Board of Trustees
The Work of the Board
Portland Waldorf School is a self-governing independent school that works with a collaborative leadership model. Within this model, the Board of Trustees is responsible for the legal and financial health of the school.
This means that the Board is striving to be a visionary, forward-thinking leadership body, tasked with the ongoing work of creating a Strategic Plan, cultivating a culture of openness in our community, and deepening their collective understanding of Waldorf schools and pedagogy and of Board best practices.
Meet the Board
Our volunteer Board members are Waldorf parents, teachers, and administrators past and present…
Board Chair, Alumni Parent & Former Staff
Maya discovered Waldorf education in time for her son to join the first grade at PWS; he graduated from PWHS in 2008. From 2003 to 2008, Maya served as the first full-time Enrollment Coordinator for PWS. Maya has a BA in Geography from Hunter College and a Masters in Environmental Education from NYU. Prior to her position at PWS, she worked as a free-lance journalist for regional and national publications, writing on education, the environment, medicine, and the arts. Maya joined the Board in the Summer of 2012, returned as High School Enrollment Coordinator for the spring of 2013, served as Chair of the Board Stewardship Committee from 2014-2017, and became Board President in January 2018.
Board Vice Chair & Former Waldorf Administrator
Connie is a longtime Waldorf parent, teacher, and administrator, including service as a trustee, administrator, and pedagogical chair in Chicago, Honolulu, and at Highland Hall in Los Angeles. She has worked for the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) in a variety of roles over the past few decades, including work on their Board of Trustees, Organizational Development Committee, and Executive Committee. She is currently managing an alumni survey project for the Research Institute of Waldorf Education in anticipation of Waldorf100 anniversary celebration. Connie has recently been sharing her wealth of knowledge and experience with PWS as a consultant, and joined the Board at the beginning of 2018.
Board Secretary, Faculty & Alumna
After graduating from the pioneering class of the Portland Waldorf High School, Mariama continued her education at Whitman College, where she earned a B.A. with honors in her self-designed major of Post-Colonial Studies. Mariama became the handwork assistant at PWS in 2008 and she began to attend Waldorf conferences and eventually enrolled at Rudolf Steiner College to pursue her interest in Anthroposophy and handwork teacher’s certificate. Mariama continued to assist for five years before becoming lead handwork teacher. A Portland native, Mariama feels strong ties to her Austrian and Senegalese heritage and is proud that her grandparents were tailors, an indigo dyer and a weaver by trade. Her most recent hobby is learning about plant dyes. In addition to handwork, she loves to dance, watch plays (particularly Shakespeare), do home improvement projects, laugh with friends, and practice eurythmy. Mariama joined the Board in 2018.
Board Treasurer & Former Staff
John Dreeszen first came to PWS in 2014, serving as Director of Finance and Operations until 2016. During his two years in the position, John brought warmth, integrity, and professionalism to the position all at once, and made tremendous progress in the business and financial operations of the school. He has a wealth of experience in non-profit financial management, including with Portland Public Schools foundation All Hands Raised, and the Oregon Ballet Theater. He currently works as the Accounting Services Manager for Columbia County near his home in St. Helens. John joined the Board in 2017, and agreed to apply his experience in the PWS business office and beyond to the position of Treasurer.
Trustee & Parent
Derek Anderson and his family joined PWS in 2014, when they moved to Portland from Iowa. Derek joined the Board in November 2017 and currently serves on the Safety and Seismic Committees. He has previously been a trustee at the Waldorf-inspired Singing Cedars School in Fairfield, Iowa, as well as the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center. In Iowa, Derek was a family physician, an ER physician, emergency department medical director, hospital chief of staff, and medical director at a nursing home, a rural health clinic, and a hospice organization. He also founded and ran Two Roads Educational Arts and Theater (TREAT), a professional theater for young audiences in Fairfield, which won a community cultural contribution award. He currently works as a family physician with Adventist Health Medical Group, and serves as Medical Director of Willamette View Retirement Community. Derek and his wife, Sara Bliss, have three children—Vaughn in Ms. Nelson’s class, Vivian in Ms. Foley’s class, and little Lucian.
Trustee, Faculty & Alumni Parent
Nina Churchill grew up in Washington and comes from a family of artists, architects and designers, with art education being central to her family. Nina studied Fine Arts at WSU as a student in the Honors College, receiving her BA in Fine Arts, Summa Cum Laude. Upon graduation, she moved to New York where she earned a M.S. in Communications Design from Pratt Institute with honors. Following graduation, Nina stayed in New York, working professionally in art, graphic design and package design, where part of her work was creating identity systems for large corporations. Six years later, Nina and her husband moved to the Bay Area, where she continued to work in art and design and rekindled her lifelong interest in plants and the natural world. During these years, Nina’s two children were born and began their Waldorf educations. Nina began teaching at a Waldorf-inspired school in Marin County as a pre-school assistant. She received her teaching certification from the Bay Area Center for Waldorf Teacher Training in 2005. That year, she and her family relocated to Portland, where she began teaching at our high school, first teaching main lesson in art history and growing to include main lessons in modern art history, architectural history, geology and orientation classes for students new to the high school. She has just completed an 8-year journey through the grades, and is taking another middle school class in addition to returning to her PWS roots in the High School. Nina enjoys creating art, being outdoors, gardening, sewing, reading, walking and especially spending time with her husband and two children.
Trustee & Alumni Parent
Jeff and his wife, Robin Lieberman, are parents of two PWHS alumni: Sophia, a 2012 graduate, and Atticus, Class of 2015. Both were educated from preschool through Grade Eight at Cedarwood Waldorf School, where Jeff served on the Board for nearly fifteen years as Treasurer, President, and then Chair of the Board Development Committee. Jeff joined the PWS Board in early 2013 and served as Secretary in 2013-14, and served as President from 2014-2017. Jeff received a BS in Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry from Yale University and his MD from Temple University before coming west to Oregon to complete training as a psychiatrist at OHSU. In his private practice he borrows from a number of disciplines and traditions in helping patients who can benefit from longer-term, psychodynamic psychotherapy.
Trustee & Parent
Kimberley and her family joined the PWS community when her son entered Trillium Kindergarten in 2009. She discovered Waldorf education while traveling in Ireland and sharing time with two uncommonly engaging and confident teenagers, both Waldorf students. Kimberley grew up in the Boston area and moved to Portland in 1987. She received her B.A. in Political Science from Southern Methodist University in 1982, and her J.D. from San Diego School of Law in 1987. She has served as a public-sector lawyer since 1988, working for Clackamas County. Kimberley joined the Board of Trustees inspired by the opportunity to participate in preserving and growing the well-being of PWS.
Trustee & Parent
Aaron Arutunian and his family joined PWS in 2017, when they moved to Portland from California. Aaron joined the Board in December 2018 and currently serves on the Strategic Plan Steering Committee and the Board Stewardship Committee. In California, Aaron co-founded a Silicon Valley-based IT services firm and managed it for 17 years. He currently works as a consultant in the areas of Information Security, Privacy, and Risk Management. Aaron’s wife Cathleen works in the PWS business office as an accountant. Aaron and Cathleen have two children — Grace in Ms. Webber’s class, and Ben in Ms. Desantis’ class.