The board of trustees is the guardian of Harlem Academy’s mission. It is the board’s responsibility to ensure that the mission is relevant and vital to the community it serves, to monitor the success of the school in fulfilling its mission, and to support and promote the mission in the broader community.
The board of trustees is responsible for setting the school’s vision and a strategic plan for realizing the vision. Trustees ensure that their efforts – individually and collaboratively – contribute to the execution of the strategic plan and realization of the vision.
DAVID B. PETERSON | CHAIRMAN
David B. Peterson is CEO of Onera Media, Inc., a private advisory and investment firm. Mr. Peterson has over 25 years of investment banking experience with a primary focus on the media and communications sectors, including most recently as head of Rothschild Inc.’s U.S. Media Group. Prior to Rothschild, he was an investment banker for Salomon Brothers and Citibank. Mr. Peterson is also a board member of the North Salem Open Land Foundation and President of the Onera Foundation. He holds a bachelor's from Dartmouth College, a MBA from New York University, and a master's in historic preservation from the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.
Tony Asnes is the head of investor relations at Pershing Square Capital Management, L.P., a fundamental value investor in long and occasionally short investments in the public markets. Prior to joining Pershing Square in 2010, Mr. Asnes was head of marketing and client service at Eagle Capital Management, LLC and was president and CEO of Pseudo Programs, Inc. In the late 1980s, he traded index options on the American Stock Exchange. Mr. Asnes graduated from Yale with a bachelor’s in computer science and earned a master’s in management from the Sloan School at MIT. He is the chair of the board of trustees of the Bank Street College of Education and is a trustee of the New York Hall of Science.
JOHN BELIZAIRE | SECRETARY
John Belizaire is CEO of Soluna, the world's first vertically-integrated blockchain computing company. Mr. Belizaire is also a managing partner at NextStage LLC, a private equity firm. Previously, he founded and was CEO of FirstBest Systems, a software and services company for commercial insurance carriers. Before FirstBest, he was senior director of business development and strategic planning for BEA Systems, and he co-founded The Theory Center, a leader in Java-based component software for enterprise applications. Mr. Belizaire holds a B.S. and M.S. in computer science from Cornell University.
W. GRAHAM COLE | EDUCATION COMMITTEE CHAIR, DEVELOPMENT COMMITTE CO-CHAIR
Graham Cole was the head of school for the Westminster School in Connecticut for 17 years (1993-2010). His leadership included numerous capital renovations and expansions, and the quadrupling of the school’s endowment. Prior to Westminster, he spent more than 20 years at The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, serving as a history teacher, dean of faculty, associate headmaster, and interim headmaster. Since his retirement, he has served as a strategic consultant for both Collegiate School in New York and The Lawrenceville School. He has a bachelor’s from Williams College and a master’s from Columbia University. He also served in the United States Air Force.
WILL COOK | TREASURER, FINANCE COMMITTEE CHAIR
Will Cook is the founder & portfolio manager of Sunriver Management LLC, an alternative asset management firm. Previously, he spent a decade at Ziff Brothers Investments. Mr. Cook earned a bachelor's from the University of Virginia and an MBA from Columbia Business School. He is also a trustee of the Brunswick School in Greenwich, Connecticut.
VINCENT DOTOLI | EX-OFFICIO
Vincent Dotoli is the founder of and head of school at Harlem Academy. He holds an M.A. in educational administration from Teachers College, Columbia University and a B.S. in psychology from Union College.
MARY GANZENMULLER | TRUSTEE
Mary Ganzenmuller was the founder of Bray Family Academy, an independent nonprofit startup school project in New Jersey which is currently hibernated. She serves on the board of trustees of Purnell School in New Jersey and on the education committees of several New Jersey organizations. Ms. Ganzenmuller is a former Chicago public school teacher and earned her master’s in curriculum and teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Doug Griebel is the co-founder and former chairman of Rosa Mexicano Restaurants. Under his leadership, the restaurant grew from one location in New York City to 15 locations in the U.S. and abroad. Mr. Griebel serves on the boards of several business, restaurant, and nonprofit organizations in New York City. He has helped to lead capital campaigns at both the Collegiate School and Marietta College and hopes to leverage his own passion for Harlem Academy’s mission to engage others.
H. DALE HEMMERDINGER | TRUSTEE
Dale Hemmerdinger is chairman of ATCO, a real estate investment and management corporation with interests in New York, nationally, and in seven European countries. In public service, Mr. Hemmerdinger has served as chairman of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and as commissioner of the New York City Conciliation and Appeals Board. He has been active on the boards of many public and private organizations, including until recently as a trustee of New York University and of Nightingale-Bamford School, where he chaired their capital campaign. He is also a trustee of the New York City Police Foundation, president of the Realty Foundation of New York, and honorary chair and trustee of the Citizens Budget Commission. A graduate of Riverdale Country School, he received his bachelor's and an MBA from New York University.
VALARIE A. HING | TRUSTEE
Valarie Hing is a partner at Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, a New York-based international law firm, where she specializes in mergers and acquisitions and capital markets transactions. Ms. Hing graduated from Hamilton College with degrees in mathematics and government and obtained her law degree from Stanford Law School. She resides in Brooklyn.
Ann MacRae served as a docent at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for more than 15 years and previously worked at the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. She is involved with a number of education programs and schools throughout New York City as a trustee of the Cat MacRae Fund. Ms. MacRae graduated from Hollins College with a bachelor’s in art history and received a master’s in art and architectural history from Columbia University.
ELIZABETH MCHENRY | TRUSTEE
Elizabeth McHenry is an associate professor of English at New York University, where she teaches American and African American literature. Her field of specialization is African American literature. Elizabeth is the author of "Forgotten Readers: Recovering the Lost History of African American Literary Societies" (Duke University Press, 2002), a book that chronicles the history of black readers and their organized literary activities from 1830-1940. She began her career as a high school teacher at Phillips Academy and has also served on the faculty at the U.S. Naval Academy, the College of the Holy Cross, and the University of Texas, Austin. She holds a bachelor’s from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in English and American literature from Stanford University.
BETSY S. MICHEL | DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE CO-CHAIR
Betsy Michel is currently a trustee of Drew University where she chairs the academic affairs committee. Ms. Michel was previously chair of the board of trustees at The Peck School in Morristown, New Jersey and St. George’s School in Newport, Rhode Island. She also served as a trustee of The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The National Association of Independent Schools, and World Learning, Inc. From 1984-2008 she served as a director of the Seligman Group of Investment Companies in New York. Ms. Michel is a graduate of Westover School, Smith College, and Yale Law School.
Rodney Pope is vice president and senior human relations director at Turner Construction, where he has worked since 1995. Originally trained in architecture and construction technologies, he has a B.S. in organizational management and an M.S. in construction management. For more than a decade, Mr. Pope has led Turner’s extensive volunteer participation in Harlem Academy’s fundraising events and family partnership.
With over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies, Hank Prybylski is the EY Americas Advisory vice chair, overseeing more than 20,000 consultants who are committed to building a better working world by helping their clients grow, optimize, and protect their business through innovation and transformation. Mr. Prybylski’s passion is to serve those who serve, and his purpose is to enhance the pride of all through teamwork. He is proud to be the EY Veterans Network executive sponsor. Outside of EY, Hank enjoys serving as a mentor for the very talented students at his alma mater, College of the Holy Cross. Mr. Prybylski holds a master’s in finance from the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University and a bachelor’s in economics and accounting from the College of Holy Cross.
TOM REYCRAFT | COMMITTEE ON TRUSTEES CHAIR
Tom Reycraft is founder and CEO of Benchmark Education Company, LLC. Founded in 1998, Benchmark Education develops literacy materials and provides professional development training for the K-12 market throughout North America. It also distributes its materials in the international market, primarily in Asia, for use in English Language Teaching (ELT) programs. Mr. Reycraft graduated from the American College of Switzerland and holds a master's in international management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.
Richard Schaps is CEO of Van Wagner Group, a collection of marketing companies that specialize in connecting brands and properties with customers through sports. He also served as the chairman of the board of The Doe Fund and serves as a trustee of Free Arts for Abused Children and the Anti-Defamation League – NY Region. He is a graduate in marketing from the University of Cincinnati School of Business Administration.
Hillary Thomas is chief operating officer of the Sports and Entertainment Group at Van Wagner Communications, LLC, the largest private outdoor advertising company in the United States. Prior to Van Wagner, Ms. Thomas worked for Highland Development, a real estate development company she co-founded. She began her career as an associate in the real estate department at Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson. She earned her bachelor's from the University of Pennsylvania and is a graduate of Harvard Law School.
MICHAEL TOPOREK | TRUSTEE
Michael Toporek is the co-founder and managing general partner of Brookstone Partners, a private equity firm. He is responsible for investment decisions as well as portfolio company management and development. Mr. Toporek began his career in Chemical Bank’s Investment Banking Group, later joined Dillon Read, which became UBS Warburg during his tenure, and SG Cowen. He received a bachelor's and an MBA from the University of Chicago.
ALAN WASHINGTON | AUDIT COMMITTEE CHAIR
Alan Washington is the head of real estate development at Success Academy Charter Schools, the largest and highest-performing free public charter network in New York City with 46 schools serving 15,500 scholars. He previously served as the managing director of real estate and economic development at the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. Mr. Washington has diverse real estate experience across the student housing, residential, and commercial real estate sectors. An active alumnus of Dartmouth College, Mr. Washington also holds a master's in real estate development from New York University.