Trustees are volunteers who offer St. John’s sound judgment, professional expertise, practical skills, and donations.
As an independent school, St. John’s Parish Day School is governed by a Board of Trustees whose members serve the school on a voluntary basis.
The Board of Trustees is responsible for the following:
- assuring the relevance and fulfillment of the school’s mission;
- hiring, supporting, and evaluating the Headmaster;
- securing the financial sustainability of the school.
Stewards & Cheerleaders. As stewards, Board members guard the school's human, physical, and financial resources. As cheerleaders, they embrace the school's mission, promote the school in the larger community, and support the school's development efforts.
Visionaries. Board members see the school's current reality with clarity, deeply understand its mission and potential, and think toward the future. They see the school as a whole (even as their vision is informed by their particular experience of the school) and understand it in a larger context. In a way, Board members are more focused on how the school could serve their grandchildren than on how it serves their own children today.
Active Planners. Board members create a strategic orientation or plan and use it as a living document to keep them focused on goals (and not personalities, passing crises, or minutiae).
Collaborators. Board members work extensively with one another, with committee members from across the school community, and especially with the Head of School, whom they hire, evaluate, and support. Authority is vested in the Board as a whole, and each Trustee must support the decisions of the Board and respect confidentiality.
Executive Committee – Consists of Board's officers, the church Rector, and the Head of School. Reviews all matters which it determines to be of strategic importance to the school that will come before the full Board. The Executive Committee also evaluates the Head of School.
Committee on Trustees – Determines and evaluates the composition of the Board and its leadership, takes responsibility for policy and by-laws, and leads the on-going effort to support the growth and development of the Board and its individual members.
Finance Committee– Develops and monitors the long-range financial plan and annual budget of the school and oversees the endowment, audit, and financial policies of the school.
Development Committee – Oversees all advancement activities of the school including fundraising, marketing, communications, and enrollment management.
Buildings & Grounds Committee – Oversees all aspects of the campus grounds and physical plant, including monitoring the cleaning service as a joint schoo/church committee.
The Board of Trustees pursues best practices and often refers to standards set by NAIS, the National Association of Independent Schools, which publishes these Principles of Good Practice for a school's Board of Trustees.
Click on a Trustee’s name to view a short biographical description.
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Board of Trustees
Mrs. Stacey Benzing
Grade 5 Teacher
Board of Trustees, Faculty Representativesbenzing@stjohnspds.org
Mrs. Benzing's desire to become a teacher led her to pursue a Bachelor's degree in psychology at Randolph-Macon College and go on to earn a Master's degree in Elementary Education from The College of Notre Dame. She taught 3rd grade in Richmond City, VA and 7th and 8th grade in New London, CT. She has three boys with whom she stayed home for many years until returning to her education career as a preschool teacher at St. John's in 2008. She loved teaching in the preschool. She moved to the Lower School in 2012 to teach 5th grade where she finds that the inquisitive minds of her students give them the ability to probe deeper into their studies. Mrs. Benzing is passionate about teaching and especially enjoys the caring, welcoming atmosphere St. John's cultivates. In her free time, you will find Mrs. Benzing reading, crafting, or spending time with her family.
Ms. Kathy Carter
Board of Trustees, Memberkatherine_carter@hcpss.org
Ms. Denny Donovan
Board of Trustees, Member
Denny Donovan is a lawyer who has practiced various areas of civil law since 1983, first for ten years in New York City and then in Maryland since 1994. She and her husband Dan presently have their own law firm in Baltimore, Donovan & Rainie, LLC, which represents individuals and corporations in litigation, arbitration, mediation, employment law, corporate law, and securities law. Denny and Dan are the parents of three young adults.
Denny has a long connection with St. John’s. She has been a parishioner of St. John’s Church since 1995, having first met the staff there when two of her children attended St. John’s Parish Day School pre-school from 1995 to 1997. Denny is an active volunteer in her community. She has served on the board of the Baltimore Wellesley Club since 2005, and is currently Co-President. Since 2010, Denny has served as chair of the publicity committee and also assisted with fundraising for Hope in the Harbor, an annual gala held in Baltimore to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Denny also served as President, Vice President, and After Prom Co-Chair for the Centennial High School PTSA from 2003 through 2010 and actively volunteered for the theater and music departments at Centennial High School.
Mr. Adam Eldridge
Board of Trustees, Vice Presidentadam_eldridge@hcpss.org
Mr. Gill Gawthrop
Board of Trustees, Presidentgill@gawthropbuilders.com
Dear St. John's Parish Day School Families, It is an honor to reach out to all of you as your new President of the Board of Trustees of St. John's Parish Day School. I am super excited to serve this year and together make a lasting, positive impact on a school that I care very much about. Let me start by telling you a little about myself. St. John's has been an extended family for my family since the very beginning. My wife, Faith, and I married at St. John's 19 years ago. We have two children - Molly who is 10 and Sam who is 12. Both of them went to Early Childhood back in the day when we had to camp out overnight to make the admissions cut! I am the President of Gawthrop Builders, LLC, a licensed General Contractor based in Howard County. This marks my fourth year on the Board of Trustees. I served on the Architectural Committee during the school's expansion in the late 90s. I currently serve on the Buildings and Grounds Committee of St. John's Episcopal Church. I'm also a Youth Leader for Rite 13 our youth faith formation for children in 6th and 7th grades. I've served on the Outreach Committee as Rebuilding Together House Captain and Habitat House Captain as well as leading Senior High Youth Group work trips to New Mexico, Alabama, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Jamaica. I am "ALL IN" for St. John's - church and school. For the school, I'm committed to Ms. Nichol's three-point vision. My focus will be growing enrollment for whole school with an emphasis on Kindergarten. My hope for the school is unity of faculty and staff, professional growth and speaking from one voice. I believe St. John's Parish Day School is a hidden treasure. I'm fired up and ready to stop hiding it. Let's show our fire and our greatness. All of us affect the reputation of our school so, let's talk the talk AND walk the walk. Spread the St. John's Fire. Talk to friends and neighbors about our school and invite their preschoolers, Kindergarteners and Lower School-ers to experience the Spark of St. John's! Talk it up and let's grow together! Warmly,Gill GawthropPresident, Board of Trustees
Mrs. Sue Grosso
Acting Head of Schoolsgrosso@stjohnspds.org
Currently Mrs. Grosso is the Acting Head of School. Mrs. Grosso began her career at St. John's in 2002 as a teacher for our 3's program and has served as the Head of Early Childhood for two years. Mrs. Grosso has been a consistent partner partner in leadership at St. John's by working on multiple committees including Emergency Preparedness, Chapel, Head of School Search, the AIMS Steering Committee, and faculty member of the Board of Trustees. As the Associate Head of School, Mrs. Grosso will continue to lead our successful Early Childhood program in addition to supporting the management and growth of the school as a whole.
Mrs. Grosso attended Lafayette College where she earned her degree in Metallurgical Engineering. Mrs. Grosso has extensive experience working with children and developing programs for children. Mrs. Grosso developed and implemented the Early Childhood "Lunch and Learn" Program, offering enrichment activities in science, literature, and art. She has spent over 20 years as a volunteer and program director for Girl Scouts in the United States and South Korea. She has also been active in developing programs for various vacation bible schools, PTA's and leadership programs. She is a Board Member of the Howard County Youth Program and volunteers her time for many organizations including the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center, American Heart Association and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Mrs. Grosso resides in Ellicott City with her husband, niece and nephew and is the grandmother of a beautiful baby girl. Mrs. Grosso loves to go to the shore, traveling and spending time with her friends and family.
Mr. John Hendon
Board of Trustees, Treasurerjohnjhendon@gmail.com
Mr. Sandy Hornor
Board of Trustees, Sr. Warden, St. John's Episcopal Churchsandyhornor@comcast.net
Sandy has been a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Ellicott City since 1995. He and his wife, Cynthia, were married at St. John’s in 1996 and their three children were each baptized here and also attended the Parish Day School. Since 1995 Sandy has enthusiastically served St. John’s in a variety of different capacities. His service includes: Junior Warden, Investment Committee (chair), Buildings and Grounds (chair), Vestry Nominating Committee (chair), St. John's Parish Day School Board (trustee), member of the Vestry, Rector Calling Committee, Finance Committee and the Rector’s Strategic Visioning Task Force. Sandy enjoys contributing to St. John’s through these various roles and being an active participant in many of our ministries. Professionally, Sandy has worked in the financial services industry since 1987.
Ms. Nancy Hulsman
Board of Trustees
President of Parents' Associationhulsmangroup@gmail.com
Ms. Hulsman’s family join SJPDS in 2011 when her daughter started in the Early Childhood program. She says that moving on to the LC program has been one of the best decisions in her daughter’s education and foundation for shaping her future. Ms. Hulsman has been a realtor and local business owner since 1985. Her works passion is teaching and mentoring business entrepreurs. She enjoys helping people grow into their goals and dreams as she leads her teams into being top producers in the business community.
She feels God has blessed her with being able to serve on the board of trustees. The experience to see the growth and involvement of such a caring group of people, validates the decision to send her child to SJPDS. She enjoys spending her free time with her daughter and is her Girl Scout troop leader. They enjoy traveling together all over the world. She has volunteered with many local and national charities.
Mr. Brad Lieberman
Board of Trustees, Junior Wardenblieber855@verizon.net
Brad has been a member of St John's since the early nineties. His wife Debbie is very active in the life of the church as well. Their children graduated the day school, were confirmed at St. John's, and were eager participants in the various youth programs. Brad started volunteering with the youth program prior to the church’s introduction of Journey to Adulthood. He has served on the Youth Leadership Committee which was instrumental in hiring two youth directors as well as once associate rector.
In the more recent years, Brad has served on the Vestry and as Junior Warden. As a Vestry member Brad served on the Buildings and Grounds and Stewardship Committees. The Junior Warden's role gave Brad the opportunity to help oversee the management of the grounds and the facilities of St John’s 13+ acre campus. Currently in the 3rd year of this role, some of Brad’s major accomplishments are the overseeing of capital projects with funds from the Capital Campaign, instituting the church and school green initiatives, and the successful hiring of a professional facilities manager. In addition, Brad oversaw the quick restoration of the campus after several major storm events plagued our area, and co chairs the biannual campus clean up that hosts over 70 participants. Brad serves as chair of Buildings and Grounds, is an active member of the Day School board, and serves on the Stewardship Committee. Professionally Brad is employed in the forest products industry.
Ms. Katie Martinez
Board of Trustees, Memberkatie0421@aol.com
Katie is pleased to be a member of the Board of Trustees. She is the mother of a St. John’s graduate (2014), a past Parent’s Association treasurer and a current member of St. John’s Church. She has been fortunate to be part of numerous efforts within the church to include the 2013 mission trip to India and helping to coordinate the 2014 International Gala that raised needed funds for India, Kenya and Haiti. Katie also served on the strategic planning committee and the capital campaign.
Katie is a Lead Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton; working on healthcare management projects. She holds a BA from Franklin and Marshall College, an MBA from American University and a Business of Medicine Certificate from John’s Hopkins University. During her professional tenure, she has also worked as a social worker with Catholic Charities, served as a director of a national healthcare non-profit and held administrative roles within local healthcare / hospital systems.
In her spare time, Katie and her husband, Greg, love to watch their daughter’s travel softball games. She is also an avid reader and participates in multiple book clubs throughout Howard County.
Mrs. Tiffany Nichols
Head of School
Board of Trustees, Membertnichols@stjohnspds.org
Ms. Nichols taught fifth and sixth grade students in New York and at SJPDS. She joined us in 2006 as a member of our teaching team and was promoted to our Head of Lower School and Interim Dean of Academic Affairs. It is with great honor that she recently accepted the Head of School position at SJPDS. She earned a Masters in Administration and Supervision in 2013 at Loyola University and a BS in Elementary Education and BA in Psychology at State University of New York at Geneseo.
Her favorite part of her day is being with the children in their learning process. It is the dedication, creativity and joyfulness of staff, parents and students that make the magical moments in our school everyday. When Ms. Nichols is not at school, she loves to bike, yoga, and read. Spending time with her family is also a true joy in her life. She is an active volunteer with Kenya Connect, having traveled to Wamunyu, Kenya on two, soon to be three mission trips.
Mr. Harold Sachs II (Hal)
Board of Trustees, Memberhalsachs@outlook.com
The Rev. Jenni Ovenstone Smith
Associate Rector, St. John's Episcopal Church
Chaplain, St. John's Parish Day Schooljosmith@stjohnsec.org
The Reverend Jenni Ovenstone Smith has been employed at St. John’s Church and Parish Day School since October 2008. As chaplain of St. John’s Parish Day School, Jenni works with the Head of School to shape and support our community’s spiritual life and formation, particularly through our chapel program. She also facilitates the pastoral care of our students, staff, and families. Jenni was ordained in the Episcopal Church in 2003, having received a Masters of Divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, VA.
Since her ordination, Jenni has served in several congregations in the Dioceses of Virginia and Maryland. Through these contexts of different settings and sizes, Jenni has found great joy in helping people of all ages discover the true selves they were created by God to be, and to claim in their daily lives the gifts they have been given and called by God to use. In her current role as Associate Rector for Children and Youth and Chaplain for Common Life at St. John’s, Jenni guides the many ways our church and school seek to nurture the spiritual lives of young people from birth through college, as well as their families, through worship, learning, and service.
Jenni welcomes conversation, both inside and outside of chapel and classrooms, to explore questions about God, faith or doubt, and call in the everyday, real lives of our students and families. She is available to support students and families in school life and beyond. Jenni is on campus during the school week on Monday through Thursday.
David J. Standeven
Board of Trustees, Memberdjstandeven@comcast.net
Since January 2008, David Standeven, has been a Principal and CFO for Master Security Company, LLC a regional security services provider headquartered in Hunt Valley, MD and licensed in MD, PA, DC, VA, NC, SC, GA, FL and TX. Master Security provides security guards and security technology in the Aviation, Government and Commercial sectors. For the prior 15 years he served as the CFO for Allegis Group, Inc. the world’s largest privately owned Staffing Services firm headquartered in Hanover, MD. For 11 years prior, David worked as a Certified Public Accountant in the audit practice of the Philadelphia office of Deloitte & Touche.
David has been a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church since relocating to the Ellicott City area in 2003. Currently he serves as the Chair of the Investment Committee and a member of the Church Finance Committee. Prior service has included the Buildings & Grounds committee, Treasurer and Executive Committee. While serving the St. John’s Community in the roles above, he worked with and interacted with the Parish Day School Board, the PDS Finance and Executive Committees.
David is the husband of Diane and father of three children, Matthew (28), Gregory (26) and Molly (23) all of whom participated in various youth programs at St. John’s. Together with Diane and many others, he assisted in the creation, fundraising and execution of Hope in the Harbor, an annual gala supporting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. He has served since inception as the Chair of the Partnership Committee charged with soliciting corporate sponsors for the event now in its 5th year. He is an avid golfer and fly fisherman.
Ms. Rachel Trau
Board of Trustees, Memberrtrau@gmail.com
Board of Trustees, Membergwalker348@aol.com
Geoff Walker, his wife Jennifer and sons, Griff and Graeme joined the St. John’s Parish Day School Community in 2006. Griff graduated in 2013 and Graeme is currently in the 3rd grade.
Geoff has been the agency principal of Walker Insurance Agency, Inc. since 1997 and has been involved in the insurance industry since 1994. Prior to that, he was a maritime supply chain security consultant operating extensively in South America, Central America and the Caribbean. Geoff served in the United States Marine Corps (1979-84) working in Embassy Security Detachments in Caracas, Venezuela & Stuttgart, Germany. He was Honorably Discharged from active duty in 1984 and from the reserves in 1989.
Along with military schools, Geoff was educated at Loyola High School, Blakefield (1979); Universitat Bonn (1987); and received a B.A. in Political Science & History from Loyola College in Maryland (1988). His interests include spending time with family, reading, golf, cooking and shooting sports.