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Senior Administrator Biographies

Peter Reinke

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. Mr. Reinke spent several years as a teacher and administrator at Head-Royce School, the oldest K-12 school in the western United States; he also served as Assistant Head of School at Buckley before coming to St James'. Buckley is the oldest K-12 co-educational school in Los Angeles. Mr. Reinke serves on the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles' Commission on Schools; he spent several years on the Board of Standards of the California Association of Independent Schools, the accrediting body for independent schools throughout the state.

Mr. Reinke co-founded the 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. At St. James' Episcopal Parish, Mr. Reinke is an active member of the Men's Fellowship and volunteers as a lector. Both he and his partner Dr. Claudia Nau are also enthusiastic advocates for the food ministries at the parish, which they believe are among the most vital programs of St. James'. Mr. Reinke is also a lifetime member of the Union of Black Episcopalians.

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.


Elizabeth Desmarais

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 a 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, Arkansas, 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. 


Photo by Katee Grace

Jules Leyser

INTERIM DIRECTOR OF ADVANCEMENT & COMMUNICATIONS

Jules has been a parent at St James since 2017 and has served on the Advancement Committee as well Co-Chairing the Annual Gala. In 2014 she co-founded the Alliance of Moms, a non-profit which supports pregnant and parenting youth in Los Angeles County’s foster care system. As Co-President she developed the Alliance of Moms’ educational programs focusing on early brain development in addition to leading its communication and fundraising strategies. The Alliance of Moms was honored by St. Anne’s with their Angel Award, by The Bump magazine at their inaugural Movers & Makers awards and she was invited to The White House by the Obama Administration in recognition of her organization’s advocacy work with youth in foster care. 

After graduating from Trinity College, Oxford with a BA and MA in English, Jules went onto work as an Account Director at Saatchi & Saatchi and Bartle, Bogle & Hegarty for clients such as British Airways, T-Mobile and the charity for at-risk youth, Barnardo’s. In the year 2000, Jules wrote and starred in her own one-woman show at the Edinburgh Festival. The following year the show transferred to London’s Soho Theatre in the West End. Jules and her husband moved to Los Angeles in 2003 where she racked up further acting and writing credits. Simultaneously she worked for the World Poker Tour, devising and teaching poker strategy seminars all across America. 

Raised in a family of educators in her native England, Jules is honored to become a member of the St. James' staffulty and to deepen her roots within the wider St. James' community.


Emmy Gilliam

INTERIM DIRECTOR OF ADMISSIONS, DEAN OF STUDENTS

Emmy has been part of the St. James' staffulty since 2015; she has co-led the sixth-grade program, served as our Associate Director of Admission to support middle school matriculation, and designed our multi-year program to work with third through fifth grade families to review and analyze standardized test scores and plan for academic success. She has also served as our faculty moderator, co-chair of our remote learning task force and is overseeing the launch of a digital portfolio program this year.  She will also continue in her role as advisor to our venerable school newspaper, The Husky Howl. Emmy earned her BA in English from University of Southern California, an MA in Education from University of California at Los Angeles, and an MA in the Science of K-12 Leadership from Pepperdine University.  


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

CHAPLAIN

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


Amy Schlecter

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.