The Discovery School is a non-profit independent school governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees is responsible for governance of the school, which includes ensuring financial stability, setting policy, and fundraising. The Board has the authority to hire outside counsel and related services as needed. The Head of School reports directly to the Board and is the only school employee who does so.
Board of Trustees 2019 - 2020
Chris Taylor, Facilities Member
- Meredith Frisch
- Kimberly Jones
- Ashton Hudson
- Amy Turci
- Peter Christamtsis
- Hunter McIntosh
- James Landry
- Michael Tari
- Jennifer Kowkabany
- Chris Taylor
Meredith Chartrand Frisch - Board Chair
A Jacksonville native, Meredith graduated from Florida State University in 2003, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Family and Child Sciences. After graduation, she moved to New York City, where she taught art at a Montessori school. In 2007, Meredith moved back to Jacksonville to help to improve the lives of Jacksonville’s children and work with her family to establish The Chartrand Foundation. She currently serves on the board of The Chartrand Foundation, is a member of The Women’s Giving Alliance, and Chair of Wolfson Children’s Hospital’s Birth and Newborn Advisory Council.
While raising three daughters with her husband Mark, she has spearheaded initiatives in Early Childhood Development with specific interest in the creating opportunity for families by addressing the needs of parents and their children simultaneously. Meredith believes that children in Jacksonville can reach their full potential when they are born healthy and their early stage development is nourished, and invests her time in ensuring these outcomes are available to the greatest number of children possible.
Kimberly Mariani Jones - Vice Chair/Development Chair
Ms. Mariani Jones is a fundraising and communications executive with a fierce work ethic and nearly 20 years of experience in the higher education and nonprofit space. She believes strongly in the missions of the organizations in which she works, serves and consults.
She has practiced development in private and public university settings, including her current role leading the Office of University Advancement at Jacksonville University. As Chief Advancement Officer, Kimberly’s efforts have led to a tripling of the University’s ASPIRE Campaign progress since 2013, quickly approaching its $120 million goal. She was instrumental in the University’s 75th Anniversary celebration, the establishment of a President’s Parents Council, and four 7-figure naming gifts, including the naming of a College, a School, a Center and many other significant campus facilities and academic programs. Thanks in part to her leadership, the University’s philanthropic base has exploded, creating a strong culture of giving for the University’s 30,000+ alumni as well as students, parents, friends and fans.
Embracing the core values of kindness, patience and the interconnectedness of us all, Kimberly enjoys listening more than talking and engaging in actual human contact. She holds dear the belief that every individual has an innate desire to help someone or something which fuels their philanthropic passion.
She is a graduate of the University of Florida (B.S.), University of North Florida (M.B.A.) and holds a certification from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University-Purdue University. Kimberly has completed extensive professional development in fundraising, campaign planning and volunteer management. She has received interactive media training and served as an on the record spokesperson for national news outlets including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. She is a member of the Community Foundation for Northeast Florida’s Women’s Giving Alliance, the World Affairs Council, CASE, and teaches as an adjunct faculty member at Jacksonville University.
Ashton Hudson - Treasurer/Finance Chair
Ashton Hudson is a Partner in Value Acquisition Fund, an acquisition, development and asset management company and in Rock Creek Capital, an alternative asset manager with significant land holdings throughout the southeast.
Prior to beginning his investment career, Ashton practiced law with the firm of Parker, Hudson, Rainer & Dobbs LLP, where his legal practice was primarily focused on corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, general corporate law and securities law.
Ashton previously served on the Board of Directors of the Jacksonville Electric Authority, the seventh largest municipally owned utility in the United States, where he chaired the Audit and Finance Committee and served a two-year term as Chairman of the Board and on the Board of Directors of Forestar Group, Inc. (NYSE: FOR), where he sat on the Audit, Compensation and Corporate Governance Committees. He currently sits on the Florida Board of Directors of Fifth Third Bank.
Until its sale to Anticimex in February 2018, Ashton was the owner and Executive Chairman of Jacksonville, FL-based Turner Pest Control, one of the largest and fastest growing pest control providers in the United States.
Ashton earned his B.S., cum laude, in business and accountancy, from Wake Forest University in 1994. He received his J.D., magna cum laude, in 1997 from the Wake Forest University School of Law.
Amy Turci is an Office Managing Partner in the Jacksonville office at FordHarrison LLP, one of the country’s largest management-side labor and employment law firms. Amy started with FordHarrison in 2006 and was named partner in February 2017. Amy concentrates her practice on litigating employment cases in state and federal courts, as well as representing employers before state and local agencies. She also advises employers on various employment issues, including federal and state anti-discrimination statutes, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act. She additionally works with clients to develop employment handbooks and policies and to ensure general legal/regulatory compliance. Further, she regularly provides management training for corporate and civic organizations on developments in various employment and labor laws. Prior to joining FordHarrison, Amy was an associate at a Jacksonville labor and employment law firm.
Amy is a Board Member of the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., Florida First Coast Chapter, and serves as Chair for ABC's Women's Council; Amy additionally served as a Co-Chair of the 2013 ABC Excellence in Construction Awards, serves on the Governmental Affairs Committee, and is involved with the legislative efforts of ABC of Florida. Amy has been a mentor with Take Stock in Children, and is the office contact for the area chapters of Habitat for Humanity. Amy is a committed volunteer for the March of Dimes, having been a member of the Circle of Champions since 2010, a member of the Board of Directors since 2012, and serving as Board Chair for 2015-2016; Amy has additionally served on both the March for Babies Executive Committee and Signature Chefs Auction Committee, as well as serving as the Chair of the Signature Chefs Auction for 2012 and 2017.
Peter Christamtsis and Katie Hammill, along with their 2 daughters Ashely and Ruby immigrated to Atlantic Beach from Toronto, ON Canada in January 2015. Peter’s company, Solidifi US Inc., was in a growth and expansion phase in the US and they couldn’t say “no” to the opportunity to move to their family south of the border, and more specifically…to a warmer climate. Katie’s parents have been residents of Atlantic Beach for 15+ years, and having vacationed here frequently over the years this was Katie and Peter’s first choice for a cross-border move and new home. Throughout the week, you’ll find them frequenting the Beach, the AB/NB Town Center, or the Atlantic Beach Country Club when they aren’t working out of their home-based offices or chauffeuring the girls to/from Discovery and their many activities.
With over seventeen years of experience in the U.S. and Canadian financial and mortgage services industries, and as Senior Vice President for Solidifi, Peter is responsible for leading the Enterprise Sales Team, and ensuring sustainability and growth of Solidifi’s Tier 1 clients. Peter also plays a role in business development and product management for the organization and throughout his tenure has been part of the Finance, Operations and the Client Services teams. Prior to joining Solidifi, Peter was a Senior Consultant with ASSET Inc., a risk and default management company serving the Canadian, Caribbean and Australian financial services marketplace, where he his experience included the deployment of software solutions with several major Canadian banks.
In addition to the Financial Services sector, Peter also has an astute interest in the restaurant service industry. In 2008, he successfully launched a locally-inspired Café called Red Rocket Coffee in the heart of Toronto’s beaches area.
Peter’s expertise includes managing new and existing clients, consulting on best operational practices, and the development of broad-based teams to launch and grow new products and services.
Hunter Hartford McIntosh - Development Member
Hunter Hartford McIntosh is a true guardian of the environment and was passionate about conservation from an early age. Inspired by a family legacy of environmental education, philanthropy and conservation that protects our natural resources for future generations, Hunter is steadfast on preserving nature through his work as President & CEO at The Boat Company.
The Boat Company was started in 1979 by Hunter’s father Michael McIntosh with the mission of protecting the largest remaining temperate rainforest in the Northern Hemisphere, the Tongass National Forest in Southern Alaska. This mission is carried out today through their luxury eco- cruises which allow visitors to experience nature’s beauty and see first hand the importance of conservation.
Growing up in Palm Beach, FL and participating in island rituals such as watching the annual nesting of the sea turtles, instilled in Hunter the desire to protect and preserve our waters and wildlife habitats.
A multi-disciplinary athlete, he went to Florida State University on a track scholarship. Two years later he left FSU to persue his true athletic passion, and joined the ATP Tour as a tennis professional. After moving to Connecticut, Hunter resumed his college studies at Sacred Heart University and received degrees in Communications and Political Science. While attending school, he also served as Head Men’s Tennis Coach at Fairfield University, directing the Stag’s to their first conference titles.
Hunter is proudly carrying on his family legacy of conservation and shares The Boat Company’s vision at national conferences where he has spoken on topics of Sustainable Tourism. He has been a speaker at the World Green Energy Symposium on multiple occasions, The International Ecotourism Society Annual Conference as well as the American Society of Travel Agents Cruise West.
In 2011, Hunter was identified as a Top 25 Extraordinary Mind in Sales and Marketing by the Hospitality Sales Marketing Association International, and has received numerous accolades in Sustainable Tourism from other industry peers such as the Travel Weekly Magellan Awards and National Geographic Traveller Magazine. He has also testified before the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, submitted testimony to them and met with and submitted official comments to the Secretary of the Interior as well as Secretary of Agriculture who oversee the US Forest Service. The areas of focus within the testimony consisted of fisheries and wildlife management, land protection and preservation, and nature based tourism.
Hunter has focused his philanthropic efforts on issues of conservation, health, and education for future generations. Wanting to give back to the university that had given him his educational start through athletics, he was a founding supporter of the women’s soccer program at Florida State University. He also works as the Trustee and Director of the McIntosh Foundation and is a longtime donor to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, where he also worked as the Regional Director of fundraising for the Mid-Atlantic region.
To ensure that the McIntosh family legacy of nature conservation continues, Hunter and his wife Amber enjoy exploring the world around them with their daughter, Aspen.
Philippe Cousteau says of him, “Hunter McIntosh's commitment to conservation and his leadership in the tourism industry is proof of the incredible impact that one individual can have in making our water planet a better place.”
James Landry - Finance Member
James Landry is the Executive Vice President of Business Development & Marketing for CSS International. James has been in the ERP application space for over 25 years focusing on aligning client strategic direction with Oracle ERP implementations and business process improvement. He leads a team of world class business development and marketing professionals across North America and works closely with top Oracle leadership to align CSS consulting expertise and develop joint go-to market strategies to deliver world class consulting around the Oracle business application marketplace.
James has served on multiple charitable leadership boards including collegiate leadership development.
James holds a bachelors degree in accounting from the University of North Florida.
Dr. Michael Tari invests in the infrastructure of municipalities, schools, universities and hospitals, funding sustainable projects with long term partners. The investments, comprising high-quality/energy-efficient components, provide a permanent solution for deferred maintenance issues while simultaneously lowering overall infrastructure usage costs.
Before he began investing in infrastructure in early 2019, Michael was with Deutsche Bank. While with the bank, he served as a Director, and Head of Risk Premia Portfolio Management, for Deutsche Bank’s Asset and Wealth Management division. Based in Jacksonville, Michael headed the front-office team responsible for developing and managing rules-based investment strategies. His clients included institutions and high-net-worth individuals.
Michael joined Deutsche Bank in 2007 with 9 years of industry experience. Prior to his Risk-Premia-focused role, Michael was Global Seed Capital Portfolio Manager for Equities and Investment Grade Fixed Income. Before joining Deutsche Bank, he served as Director of Strategy and Risk Management at Hunt Financial Ventures. Previously, he acted as lead Risk Manager on the equity trading floor at Nomura Securities International. Michael began his career as a Risk Manager on the OTC derivatives desk at Bank of America.
Michael holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles and, upon his graduation, was the recipient of the Mechanical Engineering Department’s Outstanding Ph.D. Award. He also holds an MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles as well as a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
Michael and his wife Analeida, currently reside in Atlantic Beach with their two children – Michael Roman and Maximus.
Jennifer Kowkabany - Governance Member
Jennifer Kowkabany has served as General Counsel for Neptune Fire Protection Engineering since 2007, where she primarily practices contract and construction law. She came to Jacksonville from Seattle with stops along the way in California, Japan, and South Korea, where she spent her days as a U.S. Marine working on the armament systems of aircraft; and Phoenix, Arizona where she obtained her Bachelors Degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix in 2003 while working full time as a Project Manager. Afterward, she came to Jacksonville to study law at Florida Coastal School of Law, obtaining her Juris Doctorate in 2007. During this time, she met her husband, Steve, and has now set down roots in Neptune Beach with their three children.
Jennifer spends a majority of her free time volunteering. She serves as Chairman on the Neptune Beach Police Pension Fund Board; is a member of the Women’s Giving Alliance, where she serves as Co-Chair on the Grants Decision Team, and is a member of Rethreaded’s Circle of Sisters, a mentoring group that supports and advocates for women.
Past Board Members
Thomas J. Mnich
Jennifer Ward Sleiman
Dr. Kathryn Pritchard
Interim Head of School
Dr. Kathryn (Kate) Pritchard is an authentic teacher leader with a twenty-five year career as an educator. Dr. Kate’s vocation was launched as a middle school German teacher, and she has taught in public schools in New Hampshire, Maryland, and Florida, and in independent schools in Jacksonville. Dr. Kate’s leadership profile also includes her work representing the Southeast US on the Executive Council of the American Association of Teachers of German, serving on the Finance, Awards, and Testing Committees and as President of the Florida Association of Teachers of German.
Dr. Kate joined The Discovery School in 2019 as the inaugural Director of Teaching and Learning after an extensive post with Episcopal School of Jacksonville. Dr. Kate has devoted much of her career as an educator in the classroom, teaching German, mathematics, and technology courses. In addition, she has collaborated closely with faculty while in leadership positions, where she has served as Director of Curriculum and Assistant Head of Middle School.
Dr. Kate is passionate about the development of teachers’ craft, whether leading teachers in action research or training teachers in the use and meaningful integration of technology. Her current work at The Discovery School encompasses curating a transparent curriculum map, inspired by the expertise of classroom-based teachers; overseeing the ongoing journey to deepen and strengthen The Discovery School’s inquiry-based academic program, aligned with Discovery’s mission and strategic agenda; facilitating the professional growth and development of individual members of the teaching faculty with predictability, support, and affirmative coaching strategies to build a truly cohesive and collaborative team.
Dr. Kate earned a B.A. in German, with minors in Mathematical Sciences and Secondary Education, from Loyola University Maryland. She has earned three degrees from the University of Florida, including an M.A. in German Language and Literatures and both an M.Ed. and an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Educational Technology. Kate and her husband, Greg, have a daughter, Sarah, who will be a senior at Episcopal School of Jacksonville. Kate is a native of Maryland and enjoys traveling, quilting, and cooking.
From the Head of School:
I hope this message finds you safe and healthy. As Dr. Maria Montessori so wisely understood, "Establishing lasting peace is the work of education". It is my greatest hope that we all work together, now, to ensure all members of our community feel valued, respected and safe. The Montessori philosophy is rooted in the fundamental ideal of respect. Respect for self, and for others. Today, more than ever, it is necessary for each of us to be actively engaged and compassionate citizens to end systemic racism for all.
It has been a privilege to participate in our community for these past 17 years and I am humbled by the optimism and creativity of the children and teachers who call The Discovery School home. It is with mixed emotions that I write this to let you know I’m departing my position as Head of School. This was not an easy decision, but one that I have been working towards in active partnership with the Board of Trustees. Throughout my experience, I have been grateful for the resiliency, courage, and commitment of our teachers, parents, children, staff, and trustees. You are, and have always been, the magic of our joyful school.
My family and I joined the Discovery community in 2003, when my husband, Gene, and I excitedly enrolled our two sons, Jackson and Clay, to officially become Montessori parents. Since that moment, I have wholly devoted myself, professionally and personally, to the work of supporting and growing our beautiful school. Thank you so much for trusting me and allowing me to share this journey with collaborative and growth-minded colleagues, friends, and trustees.
As many of you know, I also have a deep love and appreciation for places where wilderness prevails. I am passionate about the conservation of our natural world and my next adventure will allow me to expand my impact on environmental conservation and education to the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge. I am excited about this new work and look forward to sharing it with our community in the near future.
You are in the hands of talented educators and administrators who embody the very best qualities. They will ensure our beloved school celebrates many more decades of authentically serving students to follow their own passions and dreams with confidence. I am also honored to be invited to consult with The Discovery School as we collectively continue to plan for a thriving future.
Thank you for sharing your children over the years. It has been a gift.
With hope and optimism,
From the Chair of the Board:
The core principles of our school community are why I chose The Discovery School for my family. Dr. Montessori’s commitment to education for peace and the International Baccalaureate’s learner profile to inspire international mindedness and respect guide our school culture.
I have worked with many non-profit leaders in this community and Kim Bednarek is, what I have many times publicly stated, “a rockstar.” Kim is a true visionary. During her tenure at Discovery the school has experienced phenomenal growth. She, alongside The Board of Trustees, developed strategic plans that led to the adoption of the International Baccalaureate curriculum. As you know, this coupled with the solid foundational Montessori framework made our school a desirable place to enroll. Under her leadership we’ve doubled the size of our campus, built the IDREAM building, and in the 19/20 school year had a record enrollment of 270 students. I truly believe the highest praise to give a leader is to say that they are transformational. This word sums up Kim Bednarek and her time perfectly. I am filled with deep gratitude for the time, energy, and passion that she has given Discovery in her 17 year tenure.
A leadership succession plan has been in the Board’s Strategic Plan for the past 3 years. We are confident Discovery has a solid team and plan for our future. It is with great enthusiasm that Dr. Kate Pritchard, Ed.D. has accepted the appointment as interim Head of School. She has the support of the entire Board of Trustees and was a unanimous and united decision. Kate is charged with maintaining the school’s operations while we search for a permanent replacement Head of School. She has devoted her 25 years career as an educator in the classroom, Director of Curriculum, and Assistant Head of Middle School. Dr. Kate is passionate about the development of teachers’ craft, whether leading teachers in action research or training teachers in the use and meaningful integration of technology. Her training, experience, and accomplishments makes her the ideal choice for leading Discovery.
Discovery is in a unique position as we have retained Kim to consult on operations of the school during this interim period.
The Board of Trustees is committed to active governance, sound planning, and cultivating an inclusive and vibrant community that promotes knowledge, creativity, independent thinking, and mutual respect. We thank you for your continued engagement and trust in our collective future success.