MFS Board of Directors

Montessori Family School is a non-profit entity, tax-exempt under section  501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. In keeping with that status and with the best practices recognized by the National Association of Independent Schools and the California Association of Independent Schools, it is governed by a Board of Directors who volunteer their time to the school. Board members are the parents of current students, parents of alumni, and professionals in the community who are dedicated to Montessori education.


The Board of Directors has three principal duties: (1) it selects, evaluates, and supports the Head of School, to whom it delegates authority to manage the school; (2) it develops broad institutional policies that guide the Head in running the school; and (3) it is accountable for the financial well-being of the school.


The Board of Directors acts only as a whole; its individual members have no authority to act unless they have been authorized to do so by the Board as a whole. The day-to-day operations of the school are the responsibility of the Head of School; as such, the Board does not respond to questions about such matters nor can it respond to anonymous communications.

The 2019 - 2020 Board of Directors

Andrew Westphal


Andrew Westphal is a Research Physicist and Senior Fellow at the Space Sciences Laboratory at UC Berkeley. He leads a research group that studies the first extraterrestrial samples collected beyond the Moon and returned to Earth. He is the proud parent of two MFS graduates, Theresa ‘12 and Laura ‘15, who attended MFS from pre-K through middle school. He is also a Montessori kid (Casa Montessori and Walden School in Pasadena). While not a trained Montessorian, he has incorporated aspects of Montessori pedagogy in his teaching at the university level. As a result of all of these experiences, he is a Montessori zealot. Andrew served on the MFS board from 2009-2012, and on the board of the Berkeley High School Development Group for three years.  

Jennifer Carothers-Liske

Vice Chair

Jennifer Carothers-Liske is an alumnae parent of Chloe ‘12 and Lauren ‘14 who attended MFS from preschool through middle school. She received her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College and her Master of Physical Therapy from Samuel Merritt College. She is a clinical manager and pediatric physical therapist working with special needs children in the San Francisco Unified School District. Her work in the education system has shown her how valuable a Montessori education is when it comes to fostering the development of our children into self-motivated and independent thinkers.

Debora Basso

Treasurer, Finance Chair

Debora Basso is passionate about learner-centered educational models. She currently does Business Development at Holberton, a project-based software engineering school. Prior to that, she has led Learning & Technology programs at a K12 charter school, helped Khan Academy grow in Latin America, and supported mission-driven entrepreneurs as they launched products and raised seed funding. She holds an MBA from UC Berkeley-Haas School of Business, and a BA in International Relations. She joined the MFS board to learn more about Montessori education while supporting a school in the Bay Area, which has been her home for the last 4 years.

Kristine Solseng


Kristine Solseng loves to work at the intersection of community, data sciences, and creativity. After nearly two decades as an urban planner, she’s been involved in nearly every component of community building including financing, developing strategic plans, community outreach, project management, data analysis, and policy development. With a strong commitment to community engagement, Kristine educates the public about complex issues using mapping, infographics, and staff reports. When she’s not working, Kristine loves to explore the world with her 12-year-old daughter. She has been active at Montessori Family School for over 10 years, including a stint as the PA President. She enjoys anything outdoors, a good book, good food, spending time with family and friends … and, of course, chocolate.

Michael Aldaco

Michael Aldaco attended UC Santa Barbara, where he began his career in higher education in 1978 as a counselor for undergraduate students. After serving one year as a UC President’s management fellow he began work in the UC Office of the President in Oakland, where he held a number of positions, including Director of Undergraduate Affirmative Action, California’s Executive Director of the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) program, and finally Assistant Vice President for Student Development and Academic Services. He retired from the UC in 2008 after 31 years of service. Michael and his wife, Luci Castruita, have three children. Two of them, Natalia and Nico, are MFS alumni. Their granddaughter, Cristina, is a student in UE.  

Elizabeth Bell

After visiting dozens of public and private school classrooms, Elizabeth found MFS was the only school that offered the right combination of active, concrete, hands-on, and highly individualized curriculum that would meet her son’s learning needs. He is in his second year at MFS. Elizabeth began her career as a staff writer for several Bay Area newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle, where she covered education, criminal justice, and government. In 2004, she earned her bilingual teaching credential (in Spanish) and taught at-risk third- and fifth-grade students in Oakland and San Francisco’s public schools; then taught English, literacy, and ESL at a charter school for adults in San Francisco’s county jails. Elizabeth now works as a grant writer for a non-profit organization serving currently and formerly incarcerated individuals as they obtain education, workforce, and life skills to help them reintegrate into the community. Her experiences teaching in and observing many learning environments inspires her to support MFS, as it is a unique and valuable resource for her son and other children in the East Bay.

Anne Marie Richard

Anne Marie Richard is Associate CIO and Director of Student Affairs IT at UC Berkeley, where she provides executive leadership and management of academic, administrative, and student services systems, and directs student technology initiatives. She is also an active leader and participant in diversity and inclusion efforts on campus. Besides working, Anne Marie loves spending time outdoors, traveling with family and friends, and reading (lately alternating between dark detective novels and parenting or management books). She has been active with immigrant and refugee rights organizations for over 20 years.  Anne Marie is parent to one MFS middle school alumnus and one rising 9th grader, and stepmom to a college grad.

Gabriel Rogin

Gabriel Rogin has worked with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for over 25 years. He is currently the Executive Director of North Bay Regional Center, providing support for individuals and families in Napa, Solano, and Sonoma Counties. Prior to that, he served as the Chief Deputy Director for the State Council on Developmental Disabilities, leading the Council’s advocacy, capacity building, and systemic reform efforts throughout the state. He has served as a direct support professional, case manager, and in multiple other management positions. Gabriel holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from California State University, East Bay. He is the proud father of two children, including a son in Lower Elementary.

Nicole Williams Browning

Nicole Williams Browning is currently the Associate Superintendent of Instruction at Aspire Public Schools, Bay Area. In this position, she supervises a network of schools from Transitional Kindergarten through twelfth grade and is responsible for the instructional program, school safety, academic outcomes, and principal professional development. The support and direction she provides include targeted coaching/intervention support to individual principals, outside partners, and district staff to ensure principals receive strategic leadership coaching. Ultimately, she is responsible for students' well being and academic success.


Prior to this role, Dr. Williams Browning was the  Executive Director of Elementary Instruction in the Elevation Network as well as the Senior Director of School Leadership Development in the Oakland Unified School District. In these roles, in part, she held the responsibility of designing, implementing, and coordinating professional development and mentorship programs for all OUSD principal supervisors, principals, and assistant principals. Nicole served as a principal and teacher at both the elementary and middle school level, earning two California Distinguished School Awards. Her specific background is in methods and instructional practices that significantly narrow the achievement gap in public schools.  


She holds a BA in Psychology from UC Berkeley, two MA degrees in Literature and Educational Leadership from California State University, East Bay (formerly, California State University, Hayward), and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Saint Mary’s College of California. Nicole considers her greatest joy and responsibility being the mother of two teenage daughters, wife of her husband of twenty years, and “mom" to her dog, Stella.

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1850 Scenic Avenue

Berkeley, CA 94709



7075 Cutting Boulevard

El Cerrito, CA 94530


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Pre-K - 8th