School Leadership

Stephen Dare, Head of School

Stephen is in his 11th year as Head of School. He is passionate about creating opportunities to democratise learning and elevate student voice within schools. He believes that everyone in an organisation has the capacity to contribute to the co-construction of learning experiences that both elevate thinking and promote action in support of broader educational initiatives. Stephen began his career as a preschool teacher in Southeast England, and has worked as an administrator in North and South America as well as Southeast Asia. He is the treasurer of the ACAMIS Board and is on the Next Frontier: Inclusion Design Team. Stephen is an Agency Trainer for the Thinking Collaborative and has embedded the work of Cognitive Coaching and Adaptive Schools into the professional learning culture of HKA, helping to implement the school’s mission and identity. He regularly presents courses on coaching and building institutional trust at international schools and conferences. Stephen initially left his home town for a two-year adventure overseas, and over thirty years later he continues to embrace the opportunities of working in a global culture.



Teresa Tung, Secondary School Principal

Now in her second year as the school’s Secondary School Principal. Teresa believes that great learning should support each child to know themselves, understand the world, and be joyful, successful and contributing global citizens. Teresa has previously served as a Global Citizen Diploma (GCD) Co-ordinator, and brings her passion for and experience with the GCD to help cultivate opportunities for student engagement in responsible action. An experienced International Baccalaureate educator, Teresa has taught three IB programmes and contributes regularly to IB curriculum development, participates in IB authorisation school visits, and leads IB workshops on cross-programme topics such as Approaches to Learning. Exemplifying contributions as a global citizen, she is a part of Compass Education, developing programmes for a sustainable future, and also a course leader for Sky School, a global high school that provides access to education for refugee learners. Teresa holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Masters of Teaching from the University of Virginia, as well as a Certificate of International School Leadership from Principals Training Center. In her down time, Teresa is nourished by spending time with her husband and toddler son, creating podcasts, and doing yoga.


Joanna Crimmins, Secondary School Assistant Principal / DP Co-ordinator

Joanna is the Secondary School Assistant Principal for grades 11-12 and International Baccalaureate Diploma (IBDP) Co-ordinator. Joanna is an experienced IB educator who believes that young people learn best when authentic learning experiences allow them to develop an evolving understanding of our changing world. Joanna has worked with young people for nearly 20 years in multiple countries around the world; originally from Wales in the UK, Joanna has also taught internationally in Thailand, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Joanna believes strong relationships with parents and the wider community are vital in ensuring students are supported as they move through their school life. Joanna is passionate about the HKA community and is delighted to be working together with students, staff and parents to support the ongoing growth of our secondary school programme. Joanna has a Bachelor’s degree in Drama and Education from the University of Wales and a Masters degree in Educational Leadership from The Open University, UK.


Kristen Feren, Secondary School Assistant Principal / MYP Co-ordinator

Kristen is the Secondary Assistant Principal for grades 6-10 and International Baccalaureate MYP Co-ordinator. Kristen believes that adolescents learn best in a caring and nurturing environment where constructivist, student-centered, inquiry-based approaches are the norm. She collaborates with Secondary School teachers on the articulation of the curriculum within the framework of the IB MYP, and with students in a pastoral capacity.  Prior to moving to Hong Kong, Kristen worked as both an administrator and teacher in the United States and at international schools on three continents. She holds both teaching and administrative credentials from the state of New Hampshire and Master’s degrees in Reading and Writing as well as in School Leadership, in addition to a certificate in International School Leadership from The Principal’s Training Center in Miami, Florida. Formerly a competitive swimmer and triathlete, Kristen now finds balance through running, cake decorating, and parenting her three children, all HKA students.

Virginia Hunt, Primary School Principal

As the Primary School Principal, Virginia believes that children make sense of their world by constructing meaning in an inclusive and authentic environment where students have opportunities for experiential learning by interacting with their social and natural world. She values diversity and the range of gifts students and adults bring to a learning environment. Virginia prides herself on the development and support of collaboration and self-directed learning in teachers and students. She is an International Baccalaureate (IB) World Leader Trainer and a Next Frontier Inclusion Reviewer. Virginia is currently in the process of becoming an Adaptive Schools trainer. Virginia holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and an Advanced Master’s in Educational Leadership. She is certified by New York State. Virginia lives in Sai Kung and both of her children have attended Hong Kong Academy. Her children most valued the opportunities they had to explore an additional language and the range of sports on offer.

Jennifer Swinehart, Research, Development and Communications Director

As an advocate for nurturing diverse and inclusive communities, Jennifer believes that all learners should be empowered to pursue their passions as inquirers, collaborators and innovators. Whenever she is working with a group of learners, Jennifer seeks to create joyful learning environments that stimulate self-advocacy and agency. In addition to working within her own school community to construct these types of authentic learning experiences for both students and adults, Jennifer is a trainer at the Principals’ Training Center, is in the process of becoming an Adaptive Schools Agency Trainer and regularly presents at educational conferences in the Asia-Pacific region. Jennifer’s love of literacy and communication led her to study Latin as her undergraduate major, and she is certified to teach both Secondary English/Language Arts and Humanities; her doctoral research explores student perspectives on how cognitive, affective and effective skills are taught in secondary schools. In her free time, Jennifer is a keen nonfiction reader, Arsenal supporter and marathon runner.
John Shanahan, Learner Support Director

John is very happy to have joined HKA this year in the role of Learner Support Director. As a qualified educational and developmental psychologist, as well as a special education teacher, John believes in the importance of celebrating the uniqueness of every individual. Originally from the United Kingdom, John has spent most of his life living in Hong Kong and for the past 12 years has worked in private practice, providing psychological and educational support to families and international schools here and in the region. John consults and leads professional development around inclusion, socio-emotional resiliency and learning, and learning enhancement. He is also passionate about his work with non-profit organisations, and has served on the executive committee of the Dyslexia Association of Hong Kong and Psychotherapy Society of Hong Kong. John is currently an advisor to Kids4Kids, a local charity internationally recognized for encouraging international school students to engage with at risk communities in Hong Kong and also sits on the Safety Committee of Outward Bound Hong Kong as their Psychologist. John has been part of the HKA community for the past two years as a parent, and has children in Kindergarten and Pre-K.
Anne Drouet , Performing Arts Director

Anne believes in the power of educators to make a real difference to the lives of young people and her work in and out of the classroom is driven by a desire to inspire a love of the arts and creative passion. While learning the role the arts play in shaping a better world, Anne’s students have worked with charitable causes and performed in inclusive communities on international stages such as the Shanghai Formula One Grand Prix Opening Ceremony and New York’s Carnegie Hall. With over 25 years as a teacher, DP examiner, freelance musician and composer, Anne’s experience continues to support her students’ learning and connects them with professionals in the entertainment industry, often inspiring the confidence to pursue their passions. In addition to leading the dynamic Performing Arts team, Anne is the artistic director behind the programme of performances hosted by HKA. She also runs the International Schools Theatre Association, ISTA Academy, in partnership with HKA, where young people can connect through the power of collaborative devising and individual pursuit in the performing arts.
Simon Roberts, Athletics Director

As the Athletics Director, Simon believes that school sport provides students with opportunities to grow as individuals, whilst also valuing their roles within teams. Sport has the power to challenge and inspire students to lead active and healthy lifestyles. As an experienced physical educator, Simon has developed sports programmes in the UK and Shanghai.  He values the community spirit sports can develop and believes that a healthy school sports programme is a reflection of the wider school community. Simon holds a Bachelor of Science in Sport and Exercise Science and a Masters in Health and Wellbeing. He also gained qualified teacher status in Secondary Physical Education in the UK. In his spare time, Simon is a keen sportsman and keeps a very close eye on his favourite football team, Leeds United. He also enjoys travelling and trying all the local food in exotic places he visits!
Cheryl Palamarek, Admissions and Enrolment Director

Cheryl is entering her seventh year at Hong Kong Academy and is the Admissions and Enrolment Director. Cheryl’s passion is to move a school community forward by supporting mission aligned families through transitions while maintaining the diversity of the school community. She believes fostering quality relationships and keeping student learning and growth at the core of decision-making best supports effective change initiatives in schools. Cheryl holds a Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta with a major in Elementary Education and a minor in Special Education, as well as a Certificate of International School Leadership from the Principals Training Center. Whilst primarily focussed on the operations side, Cheryl is actively involved in all areas of the education environment. Cheryl, always excited and eager about change and flexible in new situations, has fulfilled varied roles in international education over the last two decades including Assistant Director of Learner Support, Director of Admissions, Primary School Assistant Principal and Early Childhood Educator.
Andy Birch, Technology Director

Andy has been in education for over 20 years, seven as the Director of Technology at HKA. Andy is a passionate educator who believes in the power of technology to offer meaningful and enhanced learning opportunities and connect staff, students and parents with the richness of the digital landscape. During his experience at various international schools, as well as through developing the ICT in the PYP framework with the IB, and his Master’s in Educational Technology, Andy has developed a rich understanding of technology in education and is invested in guiding the school in digital wellbeing and the purposeful use of technology. As well as supporting multiple events, technical theatre, developing the technology infrastructure, and training staff, Andy presents at conferences around the world, with recent engagements including India, Thailand, China and the U.S. Andy is also a family man with two young children at HKA who is also balancing the powerful forces of technology within his own family, and along with his children, is enjoying exploring the amazing virtual environments offered through gaming.
Dale Willetts, Chief Financial Officer

As a seasoned entrepreneur and professional accountant, Chief Financial Officer Dale knows that a sustainable financial model supported by practical systems and procedures are essential to the success of all independent private schools. Now in his 12th year with the school, Dale has made a significant contribution to HKA's transition from its previous location on Hong Kong island to its permanent campus in Sai Kung. He continues to work with HKA's board of directors and leadership team to ensure the school plans strategically and has the necessary resources available to achieve its mission and strategic priorities. Dale is a Chartered Professional Accountant and holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta, Canada. Outside of school Dale enjoys hiking and taking advantage of the many trails accessible throughout Hong Kong. An avid golfer, Dale spends as much of his free time as possible on a golf course and also coaches the school’s golf team.
Nicole Bolle, Facilities and Operations Director

Nicole, as the Facilities and Operations Director, is responsible for coordinating with the school leadership team to provide facility management and key operational services.  Nicole believes in applying her technical background to ensure high quality services are delivered and risks are mitigated within an educational context. From her experience, she has found that strong strategic partnerships are essential is ensuring that best talent and strengths are found to support the school. She enjoys working with faculty, students and parents in promoting sustainability and maintaining our captivating building. She is a member of the Institute of Engineers and the International Facility Managers Association in Hong Kong and holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil)/Arts from Monash University, Melbourne. Nicole has over 12 years of international working experience in Asia and has been fortunate to work on a number of large scale construction projects including the Taiwan High Speed Rail, installation of gas pipelines in the South China Sea, Ocean Park Aquarium and Entry Plaza, and our very own campus.
Lynne McCall, Institutional Advancement Manager

Lynne is the Institutional Advancement Manager and is in her seventh year as a parent at HKA. She was thrilled to join the HKA staff three years ago when, after a period of volunteering within the school, she discovered that HKA’s mission and community values resonated with her on a professional level as well as from an educational and personal perspective. Lynne believes in the power and capacity of many and enjoys bringing people together to connect the dots across any project which advances the school mission in service of the students. Before joining HKA, Lynne worked in the textiles and sourcing industry for 20 years in a variety of international business development, project management and leadership roles. This work allowed her to exercise her creative brain and develop her collaborative skills whilst giving her the opportunity to mentor and encourage her colleagues. Lynne holds a Bsc Honors degree in Clothing Engineering and Modern Languages from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.


Board of Trustees:
Roles and Responsibilities
The Board is the guardian of Hong Kong Academy’s Mission. It is the Board’s responsibility to ensure that the Mission is relevant and vital to the community it serves and to monitor the success of Hong Kong Academy in fulfilling its Mission.
The Board of Trustees has four standing committees: Advancement, Finance, Financial Aid and Trustees. The Financial Aid Committee operates as a subcommittee of the Trustees Committee. The committees include Board and non-Board members.
If you are interested in joining a Board of Trustees Committee, contact the Board Secretary at
Individual board member bios are below (in alphabetical order):
Tom Baxter
Tom grew up in the Boston area and attended The Roxbury Latin School and Harvard University. Tom has worked in the investment management industry for his entire career. He had served in various management and leadership roles in the US, Europe, and Asia for Wellington Management, and currectly works for T. Rowe Price, where he is General Manager for the company's investment team across the Asia Pacific region. Tom has been a member of the HKA Finance Committee since 2013 and regularly coaches basketball for the school's Weekend Sports programme. Tom and Jill have three boys, two in the secondary school at HKA and one who is a recent HKA graduate. The Baxters live in Mid-levels, which is a quick (and mostly downhill!) 40-minute morning commute by school bus to Sai Kung.
Charles Bedford

Charles Bedford is the Regional Managing Director for The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Asia Pacific Region. Based in Hong Kong, Charles works closely with TNC country programme leaders across Asia, the Pacific Islands and Australia to identify and advance essential marine, freshwater and land conservation priorities and projects. He also focuses on working with the region’s business and government leadership on next-generation conse ation solutions that will benefit both nature and people.  Charles has played a key leadership role in TNC’s Asia Pacific operations since 2009. Before that, he spent nine years leading TNC’s Colorado Chapter in the United States, shaping it into one of the organisation’s most globally focused operating units and led the team that created both TNC's Mongolia and Colorado River programmes. He is the author of journal articles, blogs and a book on land tenure and conservation. Prior to joining TNC, Charles served as director of the Colorado State Land Board, overseer of 3 million hectares of state lands, and was Legal Counsel to Colorado Governor Roy Romer. He graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and holds a JD from the University of Colorado School of Law.  Charles and his wife Tamera’s Grade 9 daughter, Carter, has been at HKA since grade 3. He has been involved in coaching Saturday Sports for all of those years. Additionally he currently serves on the Trustees subcommittee of the HKA board. 

John Coffeng
John was born and raised in Canada and graduated from Queen’s University with a BSc in Mechanical Engineering. He and his wife Jeannette moved to Hong Kong in 1995. John worked for UBS for 14 years, most recently as a Managing Director heading the Asian equity derivatives trading team. He is currently on leave from the industry. The family first joined the HKA community in 2005 and have been active members ever since. John helped lead the Building for the Future Campaign to raise funds for the new Sai Kung campus and currently sits on the Finance Committee. John has three children, his two daughters are currently at HKA.
Kate Grant
Kate was born in London and grew up in Sydney. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Arts from the Univesity of New South Wales, Sydney and a Master's Degree in Business from University of Technology, Sydney. Kate is currently Managing Director, Head of Human Resources Asia Pacific and the HR Chief Operating Officer for Asia Pacific at Deutsche Bank. With over 25 years of experience in Human Resources, Kate has worked across the globe with several multi-nationals including Telstra, KPMG, Cathay Pacific Airways, WPP Group Plc and Deutsche Bank. Prior to moving to Hong Kong, Kate's international experience included stints in Syndey, London and Singapore. Kate and her husband Duncan Paul, who is a secondary school grade parent and PTCO Panel member, have spent the past 7 years living in Hong Kong. Kate and Duncan's son is a secondary school pupil and joined HKA at the Kennedy Town campus in Grade 2. They live in Sai Kung and enjoy being involved in school volunteering initiatives.  
Lauren Houghton
Lauren grew up in Massachusetts and holds a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from Boston University School of Law. After law school, she became a litigator in Boston with Hale and Dorr and then in New York with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. Later she worked as a white-collar criminal defense attorney at Hafetz and Necheles in New York until she decided to devote her time to her family. She was on the board of the Gateway School of New York, a school for bright children who learn differently. Since moving to Hong Kong in January 2013, Lauren has become a volunteer consultant with Asian Charity Services, providing business-consulting services to NGOs. She lives in Clearwater Bay with her husband and two children, a son and daughter currently attending Hong Kong Academy.
Joshua Kahn
Joshua is Managing Director and Partner at Ion Pacific, where he heads the firm's Funds Advisory business. Josh joined Ion Pacific as part of its acquisition of Old Peak Partners, a strategic advisory firm based in Hong Kong that he founded in 2014. Previously, Joshua was Managing Director at Hamilton Lane, a leading global private equity investment firm. While at Hamilton Lane, Joshua established Hamilton Lane's Hong Kong office, where he helped develop and manage Hamilton Lane’s institutional client base in Asia and was responsible for its investment activities in the region. In addition, Joshua served as a member of Hamilton Lane's Portfolio Strategy Committee, which set the firm's global investment agendas. Prior to Hamilton Lane, Joshua held investment and corporate finance positions with Loews Corporation, a publicly-traded diversified financial holding company. He also spent time as a research analyst at a value-oriented financial markets journal and as an associate in the enterprise valuation group of a global professional services firm. Joshua earned his MBA from Columbia University's Graduate School of Business and holds a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School and a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania. Joshua has been a member of the HKA Finance Committee since 2013 and was elected to the Board of Trustees in 2017. He and his wife, Tracy, have three children, all of whom are currently at HKA, with their eldest having first enrolled in the autumn of 2011.
Sean A. Kelly
Sean joined Modern Terminals in Aug 1999. After five-and-a-half years in the capacity of Deputy Managing Director, Sean was appointed as CEO of the company with effect on 1 April 2005. Sean has more than 30 years of experience in the transportation industry. Prior to joining Modern Terminals, he was with American President Lines (APL), where he held a number of management positions, including postings in Asia as APL's Managing Director in the Philippines and in Taiwan. The latter position involved direct responsibility for APL’s operations in Hong Kong and China. In his last position for APL, he had global responsibility as Vice President of Terminal Operations. Sean holds a BA in Accounting from the University of Notre Dame and he has served on a number of international transportation company boards. Sean has two children who both attended HKA.
Joanne Oswin
Joanne was born and raised in Canada. She graduated from Laurentian University with a Bachelor of Arts and then qualified as a Canadian Chartered Professional Accountant. She and her partner, Kylie, moved to Hong Kong in 1999. Joanne worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for 28 years. She specialised in consulting on corporate re-organisations until 2005 and from then through mid 2017 held the position of Chief Operating Officer for PwC China. Joanne is currently on a career break and enjoying devoting time to her family and supporting various social enterprises. Joanne has been a member of the HKA Advancement Committee since September 2017, chairing the Advancement Committee since September 2018. She and Kylie have one child, who has been enrolled at HKA since 2011.
Neil Raymond
Neil was born in the UK and was educated there until 1990. He attended Warwick and Cambridge University to study Engineering and Management. He travelled extensively before joining Shell Exploration and Production in 1992 to work on Oil and Gas Field development around the world and qualified as a Chartered Engineer. In 1997 he attended INSEAD business school in France to complete an MBA and in 1999 Neil moved to Hong Kong and founded Pacific Prime, an insurance distribution company focused on the automotive and health insurance sectors. Neil and his wife Sunny have lived in Sai Kung since 2009 and have four children, all of whom attend HKA. The family is a long term supporter of the charity "Room to Read".
Chris Ryan
Chris is originally from Melbourne, Australia but has lived in Hong Kong for more than 20 years. He has three sons, two of whom attended HKA when it was at the Stubbs Road campus. One is at University in Australia and the other is now working for a fund management company in Hong Kong. Chris has been in the investment and finance industry for more than 30 years and is Managing Director and Head of Asia Pacific for MSCI Inc. a US company specialising in investment information, risk management systems and portfolio analytics. Chris graduated from Monash University in Melbourne with a Bachelor of Business. He is also a member of the Monash University Global Leaders Forum and is involved in providing a global perspective for development of the university’s regional education presence.
Adrian Valenzuela
Adrian is CEO and co-Founder of MCM Partners, a boutique merchant banking and asset management firm headquartered in Hong Kong and with presence in 5 countries across 3 continents. He has over 25 years of experience in the financial industry and prior to MCM Partners, Adrian worked at Barclays Capital as a Managing Director and Head of Distribution for Equity Liquid Markets across the Asia Pacific Region. Adrian served as Managing Director and Co-Head of Global Equities distribution for JP Morgan from 2006  and previously held various senior positions previously at Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers in London and New York. Adrian holds a BA in Economics from ITAM in Mexico as well as other certificates and degrees, including the SSLP program from Stanford University and Oxford-Said School Fintech program. He currently works as an active mentor and investor in various start-ups in the fields of technology and finance.  He sits in the board of HK-based social enterprise LocalMotion, as well as several US and Asian based technology companies in areas ranging from artificial intelligence to cybersecurity. Adrian has two daughters at Hong Kong Academy.
Catherine Yue Wang
Catherine was born and raised in mainland China. She graduated from Tsinghua University in Beijing with a Bachelor of Engineering in Materials S&E and later from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology with a Master of Science in Financial Analysis. Catherine worked in the finance industry for 10 years, including Equity Research, Investor Relationship Consulting and Asset Management. Now out of the corporate world, she is giving entrepreneurship a try and enjoys her various creative roles including health food R&D, photography, content creation, etc. Catherine has been a member of the HKA Finance Committee since 2017 and joined the Trustees Committee in 2017. She and her husband, Ramiz, have both lived in Hong Kong for over 10 years. They have two children, the older one joined HKA in 2016 and the younger in 2018.