Ellis Appoints Tomar Pierson-BROWN ’97 Board Chair, Welcomes New Trustees for 22-23

After serving on the Ellis Board of Trustees for three years, Tomar Pierson-BROWN ’97 took the lead as Board Chair beginning July 2022.
"I’m really excited to have the opportunity to serve Ellis in this way. I remember the first day I came to Ellis and was greeted by a Touring Tiger, and I was so excited by the possibility that this would be my new school,” Tomar said. "To think that that little girl grew up to be the chair of the board—that I’m part of the team keeping that dream alive for little girls of the future—just feels awesome, and I’m really excited to be part of that.”

Tomar attended Ellis from sixth through twelfth grade, and she has stayed active in the Ellis community over the years. She was recognized as a Centennial Laureate in 2016 and was proud to represent her generation of Ellis alumnae during the School’s Centennial celebrations that year. She treasures her Ellis experience, especially the friendships that endure today and the rigorous academic preparation that allowed her to take on the challenges of college and her first jobs with relative ease.

"I still have these really great friendships, and that’s the most treasured aspect of my Ellis experience because I’m still reaping the benefits of that,” she said. "The benefit of the academic rigor becomes especially clear when you get to college, but that exposure has helped me into my adulthood, too. You just treasure that you were blessed to have this educational experience where you were so cared for and so supported.”

As a board member, and now as chair, Tomar said she wants to continue cultivating the service orientation of the board to ensure that Ellis lives up to the four pillars of its strategic plan.

"We want to make sure Ellis remains stable and solvent for future generations of girls,” she said. "We're a safe and supportive environment for girls to excel academically, but also a financially strong organization, and we want to make sure Ellis is here to educate girls long after we’re gone.”

Additionally, the board welcomed five new trustees for the 2022–2023 school year:

  • Stephen Chen has been the General Counsel of Duolingo since March 2020. From July 2014 to February 2020, he served as Associate General Counsel for Proofpoint, an enterprise security company. He previously served as Associate General Counsel of Marin Software; Director and Senior Counsel, Mergers and Acquisition at VMWare; and Legal Director of Yahoo!. He is a graduate of Harvard College (1994) and Harvard Law School (1997). Stephen’s daughter Ella is a member of the Ellis Class of 2028.
  • Christine Nalitz is a veteran of non-profit fundraising, specializing in donor relations for higher education institutions. She is currently an Associate Director at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and has also worked for Cornell University and the University of Washington. Before joining CMU, she was the Director of Annual Giving at Phipps Conservatory. Christine earned her master’s degree from St. John’s College and her bachelor’s degree from Kenyon College. Before returning to Pittsburgh in 2017, she served on the board of the Ithaca Community Childcare Center in Ithaca, NY. Christine currently lives in Highland Park with her two daughters, Louisa, Ellis Class of 2032, and Sylvia, Ellis Class of 2034.
  • Joe Schmid is Chief Technology Officer at Actium Health, where he and his team build AI-powered products and clinical machine learning models to help major health systems proactively keep patients healthy. Prior to his current role, Joe served in a number of engineering and executive roles for Silicon Valley startups, including Victrio (acquired by Verint) doing machine learning-based fraud detection for large banks and BeVocal (acquired by Nuance) providing speech recognition for major wireless carriers. Joe cares deeply about education and has many educators in his family: his late father Jim (high school math and early computer science), mother Kathy (high school P.E.), father-in-law Dave (chemistry professor at Texas A&M University), and wife Sarah (mechanical engineering and robotics professor at Carnegie Mellon University). Joe holds a B.S. degree in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has two daughters, Kate, Ellis Class of 2031, and Julia, Ellis Class of 2033.
  • Colleen DAILY Simonds '95 began her career in fashion and retail, taking on senior roles at Gap, Inc. and J.Crew for more than ten years before starting her own interior design firm in 2011. Working with many of the retail “greats,” she developed her appreciation for fine fabrics, beautiful pattern and color, and the art and commerce of putting it all together. After more than 15 years of big city life in San Francisco and New York City, Colleen moved back to her hometown of Pittsburgh in 2017 where she happily resides with her husband Henry and two boys, John and George. Colleen is a graduate of Duke University and The Ellis School, Class of 1995.
  • Corinne MCGINLEY Smith, Esq. '01, is a Judicial Law Clerk for the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. In her role at the Court’s Central Legal Staff, Corinne drafts memorandums and opinions primarily in the areas of family law and domestic relations. She is also a member of the Court’s Civil Conflicts Team. Corinne is active in the Allegheny County Bar Association and served as Chair of the Young Lawyers Division and as an ACBA Board Member. She currently serves as Chair of Attorneys Against Hunger for the Allegheny County Bar Foundation where every dollar raised supports local hunger agencies. Corinne is an alumna of the Ellis Class of 2001 and attended Dickinson College. She received a master’s degree in forensic science and law and her Juris Doctor from Duquesne University. In her free time, Corinne enjoys reading, running in her neighborhood of Point Breeze, and spending time with her husband, Josh, and their three daughters. Her daughter Harper is a member of the Ellis Class of 2035.
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