2021–22 New Faculty and Staff
Benny Abraham joins the Modern and Classical Languages Department to teach Latin. He comes to CA from Nashville, where he taught at the Harpeth Hall School for 16 years. Originally from St. Louis, Benny is looking forward to a life in Massachusetts. When not reading Latin poetry with students, Benny debates the finer points of Tolkien’s Ring-lore with his six-year-old son or bores his wife, Carrie (CA library assistant), with the same.
Kim Blodgett is the new drawing, sculpture, and fiber arts teacher, as well as an assistant cross-country running coach. Previously, Kim worked for several non-profit art programs teaching underserved Boston youth. She has taught college, continuing education, and at public and private schools. Most recently, she worked six years as an art teacher and coach at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta. When she’s not in the classroom, you can find Kim running, hiking, biking, or competing at dog agility with her thirteen-pound Russell Terrier, Seraphina.
Alexander Brady (he/him/his) grew up in Bedford, Mass. He has danced professionally with the Joffrey Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and Twyla Tharp Dance. On Broadway, he was an original cast member of Movin’ Out, The Time’s They Are a-Changin, and Come Fly Away. Brady has danced in the films Across the Universe and Julie and Julia. He has staged Tharp repertory for dance companies worldwide, taught as a guest teacher, and choreographed at many universities and schools. He is thrilled to be joining the faculty of CA and teaching dance with his partner, Rika Okamoto.
Sam Culbert ’15 (she/her/hers) joins the marketing and communications team this year. Since graduating from Kenyon College in 2019, she has spent the past two years teaching at independent schools including The Windward School in White Plains, N.Y., and The Chestnut Hill School in Newton, Mass. In her free time, Sam enjoys reading, crocheting, and yoga. She is excited to be back at CA.
Elizabeth “Betsy” Day (she/her/hers) joins the marketing and communications team as the Assistant Director of Communications and Advancement Initiatives. Betsy comes to us from the Winsor School, where she has held various roles, but most recently was the Assistant Director of Annual Giving. Prior to Winsor, she worked at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute as a Development Assistant and at The Carter Center as a Development Intern. She also volunteers on the Alumni Council for Becket-Chimney Corners, the overnight camp she attended in the Berkshires. During the summer, you can likely find Betsy outside with her family’s Australian Terrier or enjoying ice cream at Kimball Farms.
Carrie Grinham (she/her/hers) is the new library assistant. A native of Chicago, she comes to CA from Nashville, Tenn. where she worked for Vanderbilt University. She enjoys watching seventies movies, thrifting, reading to her young son, and dominating at Boggle.
Grant Hightower is the Director of Community and Equity at Concord Academy. Previously, he worked at the Wellesley and Reading Public School districts as Coordinator and Director of the METCO Program. He is passionate about human service, his wife and their four children, and mastering the art of building IKEA furniture.
Alexa Holmes (she/her/hers) is the Wilcox Fellow for Health and Wellness for the 2021–22 academic year. Previously, Alexa worked at Kents Hill School in various roles spanning from Admissions Coordinator to English Teacher to DEI Coordinator. Beyond her role at CA, Alexa loves listening to live music, engaging with issues pertaining to equity and justice, spending time in nature, and connecting with family and friends.
Alec Kaus (he/him/his) teaches photography at CA. He holds an MFA from the University of Georgia and a BA in Studio Art from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. His personal work moves between the fields of criticism, curation, and photography, often engaging with contingent notions of home. New to Massachusetts, he enjoys exploring the area with a camera in hand. Alec lives in Lawrence with his partner, Harrison.
Natasha Kothari (she/her/hers) is the Assistant Director of College Counseling. Having worked in undergraduate admissions at both Clark University and her alma mater, the University of Kansas, she is looking forward to guiding students and their families through the college process. In her free time, Natasha enjoys crosswords, cooking, and concerts, as well as non-alliterative hobbies like reading, yoga, and quality time with her husband and her dog.
Kelly McIntosh (she/her/hers) joins CA as an admissions counselor. She began her career as a lawyer but has since changed gears and found her passion working with students. Kelly has worked in career services and admissions at Boston College Law School, Boston University School of Law, Babson College, and Bentley University. For the past three years, she has advised local high school students as a college counselor at Campus Bound. A native of Concord, Kelly still lives in town with her two teenagers and her dog, Agnes.
Ndanu Mutisya (she/her/hers) is the new Student Life Fellow for the 2021–22 school year. She graduated from Hamilton College in May with degrees in economics and theater. She enjoys anything theater related, singing, movies, and playing tennis with her brother.
Rika Okamoto (she/her/hers) is thrilled to join the CA community and work with young aspiring artists. Her career in dance expands over three decades as a dancer, director, and educator, working with organizations including Martha Graham Dance Company and Twyla Tharp. She holds MFA from University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Yoga Alliance 500-hour Advance Teacher Certification, and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Level 1 Teacher Certification from Brown University. She has a daughter who lives in California, a partner, Alex, who will be co-teaching at CA, and a 6-year-old dog, Dauphine.
Desiree Sheff (she/her/hers) teaches in the Mathematics Department. Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, she brings 20 years teaching experience in both mathematics and science. Desiree lives in Concord, Mass., with her husband and two sons. When she is not teaching, she enjoys cycling, reading, and cooking.
Deanna Stuart (she/her/hers) is the leave replacement as the performing arts production manager in the fall and a math tutor in the Academic Support Center all year. She has spent the past four decades working in independent schools including in the Arts Department and the archives at Brooks School, and in the Math Department at Phillips Academy. She loves spending time with her daughters, cooking (especially Chinese banquets), and doing needlework.
Paloma Valenzuela is a Dominican-American writer, director, actress, and educator originally from Boston. She is the creative director of the production company La Palomita Productions, LLC, based in Boston and the Dominican Republic. She is the writer,producer, and creator of the comedic web series The Pineapple Diaries. A 2019 City of Boston Artist Fellow, she also works as a teaching artist in Boston and has taught in various programs for organizations such as Grub Street. She recently joined the faculty of Brandeis University, currently teaching screenwriting, which she will also teach at CA this year through the Visual Arts and English Departments.
Ruth Watterson (she/her/hers) teaches history at CA. She hails from Northern Ireland and holds an undergraduate degree from St. Andrews, Scotland. She spent 10 years researching and teaching at Harvard. After a few years teaching ELL students at Northeastern, she worked as a program director at a tutoring company before coming to CA. She loves Diet Coke, dancing, poetry, and hosting themed dinner parties.
On June 3, Concord Academy honored the class of 2022 in the Academy Garden, celebrating the accomplishments and promise of the newest members of CA’s alumnae/i community. A damp morning didn’t subdue the spirits of the 102 members of CA’s 98th graduating class. And in her Commencement address, Trelane Clark ’92, P’22 advised them to embrace gratitude, grace, and greatness.
As the 2022 Centennial Hall Fellow, Rashaun Mitchell ’96, a dancer, choreographer, educator, and mentor, shared his artistry and life story at Concord Academy this spring. “I’m not
working with narrative; I’m not working with music,” he said at a dance demonstration at CA. “We’re really trying to understand what is happening in the body when we’re dancing and how we can expose the mechanics of the creation.”
Nick Hiebert, 2018–2021 Katherine Carton Hammer ’68 Chair, Presents on Connection, Collaboration, and Community
On May 5, CA English teacher Nick Hiebert shared how he had benefited from holding the Katherine Carton Hammer ’68 Endowed Faculty Chair over the past three years. The support, Hiebert said, gave him time and space “to realize how much I am made, sustained, and inspired by other people.”