Leadership

AJLA is led by a talented and diverse Board of Directors,

who are committed to advancing the mission of the Academy.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Patricia D. Lewis (ex officio)

Founder and Head of School, Adam J. Lewis Academy

Patty serves as Head of School. With over ten years of classroom teaching experience, she holds a Master’s degree in Elementary Education and is licensed by the State of Connecticut as a Head Teacher for Child Day Care Centers for Birth to 5 and School-Age Children. Prior to founding Adam J. Lewis Preschool, Patty taught in the Greens Farms Academy Lower School and later worked for seven years in its Office of Admission, giving educational assessments to four-year-olds applying for kindergarten.

Julie Mombello (ex officio)

Co-Founder and Director, Adam J. Lewis Academy

Julie oversees all operations for AJLA. She holds a Master’s degree in Elementary Education and Professional Educator’s Certificate for Pre K-6, and she is licensed by the State of Connecticut as a Head Teacher for Child Day Care Centers for Birth to 5 and School-Age Children. Prior to her work at AJLA, Julie taught at Christ and Holy Trinity Preschool and subsequently worked at Greens Farms Academy as both a first grade teacher and Lower School Assistant Director of Admission.

John Munro

Asst Head of School, Adam J. Lewis Academy 

Since 2010, John has been the Headmaster of Fairfield Country Day School (FCDS), a PreK-9 independent day school for boys in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Prior to joining FCDS as Headmaster, John was an educator and administrator at Nichols School in Buffalo, NY, where he served as Assistant Head of School and Director of Middle School; as Director of Admissions and Financial Aid; and as a teacher, advisor, and athletic coach. While at Nichols School, he was selected for the NAIS/E.E. Ford Fellowship for School Heads. Previously, John served as Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, as well as a coach and student advisor, at Park Tudor School in Indianapolis, IN. He began his career at FCDS, where from 1988 to 1994, he served in several positions up to and including Director of Admissions and Financial Aid.

John is a member of the International Boys’ Schools Coalition (IBSC) Board of Directors, and a past member of the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) Board of Directors. In the nonprofit sector, he has served on the boards of Buffalo Prep, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the Buffalo Bison Hockey Organization, and volunteered with Buffalo Niagara RIVERKEEPER.

John is a graduate of Hamilton College, where he was a classmate of Adam Lewis, and received a MALS from Wesleyan University. He lives in Fairfield with his wife, Beth, and their three daughters.

Anthony J. Allott

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Silgan Holdings, Inc.

Anthony has been one of the Directors for Silgan Holdings since June 2006 and was appointed as Chairman in April 2019. He has been the Chief Executive Officer since March 2006 and the President since August 2004. Prior to joining Silgan, Mr. Allott was Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Applied Extrusion Technologies, Inc. (AET), a manufacturer of flexible packaging, since July 1996. Tony is passionate about the importance of quality education for all children in a fair society, and is also a Director of Soundwaters, a provider of environmental education in Stamford, CT.

Brian Connell

Managing Director, JP Morgan’s Investment Bank

In his role, he oversees the Global Spread Financing Franchise and is actively involved in managing the business’ strategy, risk appetite, innovation agenda and capital allocation.

Brian started his career at Bear Stearns in 1997 and joined JP Morgan in the 2008 acquisition. He has past experience in many aspects of short-term markets including rates trading, building and managing commercial paper conduits, warehousing clients’ commercial and residential loans, as well as broker-dealer funding and liability management. He is actively involved in industry groups via SIFMA and was a member of the Federal Reserve’s Tri-Party Reform Task Force. He works closely with the Investment Bank’s various sales organizations as well as trading partners in the firm’s Credit and Securitized Products groups.

Brian holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Washington and Lee University and currently resides in Fairfield, CT with his wife and three children. Brian and his wife are actively involved with several charities, including their alma maters, Idaho Basecamp and the Greenfield Hill Congregational Church.

Brian’s wife, Talli, is currently a PreK3 teacher at Adam J Lewis Academy.

Brandon Clark

Chief of Staff, FaithActs for Education

Brandon is a graduate of Sacred Heart University, Fairfield University, and the Broad Residency in Urban Education. In addition to his service on board of Adam J. Lewis Academy, Brandon helped found a scholarship and mentoring program for graduates of his high school. He also serves on the advisory committee for Civics Unplugged, a nonpartisan social enterprise and digitally-powered community that provides leaders of Generation Z training, funding, and support to build the future of American communities and democracy. 

Brandon began his career in Bridgeport working in early childhood and special education. In 2014, Brandon moved to Harlem where he gained invaluable experience as a talent leader at some of the most successful networks in the city; most recently serving as the Managing Director of Talent and member of the Senior Management Team at the East Harlem Tutorial Program (EHTP). In that role, Brandon led the teams responsible for the organization's antiracist initiatives, recruitment, HR, central operations, data, talent development, and volunteers & interns. After six years in Harlem, Brandon has moved back to Bridgeport with his wife and two young sons to join FaithActs for Education as their Chief of Staff.

James M. Cretella

Member, Otterbourg PC and Chairman of the firm’s Alternative and Specialty Finance Department

Jim received his law degree, cum laude, from Brooklyn Law School and holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Villanova University. Right after graduating from law school, Jim joined Otterbourg. Since being elevated to a shareholder at Otterbourg, he has assumed various leadership and management roles at Otterbourg, including as a member of the firm’s hiring committee and Chairman of its Alternative and Specialty Finance Department. Jim also helps coordinate the firm’s pro bono relationship with the Corporate Law Internship Program of the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO).

Jim has three school-aged children, two boys and a girl. In his spare time, he can be found coaching his children in youth sports or cheering them on from the sideline.

Catherine Davis

Child Advocate, Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA)

Catherine Davis has lived in Westport for 33 years.  Her two boys went through the Westport public schools and she was a PTA President for one school and sat on the Boards of the others, ending with 2 terms as PTA Council co-President.  During this period of time she helped Julie Mombello set up and run the SafeRides Program at Staples HS in conjunction with the students.
 
When she couldn't find a good reason to remain in the school system after her children left, she was a Board member for 8 years with A Better Chance, and then the Staples Tuition Grants' Board.  In her past, she was the Scholarship Chair of a Family Foundation.  Her committee provided tuition support to college Juniors and Seniors who were studying American History.  Her past also includes living in South Africa, and briefly in Australia and Greece, rooming with a boa constrictor, and "bare boating" in the Caribbean.
 
Currently, Catherine is a Guardian ad Litem working in the CT Court System with the Dept of Children and Families with 3 foster children.  She has been with these children for 3 years and has worked with a couple of Bridgeport and Norwalk schools dealing with administrators, teachers, and their Special Education programs.  With this interaction, she has become familiar with various resources in the Bridgeport community.  She was given the Outstanding Volunteer Award in 2018.

John G. Duffy

Former Chairman and CEO, Keefe, Bruyette & Woods

John is a resident of New York City and has been with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, Inc., an investment bank, for 35 years. He was appointed to the position of Vice Chairman in October 2011, after having served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer since September 2001. Prior to that, he was President and Co-Chief Executive Officer, a position he assumed in July 1999. From 1990 to 1999, John was Executive Vice President and Director of Investment Banking.

John serves on the Board of Trustees of Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, NY, as well as President of the school’s Cardinal and Gold Fund. He is a past Trustee of Saint Michael’s College in Vermont as well as The Ursuline School in New Rochelle, NY. He is also a Trustee of the American Ireland Fund and serves on the Advisory Council of the Weissman Center for International Business at Baruch College, and has served on the U.S. Advisory Board for the University College, Dublin Graduate School of Business.

Chris Griffin

Market Leader, Bank of America Private Bank

Chris Griffin is a Managing Director for BNY Mellon Wealth Management. In his role, Chris is responsible for leading the business development strategy in the Tri-State region with direct responsibility for overseeing sales initiatives in Connecticut, New Jersey, and White Plains, NY. He also serves as a National Co-Chair for the Family Law practice segment.

Prior to joining BNY Mellon, Chris was an Executive Director in the Private Bank division of J.P. Morgan. Prior to J.P. Morgan, he was a Financial Advisor for Bernstein Global Wealth Management, where he was a featured speaker at the annual Royal Reach conference. Over the past decade, Chris has worked closely with ultra-high-net-worth families, endowments and foundations, corporate executives, and private business owners in the Tri-State region. In addition, he has built close ties within the local professional community to build effective partnerships and implement a variety of complex estate, tax, and wealth transfer strategies for the benefit of his clients.

Chris graduated with a B.S. in Marketing from Central Connecticut State University and is a regular speaker on campus. He resides with his wife and two daughters in Easton, CT, and is a former Chairman of the Board of Finance for the town of Easton. Chris is also a Board member of the Center for Family Justice, Bridgeport, and volunteers time annually to teach high school students with Junior Achievement of Western CT, Inc.

Mark Kirsch

Principal and Chair, Cohen and Wolf

Mark Hirsch is a principal and Chair of Cohen and Wolf's Real Estate Group and a member of the Commercial Lending and Common Interest Communities Groups. He works in the firm's Bridgeport office, and practices in the area of commercial real estate. Mark has significant ties to the Bridgeport community and a deep understanding of how the city operates.

Dawn Kreitler

Member Social Venture Partners

Dawn is a proud mother of four with a passion for educating others in nutrition and empowering underserved children. She has been deeply engaged as a volunteer with numerous organizations in our region including several after school and charter school programs in Bridgeport and Stamford. 

A former co-chair of the Middlesex School (Concord, MA) parents board, Dawn also served 10-year tenures on the boards of Fairfield, CT Audubon and Fairfield Country Day School. She is currently a member of SVP (Social Venture Partners).

Dawn received her BS degree in Film and Communication from Emerson College. She and her husband, Tom, and their children reside in Fairfield.

David McGrath, Chair

Founding Partner, Sherman Financial Group

David has spent more than three decades in the financial industry, working with investment banks including Chemical Bank, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, and DLJ. In 1998, he became a founding partner of Sherman Financial Group, a management-owned global investment company. In 2008, Sherman leadership founded Meeting Street Academy with 45 preschoolers in Charleston, South Carolina. Today, Meeting Street and its sister schools serve nearly 1,000 children in grades PreK-5, from the most desperate communities in South Carolina.

David serves on the boards of Horizons at Greens Farms Academy and Pruvista Capital, a private equity firm. He holds a BA in Psychology from Stonehill College in Massachusetts, and has completed graduate work in Clinical Psychology at The New School.

Dr. Dwayne Smith

CEO of Housatonic Community College

Dr. Smith joined HCC in July of 2020 continuing a 36-year career in higher education. Prior to joining HCC Dr. Smith spent 14 years at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, MO. Harris-Stowe is a historically African American public university with approximately 1800 students. While at Harris-Stowe, Dr. Smith held various positions including interim President, Provost, and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Dr. Smith is a Fulbright Scholar, serves as chair of the Board of the Higher Education Consortium, was appointed by the Missouri Commissioner of Higher Education to the President’s Advisory Council and was named to the U.S. Department of State Fulbright Specialist Program. He earned his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri, Columbia, M.A. in Education Administration and BS degree in Psychology from Truman State University. He also completed post-doctoral studies at Harvard University and participated in the Executive Leadership Academy for emerging University Presidents sponsored by the American Academic Leadership Institute.

Kimberly Walin, Treasurer

Partner, Arbour Point Advisors

Kim is the Co-Founder of Arbour Point Advisors — an advisory firm that provides strategic and investment support to consumer brands and retailers. She also owned a specialty retail company, with stores in CT and NY. Prior to that, the majority of Kim’s working life has been on Wall Street, first as a sell side equity research analyst and then working at a major hedge fund, Duquesne Capital Management, before running her own fund. She also advised the private equity firm, General Atlantic, on their in-house fund of funds.

Kim graduated from Smith College and was on the Investment Committee for her alma mater. She previously sat on the board of Summer Search NYC — a non-profit that partners with NYC high schools to provide mentoring, experiential opportunities, and college support for students from low-income backgrounds. Kim currently lives in Rowayton, CT.

Tricia Vanacore

Former Chair, Greens Farms Academy (GFA) Board of Trustees

Tricia graduated from Dartmouth College in 1985 with a BA in economics. She worked for 10 years in Boston, Dallas, and NYC in software marketing and management. She served on the Greens Farms Academy board of trustees for 11 years, 5 as a co-chair of the board. During this time, she served on nearly every board committee including advancement, committee on trustees, marketing, finance, advance plan, and others.  Tricia has also served on the board of The Children’s School for many years and is currently the president of that board. She is in her 7th year serving on the board of The Cape Eleuthera Foundation/ Island School, a high school semester program located in Eleuthera, Bahamas. Tricia and her husband, Mark, have four children and live in Darien.

JUNIOR BOARD

Christina Whittaker + Stephen Swett,
Co-Chairs

Sarah Bonti
Margaret Cissel
Amelia Garland
Brendhan Haas
Caroline Lewis
Reilly Lewis
Mac Mombello

ADVISORY COUNCIL

John Cissel
Mari Flicker
Moira Hintsa
Howard Saffan
Hilary Ward