NNSP Advisory Board to Close Up

Kathleen Devaney | Head of School | The Hill School

Kathleen is currently the Head of School at The Hill School in Pottstown, PA. Prior to this appointment, Kathleen served in a variety of positions at Westminster School in Simsbury, Ct including executive director of Horizons at Westminster, dean of students, history teacher, coach, corridor supervisor, and advisor. She also chaired the school's 2005 NEASC Decennial Evaluation, worked as the director of student life for five years and served as assistant head of school for seven years. In 2002, she won the O'Brien Award and became an honorary member of the Class of 2002.  

Kathleen began her journey in independent schools at Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Ma where she served for five years as a German teacher and admissions officer.  Before entering the independent school world, Kathleen worked in corporate banking for two years in New York City and was awarded a Fulbright grant to teach English and history in former East Germany.  She holds a B.A. from Bowdoin College and a M.A.L.S. from Dartmouth College.


Nicole Hood | Upper School Director |Bryn Mawr School

Dr. Nicole Gilpin Hood is currently the Upper School Director of Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, MD. 

Prior to this appointment, Dr. Hood served as the director of All-School Programs & Partnerships at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, a private, coeducational day school affiliated with the University of Chicago. In this role, she oversaw faculty professional development, all-school curriculum coordination, and school diversity, equity and inclusion. Previously, Dr. Hood spent eight years at St. Catherine’s School, a JK-12 Episcopal girls school in Richmond, VA, where she served as an English and history teacher, English department chair, and the director of X-term, an Upper School academic enrichment program. She has also taught at Georgia State University, Howard University and Spelman College.

A graduate of National Cathedral School in Washington D.C., Dr. Hood holds a B.A. in city planning from the University of Virginia, an M.A. and PhD in the history of art from the University of Michigan, and a graduate certificate in educational leadership and policy studies from the University of Richmond.

Doug Lyons | Former Executive Director | Connecticut Association of Independent Schools

Doug has been the Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools since July 2004. A graduate of Villanova University, Doug has Masters and Doctoral degrees from The University of Pennsylvania. He began his career in public education, serving for twenty years in the New Jersey public schools as a teacher, coach, school principal and Superintendent of Schools. In 1992 he left the Superintendency in Mt. Lakes N.J. to accept the position of Headmaster of the Greenwich Country Day School, Connecticut’s largest independent school.

Dr. Lyons’ publications on education and on parenting have appeared in local, state and national journals and in the popular media, including The New York Times. Doug has served on many non-profit boards and committees, among them the boards of the St. Angela’s School in the South Bronx, N.Y., the Freedoms Foundation in Valley Forge, PA, the United Way, YMCA and The Community Answers Service Organization in Greenwich CT. Doug is currently serving on the Stonington CT Planning and Zoning board and on the vestry of the Calvary Church in Stonington, where he also serves as the President of the Nursery School Board of Trustees.

Doug is a frequent presenter at NAIS Annual Conferences and at regional conferences. He recently served as a featured speaker at the ECIS Leadership Conference in Brussels, Belgium.


Guybe Slangen | Director of Community Engagement | San Francisco Friends School

Guybe Slangen is the Director of Community Engagement at San Francisco Friends School, a K-8 Quaker school the Mission District. Guybe comes from an international family of educators—his dad (from Belgium) was a professor for nearly three decades and his mom (from the Philippines) taught in public schools for many years. He joined SFFS in 2009 from the Head-Royce School where he was the Dean of Students. Prior to that, he worked at independent schools in both Colorado and New York. At Friends, his work centers around building and sustaining strong relationships between the school and the greater community, be it in the Mission or around the globe. He manages all grade-level service partnerships, outdoor trips, and co-clerks the school’s Quaker Life Committee. He also helped launch and currently serves on the board of Horizons at SF Friends School, a public-private partnership that supports low-income students in the neighborhood.  He has served on the boards of the Northern California POCIS (People of Color in Independent Schools), the Asian Educators Alliance, and has presented workshops nationally on the topics of leadership, diversity, and community engagement. Guybe is a graduate of Dickinson College and completed his Master’s in Educational Leadership at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Guybe lives in Oakland, CA with his partner Susan and their daughter Livi.


Liz Whisnant | Professional Development Advisor| The Principals Center at Harvard Graduate School of Education

Liz Whisnant has served as principal of the District of Columbia Public Schools’ Horace Mann ES since 2005.  In 2008, she co-founded with several principal colleagues the District of Columbia Collaborative for Change (DC3), a reform structure for school improvement in DCPS whose mission is to craft schools that are inspiring places to teach and learn.  She currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Principals’ Center at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and has served as a member of the Chancellor’s Cabinet. 

In 2011, Ms. Whisnant was recognized with a Rubenstein Award for Excellence in Leadership and the Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leadership Award. In the same year, Mann Elementary received its 4th Blue Ribbon School Award for Excellence. Prior to Mann, Liz served as the founding academic principal of Trinity Episcopal School, a K-8 school, and Hidden Valley Elementary School, a PreK-6 school, both in Charlotte NC.  She also worked in Seattle as a principal coach for the University of Washington’s Center for Educational Leadership. 

Liz launched her education career as a classroom teacher in Boston, MA. She holds degrees from Harvard University, Lesley University, the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, and recently completed an Executive Masters in Leadership at Georgetown University. 


Debra Wilson | President | National Association of Independent Schools

From 2019 until 2023, Wilson served as president of the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS), where she led the organization through a period of growth and supported school leaders in her region through the COVID-19 pandemic. Her SAIS role followed 19 years at NAIS, first as assistant director of regulatory affairs and later as general counsel. In that capacity, she oversaw regulatory and advocacy work for the organization, supported schools in crises, advanced best practices in governance, and created dozens of legal advisories along with other informational resources. Before joining the NAIS staff, Debra was a tax litigator at the Department of Justice. 

In addition to serving on the boards of several schools, Debra’s board service includes The Enrollment Management Association (EMA), Global Education Benchmark Group (GEBG), Mid-South Independent School Business Officers (MISBO), and National Network of Schools in Partnership (NNSP).

Speaking frequently on topics such as leadership and governance, school safety and risk, and community health and well-being, Wilson is also co-author of the NAIS Trustee Handbook (10th and 11th editions). 

Wilson received a B.A. in English from Sewanee: The University of the South and a J.D. from the University of South Carolina at Columbia. She is a graduate of the Williams School, an independent school located on the campus of Connecticut College. She is an avid reader, photographer, and cook who loves to be outdoors.


Mike Wirtz | Head of School| St. George's School

Michael Wirtz serves as Head of School at St. George's School (RI), a role he has held since July 2023. Prior to joining St. George's, Mike served as Head of School at Hackley School in Tarrytown, NY for seven years, where he led the community to develop the school's current strategic plan, which emphasized the importance of a broad-based liberal arts approach to K-12 education, including institutional commitments to service-learning, civic engagement, integrated and sustained DEI work, and the elevation of the creative arts and technology, outdoor education, and wellness. 

Prior to Hackley, Michael served as Assistant Head of School/Dean of Faculty at St. Mark's School (MA) for 6 years. In this role, he provided strategic advice to the Head of School and led the school's STEM education initiative, while overseeing faculty hiring, evaluation, and professional development. Michael came to St. Mark's from Concord Academy (MA), where he taught for 9 years. During this tenure, he served as a chemistry teacher, Science Department Chair, house parent, advisor, and coach. Mr. Wirtz began his teaching career at The Montgomery Academy (AL) after transitioning to education from a research position at Pfizer, Inc.

Michael earned his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, Summa Cum Laude at Ohio University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Lambda of Ohio. He earned his Ed. M. in Policy, Planning, and Administration at Boston University.

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