Board of Trustees
From its beginnings in 1953 as a parent-driven project to educate the children of American diplomats, to the large and diverse K-12 institution we know today, ASW is the center of a vibrant community of expats and locals from our wonderful host country.
ASW’s Board of Trustees is comprised of parents who work to honor the School’s 64-year legacy, strengthen the academic excellence for which it is known, and set the strategic vision and direction for its future success. To accomplish this, the Board works in partnership with the Director and his team, guiding their efforts through policy formulation and adherence, as well as long-term strategic planning.The ASW Board of Trustees is the governing body of the school, responsible for:
- Defining policies and standards
- Shaping strategy and facilitating long-term planning
- Sound financial management
- Hiring and supporting the Director
The Board of Trustees is composed of 11 members: two appointed by the US Ambassador – of whom one is Chair; five members selected and appointed by the existing Board; four members of the school community elected by ASW parents. Each elected and appointed member serves for a 2-year term.
The ASW Director is an ex officio member of the Board.
Board meetings are open to the ASW school community.
Robert Batchelder, Chair
My wife Karen and I are the proud parents of two ASW students: Matthew and Sofia. As Chair of the Board of Trustees, I am humbled to have the opportunity to serve the school they love, and to facilitate the work of the dedicated faculty and staff to whom we entrust our children every day. For the past 23 years, I have represented the United States as a diplomat and consular officer in Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, South and Central America. I have also worked in Washington, D.C. and as a foreign policy advisor to senior military leaders at NORAD and USNORTHCOM in Colorado—my home state. Here in Poland, I lead a team of 70 hard-working professionals who provide the full range of consular services at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, the U.S. Consulate General in Krakow, and the U.S. Consular Agency in Poznan. I have learned over the years that public service is a sacred trust--a weighty responsibility, but one that can bring tremendous satisfaction. ASW is what brought my family to Warsaw and I look forward to serving the ASW community and working to uphold the long tradition of excellence for which our school is known.
Simeon Netchev, Vice Chair
We arrived in Warszawa from Brussels two years ago. We liked the city with its green spaces, its freedom and its memories. Our two daughters, Christa (8) and Despina (14) fell in love with ASW immediately and unequivocally. I still “hold court” most mornings in the school cafeteria.
I was born in the 1960s Bulgaria, which gave me a couple of decades to appreciate some of the Real Socialism’s experiences like mind-bending youth organizations, Bulgarian People’s Army, South Asian Linguistics at Sofia University and even couple of months of ‘career propelling’ Communist party membership. It took me an American University degree and years living in Belgium (in a house, with a family and a dog, like a true member of the petite bourgeoisie) to see the humor of it all. It also taught me to distrust prophets, saviors and free lunch.
Being a Visual Designer and running an independent practice for almost 20 years (getting more virtual every year) has shown me the importance of clear strategies and transparent communication. If a book of words can be replaced by a single sentence – I am for that sentence. I believe being a Trustee is a service and not a position. What I will bring to the Board table again, in the second year of my appointment, is, no-drama conversation and clear, objective reasoning.
I was born in Warsaw and this is the place where I have spent most of my life. I live here with my family: my wife Andreja and our daughter Laura who is a 6th grade student. I am a medical doctor, alumni of Medical School of Warsaw. I am also an MBA graduate with honors and I have been working in pharmaceutical industry all of my professional life. My family joined the ASW community in 2015, after our return from Bucharest where I held the position of general manager of an international pharmaceutical company. Prior to this, I have worked in Poland and in Croatia.
I am familiar with various aspects of business management but mainly experienced in marketing and sales, strategy development as well as in management of changes. I am goal- and result-oriented and feel comfortable with challenges.
My family feels closely connected to ASW, it is a place we deeply care about and have long-range commitment to, and it is a great privilege and responsibility for me to serve on the Board of Trustees. Using my knowledge, skills and experience, I will do my best to promote the role of ASW as an inspiring, enabling and empowering environment for our Children.
My family and I moved to Warsaw from Brussels (for my 5th consecutive diplomatic assignment) in July of 2016. My Wife Kristen and I are United States (U.S.) citizens with a daughter (Katelyn) and son (Jacob) attending first grade at ASW. As a family, we have also lived in both Central and North Africa. We are now happily settled into our new home in Ursynów-Centrum and extremely pleased to be a part of the ASW community.
I am a commissioned U.S. Army officer and I support two U.S. diplomatic missions in Poland and our NATO allies in this region. I’m also the U.S. Department of Defense liaison for dependent education for Poland. I hold a BSBA in general management and my voluntary government and non-profit leadership experience is extensive.
Experience has shown me that success requires the full participation of all an organization’s stakeholders. Therefore, I believe that the significant accomplishments of ASW’s students and alumni are attributable to the enduring commitment of the entire ASW community. Together, we must continue to overcome challenges, realize opportunities, and advance the interests of our students. For my part, I will help us refine our strategic plan and work to improve the quality of our collective efforts.
Christopher F. Biedermann, MBA, CPA
I am originally from New Jersey in the US, however, I have spent the last 23 years in Europe, primarily in Poland. I currently live here with my wife, Katarzyna, and two children, Patrick (13) and Anna (8), both of which attend ASW.
In 1994, I came to Wroclaw, Poland with the USAID program “MBA Enterprise Corps” which was developed to help startup companies in emerging markets by matching them with recent MBA graduates. Following my one year assignment, I determined that I enjoy it here in Poland and decided to stay a few more years. As a result I continued my professional experience in Poland as the audit manager for Ernst and Young office Wroclaw. After this, I spent some time working with larger US corporations, namely Coca-Cola and GE, in various finance roles. Following this, I spent a number of years with a Polish based NASDAQ listed spirits company CEDC, as CFO for the group. I am at present a Management Board Member and the CFO for PKP Energetyka, which is currently owned by CVC Capital Partners.
Prior to coming to Poland in 1994, I completed a BS in Accounting at Lehigh University and received an MBA from the University of Texas-Austin. In addition, I spent my early career in the US as an auditor with KPMG. I believe that over this period I have been exposed to a broad range business and financial experiences which I hope to be able utilize to support the ASW Board and the broader ASW community.
My association with ASW started in 2011 when our oldest son, Nicholas, commenced his high school studies. Currently, our second son, Oliver will be an eighth grader in the upcoming academic year. I was born in Poland and moved to the United States being eleven years old. Our kids are the fifth generation of this back and forth immigration movement between Poland and USA which started way back in the 1890’s.
With the collapse of communism in Poland, I left Los Angeles in 1990 where I was working for Chase Manhattan Bank to join Central Europe Trust, a new financial advisory firm being formed in Warsaw. Participating in the economic transformation of Poland and other central-east European countries has been one of my most rewarding experiences. When time allows, I enjoy meeting with US college students whose academic program entails visiting this region to learn more about various aspects of the on-going Polish transformation process.
In spare time, I enjoy speaking with World War II veterans and have accumulated quite an extensive collection of interviews from which I hope to make a documentary film when retired. This interest stems from my summer internship jobs I had in the 1980’s with Radio Free Europe in Munich, Germany. There I met some incredible individuals who survived WWII, such as the legendary “Courier From Warsaw” Jan Nowak Jezioranski. Living in Warsaw allows me to continue meeting more incredible individuals, some of whom I was able to introduce to the ASW community during “Living History Day”.
My family and I proudly joined the ASW community during the 2016/2017 school year, and I have been impressed with the outstanding education that ASW delivers.
I am currently serving as the Regional Medical Officer with the U.S. Department of State, and I am the father of two ASW Warriors, Margot (10) and Malcolm (9). I am joined in Warsaw with my wife, Darcey, an active volunteer in the school community and Emergency Physician, as well as our Norwich terrier, Quincy.
I joined the Foreign Service in 2012, with previous Posts including Mali, Morocco, and Iraq. Board certified in Emergency Medicine, I completed my residency at Boston University/Boston Medical Center, and graduated from the University of Illinois School of Medicine in 2000. I completed my undergraduate studies in English Literature at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, I practiced Emergency Medicine in Nashville, TN.
In many ways, my family’s decision to join the Foreign Service was about the conscious decision to give our children an international experience. Working closely with the schools in my region which includes Stockholm, Oslo, Vilnius, Krakow, and Copenhagen, I understand the unique role our school’s serve in the life of a child. I look forward to an exciting and productive year ahead!
Our family has been part of the ASW community since 2014, when I relocated to Poland along with my husband, Reid, and two children, Cameron and Madison. I’m a full-time mom, and have very much enjoyed becoming involved in the ASW community. I served as the PTO treasurer in 2015-2016, helped facilitate the English Language conversation group, and helped organize many community events. I enjoy this type of work because of the positive impact it brings to the community, as well as close interaction with the school and my children’s education. Prior to relocating to Poland, my professional career was in finance and customer service management roles for one of the U.S.’s largest restaurant management groups. My responsibilities included oversight of the financial and customer relations management programs of 36 restaurants in the Northeastern US with annual revenues over $50 million. I also participated with a national team tasked with opening new stores within the group, including negotiations with suppliers and the hiring and training of new employees.
Over my career, I gained an appreciation for the critical importance of clear and effective communications strategies in achieving corporate goals – experience which I plan to contribute serving on the board at ASW.
I was born in Bologna, Italy and that is where I spent most of my youth until the moment I decided to explore the world. I have been living in Warsaw since 2007. Prior to this, I had the opportunity to live and experience different places such as the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Sichuan in China and Zurich in Switzerland. All these experiences I shared with my family: my wife Elena and three kids Carolina, Giacomo and Guglielmo. Due to these travelling experiences, we understand what it means to move often, to adapt, express and behave in a multicultural environment and, more importantly, have international friends.
I am an engineer with an MBA plus a master in regional development. Here in Warsaw, I work for the European Investment Bank in the energy field and I am also a contract professor for the European Institute of Public Administration in Barcelona.
My involvement in ASW comes from the fact that the school is shaping our kids’ future and that of a global future generation. Plato said it is “the direction in which education starts a man that will determine his future in life”. Therefore, it seems natural to me to support the school and try to contribute my experience gained during these last nine years as a father of three different-level students.
Our family has been a part of the ASW community since we moved to Warsaw in 2017. I grew up as a first-generation Chinese-American in a small town in northern New Jersey. My parents instilled strong values of education over the course of my upbringing, which I now pass onto my daughter and son.
I earned my A.B. in Geology from Bryn Mawr College and hold a M.Ed. in Teaching and Curriculum from Harvard University. I have over 15 years of experience as an Education professional; I was an educator and running coach at public and elite private schools, a textbook writer for the CME Project, a research fellow at the Center of Mathematics Education at the University of Maryland, a test developer for international, state achievement and graduation tests. I was also a board member for the Bryn Mawr College Alumnae Association, where I worked on issues such as alumnae giving and admission of legacy children.
That said, I am also a parent who believes in active community involvement in our schools. I have been a room parent and volunteer for 4 years in 3 different schools in both the United States and overseas. I will draw from my experience of having worn multiple hats and the ability to bridge multiple views to collaborate in maintaining ASW’s educational excellence. In my spare moments, you might find me running in the Kabaty forest, cooking a new recipe, or planning our next travel adventure.
Elin Witschas Thomassen
I was born and raised in Denmark. My husband Peter and our daughter Nikoline (Grade 8) have been part of the ASW community since August 2016, and we really like the spirit of the school.
In my experience at ASW so far, I have observed that it is a place distinguished by an atmosphere of enjoyment, enthusiasm and great care for our kids. I also see a school with a great willingness to innovate. I would like to strengthen and further develop this dynamic, and help expand the community’s knowledge through cultural and social interactions, since, throughout my career, I have been working with culture as a way to facilitate meeting and learning about others and generally enriching our lives.
I have experience within the NGO field, such as Roskilde Festival, Homeless World Cup - Save the Children, and Danish Food Culture at the Food and Environment Ministry, including economics, culture and campaign management, strategy, development and fundraising as well as management of volunteerism.
It is my great pleasure to join the Board of Trustees, and be of service and help to ensure the creation of a good and rich school life for our children. I am an enthusiastic person with great energy and drive, who enjoys bringing concepts and ideas to life. I hold a Master of Arts in Education studies and Social Welfare Studies from Roskilde University, Denmark. Beside being a wife and mom, I am also a traveling partner, and Focal Point, Poland for "Here we are global".
The purpose of the Governance Committee is to provide oversight of the Board’s governance practices with the objective of ensuring good governance, accountability and transparency. The Committee is responsible for organizing elections and appointments to the Board of Trustees, inducting new Trustees, ensuring that the Board of Trustees assesses its own performance annually, maintaining the Bylaws and Policy Manual.
Raymond Banks, Chair
The Finance Committee is responsible for developing annual budget guidance for Board approval, reviewing annual budget execution, monitoring income and expenses throughout the year, ensuring that the question of risk management is properly managed, and nominating for Board of Trustees approval an independent auditing firm to audit the School’s financial statement and accounts.
Chrissie Graeber, Chair
Human Resources Committee
The Human Resources Committee is responsible for overseeing the school’s compensation and benefit policies, ensuring its long-term ability to remain competitive in terms of attracting human capital that will best serve the school community.
Simeon Netchev, Chair
Elin Witschas Thomassen
Strategic Planning (ad hoc)
The main objectives of the Strategic Planning Committee for the current school year are to review, update, and/or affirm the school’s Core Values, Mission and Vision; identify strategic initiatives, outcomes or impacts that are relevant and goal oriented in addressing the direction of the school toward the achievement of mission and vision define and align action plans and articulate methods for progress measurement and ultimate assessment of main strategic initiatives’ outcomes.
Artur Banaszak, Chair
Elin Witschas Thomassen
On behalf of the entire Board of Trustees I would like to thank all of you who took the time to vote in this year's ASW Board of Trustees elections. More than 475 completed ballots were received--an impressive participation rate! I would also like to thank our three fellow ASW parents who stepped forward as candidates for election: Olgierd Swida, Audrey Ting, and Elin Witschas Thomassen.
I am pleased to announce that the two elected candidates who will be joining the Board in the 2017-2018 school year for two-year terms are: Audrey Ting (US seat) and Elin Witschas Thomassen (non-US seat).
Rob Batchelder, Chairman
ASW Board of Trustees
INTERESTED IN SERVING?
Board members come from many backgrounds. Typical backgrounds that add value and perspective to the Board include experience in finance, marketing, construction, risk management or law but there are many other skill/knowledge areas relevant to the school’s work. The most important personal characteristics include, among others, the ability to ask good questions, to maintain a broad and long-term perspective, to put the best interests of the School ahead of personal interests, and a willingness to work constructively with others as a team member.
If you feel you can contribute to the benefit of the school community, you can follow one of the following paths:
Run for election
To be eligible, candidates must be parents or guardians of a current student or students who will remain enrolled at ASW for the following two academic years. Board elections are held in May. [Note: ASW employees and family members of employees are not eligible for election to the Board of Trustees.]
Apply for board appointment
Interested individuals should contact the Board Chair to express interest in serving on the Board. The Board of Trustees normally appoints new members for one or two year appointments. The appointment process for the following school year is completed by the end of June.
Apply for committee membership
Interested individuals may be selected to support one of the following committees: Finance, Governance, Human Resources, or Strategic Planning (ad hoc). Committees meet monthly. Non-Trustee committee members are typically selected for their expertise in a particular subject matter area, and serves as ad hoc, non-voting members.
The ASW Board of Trustees deals with issues relating to the school on a strategic level. If you have an issue or question regarding school finances, the strategic plan, long-term building goals, or school governance, you can email the Board of Trustees directly at email@example.com .
To participate in one of the Board committees, contact Board Chairman, Mr. Robert Batchelder, through the ASW's Chief Administrative Officer: firstname.lastname@example.org