Innovation & Vision

GcLi Scholars


The mission of the gcLi Scholars program is to bring back standout graduates, who have innovated trailblazing programs to serve as mentors for current attendees. The program was initiated in 2011, and to date there have been nine scholars. Invitations are made at the discretion of the Executive Director and Faculty Dean.

Porscha Henson

gcLi LL ‘22

Porscha Henson, MA, LCPC, NCC, RPT has a well-established career and volunteer background in serving children and supporting the community. She has a history of working for non-profits, schools, and community agencies. Mrs. Henson has taught and developed social-emotional classes, wellness classes, DEI classes and a leadership class: “Developing Leaders.” She has trained at schools and other community organizations on topics including self-esteem development, child abuse, neglect, and family issues. She has also trained at national conferences: CWLA and NAIS People of Color Conference. Mrs. Henson has an extensive background in working with students who have experienced neglect and other family-related issues. Because of this background, she is passionate about helping students find their voice. With a former colleague, Mrs. Henson created “Developing Leaders” a leadership class to help students develop their leadership skills. In addition to advocating for students, meeting with students, and visiting student clubs, teaching her leadership class has truly served as a weekly highlight for her. Mrs. Henson has previously served as an adult advisor to student clubs. She has provided support, empowerment, taught skills, and likes to leave students with generational wisdom. She has organized many thoughtful lunches to create meaningful conversations such as discussions on colorism. She is also a co-creator of the program “Elevating Voices”. “Elevating Voices” supports families of color find their voice and educates them on struggles students of color face in predominately white institutions. Some of the guest speakers have discussed code switching, domestic violence, etc. Mrs. Henson is also passionate about strengthening family dynamics. She has a history of taking on challenging family cases and helping the families learn to communicate more effectively. She and a colleague are planning to run a summer series to support mothers and daughters and a summer series to support girls of color. When Mrs. Henson is not supporting students and community members at large, she enjoys spending time with her husband and four-year-old daughter. She enjoys playing games with her daughter, reading to her daughter, and having her daughter read to her. Mrs. Henson also enjoys cooking, baking, trying different foods, traveling, and spending time with her extended family and friends.

Brandi Lawrence

gcLi LL ‘19

Brandi Alexandria Lawrence is an educator and an equity and social justice practitioner. She received a B.A. in Communication from Howard University and a Masters in Early Childhood and Childhood Education from Manhattanville College. Brandi has been a lower school teacher for the past fifteen years. She has taught a span of ages ranging from three to eleven. She is a first year EdD student in the Social and Comparative Analysis program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education. Her doctoral work will focus on Social and Comparative Analysis in Education. Currently she is a Teaching Assistant for the University of Pittsburgh’s online course on Anti-Black Racism. Brandi consults with a variety of independent schools to support their lower school’s implementation of an Anti-Bias curriculum and multicultural practices. In her spare time, she likes to read, write, cook, dance, go for long walks, and play tennis.

Craig Ough

gcLi LL ‘

Craig Ough is currently in his ninth year at Rumsey Hall, a K–9 day and boarding school in Washington, CT. Craig teaches a ninth grade community and leadership class that focuses on team-building and entrepreneurial skills. This pinnacle class centers around projects that promote community solutions to global issues. Craig also runs the Upper School community service program and outdoor education program, and is the chair of Rumsey Hall’s social curriculum department.Throughout these roles, Craig guides school-wide planning around character and leadership. Outside of school, Craig consults on the implementation of school-based, student-led peer mediation programs

Emily Tymus Ihrke

Director of PK-12 Ethical Leadership Program (& Middle School Learning Specialist), University School of Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI
Leadership Lab Participant: 2015; gcLi Scholar: 2021

A three-time graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Phi Beta Kappa), Emily Tymus Ihrke is a recipient of the Senator Herb Kohl Teaching Fellowship, the Wright Family Distinguished Teaching Award, the Best Buy TEACH Award, and the WEMA Media & Technology Award. She has been a speaker at the national and state levels for the past 25 years, a faculty consultant to the College Board, and the President of the Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English. A published writer, former dean and department chair, co-founder of University School of Milwaukee’s PK12 Ethical Leadership Program, and recent graduate of the joint program in School Management and Leadership between Harvard Business School and Harvard Graduate School of Education. Emily loves learning a little something new every day with her students, colleagues, and 10-year-old daughter. Emily is the incoming Editor of gcLi Leadership blog.

Jan Baldwin

Dean of Students at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, Princeton, NJ
Leadership Lab Participant: 2014 gcLi Scholar: 2021

Ms. Baldwin is the Chair of the Visual and Performing Art Department and the former Dean of Students in the Middle School at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart. She has studied Leadership at NAIS: Aspiring Heads, IFSEL,The World Leadership School and the Gardner Carney Leadership Institute in 2014. Ms. Baldwin was a co creator of The National Center for Girls Leadership at Stuart. This leadership program has grown to include teaching leadership at all grade levels, creating leadership internships and opportunities for all Upper school students and the creation of a leadership portfolio. Ms. Baldwin created a peer mentor program for Middle School students and continues as their co-coach with the School Counselor. She has been a presenter at NJAIS and NCGS for the past 2 years and the #Leadlikeagirl conferences for the past 3 years. Her presentations include teaching leadership through Advisory in Middle School, Grit and Grace: teaching Girls leadership classes in Middle school and Connecting Social Emotional Learning with restorative justice and Mediation. 

As an adjunct professor, Ms. Baldwin has taught courses in Architecture and A Survey of Art and Performing Arts course. She currently teaches classes in Leadership, Public Speaking,Theatre, Cinematography and Architecture at Stuart. She is a member of the Actors Equity Association. Ms. Baldwin holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Theatre from Skidmore College Cum Laude and a Masters of Arts in Education with Distinction from LaSalle University.

As a 2021 gcLi Scholar, Jan worked closely with Jeremy LaCasse and is the leader of the gcLi Extentson group. Jan provides mentorship to this group and the faculty at Stuart in order to expand and serve their own leadership goals.

Jonas Jeswald

Head of Middle School, Germantown Academy, Fort Washington, PA
Leadership Lab Participant: 2012  gcLi Scholar: 2019

Jonas is currently the Head of Middle School at Germantown Academy. In addition to his duties as the Division Head, he teaches a section of Middle School Spanish and a section of GA’s seventh-grade leadership course, Lead Lab. Prior to his work at Germantown Academy, he was a Middle School faculty member at Dedham Country Day School in Dedham, Massachusetts, where he taught Spanish and coached lacrosse and squash.

Katherine Berdy

Faculty, gcLi and podcast host,
Learning Action Coach for The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship,
and incoming Executive Director, Youth Leadership Forum in Birmingham, AL.

Katherine Berdy, M.Ed, is the former director of The C. Kyser Miree Ethical Leadership Center at The Altamont School in Birmingham, AL, where she created community partnerships and experiential educational opportunities for Altamont’s students. She currently teaches 9th grade English at The Altamont School, works as an Action Learning Coach for graduate fellows with The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (Alabama chapter), and hosts and produces the gcLi Podcast. In July of 2022, she will assume responsibilities of teaching leadership to high school students in the Birmingham metro area as the executive director of Birmingham's Youth Leadership Forum. Katherine’s career and pedagogical foundations began in the mid 1990’s while working as an outdoor educator in the Rockies and Pacific Northwest. Katherine has presented at SAIS (Southern Association of Independent Schools) and NNSP (National Network of Independent Schools) with gcLi. She holds a B.A. in Communication Studies from Vanderbilt University and an M.Ed. from the University of Montevallo. Her teaching portfolio includes classes in English, theater, creative writing, leadership studies, public speaking, and debate. In her spare time, Katherine enjoys traveling, reading, knitting, photography, and spending time with friends and her husband and two children.

Rishi Raghunathan

Faculty, gcLi
Head of Upper School, Wellington School
Leadership Lab Participant: 2015  gcLi Scholar: 2018

This July, Rishi is excited to start a new chapter in his life in Columbus, OH as the Wellington School's Head of Upper School. Rishi just ended a 17-year tenure at the University School of Milwaukee (USM). At USM, Rishi was an active teacher-leader, serving as an advisor to the Class of 2019, a co-advisor of the Upper School Gender Sexuality Alliance as well as the Asian-Heritage Affinity Group. He also serves as a trustee on the Independent School Association of Central States (ISACS) Board of Trustees and is the chair the ISACS Equity and Justice Committee.

Jay Parker

Director, The Institute for Leadership and Purpose, Calvert School, MD
Leadership Lab Participant: 2011  gcLi Scholar: 2017

Jay has owned and operated Mountain Element, a summer wilderness program that builds character through adventure for middle and high school students. He is a graduate of NOLS Alaska, Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and earned his masters in school counseling from Loyola University Maryland in 2015.

Gretchen Martin

Middle School Assistant Head, St. Paul's School (MD)
Leadership Lab Participant: 2011 gcLi Scholar: 2017

Gretchen served on the faculty at Gilman School for fifteen years, where she founded the Middle School Honor Committee and served as faculty advisor for the Student Council. At the 2019 NAIS Annual Conference Gretchen presented on building school climate. She received a master's in School Leadership from the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania where her research focused on student perceptions of leadership and gender. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia, and the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, where she received her master's in Curriculum and Instruction in 2007.

Meg Stowe

Director of Innovation, PK-12 Independent School, East Greenwich RI
Leadership Lab Participant: 2014  gcLi Scholar: 2016

In 2014, Meg Stowe founded Girls Leadership Collaborative, a leadership development organizations for girls and women, providing programs, camps, workshops, speaking engagements for parent groups, faculty, and higher education, and creator of professional development opportunities. In 2017, Meg was hired as Rocky Hill School's founding Director of Innovation, designing programs and experiences for students, faculty, and families, building a culture of innovation and entrepreneurial mindset. She is a graduate of Denison University BS, Lesley University M.Ed, and the Social Enterprise Greenhouse Impact Accelerator Program in 2015. Meg is also a strategic advisor to startup founders and social entrepreneurs in the tech and social innovation spaces.

Natalie Simms

Social Media Director, gcLi
3rd Grade Teacher, Brownell Talbot School, Omaha, NE
Leadership Lab Participant: 2012  gcLi Scholar: 2015

Mrs. Natalie Simms is a third-grade teacher with experience that spans both public and independent schools in New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas, California, Oregon, and Nebraska. Throughout her career, she has taught kindergarten and second through fifth grades. Natalie has her M.Ed and Master Reading Teacher certification from Southern Methodist University and a B.S. in Elementary Education and a B.A. in Math/Science from Rowan University. Currently, she is working toward an Ed.D. in Interdisciplinary Leadership from Creighton University. Natalie is passionate about helping elementary students realize their potential in leadership and as agents of change in their community. She is a Girls on the Run coach and teaches leadership enrichment classes to fifth and sixth graders.. She has presented at national conferences on the pedagogy of leadership and how it has been incorporated into projects within her classroom. One of these presentations was the Symposium in Pedagogy of Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University. In her spare time, Natalie enjoys traveling with her husband Tom, running, and reading.

Heidi Kasevich

Director of The gcLi Leadership Academy
Leadership Lab Participant: 2012  gcLi Scholar: 2015

Founder of Kase Leadership Method, Dr. Kasevich is a Leadership Educator and Coach. A national keynote speaker, she is passionate about helping adults and students alike to use self-awareness to optimize their ability to lead in today’s world. Her work as Educational Director at Quiet Revolution has been featured on NPR and in numerous publications, including Huffington Post, New York Magazine, and Harvard Magazine. Her proficiency is grounded in over 20 years of experience as history and leadership educator, leadership program designer, and history chair at several independent schools and universities in New York City, including Nightingale-Bamford, Dalton, Berkeley Carroll, NYU and Cooper Union. During this time, she authored various curricula, including the Guide to Giving, a highly-acclaimed K-12 philanthropy curriculum, and Closing the Gap, an influential girls’ leadership curriculum. Dr. Kasevich is co-author of The Introverted Actor: Practical Approaches (2020), and has a forthcoming publication in 2022, Heard: Understanding How Introverted Students Learn and Lead. A proud gcLi alumnus scholar, she received her BA from Haverford and PhD from New York University.


Head of Middle School, Nichols School
Leadership Lab Participant: 2008  gcLi Scholar: 2014

Paul is a proven and innovative school leader with experience leading in three different schools; he is dedicated to creating inclusive and engaging experiences for all students within a school; and, he has an extensive leadership and educational background.

Currently, Paul is teaching MYP Science at the American School of Warsaw, Poland. With a quest for adventure, Paul and his wife, Lolly, moved their family to Poland to gain experience at an international school. Paul will soon be taking on new challenges at the school as he moved into an Instructional Coach position for school. In his new role, Paul will work to build collegiality, lead several school initiatives with peer learning labs and data driven decision making, and work one-on-one and with teams of faculty to build a culture of coaching within the school. Paul is also coaching varsity girls soccer, and enjoying all of the trips and experiential learning that comes when teaching and traveling in Europe.

As the Head of Middle School at Nichols School in Buffalo, New York, Paul’s duties included everything from teaching wellness (recently redesigning our 7th/8th grade curriculum) and coaching soccer in the middle school, to planning professional days and leading the whole school community in an effort to examine its culture in a thoughtful and inclusive manner. Just prior to his departure, Paul helped the school adopt a faculty growth and development model centered on peer coaching and self reflection. He also helped to lead a curriculum review process centering the school on a set of Core Competencies with equity and justice woven within. And, he implemented a restorative justice program in the middle school, instilling these practices within their advisory and discipline work.


Faculty, gcLi
Executive Strategist for Research and Planning at The Hamlin School in San Francisco,
where she previously served as the Middle School Division Head.

Kelsey Twist Schroeder, Ed.D., is the Executive Strategist for Research and Planning at The Hamlin School in San Francisco, where she previously served as the Middle School Division Head. Before joining Hamlin, Kelsey was a teacher, coach, and dean at Roland Park Country School in Baltimore. Dr. Schroeder is a 2011 graduate of the gcLi Leadership Lab and a 2014 gcLi Scholar. Kelsey has lectured on the pedagogy of leadership at local and national conferences, including the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Annual Conference, the Association of Independent Maryland and D.C. Schools (AIMS) conferences, and the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools (NCGS) conferences. Her writing has been published in Independent School Magazine, the Baltimore Sun, and U.S. Lacrosse Magazine. Kelsey's research interests include the intersection of leadership and identity, student-centered practitioner inquiry, and youth participatory action research. She is especially interested in nurturing leadership skills in students who identify with groups that have historically been excluded from formal positions of leadership. Kelsey earned her B.A. in Art History and her M.A. in Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies from Stanford University, where she was also an Academic All-American and captain of the Women’s Lacrosse Team. She earned her Doctorate in Educational Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. Kelsey lives in San Francisco with her spouse and their four young children.

Kate Wade

Editor in Chief, gcLi Blog
English Department Chair & Coach, The Fenn School (MA)
Leadership Lab Participant: 2011  gcLi Scholar: 2013
gcLi-PennGSE Scholarship Recipient: 2014

While attending gcLi in June of 2011, Ms. Wade started to dream about providing opportunities for her students, particularly sophomores, to learn about their strengths and show them that being their best selves means positively influencing others. In partnership with her advising team at The Rivers School, she developed RISE (“Reflection and Introspection Through Service Education”), a tenth grade program that encourages and supports student growth and the development of leadership skills and qualities through service-learning. Currently the English Department Chair and Coach at The Fenn School, an all-boys middle school in Concord, MA, she actively collaborates with colleagues to bring the Pedagogy of Leadership to life on a daily basis. Through her recent work as Editor in Chief of the gcLi blog, she has thoroughly enjoyed connecting with all facets of the gcLi family and invites you to reach out if you have an idea you'd like to share with our community!

This work inspired Ms. Wade to return to school, as the inaugural awardee of the Gardner Carney scholarship in Pedagogy of Leadership at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. There, her practitioner research project considered how Rivers could measure the experience of students’ leadership growth in the RISE program.

Ms, Wade has a Masters in Education from PennGSE and a BA from Bowdoin College.

Her work with the RISE program is chronicled in an EDGE film.

Chris Howes

Dean of Student Life, Cushing Academy, Ashburnham, MA
Leadership Lab Participant: 2011  gcLi Scholar: 2012

Mr. Howes is Dean of Student Life at Cushing Academy where he began serving under gcLi graduate, Chris Torino, Head of School, in 2014. Cushing has many initiatives underway which seek to enhance the culture of student leadership that permeates the school. As Dean of Students at Severn School, in Severna Park, Maryland, Mr. Howe was tasked by the headmaster with building a leadership program that was intentionally and purposefully integrated throughout the entire upper school.  In other words, he was asked to build a culture of student leadership.

Caroline Blatti

Head of School, Roland Park Country School, Baltimore, MD
Leadership Lab Participant: 2010  gcLi Scholar: 2012

Mrs. Blatti is the Head of School at Roland Park Country School, an independent school in Baltimore for girls in grades K-12, with a co-ed preschool for children 6 weeks through 5 years. Now in her fourth year at the school, Mrs. Blatti has been instrumental in the establishment of the RPCS Leadership and Entrepreneurship Institute, a comprehensive program that focuses on pivotal areas of character, ethics and personal responsibility and equips students with the tools to innovate and ultimately impact the world for the better.

Previously, Mrs. Blatti served as the Head of Upper School at Hutchison School in Memphis, TN for two years. She was also the Founding Director of Hutchison Leads, a comprehensive, school-wide leadership development program that provides extensive leadership training for all students at the school. Prior to that, Mrs. Blatti taught English and coached cross-country. She earned an A.B. in English Literature from Princeton University and a Master of the Arts in English Literature from the University College London.

Robert Franz

Teacher of History and Coach, Berkeley Preparatory School, Tampa FL
Leadership Lab Participant: 2008  gcLi Scholar: 2011

Robert Franz is an Upper Division History Teacher at Berkeley Preparatory School in Tampa FL. His experience ranges from the classroom to administration. He has served as an Academic Dean, Department Chair, Global Studies Director, Middle School Division Director and Assistant Head of School. At each iteration of Robert’s career, the development of leadership programming has been at the core of his educational philosophy. Robert constantly searches for avenues to extend leadership development to others through presentations at annual conferences at NAIS, VAIS and FCIS. Robert attended gcLi in 2008 and helped initiate gcLi’s scholar program in 2011, then continued to work with gcLi as a faculty member as well as part of gcLi’s marketing committee.

Samantha Brennan

Assistant Head of School and Dean of Faculty at St. Mark’s School in Southborough, MA
Leadership Lab Participant: 2006  gcLi Scholar: 2010

Samantha Sawin Brennan is currently Assistant Head of School and Dean of Faculty at St. Mark’s School in Southborough, MA. Prior to joining St. Mark’s in 2016, Samantha served as the Upper School Dean of Students, Director of Leadership, and the School Counselor at the Rivers School. She graduated with a B.S. in Biology from Georgetown University and an Ed.M. in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University.Samantha was a participant in the 2nd gcLi Leadership Lab in 2006. Upon returning to Rivers, she became the architect of a leadership development project that involved faculty, students and board members and culminated one year later in a comprehensive leadership program that quickly became one of the hallmarks of the school and a program that has been regularly referenced as a national exemplar in pedagogy of leadership™.

Samantha served as a gcLi Scholar in 2010, an Extension group leader in multiple years, and a presenter at gcLi’s inaugural Symposium in pedagogy of leadership™ at Teachers College Columbia University in 2014. She has also presented about her leadership work as a keynote at the AIMS Learning to Lead workshop. Her expertise includes mentoring teachers around professional development and faculty cultural change.