Redwood Day is an independent, diverse K-8 coed school | 510.534.0800
Board of Trustees
Members of the 2021-22 Board of Trustees
List of 22 items.
Louise Bedsworth | Chair
Redwood Day Parent B.S., Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering and Ph.D. in Energy and Resources, both from the University of California at Berkeley.
Louise Bedsworth is the Executive Director of the California Strategic Growth Council, a state agency that brings together multiple agencies and departments to support sustainable communities emphasizing strong economies, social equity and environmental stewardship. Prior to joining SGC, Louise was the Deputy Director of the Office of Planning and Research in Governor Jerry Brown’s office. At OPR she led work on a number of collaborative research initiatives and climate change adaptation and resilience, including development of the Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program and implementation of the State’s $70 million grant awarded under the National Disaster Resilience Competition. Before joining OPR in 2011, Louise was a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, where her work focused on climate change adaptation, local government action on climate change, and transportation. She has also held positions at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Redefining Progress, and the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis.
Personal Statement: Our family loves being part of the Redwood Day community. I have been thrilled with the academic, social, and emotional experience each of our children is having at Redwood Day. The school has provided a warm and nurturing environment and has been incredibly thoughtful in engaging our kids and helping them navigate many of the challenging issues going on in the world around us today. I feel like we have a true partner in helping our kids to become prepared, thoughtful, and engaged people.
Isavane Samanna | Vice Chair
Redwood Day Parent B.A., Social Science (Hons), University of Kwa-Zulu Natal
Isavane Samanna is an experienced Human Capital Sales professional with Deloitte Consulting, with a focus on Human Capital Management software and professional services. With over 20 years of experience, she has worked with companies in a variety of industry sectors to redesign global HR business processes with a focus on best practices, streamlining work effort and the implementation of HR systems.
Isavane has sat on the Board of Blueskies for Children and DiversityWorks – both Oakland based organizations. During her tenure on these Boards, Isavane’s focus was on organizational development and process improvement.
Isavane lives in wonderful Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. In her spare time, she loves to read, cook, travel and spend time with friends and family. Isavane’s family has been part of the RD community since 2010. Since joining RDS, Isavane has co-chaired the Parent Education Committee, sat on the Nominations committee and toured prospective parents.
Personal Statement: Since joining the RD community in 2010, the Samanna Scovill’s have enjoyed the deep sense of community, a safe nurturing environment and thoughtful growth in the academic approach and curriculum at the school. The high professional standard of the teachers and staff, coupled with their down to earth attitude continues to instill confidence that Tenzin and Zarah are getting one of the best school experiences there is.
Mar Brandt | Advancement Committee Chair
Redwood Day Parent B.S. with Honors, International Business from the California State University, San Francisco
Mar is the Head of sales/sales leader at Experian. She has nearly 20 years of leadership experience in sales, driving deep client relationships and revenues through her knowledge of digital marketing technology and business development. She is a lean-in, high velocity sales leader with an award-winning career in the SaaS space, building and transforming teams to drive growth and scale. In her current role, Mar is Vice President of Americas Enterprise and Healthcare vertical sales for Sitecore, a global leader in web content management and customer experience platforms. Prior to Sitecore, Mar was SVP, Head of Sales for Experian Marketing Suite, Experian’s SaaS-based cross channel marketing platform, where she spent a 14 year career in progressive leadership roles. Mar’s experience also includes tours at various technology companies such as AT&T and DoubleClick.Her passions include family (especially sons Donovan and Kieran), food, interior design, women in technology, and volunteering at Redwood Day.
Personal statement: "As a new parent of Redwood Day, I felt compelled to learn about the broader community while contributing to the classroom, and becoming a room parent was a fantastic opportunity to do that. Being a board member of the PGA allows me to contribute to and stay involved with this amazing community and to help represent the lower school parents on topics that are important for us as parents of young students."
Renuka Kher | Diversity Committee Chair
Redwood Day Parent (Anamika '26 and Anand '29) Renuka received her bachelor's degree in Biology from the University of Michigan and completed her graduate work at Emory University, where she received a master's in public health from the Rollins School of Public Health. She is an alumnus of the Coro Leadership Program and also holds a certificate in Innovation Leadership from California College of the Arts.
Renuka Kher has supported entrepreneurial efforts in under-resourced communities for her entire career. She has spent 16 years in various roles in philanthropy and managed and directed over $150M. Her professional experience spans the public, private, philanthropic, and non-profit sectors. She has served on the board of and as an advisor to many of the nation’s leading social change organizations including, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Beyond 12, Year Up, Global Citizen Year, and Revolution Foods.
Most recently, she served on the executive team of Tipping Point Community a nonprofit grant-making organization that fights poverty in the Bay Area. During her six-year tenure at Tipping Point, she helped lead the growth of the organization as its Chief Operating Officer and also founded T Lab, Tipping Point's R+D engine.
Before joining Tipping Point, Renuka served as a Principal at NewSchools Venture Fund whose work is focused on education and prior to that, she was a Senior Program Officer at the Robin Hood Foundation where her work included developing and implementing a strategy for a $65 million relief fund, one of the nation's largest, created to respond to the terrorist attacks of September 11th.
Her work has been featured in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, OZY, and Social Startup Success. Renuka received her bachelor's degree in Biology from the University of Michigan and completed her graduate work at Emory University, where she received a master's in public health from the Rollins School of Public Health. She is an alumnus of the Coro Leadership Program and also holds a certificate in Innovation Leadership from California College of the Arts. She currently lives in Oakland with her husband and two young children.
Personal Statement: "Our kids love Redwood Day! I am so honored to be on the board and to contribute to this beautiful community."
Charlie Soulis | Finance Committee Chair
Redwood Day Parent B.A. U.C. Santa Barbara; M.S. University of Chicago
Charlie is a Senior Vice President at Charles Schwab in the risk management organization. Prior roles in financial services include fixed income portfolio manager positions at Wells Capital Management and Charles Schwab Investment Management.
Personal Statement: “Redwood Day represents so much more than a strong academic education. Global citizenship and collaboration is evident in the school’s curriculum and facilities. Unique interdisciplinary programming promotes collaboration through the science and innovation labs, arts, and music. Redwood Day is truly an exceptional place to be a student and I’m proud to support its continued growth.”
Jordan Karp | Secretary, Buildings & Grounds Committee Chair
Redwood Day Parent B.A., Economics and Philosophy, Columbia University; Masters, City Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Other Redwood Day involvement: Former PGA President; Fun-Run co-chair; PGA Nominations Committee; Room Parent
Jordan has over 20 years experience in urban design and transportation planning, working for government agencies and in private consulting. He has successfully managed complex planning and design projects for clients throughout North America. Jordan currently manages a group of planners and engineers at AECOM in Northern California, providing planning services to transportation agencies in the Bay Area and throughout California.
Jordan and his family live in Oakland, and both his sons attend Redwood Day. He loves the outdoors, and tries to sneak in as much time in the forest and mountains as he can. He has volunteered with a variety of youth outdoor-education and leadership-skills programs, and is active in bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organizations.
Personal Statement: “Our family joined Redwood Day in 2013, and from the start we’ve valued the school’s approach to providing a comprehensive education that nurtures all aspects of a child’s growth. I'm excited to support Redwood Day and the fantastic community of faculty, staff and families that make this such a special place.”
Christine Chen is a Partner and head of Communication Strategy at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, a full-service advertising agency. Her role focuses on brand positioning, audience development, media investments, creative development, and new business.
Over her 15+ years in advertising, Christine has led strategic thinking on a range of clients, including Adobe, Doritos, GoPro, Häagen-Dazs, Levi’s, Nest, Nickelodeon, and Twitter. She has also consulted on pro bono efforts, including an Oakland-based literacy organization, Super Stars Literacy, and a foundation using technology to fight child exploitation, Thorn.
She lives in Oakland with her husband, Rob, and two sons, Oliver and Jack, but is considering getting a female cat to balance things out. She is an avid cook and baker, fan of live sports and standup comedy, and amateur interior designer.
Personal Statement: "When we first visited in 2009, Redwood Day fit our idealized view of a school so easily. And the school has exceeded our expectations by celebrating kids for who they are, stimulating their desire to learn, and encouraging them to speak up for themselves and others. Now with two kids at Redwood Day, we have witnessed how the school has evolved while staying true to its roots. I’m excited to help Redwood Day tackle new ambitions and grow while continuing to evidence the school’s values."
Brandi Catanese | Trustees Committee Chair
Redwood Day Parent (Olivia '22 and Lily '26) BA, UC Berkeley; PhD, Stanford University
Brandi is currently an Associate Professor of African American Studies and Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, UC Berkeley, where she has taught since 2003. Her courses focus on African American cultural history, performance theory, and dramatic criticism. Her research focuses on the power of representation to both reflect and actively shape widely held understandings of racial identity. In addition to her teaching and research, Brandi has extensive higher ed administrative experience spanning from curricular redesign, public programming, and admissions policy to equity and campus climate work and doctoral program administration. Her hobbies include cooking, being in nature, and traveling.
Other Redwood Day Involvement: Classroom volunteering, PGA Faculty Appreciation Committee (since 2018)
Personal statement: "Redwood Day has been a fantastic fit for our family! I am honored to serve on the Board and to help ensure that the learning environment at Redwood Day continues to prepare students for their next challenges in these rapidly changing times."
Cathy Hunter | Trustee
BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design; MEd from Loyola College with an emphasis on women in leadership
Cathy Hunter has spent over forty years in independent school education, serving as teacher, dean, division head, head of school, trustee, and consultant. Born in London and raised in upstate New York, her career began on the east coast; after several years of teaching (Phillips Academy Andover and Maumee Valley Country Day School) she served as department chair and dean at St. Timothy’s School in Baltimore, Maryland for eleven years and Upper School Head at Head-Royce School in Oakland, California for twelve years.
Cathy was founding Head of School (2002-2016) at the San Francisco Friends School where she and her team built an exceptional program based on Quaker values, raised over twenty million dollars to transform the hundred year-old Levi-Strauss factory into an award-winning school facility, and pioneered numerous partnerships with organizations in San Francisco’s Mission district. Cathy spent the 2016-17 school year in London as a consultant at King Solomon Academy, and the following year as Interim Head of School at Marin Horizon School.
Personal Statement: "As a long-time resident of Oakland and an even-longer-time independent school educator, it is a delight to join the leadership team of Redwood Day School. The school is at once filled with a vision for the future and a grounded celebration of the "now-ness" of childhood. Redwood Day occupies an important place in the Bay Area educational landscape; I'm honored to help the school ask questions that drive its continued healthy growth and development."
Benjamin Jones | Trustee
Redwood Day Parent (Jack '28 and Parker '28) B.A. Stanford University, J.D. Northwestern University School of Law
Ben is a Senior Counsel at Google, where he leads a team of lawyers supporting the advertising business and works on legal and regulatory compliance matters around the world. Before joining Google, he was in private practice in San Francisco. Ben and his wife Betsy live in Oakland, and their sons -- Jack and Parker -- both attend Redwood Day. Ben volunteers as a baseball coach in NOLL/SOLL and enjoys playing golf, following NBA basketball, and playing soccer, baseball, and basketball with the boys.
Personal statement: "Redwood Day means a lot to our family. The boys have found an amazingly diverse, kind, and creative group of classmates; the teachers and staff work tirelessly to create an environment where the kids feel supported and learning is an adventure, and we've made great friends among the parents. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to volunteer on the Board to help support the school and our community."
John Kinnaman | Trustee
Redwood Day Parent B.A., International Studies, University of Wyoming Masters of International Business, University of South Carolina
John is a financial consultant for the non-profit Kaiser Permanente in the Information Technology organization. For the past four years, he has worked in Kaiser Permanente Information Technology (KPIT) and with KPIT facilities and operation. During his career at Kaiser and prior positions, he has worked on many large projects such as HealthConnect, the Kaiser electronic medical records project, and other smaller projects, as well.He has worked in several business sectors from retail to healthcare in large and small organizations. He has worked in Finance and Accounting for over twenty years in both for-profit and non-profit organizations.
He lives in Oakland with his wife and two wonderful girls who attend Redwood Day. They have been part of the Redwood Day community since their daughters started attending. His wife has been a room parent and is a member of the PGA.
In his spare time, he likes to be outdoors, running or playing sports. He enjoys running half marathons every now and then (both street and trail) and spending time with his family and friends.
Personal Statement: "Since joining Redwood Day in 2014, my wife and I have been very happy to be part of Redwood Day community. The community feeling at Redwood Day was an important factor in the decision to bring our daughters and family to the school. Redwood Day has been incredible experience for both of our daughters. They have flourished in the remarkably safe and supportive environment. We (the parents) appreciate the academic rigor, extracurricular activities, and the ‘whole child’ approach to learning at the school. Redwood Day has amazing teachers and staff, supplemented by a welcoming and active parent community; it is what makes the school what it is and why it is so special to us. I am very excited to have any opportunity to assist and contribute to the school and its community."
Leah McGowen-Hare | Trustee
Redwood Day Parent B.S. in Computer Science and a M.S. in Technology Education
Leah inspires people to build and create on the Salesforce Lightning Platform. She has 20+ years of experience in technology; mastering a variety of roles including Consultant, Developer, Manager and Technical Trainer. Her career reflects the evolution of computing technology. She's worked in mainframe, personal computing, client-server and cloud computing. Leah uses her knowledge and experience to demystify and make technology more accessible to youth, girls, communities of color and Veterans’ through organizations such as BlackGirls Code, Technovation, Girls Who Code, and Vetforce and was recently awarded Powerful Woman of the Bay 2016 Honoree for her efforts.
Leah is also a feathered keynote speaker at conference and panelist on panels discussing women and diversity in tech. She and her husband, Shane are the parents of twins, Simone and Quincy in the 4th grade and Desmond, an alum who is graduating from High School this year and headed off to college.
Charmin Roundtree-Baaqee | Trustee
Redwood Day Parent (Mingus '23 and Phoenix '23) B.S. (Civil Engineering) from Clark Atlanta University, a B.S. (Environmental Engineering) from Georgia Institute of Technology and an M.S. (Civil/Environmental Engineering) from the University of California, Berkeley.
Charmin is the owner and founder of Art Is Luv, which provides exposure for artists through marketing, social media, and branding. She is an art consultant and engineer and has 20 years of experience as a Civil Engineer and over 10 years of experience as a curator for the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) Gallery, where she is now Art Committee Chair. She was appointed by the Mayor’s office to the City of Oakland Public Art Advisory Committee, where she now serves as co-chair. Most recently, she was appointed by Mayor Libby Schaaf as one of 11 Cultural Affairs Commissioners. Her passion and appreciation for art and community-based initiatives have been long-standing and have developed since childhood.
Her clients and collaborators also include large nonprofits such as The San Francisco Foundation, Libra Foundation, AIDS Health Organization, East Bay Community Foundation, and a host of others.
Personal Statement: "Since joining the Redwood Day Community as a parent, I have had the privilege of watching my children and their classmates burgeon into even more compassionate and forward-thinking young scholars. Redwood Day is, without a doubt, an incubator for greatness. I can't wait to witness how my children will pour all of this magic into the world."
Mark Sopp | Trustee
Parent of two Redwood Day children. BS in Design, Arizona State University School of Design
Mark is Principal, Design Director, and member of the Board of Directors at SB Architects in San Francisco, CA and Miami, FL. specializing in Hospitality, Residential and Mixed-use projects. He is a licensed Architect in 9 states and have contributed design and planning of projects in 38 countries. His family loves the outdoors; hiking, biking, and sports. They are avidskiers.
Personal statement: I am honored to be part of the Board of Trustees and the opportunity to spend more time immersed in the Redwood Day community to understand how we can collectively continue the great work of providing a robust educational environment for our children.
Elyse Whitehead | Trustee
Redwood Day Parent BA in Psychology and American Studies, with highest honors from UNC-Chapel Hill and JD, magma cum laude from UC Hastings
Elyse is the parent of Eleanor (2nd) and Henry (K). Born and raised in Atlanta, GA, Elyse obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She then made the trek across the country to attend law school at UC Hastings in San Francisco. Following law school, Elyse spent a number of years in private practice at a boutique law firm. There, she made partner and focused her practice primarily on employment advice and litigation, as well as general litigation. Elyse recently made the move "in house" at a fintech company called Plaid, where she serves as its Employment & Litigation counsel.
Outside of work, Elyse enjoys listening to true crime podcasts, baking with her kids, and participating in the Leading Women in Tech leadership group.
Personal Statement: We joined Redwood Day because of the strong sense of community - a community that celebrates individual children and works to make them not only engaged learners but good people and citizens. I am thrilled to serve on the Board of Trustees and I look forward to contributing to Redwood Day's amazing community.
Chris Wolfe | Trustee
Redwood Day Parent B.A., Economics, Brown University; M.B.A., The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
Chris currently leads Business Operations and Strategy for LinkedIn's Talent Products, helping Job Seekers connect to opportunity and companies hire and develop the best candidates. Prior to LinkedIn, Chris led strategy for Asurion, LLC, developing growth plans across new products and geographies, and also spent 6 years in strategy consulting across various industries for Bain and Company's San Francisco and Sydney, Australia offices. In his spare time, he enjoys Volunteer Assistant Coaching for the Montclair Soccer Club and instructing his children and their friends on the tennis court.
Personal Statement: "From our very first interactions with RDS through to today, we have been consistently amazed by the thoughtfulness involved in every facet of the school's program. We are extremely grateful that our children have developed a love for learning amidst a community they enjoy so much. I am honored to be able to support and contribute to this world-class institution."
John Loeser | Head of School, Ex-Officio
Redwood Day Parent B.A., Education and Psychology from Swarthmore College and a M.Ed. in School Leadership from Harvard University.
John Loeser has been Head of Redwood Day School since 2011. Prior to Redwood Day, John was the Assistant Head of School at The Carey School in San Mateo, CA for seven years. He began his teaching career as a 5th grade teacher at Chenery Middle School in Belmont, Massachusetts and spent eight consecutive summers as an advanced mathematics instructor and Academic Dean at the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, teaching students in grades 5-8 and leading a diverse faculty in the development of a rigorous academic program. John has written extensively for teachers in training and enjoys every opportunity to help new and veteran teachers hone their craft. He has led many initiatives in schools including those focused on differentiated instruction, curriculum development, faculty professional growth, diversity, social-emotional development, service learning and long-term sustainability. John holds a B.A. in Education and Psychology from Swarthmore College and a M.Ed. in School Leadership from Harvard University.
Deann is a career finance professional with more than 20 years of financial management experience developed in both public accounting and private sector environments. She joined Redwood Day as the school’s CFOO in July of 2018. Prior to working at Redwood Day, Deann spent approximately five years as the Finance Director of the American Community School of Abu Dhabi. She holds a BS in accounting from Colorado State University and is a licensed CPA.
Deann thoroughly enjoys working at Redwood Day and loves the energy and enthusiasm of the students. In her free time, she enjoys reading, travel, exercise and spending time with family and friends.
Professional Experience: Internal medicine physician, Highland Hospital, graduate and undergraduate medical education, public health
Personal Statement: "The Redwood Day community has been such a welcoming one for our family. Watching our children thrive academically and emotionally, and forming their intellectual and world views in this supportive environment has been a joy. Being a part of the PGA is an important way for me to offer something in return for all that we’ve received from the amazing Redwood Day community."
Kayla has taught History and been an advisor at Redwood Day since ???. In her spare time, she enjoys weaving and painting. Her other Redwood Day Involvement includes being a member of WARE (White Advocates for Racial Equity), SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity), and the Equity & Inclusion Task Force Hobbies – weaving, painting
Personal Statement: "As an educator, I know that moments of discomfort often lead to the greatest growth and learning for my students. I love Redwood Day because our school embraces this belief more globally."
Rhonda Smith | Faculty Trustee
Parent of Theo (5th grade) Bay Area educated - Kindergarten through UC Berkeley; BS in Psychology and Social Welfare; Multiple Subject Teaching Credential
3rd Grade Teacher at Redwood Day for 11 years; Previously taught for Oakland Unified and Goleta Unified School Districts for 10 years.
Personal Statement: "Being a part of the Redwood Day faculty has been a huge part of me over the last 11 years. My role has been to nurture the next generation to grow into thinkers and decision-makers who will build a better world. And now, I look forward to extending my role and collaborating with a whole new branch of the Redwood Day community."