About the Advisory Committee

Friends School of Portland realized that it would benefit greatly from the additional support and expertise that an Advisory Committee of members of the broader community would provide and actively sought a distinguished group of individuals. We had our first annual gathering in May 2008.

While we envision the role of the Advisory Committee maturing and evolving, currently we see the Advisory Committee supporting our mission in the following ways:

  • Gathering with the Board of Directors and administrative staff at least once each year for an informational presentation followed by discussion and the opportunity to offer analysis and advice.

  • Consulting informally on a case-by-case basis.  Each of our Advisory Committee members has specific areas of expertise and we will benefit from the ability to tap into that expertise should the need arise.

  • Serving as informal ambassadors for the school throughout our community, encouraging families to consider Friends School of Portland as an educational option for their children.

  • Supporting the school financially at a level feasible for the individual Advisory Committee member.

  • Permitting us to include Advisory Committee members' names on official school publications (printed and online).

Our goal is to have the Advisory Committee knowledgeable about the Friends School of Portland, about our goals and aspirations, and about our successes and our areas of needed improvement.   We are eager to have Advisory Committee members as part of our school family as we strive to provide our students with an exceptional education based on the Quaker values of integrity, truth, peace, community and simplicity.

Advisory Committee Members

Bill Bickley began his career as an English teacher at Wilmington Friends School, an independent day school in Wilmington, Delaware and now has more than thirty-five years of experience in secondary and post-secondary education.  During his career he has served in a variety of roles in independent school education, including head of upper school, acting headmaster, and director of college counseling.  Prior to his current position as senior associate director of admissions at the University of Delaware, Bickley was an associate dean of admissions at Swarthmore College and provided transitional leadership as acting director of admissions at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, the nation's oldest historically Black university.  Additionally, he has served as program committee chair for the Friends Council on Education, editorial board member and co-chair of the Harvard Educational Review, and most recently has joined the board of ASPIRA of Delaware, the local chapter of the national organization serving Hispanic youth.  Bickley earned his undergraduate degree at Haverford College, his master's degree at the University of Delaware, and his doctorate at Harvard University.

Charmarie Jenkins Blaisdell is a birthright Friend who graduated from George School in 1951.She grew up in the Quaker community of Buck Hill Falls PA, was a member of Green St., Palo Alto and Wellesley Monthly Meetings. After earning an M.A. and PhD from Tufts University in Early Modern European History in 1970, she joined the faculty at Northeastern University where she taught for 35 years. She completed the last 5 years of her tenure there with a double appointment in History and the Department of Education. She was Executive Director of the Palo Alto Meeting Pre-School in the early 60's, Assistant to the Director of Indianbrook at Farm and Wilderness Camps in Plymouth, Vermont in the mid-60's and on the Committee of Founders of the Marblehead Community Public charter School in MA. She also served as co-creator of an Interdisciplinary Humanities and Science Curriculum and Admissions Assistant for the Massachusetts Academy of Mathematics and Science in Worcester, MA. She has contributed to the work of several New England Association of Schools and Colleges evaluation committees. She was one of the founders of Coastal Senior College where she has been teaching history courses for ten years. She lives in Tenants Harbor where she sails and kayaks with her partner Stanley Levy. She is a member of the First Universalist Church of Rockland and in her "spare" time sings with the Midcoast Community Chorus.

Nancy Appel Boothby - With a B.A. from Beloit College, Nancy and her husband served in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, and then spent two years in Alternative C.O. Service in Colorado.  Afterwards they joined in the "Back to the Land Movement" of the early 70s, settling in Sedgwick ME.  Teaching first on Deer Isle, they landed at Moorestown Friends School in New Jersey where Nancy taught preK/K and then 1st-2nd grade. After 17 years at MFS, Nancy moved on to Princeton Friends School to co-teach the multiage 1st-2nd grade, and after 3 years, finally returned to Maine to teach in the public schools of Mt. Desert and the Midcoast for 5 years.  Nancy and her husband continue to farm for three seasons, which affords Nancy time to volunteer in classrooms at FSP where she is "having fun soaking in the rigorous and loving learning environment of a fine Quaker School."

Christopher B. Branson is a life-long Friend, an alumnus of Swarthmore College and the father of two daughters who were admitted to the Friends School of Portland in 2014. He lives within walking distance of Mackworth Island (first home of FSP) with his wife (Carolyn) and daughters (Michaela and Krista). Christopher is a life-long member of Community Friends Monthly Meeting (Cincinnati) and Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting. His father (Byron Branson) is a graduate of Guilford College. His mother (Wilhelmina Braddock Branson) is a graduate of George School. His paternal grandfather (B. Russell Branson) was a graduate of Guilford College and served as pastor of New Garden Friends Meeting in Greensboro, N.C. and Clintondale Friends Christian Church in Clintondale, New York, before providing over a decade of service to the American Friends Service Committee. Christopher’s maternal grandparents (Raymond and Sara Braddock) were life-long members of Ohio Valley Yearly meeting and Waynesville Monthly Meeting in Waynesville, Ohio. They also served as hosts of Davis House in Washington, D.C. from 1981 to 1983. After receiving a degree in Philosophy from Swarthmore College, Christopher received his J.D. from Harvard Law School and is an attorney with the Portland law firm of Murray, Plumb & Murray. He also serves on the Board of the ACLU of Maine. Christopher has served on the Advisory Committee of the Friends School of Portland since 2009.

Stephen Gefvert is a former Quaker school parent and retired physician who resides in Cumberland, Maine.

Bob Knight grew up in Riverton NJ and attended nearby Westfield Friends school and Westfield Monthly Meeting, where he is still a member.  After Westfield he went to George School,  graduating in 1958.  He majored in architecture at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and then got a Master of Architecture degree from Yale in 1970.  After working as a carpenter in Maine for a few years he went to California where he met his wife,  Lucia del Sol.  They were married in 1976 and moved to Blue Hill, Maine where Bob set up an architecture practice that continues today.  He is a past president of  the Maine Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the author of “A House on the Water”  (Taunton Press 2003). He originally came to the board because of his association with former Head of School James Grumbach, who advised Bob’s son Jesse Knight (1997) at George School.  “I think what makes a Friends School different is often very subtle.  At FSP I felt the same atmosphere that I remember from Westfield Friends where I got a wonderful education. Hopefully I can help keep that subtle difference in place.”

Adelaide Solomon-Jordan was a founding parent and board member of the Friends School of Atlanta, Georgia, an elementary and middle school. Historian with a focus on African Americans in 18th-19th century New England. Principal, Carter-Saunders Ltd. Educational Solutions in Rumford, Maine.

Sarah Standiford is with Planned Parenthood Federation of America and is the former Executive Director of the Maine Women's Lobby and its sister organization, the Maine Women's Policy Center www.mainewomen.org.  She also serves as a board member to the Maine Association of Nonprofits and as Secretary-Treasurer of Family Values@Work - a national work and family consortium. She earned a BA from Bates College in 1997, and studied with the School for International Training in Kenya. While not a current meeting member, Quaker principles and practice inform her life and work, and in particular, her commitment to social justice. She attended the Friends School of Baltimore, Maryland from Pre-K- 12. Sarah and her husband Jeff Fetterer live in Richmond, Maine where you'll find her canoeing, horseback riding, and enjoying the outdoors.

Nancy Stearns

Jackie Stillwell

Elizabeth Tarasevich is the Assistant Director and Reference Librarian at Prince Memorial Library in Cumberland, ME. Prior to her work at Prince Memorial, Elizabeth worked at the Portland Public Library as Electronic Services Librarian in the Reference Department. Before becoming a librarian, Elizabeth, with a background in Russian and French language and literature, taught English as a Second Language and Adult Basic Literacy when she lived in Boston. She lives in Portland with her husband and three children, where she serves on the Board of the Deering Center Neighborhood Association  and helps manage the Brentwood Farms Community Garden.

Tom Welch was born in Princeton, New Jersey, and growing up followed the peripatetic path of a faculty brat from Princeton to New Haven to Philadelphia.  He attended Germantown Friends School, and through parents, children or siblings has ties to Friends Central, Plymouth Meeting Friends, Haverford Friends, and Friends School (in Maryland). Tom graduated from Stanford University in 1972 and received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1975. He has variously been an attorney in private, corporate and government practice. Tom was appointed to the Maine Public Utilities Commission as Chair in April 2011, and had previously served as Chair of the Commission from 1993-2005. He currently works in Augusta, and lives in Hallowell. Tom served on the FSP Board of Directors for several years.