Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees is a group of dedicated and informed community leaders who are passionate about the value of education and are committed to building and strengthening Pacific Ridge School. Members of the Board have demonstrated personal success in a multitude of endeavors.
- Andy Laats - Chair
- Jared Bluestein
- Tracey DeLange
- Rio Dickens-Celestin
- Rashida Dzeketey
- Mark Elmore
- Derek Footer
- Lynn S. Frank
- Kristin French
- Stefan Karnavas
- Steve Pacelli
- Laing F. Rikkers
- Brent Rivard
- Stephanie Sapp
- Raghu Saripalli
- Michele Saunders
- Richard Shen
- Brit Stickney
- Jeffrey Thacker
- Paul Twardowski
- Esther van den Boom
Andy Laats is co-founder and board member of Nixon, Inc. Nixon custom designs, markets, and distributes fashion accessories, primarily watches, in over 70 countries through specialty sporting goods and fashion retailers. Prior to starting Nixon, Mr. Laats worked as the Snowboard Product Manager at Burton snowboards where he introduced new product development protocols and technologies. He has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University and an M.B.A. from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford, where he is currently a Lecturer in Management. Mr. Laats lives in Encinitas and his three children include two current Pacific Ridge students and one graduate.
Jared Bluestein spent over twenty years running Berggruen Holdings, a multi-national private investment business. In 2018 he changed his life by picking up and traveling the world with his family for a year. After settling in Southern California, Jared earned a master’s in psychology from Columbia University. He remains a Managing Director and advisor to Berggruen Holdings, is a member of both GenNext and the Young Presidents Organization, and sits on the Leadership Circle at the David Lynch Foundation. He received his undergraduate degree from Pennsylvania State University. Jared and Mayte Bluestein have two daughters, both of whom attend Pacific Ridge.
Tracey DeLange is a versatile attorney with broad in-house and large law firm experience representing public companies, private companies and individuals. Her background includes corporate compliance, transactional, regulatory, securities, environmental, and complex litigation experience.
Ms. DeLange spent two years as Assistant General Counsel at Jenny Craig after serving as Corporate Counsel for Santarus, Inc. She gained her previous experience in complex litigation as Senior Associate at Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker. She is a graduate of the University of California, Riverside and University of San Diego School of Law. She and her husband, Tim, have two Firebirds.
Dr. Rio Dickens-Celestin is an internal medicine physician at Scripps Health. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Psychology, then attended the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Following medical school, Dr. Dickens-Celestin completed her internship and residency at Emory University in Atlanta. She joined the faculty at Emory after training and served as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine for thirteen years. She is a member of the American Medical Association and American College of Physicians.
Rashida Dzeketey is a native of Ghana, West Africa, and completed her undergraduate studies at the United States International University (USIU) campus in Nairobi, Kenya. She moved to the USIU San Diego campus to pursue her M.B.A and has lived here ever since. She spent about 15 years working in various analytic roles in the homebuilding and health care industries and currently manages data analytics for supply chain at Neurocrine Biosciences. Rashida and her husband Kuassi have two children, a son in college and a daughter at Pacific Ridge.
Mark Elmore is Chairman of the Board at Nathan Hale Capital LLC, a broker-dealer firm focused on fixed income securities. Semi-retired after 23 years as a securities broker, he is an active investor in real estate and local businesses. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Business Economics from Southern Illinois University. He and his wife Cristina have two children, one of whom attends Pacific Ridge.
Derek Footer is a Founder of ExtraVallis, an investment and management platform connecting investors to startups. In conjunction with his role there, he serves as Managing Partner of HardTech Labs, a venture capital fund management company. He also serves on the Board and is General Counsel for Hands United for Children, a non-profit funding the building of schools in Africa, Latin America and San Diego County. He holds two patents related to interactive television software infrastructure and has a J.D. from Boston University School of Law and a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley.
Lynn S. Frank is a co-founder of the mediation firm Frank & Feder. Previously, she was a principal mediator with the law firm Gregorio, Haldeman, Piazza, Rotman, Frank & Feder for over 23 years.
Ms. Frank has specialized exclusively in the mediation of complex disputes since 1987. A fellow in the American College of Civil Trial Mediators, she conducts seminars and trainings in mediation for law firms, corporations, and public agencies throughout the country and has designed dispute resolution training programs for non-profit organizations. She also worked with autistic children and families in crisis.
Ms. Frank is a graduate of Santa Clara University School of Law, holds a Masters Degree in Psychology from the University of San Francisco and a B.A. from UC Santa Barbara. She has three children; one currently attends Pacific Ridge School, and one is a graduate.
Kristin French is a civic leader in the San Diego and Rancho Santa Fe communities bringing expertise and focus from her professional experience in the areas of finance and accounting, Human Resources, contract negotiation, sales/marketing, fundraising, and strategic planning.
Ms. French’s passion for education and service started early as an undergraduate student at the University of San Diego. After graduating, she served for over 15 years on the school’s Alumni Board. In 2010, Ms. French served on the steering committee to develop the vision for Epiphany Prep Charter School, which was established to serve the inner-city children of San Diego. She continues to serve on the Epiphany Prep Charter School board. Ms. French also served on The Nativity School Advisory Board where her children attended school and focused on curriculum and fundraising for the school.
Prior to her civic involvement and having her two children, Ms. French spent over a decade at Pepsi Bottling Group working in sales and marketing. She earned a B.A. in Business Administration and MBA from the University of San Diego. She and her husband have two children, both of whom attend Pacific Ridge.
Stefan Karnavas is the President of EAG Laboratories, where he helped transform the business into a commercially oriented enterprise, culminating in the successful sale of the company to Eurofins Scientific in December 2017. Before joining EAG, Mr. Karnavas served as CFO of SKLZ, a consumer branded, sports training equipment manufacturer where he was responsible for Finance, Accounting, IT and Corporate Development. Previously, he spent 10 years at Leap Wireless International / Cricket Wireless, where he initially served as the CFO of Cricket during the start-up phase, then transitioned to senior financial management roles at Leap, the parent company. Prior to Leap & Cricket, he served as CFO of Cobblestone Golf Group, Treasurer and Director of Corporate Development for Horizon Cellular Group and as an Investment Officer for Fidelity Bank.
Mr. Karnavas graduated from the University of Denver with a B.S.B.A. in Finance, and from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management with an MBA. He and his wife have one daughter, who attends Pacific Ridge.
Steve Pacelli is Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Dexcom Ventures, a venture capital fund focused on advancements in diabetes care. Prior to serving in several other roles at Dexcom, Steve served as a corporate attorney specializing in finance, mergers and acquisitions, and as general counsel of several privately held companies. Steve currently serves on the Board of Biocom California, Connect, and EvoNexus. He is an ardent supporter of Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego. Steve earned a B.A. from UCLA, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia.
Ms. Rikkers is a Managing Director at HealthpointCapital, where she is a member of the Investment Committee and an advisor to portfolio companies. Her principal roles are leading investments, serving on boards, identifying investment opportunities, defining strategies and developing organizations. Her prior experience includes 10 years spent in management positions at Amerada Hess Corporation, the Walt Disney Company and New York-Presbyterian Hospital focused on Organizational Development and Human Resources.
Ms. Rikkers is Chairman of ProSomnus Sleep Technologies, a member of the Board of Directors at HealthpointCapital LLC, and was formerly a Director of BioHorizons, Inc. and MicroDental Laboratories, Inc. She is a Cabinet member of the Salk Excellerators and the former Chair of the Salk Institute Council and at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
Ms. Rikkers received a B.A. from Harvard College and an M.A. in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University. One of her children attends Pacific Ridge and the other is a graduate.
Brent Rivard is a Partner and Managing Director of Pathfinder Partners, LLC, a real estate investment firm. He is also a principal in several business-to-business service firms targeting mid-market companies including RelationEdge, Main Path Marketing and Signature Analytics. He was previously the President of a local wealth management firm, the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer of a commercial real estate brokerage firm, the Vice President, Finance and Operations at The MHA Group and Vice President, Accounting and Finance/Treasurer at NYSE-traded AMN Healthcare..
Mr. Rivard started his career at Deloitte & Touche after graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles with a B.A. in Business Economics. His philanthropic work includes serving on the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County, including as Board Chair in 2012-2013.
Mr. Rivard resides in Encinitas with his wife, Laura, and their three children, all of whom attend Pacific Ridge.
Stephanie is currently a graduate student at Columbia University pursuing a master’s in organizational psychology. Previously, she served as Director of Customer Success at Silicon Valley startup Glynt.ai, and worked at a Stanford-affiliated nonprofit, StartX, helping entrepreneurs effectively launch innovative companies. Prior to entrepreneurial work, Stephanie earned her M.A. in sociology and B.A. in human biology from Stanford University. As a previous Firebird herself (Class of 2012), Stephanie is excited to join the board as an alumna, and grateful for the opportunity to serve.
Raghu Saripalli is the CFO of Endeavor Biomedicines, a biotech startup in San Diego. Prior to that he was co-founder and CFO of Impact Biomedicines, which was acquired by Celgene Corporation.
Since moving to San Diego in 2003, Mr. Saripalli has been working with early-stage and small companies mostly focused on biotech. Prior to that, he was an investment banker in New York. Over a period of ten years he worked at Barclays Capital, Deutsche Bank and Wasserstein Perella in mergers and acquisitions with a focus on gaming and defense.
Mr. Saripalli has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the National Institute of Technology (India), dual Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science and an MBA (with distinction) from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He resides in Rancho Santa Fe with his wife and two sons – one a Pacific Ridge graduate and the other a current student.
Michele Saunders recently ended a four-year tenure on the Pacific Ridge School Parent Association Board of Directors, including a year serving as Executive Director.
Ms. Saunders served in numerous financial positions, most recently as Controller for The Governance Institute, a service of NRC Health, supporting not-for-profit hospital and health care leaders. Over the years, she also served as Accounting Director for Pyxis Corporation and in Price Waterhouse LLP’s Audit Group.
As a first-generation college graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Ms. Saunders believes deeply in the value of education and the importance of its accessibility. She and her husband have two children; one is a current student at Pacific Ridge, the other is a graduate.
Richard Shen, Ph.D., is the founder and managing director of RS Technology Ventures, a strategic advisory and investment company focused on the fields of nucleic acid analysis, oncology diagnostics and genomics. He is an active member of Tech Coast Angels in San Diego, on the Externa Advisory Board of Georgia Tech and is advising several early phase startups. Earlier in his career, Dr. Shen held several senior positions in a 15-year career at Illumina. Dr. Shen earned a B.S. from UCLA and a Ph.D. from LSU Medical Center. He did postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Michigan Medical Center to study gene therapy and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories to study variation in DNA repair genes.
Mr. Stickney is a portfolio manager and a managing director with Allianz Global Investors, which he joined in 1999. He has portfolio-management and research responsibilities for the Income and Growth Strategies team. Mr. Stickney has 29 years of investment industry experience. He was previously a vice president of institutional fixed-income sales with ABN AMRO, Inc., where his primary focus was on high-yield corporate securities; before that, he worked for Cowen & Company and Wayne Hummer & Company.
Mr. Stickney has a B.S. in finance from Miami University, Ohio, and an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. Both of his children attend Pacific Ridge School.
Jeff Thacker is a corporate and securities law partner at Gunderson Dettmer, an international law firm headquartered in Silicon Valley. Throughout his 25+ year practice, he has represented both public and private companies and venture capital firms. He has advised life science and technology companies, including CareFusion, Life Technologies and Anterix, in a variety of transactions, including IPOs and other public offerings, venture financings, mergers and acquisitions and strategic collaborations. He also has expertise in SEC reporting, and is listed in The Best Lawyers in America for Corporate Governance Law. Mr. Thacker earned his J.D. degree from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from Brigham Young University.
Mr. Thacker and his wife have three children; the eldest attends Pacific Ridge.
Paul Twardowski is a Senior Managing Director and Partner at Hines, a global real estate investment firm. He oversees Hines’ investments, developments and management across Southern California and Las Vegas. Before his tenure with Hines, Mr. Twardowski was an asset manager at the Yarmouth Group in New York City and a development manager with Lend Lease Development in Sydney, Australia. He received a B.A. from Princeton University. He and his wife have two daughters, both of whom attend Pacific Ridge.
Esther van den Boom is the founder and Managing Partner of van den Boom & Associates, LLC, an accounting and finance firm that supports life science companies, with offices in San Diego, Boston, Jacksonville, and Minneapolis. Ms. van den Boom also serves as the Chief Financial Officer of Tyra Biosciences a public life science company focused on developing precision oncology medicines. Prior to her current positions, Ms. van den Boom served as Chief Financial Officer or Head of Finance of several public and private biotechnology companies including several from inception through initial public offering.
In addition to the PRS board, Ms. van den Boom serves on the board of Eleusis Ltd., a company developing psychedelics as a treatment option for a variety of diseases.
Ms. van den Boom began her career with Ernst & Young LLP and has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California San Diego and a Masters of Science in Accountancy from San Diego State University and is a licensed CPA. Ms. van den Boom and her husband Dirk have four children, the oldest of whom attends Pacific Ridge.