BOARD of TRUSTEES
Dr. Esther Cohen
Dr. Esther Cohen has been affiliated with the Children’s Learning Center/ Phillips Academy for over 20 years.She obtained her doctorate in developmental-clinical psychology from the University of Utah, and taught undergraduate and graduate students at the University of the Pacific for 15 years. Her specialty areas within psychology include cognitive and behavioral interventions, children’s self-regulation, and peer relations. She has presented and published research on children’s self-control, the effects of rewards on children’s attributions for social behaviors, and children’s friendships. In 1994, she became the Clinical Director of The Phillips Academy and assumed the position of Executive Director in 2011. In addition, she is currently an adjunct faculty member in the USF School of Education, teaching graduate students in the School Counseling Program, the strategies that have been effectively applied at the Academy.
Ms. Isono, MSOTR/L is an occupational therapist currently in private practice in the East Bay Area with an undergraduate degree in neuropsychology from Santa Clara University and a master’s degree from Stanford University. Currently, she provides service to children, adolescents, and young adults with varying diagnosis impacting their functional performance at school, home or in the workplace. She works privately and also contracts with multiple schools throughout the Bay Area. Ms. Isono has been practicing since 1980, and her experience has dealt with children and adults with varied diagnosis in acute care, rehabilitation, educational and outpatient services. Her philosophical approach is based on the understanding of the neurologic, physiologic, motoric, sensory, and social cognitive aspects of a client, collaborative work with the team is essential to the multidisciplinary approach that she feels best supports her clients’ development. Ms. Isono has spent time presenting at conferences, publishing papers and writing chapters in books specific to educating therapists. Her patient/client contact includes working at Stanford Hospital for over 10 years, as well as with individuals at multiple hospitals in Southern California.
Liz has taken this vast experience and applied its foundational knowledge to her current work, which primarily addresses students’ functional and educational needs. Liz has worked to educate teachers, staff and parents in surrounding communities about sensory processing and its impact on learning, execution and functional level of independence.
Dean of Students and Board Staff Representative
Mr. Chatman has been working at The Phillips Academy for 22 years. He began his career as a teaching assistant and became an active, contributing member to the high school program as a special education teacher shortly thereafter. In addition to providing instruction in English and the Social Sciences, Allan coaches football, co-leads the Student Council, and serves as a mentor to many of The Phillips Academy students.
Mr. Merriam is a licensed architect with over 20 years experience in school building design and construction. One of his most recent projects was the replacement and campus enhancement of West Contra Costa County's DeAnza High School. He has recently been elected to the Emeryville School Board and is participating in the development of Emeryville's new Center of Community Life, a very innovative use of space for the housing of a K - 12 school, and community-based health and recreational faculties for all ages.
Steven Lei, an organizational and strategy leader, provides expertise in institutional performance, financial management, public engagement, and governance. He is a finance, operations, and business resilience professional working with the Federal Reserve System's National Cash Product Office. Previously, Steven held key strategic positions with the University of California System (Office of the President and the UC San Diego campus), and with AVID, a prominent educational program focused on college readiness. Steven is an active civic leader and serves on several other non-profit boards. He is a graduate of UC San Diego and the London School of Economics.
Saiqa Anne Qureshi, PhD MBA
Dr. Qureshi is a research leader who manages organizational change, finance, HR, administration and communication, as well as writing policy and creating structure to support strategy. She is a doctorally trained social scientist with a current research portfolio and professional development program focused on organizational development. She has held a number of strategic positions internationally in higher education in both Europe and the United States. She has previously managed large-scale dissemination of research, post-doctoral fellowship programs, and operationalizing research programs. She is currently the Manager of Analysis for the Controller's Office at UCSF, where she manages the research post award portfolio of $1.6 billion annually. She is a graduate of UC San Diego, Oxford University, The University of Nottingham and Imperial College London.
Evan Ponchick has a background in operations management and has working experience in education reform, education technology and currently works in strategic operations at Dropbox. Evan comes from Connecticut by way of Washington DC where he studies at the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith school of business. While at the University he has experience starting the Food Recovery Network - a nonprofit that helps unavoidable food waste go to those in need. In the past, Evan has experience working at City Year, Kipp DC, Village Capital, Rocketship Education and General Assembly in both operations management and process improvement and program creation and management capacities.
Vitali Rusakov is a financial management and corporate business strategy leader, working as a Strategy Consultant for Wells Fargo Asset Management. Previously Vitali was a Senior Financial Analyst within the Federal Reserve System’s Information Technology Financial Management group. Vitali earned his undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley, Haas School of Business and has worked in business investments and strategy; helping lead corporate turnarounds and identify business improvements at Syufy Enterprises.
Board Parent Representative
Alison Fingerut, MSOTR/L is an occupational therapist currently in practice with Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) specializing in pediatrics birth to three years old. Prior to CCCOE, she worked for Contra Costa Children’s Services (CCS) and contracted with Golden Gate Regional Services. She has an undergraduate degree in Human Development from UC Davis and a master’s degree in occupational therapy from Columbia University. She has been practicing in the bay area in various capacities since 1994. She previously sat on the board of directors for Behavioral Intervention for Autism (BIA) in Emeryville for 6 years. She has 2 children, Amanda (18) at Acalanes High School and Steven (15) who currently attends The Phillips Academy.
Taka Yokoyama has a background in project management and public speaking, and is currently a technical sales consultant at Salesforce. He specializes in the revenue generating operations and technology of B2B enterprises. He is also a classically trained and licensed civil engineer with experience designing campuses for physical security. He is the former Chair of the Structural Engineers’ Association of Northern California’s Disaster Emergency Services Committee, working with the California Office of Emergency Services in coordinating post-disaster building safety assessments. He’s earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Architectural Engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and is currently working on his MBA through The Wharton School.