Board of Trustees

Bixby & Associates, d.b.a. Bixby School, is a non-profit corporation, 501(c)(3), with legal and fiduciary management authority vested in a Board of Trustees and operational management authority vested in the Head of School. The Board of Trustees oversees the hiring, supervision, and evaluation of the Head of School and the planning for the fiscal and strategic stability and longevity of the school.

Stephanie Raessler

Board President

I grew up in Cleveland and attended the College of Wooster where I received a BA in International Relations/Economics.  After graduation, I worked as a contractor for the State Department in Washington D.C., processing visas and passports and also doing statistical analysis for various US consulates.  At the end of this work I married my husband, Jon, and we decided to take a few years to experience life “out west” before returning to the East Coast.  We packed up and moved to Denver where I completed an MA in Global Finance at the University of Denver, and we loved Colorado so much that we’ve now been here for 10 years!  I currently work for MarkWest Energy Partners in Denver, and have been with them for 8 years.  I serve as MarkWest’s Credit Manager, managing a group of analysts that are in charge of monitoring financial counterparty risk.  I love data!
Jon and I have two wonderful children, Beckett and Philippa.  Beckett is in 1st grade at Bixby, and Philippa attends Bixby Preschool.
When I’m not working or playing Legos with the kids, you can find me gardening, cooking, or buried in a book about British history.  Our house is overrun with books and we love it that way!
My favorite thing about Bixby is that everything that is best practice for children is happening here every day. Because of this, my kids love going to school and they love learning.  This strong foundation carries with Bixby kids wherever they go afterwards.
How long on the Board: This is my first year on the board.
Why I joined the Board: We love this school and it has given our family so much– I want to make sure as many other families as possible have the same great experience.
Carol Achatz

Board Vice President

I moved to Boulder in 1987 after completing coursework in geology and secondary education at Michigan State University. I have spent the bulk of my career involved in IT-related work at CU.

My husband, Tom Morris, and I have two sons, Nicholas and Benjamin, both Bixby alums (2006/2009).

When not at Bixby or engaged in other volunteer commitments, you will likely find me hiking or gardening (basically doing anything to be outdoors), or cooking in the kitchen, spending time with family and friends.

I originally participated on the board from 2001-2010. My years volunteering at Bixby as a parent were rewarding. Whether in the classroom, folding swim towels, setting up the annual bazaar or participating in board activities, I too was always learning and experiencing the community and school we know as Bixby. I am motivated to contribute to the board as an alumni parent because I recognize the benefits of a Bixby education over time and appreciate the opportunities my children had to develop as intrinsic learners and well-rounded people in the rich, caring Bixby environment. Looking forward, I have interest in contributing to the future of Bixby because there will always be children who will thrive in this special place.

Nicole Speer

 Board Secretary

I am originally from Portland, Oregon, and went to college outside of Los Angeles and then to graduate school in St. Louis before landing in Boulder for post-doctoral training at the University of Colorado. My husband and I only planned to stay in Colorado for two years, but like many people we had a hard time leaving Boulder once we had arrived. Eleven years later, we are still here and can’t imagine being anywhere else. We love being so close to nature and all of the outdoor activities we have easy access to. I work at the University of Colorado Boulder where I manage a brain imaging research center that supports dozens of federally and privately funded research projects. One of my favorite aspects of my job is finding ways to let the community know about all the exciting findings that are coming out of our center, particularly around brain development and brain health. There is so much we can do to help our brains thrive at all ages! One of the things that drew us to Bixby is that everything Bixby integrates into their curriculum is in line with current research on how to promote optimal learning and lifelong success in young children. As neuroscientists with elementary-aged kids, my husband and I couldn’t help but send our kids to a school that works with us to instill in our kids the skills we know are essential for academic and life success. I am very excited to join the Board and give back to this wonderful school that gives so much to our children every day!
Ron McClain

Board Treasurer

I am the parent of two Bixby alumni, one of who graduated in 2005 and one in 2011. Both of our children attended the school from kindergarten through 5th grade, and when they left Bixby, I felt like they were very well prepared to handle the academic and social challenges of middle school, high school, and beyond. For most of my working life, I’ve been involved in financial management, strategic planning, and mergers and acquisitions in the healthcare industry.

How long on board: I’ve been on the board since 2001 and have served as Treasurer for several years.

Why joined board: I joined the board because I believe in the unique educational philosophy embodied in Bixby’s Mission and Core Beliefs and wanted to help ensure the continuing success of the school. Having seen firsthand the benefits of a Bixby education for our own children, I think it’s important that future generations of students in Boulder also have such an opportunity.

Tony Derwinski

I am originally from Wausau, Wisconsin.  I attended college at Arizona State University and then law school at DePaul University College of Law, where I met my wife Betsy.  After nearly 15 years in Chicago we moved to Boulder in 2014 and live here with our three children, all Bixby students.  I currently practice law at Ruegsegger Simons Smith & Stern, LLC where I focus on Civil Litigation.  We enjoy everything Boulder has to offer, especially the amazing hiking and nearby skiing.  Not a day goes by where we aren’t impressed with the education our children receive at Bixby and the benefit we receive as parents watching our children flourish.  

William Pizzi (Bill)

I am a retired CU faculty member, having taught in the criminal law area at the CU Law for 35 years. My research was comparative in nature and I was able to travel to many foreign countries to see how they handle criminal investigations and criminal trials.

My daughters, Anne and Elise, both went to Bixby and I give Bixby a lot of credit for building a strong foundation of learning in both of them. They have done well academically in the years after Bixby, but I am also proud of their values and the way they relate to others. I think Bixby helped developed that side of them as well.

I am “returning” to Bixby after twenty years away because my granddaughter, Rosemary Westhoff, is in preschool. When my daughter, Anne and her spouse, Ryan, accepted jobs in the Denver area, the first thing Anne asked was that I enroll Rosie at Bixby for when she would turn 2 ½. There is another granddaughter on the way to Bixby, so I was glad to get the call from Lexie to serve on the board as I will be involved with Bixby for some time to come.

How long on board: New this year.

Connie Solowiej

My involvement with Bixby is long and filled with many wonderful times as the parent of a student, a volunteer, a reading teacher, and now, a member of the Board. Being on the Board provides me with the opportunity to promote many of the things that make Bixby special–development of the whole child in small, intimate classes, continued focus on critical thinking and personal responsibility, and a multifaceted assessment process that goes beyond skills analysis to include a unique learning style rubric and student portfolios.

As I shift from the classroom to the boardroom, I am excited to combine my former business experience in finance, management, and human resources in profit (IBM) and non-profit (The Nature Conservancy) environments with my varied history at Bixby, while supporting a progressive education model. It also provides the opportunity for continued connection to the vibrant Bixby community. I have deep affection and appreciation for Bixby’s founders, faculty, and families, and especially so for the students I have taught over the years.

When growing up a in small town in New York, I never quite pictured the road would lead me to this satisfying life in Colorado. And, that Bixby student in my own family is now a recent college graduate, whose love of writing and math started at Bixby. A Bixby education also led to his style of learning concepts deeply with the ability to apply them broadly and in unexpected ways. In thanks for the many ways that Bixby has given to me and my family, I look forward to giving back through working on Board.

Holly Sprenkle

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer – 10 years, Alumni interviewer for Tufts University – 14 years, Adult Literacy tutor for Boulder Reads – 2 years My undergraduate degree was in Child Study and I was certified in elementary education. I worked for a year as a child advocate in Boston, after law school I was a public defender in Los Angeles for 10 years (including working on hiring and recruitment), worked in litigation for several Denver firms and have worked on a project basis for an e-discovery company for the last 10 years. When I was a parent at Bixby I was head of solicitations for Auction, Auction Chair, and an occasional substitute teacher. My daughter, Julia – a Bixby alum- is a senior this year. How long on the board: New this year. Why on the board: I am interested in education and giving back to organizations like Bixby that I believe in. My daughter will be going away to college next year, and I only work part time on a project basis, so I have time to dedicate to the Board. I am interested in education and I am also very grateful for the education my daughter received at Bixby.

Lee A. Strickler

I am a managing partner at Stevens, Littman, Biddison, Tharp & Weinberg, LLC, a full-service law firm in Boulder. I have been with the firm for nearly 15 years and a “partner” for 13, practicing primarily family law. My husband is Travis Sagrillo. When not working, I spend time with my husband, daughter, and dog, sail, ski, golf, and cook. Not necessarily in that order. Our daughter (technically my stepdaughter), Giavanna (“Gia”) Sagrillo is in 4th grade and loves Bixby. How long on board: This is my second year. Why joined board: I joined the board because I love Bixby, what it stands for, and what it offers; primarily, however, because Gia’s education is the most singularly important thing to me, and I joined to make sure that her education and Bixby experience is the best it can be.