|Welcome from Head of School|
|Facts at a Glance|
|Board of Trustees|
|Faculty & Staff Directory|
|Totally Awesome At 80|
TOM PICKETT, ChairCurrently a consulting Chief Financial Officer at Weber Logistics and a Financial Advisor to TrueVision Systems, Inc., Tom Pickett has over 35 years experience as a senior finance and operations executive with companies ranging from technology based start-ups to a multi-national publicly traded corporation in the information services business.
Tom has extensive experience in independent school leadership, having served on the Board of Trustees of Marymount of Santa Barbara for seven years, leading the Board in his last two years of service. In addition to his non-profit experience with independent schools, he served on the Board of Directors for the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara for five years where he worked on the Strategic Planning, Development, and Personnel Committees. As a member of the Laguna Blanca School Board of Trustees since 2010, Tom has served as the Treasurer and as a member of the Finance and Executive Committees.
Tom completed the Executive Program in Strategy and Organization at Stanford Business School, and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from the University of Virginia and various courses related to initial public offerings and SEC reporting.
He and his wife Catherine have two daughters: Caroline ’11 who is attending Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, and Olivia ’14 who currently attends Laguna Blanca. Catherine has played an active part of the School community as a class parent, leader of the Faculty/Staff Appreciation Lunch program, as well as a member of the Jogathon fundraising committee.
JAMES JACKSON '78, Vice Chair
Jim Jackson has held a variety of positions in corporate marketing and brand management during his career. Earning his marketing stripes at General Mills, Jim worked on national brands such as Hamburger Helper, Kix and Lucky Charms, before moving to Nestle where he managed Carnation Evaporated Milk and later Nestle Toll House Morsels.
After moving back to his hometown of Santa Barbara in 1996, Jim consulted on marketing issues for local companies, prior to serving as the Vice President of Marketing for College Enterprises, a provider of printing and educational services on over 1,000 campuses across the U.S. Since 2001, Jim has been involved in the management of the Alisal Guest Ranch in Solvang as the Chief Operating Officer.
Jim is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Braille Institute of America, a member of the Board of the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, former Chairman of the Board of Laguna Blanca, and a former board member and Vice Chairman of Direct Relief International. He holds a B.A. in English from Stanford University and an MBA, with an emphasis in Marketing and Finance, from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Jim and his wife Chana live in Montecito and have two children, Nicholas '04 and Ryan.
BRETT HODGES, Secretary
Brett Hodges is a fifth generation Californian who has lived in Santa Barbara since 1976. Brett grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from Lancaster University in England, where he received a degree in Religious Studies.
After college, Brett wrote and produced educational and documentary films for schools and PBS. Since 1999, Brett has developed and managed several consumer rating websites. The first, RemedyFind.com, allowed users to rate health treatments for numerous conditions, and the second site, RightPet.com, allows pet owners to share their thoughts on the animals they have kept.
Brett has served as a director of the Santa Barbara Boys Club, Elings Park, the Hope Ranch Park Homeowners Association, and Direct Relief International. He is an owner of San Marcos Growers, a wholesale landscaping plant nursery in Santa Barbara. Brett and his wife Natalie have a daughter, Lillie, who attended Laguna Blanca since kindergarten, graduating in 2011.
BRENT BICKETT, Treasurer
Brent B. Bickett is Executive Vice President of Corporate Finance for Fidelity National Financial, Inc. (FNF), the nation’s largest provider of title insurance and related real estate transaction services; personal lines insurance; and invests in a variety of privately held companies. In addition, Brent serves as Executive Vice President of Corporate Finance for Fidelity National Information Services, Inc. (FIS), a leading provider of core processing and payment processing solutions for retail banks, community banks, and thrifts both domestically and internationally. Brent’s primary responsibilities include all merger and acquisition related activities and strategic initiatives for FNF and FIS.
Prior to joining FNF in 1999, Brent was a Managing Director in the Investment Banking Division of Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. Brent joined the Laguna Blanca Board of Trustees in March 2009 and is a member of the Finance & Executive Committees. He is simultaneously serving on the Board of Directors of Remy International, Cascade Timberlands and American Blue Ribbon Holdings, Inc.
Always the team player, Brent competed on the varsity water polo team at the University of Southern California where he earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration. In 1990, he received his M.B.A. from the Anderson School at UCLA.
He and his wife Sue have three children at Laguna, Brandon '12, Ryan '15, and Kelly '18.
Alison Wrigley Rusack is co-owner of Rusack Vineyards, a boutique winery in the Santa Ynez Valley near Santa Barbara, California. She is also Vice Chairman and First Vice President of the Santa Catalina Island Company, which handles commercial real estate, hotel, restaurant, and activities and adventure operations on Catalina.
Prior to entering the wine business, Alison worked for 16 years in the entertainment industry in Southern California, most notably for Disney Consumer Products in Burbank, serving in both business and creative capacities. She holds a B.A. in Film and Broadcasting from Stanford University.
Alison is a member of the National Board of the Smithsonian Institution and a lifetime member of the Benefactor Member Board for the non-profit Santa Catalina Island Conservancy. She also serves on the Advisory Boards of Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment and the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Southern California.
Alison and her husband Geoff, who has also served as Laguna Blanca Board Chair, have been active members of the Laguna community for seventeen years. They are parents of Parker ’15, Hunter ’09, a recent graduate of Bowdoin College, and Austin ’11, a sophomore at Wesleyan University. All three boys began attending Laguna Blanca in kindergarten.
MARGARET BAKER, Trustee
Margaret Baker has a rich background in education. In 1969, she received a BA in history from the United States International University. From there, she obtained her teaching credentials and an MA in special education from UC Santa Barbara, as well as an MA in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University. She is also a California certified mediator.
Margaret began her career teaching elementary school for the Carpinteria Unified School District and later moved to curriculum and program development for grades K-9. She has served as a counselor for St. Vincent’s School and a therapist for both Cottage Care Center and Project Recovery, which are rehabilitation programs focused on treatment for alcoholism and drug abuse.
Margaret has served on many boards, including Crane Country Day School, It’s For the Kids Foundation, Dream Foundation, Padaro Lane Association, Serena Cove Owner’s Association, and Rehabilitation Institute of Santa Barbara. In addition to Laguna Blanca School, she currently serves on the boards of Cottage Health System and Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.
Margaret has three children who graduated from Laguna Blanca: Anne ’92 , Brian ’96, and Elizabeth ’02. In her free time, she loves to cook and drive to Napa to visit her oldest daughter’s two-year-old twins.
JERRY BIDWELL, Trustee
Jerry Bidwell was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and graduated from U.S. Grant High School in 1960. After graduation, Jerry served in the Army, U.S. Cavalry Division, for a year before enrolling in the University of Oregon and graduating in 1966 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance.
Jerry joined Black & Company, regional brokerage firm and member firm of the New York Stock Exchange, progressing from securities trader to the offices of CEO and President from 1975 to 1984. In 1984, Jerry founded Bidwell & Company, a national full service discount commission brokerage house, which was a member of the Chicago Stock Exchange, the National Association of Securities Dealers, and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation. Bidwell & Company was sold to TD Ameritrade in 2004 and Jerry retired from the securities industry.
He was elected to the Board of Pacific Capital Bancorp in 2010, and continues to serve as a member of the Board of Directors. He also serves on the Board of M Fund, an investment management company, in addition to his work as a trustee on the Laguna Blanca School Board. He has served as member of the Board of Trustees for Reed College, the University of Oregon Health Sciences Foundation, Jack, Will and Rob Foundation, the Albertina Kerr Center for Children, Artquake, and the Oregon Public Broadcasting Foundation. He has also acted as Chairman of the City Housing Development Inc., a municipally funded non-profit corporation formed by Portland’s City Council to develop middle-income, non-subsidized housing, and as the commissioner for the Oregon Public Broadcasting Foundation.
Jerry and his wife, Geri, have two children at Laguna Blanca, Brooke '17 and Alex '17.
MASON FARRELL '80, Trustee
A Laguna Alumus from the class of 1980, Mason is currently Senior Vice President at the Capital Group Companies, a privately-owned global investment management firm based in Los Angeles and founded in 1931 by the Lovelace family; a family with deep ties to the Laguna Blanca community. The Capital organization provides mutual fund investments through American Funds and Capital International Funds. Mason works with high-net-worth individuals, families, endowments and foundations through Capital Group Private Client Services.
Mason served on the Laguna board during the 90s and helped oversee the acquisition and opening of the Lower School campus in Montecito. He has remained an advisor to Laguna and has served on committees since leaving. He has extensive board experience having served as a trustee for the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara, The Santa Barbara Foundation and the El Adobe Corporation. He currently serves on the boards of the Lobero Theatre and Ganna Walska Lotusland, where he is past-president.
Mason is a graduate of North Carolina State University where he played Division I soccer. He started his professional career working with Michael Towbes which led to the founding and operating of two real estate firms, Martin Farrell Homes, Inc., a residential development company, and M3 Multifamily, LLC, a company that operates and manages apartment communities. He joined Capital Group in 2011 after selling both real estate ventures and “checking out” to travel with his family through England, France, Egypt, Israel, Turkey and Greece.
The son of a business turn-around specialist, Mason lived all over the country as a child before his family finally settled in Santa Barbara in 1975. He and his wife Julie, a UCSB graduate, have two children, Cooper ’15 and Henry, and live in the Santa Ynez Valley.
RANDALL FOX, Trustee
Randall Fox is an experienced real estate, land use and zoning; business and corporate; estate planning/trust administration; and complex litigation lawyer. He has been with Reetz Fox & Bartlett LLP since 1978 and is known for his strategic thinking, quality execution, and ability to get things done.
Fox has over 30 years of experience as an attorney with a client base that ranges from individuals and their families to small start ups, local businesses and nonprofit entities to large landowners, major corporations and the FDIC. He was an instructor in real estate law at Santa Barbara City College and has been a panel attorney for the California Association of Realtors since 1990.
Community involvement has been a cornerstone of Fox’s career. He has been active in the Santa Barbara County Bar Association as a director and as Chairman on the section on Business and Corporate Law. He has served as a director of the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Chancellor’s Council at the University of California Santa Barbara, a trustee and past Chairman of Laguna Blanca School, a director and past Chair of the Rehabilitation Institute at Santa Barbara, and a director of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce. Fox currently serves as a trustee of Laguna Blanca School, where he is a member of the Finance Committee and the Committee on Trustees, and as a director at nonprofits Zona Seca, Exploring Solutions Past: The Maya Forest Alliance, and the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.
His son attended Laguna Blanca from grade K through 12, graduating in 2003.
DAWN LAFITTE, Trustee
While originally from New York City, Dawn Lafitte was raised in Pasadena, CA and earned a Bachelors of Arts in Communications from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She continued her marketing focused studies at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and has a varied professional background in fashion, advertising and marketing. Dawn served under Patty Fox, Saks Fifth Avenue's long time fashion director in Los Angeles, planning designer events, fashion shows, and assisting with editorial styling and studio relations. Dawn later served as Vice President of Thompson & Company Insurance Services, Inc., marketing and placing insurance coverage for several music industry labels through Lloyd's of London.
Dawn and her family moved to Santa Barbara in 1999 and are actively involved in the community. In addition to Laguna Blanca’s Board of Trustees, she currently serves as a Trustee at Lotusland and is a member of the National Charity League. She previously served on the boards of Knowlwood Tennis Club, the National Charity League, and was an active member of the Lobero Theatre Associates, Storyteller Committee and Santa Barbara Cotillions and Supper Club.
Dawn and her husband, David—a local attorney and board member at Crane Country Day School—have three daughters: Allie ’12 currently attends Texas Christian University, Caty ’14, and Emily '16. Dawn has assisted with fundraising and annual funds at all of her daughters’ schools.
STEPHANIE NICKS, Trustee
Stephanie Nicks, the daughter of an American military officer, had the privilege of travelling extensively, living and attending schools throughout the United States and Europe. She earned a B.A. degree in English Literature from Valparaiso University, Indiana.
Stephanie pursued a fashion career in Chicago, founding and opening her own production company. Becoming well-versed in all aspects of print production and marketing, her company produced many high-end catalogs and national advertising campaigns. It was on multiple productions that Stephanie met her husband, Dewey Nicks. The two joined forces and for the next thirteen years she worked as the executive producer for their company Concrete and Clay. Living between Los Angeles and New York City, they photographed and produced editorials, advertising campaigns, commercials, documentaries, and short films.
Since becoming a stay at home mother of twins, Stephanie has volunteered her time for charitable fundraising and marketing; The Susan G. Komen Foundation and Mentor LA. being two of her favorites. Presently, she is on the committee for the Breast Cancer Research Center in Santa Barbara and doing work for the Ayenda Foundation, a non profit dedicated to building schools in Afghanistan. Stephanie is also the west coast contributing editor for the blogsite Momfilter.
Stephanie lives in Carpinteria with her husband Dewey and their twins George '22 and Madeleine '22. Dewey and Stephanie directed and produced three short films, which have been shown at Laguna Blanca’s annual fundraisers in 2010, 2011, and 2012.
MARINA STEPHENS, Trustee
Marina Mirkin Stephens was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia. At the age of 18, she immigrated with her family to the United States. She attended University of Houston, receiving a B.S. in Communications in 1983 and J.D. (honors, law review) in 1993.
Ms. Stephens practiced with international law firms Mayer, Brown & Platt and Baker & McKenzie, specializing in natural resources, emerging markets and project financing. Ms. Stephens is married to Len Homeniuk – a gold mining executive, and the family lived in Central Asia and Canada until 2009. Together with her husband and business partner of many years, Ms. Stephens worked on creating Centerra Gold Inc., a company that went public on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2004. She continued to advise the company, as an international legal advisor in charge of government relations for the next four years. After the family moved to Santa Barbara, CA in 2009, Ms. Stephens became General Counsel for Trade Ideas, LLC, a private analytical trading platform company based in Encinitas, CA.
In 2011, Ms. Stephens and her husband/business partner Len Homeniuk launched a new international gold mining company, Polygon Gold Inc. Currently, Ms. Stephens serves as Executive Vice President and General Counsel, as well as a Member of the Board of Directors for this company.
Ms. Stephens and Mr. Homeniuk have three children. Jessica Stephens, a Claremont McKenna College graduate currently working for Google, Inc., Madeleine Stephens ’11 and Anton Homeniuk ’18.
Marina is a member of Texas Bar Association. She is actively involved with B’nai B’rith Congregation of Santa Barbara. In her spare time, she continues to pursue her life-long passion – creative writing.
A native of Great Britain, Andrew brings a wealth of executive management experience to the Laguna Blanca Board of Trustees. He currently serves as President and CEO of Tobi Products, Inc., a designer and manufacturer of household products serving the United States and 62 international markets. He also serves as President and CEO of Pool Devil USA, Inc., designing and manufacturing household consumer and fitness products on behalf of third party inventors. He was previously the President of Thane International Inc., which at the time was the largest infomercial company in the world.
Andrew studied in the Cambridge area Technical College system in the United Kingdom. He and his wife, Lizzie, have a daughter, Holly ’13, attending Laguna Blanca School.
GEOFREY WYATT '79, Trustee
A native Southern Californian, Geofrey Wyatt is the President of Wyatt Technology, a family-owned Santa Barbara company that produces laser-based analytical instruments for biotechnology, pharmaceutical, academic, and government research institutions. Geof joined the company as its second full-time employee in 1983—just shortly after graduating from Yale University with a B.A. in English. Prior to his undergraduate career, Geof attended Laguna Blanca School from the First to the Twelfth grades, where he enjoyed everything Laguna has to offer. After four years with Wyatt Technology, Geof once again journeyed East where he obtained his MBA from the Harvard Business School. In 1989, he returned to his position in Santa Barbara where he has been ever since.
Geof has served as a trustee for the Cold Spring School, and for over a decade was on the board of the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum—the last two years of which he was President. Geof and his wife Laura met through their mutual interest in art, and are avid collectors of contemporary art and photography. But most of all, Geof and Laura are the proud parents of Spenser '15, with whom they enjoy playing and watching any and all sporting events they can. When not involved in those activities, Geof is usually pining for his next fly-fishing trip on the Provo River in Utah.
HANI ZEINI, Trustee
Hani Zeini is a successful business leader with 25 years of experience in the healthcare/life-science arena. In 2006, Hani founded Sientra, a medical device company focused on the Aesthetic and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery markets utilizing implantable silicone technology, and has been serving as its Chief Executive Officer. Hani is a 12-year veteran in the Aesthetics and Plastic Surgery market where he previously served as Executive Vice President of Inamed Aesthetics (now Allergan Medical) with responsibility for North America and International markets. He has been directly and deeply involved in this market and its development over the past decade. He pioneered the concept of the Plastic Surgery Ecosystem™ and has been passionately presenting and promoting its principles worldwide.
Hani started his career at the Dupont Pharmaceuticals Company where he spent over 12 years in a variety of positions with increasing responsibility in sales, marketing and general management, culminating with his role as Senior Vice President, Global Health Systems. Prior to joining Inamed, Hani was the Chief Operating Officer at Acurian, Inc., a development stage venture capital backed clinical trials company. Before Acurian, he held the position of President and Chief Executive Officer at Pharmasmarket.com, an Internet-based healthcare marketplace.
Hani holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. In 2003, he completed the Stanford Executive Program at Stanford University, Graduate School of Business. Hani serves on the Advisory Board at Image Reborn Foundation in Park City, UT, which is focused on Women “Living beyond Breast Cancer” through a program for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer with focus on encouraging women to reclaim their sense of personal power, and strengthen them in their journey towards healing. Additionally, his company Sientra is a national sponsor of the Breast Reconstruction Awareness campaign commissioned in 2012 to bring awareness of reconstruction options available to women who have experienced breast cancer.
Hani and his wife, Amal, have two children currently attending Laguna Blanca School, Rhami ’20 and Lana ’25.