Western Reserve Academy is fortunate to have a team of leadership professionals, from school administration to our Board of Trustees, who carry on our tradition of excellence.
Suzanne Walker Buck, Head of School
Head of School Suzanne Walker Buck has a long history with boarding schools. Both of her parents were educators, whom she credits for igniting her boarding school spirit. Buck is a graduate of both the Fay School and Miss Porter’s School. Buck graduated from Connecticut College and received graduate degrees in clinical social work from Columbia University and education from Harvard University. She has held various roles as an Admission Counselor, Dorm Parent and Coach at Westminster School as well as at Fay School, New Hampton School and most recently as the Rector (Head of School) at Chatham Hall. Buck serves on the Boards of The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) and the Enrollment Management Association (EMA). Buck and her husband Johnny reside in Pierce House with their daughter Halsey '24. They are also proud parents to Oliver and Nina.
Dr. Nicholas Kent, Associate Head of School
Dr. Nicholas Kent joins us as our Associate Head of School. Dr. Kent brings a vivid worldview to Hudson, with a boundless curiosity and many stamps on his career passport. In Shanghai, at the Concordia International School, he had a 360-degree angle on education. His roles included humanities teacher, Head of Marketing & Admissions and High School Assistant Principal and High School Principal. In Jakarta, he was Deputy Head of School at Jakarta Intercultural School, overseeing nearly 300 faculty, cementing school accreditation and interacting with the Indonesian Ministries of Education, Labor, Manpower and Education. He has a rich background in curricular development, academic assessment, faculty cultivation, enrollment management and strategic planning. He and his wife Erin reside on campus with their daughter, Alice.
Thomas Arnold, Chief Financial and Operating Officer
Joining WRA in 2014, Thomas Arnold brings professional expertise in the area of business operations from experience in both higher education and independent schools. Holding a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, Mr. Arnold has served in roles at Robert Morris University, Chatham University and as Vice President for Finance and Administration at Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh. As Chief Financial and Operating Officer, Mr. Arnold leads all areas of finance, facilities and auxiliary operations as well as ensures compliance in all human resources, risk management and legal matters. His experience in strategic planning provides the necessary balance between best practices in long term fiscal sustainability and providing resources for the daily operations of an active and exciting boarding school community. The recipient of Crain's CFO of the year award, Mr. Arnold serves on the board of directors for the National Business Officers Association (NBOA) and as program coordinator for the Association of Business Officers of Preparatory Schools (ABOPS). He resides in Hudson with his wife, Tracie, and son, Griffin ’22.
Anna Barlow-Boesch, Director of College Counseling
Returning to WRA after three years away, Ms. Barlow-Boesch is excited to rejoin the College Counseling Office as director. With experience in college admission at Connecticut College before switching to secondary school college counseling, Ms. Barlow-Boesch embraces boarding school life to its fullest. Most recently she served as the Associate Director of College Counseling, dorm parent and JV girls lacrosse coach at Tabor Academy, the "School By the Sea" in Marion, MA. Anna and her husband William, son Will and rescue dog Zoey, reside on Hudson St. and can be seen enjoying Brick Row and WRA's beautiful campus. When she is not working, Anna enjoys cooking with her family, running, weight training, traveling and has become a big fan of SEC football (Geaux Tigers!).
Jenni Biehn, Director of Enrollment Management
Jenni Biehn joined WRA with more than 20 years of experience managing enrollment at independent schools, focusing on strategy, data and building relationships with prospective families. Her personal independent school experience drives Ms. Biehn to ensure similar opportunities are available for all students. Prior to WRA, Ms. Biehn was Director of Admission & Financial Aid at Columbus School for Girls, as well as holding admission positions at day schools in Philadelphia and Cranbrook Schools. She lives in Hudson with her husband, Steve, and their three sons, Jeremiah '22, Asher and Simon.
Meg Colafella, Director of Communications & Marketing
Meg Colafella joined WRA with more than 20 years of experience as a strategic communicator, marketing executive and government affairs specialist with experience building brands, guiding corporate social responsibility initiatives, and driving awareness and action around the arts, economic development and political initiatives. Prior to WRA, Ms. Colafella was the Associate Director of Corporate and Government Affairs for Kraft Heinz, where she helped usher in a new era for the company when Heinz was acquired by 3G Capital and Berkshire Hathaway in 2013. She looks forward to telling WRA's many unique stories and building a brand presence that captures all of the school's strengths. She lives in Hudson with her three sons.
Matt Gerber, Chief Innovation Officer
Mr. Gerber serves as the Chief Innovation Officer and manages the Wang Innovation Center at WRA. He also teaches several different courses and serves on the Department Chairs, Academic Team and is advisor to the Cosplay Club, LaunchX Club, Maker Club and Reserve Scope. He recently graduated from the Fab Foundation Fab Academy. Mr. Gerber came to Western Reserve Academy after spending 10 years teaching, counseling and coaching at the Culver Academies in Culver, IN. At Reserve, Mr. Gerber was awarded the J. Ward and Marian Keener Prize in 2013 and the Robert S. Weiss Memorial Award in 2015, both awards selected by the graduating senior class. In 2016, Mr. Gerber was awarded the Cole Family Chair in Technology. In his spare time, Mr. Gerber enjoys reading, making and traveling. Mr. Gerber lives on Stadium Drive with his wife, Cynthia, and their two children.
Dr. James Greenwood, Dean of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Dr. Greenwood will partner with WRA's Interim Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Brandi Wheeler on working with students, faculty and staff to examine practices, enrich experiences, and foster growth within individuals and the WRA community. Dr. Greenwood brings with him a deep and rich history working in independent schools. Most recently, he served as the Dean of Equity and Inclusion at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire. He has also served at other institutions as Director of Inclusion & Multicultural Practice, Director of Multicultural Education and Assistant Director of Admission. Born and raised in Cleveland, Dr. Greenwood graduated from Kenyon College with a BA in American Studies with a concentration in African and African American Studies. He holds a Master of Arts in teaching from Brown University, a Masters of Education from Columbia University and his Doctorate in Education from Boston College where his dissertation studied how teachers develop their culturally responsive practice.
Pete Hutchins, Director of Athletics
Pete Hutchins is the Director of Athletics and head boys basketball coach. Joining WRA last year, Mr. Hutchins' strategic focus ensures WRA students have a competitive advantage, both on and off the field. Prior to WRA, he served as an Assistant Basketball Coach at George Mason University and was previously the Associate Head Coach at Dartmouth College. A boarding school graduate, Mr. Hutchins attended the New Hampton School and went on to earn a BA in History and was captain of the basketball team at Plymouth State University. Following a year as an assistant basketball coach at Williams College, he returned to New Hampton where he was the head boys basketball coach. During his tenure at New Hampton, he also served in various other roles: history faculty, house parent, advisor, and Associate Director of Admission. Mr. Hutchins resides on campus with his border collie, Blue.
Mark LaFontaine, Assistant Head of School for Advancement
Mark LaFontaine joined WRA in 2013. Following a short stint as a practicing lawyer in the oil and gas industry, Mr. LaFontaine pursued his passion for education and became a development officer at Yale University. His long development career at Yale culminated with his service as Associate Dean of Yale Law School, the position he held prior to his arrival at WRA. A graduate of the Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Mr. LaFontaine believes in the transformative power of a boarding school education. In addition to his duties leading WRA's Advancement team, Mr. LaFontaine enjoys teaching his Justice class as part of the school's ECHO program. Mr. LaFontaine, his wife, Darlene, and their three children, Sam '16, Lucy and Danny, reside in Hudson with their Golden Doodles Sadie and Molly, and their Siberian cat Percy.
Brenda Petersen, Dean of Faculty
Ms. Petersen served as United States Peace Corps volunteer in Papua, New Guinea, setting the foundation for her curiosity about other cultures and dedication to service. She holds a BS in Education from Northwestern University and a MLA from Johns Hopkins University. During her career in education, Ms. Petersen has inspired high school students from the USA, Brazil and China with her sensitive and engaging approach. She has a passion for history and cherishes the many service and outdoor adventure trips she has completed with students over the years. As an Assistant Principal and later an Assistant Head of School, she has fostered teacher growth and positive school culture. A dedicated meditation practitioner, Ms. Petersen attends several silent retreats a year to deepen her practice. She is an avid cyclist, dedicated mindfulness trainer and loves exploring the mountains of Colorado on summer vacations. She shares a happy household with her husband and fellow educator Sean, and their three heavily indulged cats.
Wendy Skinner, Dean of Student Life
A lifelong educator, Ms. Skinner has been teaching language and working in residential life and in deans' offices for most of her career. After a stint teaching overseas, she returned to the United States where she served as International Student Advisor at Dana Hall School and as Dean of Students at Oldfields School, Foxcroft School and Shady Side Academy before coming to WRA. Ms. Skinner teaches one French course along with serving as Dean of Student Life, and she loves the energy and positive spirit of the WRA community, students and faculty alike. She enjoys working with students to help them reach their potential. Ms. Skinner lives on campus with her family, and she and her husband, Mark, are proud parents to three adult children.