigation at Nicholson Smith & Partners LLP, in London, Ontario. This job requires, compassion, good judgment, accuracy, time management, and excellent communication skills, all of which were principles of Sarah’s education at Montessori Academy of London, from Casa through Grade 8. Sarah still recalls and credits her successes to the tenets about working and learning she was taught at Montessori, including choosing challenging work, and doing all tasks (even those that may seem unimportant) with a certain degree of mastery. Because she values the education she received at Montessori, Sarah accepted an appointment to our Board in the spring of 2013, and hopes to foster continued excellence from the school for future generations in this role.
Geoff Connors, Alumni Parent & Current Grandparent
Geoff has worked in the pipeline industry since graduating from the University of Waterloo with a Bachelor of Applied Science and a degree in Civil Engineering in 1980. He is a Professional Engineer in Ontario (PEO) and has held the P.Eng designation since 1982. As the president of PipeSak Pipeline Products & Services, he is a leader in the pipeline industry and brings more than 30 years of business knowledge to Montessori Academy of London’s Board of Governors. He is a Montessori Academy alumni parent and grandparent.
Suzanne Fratschko Elliott, Community Member
As the Manager of Dorson Holdings, Suzanne brings to the board a wealth of experience in the for-profit and not-for-profit worlds. Suzanne also currently serves as the Fundraising and Engagement Manager for the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, where she leads the foundation’s fundraising team and collaborates with the Fundraising Committee and CEO to achieve revenue goals that support the strategic direction of the foundation. She has led the Major Gifts and Legacy Giving for Women’s Community House, and before that served as the Director of Advancement at Matthews Hall, where she co-chaired the school’s first capital campaign, successfully raising $2.1 million; increased planned giving participation and gifts to the school’s endowment funds; and implemented Annual Giving program, raising $100,000-plus each year for school operations. Suzanne has served as the Chair of the Board of Governors at Matthews Hall and as the Chair of the Congressional Church Council at Redeemer Lutheran Church.
Kevin is a retired 3M vice president, whose primary occupation now is as care giver for his two youngest children. He is also an Executive in Residence at the Ivey Business School at Western University. He has served in executive leadership roles in a number of 3M’s businesses, ranging from Dental and Medical businesses to Aerospace and Automotive. Kevin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from the University of British Columbia and an MBA (Marketing and Finance) from the Ivey Business School. He is also a graduate of Rottman School’s Executive Program at the University of Toronto. He has served his community on many boards, including as a community representative for the Animal Care Committee at Western University; past president London Squash Club; past member Mayor’s Advisory Council for Health Care Industry; and past treasurer of the CQI Network. Kevin’s two youngest children are Upper Elementary and Casa, and he has served as Parent Rep for Casa 4 in 2016-2017 and again in 2017-2018. In 2017, Kevin was a member of the Strategic Planning Committee – 2017-2022. He says it has been wonderful to get involved with the passionate educators who represent the Montessori teaching and know that they are the ones teaching our children.
Andrew Botterell, Current Parent
Andrew is the Chair the Department of Philosophy at Western University, where he has served on numerous departmental, faculty, and university committees. Andrew was born and raised in Toronto and completed his BA at McGill, his PhD at MIT, and his JD at the University of Toronto. Between his PhD and JD, Andrew taught for five years at a small public liberal arts college in the United States, and then clerked at the Supreme Court of Canada after attaining his JD. He is Co-Editor of the Canadian Journal of Law & Jurisprudence and for the past nine years has directed the Springbank Cycling Races (an Ontario Cycling Association event). Andrew is the father two children in Montessori Academy: one in Year 5, and the other in Year 2.
George Rizkalla, Alumnus
George’s involvement with the Montessori Academy of London spans almost three decades, beginning in 1988. Having completed the Casa and elementary programs, he credits his Montessori education for nurturing his love for technology and his passion for entrepreneurial ventures. George is currently the founder and product director of Wolf and Grizzly, a design company that creates outdoor lifestyle tools. Prior to this, George was a Product Manager at BlackBerry, and has held various product management and software development positions in the tech industry. He is a licensed P.Eng and holds a B.A.Sc. degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Waterloo and an MBA in Marketing from Wilfrid Laurier University. George lives in Kitchener with his wife and daughter.
Kristen Crouse, Academic Director, Ex-Officio
Kristen was trained as a Casa teacher through the St. Nicholas program and has been working at the Montessori Academy of London for 15 years. Kristen has a Bachelor of Science degree (Foods and Nutrition) from Brescia University College and a Bachelor of Education from McGill (primary/junior divisions). She also completed the Special Education Part 1 Course at Althouse College at Western University. Kristen taught for two years in the Casa program, and then accepted a position in MA’s Junior High program, where she taught science, language and math for eight years. For two of those years, she worked part-time as the Coordinator of the Junior High program. Kristen then took on the full-time position of Coordinator for both the Junior High and Elementary programs for six years. In 2014, Kristen’s role evolved again into the Academic Director, overseeing all levels of the school. Kristen brings a broad vision of the Montessori Philosophy to the table, having taught in the Casa program at one end of the spectrum to Junior High at the other. She also serves on the Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators (CCMA) accreditation team.
Tina Sartori, Current Parent, Executive Director, Ex-Officio
Tina believes that Montessori grads are the change makers in the world, which is why she profoundly trusts the method of education and strives to ensure its influence continues to grow in London. She has been a part of Montessori Academy since 2001 and took on the role of E.D. in July 2017. Being AMI trained from the Foundation for Montessori Education, she taught in the casa program for 12 years before moving over to the Administration team as the Admissions & Development Coordinator in 2012. After making this shift in her career, Tina successfully created and implemented a fundraising program for MA that raised half a million dollars for the school. In Admissions she guided new families through the process from inquiry to enrolment. Tina has a Bachelor of Applied Science degree (Child Studies major) from the University of Guelph. She participates as a member of numerous professional Montessori organizations, Pillar Non-Profit Network, London Licensed Child Care Network, Western Continuing Studies, and works with the Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators to accredit other Montessori schools. Tina has been a parent in the school since her son joined the toddler program in 2010.
David Pasquino, Finance Director, Ex-Officio
A CPA, CMA with over 20 years of finance, accounting and human resource experience in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, David brings a wealth of knowledge to the Montessori Academy of London as the current Finance Director and as an Ex-Officio member on the Board of Governors. David’s previous roles at St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation, College of Physiotherapists of Ontario and the United Way of Greater Toronto have given him a solid background in not-for-profit organizations, working with Boards and financial reporting for a wide variety of stakeholders. David also serves as the Chair for the Original Kids Theatre Company, and is an actor in London’s community theatres.
Our vision is a community of confident, compassionate and engaged citizens who think globally, act responsibly and collaborate successfully to create a humane world.
To provide a world-class Montessori education that promotes academic excellence and prepares children and young adults to engage the world as active citizens and successful leaders.