Staff

Vanessa Kohlhaas

Vanessa Kohlhaas

Head of School

Vanessa joined SWS in 2019 as the Early Childhood Director and has served as Head of School since 2022. Prior to becoming a member of the SWS community, Vanessa spent many years as an early childhood teacher at Whidbey Island Waldorf School. Vanessa has been very involved in the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN) organization, representing the northwest region from 2010–2018 and she served on the planning committee for the 2021 national conference. Vanessa received an undergraduate degree in Music from the University of Texas, Austin and a Masters of Education from Antioch University.

Aurora Blackmore

Aurora Blackmore

Assistant Head of School and High School Director

Bio coming soon.

Lea Werbel

Lea Werbel

Director of Advancement and Enrollment

Lea has been part of the Seattle Waldorf School administrative team since 2017. She brings to SWS an expertise in nonprofit management, fundraising, marketing and communications. She previously worked in the international development realm, bringing new business ideas to microfinance institutions throughout Africa. Lea graduated from Vassar College with a BA in Sociology and pursued graduate work in Communications and International Development at the University of Washington.

Syd Shannon

Syd Shannon

Director of Extended Day and Extracurriculars

Syd Shannon (they/them) has been working with a team of amazing teaching artists to plan SWS Clubs, break camps and Aftercare since starting at SWS in 2021. They spent most of their life in and around San Francisco where they attended college and began working as an after school programs coordinator and preschool teacher. Syd has earned their BA in Child and Adolescent Development and their MA in Sociology of Education. After many years living in San Francisco’s Mission district, they made their way to New York City to study organizational theory and manage a rock climbing and low ropes course at a summer camp for transgender youth. With Washingtonian parents and a penchant for outdoor adventure, it was only a matter of time before they made their way to explore the greenery of the PNW. Syd has a passion for positive youth development models of education, experiential learning and social emotional learning. They believe it is our job as adults to foster confidence, competence, connection, character and caring in children and youth.

Jim Krantz

Jim Krantz

Director of Technology

A Pacific Northwest native, Jim was born in Vancouver, BC and grew up in Los Angeles. He has been moving steadily northwards towards his birthplace, not unlike a salmon. After a 17-year career at Microsoft, Jim joined SWS in 2015, implementing a student information system. He is almost finished with that task. His four children attended SWS starting in 2006 and all graduated from our high school. Their colleges include Vassar, Mount Holyoke, Stevens Institute of Technology, and UC Colorado Springs. They are all smarter than their father.

Mike Ewanciw

Mike Ewanciw

Director of Finance

Mike grew up on a Dairy Farm in New York’s Hudson Valley. Agriculture has remained a passion for his entire life, and he grows over 100 different species of edible plants at his Seattle residence. He received his bachelor’s from Marist College, and an MBA from the University of Texas. He has also received post-graduate certificates in Environmental Management, Fundraising Management, and Strategic Marketing, all at the University of Washington, and he has over 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience. He is a Board member of several local nonprofit organizations and is a student of Steady-State Economics and Organizational Efficiency, as well as Taxonomy and Phylogeny. He likes to discover and support unknown musicians who should be more widely known and enjoys offbeat museums and historical sites.

Samantha Shapiro

Samantha Shapiro

Office Manager

Samantha (she/her) started her journey at SWS when her family joined the Parent and Tot program in 2016. She established deeper connections and community through volunteer opportunities at SWS over the years. Her love for the school, community, and growing/learning experiences catapulted her into craving more involvement. Prior to being a stay-at-home caregiver, her background was in medical administration and office management for several years. In 2019, she joined Seattle Waldorf School as a staff member working at both the high school and grade school as needed. Over the years she has floated around in different positions until she landed in her ideal position – Office Manager at the grade school. She also enjoys hikes and adventures with her family, cooking/baking, farmer’s markets, and watching her child thrive at SWS.

Emerson Hudson

Emerson Hudson

Executive Assistant to the Head of School

Emerson joined SWS in 2023 as Executive Assistant to the Head of School. They graduated with a BA in Philosophy from the University of North Texas where they focused on philosophy for children (P4C) and environmental ethics. More recently, they have been pursuing an MBA in Ethical Leadership. They have over 10 years of experience working with children, specializing in developing curriculum for early childhood through grade 4. Emerson has had the opportunity to travel and teach in classrooms in Chile and Namibia and values nature education. With 8 years as a leader in various education and customer service roles, they prioritize empathy and community involvement above all else.

Dina Trapalis

Dina Trapalis

Admissions Associate and Registrar

Dina is a Seattle native with a background in Apparel Design and Anthropology/Ethnobotany. She has been in Waldorf schools for many years as a parent, teacher, and administrator and loves being a member of a creative and soulful community. In her time away from work, Dina enjoys making herbal medicines, creating things of beauty, dancing, and playing outdoors.

Aiyana Stephens

Aiyana Stephens

Advancement Assistant

 

Bio coming soon.

Connor Watkins-Xu

Connor Watkins-Xu

Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Connor is a teacher and poet who holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland and a BA in Professional Writing from Baylor University. As an educator, he specializes in creative writing, contemporary poetry, and English Literature, with additional interests in music and film. When not working on newsletters, graphics, and social media posts for SWS, he’s probably curled up with a book, listening to a record, or slowly adapting to life in Seattle.

Anisa Benamira-Dod

Anisa Benamira-Dod

Events Coordinator

Anisa is a California native and graduate of California Polytechnic State University, Humboldt, where she earned a bachelor’s in Communication with minors in French/Francophone Studies and Environmental Education/Interpretation. She has a versatile background in education, event planning, graphic design, and marketing. Anisa’s passion lies in event planning, previously serving as the Event Concierge at DSquared Hospitality Company. In her free time, she loves snowboarding, spending time with her cat, Violet, exploring Washington, and trying new restaurants.

Bobby Mills

Bobby Mills

Facilities Manager

Born and raised in Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati, OH, he has always had a desire for the West. He attended the University of Kentucky’s Architecture program, served 6 years and 4 tours as an Aerospace Maintenance Technician in the US Air Force, and attended Cincinnati State for Mechanical Engineering Technology with a focus in Design and Manufacturing. He is a Bobby-of-all-trades, stemming from residential remodeling experience with his father in his youth and self-learning along the way as a creative and homeowner. He was the previously the lead Facilities and Maintenance Manager at ATA Engineering in San Diego, CA and most recently the Facilities and Maintenance Manager at Stoke Space in Kent, WA. His desire to serve a community, expand his Facility Management career, and exit the industry of rockets and machines led him to the world of Education. Bobby has called Seattle home since June 2023 and is here to stay due to his absolute love for nature, sailing, camping, off-roading, gardening, raising chickens, and hiking.

Thu Vo

Thu Vo

Finance and Operations Associate

Thu Vo is a recent graduate of Central Washington University with a Bachelor’s degree in accounting. She has 3 years of hands-on experience in managing accounts payable and assisting with the audits and is enthusiastic about leveraging her experiences and skills to make meaningful contributions to the Business Office team. Outside of work, she likes to explore new destinations, aligning with her passion for travel.

Tamara Naranjo

Tamara Naranjo

General Ledger Accountant

Originally from Cali, Columbia, Tamara has a BA in both accounting and marketing. She has worked for other nonprofits, such as the Salvation Army and The Diocese of Venice over the last decade. Currently Tamara resides in Florida with her husband and two children where she works remotely. When she is not working, she likes to spend time with family and friends. She enjoys the outdoors, traveling, and warm weather.