Board of Trustees

Ambleside School is a non-profit corporation, managed by a Board of Trustees, which includes the Head of School as a non-voting member. The board has a three-fold responsibility of fiscal management, spiritual oversight, and operational accountability. Trustees are elected by the Board and meet approximately once a month.

The Board is responsible for ensuring that the School is operating in accordance with its mission statement. It is also responsible for ensuring the long-term viability of the School, and for hiring and overseeing the performance of the Head of School. The day-to-day operations of the School are the responsibility of the Head of School.


Chairman – Richard McDonnell serves as Chairman for the Ambleside Board of Trustees.  He is Director in the General Motor’s Washington, DC office where he manages both the Grassroots and Political programs.  Richard has an MBA from Virginia Commonwealth University and received his undergraduate degree from Miami University in Oxford, OH.  He and his wife, Julia, have three children at Ambleside.  They are both natives of Northern Virginia and worship at The Falls Church Anglican Church.

Vice-Chairman – Paige Fishel is a psychotherapist in private practice in Sterling VA.  This is her fourth year serving on the Ambleside Board of Trustees. She and her husband, David, have three sons, ages 22, 18 and 13. The Fishels’ middle son graduated from Ambleside in 2012, and their youngest son is currently in 7th grade.   She was first drawn to Ambleside because it offered a rich and unique Charlotte Mason education. Eight years later, she states that she is delighted to see that Ambleside graduates are not only exemplary scholars, but also compassionate, engaged, life-long learners with servants’ hearts.

Treasurer – Rob Newton is almost finished with his Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and has an MBA from Old Dominion University.  He is working as an engineer and program analyst supporting Naval Sea Systems Command at the Washington Navy Yard in DC.  Rob is an active member of Sterling Park Baptist Church.  He and his wife, Jessel, have three children:  Alana, Joey and Stephen.   They are all at Ambleside School, where their love for learning has been cultivated and continually nurtured by the Charlotte Mason education.

Secretary – Nargues Weir has served on the Ambleside Board since 2012.  She is a physician and clinical researcher working at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. She and her husband, Scott, have three daughters, one that graduated from Ambleside and two currently attending.  She is passionate about Ambleside School because of the transformation she has witnessed in her children and in her home.

Virginia Wilcox (ex officio)

Wendy Zangardi has been an involved parent at Ambleside for 7 years, including Classroom Support Parent, Admissions Lead, and serving on the Board of Trustees for almost 4 years.  She and her husband, John, have two children attending Ambleside.  She knew Ambleside was the right school for her children when she experienced the Charlotte Mason atmosphere and witnessed children discover ideas that challenged them to think deeply.  Before choosing to leave the workforce to stay home with her children, Wendy worked as a Channel Sales Representative for EMC Corporation. Over the past 19 years, the Zangardi family have been active members of McLean Bible Church, serving in various roles and ministries.

Adam Soto attended Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, then Davidson College where he received a major in Spanish Literature.  He was commissioned into the U.S. Army, then attended medical school in Bethesda, MD at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS).  He is Board Certified in Family Medicine, serving as a Flight Surgeon and Physician for a Special Operations Aviation Unit, Executive Medicine Clinic, and Telehealth program for 7 years.  He is now in a second residency in Anesthesiology at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.  He and his wife, Becky, have two boys at Ambleside. They are committed to raising, guiding and leading their children spiritually and emotionally and found Ambleside to be a wonderful fit.  He stated that, “Ambleside provides a seamless continuum of education, consistent with God’s word and that nicely compliments our parenting endeavors. The name of Jesus is proudly proclaimed at Ambleside.”

Charles Ikutiminu holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria and a Master of Art degree in Communication from Regent University. He is a graduate of Rhema Bible Training Center, and has served as a Pastor for more than two decades. In the last five years, he has served as Director of International Missions at Capital Church, Vienna, VA.

Charles also serves as the Executive Director of ENI-Espwa Nouvel International, a non-profit organization he co-founded in 2012 with a mission to reverse the cycle of poverty in communities of developing countries. He is the Lead Minister and Founder of CrossPassion Ministries International, an organization with a burden for effective discipleship. Charles and his wife, Adekemi, have two sons, William (who graduated from Ambleside last year), and Kenneth (currently a student here).