A propos: Conseil d'administration

Board of Trustees - Officers

Peter Lorenzi, Chair

Peter Lorenzi has been on the Board of Trustees since August 2016 and has three children at the French International School. He and his wife Pandora moved to Philadelphia from London in 2006 and chose the French International School because they believe that curiosity, creative problem solving and getting along with people from all backgrounds and nationalities will be amongst the most important life skills for their children. Peter is a strong advocate for EFIP’s excellent teachers and staff, and the sense of school community developing under Head of School Kathy Kotchick’s leadership. Peter is a Vice President of operations in GlaxoSmithKline’s Research & Development division. He is a U.K. Chartered Accountant and has a bachelor’s degree in theoretical physics. He grew up on a National Park in southwest England in a German- and English-speaking family, and understands basic French.

Andrew A. Chirls, Vice Chair

Andrew A. Chirls joined the Board of Trustees in 2014, and is now its Vice Chair. An attorney with Fineman Krekstein & Harris, P.C., in Philadelphia, Andrew is thrilled by his daughter’s experience in kindergarten and by what he knows of education in the grades—the diligent approach to bilingual teaching; the quality of the education; and the joy of discovery and creation that is part of every day for his child at the school. He believes that children benefit if they are citizens of the world, as they will understand and empathize with others and know how big their own experiences can be. His law practice and experience as a leader of the Philadelphia bar have brought him closer to the French community, as have his study of French and his travels in France. He is thrilled that he and his husband, Jim, are part of the community of families associated with the French International School, and he is delighted to be advancing the cause of an interesting and valuable education for the children of these families.

Sandra Auffray, Treasurer

Sandra Auffray became a member of the Board of Trustees in September 2017. Originally from France, she has been a resident of the greater Philadelphia area for nearly 15 years. Sandra believes that education is even more critical in today’s environment and a differentiator in life. The ability to learn early on different languages and cultures is essential to developing agile thinkers who will strive in tomorrow’s multi-cultural and diverse environment. She currently serves as Senior Director of Human Resources & Talent Management at French chemical company Arkema in King of Prussia (formerly part of oil giant Total). As a new board member, she looks forward to helping achieve the next milestones to expand the success of the school. Sandra graduated from French Grande Ecole, Ecole Normale Superieure, and studied at Harvard and Stanford. She lives in Wynnewood with her husband and two young daughters.

Anne Schmidt Oltmanns, Secretary

Anne Schmidt Oltmanns is a member of the Board of Trustees and past president of the French International School's Parents' Association. A resident of Ardmore, Pa., Anne became interested in bilingual education because her children are bilingual. She said, "Passion developed when I saw how wonderful it was for them to have the opportunity to become trilingual in such an academically excellent and open-minded environment as the French International School. Language acquisition is an amazing skill that children have naturally. Multilingualism will enrich our children's lives in ways that are measurable now and in ways that we haven't yet imagined." Anne is a past president and a current Board member of the North Ardmore Civic Association.


Board of Trustees - Members

Nadine Durham

Nadine Durham joined the Board of Trustees in July 2019. She is currently the Director of Revenue Management IT Services at Amerisource Bergen Corporation.  Nadine and her husband Gerard have been a part of the French International School community since 2008 and have two daughters who have attended the school from PK3 - 8th grade. Through business and personal travel around the world she and her husband have seen the importance and benefits of being exposed to other languages and cultures. "With an incredible staff and community, the school has afforded our children the opportunity to receive their education in a diverse, multicultural environment. This unique environment has prepared them to be great thinkers with a global understanding, fluent  in three languages.” Nadine has been a member of various committees through her career and in her community and looks forward to serving on the EFIP Board of Trustees.

Tiara Durham, PA Vice President


Alice F. (Tish) Emerson

Tish Emerson previously served as vice chair of the Board of Trustees. She is passionate about bilingual education because "it offers an opportunity to explore cross-cultural ideas and language along with developing brain capacities for language acquisition." Dr. Emerson attended Vassar College and earned a PhD. in political science at Bryn Mawr where she taught briefly. In 1966, she was appointed Dean of Women, then Dean of Students at the University of Pennsylvania, and in 1975 she became president of Wheaton College in Massachusetts. In 1991, she joined The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York as a program officer in the liberal arts colleges program. Tish has served on many corporate and non-profit boards and is currently a member of the board of The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, Hunt Alternatives, The Civil War Museum of Philadelphia, the Nantucket New School, and the Boys & Girls Club of Nantucket.

Barbara Freed

Barbara Freed has been a member of the Board of Trustees for more than two decades and is the former chair of the committee on trustees. A resident of Philadelphia, Barbara spends part of each year living in Villefranche-sur-Mer, France. She is also professor emeritas of French Studies, Second Language Acquisition for Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa. Barbara is passionate about bilingual/bicultural education because, "It provides one with broader horizons, ways of seeing, understanding, interacting with and participating in the world. She said, "The French International School offers the opportunity for students to acquire many of these linguistic and cultural skills. It is unique in the fact that the student body is not limited to a bilingual French- English experience for Anglophone and francophone students but that it offers a truly international opportunity with the presence of students from numerous other ethnic (religious and national) groups." Barbara is the Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee for the Institute for American Universities, Aix-en- Provence, France and volunteers for the -Settlement Music School Mary Louise Curtis Branch; Curtis Institute for Music, Friends Advisory Board, Stokowski Committee; Philadelphia Free Library. She also served for many years on the Board of the Alliance française.

Marie Gantz

Marie Guérin-Gantz has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2015 and has served on various school committees. She is passionate about bilingual education at the French International School because it has given her children access to two cultures and made them more tolerant and open to others. By being able to communicate in two languages, children learn to broaden their ways of thinking and be more accepting of people from different backgrounds/cultures. It helps their overall confidence and open doors to more learning opportunities. She said, "Being a bi-cultural/bilingual family, it was very natural for us to have our children attend The French International School. It is a very special place because of its academic excellence, the nurturing faculty and staff, the committed parent body, and the school's overall openness to the world. It is another 'home' outside your own. There is a sense of belonging at our school which is very rare and makes it an incredible place to raise children." A resident of Philadelphia, Marie is a photographer and the owner of Collection Marie Guérin-Gantz furniture line.

Joshua Grant

Joshua Grant joined the Board of Trustees in 2016. He and his wife Carole have three children currently enrolled at the French School, with another future enrollee at home. The Grants are passionate about bilingual education because they believe it is important to challenge children from a young age and to teach them that the world is comprised of many cultures, beliefs, and opinions. Their favorite thing about the French International School is the diverse and engaged parent community. Josh is an Associate Director at Susquehanna International Group, a global trading firm based out of Bala Cynwyd. He is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics.

Brian Johnston

Brian Johnston first joined the Board of Trustees in 2005, and is a former chair of the Building and Grounds Committee. He and his wife Marina, a native of Italy, chose to send their two daughters to the French International School of Philadelphia to cultivate their multi-lingual and multi-cultural education at this extraordinary school. Brian is the founder and owner of Johnston Design Studio, an architectural design firm located in Center City Philadelphia. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Design at Jefferson (Philadelphia University & Thomas Jefferson University) teaching design studios in both the undergraduate and graduate architectural programs at the College of Architecture and the Built Environment. He has also served as a board member for the Center City Residents’ Association, chairing its Zoning Committee, and is a Design Review Committee member for Community Design Collaborative.

Catherine Kosman

Catherine Kosman was a member of the French International School of Philadelphia’s Founding Committee ahead of the school’s opening in Bryn Mawr in September 1991. She then taught at the school for more than twenty years, first in Pre-K 3 and Pre-K 4 and later in Kindergarten. She also served as a Program Coordinator until she retired in June 2014. During the 2014-15 school year, Catherine returned to the school to oversee its reaccreditation work along with Kathy Kotchick. In 2015-16, she served as Interim Co-Head of School with Mrs. Kotchick. Now fully retired, Catherine is happy to serve on the school’s Board of Trustees. She also serves on the Board of the Alliance Française. Bilingualism has always been important to Catherine. It was natural for her to speak French to her children who are all bilingual. She also speaks Italian having lived in Genoa as child and having studied it at school. Before coming to Pennsylvania, Catherine was a teacher at the French American School of New York in Larchmont, NY. She graduated from the American University in Paris and received her certification from the American Montessori Society in New York.

Murray S. Levin

Murray S. Levin has served as a member of the Board of Trustees since 2002. A partner with the Pepper Hamilton LLP law firm in Philadelphia, Murray serves in various board and volunteer positions with Resource Capital Corporation, Middle East Forum, Foreign Policy Research Institute, and PA State Democratic Party Executive Committee. He is a volunteer child advocate attorney and trustee with both Jewish Family and Children's Services and Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. When asked what makes the French International School of Philadelphia unique, Murray said, "The name of our school alone proclaims its uniqueness and great value: It is French in an American/English world, and it is international in a more domestic, not to say mundane way of life and outlook." As to the benefits of bilingual and multicultural education for youth, he said, "The more language skills one has, the more access to the literature and entire culture of others and, as well, opportunities for greater participation in international commerce."

Jeffrey Mack

Jeffrey E. Mack has served as a member of the Board of Trustees since 2007. He is also chair of the Buildings & Grounds Committee. A resident of Bryn Mawr, Pa., Jeffrey is the Philadelphia executive managing director and broker for Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, a global real estate advisory company. Jeffrey became passionate about bilingual education after he spent his junior year of college abroad at La Sorbonne, Paris, France. Subsequently, he worked for the French Government as a Moniteur de Vacances. Since that time, he has valued his ability to speak French and is passionate about helping students in the U.S. to learn the French language. Jeffrey also serves on the boards of The Committee of Seventy and Bryn Mawr Hospital Foundation.

Sylvie Satre

Sylvie Satre joined the Board of Trustees in July 2018, returning to the Board after a previous six-year term as Treasurer from 2001 to 2006. Sylvie graduated from l’École des Sciences Politiques de Paris and is now a Regional Accounting & Finance director for Covanta, a company providing renewable and clean energy from waste. She also currently holds the position of Treasurer on the Board of the French Benevolent Society. Upon their arrival in Philadelphia in 1999, Sylvie and her husband Gérard decided to send their two daughters to the French International School (EFIP) to help them transition as smoothly as possible to a new country and environment. They quickly realized that EFIP was the perfect place for them to continue speaking their native language, become fluent in English as well as grow and evolve in a multicultural environment where everybody had a different background, religion and culture, thanks to the more than 45 different nationalities represented at the school. Their oldest daughter attended EFIP from PK4 to 8th grade and their youngest daughter from PK3 to 8th grade, graduating in 2009 and 2012, respectively. Sylvie believes that, throughout their combined 21 years at the school, EFIP taught her daughters not only academic excellence through rigorous coursework and high expectations but also the acceptance of diversity as a driving force capable of developing open-mindedness and a more positive world view. From their time at EFIP, they have become fluent in three languages and learned to embrace multiculturalism in order to become friends with people from all over the world throughout high school, college and beyond. Sylvie is thrilled to join the Board of Trustee again to share her past experience and participate in the school’s future development.

Michael E. Scullin

Michael E. Scullin, Esq. is a member, ex officio, of the Board of Trustees. He has served on the board since 2005. Counsel with the law firm of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, LLP in Philadelphia, Pa., Michael serves as Honorary Consul of France in Philadelphia and Wilmington. Michael embraces the benefits of bilingual education in the development of children's minds and mindsets. He said, "Beyond bi-lingual fluency, the students learn to function in a diverse global environment." Michael also serves as a member of the boards of the French-American Chamber of Commerce, Alliance Française de Philadelphie, French Benevolent Society, and the Board of Arbitrators of FINRA Securities Industry Arbitration for which he also serves on the Board of Arbitrators. He is a trustee of The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, director of the Lyon-Philadelphia Bar Association Twinning and Exchange Program, a fellow with the Institute for Korean-American Studies, and member and past president of the Consular Corps Association of Philadelphia, Inc. In addition to serving our students, Michael is also a mentor with the University of Pennsylvania Law School LLM Mentorship Program.

Paul Seignourel

Paul Seignourel has served as a member of the board since 2014 and is Chair of its Technology Committee. Paul is a Quantitative Analyst at Susquehanna International Group in Bala Cynwyd, Pa. Paul was raised in a conventional education setting in France, and he learned English and has been living in the US since his late twenties. This helped him realize how transformative becoming immersed in another culture can be, and he believes the best way to truly learn another culture is to learn its language. By raising his children in a bilingual and bi-cultural setting, he feels he provided them with a chance to see the world through multiples lenses, and to become more flexible and better informed citizens. He also believes that the French International School 'saved' his daughters from "linguistic extinction." His children have been educated in the school's open and accepting environment with students from many countries and with several who are being raised trilingual. "There's a feeling at the school that all members of the community embrace and enjoy this diversity."

Marc Simmons

Marc Simmons has been a member of the Board of Trustees since August 2016. His two children attended the French International School for several years. Marc was the beneficiary of a bilingual education in Montreal, Quebec where he was born and raised. As such, he firmly believes in the benefits of learning a second language early and being exposed to other cultures. Marc is a Director of Strategic Alliances at Sungard Availability Services. Marc holds degrees in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, International Studies and Business Administration from McGill University, University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania.

Bertha Smyth Escobedo, PA President


Deborah R. Willig

Deborah R. Willig has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2008 and served as Chair of the Board from 2009 to 2018. Deborah serves as the managing partner of the largest labor and employment law firm in Pennsylvania, Willig, Williams & Davidson. During her tenure of the Board, she has been a tireless advocate for the school and the best interests of our students, families, faculty and staff. Deborah is a parent of one of our alumni who started in Pre-K 3 and graduated in 2017. "Studies have long recognized the incredible assets of a bilingual education in brain development and language acquisition. Our school is unique in its combination of rigor and nurture, and our outstanding faculty and incredibly diverse student body prepare our children to be leaders in a global world." The first woman Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association, Deborah has been recognized for her leadership and diversity efforts with the Agent of Change Award from Women's Way, the Sandra Day O'Connor Award from the Philadelphia Bar Association, The Legal Intelligencer Lifetime Achievement Award, Israel Labor Medal from the State of Israel Bonds, and the Outstanding Service Award from Pennsylvania Citizen's Action.