As an independent school, Tessa International School is putting in place a Board whose activities follow the  ‘good practice’ guidelines set by NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools). Board members volunteer their time to Tessa. They are not compensated and do not derive any financial benefit.


One of the most important missions of Tessa International School’s Board is to be the guardian of the School’s mission.

In addition, the board supports formal strategic planning, oversees the School’s operations, stewards the school’s resources, and looks after the institution’s financial stability. It approves operating budgets, ensures the preserva­tion of capital assets, and actively helps raise money for the specific school needs.

The board works in tandem with the Head of school while focusing on its primary work on long-range and strategic issues.

Board service requires a significant commitment to the school and its welfare, observance of the highest ethical standards and principles of fiscal integrity, and a readiness to explore challenges and gain consensus with fellow trustees.


The Board of Trustees is composed of a minimum of 4 persons and a maximum of 8 voting members. The Head of School is a non-voting member. 

The Consul General of France in New York and the Cultural Attaché are invited to Board meetings, where they can serve as non-voting Observers. The Board of Trustees generally meets quarterly and has several standing committees which meet regularly and report to the Board. Its working committees meet regularly, and then share their work, conclusions or recommendations during the meetings. The Board produces minutes, which are archived.


Jan Abernathy – Chief Communications Officer at The Browning School

Jan Abernathy is the Chief Communications Officer at The Browning School, a K-12 boys’ school in New York City, and has presented at independent school industry conferences sponsored by NYSAIS, NAIS, NJAIS, ADVIS, AISAP, EMA and CASE. In addition to chairing the CASE-NAIS Conference and co-chairing the NYSAIS Institutional Advancement conference in 2022, she is president of New York City Independent Schools Communications Professionals,  and the co-founder of Black Advancement Networking Group, which works to gain further representation and greater professional growth of Black professionals in advancement roles in independent schools. She has written for NAIS’ Independent School Magazine on crisis communications,  the “Black at” movement, and Head/board chair communications and for CSEE’s Connections Quarterly on building transformative alumni relationships.  Jan is a trustee of Grace Church School, a JK-12 school in New York City and was on the board of Stevens Cooperative School in Hoboken, NJ, for 13 years, spending six years as chair. Her consulting firm, Jan Abernathy Strategic Communications, provides communications and DEI counsel for educational institutions and non-profits.

John Nichols – Director of Admissions at the United Nations International School

John Nichols grew up in the United States and England, and received his A.B at Harvard, where he majored in English Literature. After law school at Boston University, he worked for a law firm in Washington, D.C., and then began teaching, first at Harvard, then at Eton College in England. For fourteen years, he was the Dean of Students at Trinity School in New York, and then worked for the president of New York University, with the goal of starting a tuition-free private school in New York. He was then Dean of Admissions and Academic Dean at the Baltimore School for the Arts, a pre-professional arts high school. He became Director of Admissions at the United Nations International School in May 2012.

Amada Torres – Vice President of Studies, Insights, and Research at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)

Amada Torres is the Vice President of Studies, Insights, and Research at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). In this capacity, she conducts original research and produces reports on national studies of interest to NAIS schools. As a permanent contributor of the NAIS TrendBook, she regularly speaks on issues related to independent education, trends affecting independent schools, financial sustainability, admissions and marketing, and advocacy. Prior to joining NAIS, Amada worked as Senior Manager for the Latin American and Iberian Peninsula Group in the American market at the Corporate Executive Board, a membership-based provider of best practices research and analysis. Prior to this, she worked as an economic consultant in the Office of External Debt with the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Peru, where she assisted in the management and negotiation of Peru’s external debt obligations as part of the Paris Club. Amada holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Universidad del Pacífico in Lima, Peru. She was awarded the prestigious Chevening Scholarship to attend graduate school at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom, were she earned a master’s degree in Finance and Business Economics, graduating with the highest honors.

Kate Turley – Educator and Educational Administrator

Kate has been an educator and school leader for four decades. In 2017, she completed eighteen years as Principal of City and Country School. Founded in 1914, City and Country is a recognized leader in progressive education for children from toddler through 8th Grade. Prior to City and Country, Kate was the Middle School Head at the Spence School where she started her career teaching French to Middle and Upper School students.
Throughout her long career, Kate has been an active member of many professional organizations. She fulfilled numerous roles for NYSAIS (New York State Association of Independent Schools), serving as a Trustee and the Chair of NYSAIS’ Board of Commissioners on Accreditation. She has been a frequent member of Visiting Committees for accreditation and chaired accreditation visits from 2001 to today. In addition, Kate is a member of NYSAIS’ ELAS Group (Experienced Leaders Advisory Council).
Along with her NYSAIS work, Kate has served other New York City independent schools. Kate is currently a Trustee of the Lycée Français de New York (N – 12) and the Brooklyn Heights Montessori School (N – 8). She is a member of the Committee on Trustees at both schools. In addition to her current Boards, Kate co-chairs the Board of Directors for an early childhood dual-language program in the Bronx, La Escuela Comunitaria del Bronx, scheduled to welcome its first students in Fall 2023.

Pascale Richard – Conseillère des Français de l’étranger

In France, she studied law at Nanterre Paris X and political science at the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris. She then went on to New York University (NYU), where she was the first French woman to earn a Master’s degree in journalism. Her career began in France and flourished in New York, where she was able to get closer to her fellow expatriates as Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper France-Amérique, Vice President of the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) or Director of Cultural Events at the Lycée Francais today. 

Since 2021, she is also Conseillère des Français de l’étranger. 

Brenda E. Levis – Founder of NYC Navigator

Citing a void in the New York Tri-State market for reasonably priced, high quality, destination services providers, Brenda was inspired to start up her own company. Prior to this she served as the Global Relocation Manager for Lehman Brothers in New York City, where she managed the firm’s domestic and international relocation departments as well as its corporate housing program. Brenda has thirty five years of international work/study experience, and twenty five years experience working in the expatriate services industry. Having lived in Switzerland, France, Germany and the Netherlands, she has first hand knowledge of the challenges of an international move. Prior to joining Lehman Brothers, Brenda served as an International Relocation Consultant on site at Goldman Sachs. This was preceded by tenure with an international moving & relocation company in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Brenda has been a featured speaker at numerous relocation events including the Tri-State Relocation Association, and served on the International Assignment Committee for the Employee Relocation Council. Having lived in Brooklyn and Westchester County, NY, she now makes her home in Manhattan.

Tessa International School

Office: (201) 755-5585 | Location: 720 Monroe St. Hoboken, NJ 07030