Board of Directors
As keepers of the mission and legal fiduciaries of PS1 Pluralistic School, the Board of Directors is charged with overall long range, strategic planning of the school. Each trustee actively promotes the school’s vision while accepting the accountability for both the financial stability and financial future of the school.
Our current board has 19 members comprised of eight men and eleven women, fourteen of whom are current parents of the school, nine of whom are alumni parents, one of whom is a current grandparent at the school, and the Head of School. Each member brings unique personal experience from a variety of diverse professional backgrounds. From financial leaders and members of the film industry, to philanthropists and attorneys, the collective experience of the Board provides a comprehensive, overall perspective.
Meeting eight times a year, Board members serve on standing committees including, Administration and Finance, Standards and Search, Advancement, and Buildings and Grounds. An elective Board Chair and Secretary, along with the head of school, nurture and guide all major policy decisions.
A hospitality veteran with over 15 years of experience, Nisreen Al-Bassam is partner and asset manager at Manhattan Hospitality Advisors, a global hospitality advisory firm. Manhattan Hospitality Advisors has provided asset management, project management and general consulting services on over $18 billion of hotels, resorts and mixed-use projects. Prior to joining Manhattan Hospitality Advisors, Nisreen worked for Palladium Hotel Group where her responsibilities included overseeing a portfolio of luxury hotels, asset valuation, market research, feasibility studies, and client reporting.
Nisreen also worked directly for the President of Bear, Stearns Securities Corp. on strategic initiatives, and internationally for the Saudi Aramco Oil Company as a member of their Treasury Department investing oil revenues, developing foreign currency hedge strategies, and helping manage the employee retirement fund portfolio.
Nisreen earned an MBA in Finance with Honors from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics from Stanford University. She is fluent in Arabic and proficient in Spanish. She has two sons who attend PS1.
Dr. Josh Berger (PS1 1985-90) is the Director of the K-12 Belldegrun Center for Innovative Leadership at Brentwood School, a center that prepares students to engage with real world challenges and explore solutions within and beyond the classroom. After receiving his Master's Degree in English, Josh completed his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from UCLA and wrote an award-winning dissertation on the “The Implementation of School-Based Peer Programs.” Josh has his California teaching and administrative credentials, and has led a variety of leadership and professional development workshops. He has also taught courses in Civic Leadership, Educational Leadership, Applied Psychology, and English. Josh serves on the Board for the National Association of Peer Program Professionals, is a published author for the National Mentoring Resource Center, and has consulted for the City of San Francisco’s Mayor’s Office designing programs focused on transitional aged youth living in affordable housing communities. An avid sports fan, Josh graduated from Duke University where he served as a four-year student manager under former U.S. Olympic Basketball Coach, Mike Krzyzewski. Josh lives in Los Angeles with his wife Lauren, and their two children.
Jeff Haines is Chairman and CEO of Ovation Medical, an orthopedic device company he founded in 2009. Prior to Ovation Jeff owned and operated Royce Medical in the orthopedic device industry for 23 years until 2003 when the company was sold.
Jeff has served on various corporate boards as well as serving as a board member at Seven Arrows elementary school for four years. He is currently an active member on the advisory council at the University of Miami. Jeff is also currently a member of CEO and was a member of the Beverly Hills chapter of YPO for 17 years.
Nadene and Jeff live in the Pacific Palisades. They have four children, Gage 25, Daniel 20, Brooke 11, and William 7.
Elizabeth Kendall double majored in Economics and Political Science at Stanford University then matriculated to NYU School of Law to complete her Juris Doctorate. She practiced commercial litigation at Irell & Manella LLP in Century City before transitioning to philanthropic work. She has volunteered in a variety of positions at PS1, including chairing the Alumni Relations Committee and co-chairing the Annual Fundraising Gala. She joined the PS1 Board in 2019 and currently serves as the Board's Advancement Chair. Elizabeth and her spouse, Alexander, have one child who currently attends PS1.
Tawny Laskar is an educational leader and an advocate for equity in urban education. She started her career as a Teach for America corps member in Metro Atlanta. Tawny then went on to teach in the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) in both Atlanta and Los Angeles. Later, Tawny began working as a consultant, supporting districts with reform initiatives. Alongside a professional colleague, Tawny co-founded Learning by Design Charter School, which offers a groundbreaking, research-based approach to urban education. She has proudly served as principal since 2019.
Tawny is currently enrolled in UCLA’s Principal Leadership Institute graduate school, where she’ll earn a master’s degree in educational leadership with an emphasis on social justice. She holds an M.Ed. in elementary education from Georgia State University, bachelor’s degrees in Law & Society and Black Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and a clear California multiple subject teaching credential. Tawny has been a member of several non-profit boarding, including Teach for America’s Associate Board, MOMS Club of Santa Monica (president), and Valor Academy Charter School (founding member and secretary).
Joel Pelcyger is the Co-Founder and Head of PS1 Pluralistic School, an elementary school for grades K-6. PS1 was founded in 1971 and is a family-oriented, independent, and non-profit school located in the heart of Santa Monica, CA. His work is grounded in the belief that every child is unique, and he has built a school that nurtures individual talents and learning styles, helping children become the best versions of themselves. PS1 stands for Pluralistic School, as “pluralism” defines both the school’s educational philosophy to use a variety of methods to reach a common goal and its commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. The vision statement of the school is: “Celebrate the Many; Build One.” He is also the Co-Founder of 14000hours.org, founded in 2016 as a strategic initiative of the school. The initiative is building a nationwide network of educators, parents, students, scholars, and others dedicated to uncovering the genius within each child in all school settings through public education, grassroots organizing, media outreach, and collaborative partnerships. Joel is frequently speaking nationally at conferences, workshops, and think-tanks on theories and practices that have been implemented at PS1 since its inception.
Vice Chair, Board of Directors. Jessica Reid is Co-Executive Director of Determined to Succeed, a college access and success nonprofit organization in Los Angeles, where she oversees all development, administration and strategic planning. An attorney by training, she holds her JD from DePaul University College of Law and earned her BA in both Journalism and History from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Jessica began her career as a judicial clerk in the Federal Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago. Upon relocating to Los Angeles, she worked as an associate at O’Melveny & Myers LLP, and then as a Vice President of Business Affairs for a motion picture studio. She currently serves on the National Advisory Board of the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford University, as well as the Gores Family Allergy Center Council at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and the parent committee for UCLA's Food Allergy Center. She has volunteered in myriad capacities at PS1, including Parent Ambassador and New Family Liaison, and currently chairs the Annual Fund Committee. Jessica and her husband Eric’s younger son Julian is currently enrolled at PS1, and their older son Dylan graduated from PS1 in 2018.
Maggie Rosenfeld held the role of Director of Finance and Operations at PS1 from 2001-2019. Prior to that, she was a partner in a Los Angeles law firm. Maggie grew up in suburban Chicago; she has a math degree from the University of Michigan and a law degree from UCLA. Maggie's two sons attended PS1, and she is also the proud grandmother of two granddaughters, born in March 2016 and July 2017. She has been on the Board of Directors since 1994 and currently serves on the Executive Committee, the Administration and Finance Committee, the Governance Committee, and the Building and Grounds Committee.
Jason Schwarz is the president of Wilshire Funds Management and Wilshire Analytics, both business units of Wilshire Associates, a global investment consulting, investment management and investment technology firm. Wilshire has been a pioneer in the investment industry for over four decades, and currently advises or manages over $1 trillion for institutional and retail investors.
With 20 years of industry experience, Jason joined Wilshire in 2005, holding increasingly senior roles within the business prior to his appointment as president of Wilshire Funds Management in 2014. Jason also serves as president and Director of the Wilshire Mutual Funds and VITs, is a Director of Wilshire’s Segregated Portfolio Companies, and is a member of Wilshire’s Board of Directors.
Jason earned his AB in government from Hamilton College and holds an MBA from the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California. He is a member of the Beverly Hills Chapter of YPO and serves on the Board of Santa Monica Girls Fastpitch Softball. Jason and his wife, Jessica, have three daughters and live in Marina Del Rey, California.
Carrie Southworth Johnson
During her upbringing as an expatriate, Carrie Southworth Johnson spent a large portion of her childhood in Tanzania, before returning to the US for high school and college. She received her BA in Economics from the University of Virginia and worked on the bond trading floor at Chase Manhattan Bank before leaving sanity behind to travel the world as a model for Elite Model Management. Her 10 year career included work in New York, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Milan, after which she transitioned into TV and film, ultimately landing leading roles in both mediums. After the birth of her first child, Carrie and a childhood friend started Twigtale, a personalized book company focused on the social/emotional health of young children. Carrie is a devoted wife and mom living in Los Angeles with her husband and four young children, the eldest two of whom attend PS1. She serves as board chair for LIFT - LA, a non-profit that focuses on helping community members out of poverty for good. She is also entering her second term on the Board of Trustees for The Madeira School, one of the nation's leading all-girls boarding schools, located in Virginia.
Kerri Speck served as Chair of the Board of Directors of PS1 Pluralistic School from 2016-2019, and has been an active board member since 2012. Kerri obtained her undergraduate degree in history from the University of Southern California, and holds a juris doctorate from Western State University. She has been an active member of the California State Bar since 2002. As the founder and owner of Signature Residential Brokerage, Kerri has been engaged in the Southern California real estate industry for over fifteen years. Before attending law school, Kerri taught at a public elementary school and this experience has fueled her passion for supporting progressive education. While serving on the PS1 Board of Directors, Kerri has chaired the Capital Campaign and also served as Chair of the Advancement Committee. Currently, she serves on the Executive, Governance, and Advancement Committees and is the Annual Fund Co-Chair. Kerri and her husband, Paul, have two children currently enrolled at PS1, and one alumna of PS1.
DeAnn Spell is an attorney and Senior Vice President at Fox Corporation. She attended Penn State University where she obtained her degree in Psychology with a concentration in early childhood development. She also holds a Juris Doctorate from Duke University.
DeAnn has actively served on non-profit boards, including the Women’s Center of Chapel Hill in North Carolina, the Chicago area chapter of Step Up, and the Montessori at Otari preschool in Wellington, New Zealand. Since her children joined the community in 2015, she has actively volunteered at PS1 in various capacities, including as a room parent and member of the Parents Guild Executive Board (PGEB) before joining the PS1 Board of Directors in 2019. She serves on the Governance Committee.
DeAnn and her husband, Rhazes, have two children, Bliss and Rhazes, Jr. who currently attend PS1.
Stacey Rossley Staples is a versatile nonprofit professional who has experienced the sector from multiple perspectives: staff, volunteer, board member, consultant and grantmaker. Stacey is dedicated to helping organizations fulfill their missions through strategic thinking, operational efficiency, and effective fundraising. Stacey currently works as a nonprofit consultant specializing in strategic planning. She serves on the Board of Directors for Citizens of the World Los Angeles, a public charter school organization with a $25 million + operating budget. Previously, Stacey was the Director of Development for KIPP LA Schools, where she managed a team that more than tripled philanthropic revenue. She has worked for several other nonprofit organizations, including the Joseph Drown Foundation and College Match. Stacey also served as a Senior teaching Associate for Johnson & Johnson/UCLA Executive Programs, where she led Head Start and health care professionals through an intensive strategic planning process. Stacey holds an MBA from the UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management and a BA from Amherst College. Stacey has two children who attend PS1.
Michael Tatum is a real estate investor in multi-family residential properties and a custom home builder. He has a degree in Industrial design and a Construction Management Certificate from San Francisco State University. He Chairs the Building and Grounds Committee for PS1 and co-chairs the fall festival. Michael and his wife, Jenny, have one child at PS1 and two PS1 alumni (Class of 2015 and Class of 2018).
Steve Trilling is Senior Vice President and General Manager of Security Analytics and Research at Symantec, the global leader in cyber security. Symantec protects diverse systems from mobile phones, to desktops and laptops, to the data centers of the world’s largest enterprises. Steve’s division delivers Symantec’s industry-leading threat protection technologies, advanced security analytics, investigations into new targeted cyberattacks, as well as basic and applied research in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Steve received his BS degree from Yale University and his MS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At PS1, Steve is in his second year as Chair of the school’s Annual Fund, as well as serving on the Administration and Finance Committee, and has been an active member of the Strategic Vision Committee. He is also an engaged volunteer in his community, serving on the Dean’s Corporate Advisory Board for the UCLA School of Engineering and Applied Science, and serving on the Board and being an active coach and volunteer at West Los Angeles Little League. In addition, Steve is a member of the Gores Center Allergy Council at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and is involved in fundraising for the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford University. He and his wife Wendi live in Brentwood and have twin boys who graduated from PS1.
Heather Turner is the CEO and co-founder of Tamarack Capital Partners, a real estate investment firm focused on the hospitality industry. Prior to founding Tamarack, Ms. Turner was managing partner of DiNapoli Capital Partners. Previously, she worked with The Walt Disney Company and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Heather has been active on professional and educational boards including ULI’s Hotel Development Council, the American Hotel Lodging Association's Investment Roundtable, as a past president of the Hospitality Asset Managers Association, and a past member of the National Board of Directors of the Florida State University Alumni Association. She is a guest lecturer in real estate at the Anderson Graduate School of Business at UCLA. Ms. Turner earned a BS from Florida State University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Heather is a first year Trustee on the Board for PS1 Pluralistic School and she serves as Chair of the Administration & Finance Committee. She and her husband Richard live in Brentwood with their daughter, Montgomery, a current PS1 student, and their puppy, Rosie.
Eric Zabinski is a partner at the international law firm of O’Melveny & Myers LLP, where he serves as chair of its mergers & acquisitions practice group. Eric represents private and public companies in mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, minority investments, and equity and debt financings, and he works with a wide range of investors—principally middle-market private equity groups, venture capital funds, and other institutional sponsors—on investments, leveraged acquisitions, and general corporate support for their portfolio companies. Eric also represents a number of non-profits in pro bono matters. He holds a B.S.E. in computer engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.S. Economics from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, and he earned his J.D. from Stanford University. Eric and his wife Sharon have two daughters, Sarah and Hannah, currently enrolled at PS1.