Administrator Bios - The International School

Education Leadership Team

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Robert Woods
Head of School

  • From California: Spent six years in Saudi Arabia, nine in Brazil, four in Egypt,  six in Finland, and three in Tanzania
  • Bachelor of Arts in Drama and Speech for Chapman University
  • Master of Education from University of California, Riverside
  • Certified Elementary Teacher, State of California
  • Certified Administrator, University of California, Fullerton
  • At TIS since 2012

Click here for an article about Robert.


Bodo Heiliger
Principal, K-5                                              

  • From: Radolfzell, Germany; and Allendale, New Jersey
  • Bachelor of Arts from Colby College
  • Master of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • At TIS since 2016

The International School is a truly unique and inspiring place of teaching and learning. Ann, my wife, is a Portland native who has raved about The International School for years. During past summer visits to Portland, I would drive past the school and dream about how wonderful it would be to work at a school that truly embraces the ideals of global citizenship; the beauty and diversity of language learning; as well as be recognized as an IB World School. Now, not only are my dreams a reality, but next year, my two-year old twins will also experience the beauty of the TIS community.

For the past fifteen years, I have been teaching in various roles, across nearly all elementary grade levels, and in several schools. Most recently, I have been the Primary Years Programme Coordinator at Munich International School. During my time in Munich, I had the opportunity to train to become a PYP Workshop Leader to allow me to lead workshops for schools across the world on how to teach and implement the PYP. Outside of school, I spend most of my time playing with my kiddos, as well as reading and writing about education.

Every day I become even more excited to be a part of this dedicated and diverse group of educators, students and parents. I look forward to working collaboratively with the entire community and appreciate the great responsibility I have of helping support TIS's continued growth and success. 

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Maria Abad
Head of Early Childhood Program

  • From Cuenca, Ecuador
  • Bachelor's in Education from Pontificia University of Cuenca
  • Teaching Certificate from Pontificia University of Cuenca
  • Teaching since 1987; at TIS since 1993

I love working with young children. They are so eager to learn and so open to the world and to new experiences. My interactions with the kids are always the highlight of my day, whether it’s when I visit their classrooms, in the waiting rooms, or when they run into my office in the middle of a meeting to give me a hug.

I originally became a teacher simply because I wanted to work with people, but after just my first year of teaching I knew this was the job for me. Now I can’t imagine being in any other field. It fills me with such joy to get to be a part of our students’ lives, watching them grow, develop and acquire life long skills, and to be a part of this school. Our mission and community are really what I love most about TIS. We all come from different places and parents choose this school for their children because they recognize the value in that diversity as well as our strong academic program.

My hope for all the students in The International School is that they continue what they start here, that they gain the skills needed to function well in society, and go out in pursuit of their dreams. I love hearing from alumni students. As they become young adults, they realize the importance of their time at The International School. They realize that they’ve walked away with so many life-long skills, not only the ability to speak two languages. It’s great to see where those skills have taken them in life.

Click here for an article about Maria.

TIS celebrates 20 years with Maria & Jossie

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Abelid (Abby) Verri
Director of International Baccalaureate Curriculum & Instructional Coach

  • From Hidalgo, Mexico; and Portland, OR
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from Portland State University
  • Master of Education from Marylhurst University (in progress)
  • Teaching since 2008; at TIS since 2008

As part of the TIS community, I enjoy working in such a rich multicultural environment, and enjoy listening to the multiple languages being spoken around me as I walk through the hallways. I feel honored to be part of a thriving community of learners- both teachers and students; TIS is a place where I can learn from everyone around me.  I see education as a journey, not a destination; this belief leads me to be continually learning about education, approaches to learning, and approaches to teaching. 

Working in an IB World School is a privilege, and I am humbled to be able to work and collaborate with the TIS faculty in the development of a rigorous program that can empower, educate and challenge our students to become global citizens, and inspire them to reach their full potential.


Ariana Levi
Student Support Services Coordinator

  • From Montevideo, Uruguay
  • Bachelor's of Education and Teaching Certificate in Special Education from ORANIM, Academic College of Education in Israel
  • Teaching since 2001; teaching at TIS since 2013 

Throughout my life, from a very early age, I have been part of groups and institutions with the goal to educate children, either formally or informally. I’m a people person, so when I had to decide what career I wanted to pursue I knew I would like to study something that involved having a positive impact in my community. Particularly, I wanted to work with children and most importantly, I wanted to make a difference in their lives. That’s when I decided to pursue my Bachelor’s degree in Special Education.

Today, after more of 10 years of professional experience, working in three languages and in three different countries, I feel so happy to have earned my degree as a teacher. I have grown to be a committed educator that develops long-lasting relationships with students and their families.

My goal as a teacher is to foster a love of learning, providing children with the right skills and tools to explore and thrive in a fast developing world where knowledge is very accessible. I hope that one day I see my students looking back and remembering me as a teacher who cared for them and who somehow contributed to the fulfillment of their dreams.

Please click here for an article about Ariana.


Senior Administrative Team


Meredith Fleming
Summer Camp Director; Capstone & Transportation Coordinator

  • From Eugene, Oregon
  • BA in Journalism and Spanish
  • MA in Interdisciplinary Studies
  • At TIS since 2013

Although born and raised in Oregon, I have spent many years living, working and traveling abroad. As a high school junior, I studied abroad for the first time as an AFS-USA cultural exchange student in Chile. The opportunity to experience another culture and language broadened my worldview and taught me that second language fluency is truly invaluable. Since then, I have found numerous opportunities to continue to explore Latin America and use my Spanish fluency. I have studied abroad three times (Chile, Mexico, Ecuador); worked for nonprofit organizations in Argentina, Ecuador, and Mexico; spent two years in Panama establishing and managing a backpacker hostel; and built friendships with people throughout more than fifteen countries.

The opportunity to join TIS allows me to support intercultural education, language immersion, and student success – all things that I love! 


Marguerite McAleer
HR, People, & Culture

  • From all over the world!
  • Bachelors of Science in Business and Hospitality Management, Florida International University
  • At TIS since 2016

Marguerite joins the TIS Team with over ten years of HR and general management experience focused on meeting strategic and operational objectives for various industries such as Hospitality service, Manufacturing, and Technology.  Marguerite has been responsible for a variety of HR activities including staffing, training, coaching, employee development, and employee relations. Her attentive, hands-on approach and focus on teamwork aligns well with her new role at TIS. Marguerite's competencies include performance management, employee relations training, and strategic approach to employee engagement. She believes that success involves team collaboration and ideas, especially fun ones!

Marguerite's service orientation combined with her proven ability to equip leaders and contribute to operational excellence directly contributes to the needs of TIS's objectives. It is important that our team members are committed to furthering to the success of our international community, and Marguerite isn't afraid to roll up her sleeves and work alongside the team to make it happen.

When Marguerite is not at work, you may find her at one of Portland's many parks swinging on the monkey bars with her son Grayson who is 7 years old.  If she is not on the playground, she may be assisting with a charity, or simply planning a trip. She has lived in Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Egypt, and Sudan. Feel free to stop by her office anytime with a big smile to say hi. She will be doing the same. 


Lauren Riegelnegg
Development Director

  • From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Bachelor's in Spanish Language and Literacy with a concentration in Latin American studies, The University of Pittsburgh
  • At TIS since 2008

I moved to Portland in 2008 and was fortunate to find a place with The International School community. TIS could not be a better fit for me. I have been involved in the field of language education since 2002. I’ve taught adult ESL and Spanish to children, including at a Spanish immersion preschool in Pittsburgh where I also ran the summer camp program.I love being a part of a school that fosters language education and multicultural understanding, while also getting to work with children and people from all over the world.

Giving your child the gift of a second language is invaluable. It opens so many doors. But students at TIS gain much more than a second language. They become world citizens- open-minded, knowledgeable, confident, and and bilingual. What a head start!

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Katherine Simons
Marketing & Communications Director

  • From Washington, DC; San Francisco, CA; and Greenwich, CT
  • Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, Georgetown University
  • Master's (MBA) in Marketing and Strategy, Yale University, School of Management
  • TIS parent since 2012; On staff since 2014

I am very proud to be a member of The International School community, both as a staff member and as a parent.

I have over 15 years’ worth of both online and offline marketing experience, and have held a variety of roles at both Fortune 500 corporations and small start-ups. Most recently, I was a consultant for a variety of firms in the technology, entertainment, real estate, and philanthropic industries. I am so happy to be able to now apply my skills to TIS.

My work and love of travel has allowed me to engage with people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. My prior employment enabled me to spend significant time in India, Australia, and the Middle East, and my family spent a number of years living in Hong Kong while I was younger. I enjoy meeting - and collaborating with - a variety of people, and I hope that you find me to be a supportive ear and an approachable source of information and guidance on campus.

The International School is a wonderful place for children to learn and grow. It provides invaluable gifts of culture, community, and immersive language. I send my own children here, and it is a true pleasure to watch them become confident, caring, and thoughtful world citizens.  I only wish that I had had this opportunity as a child!


Robert Timmons
Director of Finance & Operations

  • From Columbia, Missouri
  • Bachelor's in International Studies, University of Missouri
  • MBA from William Woods University
  • At TIS since 2002

Rob came to TIS with prior experience as Director of Finance for SakéOne Corporation and Branch Manager at First National Bank & Trust. Rob has also served on the Boards of the Beaverton Sister City Foundation and the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO). Rob is actively involved in the Northwest Association of Independent Schools (NWAIS), having served on the Business Officers Conference Planning Committee, as a host in breakout sessions on various topics relevant to independent schools, and as a member of four school accreditation teams. Rob enjoys travel and multi-cultural activities. He is a firm believer in immersion education, and proud to be a part of this quality, ground-breaking institution.


Jan Williams
Admissions Director

  • From London, England
  • Bachelor's in Comparative American Studies, University of Warwick, England
  • Master's in History from The College of William and Mary
  • At TIS since 2003

I moved to the United States after undergraduate work, and, after several years on the east coast, I moved to Portland in 1991. Before becoming the Director of Admissions at the International School, I worked in admission offices at Lewis & Clark College and Reed College.


Administrative & Support Team

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Sonya Alexander
Health and Safety Coordinator

  • From Baltimore, Maryland
  • B.A. in Psychology, Washington College
  • At TIS since 2014

I love travel, education and nursing which fit perfectly into the role of Health and Safety Coordinator at TIS.  This school is so unique; when I first heard about TIS I was intrigued by its language diversity and wanted to know more.

I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and graduated from Washington College with a B.A. in psychology.  Afterwards, I joined Peace Corps, where I served as a teacher and community development worker in a rural village of Rwanda, going without running water for 2 years.  I loved the living abroad experience so much I moved to Asia and taught Kindergarten in Eastern Thailand.  In addition I have spent time living in Australia and South Africa.  After meeting a great guy we decided to move back to America and Portland was our city of choice.

Since arriving in Portland I obtained my EMT license and worked as a medication aide at a senior retirement facility before finding TIS.  At TIS I help deal with any and all illnesses or injuries, emergencies, parent notification about health and safety concerns, and proactively working with children and staff on health and safety issues.


Chelsea Bock
Marketing & Admissions Assistant

  • From Riegelsville, Pennslyvania
  • B.A. Mass Communications and Photography, York College
  • At TIS since 2017

I am thrilled to be a part of The International School community! The diversity and culture of TIS is exciting and inspiring and is what really drew me to this organization. Before becoming the Marketing & Admissions Assistant at TIS I spent time working in marketing and communications for a fine art printer/publisher and a creative agency. I moved to Portland in 2015 to experience a new culture and community and couldn’t be happier living in the PNW. 

In her free time, you can find Chelsea hiking, biking, crafting, thrifting or just exploring somewhere in Oregon.


Frank Bojanowski
Facilities Manager

  • From Detroit, Michigan
  • At TIS since 2008

Returning from Vietnam in 1970, I attended college pursuing biochemistry. With a young family to support, I redirected my efforts and education towards becoming a Respiratory Care Practitioner, working in a variety of capacities as Department Head, Assistant Supervisor and Therapist. By 1978, I wanted a new challenge.

Enjoying things mechanical as well as working with my hands, I enrolled in PCC's HVACR program. For years I would work my regular job and in the evenings commute from Astoria to PCC 2-3 evenings a week, completing the program. Obtaining a contractor's license, I started my own HVACR business doing commercial, residential and shipboard work. With the loss of my wife to cancer and having two children to raise, I sold my business settling in to routine employment in HVACR.

During that time I began coursework in facilities and facilities management with a variety of courses in energy management, building code interpretation, electrical and plumbing code, and facilities management. I later attended OIT taking coursework in building operations which led to certification. In addition to certification through OIT, I have certifications from Ferris State University, RSES , NWG and others. I continue to pursue further education in facilities, enrolling in courses and seminars to round out and refresh my education. Education is a lifelong process.


Vitaliy Gabor
Facilities Assistant Technician

  • From Chernivtsi, Ukraine and Portland, Oregon.
  • Associate’s Degree in Facilities Maintenance Technology from Portland Community College
  • Certification from HVAC/R Installation from Portland Community College
  • Manufacturing Technology back ground from Clackamas Community College
  • At TIS since 2016

I'm grateful for the opportunity to be a part of an organization like TIS. I grew up in a bilingual home and therefore experienced firsthand the priceless gift of knowing a second language. I'm excited to contribute to this school in the facilities department. I worked in the manufacturing field for seven years after which I changed my career focus to HVAC. I completed the HVAC program at Portland Community College and worked as an HVAC technician prior to coming to TIS.

Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my wife and our two daughters. Growing up in Oregon, I truly enjoy the diversity and culture here. We often explore the local parks and attractions. I am also very heavily involved in my local church where I work as the youth leader. I work with young people (teens to early twenties) and coordinate events, camp, fund raisers, etc. I am a people person and look forward to getting to know the staff and kids here at TIS.


Nurys Herrera

Administrative Assistant to the Head of Early Childhood, Summer Camp Registrar

  • From Lima, Peru
  • Certificate in Foreign Language for Elementary Students from Pacific University
  • Certificate in Acting from Catholic University of Lima

Nurys has been with TIS on and off for over 20 years! She first came to TIS in 1993, when she was a Teaching Assistant. She worked for PPS for 7 years and had been combining all her teaching years with another passion: acting! Nurys returned to TIS as a Low-K teacher in 2014 and became and Administrative Assistant to the Head of the Early Childhood in 2015.

I feel more than happy to be part of this community! TIS has been my home since I moved from Lima, Peru. Coming to work knowing that I will be surrounded by lovely kids and an amazing Staff that has become friends over the years, it fills my heart with joy and I am grateful for that!


Eros Minera
Facilities & Maintenance Specialist

  • From Guatemala
  • At TIS since 2011

I enjoy every day here. I came here with a vast array of experience in the construction and maintenance sector- everything from carpentry and painting to plumbing and electrical work- but also with seven years experience working for a large communications company in Guatemala. At TIS I’m happy to be able to utilize all my varied skills. I get to work with my hands and to solve problems, and I also get the opportunity to interact with many different types of people.

My interactions with the kids, parents and staff are my favorite parts of the day. The TIS community is very friendly and open-minded. I also enjoy working here because my wife is a Spanish teacher at TIS and our daughter is enrolled in the Japanese Track. Working with my family close by is like a dream come true.


Lisa Olivares
Alumni & Engagement Manager

  • From Chicago, Illinois
  • BS in Natural Resources and Environmental Science
  • Master’s in Urban Planning, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • At TIS since 2015

Lisa has an extensive background in non-profit fundraising and event planning, primarily with environmental organizations. Most recently, she was Executive Director of the Straub Environmental Center, where she oversaw fundraising events, donor outreach, volunteer recruitment, and the development of program materials. She continued to work with Straub on a contract basis while she took some time off to be with her young children.  

Some of you may have already met Lisa, as she is also a TIS parent! We are happy that she is now contributing her professional expertise to the TIS community. 

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Lisa San Gabriel
Executive Administrative Assistant

  • From San Rafael, California
  • BA in Psychology, University of California, Berkeley
  • At TIS since 2016

The International School recognizes the importance of teaching language with culture, for language and culture are intertwined; you cannot have one without the other. The enthusiasm and commitment of the staff to inspire children to be global citizens further convinced me that this community was one I wanted to be a part of, and I look forward to contributing to such a comprehensive, enriching learning environment.

I live in Portland with my partner and two cats and am having fun exploring all the wonderful hiking trails, parks, museums and restaurants that are plentiful here. I enjoy arts and crafts to explore my creativity and am trying my hand at a vegetable and herb garden in my backyard.


Lora Worden

  • Bachelor of Arts, English and Foreign Languages (Spanish and German), Lewis & Clark College
  • Graduate Certificate in Children’s and YA Literature, Portland State University
  • Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing, Portland State University
  • Masters in Library Science, Emporia State University (Specialization: Librarianship for children & young adults.)

Candy Trujillo
Administrative Assistant to the K-5 Principal, International Festival Coordinator

  • Bachelor's in Education from Auburn University
  • Master's Degree in Education from Concordia University
  • At TIS since 2016

I love working at TIS and the global environment that surrounds it. Over the years I have heard amazing stories about this school, so I'm really excited to be part of the community. I love languages and culture so please share! Some of my hobbies include reading, dancing and being outdoors.



Mark Usher
Technology Coordinator

  • At TIS since 2012