Head of School
Peter Reinke joins St. James' from the K-12 Buckley School, where he served as Assistant Head, leading teacher recruitment & retention and the curricular program. Through his work at Buckley, Peter was also appointed to serve on the Board of Standards for the California Association of Independent Schools, the accrediting body for California’s 400 independent schools.
Prior to his tenure at Buckley, Peter spent almost twenty years at the Head-Royce School in the Bay Area, the oldest K-12 institution in the western United States. At Head-Royce he played a variety of roles, including serving 6-12 History Department Chair and teaching middle and upper school History. While at Head-Royce, Peter and a group of trustees, faculty, students and alumni founded the K-5 Vincent Academy, an award winning charter school in the heart of one of Oakland’s most disenfranchised neighborhoods. Peter was also a founding trustee of the K-8 San Francisco Friends School, one of the only Quaker institutions in CAIS.
Peter thoroughly enjoys public policy; he was an assistant to the late United States Senator John Chafee of Rhode Island and was a public commissioner of the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS). He also is a past vice-president of Oakland’s municipal ethics commission and he spent over a decade on the California board of Common Cause, a national organization championing transparency and ethics in government.
A fifth generation Episcopalian, Peter has served in a variety of leadership roles at the parish level including senior warden, vestry clerk, stewardship committee chair and Lay Eucharistic minister. Additionally, he was a trustee for the Episcopal Diocese of California’s School for Deacons, and board chair of Clausen House, an Episcopal agency which provides essential services for almost 200 developmentally disabled adults. Peter is very proud of his brother Steven, a longtime resident of Clausen.
Peter grew up on a farm in New England, and has always enjoyed animals, and two rescues make their home with him, Toby, a 50 pound hound mix and Maisha, a cantankerous calico-tabby.
Assistant Head of School
Elizabeth Desmarais joined the administrative team at St. James’ Episcopal School in July 2016. A native of Rhode Island, Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Rhode Island College and an master’s in administration from Pepperdine University.
Elizabeth spent the eight years prior to her arrival at St. James’ at Episcopal Collegiate School in Little Rock, Ark., where she was a key member of the lower school’s implementation team. In that role, Elizabeth was instrumental in developing and implementing the lower school curriculum. Throughout her tenure, she held a number of roles including head of lower school, director of studies, chair of accreditation, and math specialist.
Elizabeth has a long history of working in independent schools in Southern California. She was the assistant head of school at the Westerly School in Long Beach, as well as its founding middle school head. Additionally, she taught middle school English, humanities, and pre-algebra. She also served as the assistant administrator and 3rd-grade teacher at the Village School in Pacific Palisades.
Elizabeth is honored and excited to be a part of the St. James’ family.
Director of Advancement
Chris Cook and husband Jeff Healy joined the St. James’ community in the fall of 2006 and have two boys, Will '13 and Jamie '18. Chris joined the Senior Administration in October 2011 as the Director of Advancement. Chris has worked professionally as a fundraiser for various academic institutions, non-profit organizations and political campaigns. He most recently served as the Assistant Dean, Director of Development for the USC School of Dramatic Arts. Before USC, he worked for six years with the national media advocacy organization, GLAAD, as their Campaign Director and their Director of Annual Giving. He also worked as a fundraising consultant with People for the American Way, The Liberty Hill Foundation, and GLSEN. Earlier on he had a successful career as a film and television producer, working closely with Norman Jewison. Chris graduated from the UCLA School of Theatre after growing up in western Michigan.
Pat Joseph Thomas, Ph.D.
Director of Preschool & Civic Engagement
Pat joined the St. James’ Episcopal School administrative team in July 2016 with over 30 years experience in early childhood education. As a classroom teacher, Pat facilitated children and their families in developing meaningful relationships which support/enhance positive school engagements. A tenure in independent schools, as a teacher and supervisor, have enhanced Pat’s knowledge of and respect for diverse learning communities. As a life-long learner, Pat’s education spans over the course of her teaching career with a BA in human development from Pacific Oaks College, MS in child/family counseling from Springfield College, and PhD in child/family studies from CGI/Branston University.
Most recently, Pat has worked as a consultant, helping parents navigate their search for educational programs and learning environments. As a child development specialist, she has been a resource for families in understanding the complexities in finding the “right fit” and comfortable balance between home, school, and community.
I am delighted to be a part of the Saint James’ community and eager to share my knowledge of creative programs, which enhance curiosity, encourage explorations, embrace differences, and engage in joyful learning experiences for all ages.
The Rev. Canon Aidan Koh
Father Aidan Koh has been working at St. James’ Episcopal School since September 1991 after his deacon’s ordination that June by the Rt. Rev. Frederick H. Borsch, Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles. Prior to arriving at St. James’, Aidan was fortunate to have attended seminaries in Claremont, California, and the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California. He attended both of these seminaries after having graduated from Hankook Theological Seminary, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. Born in Korea to a family deeply rooted in the Anglican faith, Aidan started his ministry during his early high school years, teaching Sunday school children and leading youth groups. Teaching at a high school and working as a member of the administrative team at a university in Korea added to his experiences in academia.
Chief Financial and Operations Officer
Mrs. Najah Lowe, our Chief Financial and Operations Officer joined the St. James' community in August 2008. Although a native of Los Angeles, Mrs. Lowe lived for eight years in our Nation's capitol before relocating back to Los Angeles to get married. She has spent her entire career working in support of nonprofit organizations ranging from independent educational institutions to charter school settings, marine life conservationism and ecotourism.
Accounting and finance being one of her greatest loves, Mrs. Lowe has a wide variety of interests and feels a strong sense of commitment to the nonprofit sector. With a Bachelor's degree in English Literature from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and a Master's degree in Business Administration, Human Resources, from the University of Phoenix, Reston, VA, Mrs. Lowe is often recognized for her ability to excel and connect in a number of areas that best serve faculty, staff, and the parent community alike. As an active member of the California Independent School Business Officers Association as well as the National Business Officers Association, Mrs. Lowe uses these associations to learn from and be the voice of "best practices" for nonprofit leadership and school management.
In her spare time, Mrs. Lowe also operates an online greeting card service and enjoys creating and designing greeting cards and attending craft fairs. She recently expanded her family base and lives nearby the school with her husband, young daughter and son.
Director of Admission
Director of Admission Sarah Lougheed-Gill joined the St. James’ senior administration team in June 2016, after serving as Director of Admissions and Communications at Walden School in Pasadena for five years. Before evolving to independent school administration roles, Sarah taught English and performing arts to hundreds of students in both public and independent schools in Northern and Southern California. She also consults for CalWest Educators, an independent school placement firm for teachers and administrators.
Having grown up in Canada, Sarah comes from a family where curiosity is nurtured and higher education is valued. An avid reader, she is a lifelong learner. In 2014, Sarah earned certification as an International Advancement Professional through Independent School Management. Her husband Joe Gill is an independent school head, and their three adult children all graduated from independent schools.
Sarah and Joe share their 1908 restored farmhouse with adopted animals Molly (dog) and Denethor (cat). Their property is designated as an Urban Wildlife Habitat and many wild creatures live in their gardens.