Board of Trustees

A Message From the president of the Board of Trustees

I am pleased and honored to inform you that I have been elected to serve as the President of the Board of Trustees at SRDS, effective June 30, 2022. Please join me on behalf of the Board in thanking our former President Mr. John Haller and his wife Claudia for their outstanding support and leadership over the past three years. We would like to wish them all the best as they begin the next phase of their journey. In addition, the Board of Trustees and I wish to thank our Head of School, Mr. Jalaj Desai along with the faculty and staff for their amazing accomplishments during the most difficult period in the history of our school.

I’m the proud father of a son who is a "lifer" in the Class of 2023, and the husband of the former President of the Parents Guild and current Chair of Ladies' Night Out, Ms. Sarah Felitti-Powell. I have served as a member on the Board on Trustees since 2015.

Looking ahead, we are working diligently to build on our successes with a long-range plan designed to make SRDS the best independent school for academic and personal excellence in northern New Jersey. We recognize the challenge before us, but with your involvement, we are confident that together we will succeed.

Please join me, the Board of Trustees, our Head of School, and the faculty and staff on this most exciting journey. It is a promise we gave to our children, now let us keep our promise; our children expect nothing less.

Mr. Wes Powell
President, Saddle River Day School Board of Trustees

SRDS BOARD OF TRUSTEES

The Trustees of Saddle River Day School provide commitment and leadership for the advancement of the School’s mission, vision, and growth, as well as the preservation of the School’s rich legacy.

In partnership with the Head of School, the Board of Trustees oversees and ensures all legal obligations are met and works to build a strong endowment by supporting annual fundraising and capital campaigns. The Board plays a vital role in guiding Saddle River Day School forward and ensuring that the institution is run with the utmost professionalism, while remaining at the forefront of educational and technological development.

The Board is comprised of parents, alumni, and community members with a deep affection, affiliation, and commitment to the school. They are highly skilled in their outside professions and bring a wealth of knowledge and experience that allows them to work together toward the best interests of the school.

Board of Trustees

Executive Committee
Mr. Wes Powell – President
Mrs. Kim Lawrie - Vice-President
Mr. Scott Braen – Secretary 
Mr. Rosario Ruffino – Treasurer
Mr. Frank Coyne - Officer
Mr. Bryan Hekemian '83- Officer

Trustees
Mr. Jalaj Desai, Head of School
Mr. Zakir Gaibi
Mr. Abe Han 
Mr. Robert Regular
Mr. Jeffrey Rosenberg
Mr. Stephen Savas
Mr. Dale Smith
Mr. Daniel H. Sugar
Dr. Kristen Walsh

Emeriti
Mr. William Cassidy III
Ms. Jackie Finestone '80
Mr. Lawrence C. Raia
Dr. Mary Clark Romney '67
Mr. Lawrence Salameno (deceased)
Mr. Robert Sivori
Mr. Stuart Steckler
Mr. Edward Tafaro

Founders
Mr. John & Mrs. Diane Alford (deceased)

Executive Committee

Weston (Wes) Powell - Board of Trustee Member

Weston (Wes) Powell is currently a McDonald’s Owner/Operator in Springfield, Massachusetts. Wes was elected President of the McDonald African American Owner/Operator Organization in 2008 and served two terms until 2015. Concurrently, Wes was elected as an Executive Member of the Regional Leadership Council, the governing body of the Boston Region McDonald's Owner/Operators. Wes served on the Board of Directors of the Ronald McDonald House Charity in Springfield, MA for five years. Wes was born in Jamaica, West Indies. He is one of seven children born to Marion and Legora Powell. Wes currently resides in West Nyack, NY with his wife Sarah and their son William '23, who is a student at SRDS.

Kim Lawrie has a 20-year career in public relations crisis management and product marketing. She is currently principal owner of Kaykell Holdings which owns and operates organic lifestyle companies. Kim also owns Your Natural Feel, a marketing consulting company that advises businesses who deal directly with consumers. This Spring, Kim, along with her daughters, Emerson, SRDS ‘31 and Cassidy, SRDS ‘33, will launch an organic children’s clothing line, completely created and designed by kids, called Veriela. Kim, her husband, and two children reside in Saddle River. 
 

Scott Braen - Board of Trustee Member

Scott Braen is the President and COO of Braen Commercial Holdings Corporation (BCHC). Operating since 1904, BCHC's principal business is Braen Stone Industries, which specializes in the manufacturing and distribution of construction related materials such as asphalt, aggregates, sand, and recycled materials throughout New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. In addition, they are the leading supplier of masonry, landscape, and decorative stones in New Jersey. Scott and his wife Cielo, are very active in the SRDS community and are the proud parents of twins, Brooke and Scotty '25, and Ellie '27.

Rosario Ruffino - Board of Trustees Member

Rosario Ruffino is a founder and managing partner of RR Advisory Group, now Mariner Wealth Advisors. Rosario works with clients on a variety of personal financial planning issues as well as oversees the daily operational functions of the firm. He combines many years of experience in personal financial planning, investment advisory services, and tax services for high-net-worth clients and professional athletes. In addition, Rosario has extensive experience in risk management, including life, health, and property & casualty insurance. Rosario is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), a Certified Financial Planner (CFP(r)), Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Rosario also holds life and health insurance licenses. He received a BBA from Bernard M. Baruch College.

Frank Coyne - Board of Trustees Member

Frank Coyne is currently the Chairman of the Board for Verisk Analytics. He led the initiative that created Verisk Analytics as the parent of ISO and its family of companies. In 2009, Verisk completed the initial public offering of its stock on the NASDAQ exchange. Mr. Coyne has played a leadership role in property/casualty insurance, delivering numerous speeches at major industry forums and writing many articles with performance-enhancing best-practices themes and forceful calls for market discipline. Mr. Coyne also served in key leadership roles at Kemper Insurance Companies, General Accident Insurance Company, Universal Underwriters Group, Reliance Insurance Company, and PMA Insurance Company. He began his career as a trial attorney with the U.S. Treasury Department. He also had a distinguished career in the United States Army, rising to the rank of captain. Frank is the proud grandparent to three SRDS students: Aidan, '23, Dillon '26 and Sean '29.

Bryan Hekemian '83 leads the Hekemian & Co. Development Team, planning and reviewing all pre-development activities. Bryan is also responsible for policy making decisions regarding Hekemian’s Management Division, and is a key member of the Acquisitions and Development Due Diligence Team. He has over 30 years’ experience in the real estate business. Bryan’s memberships and affiliations include: Founding Member of the Board of Directors, Main Street Special Improvement District, Hackensack, NJ; Member, International Council of Shopping Centers; Member, National Association of Home Builders; Member, Advisory Board, Oritani Bank; Former Member, Fee Arbitration Committee for Attorneys Ethics; Former Member, Board of Trustees, Chairman of the Long Term Planning Committee, and Chairman of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, Armenian Presbyterian Church, Paramus, NJ. Education: B.S./Business Administration, Villanova University.  Bryan currently resides in Ho-Ho-Kus with his wife Suzanne and their two sons, Bryan '23 and Luke '25.  

Trustees

jalaj desai

Jalaj Desai was appointed as Head of School in April 2020.  Prior to this he served as Interim Head of School and for the past two years, Jalaj worked with former Head of School Eileen Lambert as the Head of the Upper School. Before joining SRDS, Jalaj was Head of the Mathematics Department and Director of the Business & Entrepreneurship Program at Rutgers Preparatory School for five years and Mathematics teacher at Dwight-Englewood School for nearly ten years. Jalaj holds a Bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering and two Masters degrees; one in Computer Science and one in Educational Leadership.  Jalaj and his wife live in Mahwah and have two daughters at SRDS, Maanya ‘29 and Mehr ’32.  

Zakir Gaibi is a Senior Partner (Director) at McKinsey & Company, where he is part of the global leadership team for the McKinsey Transformation (MT) practice, which focuses on large scale transformations and restructurings. Zak has worked across 30 countries and led some of the most complex global transformations & turnarounds across a variety of sectors from High Tech to Mining. He is most proud of his three year stint in Sub-Saharan Africa where he helped increase mobile and internet access across the continent. Previously, Zak was the COO of a $10BN+ technology focused Sovereign Wealth Fund. Additionally, he was the Executive Chairman of Karma Box Rewards, a Mobile Internet Start-up focused on crowdsourcing of real-time consumer insights for retailers and brands. He currently advises several start-ups including a consumer lending player, a fin-tech analytics concern, and a health care provider. Zak holds an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and a BS in Mechanical & Aerospace engineering from Cornell University. Zak and his family have been global nomads with stints in Dubai, Sweden, and most recently Australia. Zak and his family are passionate about helping refugees and inner city schools. They now reside in Ho Ho Kus, NJ, and have two children at SRDS: Adam '23, and Hiba '28.

Abe Han is a Managing Director of GLC Advisors, which he co-founded in 2009. Mr. Han worked with companies and creditors on a number of assignments including bankruptcy reorganizations, out-of-court workouts, M&A, financing transactions and recapitalizations domestically and abroad. Mr. Han has served on Star Tribune’s official unsecured creditors committee in bankruptcy, PRC and Urigen’s Board of Directors and as board observer of ADS Logistics, River’s Casino (Pittsburgh) and Fallbrook Technologies. Prior to co-founding GLC, Mr. Han was a Principal at GLC Investment Advisors where he primarily focused on distressed investing. Mr. Han was also an Executive Director in UBS’ Restructuring and Leveraged Finance Groups. Prior to joining UBS, Mr. Han was the Steel Division Manager for Hyundai Corp. (USA). Mr. Han has successfully completed the following FINRA Administered Qualification Examination: Series 7, 24, 63. Mr. Han held a gaming license with the State of Pennsylvania. Mr. Han was selected by The M&A Advisor as one of the “40 Under 40”. Mr. Han holds an MBA from Northwestern University and a BA degree from Rutgers University.  He resides in Wyckoff with his wife and four children who attend SRDS:  Elizabeth '21, David '24, Jonathan '31 and Matthew '34.

Robert Regular is CEO and Owner of Infolinks Media, llc., a leading digital media marketplace that transacts approx 1 Trillion advertising impressions across a global exchange for leading brands. Mr. Regular is a serial technology and media entrepreneur with 25 years experience in digital media and marketing and has founded, grown and exited four media digital technology companies with teams and locations around the world. Mr. Regular has been at the forefront of the creation of digital internet advertising and technology platforms from the beginning of the world wide web, ecommerce, and has proudly launched his third technology company Propel Media publicly on the stock exchange. Mr. Regular also has expanded beyond high tech and media to become a co-owner of Splendid Foods, llc., a B2B and B2C food company innovating and serving over 1000 prepared meals each day across New York and New Jersey. Mr. Regular is a board member and Treasurer of 'Collaborations for Growth', a non-profit for children that provides mindfulness-centered, diversity-sensitive, state-of-the-science learning opportunities for professionals working with vulnerable children and their parents. Mr. Regular holds a BA Degree from Penn-State University and resides in Wyckoff, NJ with his wife Limor and three children, Maya, Tamara and Emily '31. 

Jeffrey Rosenberg joined the family firm, Big V Property Group as President and CEO in 1997. Since that time, the firm has grown significantly. Today, Big V Property Group is a completely vertically integrated owner and operator of open-air shopping centers throughout the Southeast with a focus on discount-oriented power centers in strong growing demographic markets. Big V Property Group sees significant value in this retail segment and continues to invest in and purchase open-air strip centers. Prior to joining Big V Property Group Jeff was involved in the retail side of the real estate business. Jeff graduated from Pace University in 1984 with a degree in business and received his MBA from The Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1995. Jeff resides in Franklin Lakes with his wife Mary and their two sons, Cole '26 and Zane.  

Steve Savas has more than 25 years of experience in management, strategy, finance and innovation, focused on healthcare and technology. He currently leads a division of the Healthcare Business at Accenture, which provides management consulting, information technology, and operations services globally.  He was previously a Partner with McKinsey & Company providing strategic advisory to large healthcare, life sciences, technology and media companies.  Steve was also the lead equity analyst at Goldman Sachs covering healthcare technology companies.  Previously he co-founded and sold a clinical software company.  He has an MBA from The Wharton School at U. Penn and a BS from Columbia University. He resides in Franklin Lakes with his wife Lorrie and their two boys who attend SRDS, Stephen '20 (Northwestern University) and Drew '23.
 

Dale T. Smith - Board of Trustee Member

Dale T. Smith is a 30+ year veteran of college administration with a focus on strategic enrollment management, marketing, admissions and business development. Currently Mr. Smith is a Vice President at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY where he has served in a wide variety of roles in higher education. His wife Karen is a Vice Chair at the college as well. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to SRDS and is actively involved in the Strategic Enrollment Management committee. They are long time Saddle River residents and have two daughters, Catherine '18 and Stephanie.

Daniel H. Sugar is a Partner at Veritas Capital, a New York based private equity firm focused on the technology industry. Over the past 19 years, Dan has been focused on investing in technology businesses in the Education, Healthcare, Cybersecurity and National Security markets.  Dan has a BSE in Operations Research and Financial Engineering from Princeton University and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.  Dan currently resides in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ with his wife, Alyson and their three children, Alexander (SRDS ’31), Juliana (SRDS ’34) and Nathaniel (SRDS ’38).

Kristen Walsh 
is an educator, wife and mother.  She has had a lifelong passion for education and learning. Kristen obtained her undergraduate degree from Villanova University, a master’s degree in education from Bucknell University and earned a PhD in Language and Literacy from Fordham University. She loved teaching first grade earlier in life before devoting herself full time to raising her children. Kristen and her husband Francis are parents to 5 amazing kids including Aidan ’28. They rescue animals and their Saddle River farm has become a haven for animals of all sizes that would have never survived without their intervention.  Kristen and her family support many charitable endeavors. They have established a scholarship fund that provides educational opportunities to needy and at-risk children. They actively support the Tamerlaine Sanctuary & Preserve. Kristen has served on the board of Little Sisters of the Poor who provide loving care to the neediest elderly in New Jersey, and she is currently a Stewart of The Papal Foundation.