The First Independent Co-Ed STEAM School
Serving Early Childhood to 8th Grade in Orange County, California

School Committee

The St. John’s School Committee is a group of volunteers charged with the long-term strategic vision and financial health of the School. These volunteers are parents of current students, parents of alumni, members of the St. John’s Episcopal Church, and members of our community who believe in the vision for and value of a St. John’s education.

The School Committee’s primary duty and responsibility is to ensure the School remains faithful to the highest demands of both the Mission and the academic community. The School Committee, as a group or individually, is not involved with the day-to-day operation of the School, but instead is responsible for:

  • Establishing policies and academic goals and objectives for the School, and an organizational structure of the School to provide clear delineation of authority and proper reporting procedures from the School to the Mission;
  • Monitoring the progress of the School in carrying out its policies, goals, and budgets;
  • Hiring and being responsible for the care, support, and evaluation of the Head of School;
  • Preparing an annual School operating budget, reflecting tuition policy and budgeted expenditures for School and School-related programs, for submission to and ultimate approval by the Bishop’s Committee;
  • Establishing fundraising policy for the School, and supervising all School-related fundraising activities;
  • Maintaining effective communication with the faculty, parents, Bishop’s Committee, Church members, and the community-at-large;
  • Assuring that the physical plant is adequate for the School’s programs, and that adequate reserves are established and maintained for the maintenance and improvement of the physical plant; and
  • Exercising such authority as may be required (consistent with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church and of the Diocese, the policies established by the Bishop’s Committee, and the law) for the proper and efficient operation of the School.

2017-2018 Members

Sean Basford

Sean Basford is the Assistant Principal of Academics and Curriculum at Santa Margarita Catholic High School. Mr. Basford provides curricular leadership with attention to maintaining and developing an academic program that incorporates acceptable educational trends and methodologies consistent with the mission and philosophy of SMCHS. Furthermore, he oversees the Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), Interdisciplinary (ID) and Auxiliary Studies Program (ASP) programs, and the school's Blended Online program, among several other programs. Mr. Basford continues to teach at SMCHS, and serves on several committees there including the Curriculum Counsel and the Consultative School Board Sub-Committee for Technology and Education. Mr. Basford has over 25 years of education and curriculum design experience both in High School and Community College. Prior to teaching at SMCHS, he was the founder, owner, and manager of his own college admission company, The SPL Educational Group, L.L.C. Mr. Basford acquired his Psychology degree at the University of California, Irvine, and his Master's degree in Education with an emphasis in technology and learning from United States International University. He and his wife, Jayme, currently have a graduate of St. John's now attending Santa Margarita Catholic High School.

Celia Coulter (Chair)

Celia Coulter is the Executive Vice President of Consumer Lending for Union Bank. With more than 20 years of experience, Celia oversees Residential Loan production and underwriting, the Project Management Office, Technology, Secondary Marketing Operations, Product Development and Consumer Credit Operations. Prior to Union Bank, she served as Managing Director and Chief Administrative Officer for Residential Lending at Bank of America. She began her career at Countrywide with a focus on Underwriting and Production, continuing through all corporate functional areas, including Trading, Loan Delivery and Treasury. Celia earned a B.A. from UCLA in Economics. She has two children enrolled at St. John's.

Patty Cyr (Treasurer)

Patty Cyr currently is an Associate Attorney at Hittelman Strunk LLP and a Lecturer at University of California, Irvine School of Law. Ms. Cyr graduated from Georgetown University Law Center, cum laude, and clerked for the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. She practiced corporate litigation for five years with Sullivan & Cromwell, LLP in Palo Alto, CA and Washington, DC. After leaving S&C, Ms. Cyr practiced special education law in Washington, DC, representing children with special needs and their families as they pursued an appropriate education from the school system. She also has an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Georgetown University and a Master’s degree in International Comparative Education from Stanford University. Ms. Cyr joined the School Committee in November of 2010, and has three children enrolled at St. John’s. She sits on the Board of Directors of Laura’s House, a nonprofit agency dedicated to ending the cycle of domestic violence.

Bill Hageman

Bill Hageman is a Managing Director of RBC Capital Markets, where he heads the firm's US efforts across entertainment industries as well as its Los Angeles investment banking office. He is responsible for advisory and capital raising activities within film, television, music, interactive entertainment, out of home and digital media sectors. Prior to joining Royal Bank of Canada, he was a member of J.P. Morgan’s Entertainment Industries Group. Mr. Hageman began his career in the corporate finance departments of Wedbush Morgan and then J.P. Morgan, working with diversified West Coast based companies. Mr. Hageman is a graduate of the University of Southern California with studies in Business Administration and Biotechnology. He is a native and resident of Orange County, California where he resides with his wife and two children. Mr. Hageman is also a director of On-Trak Photonics (a privately held technology manufacturing and distribution business) and joined the School Committee in January 2015.

Said Hilal

Said Hilal has been President and CEO of Applied Medical since the company’s inception in 1987.As a new generation medical device company, Applied Medical utilizes innovation in design, development and processes to enhance clinical outcomes while reducing the cost of healthcare.

Mr. Hilal has been in the medical arena since 1979 when he joined American Hospital Supply Corporation.During his tenure at American Hospital, he served in Market Development, as Vice President of Business Development, Vice President of Research and Development, and General Manager.

He proudly views Applied as a unique organization with a team-oriented culture and a passion for making a meaningful positive difference. Today, Applied is a global company with nearly 4,000 team members.

Mr. Hilal holds an MBA from the University of Southern California, and MS and BS degrees in Mechanical Engineering from California State University, Long Beach.He received CSULB’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1996.

Mr. Hilal and his wife, Linda, have two children and two grandchildren, and reside in South Orange County.

Dirksen Lehman

Dirksen J. Lehman has been corporate vice president, public affairs at Edwards Lifesciences since June 2013. He joined the company in 2007 as vice president of government affairs, and later added responsibility for global health economics and reimbursement. In his current role, Lehman continues to oversee these functions and also has responsibility for global communications, corporate branding, global corporate giving, and patient engagement. Prior to joining Edwards, he was head of the healthcare practice at Clark & Weinstock, a government affairs and crisis management consulting firm in Washington, D.C. Lehman has also served in The White House as special assistant to the president for legislative affairs, and health counsel for the majority on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. He serves on the board of directors for BioUtah and joined the SJES School Committee in 2017. Lehman received his undergraduate degree from Millersville University of Pennsylvania and his law degree from Catholic University of America.

Melissa Lukowski

Allen McNamee (Secretary)

Allen McNamee is Managing Associate General Counsel for In-N-Out Burgers, headquartered in Irvine, California. In his position, he oversees the legal department while handling a wide spectrum of legal and business matters for the company. Some of those matters include managing and handling employment, business, and general liability litigation, overseeing implementation of new legal-related policies, compliance, and reviewing of material contracts. Prior to In-N-Out Burgers, he was an attorney wit the law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP in Los Angeles, California. Mr. McNamee earned his law degree from University of Southern California Gould School of Law and B.A. in Speech Communications - Rhetoric Emphasis, cum laude from University of San Diego. Mr. McNamee joined the School Committee in July 2015. He and his wife, Sybille, have two children, Taylor (Class of 2017) and Cameron (Class of 2019), who have attended St. John's since kindergarten. 

Stephanie Peters

While in Investment Banking and Fixed Income at Morgan Stanley in New York City, Stephanie gained extensive deal experience in debt, equity, structured products and Mergers & Acquisitions, executing approximately $3 Billion in deals. Subsequently, Stephanie invested in early stage companies and provided strategic advice to female entrepreneurs, while a Managing Director at Golden Seeds. 

Stephanie holds an MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, majoring in Finance and Entrepreneurial Management and an Honors Bachelor of Commerce from Queen's University in Canada. Prior to her MBA, she worked in the entertainment industry as Director of Sales and then Director of Promotions and Public Relations for Ticketmaster Canada. 

She has also held volunteer leadership roles in The Toronto Junior Board of Trade, Wharton, Queen's, and PTA/PTF Boards. Currently, she works for Wharton MBA Admissions. Stephanie and her husband, Bill, have four sons, three are proud St. John's Cardinals and one is a recent graduate. 

Lydia Schimmelpfenig

Lydia Schimmelpfenig is an executive coach and Founder at TEAMsmarts, a leadership consultancy with over 10 years of proven success in improving the performance of leaders at Fortune 500 companies. Mrs. Schimmelpfenig previously managed the Organizational Development department for one of the nation’s largest medical centers, and led marketing initiatives in the commercial real estate industry. Mrs. Schimmelpfenig holds masters degrees in Organizational Psychology and Counseling Psychology from Columbia University in New York, and has served on the executive boards of the local chapters of National Association of Women Business Owners and International Coach Federation. She and her husband, Dan, have three children at SJES: Luke and Ella (Class of 2024) and Zack (Class of 2025).

Liz Terry (Vice Chair)

Liz Terry is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations. She went on to receive her Juris Doctorate from the University of Minnesota Law School, where she graduated cum laude. Before starting her family, she practiced law in the areas of business litigation and commercial law, and then, she went on to work at Oakley, Inc. as a Project Manager and Product Development Manager. She and her husband, Robert, have two children, Jack (Class of 2016) and Will (Class of 2020), and have been a St. John’s family since 2007.

Michael Vaughn

Michael Vaughn is an attorney with Enterprise Counsel Group in Irvine, California, where his practice focuses on corporate transactions, including mergers and acquisitions. He previously served as Vice President and General Counsel for Applied Medical Corporation and Quest Software, Inc. Mr. Vaughn earned his law degree from University of Southern California Gould School of Law and an undergraduate degree in Accounting from Arizona State University. He is a City Council Member for the City of Rancho Santa Margarita, currently serving as the Mayor, and a former member of the Rancho Santa Margarita Planning Commission. Mr. Vaughn is also the founder of Team 2/5 RSM, a non-profit organization providing support to the Marines and families of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines at Camp Pendleton, Rancho's adopted Marine Battalion. He is also a member of the RSM Chamber of Commerce and Rotary del Sol. Mr. Vaughn joined the School Committee in July 2014 and his two adult children are St. John's alumni. 

Shannon Wernermar

Shannon Edwards Wernemar is a graduate of Arizona State University where she received a bachelors degree in Marketing with an emphasis in International Relations. She received her MBA from USC in 2006 while pursuing a career in International Strategic Business Development and Product Development at General Monitors, Inc. Shannon joined the School Committee in 2016. She and her husband Peter have four children (Ava, Jonas, Kian ('21) and Hayden ('23) and have been a St. John's family since 2011.

Michael Pratt, Head of School

Head of School Michael Pratt has spent his entire career in education. After receiving his B.A. from the University of Virginia and Ph.D. from Harvard University, he began his teaching career at St. Agnes School in Alexandria, Virginia. He subsequently served as a Professor of History at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. After a term at the National Endowment for the Humanities, Dr. Pratt moved to California in 1996 to serve as the Academic Dean at Menlo School. From 2001 to 2011, he served as Head of Brentwood School in Los Angeles. He has spoken on a range of topics at conferences across the country and is the author of several articles on history and education, in addition to a book, Crash Course: a Head of School, His Son's Addiction, and Lessons for Schools and Families.

Fr. Christopher Potter, Vicar

Christopher is a native Southern Californian who attended private schools until ninth grade. His undergraduate work was done at The University of San Diego with a B.A. in Philosophy and Logic. Graduate school was at St. John’s in Collegeville, Minnesota. Christopher spent about a year in Israel and the Middle East studying the history of Israel in context. He received his Master’s Degree and was ordained priest in 1984. He served communities in Riverside and San Bernardino including as director of the Church’s presence on college campuses in the area. After marriage and one child (Lauren Potter), Christopher attended Law School with intentions of working in Constitutional Law. Previous to a return to ministry, Christopher was the Administrator for 13 years at a residential crisis home for children with disabilities, requiring a deep and working knowledge of the Education Code, especially regarding IEP’s. He joined the Episcopal Church in 1996 and became an Episcopal Priest in 2011. Christopher served as Assisting Priest at communities in Whittier and Buena Park before becoming Interim Priest in Placentia.

Christopher lives in Rancho Santa Margarita with his daughter, an actress and his sister who is enjoying retirement.