Online Course Faculty

NBOA online courses are taught by content experts from NBOA, independent schools and business partners. Instructors lead discussions, provide guidance and resources for learners throughout the course period, and facilitate learning in other ways.

Please note that the instructor assignment for each course offering is subject to change.

NBOA Staff

Jennifer Hillen

Jennifer Hillen

Jennifer Osland Hillen, CPA, CGMA, is NBOA's vice president, professional development and business affairs. She leads the development and delivery of professional development programs and serves as a content expert on finance, accounting, tax and other independent school business, operations, governance, and legal matters. She also serves as liaison to the controllers community and NBOA business partners serving members. Hillen came to NBOA in early 2017 after eight years as a business officer at Harpeth Hall School, where she served as the associate director of finance and operations, following prior service as controller and manager of accounting. Before joining Harpeth Hall, Hillen was a lead senior auditor with Ernst & Young, LLP, a Big 4 public accounting firm. She is involved in leadership, governance, financial reporting, operations, and donor stewardship in her role as a board member for several nonprofit organizations, including the Junior League of Nashville, which she recently served as president.

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Mary Kay Markunas

Mary Kay Markunas

Mary Kay Markunas serves as director, professional development and member resources at NBOA, and has over 24 years of experience supporting management teams in independent schools and Fortune 100 companies. She has overseen the development of NBOA's unified data collection platform, Business Intelligence for Independent Schools (BIIS), and develops, supports and oversees NBOA's online resources, member tools, programs and research initiatives. Prior to joining NBOA, Markunas served for 12 years as the director of finance and operations at The Avery Coonley School. She holds a B.S. from Purdue University and an MBA from the University of Michigan.

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James Palmieri

James Palmieri

James Palmieri is the senior vice president at NBOA. In this role, Palmieri serves as a partner to the President and CEO in carrying out strategic initiatives as directed by the NBOA strategic plan, and he supports program and product expansion in partnership with members of the senior staff. Prior to NBOA, Palmieri served as assistant head of school at Trinity Hall, where he began his work as a founding consultant and the school's first employee, and had primary responsibility for school finance, facilities and business operations. Prior to founding Trinity School, Palmieri served as director of strategic initiatives and faculty at the Kent Place School. Palmieri's related experience includes service as an adjunct professor for the College of Saint Elizabeth, where he teaches an online doctoral-level course on leadership management of K-12 schools and systems; as a former fellow in the NAIS Fellowship for Aspiring School Heads program; and as a current member of the One Schoolhouse Board of Trustees.

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Jeff Shields

Jeff Shields

Jeff Shields has been NBOA's president and CEO since March 2010. Prior to joining NBOA, he spent almost 10 years at the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), serving most recently as senior vice president and chief planning officer. An active member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), Shields earned the Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation in 2002 and was selected as an ASAE Fellow in 2008. He currently serves as member of the board of directors for ASAE and as a trustee for One Schoolhouse, Inc., where he most recently served as treasurer. Shields previously served as a trustee for Georgetown Day School in Washington, D.C.

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Independent School Practitioners and Business Partners

Heather J. Broadwater

Heather J. Broadwater

A graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and experienced attorney, Heather J. Broadwater advises independent schools as a partner in the Education, Employment and Non-Profit Association practice groups at Potomac Law Group, PLLC. Broadwater helps schools pursue their missions in compliance with applicable law and consistent with the core values that define each school. From representing schools in disputes to helping schools adopt policies, procedures and practices to minimize the likelihood of legal disputes, Broadwater draws upon not only her legal education and experience, but also a career steeped in education, sociology, business and human resource management.

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Liane Faermann

Liane Faermann

Liane Faermann is the HR director at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia. She has worked in HR for independent schools since 2001, including a decade at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC. Faermann has a passion for optimizing the human side of organizations and for helping build strong communities. She has presented several times at both NBOA and NAIS annual meetings and has been part of the Philadelphia Society of People and Strategy's Future of Human Capital Task Force. Faermann holds a B.A. in psychology from The George Washington University and a master's degree in personnel management from American University. She has her PHR certification from the Society of Human Resource Management.

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Grace Lee

Grace H. Lee

Grace H. Lee is a partner with Venable, LLP in the Labor and Employment Practice. Lee is an independent school law attorney whose practice focuses on employment law, risk management and other compliance and regulatory matters that impact independent schools and nonprofit organizations. She has significant experience formulating and implementing policies and procedures that assist her clients in complying with applicable state and federal laws, and provides them with proactive and preventive strategies. Lee has defended schools against claims regarding employment discrimination, harassment, retaliatory discharge, and wage and hour violations before administrative agencies and federal and state courts. She previously served as NBOA’s vice president, legal affairs, where she developed or oversaw resources and programs for independent schools in the areas of employment law, risk management and other compliance matters. Lee holds a J.D. from The George Washington University Law School and a B.A. from Northwestern University.

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Debbie Lee Rizzi

Debbie Lee-Rizzi

Debbie Lee-Rizzi has served as the chief financial officer of The Evergreen School in Seattle, Washington, since 2013. Prior to her work with The Evergreen School, she spent 10 years managing the finances of independent schools in Hawaii and Virginia. In addition to her duties as CFO, Lee-Rizzi loves being involved with schools in their daily activities, including working on sustainability efforts and wellness. She holds a B.A. from San Jose State University.

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Lorri Palko

Lorri Palko

Lorri Palko is the founder of a coaching and consulting business called Love Money Purpose. Palko has worked with independent schools in finance and operations for over 18 years. Most recently, Palko served as chief financial officer of One Schoolhouse. Prior to joining One Schoolhouse, Palko served as associate head of school – operations at Atlanta Girls' School, where she led all internal business and financial operations. Palko worked in the business sector for 20 years, having served as president of two manufacturing companies, each with annual sales over $200 million and over 1,000 employees. Palko achieved revenue growth, improved profitability and increased market positions through a collaborative leadership style focused on the growth of employees and the community while being a steward of long-term financial sustainability.

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Brad Rathgeber

Brad Rathgeber

Brad Rathgeber is the head of school/chief executive officer of One Schoolhouse, a nonprofit consortium of independent schools, which he helped found in 2009. Previously, Rathgeber worked as the director of technology at Holton-Arms School. He has presented at many national and international conferences on online learning, including the Virtual School Symposium and the NAIS Annual Conference, and has been quoted on the topic of online learning by the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and PBS.

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Sara Skinner

Sara Skinner

Sara Skinner has over 25 years of human resources experience working in the fields of education, architecture, graphic design, public relations and community service. Currently she is the director of human resources for Lakeside School in Seattle, Washington. Skinner graduated from the University of Puget Sound with a bachelor's degree in education. She holds senior professional certifications from both HRCI (SPHR) and SHRM (SHRM-SCP). Skinner is a trained mediator and serves on the NBOA Board of Directors.

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Tom Sneeringer

Tom Sneeringer

Tom has over 25 years of audit and accounting experience, specializing in nonprofit organizations. His responsibilities include directing engagements, preparing financial statements, composing management letters and advising clients on accounting and internal control policies. Tom’s clients include 501(c)(3) organizations, colleges and universities, independent schools and national associations. In addition, he has extensive experience performing Uniform Guidance compliance audits and engagements in accordance with Yellow Book requirements. He frequently conducts seminars for clients, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Greater Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants, National Business Officers Association and other organizations on key issues facing nonprofit organizations. Tom is one of the firm experts on the COSO Framework, especially as it applied to nonprofit organizations, and one of the first in the country to complete the COSO Internal Control Certificate.

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