The governance of Montessori Academy of London is the responsibility of a volunteer Board of Governors; the board assumes strategic and financial accountability for the school. Its profile consists of alumni, alumni parents, current parents (percentage of representation is in accordance with our bylaws), community members, and ex-officio officers, including the Executive Director, Finance Director and Academic Director.
The recruitment of governors and officers is guided by the skill set that the board seeks to reflect among its members; the recruiting process for new board members is overseen by the Governance Committee. The board operates within what is considered best practise in the industry for charitable organizations. Resources that are utilized include Pillar Nonprofit Network and the Canadian Association for Independent Schools (CAIS) Governance Guide, which can be found in the main office.
Because the board assumes strategic and financial responsibility for MA, it meets regularly throughout the school year as a full board; members also meet regularly to support several board-mandated committees. It is the mandate of the board to ensure the legacy of Montessori Academy of London and that strong Montessori education in London is protected for years to come. MA families receive communication of the board’s work periodically throughout the year, including the Annual Report.
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a board member, or joining a board committee, please contact Tina Brown, Executive Director: TinaB@montessori.on.ca. For an interesting article that explains the distinction between for-profit and not-for-profit boards: https://www.nais.org/magazine/independent-school/summer-2009/lessons-from-for-profit-boards/
Our Annual Report is online: https://montessori.on.ca/annual-report/
Learn more about our board members below…
Melissa Sariffodeen, President, Current Parent
Melissa is an entrepreneur, business leader, advisor and life-long student focused on studying and building the future of education and work. As the Co-Founder and CEO of Canada Learning Code, she leads an amazing team across the country to advocate and provide opportunities for people in Canada (especially women and youth) to learn future-proof technical skills.
Melissa’s passion for the future of education and work has driven her to volunteer in various capacities across sectors. Melissa holds an HBA degree from the Richard Ivey Business School, a Master’s in Education Policy from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto and is a PhD student in Education Policy at OISE currently. Her work has been recognized with the honour of receiving the Governor General Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case honouring Canadians who advance gender equality as well as RBC Entrepreneur of the Year, WXN Top 100 and Canada’s Top 40 Under 40. Melissa taught herself how to build websites from scratch using HTML when she was 11 years old and has been coding ever since.
Megan Komenda, Vice-President, Community Member
Megan is a philanthropic leader in her workplace. She ignites excitement around fundraising and non-profit support. Megan is passionate about childhood education and remembers her time in the Montessori school system with great endearment. She is a graduate of Western University, an experienced Project Manager and has over 13 years of experience in Human Resources. Megan is a proud 3Mer and works as a Human Resources Leader. Megan has held various volunteer roles in an effort to make all of her communities a better place. Megan is also a member of the United Way Elgin Middlesex Board of Directors. She excels in her ability to effectively connect with people, leverage diversity, and deliver the best result.
Tyler Reavell, Treasurer, MA Alumnus
Tyler joined the Board on July 1, 2018. He fondly remembers his experiences as a student at Montessori as a child. Montessori provided Tyler with foundational skills for scientific investigation, self-directed learning and cooking that he continues to use today. Tyler works in the Risk Consulting and Forensics practice at KPMG in London. Tyler joined KPMG after fulfilling the requirements for the CPA, CA designation with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Toronto and London. He completed the HBA (Ivey Business School) in 2014, shortly after completing a BSc (University of Waterloo).
Tyler is passionate about education and the London community, and hopes to contribute to the continued excellence of Montessori Academy in this role.
Mark Whitley, Secretary, Founding Member representation
Mark is the General Counsel and leader of the risk management department at Emco Corporation. He is a graduate of Queen’s University (BA, Politics), holds an MBA from the University of Toronto, and received his law degree from Western University. Prior to joining Emco, Mark owned two small businesses, was an associate lawyer, and was the real estate manager for a national retailer. In addition to his legal background, Mark brings experience in governance, boards, and entrepreneurship. Mark’s two children graduated from the school, Mark in 2006 and Emma in 2009, and he is married to the school’s previous Executive Director, Margaret. As the Founding Member Governor, Mark is looking forward to building on his and his family’s passion for Montessori education and, in particular, Montessori Academy of London.
Angie Daouk, Current Parent
Angie joins our Board as a current MA parent; all four of her children started in the school’s Toddler program. A firm believer in the Montessori method, she has seen firsthand the positive impact it has had on her children. Angie has supported the school as a parent rep over the past decade. Angie studied at Western University, obtaining a degree in Foods and Nutrition Science, and later completed her dietetic internship at London Health Sciences Centre. She brings to the board many years of experience working with other not-for-profit organizations in the London area and is currently an accountability coach and personal trainer at Mind0Matter Studio.
Andrea Dean, Alumni Parent
Andrea is an experienced organizational development practitioner and communications specialist with 25+ years of local and international experience. She is co-founder and lead facilitator of OD Solutions International (Canada and Bermuda), and has extensive experience in changes management, organizational communications and stakeholder engagement. She excels at aligning the internal and external realities of organizations, transforming how they impact and interact with stakeholder(s) to achieve their vision. In additional to consulting practice, Andrea is a current PhD candidate in Western University’s sociology department, and is trained in quantitative and qualitative research methods. As the parent of two MA alumnae, Andrea is an enthusiastic supporter of Montessori education, and has been an engaged member of the Montessori Academy community since 2004.
Matt Grossi, Community Member
Matt is a seasoned entrepreneur that has accumulated ten years of experience in the supply chain industry with a focus on financial processes, technology, and analytics. In 2016, Matt started his software business that currently optimizes financial processes for multiple Fortune 500 companies. Matt hopes to leverage his entrepreneurial experience and business leadership skills to bring a fresh perspective to the board. Matt also volunteers with Junior Achievers in London where he teaches students in the community the values and principles of entrepreneurship and financial literacy. Matt joins the board in 2021 as a community member that recognizes the tremendous value and importance of Montessori education.
Mark Innes, Current Parent
Mark is a current parent. He brings considerable governance experience to Montessori Academy’s board of governors, having served his community in the past with volunteer positions on various boards, including executive positions. He is a strong supporter of Montessori education and is grateful to have the chance to contribute to the Montessori Academy of London community.
Eric Janitis, Alumnus
Eric is a partner, senior portfolio manager and investment advisor at Finucci Janitis Wealth Management, RBC Wealth Management Dominion Securities. In addition to financial expertise, he brings years of experience supporting local not-for-profits, having been a board and committee member of the Children’s Health Foundation and Westminster College Foundation. He is an MA alumnus who attended the school from Casa through Grade 8, as well as a graduate of Western University, and lives in London with his wife, Monica.
Ted Middleton, Current Parent
Ted joins Montessori Academy’s Board of Governors after relocating with his family to London from Texas in 2019. He and his wife are avid believers in the Montessori method of education and the values espoused by the Montessori Academy of London. After a fulfilling career in the Canadian Armed Forces, he retired as a Colonel, having served in key executive level positions in both the Canadian and American armies. Ted transitioned to the civilian sector with General Dynamics Land Systems working in Business Development and Strategic Planning, first in the U.S. and now here in London. He brings to the Board expertise in cyber security and government and public relations, areas in which he became well-versed over the course of his military service. Ted and his wife have three children: two teenage boys, and a daughter, who started her Montessori journey with the Montessori Schools of Central Texas before the family moved to London.
Suzanne Fratschko Elliott, Past-President, 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 Executive Director of Childcan, and previously served as the Fundraising and Engagement Manager for Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, where she led 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.
Kelly Wang, Community Member
Kelly is a big believer that learning is a lifelong journey. As a Master of Arts in Education student, she aims to support Montessori’s board on its mission to build a brighter future for students through helping them develop a true passion for learning. Kelly holds a Master of Media in Journalism and Communication and a BA in media studies from Western University, as well as a Broadcast Journalism diploma from Fanshawe College. Kelly is the recipient of RTDNF’s digital journalism award (2020). Kelly works as a journalist at 980 CFPL – Global News Radio, a research assistant at Ontario Tech University, and is a tutor for reading and writing. She also develops curriculum for Low Entropy, a non-profit in B.C., and presents info sessions for the Rights and Responsibilities Awareness Initiative. Kelly joined Montessori’s board in April 2023.
Kristen Crouse, Academic Director, Ex-Officio
Kristen thoroughly enjoys her role as Principal of the Montessori Academy of London, supporting the students, teachers and parents. Kristen was trained as a Casa teacher through the St. Nicholas program, housed out of London England, and has been working at the Montessori Academy of London for 23 years. Kristen has an Honours Bachelor of Science degree (Foods and Nutrition) from Brescia University College and a Bachelor of Education from McGill (primary/junior divisions). She also has completed the Special Education Part 1 Course from 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. In 2014, Kristen’s role evolved again into the Academic Director (now known as Principal), 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 and is often called upon by other Administrators for advice in the areas of: school parent events, school retention, teacher PD, to name a few.
Tina Brown, Alumni 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, and works with the Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators to accredit other Montessori schools. Tina is also an alumni parent; her son joined the Toddler program in 2010 and completed Grade 8.
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.