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Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees oversees the affairs of Free Union Country School to ensure adherence to the school's philosophy and mission. The Board develops and establishes policy, assesses the performance of the school, bears responsibility for the school's financial condition and physical plant, and plans for the school's long-term financial health. The Board selects and works cooperatively with the Head of School, delegating administration of the school to the Head who is subject to Board evaluation. Each Trustee acts as an advocate for the School and a supporter of the Head of School.

The Board meets monthly at the school on the first Monday of each month at 7 PM.

Free Union Country School Board of Trustees

Allison MacDonald, Co-Chair
Sarah Raffinan, Co-Chair
Vernon Watts, Secretary  
Isabelle Baldwin  
Dave Baum  
Ken Horne  
Michele Jarman  
Kristen Pearlstein  
Marc Peritz  
Tom Romer  
Laurie Shannon  
Mark Sherriff  
Lyraya Showstack  
Heather Swindler  

Ex Officio Members

Eric Anderson, Head of School ()
Jeanna Raleigh, Business Manager
Faculty Representative is a rotating position


Board Biographies

Isabelle Baldwin

2019

Isabelle is a self-employed artist and learned about Free Union from friends she has on the faculty. With a background in education and art and a knowledge and understanding of building and grounds planning, Isabelle looks forward to adding both her professional and her parent perspective to the board. She relaxes horseback riding and spending time with her family.

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Dave Baum

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Ken Horne

2019

Ken works as a psychotherapist at the University of Virginia and is a parent to two enrolled students. His interests of value to the school include strategic planning, fundraising, and community building. In his spare time, Ken devotes time to reading, community organizing, and getting outdoors with family.

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Michele Jarman

2015

Michele works as an academic recruiter at the University of Virginia. Both of her children are Free Union alumni who attended from preschool through the fifth grade. She recalls: "When we moved here, my first child was one year old and it snowed so much we couldn't get out to meet people for some time. I called the school to see if they had any playgroups, and Jolee said no, but here are some phone numbers, and please feel free to meet on the playground. From that one contact, the school gained six students. When they reached preschool age, four of them attended through fifth grade. Michele brings to the board organizational memory, history, and endless enthusiasm and support. She relaxes reading, walking, knitting, gardening, and having time with her family (human and four children).

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Lindsay Johnson

2020

Lindsay is an MBA student at UVA's Darden School of Business. She was drawn to the Free Union board both because she shares the school's educational philosophy and has had K-12 board experience. Among the skills Lindsay brings are development/fundraising, alumni engagement, and strategic planning. She relaxes swimming, interior designing, watching Netflix documentaries, and nurturing her plant collection.

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Allison MacDonald

Since 2019

Allison lists her vocation as the care and nurture of her four children, which we all know is tantamount to two full-time careers outside the home. In 2009, she came to Free Union with her four daughters and has enthusiastically contributed to the school in many ways—most notably as chair for a number of years of the all-school Spring Fair and now as board co-chair. Allison brings deep organizational and managerial skills and a committed enthusiasm and historical knowledge of place and people to her new role on the board. Recently she completed her RN degree and keeps body and soul together by running, hiking, and cooking. “Go, Hoos!”

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Kristen Pearlstein

2015

While Kristen works as a Biological Anthropologist, she recounts that Free Union has always been in her life. Her parents were two of the FUCS founders and she attended from preschool through fifth grade. "My experience meant the world to me and I want to be part of making sure the school continues for new generations." Kristen looks forward to taking part in the next Strategic Plan and helping to shape the future of the school, while simultaneously ensuring the preservation of the important parts of its history. What do you like to do in your spare time? In her spare time, Kristen and her wife enjoy travel and hosting dinner and game nights for their friends.

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Marc Peritz

2018

Marc is an attorney. His son attended preschool at Free Union many years ago. Nica, a former board chair, asked Marc to consider bringing to the school his legal acumen and the perspective of someone committed to the values and goals of the school. Marc enjoys reading, UVA sports, and time with his family.

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Sarah Raffinan

Since 2019

Sarah showed up as a teacher at Free Union fifteen years ago and never left! She is passionate about progressive education and would do anything to see it thrive. Sarah is an excellent writer and communicator, and a creative problem solver. In her down time, she enjoys reading books, handicrafts, and life with her kids.

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Tom Romer

2018

Tom is a lawyer and a property investor. As a lifelong resident of Charlottesville, over the years he has known families in the Free Union community and has enjoyed their enthusiasm for the school and its mission. Tom brings to the board professional experience and training in finance and law. His outside interests include reading, traveling, and spending time with his family.

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Laurie Shannon

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Mark Sherriff

2018

Mark is a Professor of Computer Science at UVA. He learned about the school from ElizaBeth McCay who taught with his wife. He and Amanda are parents of a Free Union student. Mark brings a wealth of organization and expertise in technology to our school. He confesses, "I love technology in all forms, from building computers to video games."

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Lyraya Showstack

2018

Lyraya serves as the Stewardship & Events Manager at The Nature Conservancy in Charlottesville. She has a passion for progressive education and the local community and quickly assumed responsibility to provide guidance and coordination for giving to Free Union Country School. Lyraya is learning to play the mandolin and also enjoy hiking, paddling the river, and playing with her dog.

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Heather Swindler

2016

Heather is a preschool teacher at Chancellor Street Cooperative Preschool, where a number of former Free Union students began their education. Having heard about Free Union from friends, Heather decided to send her son to Free Union Country School for half of the 4th and all of the 5th grade. She is a huge advocate for progressive education at Free Union. Heather relaxes weaving, listening to snowfall, and looking at the stars.

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Vernon Watts

Since 2019

Vernon is an Army Analyst MGIC, and more importantly a parent to Jason, a soon-to-graduate fifth grader. His interests of value to the board of trustees include (but certainly are not limited to) administration, facilities, and management. An avid skier, Vernon finds joy and quality time with Jason as he drives him to after-school and weekend activities.

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