About Us: Board of Trustees

Board of Trustees - Officers

Deborah R. Willig, President

Deborah R. Willig has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2008 and has served as President of the Board since 2009. Deborah serves as the managing partner of the largest labor and employment law firm in Pennsylvania, Willig, Williams & Davidson. During her tenure of the Board, she has been a tireless advocate for the school and the best interests of our students, families, faculty and staff. Deborah is a parent of one of our students who started in PreK-3 and will graduate next year. "Studies have long recognized the incredible assets of a bilingual education in brain development and language acquisition. Our school is unique in its combination of rigor and nurture, and our outstanding faculty and incredibly diverse student body prepare our children to be leaders in a global world." The first woman Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association, Deborah has been recognized for her leadership and diversity efforts with the Agent of Change Award from Women's Way, the Sandra Day O'Connor Award from the Philadelphia Bar Association, The Legal Intelligencer Lifetime Achievement Award, Israel Labor Medal from the State of Israel Bonds, and the Outstanding Service Award from Pennsylvania Citizen's Action.

Peter Lorenzi, Vice Chair

Peter Lorenzi has been on the Board of Trustees since August 2016 and has three children at the school. He and his wife Pandora moved to Philadelphia from London in 2006 and chose the French International School because they believe that curiosity, creative problem solving and getting along with people from all backgrounds and nationalities will be amongst the most important life skills for their children. Peter is a strong advocate for EFIP’s excellent teachers and staff, and the sense of school community developing under Head of School Kathy Kotchick’s leadership. Peter is a Vice President of operations in GlaxoSmithKline’s Research & Development division. He is a U.K. Chartered Accountant and has a bachelor’s degree in theoretical physics. He grew up on a National Park in southwest England in a German- and English-speaking family, and understands basic French.

Andrew A. Chirls, Treasurer

Andrew A. Chirls joined the Board of Trustees as a member in 2014. An Of Counsel attorney with Fineman Krekstein & Harris, P.C., in Philadelphia, Andrew is impressed with the seriousness of the French International School, the approach to bilingual teaching, and quality of education. He believes children benefit if they are citizens of the world as they will understand others and know how big their experiences can be. His law practice and experience as a bar leader has brought him closer to the French community, as has his study of French and travels in France. He is honored to promote the opportunity for young people to be enriched by the French language and culture.

Anne Schmidt Oltmanns, Secretary

Anne Schmidt Oltmanns is a member of the Board of Trustees and past president of the French International School's Parents' Association. A resident of Ardmore, Pa., Anne became interested in bilingual education because her children are bilingual. She said, "Passion developed when I saw how wonderful it was for them to have the opportunity to become trilingual in such an academically excellent and open-minded environment as the French International School. Language acquisition is an amazing skill that children have naturally. Multilingualism will enrich our children's lives in ways that are measurable now and in ways that we haven't yet imagined." Anne is a past president and a current Board member of the North Ardmore Civic Association.

 

Board of Trustees - Members

Alice F. (Tish) Emerson

Tish Emerson serves as vice chair of the Board of Trustees. She is passionate about bilingual education because "it offers an opportunity to explore cross-cultural ideas and language along with developing brain capacities for language acquisition." Dr. Emerson attended Vassar College and earned a PhD. in political science at Bryn Mawr where she taught briefly. In 1966, she was appointed Dean of Women, then Dean of Students at the University of Pennsylvania, and in 1975 she became president of Wheaton College in Massachusetts. In 1991, she joined The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York as a program officer in the liberal arts colleges program. Tish has served on many corporate and non-profit boards and is currently a member of the board of The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, Hunt Alternatives, The Civil War Museum of Philadelphia, the Nantucket New School, and the Boys & Girls Club of Nantucket.

Barbara Freed

Barbara Freed has been a member of the Board of Trustees for more than two decades and is the former chair of the committee on trustees. A resident of Philadelphia, Barbara spends part of each year living in Villefranche-sur-Mer, France. She is also professor emeritas of French Studies, Second Language Acquisition for Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa. Barbara is passionate about bilingual/bicultural education because, "It provides one with broader horizons, ways of seeing, understanding, interacting with and participating in the world. She said, "The French International School offers the opportunity for students to acquire many of these linguistic and cultural skills. It is unique in the fact that the student body is not limited to a bilingual French- English experience for Anglophone and francophone students but that it offers a truly international opportunity with the presence of students from numerous other ethnic (religious and national) groups." Barbara is the Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee for the Institute for American Universities, Aix-en- Provence, France and volunteers for the -Settlement Music School Mary Louise Curtis Branch; Curtis Institute for Music, Friends Advisory Board, Stokowski Committee; Philadelphia Free Library. She also served for many years on the Board of the Alliance française.

Marie Gantz

Marie Guérin-Gantz has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2015 and has served on various school committees. She is passionate about bilingual education at the French International School because it has given her children access to two cultures and made them more tolerant and open to others. By being able to communicate in two languages, children learn to broaden their ways of thinking and be more accepting of people from different backgrounds/cultures. It helps their overall confidence and open doors to more learning opportunities. She said, "Being a bi-cultural/bilingual family, it was very natural for us to have our children attend The French International School. It is a very special place because of its academic excellence, the nurturing faculty and staff, the committed parent body, and the school's overall openness to the world. It is another 'home' outside your own. There is a sense of belonging at our school which is very rare and makes it an incredible place to raise children." A resident of Philadelphia, Marie is a photographer and the owner of Collection Marie Guérin-Gantz furniture line.

Joshua Grant

Joshua Grant joined the Board of Trustees in 2016. He and his wife Carole have three children currently enrolled at the French School, with another future enrollee at home. The Grants are passionate about bilingual education because they believe it is important to challenge children from a young age and to teach them that the world is comprised of many cultures, beliefs, and opinions. Their favorite thing about the French International School is the diverse and engaged parent community. Josh is an Associate Director at Susquehanna International Group, a global trading firm based out of Bala Cynwyd. He is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics.

Murray S. Levin

Murray S. Levin has served as a member of the Board of Trustees since 2002. A partner with the Pepper Hamilton LLP law firm in Philadelphia, Murray serves in various board and volunteer positions with Resource Capital Corporation, Middle East Forum, Foreign Policy Research Institute, and PA State Democratic Party Executive Committee. He is a volunteer child advocate attorney and trustee with both Jewish Family and Children's Services and Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. When asked what makes the French International School of Philadelphia unique, Murray said, "The name of our school alone proclaims its uniqueness and great value: It is French in an American/English world, and it is international in a more domestic, not to say mundane way of life and outlook." As to the benefits of bilingual and multicultural education for youth, he said, "The more language skills one has, the more access to the literature and entire culture of others and, as well, opportunities for greater participation in international commerce."

Jeffrey Mack

Jeffrey E. Mack has served as a member of the Board of Trustees since 2007. He is also chair of the Buildings & Grounds Committee. A resident of Bryn Mawr, Pa., Jeffrey is the Philadelphia executive managing director and broker for Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, a global real estate advisory company. Jeffrey became passionate about bilingual education after he spent his junior year of college abroad at La Sorbonne, Paris, France. Subsequently, he worked for the French Government as a Moniteur de Vacances. Since that time, he has valued his ability to speak French and is passionate about helping students in the U.S. to learn the French language. Jeffrey also serves on the boards of The Committee of Seventy and Bryn Mawr Hospital Foundation.

Rebekah Martindale

Rebekah Martindale is happy to be a part of the French International School of Philadelphia community. She believes the school "is an educational gem, with an engaged, thoughtful community of people supporting it." She says, "The bilingual French/English program is unique in the Philadelphia region. The school follows a rigorous French curriculum, which has very high standards in math and science, and an approach to history, geography, and literature that is much more in depth than a typical American school. Our school also has a unique culture. It is a global community that is comfortable with and celebrates its diversity – one that I am proud to be a part of." A resident of Gladwyne, Pa., Rebekah says bilingualism gives children the self confidence that comes from mastering something that is difficult, and makes them more likely to embrace new situations and adapt to the world around them.

Michèle Rosen

Michèle Rosen is a founder, trustee and benefactor of the French International School of Philadelphia. She has served our school community tirelessly since 1991. Born in Le Havre, France, Michèle came to the United States in 1983. Her involvement with our school began when Stanhope Browne, then Honorary Consul of France in Philadelphia, presented her with a challenge to seek funds from within the city's French community to found a French and American bilingual school. She has served on the boards of Hahnemann University Hospital (now affiliated with Drexel University College of Medicine), the Heart Institute at Presbyterian Hospital, and the Mann Music Center Guild. She has also been active in the French community. In 1989, she became the president of Alliance Française and has served on its board. In 2004, Michèle was awarded the prestigious Palmes Académiques distinction from the French government for her work in education, culture, and the arts. She was again honored in 2009 by our school in appreciation for her hard work, dedication and many years of financial support.

Michael E. Scullin

Michael E. Scullin, Esq. is a member, ex officio, of the Board of Trustees. He has served on the board since 2005. Counsel with the law firm of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, LLP in Philadelphia, Pa., Michael serves as Honorary Consul of France in Philadelphia and Wilmington. Michael embraces the benefits of bilingual education in the development of children's minds and mindsets. He said, "Beyond bi-lingual fluency, the students learn to function in a diverse global environment." Michael also serves as a member of the boards of the French-American Chamber of Commerce, Alliance Française de Philadelphie, French Benevolent Society, and the Board of Arbitrators of FINRA Securities Industry Arbitration for which he also serves on the Board of Arbitrators. He is a trustee of The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, director of the Lyon-Philadelphia Bar Association Twinning and Exchange Program, a fellow with the Institute for Korean-American Studies, and member and past president of the Consular Corps Association of Philadelphia, Inc. In addition to serving our students, Michael is also a mentor with the University of Pennsylvania Law School LLM Mentorship Program.

Paul Seignourel

Paul Seignourel has served as a member of the board since 2014 and is Chair of its Technology Committee. Paul is a Quantitative Analyst at Susquehanna International Group in Bala Cynwyd, Pa. Paul was raised in a conventional education setting in France, and he learned English and has been living in the US since his late twenties. This helped him realize how transformative becoming immersed in another culture can be, and he believes the best way to truly learn another culture is to learn its language. By raising his children in a bilingual and bi-cultural setting, he feels he provided them with a chance to see the world through multiples lenses, and to become more flexible and better informed citizens. He also believes that the French International School 'saved' his daughters from "linguistic extinction." His children have been educated in the school's open and accepting environment with students from many countries and with several who are being raised trilingual. "There's a feeling at the school that all members of the community embrace and enjoy this diversity."

Marc Simmons