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Faculty and Boards
Nova Institute Board
Jack PetrashJack Petrash, Director, is the founder and director of the Nova Institute. He is an educator with over thirty years of classroom experience (currently his fourth class at the Washington Waldorf School) and a teacher of teachers. He has written extensively on issues pertaining to innovative classroom instruction, has served on the editorial board of the journal Encounter, and is the author of Understanding Waldorf Education: Teaching from the Inside Out. In addition, has traveled extensively to work with parents. His parenting pieces have appeared in the Washington Post and on National Public Radio and he is also the author of Covering Home: Lessons on the Art of Fathering from the Game of Baseball, which received the National Parenting Publication's gold award. His third book, Navigating the Terrain of Childhood: A Guidebook for Meaningful Parenting and Heartfelt Discipline was released in August of 2004, the Nova Institute Press' first publication.

Send an email to Jack Petrash

Ann WotringAnne Wotring, our Board-President, has her doctorate in human and organizational development. She consults with schools and other institutions, mentors individuals in a variety of fields, and writes journal articles in an effort to foster new leadership models based on collaboration and consensus. She is a member of the International Enneagram Association and the Enneagram Society of Greater Washington and offers workshops in this field to promote self-knowledge and harmony in the workplace and in the home. Dr. Wotring is intrigued by the intersection of psychology and spirituality and believes this intersection provides practical models for the renewal of society. A former teacher and administrator, Anne has a Masters degree in English Education with an emphasis on interdisciplinary learning and writing.

Carol PetrashCarol Petrash is the Secretary of the Nova Institute board. She is currently a Waldorf teacher working with young children and Parent/Infant and Parent/Toddler classes. Carol has previously taught public school kindergarten and has over twenty five years of classroom experience. For a number of years, Carol was the Registrar/Administrator of the Rudolf Steiner Institute, an organization working with adult education. She is an avid environmentalist and a trained bio-dynamic gardener, as well as the author of Earthways: Simple Environmental Activities for Young Children.

Robert Engelman is vice president for programs at the Worldwatch Institute, a globally focused environmental research organization based in Washington, D.C. Engelman provides strategic direction for the Institute's research and programs and is a specialist in issues of population, reproductive health, global public health, climate change, and food security. Prior to joining Worldwatch, he was vice president for research at Population Action International, a policy research and advocacy group in Washington, and directed its program on population and the environment. He has written extensively on population's connections to environmental change, economic growth, and civil conflict.

A former newspaper reporter specializing in politics, science, health, and the environment, Engelman has served on the faculty of Yale University as a visiting lecturer and was founding secretary of the Society of Environmental Journalists. The Population Institute awarded his book, More: Population, Nature, and What Women Want, the 2008 Global Media Award for Individual Reporting on Population. Salon.com wrote that More "convincingly champions women's reproductive rights the world over." Engelman's writing has appeared in scientific and news media including Nature, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. He serves on the boards of the Center for a New American Dream, the Population Resource Center, and the Nova Institute.


Greg Mueller is a professor and Vice Chairman of the Department of Anatomy, Physiology, and Genetics for the Uniformed Services University where he teaches neurophysiology and endocrinology in the university's medical school. He has received repeated awards for teaching excellence, published numerous articles in his field, and has received significant grants for advanced research. Dr. Mueller is also involved in non-profit endeavors. In addition to serving on the Nova Institute board, he has been the chairman of the board of the Acorn Hill Children's Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, a Waldorf kindergarten and parent education facility.


Tom Dews is our newest board member. He is the librarian at the St. Albans School in Washington, D.C. and is keenly interested in ways to enhance education by incorporating arts into academic instruction. Tom is a former high school teacher at the Kimberton Waldorf School in Pennsylvania. Aside from his literary interests, Tom Dews is a fine musician and a consummate student of the guitar. His recordings and his musical performances are widely appreciated in the Washington D.C. area.





Nova Institute Advisory Board


NLaura Birdsall, M.A., has been a Waldorf teacher for over 20 years. Her broad teaching experience spans grades one through eight, and she has worked with students from diverse backgrounds. As a class teacher at Milwaukee's Urban Waldorf School, the first public Waldorf school in the United States, she played an integral role in developing and adapting curricula and assessments to meet the unique needs of under-served urban children. She consults and has co-authored with Jack Petrash the Enlivened Literacy Project, an after-school curriculum developed for inner city children in Baltimore. Currently. Ms. Birdsall teaches in the middle school at Kimberton Waldorf School and is the director of Side by Side, PA, a community based program designed to bring Waldorf-inspired experiences to at-risk children while providing mentoring opportunities for high school students.

Colleen Cordes is the former coordinator of the Task Force on Computers and Childhood for the Alliance for Childhood, and the co-editor of the Alliance's report, Fool's Gold: A Critical Look at Computers in Childhood. Colleen was also the primary author of Alliance's report, Tech Tonic: Towards a New Literacy of Technology. Before working with the Alliance, she was a journalist covering science and technology for more than sixteen years, many of those years as a reporter for The Chronicle for Higher Education. Colleen is currently the executive director of Psychologists for Social Responsibility.

Barbarina Heyerdahl grew up in New York City and attended the Rudolf Steiner School and Barnard College. She graduated from college with a degree in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. After over a decade of work in organic agriculture and environmental advocacy, she helped found a Waldorf School and took up a career of marketing Waldorf education, both locally and nationally. Currently a resident of Vermont, and mother of four children, she now works in parent education, helping to bring the insights in child development found in Waldorf education to other parents.

Jeffrey Kane, Ph.D., is the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Long Island University. He has written essays and articles on existential issues in teaching and on educational policy. Most recently, he authored a book of poetry entitled life as a novice and has been lecturing on Kabbalah.

MathPeter Lehman, M.A., began his career as an organic dairy farmer. In 1983 he left farming to become an elementary school teacher at the Kimberton Waldorf School. He still misses the cows, the spring plowing, and the hay-making, but what he has gained teaching three classes of children has been immeasurable. Peter has his masters degree in education and has an abiding interest in the role of meaningful work in the lives of children.

Steven Levy, M.A., is a consultant for Expeditionary Learning Schools. He coaches teachers in active pedagogy, literacy and assessment and conducts workshops on project-based learning throughout the country. Mr. Levy has been recognized as the 1992-93 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, as the National Outstanding Educator by the Walt Disney Company in 1994-95 and has received the Joe Oakley Award and the John F. Kennedy Prize for the teaching of history. Mr. Levy has written various articles for educational journals and his book, Starting From Scratch, was published by Heinemann in 1996.

Bruce Libonn, M.A., is a graduate of William and Mary and the Waldorf Institute at Adelphi University. He has been an educator for more than thirty years and has served as the Assistant Headmaster for curriculum and Interim Headmaster at The Master's School in Simsbury, CT. Bruce is currently Lower School Head at Ensworth School in Nashville, TN. He has been involved with teacher development and with spiritual issues in education throughout his career.

Ron Schneebaum, M.D., Originally from New York, Dr. Schneebaum is a seasoned pediatrician with almost twenty-five years of pediatric experience. With a longstanding commitment to children, he worked as an elementary school teacher with a Master's Degree in Education, before his career in medicine. Dr. Schneebaum has been an instructor in pediatrics at the Boston University School of Medicine, Harvard University, the Dartmouth Hitchcock School of Medicine and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Schneebaum is interested in all aspects of pediatric health, but child behavior and development - how to help children become solid, centered, happy adults - is his particular fascination.

Patti Smith, Ed.D., is the Director of the Center for School Design at the national Academy Foundation in NYC. She is also the director of the Teacher's Studio and the Program director of the Barfield School at Sunbridge College. She is the author of More Lifeways: Changes in Family Life in the 90's, and Service Learning: Students at the Heart of Learning, as well as the video, Taking a Risk in Education and several articles on the importance of Student Voice in the school change process.

Anne Wotring, Ph.D.,

  See Anne's biography above.