Senior Administrative Team
HEAD OF SCHOOL
Enhancement & Refinement of School Mission, Trustee & Vestry Relations, Oversight of Church/School Relations, Strategic Planning & Vision, Senior Administrative Team Chair
Peter Reinke serves as Head of School at St. James', a role he has held since July of 2018. Mr. Reinke has announced his retirement over the next two years; the board has named him Head Emeritus upon his retirement. The trustees have also established the Peter S. Reinke Endowment Fund in his honor.
Mr. Reinke has worked in the field of education for almost 30 years, having served as an Assistant Head of School and other key administrative roles prior to coming to St. James'.
An honors graduate from Brown University, Mr. Reinke began his career as an aide to Rhode Island U.S. Senator John H. Chafee on education, banking and child welfare policy. Mr. Reinke's father's ancestors were among the earliest settlers of Rhode Island and served as soldiers in George Washington's army. On behalf of Senator Chafee, Mr. Reinke worked with a coalition to establish a federal stamp honoring African-American revolutionary war soldiers.
Later in his career, Mr. Reinke was one of the only Democrats nominated by Governor Schwarzenegger to the board of trustees of the California State Teacher Pension System (CALSTRS), the nation's second largest public pension fund. Mr. Reinke was appointed twice as a CALSTRS trustee, during the 1st and 2nd Schwarzenegger administrations. Mr. Reinke was founding chair of the system's corporate governance committee and vice-chair of the STRS investment committee.
A cradle Episcopalian, Mr. Reinke's family has been active in the Episcopal church for many generations, especially in southern New England. His brother is an Episcopal priest and both of his grandparents were senior wardens. Mr. Reinke is a past senior warden and vestry clerk. He currently serves as a diocesan delegate for St. James' Episcopal Parish where he is an active member of the Mens' Fellowship, a lector and usher.
Mr. Reinke serves as a trustee of the Episcopal School of Los Angeles, and of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles' Neighborhood Youth Association, where he chairs the audit committee. He is also a member of Diocesan Commission on Schools; the accrediting body for Episcopal schools. Mr. Reinke also serves on the Diocesan clergy and church staff compensation review committee.
Previously, Mr. Reinke 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 also board chair of Clausen House, an Episcopal board and care facility 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 co-founded the Vincent Academy, a K-5 charter school, and he was a founding trustee of the San Francisco Friends School, then the only Quaker school in the California Association of Schools (CAIS). With the late U.S. Senators Ted Kennedy, Jim Jeffords and several Congressional and Senatorial staffers, Mr. Reinke worked to create Everybody Wins, a Washington, D.C. literacy project; the project was featured at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Mr. Reinke also spent several years on the Board of Standards of CAIS, the accrediting body for independent schools throughout the state. He continues to chair accreditation visiting committees for CAIS.
Mr. Reinke spent over a decade on the California board of Common Cause, a citizen organization that ensures transparency in government. He continues to be an active volunteer for Common Cause. Mr. Reinke also served as vice-president of the city of Oakland's municipal ethics commission, the committee which sets city council salaries. On the commission, he helped curate one of the first limited public financing programs in the nation.
In addition to his BA from Brown, Mr. Reinke earned his MA in Educational Leadership from Teachers College at Columbia University.
Mr. Reinke is an active volunteer for Brown, serving on the University's Annual Fund Leadership Council which partners with the Advancement Office to raise almost 50 million annually for Brown. Mr. Reinke has been appointed several times to his class leadership gifts committee. He was a class marshal for his 25th class reunion and previously served on the Brown Corporation's ad-hoc committee on government relations and advisory council on relations with Tougaloo College.
In his spare time, Mr. Reinke loves fostering animals, spending time with his godchildren, and hiking and kayaking. He also collects antiques, particularly those related to American political history, which he thoroughly enjoys sharing with the St. James' History club.
ASSISTANT HEAD FOR SYSTEMS & MATRICULATION
6th Grade Matriculation, Student Health & Safety, Student Data, Grades & Transcripts, Campus & Facilities Management
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.
DIRECTOR OF ADVANCEMENT & COMMUNICATIONS
Parent & Family Activities, Annual Fund & Major Gifts, Communication & Brand Strategy
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.
THE REV. CANON AIDAN KOH
Episcopal Identity, Family & Parent Relations, Church/School Synergy
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. He is the longest serving chaplain in the school's history, and the longest Episcopal chaplain in the country. 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.
Preschool curriculum, Licensing, Preschool Health, Safety & Security
Rocheleen Rosel joined the St. James’ community in 2012 as a teacher in the 3 year old class and has 14 years of experience in the early childhood field. Aside from being apart of the St. James’ Episcopal School Administrative team, she is also a St. James’ parent. Rochelle has lectured at the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) conferences throughout the United States and her most recent lecture was on the topic of early childhood education: theory vs application in 2019.
Rochelle has her AA in early childhood from Los Angeles Valley College, bachelor's in child and adolescent development from California State University Northridge, and her master's in Human Development specializing in leadership in education and social service from Pacific Oaks College.
ASSISTANT HEAD FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
Preschool - 3rd Grade Division Head, Oversight of Preschool - 3rd Grade Faculty, Student & Family Experience
Mrs. Mei-Ling Leonard joined the St. James’ community in 2005. From 2005-2021 she guided first-graders into becoming their best version of an elementary school student. In 2021, Mrs. Leonard joined the administrative team as the Dean of Students & Belonging. Now, Mrs. Leonard serves as the Assistant Head for Early Childhood Learning.
Mrs. Leonard has been an active member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Committee since its inception, a mentor teacher, a math specialist, and a member of the Curriculum Committee. She is also the Visual & Performing Arts Chair and has developed a robust after school performing arts program producing 2 school productions a year. Mrs. Leonard is proud to have been the inaugural director for the Center for Belonging - a safe / brave space where students can reset and reboot while feeling comfortable being their true authentic selves. Mrs. Leonard graduated from Swarthmore College with a bachelor's in Theatre with a minor in Education. She also has a MFA in Theatre Management from Wayne State University.
In addition to numerous other committee assignments she is most proud to call herself an advocate. A student advocate, a teacher advocate, an artistic advocate, a social, school, and community advocate; Mrs. Leonard has touched every part of the St. James' School Community.
DIRECTOR OF ADMISSION
Preschool and K - 6th Grade Admission, Prospective & New Family Relations
While a native of Colorado and the southwest, Kara Leigh Powers gained the bulk of her experience as teacher and senior administrator at the Chicago City Day School in downtown Chicago, IL. Her 27 years of experience stretch across multiple areas of education, including gifted education and learning differences. Kara earned her BA in Sports Medicine and German Language from Pepperdine University, a K-12 postgraduate teaching credential also from Pepperdine, and an MA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Studies from Columbia College.
Upon returning to Los Angeles, she became a mentor for master’s degree candidates in the Pepperdine Graduate School of Education. Additionally, during the onset of the pandemic, she founded Spoonful of Sugar Educational Services providing a multitude of support to families. Wishing to return to a school community, she joined St. James’ to teach third grade. She quickly rose to become one of our most effective teachers, and her natural talent with families led to her appointment as Director of Admission. Kara is also a certified examiner for Gesell at Yale Early Childhood.
Kara is an accomplished artist, avid outdoors person and scuba diver, and a passionate coach for children studying marine biology. During her tenure in Chicago, she helped to launch the Bimini Field Research Program for CCDS. Partnering with the Shedd Aquarium, Kara (and team) led field study marine research expeditions for 16 years to the Caribbean for middle school students interested in the marine sciences. These data collections and surveys were instrumental in naming North Bimini, The Bahamas a National Marine Protected Area and creating a collaborative partnership with Jean Michel Cousteau. She is thrilled to be back in California and passionate about sharing St. James’ with future families.
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
Legal, Contracts, Tuition & Fees, Revenue, Expenses & Audit
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.
DEAN OF STUDENTS & BELONGING
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice & Belonging, K - 6th Grade Student Socio-Emotional Health, K - 6th Discipline, Beyond School & Aftercare, Student Field Study, Commons Program
Ms. McManus joins us from the Blake school in Minneapolis, where she served as PK-12 Chair of Equity & Instruction. Through her work as a nationally known DEIJB consultant, Ms. McManus has partnered with independent schools to conduct equity audits, craft DEIJB strategic plans, and develop long term initiatives. She has presented workshops to faculty groups nationwide on topics of antiracist teaching, inclusive classroom
With a history rooted in Los Angeles and southern California, Ms. McManus earned her B.A. in Sociology from Pitzer College and her dual M.A. degree in Education Administration and Curriculum and Instruction from Cal State University Channel Islands where she authored "Experiences of Discrimination and Microaggressions towards Women of Color in Independent School Headships."
UPPER GRADE DEAN
4th - 6th Curriculum, Oversight of 4th - 6th Grade Faculty, Student and Family Experience
Ms. Ufford has great experience coaching and mentoring teachers. She spent much of her career at Columbia Grammar and Prep, one of the premier independent schools in the country. At Columbia, she oversaw the associate teacher program and was a grade level coordinator. She also managed the school's instructional and peer coach program. Ms. Ufford has most recently served as the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEIJB) coordinator at the Renbrook School in Connecticut, where she also has continued to teach 4th grade. Ms. Ufford has extensive experience teaching 3rd-5th grade. Ms. Ufford earned both her BA (communications) and her MA (Education) from University of California at Davis. She has been trained extensively at Columbia University's Writers Workshop program and also received professional development in coaching and mentoring teachers at Bank Street College.