Head of School
Peter Reinke serves as Head of School at St. James', a role he has held since July of 2018. Mr. Reinke has worked in the field of education for over twenty-five years. He began his career as an aide to a U.S. Senator on education policy and later played a major educational policy role for the Schwarzenegger administration. Within the independent school world, he has held several senior administrative and teaching positions. Mr. Reinke serves on both the Board of Standards of the California Association of Independent Schools and on the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles' Commission on Schools.
A champion of educational access, Mr. Reinke co-founded the award winning Vincent Academy, a K-5 charter school in the heart of West Oakland. He was also a founding trustee of the Friends School of San Francisco, the only Quaker independent school in California. With the late U.S. Senators Ted Kennedy, Jim Jeffords and several Congressional and Senatorial staffers, he worked to create Everybody Wins, a Washington, D.C. literacy project; the project was featured at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
A Fifth Generation Episcopalian, Mr. Reinke is a past senior warden and vestry clerk. Additionally, he was a trustee for the Episcopal Diocese of California’s School for Deacons and of U.C. Berkeley's Canterbury Foundation, which sponsors Episcopal programs for Cal students. Mr. Reinke was board chair of Clausen House, an Episcopal agency which provides essential services for almost 200 developmentally disabled adults. He is very proud of his brother Steven, a longtime resident of Clausen.
Mr. Reinke graduated from Brown University with department honors in U.S. History and earned his MA in Educational Leadership from Teachers College at Columbia University. Mr. Reinke is an active volunteer for Brown, he is a member of the Brown Corporation's ad-hoc committee on government relations and previously served as a class marshal and on the Brown Corporation's advisory council on relations with Tougaloo College.
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 Admission
Joan Hester is in her second stint at St. James' Episcopal School as Director of Admission after leaving in 2016 to work as Admission Director at Seoul Foreign School in Korea. Joan comes to St. James' with over 20 years experience in education. Before her first tenure at St. James' from 2012-2016, Joan worked Associate Director of Admission at St. Margaret's Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano, California. Prior to that she taught fourth grade and Kindergarten at the Viewpoint School in Calabasas, California. Joan began her career as a music teacher in New York City at the Cathedral School of St. John the Divine. In her off hours, Joan spends time with her husband, Jeff and labradoodle, Lucy. Avid hikers and backpackers, Joan and her husband can often be found hiking trails throughout Southern California and beyond.
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.
Director of Advancement
Brooke joined the St. James' community following 30+ years in New York City where she served as an advancement professional in several independent schools. Brooke's most recent position was at Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart where she led a successful fundraising program, increasing annual giving over 60% while simultaneously increasing participation in the number of donors. Brooke also led a successful major gifts campaign, created a strong alumni program and oversaw fundraising events, friend-raising events, managed volunteers and engaged in numerous school-related activities. Brooke is motivated by a desire to be part of a close-knit community that lends itself to a culture of philanthropy. Brooke is thrilled to be at St. James' and looks forward to meeting all members of the community.
Brooke earned her CFRE, Certified Fundraising Professional, certificate in 2015. CFRE certification is awarded to fundraising professionals who have achieved a level of fundraising success conducted in a professional, ethical manner.
Chief Financial Officer
Amy Schlecter is thrilled to have joined St James' as Chief Financial Officer in Spring 2019. Amy brings a deep background in Finance, Accounting and Operations Management to St James' with her extensive experience working both with schools and private industry. Amy received her MBA from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business and studied both Political Science and Chinese Language and Literature at UC Berkeley as an undergraduate. Amy spent the first decade of her career helping to lead the financial operations of a large distribution center for an e-commerce retailer. After starting a family, Amy decided to pursue her passion for supporting high-quality education and shifted her professional focus to working with great schools. Amy loves traveling both within the US and internationally, and particularly enjoys traveling by train.