Annie Wright Schools are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization governed by a voluntary Board of Trustees. The Board is made up of parents, grandparents, alumni and community members whose time and expertise contribute to the operation of the schools. The Board’s major responsibilities are to:
Set the vision and strategic direction of the schools
Ensure financial resources are available to the schools
Observe and monitor programs and services the schools provide
Strategic Plan 2016-2021
The 2016-2021 Strategic Plan, affirmed by the Board of Trustees in April, 2016, took nearly 18 months to develop, with input from more than 140 people in the community, including students. This vision statement informed their efforts: Annie Wright Schools will be internationally recognized as educational leaders where tradition meets innovation and every student is inspired to make a profound contribution in the world.Learn more.
Ellen Palmer, President of the Annie Wright Schools Parents’ Association Christian Sullivan, Head of Annie Wright Schools
Percy Abram joined the Annie Wright Schools Board of Trustees in 2016. Percy is the Head of The Bush School, an independent K-12 school in Seattle, and was previously Head of Gateway School in Santa Cruz, CA. He earned his BA in economics from UCLA and holds Master’s degrees in Education (UCLA) and Sociology (Stanford) as well as a PhD in Education from Stanford. Percy currently serves on NWAIS's Board of Governors and has served on the Board for the California Association of Independent Schools. At AWS Percy serves on the Head’s Support & Evaluation Committee.
Sally (Peterson) Atherton '66 joined the Annie Wright Schools Board of Trustees in 2017. After attending Annie Wright 1952-66, she received her BA in Biology from Colby College, her MS in Biology from Trinity University (San Antonio), and her PhD in microbiology (virology) at the University of Texas Health Science Center. She has been a leading biomedical researcher and professor specializing in herpesvirus infections of the eye and brain at academic health centers in Florida, Texas and Georgia. She also served the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) as a member of the board of trustees, as Executive Vice-President, and as Executive Director.
Sarah Kaiser Brand '93 served on the Board of Trustees 2008-14 and rejoined in 2017. Founder of SKB Events, she has been designing and producing client events professionally since 2006. Her background includes planning events both domestically and internationally for a wide array of companies and non-profits. An alumna of Annie Wright's Class of '93 (go Bananas!) and Vassar College's Class of '97, she lives in Bellingham, WA.
Michele Cannon Bessler, MD is pleased to have joined the Annie Wright Board in 2015. Michele has worked in the Tacoma community now for over a decade in the role of a community pediatrician and is particularly impassioned with building relationships with families to help achieve optimal heatlh and growth in all areas of development. She also is deeply rooted in volunteer roles in her Browns Point community and serves on the Mary Bridge Children's Foundation Board. After medical training and education in the midwest and east coast, she and her husband Robert Bessler settled in the Pacific Northwest to raise their three children (AWS Classes of '18, '20 and '22), where Rob co-founded and continues to act as CEO of Sound Physicians, a physician-driven health care company. Michele serves as the Strategic Planning Task Force Chair and also serves on the Board’s Trusteeship Committee.
Cathy Close, educational consultant, joined the Annie Wright Schools Board of Trustees in 2014. Cathy taught secondary school for thirty years before transitioning into pastoral care and consulting for parishes and families dealing with Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. Annie Wright continues to be the standard bearer for educational excellence. The opportunity to be part of the team of trustees that continues to support education for a global perspective while maintaining students' integrity bears tremendous responsibility and exciting possibility. Cathy serves on the Board's evaluation committee.
Stephanie Cook ’88 joined the Annie Wright Schools Board of Trustees in 2016, after having served on the Annie Wright Schools Alumni Board. Stephanie owns South Sound Dental Management, offering management services to dental professionals and organizations. After graduating from Annie Wright in 1988, Stephanie received her bachelor's degree from Smith College and a Master's in Business Administration from Seattle University. Stephanie’s daughter Lauren is in the Class of '23. Stephanie serves on the Governance Committee.
Bob Crist joined the Annie Wright Schools Board of Trustees in 2015. Bob has been a healthcare executive and entrepreneur for more than 25 years and was the co-founder of the DesignRx family of companies, now a division of EnvisionRx/RiteAid. Bob currently serves in a business development role for Embryo Options, LLC, a company he co-founded in 2016. Bob is an honors graduate of both Washington State University (BA), and Seattle University (JD), and serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the WSU foundation. Bob has three daughters at Annie Wright, Lexie (Class of ’25), Abbie (Class of ’22) and Ellie (Class of ’20). Bob serves on the Development Committee.
Jim Defebaugh, Executive Vice President & General Counsel of TrueBlue, Inc., joined the Annie Wright Schools Board of Trustees in 2014. Jim joined TrueBlue in 2005 after 21 years at Kmart / Sears, most recently as Kmart's Chief Legal Officer and Sears' Chief Compliance Officer. Jim also currently serves on the Museum of Glass Board of Trustees. Jim has two children, Miles and Katya, in the AWS Lower School. Jim believes that AWS is at the top of the list of crown jewels that Tacoma has to offer, at both the national and international level, and serves on the Board's Finance committee.
Laura Edman joined the Annie Wright Schools Board of Trustees in 2015. Laura has worked with non-profit organizations for more than 30 years and brings a wealth of leadership and development experience to the Board. She is a third-generation Tacoman and she and her husband George are parents of two Annie Wright Middle School graduates, Tal Edman (Class of ’05) and Andrea Edman (Class of ’10). Laura serves as Chair of the Development Committee.
Tony Escobar joined the Annie Wright Schools Board of Trustees in 2015. A Pediatric Surgeon at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and a Medical Director of Pediatric Surgery and Pediatric Trauma, Tony completed his Pediatric Surgical Residency at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, State University of New York, where he served as the Chief Resident his final year. Tony and his wife, Kala, have two daughters, Ela (Class of ’21) and Mia (Class of ’21) and a son, Antonio (Class of ’29). Tony serves on the Board’s Evaluation Committee.
Judy Forkner ‘63 joined the Annie Wright Schools Board of Trustees in 2015. With a career in publishing, Judy worked as an Assistant Editor at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in New York City. After raising two children, Judy worked as the Director of Development at the Greenwich Health Association in Greenwich, Connecticut, and Public Health Research Institute in New York. Judy now spends her retirement with family and volunteering with Planned Parenthood, Phoenix Art Museum and the Nature Conservancy. She also serves on the AWS Global Alumni Board and Board of Trustees Development Committee.
Kelly Givens joined the Annie Wright Schools Board of Trustees in 2014. Kelly worked in public accounting and banking for over 10 years before deciding to be a full time mom and volunteer. She and her husband, Mike, have two daughters, Abby (Class of '20) and Tana (Class of '16). Kelly, like her father and daughters, was born and raised in the Tacoma area, and serves on the Mary Bridge Children's Foundation Board. Kelly serves on the Annie Wright Board's finance committee.
Tom Hanly, investment professional, joined the Annie Wright Schools Board of Trustees in 2011. Tom worked for the Russell Investment Group in Tacoma for 12 years and JP Morgan in New York City for five years prior to starting his own investment company in 2008. Tom has four children who have attended Annie Wright. Tom serves on the Board's finance committee.
Suzanne Hattery joined the Annie Wright Schools Board of Trustees in 2013. She has two daughters who graduated from Annie Wright and owns Hattery Design, a horticultural services company specializing in high-end floral and garden design and consulting. Suzanne earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and an MBA from the University of Oregon.
Lisa Hoffman, Professor of Urban Studies at the University of Washington Tacoma, joined the Annie Wright Schools Board of Trustees in 2016. She has been at UW Tacoma since 2002 and also serves as interim director of a new Office of Global Affairs at UW Tacoma. Lisa serves on the Children's Museum of Tacoma board and has two children at Annie Wright, John Saul (Class of '27) and Anna (Class of '30). Lisa is passionate about the arts, social justice, and education, and believes deeply in Annie Wright's approach and emphasis on exploration, inquiry, and discovery. Lisa serves on the Governance Committee.
John Lantz, retired President and Grand Strategist of the Tacoma-based Lucks Food Decorating Company, which manufactures edible cake decorations and sells them worldwide, became a Trustee in 2012. He has had a daughter and two grandchildren at AWS. John has a BA from Stanford University, an MBA from University of California at Berkeley and is a staunch supporter of the IB program and excellent education provided by AWS. He chairs the Governance Committee.
John Long joined the Annie Wright Schools Board of Trustees in 2011 and served as Board Chair in 2013-17. John was a career healthcare senior executive until his retirement from MultiCare Health System in 2011. He currently provides executive strategy consultation to healthcare organizations in Arizona, where he and his wife Sara have a second home, and in Washington. John & Sara had two children who attended AWS and whose lives were molded and enriched by their Annie Wright experiences.
Marcia Moe, mother of two Annie alumni, joined the Annie Wright Schools Board of Trustees in 2013. She taught dance at Annie Wright in the 1960's and worked through the years in arts-related endeavors. Marcia was instrumental in the development of Centrum Foundation's arts programming at Fort Warden State Park. She served as deputy director of The Washington State Arts Commission and executive director of American Leadership Forum. Founder of the Tacoma Farmers Market, Marcia remains dedicated to volunteer service, improving the quality of life in our community, and the Annie Wright educational experience. Marcia serves on the Trusteeship Committee.
James M. ("Jamie") Murray, business executive, joined AWS Board 2013. For the past 25 years Jamie has managed/grown several small- and medium-sized businesses. He has owned & managed (as Managing Member) Gem Shavings LLC for the last 14 years. Currently Jamie serves on the board of the Franciscan Foundation. He has been a Director of Murray Pacific Corporation and Electronic Charts Company for over 25 years. Jamie graduated from Annie Wright Seminary K4 in 1960. His daughter Julia graduated from AWS in 2012. A third generation Northwesterner, with several relatives having graduated from AWS over the years, Jamie serves on the Board's finance committee.
John Parrott became chair of Annie Wright Schools' Board of Trustees in 2017. John took over as President at Foss Maritime in 2016, coming from sister company TOTE Maritime Alaska, where he served as President for six years. A strong believer in communities and education, John is active with The Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound’s Great Futures scholarship program and serves on the Seaman’s Services board of directors. John has a BS in Marine Transportation from the US Merchant Marine Academy (Kings Point) and an MBA from Seattle University. He and his wife, Lynne, an active member of the Parents' Association, Strength to Strength campaign chair and Gator Gala auction chair, have three children, Thomas '14MS, James '16MS and Anna (Class of '22).
Chris Sakas, Vice President & Private Client Advisor with JPMorgan Chase Bank, joined the Annie Wright Schools Board of Trustees in 2012. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Pacific Lutheran University and a master's degree from Seattle University. Based in Issaquah, Chris serves on the Board's finance committee.
Pamela Hyde Smith joined the Annie Wright Schools Board of Trustees in 2014. Pamela entered the U.S. Foreign Service in 1975 and has served as a diplomat in U.S. embassies around the world, including as Ambassador to Moldova. She has also taught at Georgetown University and serves on a number of non-profit boards, including The Nature Conservancy. A graduate of Annie Wright, Pamela believes that the school's excellent education set her on her life-long path. Pamela serves on the Board's governance committee.
Aliya Merali Virani '96, educator and school administrator, joined the Anne Wright Schools Board of Trustees in 2016. Aliya has worked in independent schools for the last 15 years in various capacities, from teaching elementary grades to serving as Curriculum Director, Director of Inclusion and Community Building, and now Director of Admissions at a school in Vancouver, BC. She obtained her Master’s in Elementary education from NYU and a Master’s in Private School Leadership from Columbia University. Annie Wright inspired Aliya's love of learning and service. Combining her love for travel and service learning, she co-founded an international summer program called Global Encounters where she continues to be a Program Director and admissions lead. Aliya serves on the head's support and evaluation committee.
Annie Wright Schools Main Campus: 827 North Tacoma Avenue Tacoma, WA 98403 253.272.2216
Downtown Campus: 936 Broadway Tacoma, WA 98402 253.272.2216
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Founded in Tacoma, Washington, in 1884, Annie Wright Schools serve students from age three through high school. Annie Wright Lower and Middle Schools offer co-ed programs in Preschool through Grade 8, while separate Upper Schools for girls and boys offer day and boarding options in Grades 9 through 12. Annie Wright is proud to be an International Baccalaureate World School.