Full Circle 2024

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Full Circle

Now, Soon, Always

Now, Soon, Always

Dear Castilleja Community,

As this issue of Full Circle goes to press, we are nearing the end of another school year; we have just looked back while celebrating Castilleja’s Founder’s Day, and we look to the future as we prepare to graduate the Class of 2024. These two events inspire many emotions as we remember the past with appreciation and gratitude and look ahead to the future with anticipation and optimism.

DEFINING OUR COMMUNITY Thinking back over the past school year, I realize that we are traveling through a season of change at Castilleja, but I am also aware of the elements of the Castilleja experience that remain the same over time, defining our community. There are the traditions, of course—long-standing ones like Ringing and Rivalry, as well as newer ones, like the flag football game between juniors and seniors. Then there is the sense of accomplishment that we see reflected in our classrooms and in the senior and 8th grade speeches. And as always, there is the sound of laughter on the Circle, especially during our celebrations this time of year. Schools are always evolving. Castilleja is no exception, but as we evolve, the core elements of this community and of the Castilleja experience become even more apparent, which is both reassuring and promising.

NOW, SOON, ALWAYS Exploring a theme of Now, Soon, and Always, this issue of Full Circle honors important recent milestones, looks forward to new possibilities, and recognizes aspects of Castilleja that have always been important. Throughout these pages, we will also share updates about

our alums’ engagement around the world and our students around the Circle. And we will also share more specifics about the ways that our updated campus will shape the next century of learning and leading at Castilleja. I hope you find these stories about Castilleja’s past, present, and future as inspiring as I do.

A LEADER AMONG PEERS When I came to Castilleja 10 years ago, I was drawn to the mission and eager to join a community that was committed to mentoring and educating the next generation of women leaders. This year, it has been an honor to serve as Acting Head to continue this important work. Castilleja is the only 6th grade through 12th grade girls’ school in Northern California and a leader among peer schools nationwide. I am excited for all that lies ahead for Castilleja as Julia Russell Eells becomes Interim Head next year, and as we prepare for a new long-term Head of School, I am also grateful to our entire employee community for the work they have put into creating a wonderful year for our students.


Spring 2024 | 1 CONTENTS 2 Interim Head of School Julia Russell Eells 3 Student Art A Gallery of Mixed Media 4 Open Their World Capital Campaign: Now, Soon, Always 5 Capital Campaign Leadership Donors 6 Open Their World ACE Center: Leadership and Impact Hub 7 Alumna Reflection Leena Ambady ’16 8 Open Their World Library Hub 9 Alumna Reflection Dr. Betsy Gilliland ’91 10 Open Their World Robotics and Makerspace Hub 11 Alumna Reflection Dr. Victoria Dean ’13 12 Open Their World Science Spaces 13 Alumna Conversation Maddie Goldberg ’17 and Jon RockmanHA 14 Open Their World Art Terrace 15 Alumna Reflection Kate Isenberg ’93 16 Alumna Spotlight Dr. Annette Finley Mayes ’79 17 Student Art A Gallery of Imagination 18 Farewell Tribute Celebrating Jill LeeHA 20 Global Week Languages We Speak 22 Come As You Are DEIJ with Dr. Lori A. Watson 24 Endowment Diverse Investments 25 Arrillaga-Morris Speaker Jessica McCabe 26 Rivalry Traditions Classes of 2024 and 2025 27 The Hot Seat with Yamel Núñez Castro 28 Athletics Chloe Sargeant 30 Visual and Performing Arts Tannis Hanson 32 Around the Circle Middle School 34 Around the Circle Upper School 36 The Next Wanderers Celebrating the Class of 2024 38 Reunion Weekend Celebrating our Alums 40 Class Notes Alumnae Updates 51 Student Artwork Pencil to Paper 52 In Memoriam Forever in Our Circle 53 Castilleja Leadership with Full Circle Notes


Purposeful Reflection and Curiosity



“As a woman who is about to lead a school that is noted far and wide for preparing the next generation of women leaders, I find it impossible not to look toward Castilleja’s curriculum as I think about the year to come,” explains Julia Russell Eells, who will formally step into her role as Interim Head of School in July. When reflecting on Castilleja’s Leadership Competencies, she sees that they are all interconnected, but she also feels two are especially important guideposts at this moment in the school’s history: “I think we have a rare opportunity to pause in Purposeful Reflection and prepare to welcome a new Head of School with open Curiosity.”

CHANGE AGENT “I took a class called The Psychology of Change when I was in graduate school, and I never could have predicted how often I would turn to the learning from that course throughout my career.” The course did, in fact, foreshadow a career of preparing students, parents and guardians, and school communities for different kinds of transitions. Working in both admissions and college counseling, she helped students and families navigate moving from one school to another. Then, as a Head of School at the Lincoln School in Providence, RI and University High School in San Francisco, she oversaw sea changes within each of those institutions, including leading curricular innovation, building community, collaborating on a shared vision, and stewarding Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging work.

Since retiring from her role as head of University High School in June of 2022, Ms. Eells has continued thinking and writing about change management in schools, co-authoring Navigating the Head of School Transition. With chapters titled “Preparing for Change,” “Understanding Culture and Building Community,” and “Setting Shared Goals,” the book is a valuable resource for the many independent schools that are currently facing changes in leadership. “When I think about this process, I continue to come back to the importance of preparation and resilience,” she says.

THE JOY OF GIRLS She goes on to add that as a girls’ school, Castilleja is already out ahead on these skills. “Everywhere you go at Castilleja, inside and outside of the classroom, you see girls joyfully engaged in taking risks and stepping outside their comfort zones in this unique environment, and that’s exactly how intentionality, confidence, and resilience are formed.”

All of these experiences and observations reinforce that Castilleja is lucky to have Ms. Eells’ leadership during the important year to come. She admits that the feeling is mutual. “I know that I’ll be able to have an impact on Castilleja over the next year, but it will be small in comparison to what being at a school like Castilleja will mean in my life over a much longer time frame. This is an exceptional institution, and it is an awe and an honor to be able to lead and learn in this remarkable community.”

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A GALLERY OF MIXED MEDIA Upper School art explorations on canvas. Artists clockwise from top left: Chloe You


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’25 Caitlyn Lee ’25, Flo Correa Agazzi ’25, Stella Tenta ’25, Mika Cham ’25, and Abigal Kim ’25

Alums across the generations know that Castilleja's plans to modernize campus and increase enrollment have been in the works for over 10 years. Soon, a new phase will begin with construction of the underground garage—the first step of a project that constitutes a complete academic rebuild of the campus. Only the Gunn Family Administration Building and the Joan Z. Lonergan Athletic & Fitness Center will remain standing. Everything else will be entirely reimagined around the Circle—which will always form the core of the Castilleja campus and community.

STRONGER BY DESIGN One of the many benefits of our new campus is that the inspiring connections between what students learn inside the classroom and the passions they pursue outside the classroom will be made stronger by design. When reflecting on the Castilleja of today, science faculty Jon RockmanHA notes, “We have seen the rapid growth of the Library as an intellectual hub of the campus, the ACE Center as a socially conscious hub of the campus, and the Bourn Lab as a hub for innovation and creativity.” The new campus elevates the learning that takes place in these hubs in two important ways: by making them central features within the new building and by creating physical connections between these hubs, the surrounding classrooms, and the community.

BUILDING FOR THE NEXT GENERATION In the pages to come, you will learn more about what is happening NOW around the Circle, you will get a peek at what is coming SOON with Castilleja’s future on a modernized campus, and you will recognize the lasting lessons that have ALWAYS been part of the Castilleja experience. This ambitious and exciting project is about potential and possibility, with sustainable learning spaces that will build community, enable flexible pedagogy, and support how girls learn best. And none of this could ever become a reality without the support of our community. The Open Their World Campaign, the largest in the school’s history, has already raised over


The foundation of the new Castilleja campus centers around hubs. These multifunctional areas are designed for collaborating across grades and disciplines and the sharing of ideas.

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Anonymous (16)

Alison and Edward Abbo

Adrienne Hiscox Mitchell Revocable Trust

Reena and Raj Agrawal

Sher Amos-Grosser and Adam Grosser

Sybilla and Alexandre Balkanski

Pree Basaviah and Venky Ganesan

Christine O’Sullivan and James Bean

Kathryn Bojack and Ravi Mhatre

Claire and Tim Burks

Ashley and John Chambers

Patti and Edward Chan

Brittany Brown Chavez ’06

Stephanie and Sherwin Chen

Tina Chen and Anthony Lin

Nandini and Mathews Cherian

Shelli Ching and Rowland Cheng

B.J. Lockhart Cowie ’54

Simone and Tench Coxe

Hala Kurdi Cozadd ’92 and Bruce Cozadd

Diane Cory McNiel Living Trust

Mahooya Dinda and Michel Del Buono

Diane Brooks Dixon ’69 and Patrick Dixon

Elizabeth Douglas and Evan Hurowitz

Petra Wright and Steve Dowling

Sara and Brian Elkin

Shirley Ely

Jeffie Welsh Feakins ’64

Sheridan and David Foster

Nam Cho and Nathaniel Gallon

Carol and John Giannandrea

Anna and Sean Glodek

Cindy and Evan Goldberg

Lori and Brian Goler

Theresia Gouw

Maggie Pringle Grauer ’71 and Fred Grauer

Shari and Andrew Guggenhime

Odette Harris and Edward Sharp

Saima Hasan ’04 and Sharjeel Hasan

Brooke Heckert and Michael Linse

Elizabeth and Patrick Heron

Becky Long and Ken Hirsch

Noriko Honda and Norman Chen

Heidi Hopper and Jeffrey Dean

Nanci KauffmanHA and Scott Kauffman

Denise Kaufman ’64

Nayna and Gambhir Kaushek

Nancy Kedzierski and Gordon Chaffee

Teresa and Brian Kelleher

Jaynie and William Kind

Michele and Steve Kirsch

Esther Kletter

Cindy Chen and Robert Kocher

Anne Biaggini Krattebol ’64

Jamaica and Jay Kreps

Yidrienne Lai and Christopher Chang

Gab and Thomas Layton

Aileen Lee and Jason Stinson

Yan Liu and JieFu Zhang

Lindsay Austin Louie ’98 and Ting Louie

Cary Golub Lurie ’64

Kristin Vogelsong and Zander Lurie

The Madeline E. Ehrman Revocable Trust

Gerry Marshall and Bernie Newcomb

Linda and Jim McGeever

Viola Mong Meehan ’82 and Gerald Meehan

Shweta and Amish Mehta

Lisa and David Merenbach

Julia and Yuri Milner

Parinaz Mohamadi and Mostafa Ronaghi

Margaret Osborn Munzig ’97 and Peter Munzig

Usha and Diaz Nesamoney

Jennifer Newstead and Alex Mishkin

Suzanne and Eric O’Brien

Susan Packard Orr ’64 and Franklin Orr

Laurie and Duco Pasmooij

Anjali and Sundar Pichai

Denise and Mike Pope

Penny Pritzker ’77 and Bryan Traubert

Bradley Quarton and Seri Nakazawa

Paula and Michael Rantz

Amy Rao and Harry Plant

Amy Redell and Michael Evans

Alyssa Rieder and Eric Byunn

Mia and Jose Rocha

Barbara and Gregory Rosston

Steven Rosston

Carla Roth ’65 and David Nasaw

Sarah and Greg Sands

Anne and Richard Schmidt

Leyla and David Scott

Pratima Sethi ’94 and Amaury Bellemans

Nipa and Beerud Sheth

Andrea Navarro Sobrato ’08 and John Sobrato

John A. Sobrato Sr.

Angela Song and Ammar Maraqa

Mary Speiser

Michael Speiser

Cathy and Tod Spieker

The Sreyashi Jhumki Basu Revocable Trust of 2008

Tom Stephenson

The Sturges Trust

Diana Sunshine and Willliam Onderdonk

Varsha and Pradeep Tagare

Polly Tam and Hsien-Chung Woo

Kathleen and Scott Tandy

Jennifer Taylor-Mendoza and James Carranza

Eric Temple

The Magic Beans

Michaele Roth Thunen ’64

Nancy Tuck

Eugenie Van Wynen and Chris Markesky

Jessica and Chris Varelas

Melanie Vinson

Toni Cupal and Mike Volpi

Mahjabeen and Tarim Wasim

Carolyn Choi and Jeffrey Wong

Mariko and Phillip Yang

Elizabeth Yin ’00 and Curt Fischer

Kate Li and Jianming Yu

Grace and David Yuan

Nazhin Zarghamee and Kourosh Gharachorloo

Amanda and Zac Zeitlin

Gail Wilson Zetter ’64


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DONORS (as of March 27, 2024)

ACE Center: Awareness, Compassion, and Engagement

THE AWARENESS, COMPASSION, & ENGAGEMENT CENTER, also known as the ACE Center, expands student horizons beyond the Circle and trains them to be leaders. Busy year-round and built on three pillars—DEIJ, Community Engagement, and Global Education—the ACE Center teaches students about themselves, their communities, and the world, undergirded by Castilleja’s leadership and antiracism competencies.

SAFE AND BRAVE The DEIJ arm of the ACE Center oversees the DEI Leadership Council, where a group of over 60 students partner with adults on campus on issues ranging from diversity in admissions and recruitment to accessibility and mental health. DEIJ also supports Middle School and Upper School affinity groups, encouraging students to feel “safe and brave” and come together over shared experiences and identities, explains Hannah Nguyễn, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice. “Students are at the center of all we do. Conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion center the student voice.” The ACE Center also helps student leaders develop their unique leadership styles year-long through reflection on their personalized leadership portfolios.

Meanwhile, the Community Engagement arm of the ACE Center hosts speakers and organizes career events, such as Casti at Work and Beyond the Circle, and coaches students in finding and applying

for volunteer opportunities, internships, and jobs. It also supports Castilleja’s nine enrichment activities, over 30 interest clubs, and 17 ACE Organizations, running the gamut from the student newspaper, Counterpoint, to BLAST Club for hands-on scientific experimentation, Youth Vote Coalition for promoting political engagement, the Bay Area Blanket Project for preventing domestic violence and aiding survivors, and reproductive justice education. “I support students on their journey to develop and refine their leadership skills,” says Becca Winslow, Director of Leadership and Community Partnerships. “The ACE Center offers a myriad of student-led, student-driven experiential learning and social impact opportunities that epitomize our school motto of ‘Women Learning, Women Leading,’” she says.

MINDS THAT THRIVE Finally, the Global Education arm of the ACE Center puts on Global Week, an annual multi-day symposium featuring renowned speakers and workshops. Students also journey to foreign destinations as part of their Global Investigator Trip during their junior year, and, in collaboration with the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education, participate in a virtual exchange with a girls’ school in Japan. “They need to have the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind to thrive in this very interconnected world,” explains Jessica Yonzon, Director of ACE Center and Global Education. “The younger they get this exposure, the better.”

INCUBATOR FOR LEADERSHIP The ACE Center and the Library frequently collaborate with each other—supporting student affinity work, deepening community engagement through learning, and collaborating to host visitors who model and inspire creativity, scholarship, and activism. On the new campus, these two learning hubs will share a building, enhancing this already meaningful partnership. With easy access to the Library, the new Center for Leadership and Impact hub will be equipped with a state-of-the art video conference space that will enable a robust program of expert speakers and ongoing collaboration with partners from around the globe as well as with peers. More than anything, this will become an incubator for women’s leadership—a rare space where every leadership role is filled by a girl who was mentored by a girl who decided to take a risk.

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Drawing Strength from Helping Others


Leena Ambady ’16 finds joy in community. Whenever she senses pain points around her, she jumps in to help. As an Upper School student at Castilleja, Leena was deeply involved with the ACE Center. She tutored science, writing, and dance to 5th graders from nearby communities and led advisory groups every summer as part of the Peninsula Bridge Program. As a senior, she joined the Halford Women’s Leadership Program and continued volunteering with her young students during the school year, ultimately earning Castilleja’s distinguished Arrillaga Service Award.

SAFE AND SUPPORTED “Being able to go to school at Castilleja and live in the Bay Area and have a lot of the opportunities and access made it really important for me to do community engagement and authentically help people,” Leena says. “I felt that getting involved with Peninsula Bridge was a good way to do this, given how much the TAs, students, and program directors seemed to love the program. It was really nice to see these girls excited about learning and making new friends, feeling safe and supported. I just felt really lucky to be able to foster that community and to be a part of that.”

While at Castilleja, Leena also played soccer. She still keeps in touch with many former classmates, who inspire her with their community work, Leena says.

After Castilleja, Leena went on to get her undergraduate degree in History & Science and wrote for her university newspaper, volunteered at a homeless shelter, and worked as a writing tutor.

Leena initially wanted to become a teacher, but she decided to go into medicine after losing both of her parents to cancer.

CIRCLE OF FRIENDS Now, as a busy third-year medical student, she makes time for self-care, which, for her, is friendships. “Spending time with friends allows me to reset, destress, and relax a little bit,” Leena explains. “If I’m feeling overwhelmed, it helps being around other people, even if that may be taking time away from the other things I have to do.”

Leena encourages current Castilleja students to get involved with the ACE Center and other local organizations and to read up on the history and politics of the area where they live, and more importantly, to pursue their dreams in spite of obstacles.

“Oftentimes, you get advice that if you’re doing something that you really love, it won’t feel like hard work. I think that isn’t always true,” she says. “Even things that I really feel passionate about can feel like a lot of work. But if you believe in the purpose or in the mission of what you’re doing, it’s worth it.”

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Exploring the Life of the Mind and the Meeting of the Minds

A DAY IN THE LIFE With 18,000 books, dozens of scholarly databases, and thousands of electronic and audiobooks in its collection, the Margarita Espinosa Library is one of Castilleja’s most treasured assets. Yet it offers much more than reading and research materials. Animal-shaped piñatas made in Spanish class dangle from the ceiling. The bookshelves are festooned with students’ ceramic creations and with models of monuments built by 8th graders. “We want people to feel seen and have a sense of belonging,” says Jole SeroffHA, Director of Library Services. “Our library is a hub for the community. There’s always something stimulating for your curiosity.”


You’re sure to see students and librarians in animated discussions about their recent reads, checking out handmade zines, and perusing the latest book display. “When I came to Casti, I was really excited because there are a lot of girls who also really love reading,” explains Kristen Lee ’30. “At both the JCC and Bryant campus, the librarians offer a lot of different books to read and a lot of fun different activities.”


The library is where students learn core research skills. Additionally, with the help of the librarians, students in Advanced Topics courses complete Literature Reviews, a type of research paper that is usually encountered for the first time in upper-level college courses. “Students sometimes think of research as this perfect set of sources that needs to be found, but the real story is always less clear cut,” explains Tasha Bergson-MichelsonHA, Instructional and Programming Librarian.



Many Upper School students apply to become library teacher’s assistants, or TAs, helping plan special events, such as the Edible Book Festival and a student open mic. “The community is my favorite part of the library,” says TA Samantha Kim ’24, who is in charge of updating the whimsical slideshow with library puns, words of the week, and book recommendations. “The organization and communications skills have been helpful for me, [and] I’ve been able to connect with people in different grades.”

THE NEW LIBRARY HUB Throughout its history, the Margarita Espinosa Library has been a place where Castilleja students have been encouraged to explore the limitless expanse of life of the mind and the meaningful connections brought about by sharing ideas. Directly accessible from the Circle, Castilleja’s new Library hub will continue this tradition while also adapting to students’ changing needs as thinkers and community members. Offering a central spacious, light-filled open space, flexible meeting rooms, quiet areas for study, and cutting edge new-media resources, the new library will inspire faculty and librarians to expand their collaborative work to further student intellectual curiosity and independence that define the Castilleja experience.

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The rotating book displays in the library are the result of the librarians collaborating with Castileja’s student affinity groups. Together, they highlight authors, decorate for holidays, and promote awareness and inclusion. “It’s more meaningful when the students are curating the books that are important to them,” says Christina Appleberry, Library Services Specialist. “There’s more ownership, more pride in it, and they’re more likely to tell people to look at the display that they made.”


During free time, you’ll find students playing UNO and working on puzzles by the fireplace, which is aglow with twinkling lights. Many are drawn to the community art projects, be it origami, weaving, or clay miniature making. Ellie Porter ’30 enjoys bonding with peers she doesn’t always see during the school day. “I just like that we get to talk and make friendship bracelets together,” Ellie says, weaving multicolored yarn into a pattern.


With its conference rooms, study carrels, and round tables, the library encourages both collaboration and individual focus time. Reece Sharp ’24, a library TA, says it’s where she feels most productive. “At different points in my life, I’ve been in different areas of the library. In Middle School, I used to spend a lot of time by the fireplace, and last year I spent a lot of time in the cubbies studying. And now I find myself in the middle area in between classes or after lunch, to hang out with friends or do some work. And after school, it’s a great place to study.”

Igniting Curiosity, One Book at a Time



Dr. Betsy Gilliland ’91 speaks five languages. It’s no surprise: she is an Associate Professor in the Department of Second Language Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and has published three academic books. Betsy has dedicated her career to teaching English and training writing instructors worldwide to work with diverse populations.

She credits Castilleja and, in particular, the library, for igniting her curiosity about the world and her passion for education and scholarship. “I’ve always been a very avid reader,” says Betsy, whose favorite part of the Castilleja library was the new book display. “I used to check those out on a regular basis, just random things that looked interesting,” she says.

Many of the skills Betsy learned in the library—from using reference materials to tracking down sources—were instrumental to her academic career. “We would spend a lot of our free time studying, but also chatting and getting help from the librarians. We always had library-based research projects,” remembers Betsy. “One of the things I really appreciated about Castilleja was that they treated the students as scholars. Whatever you were interested in, someone would be there to advise or steer you in the right direction. It just felt so freeing.”

Betsy already knew French when she began at Castilleja in 7th grade, so in addition to continuing French, she eagerly pursued Spanish and Latin and studied Russian at summer camp. She ultimately majored in Russian and went on to earn an MA, then a PhD in Education. Her love of languages and of teaching led her to study in Russia, join the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan, take graduate students to teach in Thailand, and serve as a Fulbright Scholar in Chile.

Now, after years in the classroom and in the field, Betsy sees that she models much of her teaching philosophy on her Castilleja experiences. “When you’re training a new teacher, you can tell them all kinds of things about theories, but when they actually go into the classroom, a very large percentage of what they do is drawn from what they remember their own teachers doing. I had so many great teachers at Castilleja as role models,” she says.

She hopes the library on the new campus will hold on to its treasure trove of books. “There is still so much in printed books that is useful,” Betsy says. “You go in and you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. There is that surprise, the idea of ‘I wasn’t expecting to see this, but wow, it looks really interesting,’” she says. “I love that the library has all the collaborative space, and I hope they embrace multimedia communications, but I hope they keep all the books, too.”

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Gatorbotics: Where

Robots and Friendships Are Made

Castilleja’s Upper School robotics team, Gatorbotics, is the largest student-run organization on campus. No wonder: its 70 members get to build an industrial-size robot weighing over 100 pounds and compete in an annual FIRST Robotics competition. In fact, earlier this spring, for the first time in the team’s 20-year history, Gatorbotics won the Regional Impact Award, the most prestigious award offered at a regional competition. These students have a passion for STEM, love to mentor, and delight in smashing stereotypes.

EVERYONE WELCOME “To me, Gatorbotics is not just a team, but a family,” says Sam Solomon ’24, the team’s captain. It’s “an empowering space where everybody, regardless of their identity or experience, feels welcome,” she says. “I am surrounded by supportive teammates who encourage my questions and ideas at every turn. I have also loved watching our 30 freshmen fall in love with milling, wiring, and coding.”

On top of competing, the Gatorbotics members hone their building, prototyping, and coding skills year-round. They design practice projects, work on strategy, fundraise with corporate sponsors, and train underclassmen, including Castilleja Middle School students. They also teach engineering to kids throughout the broader community. In the past five years alone, the Gatorbotics team taught over 900 local students, including at Rinconada and Mitchell Park

libraries, Peninsula Bridge, and LEMO Foundation. “I have always loved to build things,” says Niva Himatsingka ’27, a “New Nine” who joined Gatorbotics as soon as she enrolled in Castilleja. “When everyone’s small parts come together, it is extremely rewarding to see a working robot,” says Niva, who helps with the mechanical aspects and the design of the robot. “The team culture is very welcoming and freshmen get to contribute a lot.”

TEAM BONDING Her teammate, Bala Del Buono ’25, has always been drawn to power tools and building projects and has wanted to be in Gatorbotics since Middle School. After joining as a freshman, she’s bonded with teammates across grade levels. “I've built many lasting friendships with students of all ages. I still talk to Gatorbotics alums who graduated after my first year on the team,” Bala says. “Being able to point out a part of the robot that you helped build or code to a competition judge, friend, or family member is a gratifying and empowering feeling.”

A SPACE FOR IDEAS AND INSPIRATION On our current campus, the Bourn Lab and the Gatorbotics program are thriving, but siloed. Upper School students have been building and coding award-winning robots in the basement of the Campus Center while Middle School students are using the Nook to explore making and coding. But we know that innovation requires collaboration and that mentorship is essential to opening a pipeline into STEM for girls, so on the new campus, our Robotics and Makerspace hub will become a crossroads between science and design thinking and between Middle School and Upper School. Adjacent to the science and computer science learning spaces and surrounded by glass walls, this new hub is meant to be both proximate and porous—creating a steady flow of ideas that will inspire new ways of applying knowledge to solve complex problems. At the same time, no one is a passive observer in this setting. Even someone walking through the space will be able to learn from the experience and take away new ideas to contemplate in other settings and disciplines.

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Where It All Began



ASKING QUESTIONS Dr. Victoria Dean ’13, an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Olin College of Engineering, has a rule: she does not touch her students’ keyboards or robots. “Even if it takes the student longer, my goal is not to tell them the answer, but to let them figure it out for themselves. So much of learning how to program is learning to debug and find the errors in your code. As much as possible, I try to guide by just asking questions,” she says.

Cultivating problem-solving skills is something Victoria learned on Gatorbotics, Castilleja’s robotics team. “We didn’t have mentors touching the robots, and that’s something I carry with me now,” she explains. “We had this culture that it’s a studentled team and mentors weren’t there to dictate the path that we were going to take.”

When she joined Gatorbotics as a 9th grader, the Bourn Lab didn’t exist yet, but the team was already going strong, with roughly 30 members. Victoria loved it so much that through the years she convinced her parents she should stay later and later in the evenings at team work sessions.

TEAMWORK AND MENTORING She learned skills that translated to her academic work, especially around teamwork and mentoring. “You’re frequently faced with a challenge that feels totally new and isolating, but I learned about the power of collaboration through working with mentors, seeking answers in an online robotics forum, and making friends on other teams,” says Victoria. “Having a leadership role also helped me think about how to teach content to other people and engage them in the work.” On summer weekends, she hosted programming workshops at her house and served as the team’s programming lead during her junior and senior years.

Victoria believes that attending a girls’ school empowered her to combat gender bias in STEM. “I’m not sure I ever met a woman who was a programming lead on a co-ed FIRST Robotics team,” she recalls about competitions when she was on the team. “I just remember at competitions people would doubt I was the programming lead. That lit a fire inside me.”

LIFE OF PIE Devoted to the scientific method as a way of life, Victoria even wrote her senior speech about experimental baking and, fittingly, wore a math-themed apron as she presented it. “I rarely stick to a recipe,” she explains. “I like to try out different ingredients and ratios.” At Olin, she remembers her advisees’ birthdays and surprises them with homemade treats almost weekly. Her most popular creation? Pie made with fresh-picked apples. Her favorite kitchen accessory? An apron festooned with π symbols.

REAL WORLD IMPACT As she looks to the future of artificial intelligence, she is particularly interested in real-world impact. “Having students play around with real-world data and applications of machine learning is both useful and exciting,” Victoria says. She already has students working on projects for local partners, including analyzing air quality data for the Roxbury-based environmental justice group Alternatives for Community & Environment. “Machine learning can help in potentially surprising ways beyond traditional applications of robotics and computer vision,” she says. “I think that we can motivate the next generation of researchers to do even more impactful work.”

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NOW Science Explo



How does water temperature affect the luminescence of bacteria? How does acid rain impact plant growth? What type of trash changes ocean water acidity the most? These are just some of the questions Middle School students at Castilleja ask every spring when they participate in Science Explo.

CELEBRATION OF LEARNING Science Explo is not just another science fair. Instead of getting a take-home project assignment to tinker with and reveal on the big day, students begin their investigations during a field trip, then continue researching for six weeks in the classroom. The project culminates in May with a showcase called the Celebration of Explo, explains Middle School science teacher Christina Courtney ’02HA. “We spend all year teaching them content and scientific inquiry skills to set them up for success. They choose the question they’re going to ask from the inspiration from the field trips that we go on,” she says. “They design the protocols of their procedure, collect the data, and draw conclusions from what they learned with their research group.”

During Middle School, students get to visit three unique local water ecosystems and learn about the differences and similarities. One year they explore an ecosystem with brackish water (which is less salty than ocean water, but more salty than freshwater). Another year, they investigate a marine environment, and the third year they study a freshwater environment. Over the years, destinations included the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Baylands Nature Preserve, the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Coyote Lake, the ocean in Santa Cruz, and many more.

On site, the budding Castilleja scientists collect data. They look at plankton under a microscope and study heavy metals and runoff. They measure pH levels and investigate the amount of CO2 in the air, moisture in the soil, and even the brightness of light. On top of that, they learn about sustainability by participating in beach cleanups, pulling invasive species, and planting native plants in areas they visit.

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING Finally, after six intensive weeks of scientific inquiry, it’s showtime. Students share posters and bring artifacts of their experimentation, be it snails or bottles of algae they’ve grown. “Students get the opportunity to conduct scientific inquiry as true disciplinarians,” says Middle School science teacher Susan Deemer. “Explo is a significant experiential learning opportunity that incorporates local resources and experts in the field and results in a demonstration of deep learning and meaningful collaboration.”

SPACE FOR WOMEN IN SCIENCE With flexible teaching spaces that support innovative pedagogy, a new dedicated space for ongoing individual and small-group research, and a science deck outfitted for outdoor experiments, this modernization will help Castilleja recruit and retain outstanding science faculty and forge partnerships with local colleges and universities. The net-zero building will also reach new sustainability goals that can be tracked through interactive dashboards, and the data will be analyzed in classes such as Global Climate Change, physics, and statistics to make learning more concrete and more impactful. As a school devoted to educating girls to become confident thinkers, Castilleja plays an important role in opening STEM fields to women, and this update to our science spaces is a critical step to continuing to deliver on our mission.

12 | Castilleja Full Circle SCIENCE SPACES

Finding Calm in the Stars


JR: Can you remember what sparked your passion for science?

MG: My love of science was both formed and well-fed at Castilleja. There were so many teachers who inspired me. And the particle physics research module that you led was amazing. I was really interested in astronomy at the time, so I was learning about very big stuff. That module gave me the chance to also learn about the very small stuff, which I hadn't been thinking about before.

JR: You really were Maddie-the-astronomy-kid. What drove that interest for you?

MG: There were two things—one that’s a bit closer to my heart. I struggled with anxiety in high school, and when I started learning about how expansive space was, it helped me feel grounded. I found the vastness very calming. The other reason is that space endlessly indulges your curiosity. There’s always something new to learn, and being able to tap into that sense of wonder also drew me to it.

JR: What have you been up to since graduation, in college, and beyond?

MG: I studied Earth and Planetary Sciences, and I was lucky to work in a radio glaciology lab and a geochemistry lab. And I really enjoyed doing research, but I also realized that my

favorite parts of it were learning about other scientists’ work or explaining the concepts in my own research to other people. In science journalism, you get to do that every day. So ultimately I pursued my master’s degree in that field.

JR: We have lots of students who, like you, love science but don't see themselves working in research, academia, or industry. Can you share some insights about how you forged your path?

MG: I didn't go into college knowing that this even was a career path. So my advice for students who are exploring what they want to do with their love of science is to pay close attention to which aspects of it make them excited to get out of bed in the morning. Follow those, research them, drill down on what makes you feel motivated and fulfilled. That's how I found my way to this. Well, that and a lot of Googling and very supportive mentors!

JR: Are there any lessons from outside the classroom that have been important to you?

MG: This isn’t a lesson, exactly, but something that has fueled me during and since my time at Castilleja are the friendships that I formed. These are people who really know me and who I trust very deeply, and I’m incredibly grateful that they’re in my life.

Spring 2024 | 13 Spring


A Central Space for Art

ART AT THE CENTER The Anita Seipp Gallery has always been a space where the Castilleja community comes together to appreciate beautiful art, contemplate the role of the artist in the world, and reflect on the power of the creative process. In the past, this has often been through the lens of exhibits by visiting artists. This year, Helen ShanksHA has invited us to revisit those questions in a new and exciting way—by bringing student art into every conversation all year long. Around the edges of the room, the students in her Advanced Topics and Advanced Art classes have dedicated nooks where they can work and exihibit the results. “It’s like a true art school experience,” she explains. “They have studio space that allows them to explore ongoing projects and be in proximity to other artists.” The center of the room is engulfed by a huge round table, and at almost every hour of every day, students are sitting around it. During classes, they gather to share ideas and engage in a formalized critique process, also an experience that students who want to pursue advanced art training benefit from practicing. When classes aren’t in session, students spread out around the table with sketchbooks, laptops, and shared palettes of paint, breaking down some of the isolation that often accompanies artistic endeavors. “As their first assignment, they have curated their own space. Artists are researchers, and these students are prototyping, making connections, learning skills, and exploring their cultural heritage through creative expression.”

“I love lots of different art media, and I've never really stuck to one—so I brought that into my art space. I have watercolor artwork, some clay sculptures, pressed flowers, and lots of artists and designers for inspiration while working on my sewing projects. While researching for projects, it makes it much easier with my nook space, as I have easy access to references around me.”


INSIDE-OUTSIDE ART This setting is another way the updated campus links with the outdoors and takes advantage of the natural beauty of the climate of Palo Alto. The updated visual arts classrooms and gallery space are intentionally situated around an open-air arts deck where teachers can take their classes for plein-air studies and students can set aside quiet time to study, work independently on their own artwork, or appreciate beauty as an important part of learning and self-discovery.

14 | Castilleja Full Circle ART TERRACE

Wait for Permission to Do What You Most Want to Do.”


When Kate Isenberg ’93, a visual artist, musician, and writer, thinks about her creative bedrock, she thinks of Castilleja. “I enjoyed the atmosphere of support to be who I was as a thinker, as a creative person, as an athlete, as a member of my class community, as a friend,” remembers Kate, whose cartoons have appeared in The New Yorker and The New Republic and whose animated short film Dear Death received funding from Simpsons creator Matt Groening and played at U.S. and international film festivals. Kate also works as a freelance copywriter and college-essay consultant, and she is a songwriter-guitarist with two studio solo albums under her belt.

“At the heart of all my creative work is my deep love of storytelling,” Kate explains. “What unites us as people is our deeply human need to make narrative, to use narrative to relate to other people.”

Kate’s passion for storytelling was partly inspired by her grandfather Eli, a publisher of a community newspaper in Los Angeles. She grew up surrounded by art and books. Both parents read to her and her brother, and her grandparents gave her art books that she cherishes to this day. She grew up savoring The New Yorker (the same magazine that would publish her cartoons later).

At Castilleja, Kate participated in plays, musicals, and choruses, where she developed her own voice and worked as a member of a creative community. “It wasn’t about the soloist. It was a group of voices,” she explains. Counterpoint newspaper is where Kate published her first editorial cartoons. Kate also credits her English teachers, including Bill SmootHA, Cissy LewisHA, Susan BarkanHA, Judy RinoHA, and Elyce MelmonHA for furthering her love of literature. When she got to college, she had a stronger foundation in writing than many peers, she says.

Kate is still close friends with several of her Castilleja classmates. “They remind me how to be a good person,” she says. “As much as our teachers taught us about character, I now look to my peers.”

Her advice to current students, especially those drawn to art and creative expression, is to pursue their craft and not be swayed by someone else’s definition of success.

“The will to keep going when no one’s listening is very important, to maintain commitment to storytelling when that’s not easy to do in our culture,” says Kate. “We all fall into saying, ‘Where has your film screened? What did somebody say about your novel?’ But as an artist, your job, first of all, is to ask yourself, ‘Is it good?’ And stick with your vision, apart from whatever the world may say about it. Make the work that you most want to make. Don’t wait for permission to do what you most want to do. Nothing is a mistake, because every step brings you to where you are now.”

The cartoon on right appeared in The New Yorker, November 9, 2020.

Spring 2024 | 15 ALUMNA REFLECTION

“Go Through that Open Door.”


In her 30 years of practice as an obstetrician and gynecologist, Dr. Annette Finley Mayes ’79 has delivered thousands of babies. She’s also treated thousands of women for issues ranging from infertility to endometriosis and taught hundreds of doctors.

Annette earned her BS from Stanford University, completed medical school at the University of California San Diego, and did her postgraduate OB-GYN residency at the University of Texas, Houston. Committed to advancing women’s health and combating racial inequities in healthcare, Annette has her own medical practice in Las Vegas, writes a column for Black Image Magazine, gives talks to local women's groups, mentors young doctors, and has served on the Susan B. Komen grant committee.

As the first in her family to graduate from college, Annette sees Castilleja as an essential stepping stone along her path. “Castilleja honestly opened up a whole new world for me. My mother worked right down the street in a medical lab. We were so close to the area, and we knew nothing about Castilleja,” says Annette, who grew up in East Palo Alto as the youngest of six children.

One day, a 6th grade teacher in her public school took Annette and three other classmates aside. “You are really smart,” the teacher said. “I’m going to talk to your parents and see if they’ll allow me to have you get tested to see if you can get into this private school.” What followed was two months of rigorous studying for the admissions exam. Annette and another girl ended up enrolling in Castilleja.

The adjustment to a brand-new school wasn’t always easy for Annette. She missed her siblings and old classmates. “Just stay,” her mother urged. “You will appreciate it later.” And she did.

As she reflects on pivotal moments in her career, she feels two stand out. Once, during a particularly hard day, a former patient walked into her office and enveloped her in a hug. “You saved my baby’s life!” the woman exclaimed. “You are the best doctor in the world!” A few months earlier, Annette had successfully performed a procedure to help the woman’s baby breathe. Her words, Annette says, reminded her why she does this challenging work.

Another time, a colleague of Annette became suspicious that a patient was seeking drugs, even though the woman’s symptoms legitimately called for pain medicine and she had no history of ever misusing medication. “When I walked in the room,” remembers Annette, “I immediately knew what it was. There is a Black woman sitting on the exam table, with her mother and her two sisters there.” They were all distraught. “We’re so glad it’s you, thank God!” they said.

“The schools you go to are there for you, to help you get to your next level...You need to go through that open door. You need to not be afraid.”


Annette read her chart and wrote the needed prescription. She also made it a teachable moment about racial bias for her colleague. “[The midwife] walked into a room of Black women, and she immediately felt threatened by it,” explains Annette. “I talked to her about it and I said, ‘I really feel like this was on you and not on them.’”

“I’ve always felt it’s important to promote minorities to be in my field,” Annette says. “But it never struck me until a few years ago how important it really is to have Black physicians treating Black patients. It’s about feeling comfortable and having someone to relate to. Maybe they open up more, maybe there’s more openness to what I’m suggesting that they do.”

Her daughter, a veterinarian, was also aware of the lack of teacher diversity in her veterinary school, with just one Black faculty member. Annette encouraged her to become a professor and to pave the way for those behind her. “Then I said, ‘Wow, maybe I need to listen to my own words, and I need to be in academia.’”

So when a local medical school invited Annette to join their faculty and teach medical residents, she readily accepted. “I’d been in this city for 28 years by that time, and I’d never once seen a Black resident in the program [even though] there is a diverse population,” she says.

Annette teaches young people, including her two children, to advocate for themselves and to take advantage of every opportunity, including teachers’ office hours. She wishes she’d done it more as a student. But, Annette says, “the schools you go to are there for you, to help you get to your next level. It’s okay to call people. It doesn’t matter if it’s a faculty member or the dean. If they blow you off, just go to the next person. But you’ve got to take that step. You need to go through that open door. You need to not be afraid.”

16 | Castilleja Full Circle

A GALLERY OF IMAGINATION Art students explore fantasy and wonder in a myriad of ways. Artists clockwise from top

Spring 2024 | 17
left: Katy Wan ’29, Leela Gunderson ’29, Anu Soriano-Bilal ’29, Eleanor Mead ’29, Blakely Banzhaf ’29, and Emmy Manion ’29

Celebrating Jill LeeHA


“We can’t teach without students, and what a student body Jill LeeHA has delivered to us all!” beloved former French teacher Lauren SchryverHA explains about Ms. Lee, who will retire this June after 34 years of leading Admission and Tuition Assistance at Castilleja. Ms. Schryver adds, “Jill always kept her finger on the pulse of the community, offered valuable perspectives, and listened keenly to absolutely everyone. The Castilleja we know today has been shaped by her unending positive spirit and energy.”

Not many people realize exactly how far Ms. Lee’s history reaches back at Castilleja; she first visited campus when she was nine—the same age as many of the campers she has welcomed each summer. She arrived to drop off her older sister, who was a boarder at the time. “She was super-cool,” Ms. Lee says. “I just loved her uniform, and I would wear her midi top with my jeans.”

A GIRLS' SCHOOL GIRL From 2nd grade through high school, Ms. Lee was also enrolled in a girls’ school (also with a blue and white skirt as part of its uniform). “Several of my teachers had a profound impact on me,” she remembers. “They were important to my education and my personal growth. I felt known and cared for by them. I also made friends who have been with me for my entire life.”

Ms. Lee carried that appreciation for all that school can offer when she went to college, where she took a job in the admission office, welcoming families and organizing files for the staff on Saturdays. In her senior year, an administrator suggested that she think about going into admissions. “When I look back over my life, I’m not sure whether I chose the work or the work chose me,” she explains, which makes sense on many levels because she is a natural.

Ms. Lee’s first full-time admissions job was at Mills College, which was an excellent fit given her life experience and served to clarify her sense of purpose. “When I started at Mills, which was a progressive women’s college, I understood that I was a feminist and that working to support women’s institutions was important to me.” She left Mills to become the Director of Admissions at Wheaton College, and while she was there, she married her husband, Malcolm; had her first baby, Dwight; and helped lead the college through its transition to becoming a co-ed institution.

FINDING HOME It was a busy time, and she was enjoying her many roles, so there were no plans to move until Jim McManus, the Head of Castilleja at the time, reached out about an opening in the Admission Office. It was an easy decision. “I was committed to women’s education,” she explains, “and I was excited to work with younger students and their families. I also felt like Castilleja could be a home for me.”

18 | Castilleja Full Circle

A WARM WELCOME That has certainly proven to be true. “I loved the direct contact with students; I still remember the girls from my first advisory.” In truth, she has encyclopedic recall for all the students she has met over the years—their names, their families, their interests, their career paths after Castilleja, and now their children. During her decades around the Circle, she has:

• reviewed 11,500 applications

• accepted 3,790 students

• interviewed 2,700 applicants

• watched 2,004 seniors graduate

• and served under four heads of school

The numbers are staggering, but the care that she has given every student is even more impressive. Ms. Lee’s natural warmth helped applicants and families feel at ease, and they weren’t the only ones—employees often note that Ms. Lee was the first person to make them feel welcome as she asked about their life experiences and shared stories of her own.

DIVERSITY: A LASTING LEGACY This desire to make everyone feel known highlights that Ms. Lee’s core values centered on belonging long before it became a goal that school leaders sought to achieve. “One of my proudest accomplishments is the contributions I made to helping Castilleja become a more diverse and inclusive school.” In 2014, while working with a group of parents who urged the school to make stronger commitment to diversity, she responded by taking a leadership role in the effort to draft Castilleja’s current Diversity and Inclusion Statement. “It calls on each and every one of us to live up to our values every day,” she explains, and it is a lasting legacy we will all continue to carry forward.

During her long tenure, Ms. Lee became a regional and national leader in independent school admissions, sharing best practices by presenting through a diversity lens on outreach strategies, enrollment management, and tuition assistance. At a school that values mentorship, she offered that gift to her many team members, teaching them how to do their best work and then supporting them when they later became leaders at other schools. Perhaps the most important lesson she taught them was the value of optimism and levity— her glass is always half full and she never fails to see the humor in any situation.

MEANING AND PURPOSE Her daughters, Emily Hobbs ’09 and Katherine Hobbs ’13, are alums, but Ms. Lee feels her entire family benefited from the community around the Circle. “I became a better parent being part of a community of educators. Emily and Katherine and I would go home and talk to Malcolm and Dwight about the extraordinary speakers and the classes. We all took away a lot as a family.”

During her time, the financial aid budget grew from $200,000 to $4 million, and that has made her work more meaningful. “Talking through this choice with families and being part of making this education more accessible to more girls has been a privilege that’s…” She trails off while glancing out her office window toward the Circle. Almost never at a loss for words, Ms. Lee keeps her eyes on the students milling around while she adds quietly, “It’s hard to describe how much that has meant to me.”

Spring 2024 | 19
Jill and her daughters Emily Hobbs ’09 and Katherine Hobbs ’13

Languages We Speak = Identity, Access, and Justice

This year’s Global Week theme, Languages We Speak = Identity, Access, and Justice, explored the multifaceted nature of language. Each speaker untangled layers of what language meant to their families, cultures, communities, personal identities, and how language access relates to justice. Each grade immersed itself in various projects that shared themes of creativity, problemsolving, history, and making space for inclusion.

JEAN KWOK Bestselling Author

“I have to say that I never forget the reason I write my books, which is to try to connect to people from different countries [and] cultures and to remember that beyond that barrier of language, we all have so much in common,” Jean Kwok explained. She and her family, originally from Hong Kong, immigrated to the United States when she was just a child. They navigated their new lives in Brooklyn without understanding or speaking English. During the day, Ms. Kwok went to school, and her parents worked in a sewing factory under unsafe and unfair conditions. After school, she worked in the factory alongside them. When Ms. Kwok left for college, she was also working as a professional ballroom dancer, which became the premise for her novel Mambo in Chinatown. Earlier in her career, Ms. Kwok was ashamed of and tried to distance herself from her personal history, veering toward fiction instead. She later realized how important it was to begin to share stories that were, in fact, taken from her life.

FRANCIS PHIRI Founder of Give Back to Community-Zambia and Educator

Francis Phiri taught us that in life, some start at A, and each moment of growth promotes us to the next level, or letter, up to Z. “Can you recite the alphabet from Z to A instead?” he asked the audience. The Chapel Theater roared with students' voices giving it a try from all around. Mr. Phiri’s journey began at Z, in Zambia. At a young age, an illness caused him to lose his hearing. Over time, he became unhoused and left to navigate life without language and basic necessities. This is the case for many hearingimpaired individuals in Zambia. Now at A, in America, Mr. Phiri is an American Sign Language teacher and founder of his non-profit Give Back to Community-Zambia. His organization advocates for Zambians with hearing impairments and what they need to navigate life from A to Z.

“Mr. Phiri’s use of humor engaged the community and he showed us that kindness and empathy always shine through, even across language barriers. His presentation prompted me to think deeper about equal language access efforts around the globe, especially with regards to Deaf communities.”


20 | Castilleja Full Circle

ALEJANDRA OLIVA Translator and Author

“I liked the way translating made me feel useful, made me feel the same kind of virtuous rush that you get when you open a door for someone or give up your seat on the bus.” Alejandra Oliva, translator, author, and immigration advocate, spoke about how she uses her ability to move between two languages to help people. Naturally, Ms. Oliva often became an intermediary between Spanish and English speakers throughout her life. This considerate gesture became her official career after she read Tell Me How it Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions, by Valeria Luiselli, just as a flurry of negative reports about immigrants surfaced in the media. Within a week, she found work at a legal clinic that needed translators. Now she is a full-time translator and interpreter for asylum seekers.

“It's the kind of job that takes your whole brain and your whole heart and a lot of your energy. But at the end of the day, it leaves me feeling like I've made some kind of a difference in the world.”

LORÉN M. SPEARS Executive Director of Tomaquag Museum and Enrolled Citizen of the Narragansett Indian Tribal Nation

Lorén M. Spears has many stories to tell. These stories are not just of her own life experiences, but also of her culture, heritage, community, and language—the thread that ties everything together. “Language is critical for us to tell our stories, to understand our traditional knowledge, our history, our culture, to have continuation and healing. It's really important for us to understand where we come from, and language helps us understand where we belong in this place, in this universe.”

She presented photos of family and community members participating in ceremonies, which play a vital role in the preservation and teaching of her indigenous language. For her, this process includes rewriting A Key in the Language of America, by Roger Williams, teaching the language in her community and online, and teaching her culture at the Tomaquag Museum.

FRANCHESCA RAMSEY Actress, Writer, Public Speaker, and Creator/Star of the Award-Winning Web Series MTV Decoded Franchesca Ramsey is a writer, actress, comedian, and viral video blogger, who explores social justice, identity, and pop culture, so it made sense that her talk was a communal social media experience tied together by a vital lesson. Many of the TikToks, memes, and Tweets she showed made us laugh together; others walked us toward confronting her overarching question: does having an accent or being well-spoken matter? She exposed the impacts of stereotypes by showing contrasting videos of different people speaking with the same accent. Some were met with acceptance and opportunity while others were not. She also asked the audience to examine the complexities of code-switching on a deeper level. Ms. Ramsey left us with these takeaways: “Not all accents were created equal. Try not to assume that someone is or isn’t smart just based on how they speak. Think about, understand, and acknowledge your privilege. Be open to making mistakes and learning from them.”

When discussing the best way to correct people who appropriate the use of AAVE [African American Vernacular English], Nneka Ituh ’26 took away a nuanced reflection:

“Sometimes, you don't need to correct everything and everyone around you, as it can be time-consuming and take away from your own self and happiness. Focusing on myself and the people I love and care about is the most worthwhile thing for me to do!”


In January, the Castilleja community gathered for its eighth annual #ComeAsYouAre event, dedicated to equity and inclusion education and headlined by antiracism educator Dr. Lori A. Watson

Dr. Watson, founder and CEO of Race-Work, encouraged students, alums, employees, parents and guardians, and trustees to engage with one another on the topic of race during her presentation. The audience explored their racialized experiences and probed the reality that all of us, no matter how we racially identify, have a lived experience informed by structural racism.

“In a society where the dominant race is white, there is a privilege in not having to think about race,” Dr. Watson said. “Race dictates who gets to come as you are and who must contort themselves to fit into the societal ideas and standards.” That’s why, she explained, “when you share your truth and someone else tells a different truth, you can’t dismiss their truth. This is how we begin to understand different perspectives.”

Color blindness, Dr. Watson said, is not the answer to battling bias and racism. Instead of color blindness, we should strive for “color consciousness,” by having conversations about race and

acknowledging its ubiquitous impact. “We all navigate this world differently because of what people think of us when they see us. Race is impacting all of us one hundred percent of the time,” Dr. Watson said.

During Dr. Watson’s interactive workshop, the community had a chance to split into small groups and discuss prompts. “How is your life impacted by race?” she asked. “How do people describe certain communities based on who lives in those communities? Did you grow up with friends of a different race? How diverse are your friends now?”

Ultimately, we must continue to educate ourselves, cultivate self-awareness, disrupt racism when we see it—both its overt manifestations and microaggressions—and commit to building an antiracist society.

“I just hope you continue to do what’s necessary in creating a nation that we all deserve to have, where everyone is seen and valued for who they are and everyone feels a sense of belonging,” said Dr. Watson. “Race work is love work.”

22 | Castilleja Full Circle

“The engagement and vulnerability shown by the people in our workshop truly enriched the conversation and allowed us to authentically delve into deep and important topics. I learned so much that will inform and positively impact the DEI work I pursue in the future.”


The event came together with the help of Castilleja’s Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Hannah Nguyễn and student leads from the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership Committee (DEILC). These students also prepared and facilitated four hands-on community workshops after Dr. Watson’s presentation: “Setting Intentions with a Growth Mindset,” “Dominant Norms & Narratives,” “Facing Criticism and Openness to Change,” and “Real Change: A Reality or a Fantasy?”

In these workshops, attendees reflected on their learnings, tackled the ways they engage with feedback, and examined situations where their identities or beliefs were in the majority or minority.

“When I first conceived of this event in fall 2018, I wondered if one day it would be considered an essential Casti tradition and bring students, families, and employees together to co-create the community where we all can thrive and learn from one another,” said Stacey Kertsman, Castilleja’s former Dean of Equity Education and Social Impact. “This year, as a guest, it was thrilling to witness a great turnout and see how far along the event has come with the support of so many leaders over the years.”

“I have been asked, ‘Where are you from?’ What people don’t realize is that it’s a very loaded question. Others will often get scared of being canceled, so they won’t say anything. I think the workshop gave people the tools to engage in discussion and ask questions to each other in a respectful way.”


Spring 2024 | 23

Diverse Investments

In the 2022 Annual Report, we shared that Kathy Layendecker, then the Associate Head for Finance and Operations, and Alyssa Rieder P’20 ’23, then the Chair of the Board’s Investment Committee, had convened a working group of Investment Committee members with a mission-driven directive—they were to investigate new possible approaches to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in relation to the school’s investment strategies. Describing this undertaking, Ms. Layendecker states, “To create equity is to create more economic opportunities for those who identify as people of color.”

To achieve this goal, in partnership with advisors from Cambridge Associates, the Investment Committee’s task force studied other institutions’ approaches to DEI, and after months of research, they developed an approach to amend our Investment Policy to define, target, and track investments in diverse firms. The Board adopted this plan, and as a result, Castilleja has significantly increased its endowment investments in funds owned or managed by women and people of color. The percentage of our endowment invested with diverse managers is now over 30%—up from 22% in 2022. For reference, according to a Knight Foundation study of Diversity of Asset Managers in Philanthropy, the average foundation invests approximately 20% of its assets in diverse-owned firms. At the same time, Castilleja’s endowment has enjoyed competitive investment returns; the 8.8% return over the three years ended June 30, 2023, places Castilleja in the upper quartile of like endowments.*

This progress is exciting, and as with any effort to create lasting change, there is still work ahead. However, it is satisfying to see the measurable differences as we continue forward. As a school, we continue to work to deepen our commitment to DEI by engaging investment professionals who are consistent with this commitment and contribute to the successful growth of our endowment.

*Source: Commonfund Study of Independent Schools 2023


• Firms are considered women-owned or people of color-owned if at least 33% of firm ownership is held by women or people of color.

• Strategies are considered women-led or people of color-led if at least 33% of senior portfolio manager positions on the team are held by a woman or a person of color.

• Strategies which specifically seek to invest in organizations and securities that address the needs of diverse groups are also considered diverse.


Bottom of page: Artists clockwise from left: Ava Kwok ’26, Kira Libby Robertson ’25, and Joanne Zhao ’24


Top of page: Drawing by Nour Zafar ’29

24 | Castilleja Full Circle


Representation Matters


Growing up, Jessica McCabe was always told she had lots of potential. She spoke in full sentences by the time she was 18 months old. As a 3rd grader, she scored above a high-school level on standardized tests. Nonetheless, she often lost things and had trouble focusing, tendencies that were finally attributed to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Despite her natural gifts, Ms. McCabe was unable to finish college, and by age 32, she was still struggling and living with her mom.

That’s when Ms. McCabe decided to launch a deeper investigation into the way her brain functioned and began to share practical tips and science-backed research on her own YouTube channel, How to ADHD There was an eager audience around the globe who needed just what Ms. McCabe had to offer. With nearly two million YouTube subscribers, Ms. McCabe is now a renowned ADHD advocate. She’s been featured in The New York Times and National Geographic and her viral TEDx talk garnered more than six million views. In her signature upbeat and down-to-earth style, Ms. McCabe helps viewers understand and manage their symptoms and be allies to loved ones. She also offers something even more important: hope.

Last fall, Castilleja welcomed Ms. McCabe as the annual Arrillaga Speaker. This tradition, started in 1989 in memory of Frances Arrillaga, mother of Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen ’88, invites students to nominate and host speakers with valuable perspectives and life experiences. The

moment Ms. McCabe and her service dog Chloe stepped on the stage, the Chapel Theater erupted in cheers.

“The first time I saw one of Jessica McCabe’s videos, I cried,” said a Castilleja student while introducing Ms. McCabe. “I didn’t feel like I was alone.”

“She’s made a profound impact on my life,” another student added, beaming.

ADHD tends to affect tasks like paying attention, regulating one’s mood, staying organized, and following directions. Without treatment and support, people with ADHD face limits on their professional lives and social connections, Ms. McCabe said.

Approximately six million children and adolescents in the U.S. are diagnosed with ADHD, and yet ADHD in girls and women is often overlooked because the symptoms can be harder to spot. They may include forgetfulness, trouble focusing, and daydreaming, often masked by the culturally learned tendencies to please others and overcompensate.

“I felt like it was my fault,” Ms. McCabe told the auditorium of hushed students. “I was constantly trying to make up for the fact

that I wasn’t meeting expectations by overmeeting them.” She blamed herself for being “lazy” and “flaky,” no matter how she tried to be like everyone else, which she referred to as “internalized ableism.”

The key to living a fulfilling life with ADHD, Ms. McCabe said, is understanding how your brain works and not measuring yourself against neurotypical people. Also crucial are mindfulness, behavioral therapy, and proper sleep. “Medication helps but it’s not enough” noted Ms. McCabe. “Pills don’t teach skills.”

During her talk, Ms. McCabe discussed the many ways in which people with ADHD excel. They are courageous and willing to take risks, and their capacity for divergent thinking makes them innovative. “They’re super fun to hang out with,” added Ms. McCabe. “A lot of the inventors and incredible creators are people who were able to slip into hyperfocus,” another feature of a brain with ADHD. “Some of the best social advocates that I’ve ever met have ADHD. They’re really passionate about changing the world for the better.”

She also reminded the Castilleja community about the importance of accommodations for neurodiverse individuals and the need to speak up without the fear of stigma. Ms. McCabe met students in the Disabled/ Neurodivergent Affinity Group for lunch and answered questions about healthy habits, extracurricular commitments, and symptom management. “Are you getting enough sleep every night?” she asked. “Every night?” “Are you enjoying this [activity], or do you feel a crushing sense of impending doom?”

Her talk empowered and represented neurodivergent students and educated others about ways to be allies. “There is value in neurodiversity and it doesn’t depend on overcoming it. It’s good that we have brains that work differently. You are enough,” she urged. “And we all belong here.”

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The beloved Castilleja tradition, Rivalry, continued this year with the Senior Class of 2024’s theme “Netflix: The Season Finale” taking on the Junior Class of 2025’s theme “Ursula’s Lair.” The playfully competitive match up culminated in a flag football game on Spieker Field.

Q&A with Yamel Núñez Castro

Get to know Yamel Núñez Castro, Castilleja’s new faculty member in the English department.

Favorite book you’ve read in the last decade?

The Wild Iris, by Louise Glück; it is a poetry collection.

Why teach English?

We have words for a reason. It’s great if we can describe what we love, point out what we don’t love as much. Studying a literary tradition just seems to help us gain clarity.

Which of the 5Cs resonates with you?

Courage. You can have all the other things, and if you don't have the courage to stand behind your values, then you don't have anything. For me, courage is the foundation.

Tea or coffee? Coffee.

What is something you plan to learn more about in the next year?

Poetry. In particular, Persian poetry. I want to learn Farsi. I am drawn to it so much because it has a very strong tie to Sufism as a religion.

Who are your heroes?

My parents.

Which teacher in your life made the biggest impression on you?

There are so many good ones. Mr. Sturm was a teacher I had in the 5th grade. He inherited our class, and he was shocked that our learning hadn’t been taken seriously. He pushed us, and that was the first time a teacher recognized that I had some ability in the classroom. There was one time he had a contest to memorize the name of at least one Indigenous culture in each state. He gave us a week, and,

and the next day I said to him, “I can do it.” He was surprised that I did it all so quickly. That showed me that I am smart, and I can actually do things.

“We have words for a reason. It’s great if we can describe what we love, point out what we don’t love as much. Studying a literary tradition just seems to help us gain clarity.”

What perspective do you bring to Castilleja?

The perspective of an immigrant American from a workingclass background, and even more specific than that, we are campesinos. Campesinos is not a term that translates well in the class structure here, but this designates people who are traditionally from Indigenous communities and they live off the land, and within their own culture. If you can live off the land, feed your family, and sustain life, you are not poor, you are independent and resilient. I appreciate the more traditional, land-based idea of self-sustainability because then you can do things and you don’t feel limited. I think people here, even with a lot of resources, feel limited.

What was your favorite subject in school?

Italian. I love language learning. I like feeling like a Kindergartener (starting from zero).

What is your favorite part about being an English teacher?

It’s watching students develop ideas, just watching them arrive at conclusions and get curious. I can give, but the most exciting part of teaching is witnessing the learning that's actually happening in the moment. And the doodles.

What is a typical weekend for you?

Pajamas, pancakes, running, and listening to records.

Favorite podcast?

I like Invisibilia by NPR.

Early bird or night owl?

I am a crazy bird. I can do it all, I just need to have coffee.

Pictured above: A collaborative class white board doodle illustrating how Ms. Núñez Castro teaches English through art.

Your superpower?

I am very intuitive, which helps me perceive people's feelings, mental state, and it allows me to respond really quickly, too.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

I am inspired by the words and actions of Angela Davis and the art of films by people like Yorgos Lanthimos.

Spring 2024 | 27
“Doing Your Best Is More Important than Being the Best.”



For Chloe Sargeant, Middle School Athletic Director, no work day is ever the same. During the school day, you can find her at the Joan Z. Lonergan Fitness and Athletics Center teaching strength exercises and fitness games to 7th and 8th grade students. Or she might be meeting with her 7th grade advisees to discuss school projects, chat about activities they’re nervous or excited about, or educate them about digital citizenship. After school, she’s off to coach swimming and basketball, drive teams to games, or meet with the local schools competing in the West Bay Athletic League.

“It’s never boring!” exclaims Ms. Sargeant with her signature enthusiasm. “Even if I’ve taught the same kids 20 times, every single class is different.”

A WINNING PHILOSOPHY Ms. Sargeant, who joined Castilleja in August and has master’s degrees in Education and in Public Policy, has spent a decade working at public schools in the Bay Area and in Utah and directing an athletic program across several districts. She’s also worked for the San Jose Sharks and for Peninsula Bridge. Wherever she goes, she brings her philosophy with her: sports isn’t all about winning. It’s about doing your best and seeking out new challenges.

It’s a lesson she learned from her older brother, who has a genetic disability that makes balancing difficult. As a kid, Ms. Sargeant used to watch her brother compete on his high school swim team. She remembers swimmers getting up on their platforms and the coach commanding, “Swimmers, take your mark!” All swimmers would then leap from their platforms into the water, powering forward with butterfly and freestyle strokes. Everyone except her brother. Unable to balance on the block, he would start competing in the water and come in last.

“I remember watching my brother and getting vicariously upset for him. I was crying,” remembers Ms. Sargeant, who didn’t understand why he couldn’t utilize the platform like his teammates did.

WORDS FROM THE WISE “Doing my best is more important than being the best,” her brother explained. “I’m racing against myself, and I’m improving every time, and that’s so much more important to me than winning.”

These words changed Ms. Sargeant’s relationship with athletics and her worldview. “I just want to do my best and enjoy the process,” says Ms. Sargeant. It’s a lesson she also learned from her mother, a Kindergarten teacher who was fully engaged in her classroom and with her three children after work when Ms. Sargeant was growing up.

In school, Ms. Sargeant played basketball, competed on the swim team, and taught surfing, ultimately choosing a career in athletic education. “I’d fully immerse myself,” Ms. Sargeant remembers. Her husband is a college tennis coach, and Ms. Sargeant plays in an adult tennis league.

SPACE TO GROW Now at Castilleja, she values the learning environment of a girls’ school. In co-ed schools, she’s noticed that some female students worried about how they were perceived and about being teased for saying the wrong thing. Yet at Castilleja, she sees students show up and be rewarded for trying their best. “There’s this sense of camaraderie and love and empowerment,” she says. “There is so much space to grow in a way that feels really safe. I’ve never heard people go up and speak at assemblies where people are cheering them on.”

She encourages students to keep growing by trying new classes, sports, arts, and extracurriculars. “Try as much as you can and be willing to laugh at yourself if it doesn't go according to plan,” she tells them. “And if it does, embrace it. We’re here to support you.”

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Spring 2024 | 29

“Listen to What Your Heart Is Guiding You to Do.”


In a room with pitch-black walls, 13 people are gathered in a circle. They’re sitting on the edges of their chairs, their faces illuminated by the glow of laptops. These are theatre students in Castilleja’s Black Box Theater, but they may as well be in Appalachian Georgia.

Guided by Tannis Hanson, Upper School Visual and Performing Arts teacher, the students take turns reading from an adaptation of The Crucible, transfixed by their roles and transported into another universe.

Next, the class analyzes the scene they’d just read, talking about feminism and witches and even Taylor Swift and John Mayer’s ill-fated romance (here, the students break into Swift’s song “Dear John.”)

There’s joy in this circle they have created, and there’s the magic of community. Ms. Hanson looks on, smiles, and turns the script page.

“The students are really curious and engaged,” says Ms. Hanson about her six years of teaching at Castilleja. “There is mutual respect and collaboration. They bring a high level of both intellectual and creative curiosity. It’s hard enough to be a teenager, but thankfully, here at Castilleja, a non-co-ed school, it creates an environment where the students take a lot more risks in their work. That’s what I see.”

For Ms. Hanson, theatre has always been a powerful tool for selfdiscovery, one she is eager to share with others. “They don’t learn to trust themselves by reading it in a book,” she explains. “They have to be doing it in practice. It’s scary to be up there and be vulnerable.”

Ms. Hanson was born and raised in Colorado, where she studied technical journalism and theatre. She moved to Southern California for her MFA, where she became a professional actor and director and taught classes from improvisation to acting, voice, movement, and audition techniques. While in Hollywood, she was a member of a professional theatre company for over a decade.

at Castilleja, Ms. Hanson is busy leading two annual Upper School theatre productions. She also teaches Upper School theatre classes, 9th grade Exploration in the Arts class, and 8th grade film class, on top of guiding the student-directed One-Acts Festival and advising the student-run Theatre Advisory Board.

Though a full-time teacher, she continues to perform locally, participate in workshops, and take improvisation classes. “It’s hard to ask my students to take risks every day in class and in the productions if I’m not taking risks as an artist,” she says. “I’m able to bring in those experiences and talk about them.”

Ms. Hanson’s advice for students is to trust their inner voices. “It’s easy to fall into comparing yourself with what other people are doing or what you think other people expect you to be doing, instead of listening to what your heart is guiding you to do. It takes practice and it’s really hard, even for adults!” she points out. “All of my work is about learning to trust your instrument and listen to your own instinct. It’s what I do in the classroom and what I subscribe to as a human.”

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Spring 2024 | 31


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Spring 2024 | 35 JOIN US ONLINE Facebook: CastillejaSchool • Instagram: @Castilleja_School • LinkedIn: Castilleja-School


The Next Wanderers

“I, myself, have grown tremendously as a learner. Compared to 15-year-old me, my patience has increased, and I’ve stopped striving for adult validation. As I tutored my cousins, I no longer worried about what their mom was thinking of me. I was solely focused on the best way to convey the material.”

— LIV NICKEL ’24, ASB President, Senior Speech Excerpt

“I moved to California at the start of 6th grade. I was nervous about starting at a new school again, and while I was glad to be moving somewhere more permanently, I didn’t know what to expect and held on to my past just as faithfully as I had before. At Casti, I joined a community where people were excited to learn and form new friendships. I realized this idea of community was somewhat foreign to me, yet it was something that I loved so deeply.”

SAMANTHA KIM ’24, Senior Speech Excerpt

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“I have written in 16 different journals, and I haven’t missed a single day. That’s 1,762 days. There have been days when I wanted to stop my entry early because of exhaustion, illness, or anything else, but holding myself accountable to the routine allowed me to create something I am so proud of today.”

— OLIVIA DETTER ’24, Senior Speech Excerpt

“While reminiscing on my life up until this point, I realized that we never outgrow our childhood, and perhaps the wisdom we continue to seek has been deep within us since we were kids, just waiting to be rediscovered.”

— TZEWA DINGPONTSAWA ’24, Senior Speech Excerpt

“Before we know it, we will be scattered across the globe, embarking on our paths. So, let us seize this moment, right now, and celebrate our journey together. Let us appreciate the bonds we have forged, the growth we have experienced, and the memories we have created.”

— MIA RAMIREZ ’24, Senior Speech Excerpt

“Upon meeting someone new, we ask their names. We do not assign it to them. And with that name, we are given ancestry, bloodlines and dialects, books and poems, perspectives, wars, struggles, aspirations, and survival stories.”

— SERRA TULU ’24, Senior Speech Excerpt

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In October 2023, we celebrated Castilleja alums from milestone years at Reunion. Orelia Merchant ’88 won the Distinguished Alumna Award and Sydney Larson ’03 won the Outstanding Service Award.

SAVE THE DATE Mark your calendars for this year’s Reunion on September 28, 2024! We welcome all alums back to the Circle for the event, and this year, in particular, we will be celebrating milestone classes ending in “9” and “4.”

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We’d love to hear from you!

Help us stay in touch by sharing your new contact information and exciting updates on life, work, family, accomplishments, travel, hobbies, and more. Submit your Class Note (75 words or fewer) to appear in the next issue of Full Circle Magazine at: castilleja.org/alumnae

Questions? Ideas? Please contact: (650) 470-7744 alumnae@castilleja.org

1948 Jean Kay McGillis ’48 writes, “Married to Cal McGillis for 67 years with five children, I'm blessed with 16 grandchildren and expect my 24th great-grandchild in December 2023. Grateful for my amazing family, I fondly recall my years at Castilleja. My mother, Ruth Richards Leiter 1928, and daughter Carrie McGillis Zaga ’69 also graduated from there. Currently residing in Palm Desert and fortunate to be in good health, I enjoy traveling to visit family.”

Photo: Jean Kay McGillis.


1942 Belle Clegg Hays ’42 passed away in December 2022, just before her 98th birthday. Cherishing fond memories of Castilleja, she admired Mary Lockey, Margarita Espinosa 1922, and her first-grade teacher Mrs. Robinson Honored with the "Margarita Espinosa Society" award in 2010, she expressed enduring love for her time there. In the 1970s, she and her husband retired to a Mendocino County farm, raising Dexter cattle and participating in dog shows with their Irish wolfhounds and Italian greyhounds. She rescued animals and created art into her 90s.

Photo: Belle with some of her favorite canine friends.


1953 Dorothy “Dot” Davis Mason ’53 is long retired and living in Honolulu, Hawaii. She married and had three children (one deceased), got divorced, remarried, and was widowed. Dot graduated from Stanford in 1957 with a degree in English, then worked as a realtor in Honolulu. Her interests include “survival, reading, swimming, and friends.”

1958 Carolyn Wells ’58 attended LaGrange College in Georgia, married, and had two daughters, Nina and Donna. In the past, she was active with Peninsula Volunteers, P.E.O. and Junior League of Palo Alto. Carolyn relocated to Rancho Bernardo, San Diego, and is now involved with Rancho Bernardo Republican Women and Daughters of the American Revolution. She visited Israel with her church in Spring 2023.


1963 Monika Barth ’63 is an actress in theater and TV as well as a photographer and independent artist. She lives near Hamburg, Germany.

1963 Sandra Sayre Flattery ’63 recently marked her 50th anniversary with husband John by taking a "Cradle of Civilization" tour in Israel, Egypt, and Jordan. With four children, seven grandchildren, and many grand pets, the couple retired from careers in real estate and now focus on philanthropy in the Wood River Valley, Idaho. After years of skiing, hiking, and horse riding, Sandra now enjoys tennis, pickleball, and duplicate bridge in their vibrant mountain community.

Photo: In a hot air balloon in Egypt, April 2023.

Gloria Dodd Hayes ’63 has lived on the East Coast since 1986, now in New Canaan, Connecticut. Her daughters and seven grandchildren live in nearby Darien, and they cherish Sunday family dinners. Gloria writes that “Castilleja greatly influenced me with high academic and life skill standards.” She's a bronze life master in duplicate bridge. Gloria and her husband travel frequently, recently sadly witnessing the fires in Lahaina on Maui. Actively involved in her church, family is her main hobby.

Photo: Gloria at a family dinner.

Lauren Ross ’63 is retired from the University of California Santa Cruz and still lives in the town. She spent 35 years as a computer systems manager and programmer. She is a black diamond skier. Her middle granddaughter just graduated from UCSC with honors and surfs for O’Neill. Current interests include fruit trees.

Virginia Smedberg ’63 writes, “The one ‘new and different’ thing I did this year, on top of my usual playing violin in Opera San Jose and West Bay Opera, coaching chamber music, and teaching, was a trip to London in June to sing choral music by John Rutter conducted by the composer—a real treat!—followed by a week with my brother traveling around Scotland by train and staying in hostels.”

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1968 Nancy Brunner Grove ’68 writes, “During COVID, Bill and I downsized from our Atherton home, "Grove Farm," to “The Forum” at Rancho San Antonio in Cupertino. We split time between “The Forum” and our home in Ashland, Oregon, and are active in the performing arts scene. In retirement, I focus on sustainability and climate justice. Just returned from Bar Harbor, Maine, helping with a newborn grandson. Bill and I remain in good health.”

Photo: With CeCe Herron Waters ’70, my next-door neighbor.

Mia “Cathie” Houk Lundergan ’68 aspired to be a “dilettante at Castilleja.” Her career as a speech pathologist provided constant challenge. Post-retirement, she nurtured her love for plants with part-time work at a botanical garden. Relocating from Los Angeles to North Las Vegas made retirement feel right. Mia's private life revolves around gardening, music, advocating for social justice (particularly voting rights), singing across genres, and her family. She recently took up the ukulele for an arthritisfriendly musical adventure.

Deborah McFarlane ’68 published a new book, Regulating Abortion: The Politics of U.S. Abortion Policy (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2024). The recent landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturned long-standing precedents. In an analysis spanning three decades, Deborah and her co-author provide timely insights about this ruling and how it amplifies the disparities among states in regulating abortion. This book also compares U.S. and Western European abortion regulations.

Maryanne Greninger Merritt ’68 retired from registered nursing to raise her children, Travis and Bryce, relishing those years. After their college departure, she resumed nursing in research and hospital settings. Now, alongside her husband, Maryanne cherishes time with their grown children and grandchildren. With one son a doctor and the other a lawyer, their pride is overflowing. Retirement brings joy, filled with reading, streaming videos, and brief trips to visit family.

Chris Witzel ’68 is retired, living in Palo Alto and writes, “Still finding retirement a 12 on a 10 point scale. Very busy working on nonpartisan voting rights issues, a little gardening and trying to get back into shape after the COVID pandemic. Seeing friends face-to-face again is wonderful; looking forward to celebrating being married for 34 years (19 officially) this fall. My current passions include voting rights, gardening, and reading.”

Kathy Mauel Wright ’68 ended two decades of substitute teaching during the pandemic. Now, she focuses on long-term genealogy work and watercolor painting. A book club member for 25 years, Kathy enjoys traveling; Washington, D.C. is a favorite destination where she visits her older son. A recent trip to Africa with friend Diane Schwabacher Vocker inspires her painting. Kathy is eager to join the Daughters of the American Revolution to engage in their service activities and to get “onto the next stage” with her recently retired husband.


1970 Pam Silver ’70 was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors in the scientific field. Pam is a founding core faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and professor of biochemistry and systems biology at Harvard Medical School. She was nominated for her pioneering contributions to RNA biology, the biology of bacteria and entire microbiomes, function of the cell nucleus in higher organisms, and cancer therapeutics.

1972 Joyce Bogner Bohn ’72 shares news of a visit with her husband Rich to Suzanne Wu Zurinaga ’67 and her husband Luis’s winery near Sebastopol for a delightful wine tasting experience. Joyce and Sue's connection dates back to 1983 in Barranquilla, Colombia, where Joyce, Luis, and Rich worked on a coal mining project. Despite the turbulence in Colombia, they fondly recall the warm weather, beautiful beaches, and welcoming community during their time there.

Photo: Joyce and Suzanne check out the 1967 yearbook.

1973 Kit Davey ’73 is an artist based in Redwood City. While a bilingual teacher, she founded an interior design business, providing advice and transformation using what clients already owned. Kit wrote design columns for the San Jose Mercury News and Palo Alto Weekly while dabbling in art. She is fully devoted to art in retirement, married to Tom Podoll since 1988, and shares her creations on her website and Instagram.

Catherine McLellan DiEugenio ’73 is retired and lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with her husband. She was a professional chef and caterer. She has been spending quality time with her two daughters and traveling to Portugal to see her son and grandson. Catherine enjoys puzzles, music, cooking, movies, and going to as many concerts as she can before she is too old.

Jan Rosenthal French ’73 works as a bookkeeper in San Jose. After graduating from college in Ohio, Jan returned to San Jose, taught school, got married, and brought a son and daughter into the world. She earned a graphic arts and design degree, then ran her successful business for many years. She notes, “The biggest event in my life, besides having my children, was becoming a grandmother (Gigi). There is nothing in the world like it!”

June Gallagher Griffiths ’73, residing in Bellevue, Washington, has enjoyed a fulfilling career as a realtor for 35 years. With a passion for golf, fitness, and wellness, she is currently working towards certification as a Pilates instructor. Married with no kids, June was inspired by the all-girl environment at Castilleja and often reflects on the progress of women since 1973. She embraces lifelong learning, including fulfilling her bucket list by learning to play the piano at 55 “for brain health.”

Photo: June noted “Looks like I’m wearing our Casti uniform.”

Leslie Lewis ’73, a retired American Airlines flight attendant of 39 years, concluded her career in 2018. Based in Los Angeles and Boston, she treasured flights to London, Sydney, the Hawaiian Islands, Boston, and New York. Rediscovering her love for running at 30, Leslie excelled in marathons, representing Los Angeles in the Athens Classic Marathon in 1989. She participated in the Women’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials Marathon in Houston alongside Nancy Ditz Mosbacher ’72. Recently embracing Pilates, Leslie enjoys beach walks near her home.

Loralie Ogden ’73 lives in Manhattan Beach with husband of 36 years, Dexter Taylor. They have two children: Elliot and Madeline, who benefited from “Auntie Lester” (Leslie Lewis) living nearby. Loralie’s 35-year career at CBRE as a commercial real estate broker involved working with Debra Ziegler Rosenberg’s son Matt. Passionate about strength training, motherhood, and supporting democracy, Loralie engages in calls, postcard mailings, and travel to support women's rights champions, reflecting Castilleja's enduring influence on her dedication to women’s rights.

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Meg Malone Thompson ’73 embarked on retirement three years ago with her husband after a career in accounting in Silicon Valley and Oregon. Opting for a quieter life, they moved to Silverton, Oregon. With two independent daughters in their 30s, she finds joy in gardening and playing with her two doodles. She volunteers on the Silverton City Council Budget Committee, finding it a nice way to understand the workings of a small town.

1975 Casey Lewis Keeshan ’75 returned to New York City with her husband after three years in Nashville during the pandemic. Her husband's office recall brought them back to Manhattan happily. A memorable summer included a wonderful tour of Ireland, where she explored its western side, enjoyed Irish music and amazing food, and met wonderful people. Now back in NYC, Casey enjoys Broadway shows and the city's diverse benefits.

Photo: Casey Lewis.

Giuliana Danon Vural ’75 writes “After nearly 40 years out of state (Seattle, Washington; Wichita, Kansas; and Fort Worth, Texas), I am now a Southern Californian! With our two children pursuing PhDs at UCLA (computer science for son and applied math for daughter), my husband and I moved to Huntington Beach and I am planning to take the California Bar Exam (my fourth jurisdiction) to stay current.”

Photo: Giuliana Vural, A. Levent Vural, Zerrin Vural, and Turan Vural.

1978 Cathy Friedman ’78, an executive venture partner at Google Ventures residing in Atherton, attended Harvard before pursuing an MBA at the University of Virginia. In her 24-year career at Morgan Stanley, she met her husband Jon Duane in 1986. Married for 35 years, they have six children. She loves living near cherished friends and considers Cape Cod her happy place. Cathy feels blessed to have attended Castilleja.

Photo: With Karen Hoffman Gilhuly and Lynn Anderson Poole.

Karen Hoffman Gilhuly ’78 chairs The Garden Club of America and resides in Woodside. After navigating four children, three careers, and two countries with her husband, she focuses on environmental advocacy and education in Woodside. Her children pursue impactful careers in education, editing, software engineering, and investment. Grateful for the chance to focus on her passions, Karen leads a group of passionate gardeners advocating for a healthier planet in Washington, D.C.

Maureen McPartland Hardy ’78 writes, “I have been living in San Francisco since 1985, and my work primarily involves public market, restaurant, and custom residential projects. My son Kai is now a junior in high school. I spend my spare time fly fishing, taking California road trips, and enjoying live music. Recent family reunions in Montana and Norway have allowed me to forge new connections with my Scandinavian relatives.”

Julia Maurice ’78 took a gap year in Paris after her freshman year at Stanford to study music. She returned to graduate, then pursued a career as an agent for opera professionals in Europe. Relocating to Paris in 1987, Julia worked in artists’ agencies and earned her MBA at Institut Supérieur des Affaires - HEC in 1992. For the past 27 years, she has been a sexual health counselor and recently bought a vine-covered house in Paris where she lives with her son and cat.

Lynn Anderson Poole ’78 writes, “I retired in 2021 after 35 years with Dodge & Cox (Investment Management). Married to Ed for over 30 years. Daughter Sara (27) lives in San Francisco and son William (Mike) (23) is a Navy submariner based in Hawaii. I love retirement, travel, and good friends!”

Cynthia Stevenson Waslewsky ’78, a mother of three and grandmother to five (with one more on the way), has had a dynamic journey. She's taught, coached, worked at churches, run businesses, homeschooled for six years, and changed careers three times. More active in her 50s and 60s than ever, Cynthia enjoys hiking, skiing, mountaineering, and travel. With husband Steve, she manages an urban ranch with horses, teaches riding, and reconstructs an honest, compassionate faith while staying engaged in various activities.

Photo: Cynthia on one of her adventures.


1980 Anne Kelly Mellenthin ’80 writes, “For the last 15 years, I have been working in the MenloAtherton area as an interior designer with a focus on sustainability. This year I became a grandmother and am loving this new role!”

1982 Inge Tiegel Doherty ’82 tells us, “After serving seven years on the San Carlos Planning Commission and six years on City Council, including a year as mayor, I am currently the City Treasurer.”

1983 Jennifer Ritter Brill ’83, a University of the Pacific graduate, pursued a career in hotel sales/management. Married to Chuck, they have two grown children: a son working in commercial real estate in San Francisco and a daughter serving as a marketing manager in Boise, Idaho. Both involved in real estate, Jennifer and Chuck love traveling and family time. Jennifer would be happy to support young alumnae in the Los Angeles area who might appreciate a visit and some home cooking.

Photo: The family.

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Isabelle Crawford ’83 a doctor at Edinburgh University Health Centre in the UK, moved to England in 1980. Despite 17 relocations while raising five daughters, she continued her medical career and worked in UK boarding schools. Divorced with two dogs, Isabelle enjoys Scottish country dancing, sea swimming, and pub quizzes. She fondly remembers Castilleja’s boarding option.

Photo: Isabelle’s five daughters: Madeleine, Chloe, Flora, Catriona, and Olivia skiing at Villars-surOllon.

Laura Feistel ’83, a 2nd grade teacher in Watsonville, reflects on her 35-year career. After earning a BA in Liberal Studies and a teaching credential from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, she taught in both public and private schools, including in Spain. She has a master's degree in education and plans to retire in two years. Living near the coast, she appreciates Watsonville's diversity and agricultural surroundings and engages in hiking, biking, reading, cooking, coffee outings, and leading worship at church.

Evelyne Assali Geha ’83 writes “For the last 10 years, I have been in enterprise consulting sales. I made a pivot to a startup for climate change and was affected due to the current economy. I have two great adult children and both are working and getting established. One is a chef and the other is in marketing. I have a wonderful husband who is in the television entertainment industry. I enjoy food, tennis, hiking, traveling, and hanging with family and friends.”

Shelly Graham ’83, a psychologist and yoga instructor in Powell, Wyoming, resides in a renovated church with her husband and a few cats. Having spent many decades in California, she's now gaining an education about rural America. Living in the wild and beautiful landscape, Shelly practices psychotherapy and offers yoga classes. Grateful for the diverse perspectives in her small farm town, she acknowledges there's always more to learn, embracing the richness of her surroundings and community.

Robin Haber Kallas ’83 is a physician of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Kaiser Permanente and living in Bainbridge Island, Washington. She currently enjoys pickleball, kayaking, hiking, knitting, refinishing furniture, traveling, and gardening.

Kat Koppett ’83 is the CEO and Founder at Mopco/Koppett and living in Schenectady, New York. “After ping-ponging from New York City back to the Bay Area, I landed in upstate New York, where I run The Mopco Improv Theatre and an applied improvisation consultancy, helping folks expand their performance awareness and range. My daughter is following in her grandfather’s footsteps as editor-in-chief of her college newspaper and I expect her to take over the world.”

Gretchen Van Tuyl Larese ’83 spent almost a decade in the packaging industry before changing careers and earning a master’s in teaching from the University of San Francisco. She taught at private schools, including Castilleja, for 20 years and is now teaching at Independence High School. Gretchen's grown children and her three-decade marriage bring joy. Her passions include teaching kids, training dogs, and navigating the challenges of supporting elderly parents.

Photo: Gretchen and her daughter in Ashland, Oregon, June 2023.

Donna Lee McMaster ’83 of Menlo Park, recently became an empty nester. With her eldest daughter graduating in 2021 and with her twins juniors in college, coordinating family vacations can be challenging. After 10 years in the tech sector, Donna took a 22-year hiatus to raise her kids. For the past three and a half years, she's worked parttime at VMware in product marketing, enjoying virtual work during the pandemic. Donna enjoys being a supportive mom, caring for her 14-year-old Bichon, and traveling with her husband.

Photo: Donna’s family in Greece.

Kim Mygatt ’83, sales director at Uber Freight in Santa Cruz, remains active with biking, running, and beach volleyball. Though no longer in triathlons, she enjoys organized bike trips and recently took up pickleball. Kim’s sons, Ryan and Cory, both in sales, live in Tempe, Arizona, and in San Diego. They share an annual vacation filled with hiking, pickleball, and card games. Partner Dave, who has been in her life for 13 years, joins her in Santa Cruz, and they anticipate retiring to explore the world on bikes soon.

Photo: Kim and a special friend.

Valerie Rice Prainito ’83 writes, “After Casti, I worked as a costume and fashion designer, retail researcher, and writer. I recently moved with my husband Bill from the Bay Area to Santa Barbara where I’m a freelance writer and content coordinator for a local magazine. Our son Nick is studying mechanical engineering in Santa Barbara and our daughter Gianna is a biodynamic winemaker in San Luis Obispo.”

Photo: Valerie Rice Prainito, Sheila Hoffman Lee, Robin Haber Kallas, Kim Roberts, Sandra Pruitt Ney, Jennifer Ritter Brill, all members of the Class of 1983, had a mini-reunion in Santa Barbara in February.

Diane Singleton Shannon ’83 is a “full-time mom of kids, dogs, and a tortoise. Since leaving Castilleja, I worked in a variety of industries, including tech, retail, and higher education, before taking a long break to raise my two girls. I just sent my eldest to college (that was really hard!), and my youngest has just started high school here in San Francisco. Carl and I have been married for almost 31 years!”

Victoria Szabo ’83 is a risk manager for Bank of America’s Risk and Finance Technology team. She enjoys crafting (including crochet, jewelry, and needlework) and hiking and still dances every once in a while. She is a volunteer for two Hungarian American organizations, one of which organizes the Hungarian Heritage Festival held biannually in Belmont.”

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Suzanne Morris Weeks ’83 resides in San Diego. She studied biology and spent a year abroad in France during college. After 17 years in biotechnology research, she transitioned to home-based businesses. Suzanne taught scuba diving for University of California San Diego for over 25 years and worked in food safety and education before dedicating herself to asset management. A certified healing touch practitioner and instructor, she also enjoys whole food, plant-based cooking, MTB, hiking, and socializing with friends and family. Life has brought numerous opportunities for growth.

1984 Laura Morrow Wilhelm ’84 writes “I live just outside of Washington, D.C. and am the program director for Boolean Girl, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching coding and engineering to girls. I was delighted to see Heather PangHA and the Castilleja 8th graders when they visited Washington, D.C. this year!”

Photo: Laura back in Palo Alto for her 35th Stanford Reunion.

1985 Melissa Riofrio ’85 tells us, “I was so lucky to be a tech journalist at PCWorld, a leading media site. I loved my job. When my husband died in 2018, I kept working. Finally, in 2021 I convinced myself to take some time off to heal. Now I’m plotting new career directions. Following my dreams is the best response I can think of to the tragedy of watching someone you love die way too early.”

1988 Orelia Merchant Camara ’88 is a United States district judge at United States District Court, Eastern District of New York, and lives in Brooklyn, New York. She is married with two children, ages 14 and 16.

Jeannette Colyvas ’88 is an associate professor at Northwestern University, living in Chicago, llinois, where she moved in 2007. She is the widow of the late Joe Fowler (1960–2017). She keeps in regular touch with several classmates from Castilleja.

Julie Chang Garcia ’88 started her career in marketing and public relations after college. She met her husband at their workplace after law school. She raised two daughters in San Francisco. Their eldest studies history at Yale, while the youngest, a high school junior, is a musician. Julie is currently an assistant general counsel at Santa Clara University. She finds joy in volunteering, antiquing, her book club, listening to live music, traveling, and spending quality time with her family.

Lizzie Harris ’88, an AFS exchange student in Switzerland post-graduation, transferred from Middlebury to Harvard. Graduate school at Stanford preceded her years as an English and ESL teacher in San Francisco. Since 1998, she's been in tech, holding roles as a technical writer, developer advocate, project manager, and people manager. Her son, Oliver, born in 2004, is a student at the University of Washington.

Heidi Steinmetz Lovette ’88, a college admissions counselor at Top Tier Admissions in Ithaca, New York, combines her expertise from the admissions and publishing worlds. Previously an assistant director of admissions at Cornell and a science book editor at Cambridge University Press, she thrives in helping students reach ambitious college goals. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Irby. Her son, Jamie, graduated from Williams College with an NCAA Division III national record and a double major in computer science and math.

Tara Higbie Verner ’88 resides in San Carlos with her Canadian husband. They have three kids, one at Tufts and two at Sacred Heart Schools in Atherton. A marketing professional for over 20 years, she has worked with companies like Facebook, Intuit, and Symantec. With an MBA from Boston University, Tara now runs her own business. Outside work, she loves tennis, recently embraced art and psychology classes, started beginner sailing, and took up bridge and needlepoint, preparing for later years.

Karen Ward ’88, a Stanford graduate, began her career as an IT and strategy consultant at Andersen Consulting, followed by investment banking roles after earning her MBA at Wharton. Notably, Karen, a #MeToo movement advocate, testified before Congress to end forced arbitration for workplace harassment. She is currently running an affordable housing business with her husband in the Southeast, while her son prepares for his freshman year at the University of North Carolina.

Photo: At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Lori Burrows Warren ’88, a realtor at Compass in Redwood City, reflects on her journey since Castilleja. After Claremont McKenna College, she worked in marketing, event management, and co-founded a real estate startup. The confluence of project management, marketing, negotiations, and impacting clients resonates with her. Lori, married for 27 years with three children, actively contributes to her community through the Woodside High School Foundation Board and coaching the girls’ water polo team.

Jaye Zau ’88 is living in Hong Kong, having relocated there from Beijing and, before that, Chengdu. She lives with her husband, son Jordan, and dog Dottie. Her family is in the Bay Area, so she is fortunate to be able to keep in touch with her friends there, too. She enjoys traveling and cycling.

1987 Laura Marcus Hahn ’87 celebrated 40 years of friendship with Ann Douglas Jessen and Antoinette Nee, the girls she bonded with over Duran Duran freshman year around the lockers. The group had an amazing trip to Charleston when they came to visit her in South Carolina.

1989 Sara Beckett Ivy ’89 notes, “In December 2022, I became the compensation and payroll administrator for the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County.” Sara and her husband became empty nesters in July 2022. Sons Sam and Cade are both working new jobs in their respective fields and both homeowners to boot! Her son Cade lives nearby and still enjoys the occasional home cooked meal, and her son Sam lives in LaGrange, Georgia. 1980s CONTINUED

Photo: Ann, Antoinette, and Laura.

Katy McCandless ’88 has resided in London since 1992 but frequently visits California, reconnecting with classmates. Balancing life between London and California, she cherishes both. Engaged in a private family foundation supporting African wildlife preservation, Katy enjoys London's cultural scene, including theater, dog walks, yoga, and gym classes. In California, she relishes hiking with friends and embracing nature.

Photo: Katy McCandless.

44 | Castilleja Full Circle

Ingrid vanCleemput Kelly ’90 shared this great photo of a mini-reunion.

Photo: Class of 1990 Mini Reunion (aka Girls Night Out!) July 2023.

1992 Reena Patton ’92 writes, “One fall evening in Los Angeles, Marian Washington Williams ’94 and I met for dinner to catch up. We both lived in the dorm and shared special memories of that experience together.”

Photo: Reena and Marian.

1993 Claire Barkley ’93 is a clinical manager in psychiatry and behavioral health at Palo Alto Medical Foundation in Santa Cruz. She loves camping, beachcombing, and exploring nature with her family, watching her kids (13 and 15) grow, cooking, and doing nothing.

Jenny Bell Beck ’93 is a well-being program manager at Health Advocate, living in San Luis Obispo. She writes “I love living in San Luis Obispo with my husband Jay and daughters Charley (17) and Lucy (14). Hard to believe I have kids the same age that I was at Casti! I work from home directing employee well-being programs and I race outrigger canoes for fun.”

Kate Isenberg ’93, a Harvard English graduate, defied her parents’ advice to “study something more practical.” Her passion for storytelling was cultivated at Casti. As a cartoonist, writer, and college essay consultant, she thrives in diverse creative endeavors. Isenberg's impactful storytelling includes animating a 2D film about a horse facing death, drawing cartoons for The New Yorker, and advocating for AI regulatory action. She also aids individuals and organizations in expressing their narratives, performs music, and mentors first-generation college applicants.

1993 Rupa Marya ’93, a mother of two and wife to a farmer, tends to farming in the San Gregorio watershed. At once a globally touring musician, she is also the co-author of a book that explores the health impacts of colonialism. As an executive director at Deep Medicine Circle and a UCSF professor of medicine, she integrates medicine, teaching, and environmental advocacy. Rupa is dedicated to caring for the Earth and engaging fellow healthcare professionals in this journey. She resides in Portola Valley.

Photo: Bring back the beaver.

Joelle Mourad Mitchell ’93, a therapist with 13 years at Kaiser Permanente specializing in eating disorder treatment, transitioned to fulltime private practice. Celebrating 23 years of marriage with Joseph, they have two children: Elias, who graduated high school and is set for college, and Ava, a junior transferring to Menlo School after attending Castilleja. Joelle continues to provide therapy for adults, teens, and tweens, addressing diverse concerns in her practice.

Carol Ng ’93 spent a decade in the Midwest for education and work, followed by a stint in the UK before settling in New York for the past 15 years. She met her husband through early online dating, and they now have a 7-year-old son. Enjoying the company of Casti "besties" and reconnecting with classmates, Carol serves as head of product at Amalgamated Bank. Her diverse interests include running, triathlons, piano, cooking, and travel.

Photo: Carol and family.

Maddy Tregidga Niebauer ’93 is based in Madison, Wisconsin. After Peace Corps service in the Ivory Coast, she managed a tutoring center in the Bay Area and later consulted for nonprofits with Bridgespan. Following business school, she became chief of staff at Teach For America. In 2016, Niebauer launched vChief, a fractional executive business. Balancing work and family, she enjoys extensive international travel, outdoor activities, and time with her three kids.

Heather Beckett Oakes ’93, a director and violin teacher at Grow Music in Louth, Ireland, met her Irish dancing husband in Berkeley. After marrying, they moved to Ireland, where Heather founded Grow Music. Despite having three sons, not a single one plays the violin, but their youngest is into musical theater. Alongside her husband's midwifery training, they bought their first house last year. They've traveled extensively and plan to visit Edinburgh for their 20th anniversary.

Photo: In Dublin.

Camille Paldi ’93 is the founder and CEO at Center for Holy Book Banking and Finance and is living in Palo Alto. She writes, “After living in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, for six years and working in law and Islamic Finance, I returned home to Palo Alto.” She founded the Center for Holy Book Banking and Finance and qualified as a lawyer in Australia and the UK.

Janki Bhuva Shah ’93 writes, “After graduating from Castilleja, I went to Stanford for undergrad and USC for medical school. I completed my medical training in Los Angeles and currently work as a cardiologist at UCLA. I married my husband when we were both residents at UCLA in 2001 and we have two children, Avi (15) and Amiya (13). We love traveling, skiing, and scuba diving as a family.”

Photo: The Shah family

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Leslie Cardozo Stafford ’93 has had a career in customer service, office management, and marketing. She’s been married to James since 1999. They faced the challenge of their son's autism diagnosis in 2011. Engaging in therapy, research, and support groups, Stafford now chairs the Parent Advisory Board to the Stanford Autism Center. Her son recently graduated from North Star Academy, excelling in sports like Shaolin Kempo Karate and water polo (thanks to Lori Burrows Warren ’88).

Ani “Annie” Taddeo ’93, an Army veteran and commercial multi-engine pilot, is deeply involved in aviation. Married to a fellow pilot, she owns, maintains, and restores antique aircraft. A skilled aircraft mechanic, Ani is an active member of the Commemorative Air Force B-29/B-24 Squadron, contributing to the maintenance of historic planes like Fifi the Superfortress and Diamond Lil the Liberator. Additionally, she serves as an equine and human sports massage therapist.

Kristen Schroeder Vilhauer ’93, inspired by Castilleja teachers, began her career teaching history at an all-girls boarding school in New York. Returning to Northern California, she taught at the Branson School before moving to Hong Kong in 2006, where she had her eldest son. Two more sons came soon after she returned to San Francisco. Kristen, currently the high school counselor at Cathedral School for Boys, assists 8th graders with high school applications.

Louise Tench Willard ’93, executive VP and chief information officer at The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, resides in San Rafael. Married for 22 years to Christian, they have a son, Alex, now in high school at Marin Catholic. Active in hiking and running, Willard remains engaged with a book club and supports the United Way of the Bay Area through volunteer work.

Alyson Wilson ’93, after Dartmouth, spent six adventurous years in Sun Valley before settling in Venice, California, for over 20 years. Married to Kip with son Fox, they enjoy sporty activities by the beach. She has worked at Alo for the last decade. Opening the Stanford Shopping Center store was a full-circle moment for Alyson. She is active with skiing, surfing, and neighborhood projects, cherishes memories from Casti, and values time spent with inspiring people.

1998 Priyanka Anand ’98 is a professor at George Mason University and lives in Washington, D.C. She moved to the East Coast in 2006, and is a health economist with two little boys, ages 2 and 4.

Sarah Cobey ’98, a University of Chicago professor, leads a computational research group focusing on the epidemiology and evolution of flu and SARS-CoV-2, emphasizing the impact of immunity. Married to Jim, she enjoys the company of an adorable Red Heeler mix named Copper. Sarah has increased backpacking and outdoor activities to unwind from the challenges of the last few years. Recently on sabbatical in Princeton, New Jersey, she remains dedicated to her impactful research.

Laura Vartain Horn ’98 notes, “For the past 10 years, I’ve been at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco, during which time I’ve had three kids, all boys. It’s chaos. My current passions include work, family, swimming, running, biking, water polo (returned to the sport at age 41!), and seeing my Castilleja friends.”

Lindsay Austin Louie ’98 isn’t sure how time flew so fast and she now has middle school-aged kids, the same age she was when she started at Castilleja. In 2023, she started a new job as CEO at the Enlight Foundation, focused on improving the mental well-being of youth, engaging young leaders in the climate change movement, and supporting social changemakers. She also enjoys her volunteer work with her kids’ schools and on Castilleja’s Alumnae Executive Committee.

Bekki Cima Lyon ’98, faculty and department chair of Family Life Education at Edmonds College, resides in Bothell, Washington. In her sixth year, she partners with local preschools, Head Start, and 0–5 programs, offering education and coaching for caregivers earning college credit. Bekki is enthusiastic about a new class for parents of elementary-aged kids. Her twins entering high school marks a milestone; they will be starting to drive in a few months.

Andrea Mann ’98 is a psychiatrist living in San Diego and has “been busy being a professional student and raising little humans.” After leaving academic psychiatry in 2022, she is now in solo private practice. She enjoys being a mom, listening to podcasts on psychology, medicine, and technology, hiking, and meeting up with old friends.

Nora Menkin ’98 initially worked as a theater stage manager in Seattle, Washington, where she met her husband Nick. She moved to nonprofit end-of-life and funeral service work. Following the first year of the pandemic, Nora shifted to project management with a local credit union. Her 14-year-old son and two dogs, Mabel and Mavis, share their home. Nora’s free time revolves around dog walks, yard work, and shuttling her teenager to various activities.

Theadora Sakata ’98 lived in five cities along I-80 after high school, followed by a year in England, where she earned a land economy master's degree. Transitioning to medicine, she worked in breast cancer research, attended medical school, and completed a family medicine residency and a sports medicine fellowship. Her ultimate goal is to nudge healthcare in a better direction. For the past decade, she's resided in Utah with her partner Ed and dog Barkley, surrounded by Alta enthusiasts.

Serena Wong ’98 has dedicated her career to medical devices. With a BS, MS, and PhD from Stanford, she focused on non-invasive cancer therapies. After a postdoc at Xerox PARC in ultrasound imaging sensors, Wong worked at medical startups, co-founding one in 2010. She successfully led the product through clinical study and FDA clearance. Currently, she heads an advanced product development group at Intuitive Surgical. Beyond work, Wong juggles parenting two young kids and her passion for ceramics.

Photo: On the Bronx Zoo Train, 2023.


2000 Claire Anine Cummins ’00, who now goes by middle name Anine, is happy in Melbourne, Australia, with a two-year-old business called Ginger Cat Counseling, where she works with mostly trans and neurodiverse people. She and her partner are planning an epic six-month US road trip beginning in July 2024.

2001 Kristin Munro ’01 writes, “This summer I moved back to New York City where I’m now an assistant professor of economics at The New School. During my time in South Texas, I was especially grateful for Castilleja classmates who supported my fundraising efforts for reproductive healthcare on the US-Mexico border through their generous donations to La Frontera Fund. It meant a lot that we could work together to make the world a little bit better.”

2003 Esen Boyacigiller ’03 is a registered dietitian living in Brooklyn. She writes, “Since leaving Casti, I have been working in nutrition education, mostly nonprofit work, with kids and families. I live with my beloved cat Lenny and travel a lot, mostly to Turkey, to see my family. In my spare time, I enjoy writing and working out. My current passions and interests include watching reality TV, spending time with my nieces, and cooking vegan food.”

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Samia Rogers Broadaway ’03 is an attorney and writes, “After majoring in geology (aka ‘field trips’) at Stanford, I worked in the Bay Area for a few years as an environmental consultant before moving to Austin, Texas, for law school. I met my husband Andrew, started working in environmental law, raised a few flocks of chickens, and made Austin my home. I feel very fortunate to have both sets of grandparents who are living nearby and happy to spend time with us and our two girls.”

Photo: Samia with her family.

Alison Chan ’03 writes, “I am a director at Omni Channel O2O in the Asia Pacific Division at Colgate-Palmolive and living in Hong Kong. I recently got married. In my free time I like to hike, read, cook, and walk around supermarkets.”

Rachel Franklin ’03 is an attorney living in Burlingame. She spends most of her time ambling around with her three Brittanys. Sometimes she decorates cookies with Vanessa Ishii Rebbert. She also periodically has nightmares about being trapped in the Castilleja Chapel with the ghost of Mary Lockey.

Megan Qwan Franks ’03 met her husband at UC Davis, choosing to settle in the area for its outdoor activities. Celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary this year, they cherish the local lifestyle. She spent over a decade working with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. With the arrival of COVID, Megan, eight months pregnant with her youngest, transitioned to full-time parenting and has been home with her four kids, aged 9, 7, 5, and 3, since.

J Goldstein ’03 lives in Oakland. They write, “I’m an internationally celebrated style icon and children’s book author. In my free time I enjoy kite surfing and making smoothies. Amanda Gordon and Jenny Srikar and I get together regularly to review our C&C notes and quiz each other on Gregorian chants. Amanda Gordon always gets the highest score. My current passions include being a mom and oral surgery.”

Amanda Gordon ’03 lived in Brooklyn after college before returning to the Bay Area for law school. She moved to San Francisco, where she met her husband Steven and established a family law practice. Relocating to Berkeley in 2018, they now run a farm in Santa Rosa. Amanda, mother to 2.5-year-old Zinnia, creatively manages toddler energy with an indoor trampoline. She finds joy in TikTok, Peloton, and group chats and cherishes moments of sleep.

Photo: Esen Boyacigiller, Amanda, Erica Simmons, and Kathleen Kelvie

Kathleen Kelvie ’03, operations manager at Hint, Inc. in San Francisco, spent a decade as a healthcare consultant where her work took her to various cities. She switched to Hint, enjoying developing scalable processes as the company expands. Kathleen, a recent participant in a Masters Swimming program, has kept up with Casti friends: Esen Boyacigiller, Amanda Gordon, Ashley Kalinske, Vanessa Ishii Rebbert, and Elizabeth Wright

Ashley Kennedy ’03 has spent 12 years since grad school in diverse roles at Stanford. From opening a new concert hall, planning alumni reunions, and hosting notable speakers to contributing to the launch of the university’s first ever degree audit software, her journey led her to her current role as a project manager. Ashley recently embarked on a month-long adventure through Greece, Turkey, Malta, Spain, and Portugal, marking a post-COVID re-entry into the world.

Photo: In Santorini, Greece.

Sydney Larson ’03 ventured to Nashville post-Castilleja, navigating a culture shock. At Vanderbilt, she immersed herself in music and biology lab. Returning to the Bay Area, she spent six years in solar energy at Sunrun before pursuing an MBA at Stanford, focusing on renewable energy. Co-founding Lily Bird, an e-commerce company addressing bladder leaks, she later returned to the renewable energy and climate tech space with SPAN. Sydney resides on the Peninsula with her husband, son Bennett, and dog Juno.

Photo: Class of 2003 20th reunion.

Kameron Ming Randall ’03 writes, “After graduating from USC, I lived and worked in Los Angeles and Hong Kong before settling back in the Bay Area about six years ago. I’m married with two kids: Isla is 5 and Ellis is just a week old (in October 2023).”

Vanessa Ishii Rebbert ’03 is head of digital operations at Wondery at Amazon Music and lives in San Francisco. She is listening to podcasts, raising an incredible pup, making loads of doggie friends, learning how to punch real hard in boxing, studying Italian casually, and sometimes going to live podcasts with Rachel Franklin

Meg Sandman ’03 worked in account management and operations roles at startups in the Bay Area after graduating from Yale. She married Blake in 2018 and they welcomed son James in 2019. Leaving the workforce around James's birth, Meg managed a cross-country move and had two more children, Maggie and Ellie. Engaged in nonprofit work, she enjoys family time, outdoor activities, cooking, investing, and reading. Meg is grateful for close proximity to both sets of grandparents in Nashville, Tennessee.

Photo: Meg with Maggie and Ellie.

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Stephanie Davidowitz Silverstein ’03 began a decade-long career teaching special education in 2007. She is currently focusing on family life and cherishing time with her husband and 6-year-old son Joshua.

Jenny Cook Srikar ’03 is a learning and development manager at Mural living in Alameda. After teaching in New York City and a year in Japan, she transitioned to tech in the Bay Area. Married in 2022 to Aash, they live near the beach and enjoy walks, paddleboarding, baking, and crafting. Devoted to keeping up her Japanese, she loves traveling. Staying connected with her Japanese host family from the Junshin student exchange program has been a meaningful ongoing experience.

Photo: Tokyo, Japan, October 2022, with Eri, my Junshin host sister.

Emily Williams ’03 writes, “I’ve been in Santiago, Chile, since graduating from UCLA in 2007. I currently wear several hats professionally: sales for a currency company, copywriting for a creative agency, and part-owner of a CrossFit gym.” Emily and her fiancé have a 2-year-old son. The family is currently gearing up for their first post-pandemic, post-baby trip back to California.

2008 Meredith Ragno Arora ’08 spent a year in Ghana for an international development fellowship after college and worked four years at social impact startup Soko. Opting for a change, she pursued an MBA and MS in design innovation at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Post graduate school, Meredith entered product management, contributing to startups like Everly Health and tech giants like Expedia and Amazon. Married to Eshaan, they reside in Austin with their cavapoo Kygo, enjoying travel, skiing, and home improvement projects.

Elisabeth Dillon Daniels ’08, head of global partnerships at Amazon Studios, resides in Los Angeles with her husband James, daughter Jane, and poodle August. She previously managed global partnerships for Amazon's Prime Video. Frequent work and leisure travel is a family norm. They foster dogs and explore the coast and hiking trails while Elisabeth enjoys horseback riding. The couple shares a passion for Dead & Company, attending over 50 shows in the past seven years.

Elise Fabbro ’08 is a senior regulatory relations specialist at Wells Fargo in St. Louis, Missouri. After graduating from Castilleja, Elise attended USC, where she earned a BA and MA in environmental studies. After that, she headed to law school and completed her JD/MBA at Washington University in St. Louis in 2017. Elise recently got married and lives with her husband and their two dogs; they hope to move west in the next year.

Photo: Elise in her wedding gown.

Zoe Kornberg '08 dedicated three post-college years to the Obama Administration alongside Evie Danforth and also to Planned Parenthood. As a medical student at UCSF, she treasured time with Sonja Swenson and Hanna Burch ’09 in San Francisco. Zoe matched into the OBGYN program in South Texas, focusing on immigrant and undocumented patients. Currently a resident at Harbor-UCLA in California, she relishes beach life near her sisters Jessie Kornberg ’00 and Sophie Kornberg ’02. Zoe got married in September 2023!

Darcy Wilson Lei ’08 returned to California after graduating from Johns Hopkins University, worked in EMS, then pursued medical school. She married Michael in her third year. She completed her physical medicine and rehabilitation residency at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and continues a sports medicine fellowship there. Darcy plans to develop a dance and performing arts medicine program in Cincinnati. She enjoys time with her husband and dog, hiking, traveling, and serving as performing arts chair for The Bridge Adaptive Sports and Recreation.

Photo: My wedding in September 2017.

Lauren Augustine Levinsky ’08 is the chief marketing officer at Best Buy Health in San Francisco. She moved back to the Bay Area after living in Boston since college. She has been living with her husband Ian in the Inner Richmond neighborhood of San Francisco since 2020. She enjoys taking advantage of all the outdoor activities that the Bay Area has to offer; hiking, biking, and skiing are among her favorite hobbies.

Rebecca Mazonson ’08 celebrates her ninth year of teaching in a Boston-area public school district. After eight years teaching 8th grade social studies, she took a year off to recharge and recreate The Sound of Music in Austria with Rachel Vassar, among other things. Now back in the classroom, she works with multilingual learners from around the world. Rebecca enjoys being an aunt, planning themed parties (none as elaborate as “Banquet!”), singing Broadway tunes at karaoke, and reliving her days as the first Gator.

Elizabeth Wright ’03 moved to Boston after college, staying for 14 years. There, she built community in grad school, worked on peacebuilding, and met her husband, Herbert. Married in 2021, they embarked on a cross-country drive, settling in San Mateo. Elizabeth is reconnecting with old friends, including Alison Chan, Courtney Yin Duke, J Goldstein, Katherine Li, Jenny Srikar, and Morgann Trumbull

Pooja Prasad ’08 is an advanced heart failure and transplant cardiology fellow at UCSF, residing in San Francisco. In her final year of training, she recently moved from Portland, Oregon, where she completed her general cardiology fellowship. Portland reignited her outdoorsy side and reconnected her with classmate Katie Cobbett. Excited to be back in her home state, Pooja's current passions include hiking, reading, and traveling. 2000s CONTINUED

Currently transitioning her career to strengthen democracy in the US, she welcomed daughter Sophia in August 2023.

Photo: Elizabeth with Herbert and Sophia, day two at the hospital.

48 | Castilleja Full Circle

Sylvia Rodriguez ’08 is an associate marriage and family therapist at Mindful Practices in San Jose. Sylvia and her husband Matt welcomed their daughter on February 27, 2021. Sylvia actively contributes to the Castilleja Alumnae Executive Committee, focusing on DEIJ alum initiatives. Balancing motherhood with professional duties, she specializes in therapy for kids and young adults, addressing issues like depression, anxiety, school avoidance, and complex trauma, specifically supporting the Latinx community. Sylvia is gradually reconnecting with her hobbies of knitting, baking, and cooking.

Photo: Being a mom of a 2-year-old toddler takes up most of my time!

Lauren Buchanan Sercu ’08 writes, “Since my time at Castilleja, I married my best friend from college and we have two little boys who we love so much! On the work front, I help foundations, endowments, and families invest their portfolios in a way that generates strong financial returns alongside positive impact.”

Sonja Swenson ’08 writes, “I just finished my medical training and am excited to care for children as a pediatrician in a primary care clinic and the newborn nursery. While in medical school, my husband and I spent a wonderful year living in Zurich and hiking all over Europe. We now have two girls, Leila (3) and Nina (1), and you can often find me on the playgrounds of Potrero Hill! I enjoy pickleball, hiking, reading, and painting.”

Photo: Sonja and her daughters.


2012 Danielle Phan ’12 welcomed Charlie to her family in October 2023, the morning of his big brother Bear’s second birthday!”

Danielle and family.

2013 Arianna Barzman-Grennan ’13 is an English teacher in Davis. “I graduated from UC Davis with a double major in English and history, then earned my California teaching credential and master’s degree of education. This is my fourth year teaching. Mrs. MarstonHA encouraged me to follow her path with a dual credential to teach English and history. I have a horse named Churro and I teach riding and also train horses. I read about 40 books last year and I’m aiming a little higher this year.”

Photo: Celebrating her master’s in education, completed in 2021.

Katie Blunt ’13 left Castilleja in 2009 to return to Melbourne, Australia, where she completed high school. She subsequently studied undergraduate medicine and graduated in 2019. She is currently working in Sydney, Australia, and training to become an obstetrician/ gynecologist. Her partner of seven years, Jake, is also a doctor. She last visited the U.S. in 2019 and was able to catch up with Annie Apffel, Edina Lee, Natasha Lilani, Fiona MaloneyMcCrystle, Jessica Matthys, and Kaley Nelson

Jordan Fowler Bull ’13 writes “Everything is irie,” meaning “peace with one's condition” in the Jamaican dialect Patois. After interning at Google while at USC, she's held a variety of positions there in marketing, including DEI, celebrity partnerships, and AI marketing. Jordan and her husband settled in Tennessee for city benefits with a slower pace and Southern values. She enjoys home projects, architecture tours, global mentoring, concerts, volunteering, and exploring new workouts, and loves her rescue pups.

Photo: Jordan and her husband.

Victoria Dean ’13 is an assistant professor of computer science at Olin College of Engineering living in Needham, Massachusetts. She writes, “I’ve been a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon University for the last five years and graduated in 2023! In June 2022, I married Ben Eysenbach, who I’ve been with since sophomore year at MIT!” Victoria enjoys running, baking, swing dancing, reading, and wealth redistribution.

Josie Furbershaw ’13 studied psychology at Whitman College. In 2017, she moved to Truckee, working as a teacher and dorm parent for competitive skiers at Sugar Bowl Academy. Teaching high school psychology reignited her interest in research, prompting a move to Washington, D.C. She currently works as a research manager on the market insights team at an education research firm, offering program feasibility recommendations to colleges nationwide launching new degree programs.

Kylie Jue ’13 earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Stanford. After lecturing Stanford's introductory computer science classes, she joined The Girls’ Middle School (GMS) as a computer science teacher. Recently, she shifted to teaching 7th grade humanities. Kylie is excited for her new role at 9 Dots, a computer science education nonprofit where she will design curriculum for Title 1 schools. Her pursuits include time with her cat, learning Cantonese, DEIJ initiatives at GMS, and taking dance classes.

Sophie Levin ’13 graduated from Brown in 2017 and has been working on a PhD in English and comparative literature at Washington University since 2018. She recently moved to Paris, France, to continue her research. She enjoys reading, watching reality TV and anything on HBO, boutique fitness, traveling, eating, and going to the movies.

Spring 2024 | 49

Fiona Maloney-McCrystle ’13, a freelance interpreter and translator in Washington, D.C., explored diverse paths after graduating Middlebury in 2017. After teaching English in Spain and exploring roles in California, she pursued an MA in translation and interpretation at Middlebury Institute in Monterey. Fiona loves working as a freelance conference interpreter and translator, with projects spanning climate filmmaking grant applications and webinars about labor rights and integrated water management. Her passion lies in constant learning and connecting with new people through her work.

Olivia Nicholls ’13 studied history and economics at Harvard. She attributes her love for history to Mrs. MarstonHA and Ms. McKeeHA. Interning at Google before her senior year with Jordan Fowler Bull, she joined the marketing team postgraduation. After working in San Francisco and launching YouTube Premium in London, Olivia focused on product marketing for YouTube Music and Shorts. Now moving to New York City with her fiancé Matias and their dog Ollie, she's planning a Palm Springs wedding in April 2024.

Photo: Olivia and Matias.

Julia McGee Shannon ’13, a BSN graduate from Seattle University, embarked on her nursing career in Bellevue, Washington. After three years in inpatient medical-telemetry, she transitioned to urgent care and earned her MSN. Although she and her husband enjoyed the scenery and people of Washington, they returned to the Bay Area in 2022. Now in San Jose, she finds fulfillment as an outpatient oncology nurse. Embracing California's weather, Julia explores golf and gardening in her free time while cherishing time with family.

Alice Winham ’13 founded the online philosophy journal and platform Oxfordpublicphilosophy. com and now works to diversify philosophy through international conferences and series with Philiminality Oxford. She studies Sanskrit, explores the philosophy of zero in early Buddhism, and considers Tibetan monastic education's unique potential for studying philosophical grounding and logic. Alice balances her philosophical pursuits with meditation, yoga, hiking, piano, and selfdiscovery and continues to evolve in the realm of philosophy and contemplation.

2014 Bronte Kass ’14 joined the U.S. Department of State as a foreign service officer in September 2023, and is thrilled to be moving to Shanghai, China, for her first overseas tour.


2016 Mitra Assaderaghi Purpur ’16 and Alicia Purpur ’19 had their wedding on December 28, 2023. They met and fell in love in an Upper School musical! Both of their maids of honor were their best friends from Castilleja: Natasha Balogh and Elizabeth Foster ’19 Ms. KauffmanHA, who joined the celebration along with many alums, said she suspects the couple were the first Castilleja student pair to marry each other.

Photo: from left to right, top to bottom: Dana Abbo ’19, Natalie Sadlak ’15, Athena Nair ’19, Sam Borbas ’19, Valerie Hammer ’17, Jacqueline Hillman ’19, Lily Levin ’19, Devon Holland ’18, Ezra Zhang, Natalie Barch ’17, Chloe Sales ’15, Madeline Webster ’19, Frannie DiBona ’19, Nayanika Kapoor, Elizabeth Foster ’19, Julia Kirsch ’20, Alyssa Sales ’19, Alicia Purpur, and Mitra Purpur

2018 Jacqueline Isero ’18 works at the Student Cooperative at USPS Office of the Inspector General and is a teaching assistant at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy Writing Center. She received a BA in the history of public policy and law from UCSB. She is studying for her master’s of public policy/master’s of business administration at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. She is passionate about anything outdoors, reading, hiking, biking, paddle boarding, public policy, government, and law.

Talia Kertsman ’18 graduated from the University of Washington where she studied geography and community, environment, and planning. After working at wikiHow for a year, she’s applying to graduate research programs in urban planning and geography. Inspired by her work in Cape Coast, Ghana, focusing on youth participatory action curriculum, Talia is passionate about social justice in urban planning. She aims to apply asset-based community development practices in her research, while still enjoying theater and performing.

Georgia Lewis ’18 studied at Bucknell University, where she played water polo, worked as a residential advisor, and joined Kappa Alpha Theta. Realizing it wasn't the right fit during remote learning, she took time off, coached swimming at Claremont Country Club and JV girls’ water polo at Piedmont High School. She transferred to Santa Clara University and completed degrees in Spanish and sociology. Georgia is considering nursing school or EMT certification. She recently adopted a puppy named Lucia and enjoys training, crocheting, and cheesy romance novels.

Anna Pickett ’18 works as a quality engineer at Apple and notes, “Since graduating, I’ve worked as both a contractor and as a full time engineer in tech and have navigated the process of being laid off. Having gone through the hiring process twice now as a recent grad, I’m very familiar with the process.”

Kaitlin Rhee ’18 had four fun years at Cal, where she did research on campus, joined an anime/ video game orchestra, hiked the Berkeley Hills, and drank a lot of boba. She is currently pursuing a chemical biology PhD at Harvard while doing research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. In Boston, she has enjoyed starting new hobbies such as dragon boating and trivia.

Christie Westley ’18 writes, “Did my undergraduate in sociology and just finished my master’s of education this past spring. I now teach 3rd grade in Los Altos! I enjoy reading, tennis, golf, puzzles, and baking.”

Sara Zoroufy ’18 studied molecular and cell biology at University of California, Berkeley after Castilleja. Some of her favorite memories of college are from singing in a capella groups. She moved back to the Peninsula to work at a local biotech company developing cancer immunotherapies and has enjoyed reconnecting with local friends.

2019 Alicia Purpur ’19 married Mitra Assaderaghi Purpur ’16 on December 28, 2023. Maids of honor were Castilleja friends Natasha Balogh ’16 and Elizabeth Foster. Ms. KauffmanHA attended the celebration with many alums.

Photo: The happy couple.

50 | Castilleja Full Circle
Spring 2024 | 51
PENCIL TO PAPER Student artists express themselves with pencil sketching. Artists from top left, clockwise: Kai Doorley ’29, Anu Soriano-Bilal ’29, Sophie Mazlish ’29, Sophia Li ’29, Ashley Ramírez Vargas ’29, Gianna Goudey ’29, and Trinity Dejelo ’29.

In Memoriam

Eleni ColtosHA

December 13, 1931–December 11, 2023

A daughter of Greek immigrants, Eleni ColtosHA was born in Bremerton, Washington, and worked at Castilleja for 26 years as the head librarian. Growing up, she helped her parents run a restaurant and a candy shop, and later, she always had a jar of hard candy in the Margarita Espinosa Library for the students. Ms. Coltos raised a son and a daughter, who attended Castilleja 7th through 9th grades, as a single parent, and she leaves behind five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. “She had a lot of perseverance and she made things work. Her belief in the power of women was limitless,” says her daughter Nina Mullen ’80. In addition to overseeing the library and accompanying students on trips across California and Europe, Ms. Coltos loved singing, dancing, going to the opera with her Castilleja colleagues, and traveling, even teaching herself Italian in her 70s. “She had such a zest for life,” remembers her colleague Nancy FlowersHA. “She was beloved in the community. Besides being a wonderful librarian and an avid reader, she was a trusted adult whom kids could talk to, and the students adored her for that.”

Ms. Coltos was a co-founder and president of BAISL, Bay Area Independent School Librarians association. In Ms. Coltos’ later years, her front door was decorated with suns from all over the world, capturing her warmth.

Cissy LewisHA

September 17, 1950–January 13, 2024

Throughout college and graduate school, Cissy LewisHA studied English, biology, and education, and although she started medical school, after one year, she left to heed her calling to become a teacher. At Castilleja, her commitment to the classroom was steadfast. Even with demanding administrative roles increasing over time, she always balanced that with teaching English. Her most storied class was called “Coming of Age,” and alums who took the course cite it as life changing. Twice a winner of the Distinguished Teaching Award, she was recognized for her outstanding writing instruction and her deep love of literature. Two of her favorite literary works to teach were William Faulkner’s The Bear and Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. In addition to her brilliant teaching, anyone who attended Class Day during her tenure will attest that her speeches were a gift. One in particular that many in our community still recall was about the topic of living a careful life, not in the sense of being cautious but instead in the sense of being full of care for others, a philosophy that she embodied throughout her time at Castilleja. In another memorable talk, she spoke of the etymology of courage, elucidating that courage means “to speak one’s mind by telling all of one’s heart.” In her time at Castilleja, she shaped both the hearts and minds of a generation of students. Upon moving to Santa Fe, Ms. Lewis became a member of The Church of the Holy Faith and contributed to the church community by presenting admired forums on a wide variety of topics including the connection between faith and the arts.



Mary Kathryn Bronson Paterson ’53

Harrie Lea Cheim Kordelos ’50

Belle Clegg Hays ’42

Arden deMartini Down ’53

Emily Hanna Johnson ’48

Aunt of Kristine Hanna-Lomax ’78 and Katie Hanna Dickson ’80

Katherine Loarie ’96

Suzanne Saunders Donlon ’54

Honor Berger Spitz ’62

Wendy Wood Marr ’73


William Cowie Jr. Husband of B.J. Lockhart Cowie ’54

Helen Elkus

Mother of Mimi Elkus Lyster Zemmelman ’75

Karla Fuentes

Mother of Nathalie Fuentes ’28

John Glynn

Father of Jacqueline Glynn Brandin ’85, Alexandra Glynn ’88, and Elizabeth Glynn ’02

Grandfather of Katherine Brandin ’21

Inga Weiss

Mother of Christina Johannes Patenaude ’78


M. J. BlockHA

Eleni ColtosHA

Cissy LewisHA

52 | Castilleja Full Circle
Photo by Alex Mullen

Leadership Team

Kathy Layendecker Acting Head of School

Julia Eells Interim Head of School for 24–25 Academic Year

Josée BandHA Director of New Campus Design

Faye Ferguson Acting Associate Head of School for Finance and Operations

Christina GwinHA Dean of Faculty

Sue KimHA Director of Advancement

Jill LeeHA Director Admission, Tuition Assistance, and Summer Programming

Emily McElhinney Director of Communications and Community Relations

Anne Rubin Head of Upper School

Laura Zappas Head of Middle School

This issue of Full Circle was written and produced by Emily McElhinney and Masha Rumer with contributions by Tanya Campbell Temple, Sue KimHA, Liz Babb ’82, photography by Sara Coburn, and graphic design by Kris Loew P’18 ’20.

Many thanks to Castilleja alumnae for their updates, notably Leena Ambady ’16, Annette Finley Mayes ’79, Betsy Gilliland ’91, Victoria Dean ’13, Maddie Goldberg ’17, and Kate Isenberg ’93. Thank you to Global Week speakers Jean Kwok, Francis Phiri, Alejandra Oliva, Franchesca Ramsey, and Lorén M. Spears. Thanks also to the Arrillaga Family Foundation for sponsoring speaker Jessica McCabe. Thank you to the faculty, staff, and students who contributed to the stories and for artwork.

Board of Trustees

Zac Zeitlin, Chair

Odette Harris, Vice-Chair

Raj Agrawal

Jennifer Carolan

Stephanie Chen

Chi-Hua Chien

Mahooya Dinda

Steve Dowling

Nate Gallon

Megan Jones Bell ’00

David Ko

Bob Kocher

Allison Koo ’98

Jamaica Kreps

Kathy Layendecker

Aileen Lee

Lindsay Austin Louie ’98

Shweta Mehta

Jennifer Newstead

Mia Rocha

Sarah Sands

Mike Schroepfer

Andie Sobrato ’08

Jennifer Taylor-Mendoza

Tracy Watt

Jeff Wong

Alumnae Association Executive Committee

Lindsay Austin Louie ’98, President

Kristin Bell ’95

Claire Fischer Fluhr ’95

Kusha Gupta ’17

Felicia Paik Kim ’84

Sydney Larson ’03

Kimberly Morris Rosen ’98

Carol Patel ’93

Melissa Riofrio ’85

Sylvia Rodriguez ’08

Risako Yang ’17

Spring 2024 | 53
Flowers by artist Anaika Walia ’25


Castilleja School Foundation

1310 Bryant Street

Palo Alto, CA 94301


54 | Castilleja Full Circle Full Circle
Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Palo Alto, CA Permit No. 100 Celebrating the Circle: Now, Soon, and Always
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