Monica Ros School Board of Trustees





Monica Ros School is governed by a conscientious, cooperative, clever, caring, considerate, Board of Trustees (The Board). The Board may have up to 13 trustees. Each trustee serves for a minimum of one three-year term and a maximum of two three-year terms. Any vacancies on the Board of Trustees are filled by The Board. Current members include current and former parents, alumni and interested members of the community.


While daily operations of the school are the purview of the director, The Board is charged with the duty of overseeing the general operation of Monica Ros. The Board is responsible for selecting the director, protecting the mission and reputation of the school, and safeguarding the school’s financial health. Please learn more about Monica Ros’ Strategic Plan through our “balanced scorecard” presentation of the school’s focus. 

The current 2022-2023 members of The Board of Trustees are:


Haady Lashkari, President

Haady started with Community Memorial Hospital in 2001. He joined the Ojai Valley Community Hospital in January of 2011 as the Chief Administrative Officer and is a Vice President with Community Memorial Health System.  Haady and his wife Anita moved to the Ojai Valley in 2012. Their three children attend the  Monica Ros School. 


Nathan Wallace, Vice President

Nathan works for a financial consultant based out of Malibu. Nathan is an avid hiker, skier, camper and enjoys anything in the outdoors. He spends the majority of his time with his three children, all of whom have attended or currently attend Monica Ros.


Lisa Griffiths, Treasurer

Lisa’s two children have attended Monica Ros since the Yellow Room.  She is a board-member and past president of Secure Beginnings/The Nan Tolbert Nurturing Center, supporting families with children 0-5 in first relationships and secure attachment.  Lisa is a strategy and operations consultant, project manager and leadership coach with expertise in quality, compliance and risk management.  She has an MBA from MIT Sloan, a Bachelors in Science from UC Berkeley, and a Certificate in Diversity Equity and Inclusion from Cornell University.


Lisa Martel, Secretary

Lisa was a chef for 25 years, running her own restaurant in Boston for more than a decade. Upon landing in California, Lisa completed a Master’s in Clinical Psychology and has recently begun a special meal delivery business in Ojai that many Monica Ros families enjoy! Lisa two daughters have both enjoyed growing up at Monica Ros – one a recent graduate and the other currently attending the school. 


Celina Benavides-Black

Celina’s daughter has attended Monica Ros since the Yellow Room.  Celina is a developmental psychologist, scholar, and parenting/educator consultant.  She earned a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at Claremont Graduate University, a Master’s in Human Development and Psychology at Harvard and a Master’s in Education with Preliminary Teaching Credential in Mathematics at Whitier College.


James Freeman

James Freeman founded Blue Bottle Coffee in the summer of 2002 after leaving his career as a freelance clarinetist.  His first roastery was a 186-square foot converted potting shed in Oakland, California.  Blue Bottle Coffee, purchased by Nestle in 2017, has grown to a network of several roasteries and over 100 cafes spanning the United States and Asia.


Named “Coffee Professional of the Year” by Imbibe Magazine and one of Fast Company magazine’s 100 most creative people in business, James is also an author of The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee, published by Ten Speed Press.  James has been featured in national and international press including the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, GQ, the Japan Times and CBS This Morning.


James lives in Ojai, California, with his children Dashiell, Linden and Monroe, and his wife Caitlin whom he met while making coffee at the Berkeley Farmers Market.


George Gaines

George retired in 2019 after a 40 year career in which he practiced law and served in senior positions in the investment management and investment banking industries.  Over the years he has supported a number of independent schools including serving as Board President for three years for Monica Ros, twice serving on the board (including as board Chair) of Baker Demonstration School in Wilmette, Illinois and serving as the founding board President for five years of Wolcott College Prep in Chicago. George is also the founding board President of the East End Neighborhood Association on the boards of Ojai Trees and O-Higher Ed, all local not-for-profits. 


Kara Hooper

Kara is a past parent of Monica Ros, as her sons Hayden and Hiram each graduated from Monica Ros in 2014 and 2016 respectively.  After sixteen years of work at The Thacher School, Kara left in 2019 to found a nonprofit called O-Higher-Ed, which supports access to higher education for students in the Ojai Valley.  Additionally, she works at Monica Ros as the librarian, volunteers as the Assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 504; and serves on the board of the Ojai Valley Library Friends and Foundation (OVLFF).


Leslie Kircher

Leslie Kircher is a human resource leader for an emerging technology company. She has lived in Ojai since 1977, attending local schools until studying education at Pepperdine University. Leslie’s daughter is presently enrolled in Monica Ros School in the 2nd grade.


Pilar Lopez

Pilar is an Ojai-raised community member whose daughters currently attend Monica Ros. Working for the Human Services Agency for Ventura County, she strives to strengthen, support, and help develop people and her community. Having received her own K-12 education in Ojai, she is motivated to give back to the community’s education system to support the next generation of students and their families. 


Russell Spinney


Michael Strauss

Michael Strauss is an employment attorney.  Each of Michael’s three children have attended Monica Ros.


Matt Brunetti (Ex Oficio & Parent Caregiver Organization Chair)



Monica Ros School is a non-profit 501(3)(c) California Corporation (Tax I.D. #9502555709)