Board of Trustees

Board of Trustees

Open Window School is a Washington non-profit, section 501 (c) (3) corporation. A self-perpetuating Board of Trustees governs the school and holds it “in trust” for future generations of students.

The Open Window Board of Trustees is composed of current and alumni parents and professionals from the education and business communities. Trustees serve as volunteers and are committed to fulfilling the school's mission and the long-term sustainability of the school. The Head of School and the Parents & Guardians Association President(s) are ex-officio, non-voting, members of the board.

Partnering closely with the Head of School, the board sets long-range policies to fulfill the mission of the school and lead it successfully into the future. The Head of School is the board’s only employee. The Head of School controls all of the operational and educational affairs of the school, administers policies, hires, evaluates and dismisses all school employees, and guides the day-to-day operation of the school.
Selection of trustees is a multi-step process that is led by the board's Governance Committee, which evaluates the professional and personal skills that are needed on the board to best serve the school. Potential trustees must be voted in by a two-thirds majority of the current board. Trustee terms are three-year commitments and trustees may be re-elected for one additional term.

Board Committees

List of 5 items.

  • Executive

    The Executive Committee facilitates effective Board meetings, advises and evaluates the Head of School, and oversees legal, corporate, regulatory and governance issues on behalf of the Board of Trustees.
  • Advancement

    The Advancement Committee works in conjunction with the Director of Institutional Advancement and Strategy to develop financial resources other than tuition to fulfill the mission of the school.  The committee champions and exercises oversight over all forms of school fundraising, including the Open Window Fund, auction, and capital campaigns.
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

    Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Committee recommends strategies, policies, and practices that further the school’s Diversity Commitment.
  • Finance

    The Finance Committee supports the Board of Trustees in its’ fiduciary responsibilities, including state, federal, and banking regulatory compliance, and internal control oversight. Working in conjunction with the Director of Finance & Operations, the committee reviews, recommends, and monitors the annual audit; annual and five-year budgets; provides cash, investment, and asset oversight; and monitors the annual business office compliance calendar.
  • Governance

    The Governance Committee reviews the school's strategic goals and plans to identify the skills, experiences, and relationships required by the Board in the present and in the future.  The committee nominates candidates for the Board and recommends members of Board committees. The committee also leads an annual process of Board review and advises the Board on issues of governance and recommends policies and practices to strengthen the good work of the Board.

2023-2024 Board of Trustees

William Kennedy
Immediate Past President
Chad Fletcher
Vice President Julie Cheng Bui
Secretary Owen Paulus
Treasurer John Stewart
Tiffany Bernal
Yan Guo
Cydnie Horwat
Bobby Huang
Paul Johnson
Sage Khanuja

Liz Swift
Tania Valdes
Elmar Vinh-Thomas
Vivien Yeung
Michael Crowson, Honorary Trustee
Nancy Robinson, Honorary Trustee
Ex-Officio Members    
Elaine Christensen, Head of School 
Amber Geels, PGA Co-President
Suzanne Love, PGA Co-President
Members of the Board of Trustees sign an annual commitment, reinforcing ethical practices and the governance role of the board.


List of 18 items.

  • William Kennedy, President

    William grew up in Huntsville, Alabama. His career as a software development engineer led him to Microsoft Corporation where he held positions as General Manager and Corporate Vice President. William has helped Open Window through many phases of growth from strategic planning to capital campaigns. He is also an active board member for many other organizations. The Kennedys have two sons, both alumni of Open Window School. They chose the school because they felt it was a great education and environment for their kids. William loves photography.
  • Chad Fletcher, Immediate Past President

    Chad grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is a Director at Takeda Pharmaceuticals. At Open Window, Chad has been a parent chair for the school’s Camp Seymour trip, Parent co-chair for the annual fund, and “Shark” during Project Week: Shark Tank. The Fletchers have two Open Window alumni. They chose Open Window because they felt that the school understood their child(ren) more than anyone else. Chad explained, “We felt the school would provide a solid education, but more importantly, (the) social and emotional learning support that they needed.”
  • Julie Cheng Bui, Vice President

    Julie grew up in San Francisco and has lived in the Pacific Northwest for more than a decade. She enjoys bringing creativity and collaboration to her work, informed by her professional background in project management and online marketing with organizations such as Stanford University and Amazon. Julie also works to help local children and families, as a board member of Bellevue LifeSpring. At Open Window, Julie volunteers in many large and small ways, from vice president of the Parent & Guardian Association, campaign co-chair for the Open Window Fund, auction procurement, and work in the classroom. The Buis love Open Window’s mission of nurturing the whole child, as well as the compassionate, inspiring teachers who amplify their kids’ love of learning every day.
  • Owen Paulus, Secretary

    Owen grew up in North East, Maryland. He is Head of Product for Stream at Microsoft. He enjoys skiing, biking, running, and all things outside. At Open Window, Owen joined the board in 2022, he was a parent co-chair for the annual fund, and volunteers in class whenever he has the chance. Owen and his wife Polita have two children at Open Window. They chose Open Window because it provided the challenge and social emotional learning their daughters craved. They are proud to be a part of the Open Window community, “We believe Open Window creates complete leaders, nurturing the head and heart while understanding the needs of gifted kids.”
  • John Stewart, Treasurer

    John grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is an EVP and Chief Risk Officer for BECU and has also worked for many other internationally active banks as management or consultant. At Open Window, he has volunteered at numerous chess tournaments and seasonal events. He has one alum and one current student at the school, which the Stewarts chose because of: “the focus on social and emotional learning, the values of the school, and the outstanding faculty!” You may see John climbing Cougar Mountain on his road bicycle as he tries to set a new personal record each year.
  • Tiffany Bernal

    Tiffany grew up in Holland, Michigan and went on to earn her master’s in education. Her many experiences in education and nonprofit management are an asset to Open Window. She was a founder for a charter school, teaching third grade; ran a foreign language enrichment program for young children; and studied social entrepreneurship and nonprofit management as part of her MBA. Tiffany is very involved with the Open Window community as an active volunteer, serving as Parent Association Co-President for the 2019-2020 schoolyear, chairing community building committees, and co-chairing the 2018 auction. With an OWS alum and current middle school student, the Bernals chose the school so that their children would have the opportunity to join a diverse community of eager learners led by caring, understanding teachers who could not only tailor academic instruction but also weave social-emotional learning throughout the curriculum. She is also an avid traveler and is multilingual, speaking Spanish fluently, as well as some French. 
  • Yan Guo

    Yan grew up in Beijing, China. She came to the United States right after college and got her master’s degree from University of Washington. She is a group manager leading a multi-disciplinary engineering and data science team at Microsoft. At Open Window, she has volunteered as parent coordinator and hospitality committee co-chair. She has two children at the school. They chose OWS for its focus on developing and nurturing the whole child. As a family, they enjoy traveling around the world and doing all kinds of outdoor activities.
  • Cydnie Horwat

    Cydnie grew up in Salt Lake City and Los Angeles and currently serves as Chief Retail Officer for Habitat for Humanity King Kittitas Counties. At Open Window, she has volunteered in multiple roles from committee member for our Capital Campaign to Board Treasurer and Board President. The Horwats have two Open Window alumni. They chose Open Window because they felt, “The unique pairing of providing a challenge coupled (with) nurturing, including the deep SEL foundation, has provided our children with an amazing education and introduced us to parents who are now lifelong friends.” Cydnie loves to cook and was taught by Julia Child (on PBS), making her first chocolate soufflé at 9 years old. 
  • Bobby Huang

    Bobby grew up in Taiwan and has lived in the Pacific Northwest for nearly 20 years. He is a managing director at Deloitte & Touche, working with investment management, life sciences, and technology companies. Bobby is passionate about the mission of Open Window School and the unique experience it offers for the children. He enjoys volunteering at the school, with Pizza Fridays and Field Day being two of his favorite activities.
  • Dr. Paul Johnson

    Dr. Paul Johnson has over 20 years of leadership experience, focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, Human Resource Management, Organizational Change, and Project Management, from a wide range of industries and within several dynamic organizations, including Starbucks, Seattle Waldorf School, Microsoft and his current position as Vice President of People and Culture and Chief Diversity Officer at the Seattle Symphony. Paul has a Doctorate in Education from University of Southern California, a master's in human resources from Villanova, and a master's in project management from Georgetown University. Paul is currently serving on the Open Window DEIB Committee.
  • Sage Khanuja

    Sage grew up in Seattle. He is a technology entrepreneur who previously co-founded Spira, a healthtech company that was acquired in 2021. Before that, Sage worked at several early-stage software companies as an engineer. Sage graduated from Open Window in 2017. In his free time, Sage loves playing tennis and golf.
  • Liz Swift

    Liz grew up in the Seattle area and has continued to make the Pacific Northwest her home. She has spent much of her professional life in educational leadership, with the last 28 years as Head of School at Holy Names Academy. She also has a passion for STEM subjects and taught an advanced physics course for her entire administrative career. Liz has served on several school boards and boards for other professional organizations. She has one daughter who also lives in the Seattle area. Liz greatly appreciates the quality education provided to the students at Open Window School and notes, “Open Window produces well-rounded, confident, and articulate students who are ready for their next level of education and life.”
  • Tania Valdes

    Tania grew up in Mexico City, where she spent her childhood through university (she studied computer science at the Tecnológico de Monterrey). In 2000 she moved to San Francisco to work for a US software company, and over the next 17 years had a successful career building large, globally distributed software organizations. In 2018 she retired to spend more time with her daughter Leila.
    Tania and family moved to Washington in 2020. They feel fortunate to be part of the OWS community and enjoy supporting the school in whichever ways they can. Tania has served as PGA Vice President and is also an Auction co-chair this year. During her free time, she enjoys watching movies with family, trying new restaurants, and spending time with friends. And while they really enjoy the PNW, they love visiting the warm Mexican beaches whenever they can! 
  • Elmar Vinh-Thomas

    Elmar was born in Germany; grew up in South Africa; and has also lived in the US, Namibia, and Switzerland. He studied social anthropology, linguistics, and medicine and worked as a medical doctor, university lecturer, and in various roles in international development before becoming the Head of Assurance and Risk Management at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Vinh-Thomas family has two Open Window School alumnae. They chose Open Window for the “intentional balance between intellectual rigor, critical thinking and social-emotional learning.” Elmar is perplexingly proud of the Official Pretzel Twisters Certificate he was awarded by America’s Oldest Pretzel Bakery in Pennsylvania Dutch Country.
  • Vivien Yeung

    Vivien grew up in Hong Kong. Prior to her current position as the Chief Strategy Officer at Kohl’s, Vivien served as the General Manager, Venture at lululemon, and is currently a Board member at Jack in the Box. Vivien has an alum and current middle school student at Open Window. The Chung family chose Open Window for its focus on nurturing children’s love of learning through an integrated approach to education. Her favorite way to sweat is power vinyasa yoga.
  • Elaine Christensen, Head of School

    Read the Message from the Head of School to learn more.
  • Amber Geels, PGA Co-President

    Amber grew up in the greater Seattle area and earned a dual degree from UW in Business & English. With a corporate background in digital marketing, Amber currently co-manages a real estate investment fund and serves as the OWS PGA Co-President. Amber and her husband, Andrew, have two children. Evan, who is a sophomore at Issaquah High School and Nick, who is attending OWS as a seventh grader this year.  
    They chose Open Window School because of the unique hands-on curriculum and learning opportunities, which allow students to think creatively; questioning the world around them in a supportive, encouraging environment.
  • Suzanne Love, PGA Co-President

Open Window School provides a challenging academic curriculum blended with nurturing support from teachers that prepares students for long-term success.