Online Learning 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, CPA, CGMA

Jennifer Osland Hillen, CPA, CGMA, is NBOA's chief learning officer. She serves as a strategic partner to the president and CEO and leads the staff team charged with delivering the association’s broad and diverse portfolio of programs, industry guidance and resources to members and constituents across multiple delivery channels, including many partnerships with other associations serving independent schools. She serves on the NBOA Board of Directors’ Diversity, Equity & Inclusion task force and leads NBOA’s volunteer Business Officers Council, in addition to providing content expertise on finance, accounting, tax and other independent school business, operations, governance and legal matters of import to independent school practitioners and leaders. Hillen also serves on the teaching faculty for the Master of Education in Independent School Leadership program at Vanderbilt University’s Department of Leadership, Policy & Organizations at Peabody College. She came to NBOA in early 2017 after eight years 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 governance, fiduciary leadership, donor stewardship and strategic financial planning and analysis in her role as a board member for several nonprofit organizations, including the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Renewal House and the Junior League of Nashville, of which she is immediate past president.

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Mary Kay Markunas

Mary Kay Markunas

Mary Kay Markunas is NBOA's director, member resources and programs. She supports NBOA's full line of professional development offerings including the NBOA Annual Meeting, Business Officer Institute, webinars and online courses, as well as partnering with other associations serving independent schools. A former independent school business officer, she develops and delivers programs and content related to independent school business operations, leadership and governance, and nonprofit accounting practices. She also directly assists member schools in answering questions and maintaining NBOA’s collection of tools and resources. Markunas joined NBOA in early 2015 after serving as the director of finance and operations at The Avery Coonley School for 12 years. Before joining the independent school community, she worked in corporate finance at a global corporation and in engineering consulting.

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James Palmieri

James Palmieri, Ed.D.

James Palmieri is the executive 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. He supervises the Communications and Research team, which produces Net Assets Magazine and manages the Business Intelligence for Independent Schools (BIIS) data platform. 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. Previously, Palmieri served as director of strategic initiatives and faculty at Kent Place School. Additionally, Palmieri is currently president of the One Schoolhouse board of trustees.

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Jeff Shields

Jeffrey Shields, FASAE, CAE

Jeff Shields has been NBOA's president and CEO since March 2010, during which time the association has grown to more than 1,425 U.S. member schools as well as member schools in Mexico, Canada and 23 other countries around the globe. Prior to joining NBOA, he spent almost 10 years at the National Association of College and University Business Officers, serving most recently as senior vice president and chief planning officer. Shields is active in his professional association, the American Society of Association Executives, and currently serves as a member of the ASAE board and the ASAE Foundation board of directors. In addition, he is a member of the 2008 Class of ASAE Fellows (FASAE) and he earned the Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation in 2002. Shields has held numerous leadership positions serving independent schools and independent school associations. He previously served as a trustee for the Georgetown Day School in Washington, DC, as well as, One Schoolhouse, an innovative online school that partners with independent schools throughout the country. Shields recently joined the board of the Enrollment Management Association.

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Amber Stockham

Amber Stockham, SPHR

Amber Stockham, SPHR holds bachelor of arts degrees in social sciences and psychology from Bard College and worked in a variety of industries, including social services and manufacturing, before serving as the Director of Human Resources at Miss Hall’s School, an independent day/boarding school for girls in grades 9-12 for six years. With more than 15 years of human resources experience, Amber brings expertise in regulatory compliance, talent acquisition and management, organizational planning, and compensation and benefits design to her role as Director, Human Resources Programs at NBOA.

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Independent School Practitioners and Business Partners

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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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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