News Post

WT Welcomes New Members to Board of Trustees

Education, innovation, and social responsibility at core of experience

Winchester Thurston School is pleased to announce four new members to its Board of Trustees. Henry S. Beukema, Kristen Burns, Illah Nourbakhsh, and Shannah Tharp-Gilliam bring broad and deep experience in academic programming, fundraising, technology, and community service.

"This group of individuals ensures that we will continue to focus on the education models of the future while simultaneously reinforcing the imperative of our founder to 'think also of the comfort and the rights of others,'" said Gary J. Niels, Head of School.

Henry S. Beukema recently retired after a 36-year career as a Pennsylvania grantmaker, including 12+ years with the Heinz Endowments and Pittsburgh Foundation. Most recently he served as the executive director of the McCune Foundation where he helped distribute grants of approximately $27.5 million annually to organizations located in western Pennsylvania.








Kristen A. Burns is the associate director at The Grable Foundation, where she leads Grable's early childhood work, including early learning programs, professional development strategies, and support for parents of young children. Her grantmaking portfolio also includes innovative learning models, mentoring, girls' issues, STEAM and maker learning, and social services for children and families. Burns's three children attend WT.




Illah Nourbakhsh is a professor of robotics, director of the CREATE lab, and associate director for robotics faculty at Carnegie Mellon University. His current research projects explore community-based robotics, including educational and social robotics and ways to use robotic technology to empower individuals and communities. He has published a variety of books, most recently Parenting for Technology Futures. Nourbakhsh is also CEO and chairman of Airviz, Inc., a company dedicated to empowering individuals regarding home air quality.



Shannah Tharp-Gilliam is the director of the Office of Research and Evaluation at Homewood Children's Village (HCV), joining the organization in 2011 as its second hire. As a member of this team, she has led programmatic design and created and led the evaluation of services to Homewood's children and families. Tharp-Gilliam is the mother of two sons who are both WT alumni.

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