2016/17 SWSF Board” (l to r) Sophia Falso, David Pfeiffer, Susie Richards, Bob Wiley, Chris Gibson, Melanie Shafaat, John Riley, Shawn Nowlin, Sean Spear (since retired from the Board), and Jean Shaw. (Not present: new Board member Shelly Ackerman, Ervin Knezek, Jo Moccia and Hope Richards).

Chris Gibson, President

Chris joined the SWSF Board in 2009.  Both Chris and his wife Kelly are 1977 graduates of Langley High School.  Chris graduated from The Evergreen State College with a B.S. in Marine Science in 1982 and then spent 10 years working for an international company helping develop commercial aquaculture production of salmon, sturgeon, walleye, oyster, clams and mussels in the western United States and Canada.  In 1992 Chris returned to school and graduated cum laude from Seattle University with a law degree in 1995.  Chris now practices appellate law with a small firm in Seattle and lives near Langley.  His oldest son Dylan is a 2009 graduate of South Whidbey High School, and his youngest son Max is a member of the 2015 South Whidbey High School graduating class.

Bob Wiley, Vice President 

Bob’s career included serving as: a Highline Junior High science teacher, a District Telecommunications Specialist, a NDEA grant recipient to Northwestern University, an Auburn Junior High Vice Principal, a Senior High Principal, an Auburn Youth Resources Award winner, Executive Director for the Washington Association for Learning Alternatives, a member OSPI Schools Accreditation Committee and a High School Principal of Carol Morgan School in the Dominican Republic. The Wileys graduated from CWU with degrees in education followed by numerous years in the Highline and Auburn School Districts.  They have lived on Whidbey since 1994 and have two grand-daughters in South Whidbey schools.

John Riley, Treasurer

John grew up in the midwest and graduated college in 1985 with Architectural Engineering and Business Administration degrees from Kansas State University.  He met his wife, Donna, while living in San Diego, CA and they married there before moving up to the Seattle area in 1990.  John is currently a Principal-Partner with a small structural engineering design firm located in downtown Seattle.  His family resides near Langley, and all four of their children, varying in ages from 22 to 12, have attend the South Whidbey Schools.   Their oldest son graduated from SWHS in 2011, their middle son graduated in 2013, and their youngest son, Nathan, graduates from SWHS in June, 2015.  Their daughter Kristen is currently in 5th Grade at the SWES.

Jean Shaw, Community Liaison

Jean has lived on Whidbey Island since 1974, teaching on and off at South Whidbey schools for 30+ years in art, drama, journalism, and English while working with volunteers (and still subbing).  She helped start the South Whidbey Schools Foundation back in the 1990s. Jean has three sons and four grandchildren, one who graduated from South Whidbey High School in June, 2009 (32 years after his parents did!)  The others attend Langley Middle School and South  Whidbey Elementary School.  Jean is a lifelong teacher and student with a special passion for all of the arts as well as a complete well-rounded education.

Shelly Ackerman

Shelly moved to Whidbey Island in 1997 to support her husband’s dream of designing and building their own home. She has two children, one who graduated from South Whidbey High School in 2014, and one that graduated in 2017.

She has been involved in PTA ever since her oldest was in Kindergarten, so with her youngest graduation, that makes a total of 16 years of PTA involvement! Wanting to stay involved with the schools in some way, the Schools Foundation was the obvious and easy choice.

Shelly graduated from UW with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. She loves kayaking, walking the trails, biking, traveling, sailing, and this wonderful community and island!

Ervin Knezek

Ervin is a graduate of the University of Texas where he holds a Doctoral degree in educational administration. He has over 30 years of experience in education, has taught at all levels elementary through high school and has served as an elementary and middle school principal, assistant superintendent of schools, and director of an education service center. He continues to support school through his company.  He and his partner David moved to Whidbey in 2010 after falling in love with the island on a rerouted vacation.

Jo Moccia (ex officicio)

Jo Moccia graduated from Iona College with a BS in Psychology, completed her MS in School Psychology from the College of New Rochelle, and her doctorate in educational administration from Seton Hall University. After 25 years working for a school district in NY in various roles including principal, director of special education, deputy superintendent and superintendent, Jo moved to the Northwest. She has been the superintendent of schools for the South Whidbey School District since 2011. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family, especially her grandson. Jo also enjoys biking, puttering with power tools, and traveling.

Shawn Nowlin

David Pfeiffer,

Faculty Representative

David Pfeiffer is the Director of the South Whidbey Academy.

Hope Richards

Hope Richards  was born and raised on South Whidbey and is a  2007 graduate of South Whidbey High School.  She was active in a wide range of activities and sport growing up on Whidbey and still enjoys time on the island fishing, clamming and spending time with her family.  She is a 2011 graduate of Gonzaga University, graduating with a degree in Public Relations. She works as a media manager for  Media Plus, an advertising firm in Seattle.

Susie Richards

Susie is a Washington State Certified Teacher who has worked in the middle school setting for the past 15 years. She has served as a program director for a wide range of educational programs. She is a fellow in the Washington State Consortium for Contextual Teaching and Learning and currently serves as an academic mentor with Western Governor’s University and instructs for Heritage Institute / Antioch University’s extension programs. She holds a master’s degree in education from Antioch University with a focus in community-based education.

Melanie Shafaat

Melanie moved to SW in 1991 and since that time she has been a special education teacher for SW School District, principal of an alternative high school, educational coordinator and in 2010 she moved to Bangkok Thailand where she was the coordinator for Special Services (K-12) at an international school.  Returning from Thailand in 2016, back to her island home, she now works for Western Governors University supporting new special education teachers. She had two children who went through the SW SCHOOL DISTRICT; Hannah (2002) and Oliver (2006). Melanie enjoys traveling, presenting at international conferences, gardening and being a part of the SW community.

Sophia Falso, Student Representative

Sophia Falso is a student at South Whidbey High School in the class of 2018. She is currently a lead trumpet player in the SWHS Wind Ensemble and president of the SWHS Key Club. She was born in Florida but has lived on Whidbey Island since 2004, and she has attended every year of school in the South Whidbey School District.”

Additional Advisory

Board Members

  • Lisa Bjork, Past President
  • Becky Foote
  • Gwen Clemens
  • Nancy Ruff
  • Barbara and Dave Bennett
  • Wendy Baesler