Head of School
Chris M. Fortunato, JD, MSW, became the ninth head of school at Thayer Academy in July 2021. A New Jersey native, Fortunato earned an undergraduate degree from Harvard College, a law degree from Harvard Law School, and a master’s degree in social work from Boston University. His varied career includes time as a practicing attorney, a decade of work at a Newton nonprofit dedicated to assisting underserved youth, and experience at Providence College where he served as both dean of students and acting vice president for student affairs. As dean of students at Harvard Kennedy School from 2010 until 2013, Fortunato created the school’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion and appointed the first dean to that office. From 2013 until 2021, he served as head of school at Blair Academy, a boarding school in New Jersey. There, he helped to develop innovative curricula, programs, and services that advance students’ personal and academic growth while fostering a culture of achievement and social responsibility in a diverse, supportive learning environment. Fortunato emphasizes addressing real-world problems and opportunities through collaboration across academic disciplines and teamwork among various constituencies. He and his wife, Erin, have two children, Matt and Katie, who both attend Thayer Academy.
Middle School Director
Galen Hamann returned to New England in the summer of 2020 after serving as the Assistant Head of School at Virginia Beach Friends School. Drawn to the strong sense of community at Thayer, she is focusing on the age she loves most: Middle School. Hamann, who earned a bachelor of science degree from Earlham College, began her career as a Middle School Spanish teacher, coach, and advisor at Friends Central School in Philadelphia. After earning her master’s degree in education from Saint Joseph’s University, she moved to Moses Brown School in Providence. During her 13-year tenure there, she served as the Director of Service Learning and Director of Friends Education; she also taught religion, developed and taught a medical ethics course, coached track and basketball, and served on both the wellness team and the administrative council. While working at Moses Brown, she completed a master of divinity degree at Harvard University, where she focused on spiritual care and became a board-certified healthcare chaplain. Hamann lives in Braintree with her wife Jayme and their three young children: son Jackson and twin girls Maya and Madeleine.
Upper School Director
An independent school educator for more than 20 years, Highley feels "right at home" as Upper School Director at Thayer, having attended the co-ed, 6th-12th-grade independent Severn School in Maryland. An English major and a member of a national champion lacrosse team at Princeton University, Highley spent the first two years of his teaching career at his old school as a middle school math and Latin teacher, while also coaching girls’ soccer and boys’ lacrosse. After earning his master’s degree in education from the University of Virginia, Mr. Thompson returned to Severn School and taught English, ethics, and algebra in the upper school for 14 years, also coaching boys’ soccer and lacrosse. In his time at Severn, he served as Dean of Students, Academic Dean, and Upper School Head. After a two-year stint as Director of the upper school and Assistant Headmaster at Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia, Mr. Thompson joined the Thayer staff in the summer of 2011. He lives in Braintree with his wife, Anne, and their two children, son Garner (Thayer Class of 2020) and daughter Virginia (Thayer Class of 2023).
Rick joined the Thayer staff after serving 25 years in the athletics department at the Buckingham Browne & Nichols School, where he coached football and hockey, and was the varsity baseball coach for 19 years, and served as the Athletic Director for 12 years. Rick earned his bachelor's degree from Brandeis University where he was a four-year member of the varsity baseball team. During his free time Rick enjoys golfing, skiing, fitness and the beach. Rick, his wife, and their children Grace and James live in Plymouth, MA.
Director of Development
As an alumna of Thayer, Melissa rejoined Thayer in the summer of 2014. Following Thayer she attended the University of Vermont where she earned a BA in Psychology. She came to Thayer with more than 15 years of experience in non-profit development. Her previous roles include Director of Development for Partners Continuing Care and the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, Director of Major Gifts for Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Director of Major Gifts for Horizons for Homeless Children and Director of Major Gifts for Walker. In that time Melissa worked on capital campaigns that resulted in the building of the state-of-the-art new Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown, a new headquarters for Horizons for Homeless Children in Roxbury and a campus expansion at Walker. Prior to working in development, Melissa worked as a counselor for homeless and runaway teens at Bridge Over Troubled Waters and also sold residential real estate in Boston. Melissa currently serves on the Board of Trustees for AccesSportAmerica, an adaptive sports program for people living with challenges and disabilities. The youngest of four sisters who all graduated from Thayer – Whitney Presutti ’85, Kelley Tuthill ’88 and Tracey Buckeridge ’90 – Melissa often says she grew up here. She spent many of the afternoons of her youth on the fields or in the gymnasiums watching her sisters compete in sports until she was able to enter as a sixth grader. Happy to be back, Melissa currently resides in Hingham with her husband and three children.
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer
Joanna graduated from Thayer Academy in 1986. She received her B.A. magna cum laude in Fine Arts from Harvard and her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. For more than 10 years, Joanna worked as an independent marketing consultant for companies ranging from small startups to major corporations, with a focus on digital marketing and web design. Her clients included Gillette, Procter & Gamble, P.F. Chang’s, Fidelity, and the Harvard Innovation Lab. Prior to starting her consulting practice, Joanna was the Senior Vice President for North American Marketing at Sotheby’s in New York, and was part of the leadership team that developed and launched Sotheby's online auction sites, including joint ventures with Amazon and eBay. She brings her deep appreciation of the Thayer culture to her role as Chief Marketing and Communications Officer as she seeks to provide a compelling introduction to Thayer for prospective students and families, ongoing support for current students and families, and increased opportunities for engagement for alumni. Joanna lives in Milton, Massachusetts with her husband and two sons, Charlie '25 and Teddy '27.
Chief Information Officer
Theresa Rubico Jay is the Chief Information Officer at Thayer Academy. Theresa first worked as a computer processing chip designer before entering the education field. In 1997 Theresa became the Director of Technology in Arlington Public Schools and next served as Technology Director at Xaverian Brothers High School where she designed and built a digital language lab and started an Internet radio station. When she joined Thayer Academy in 2011 she executed a student iPad program which advanced into a MacBook Air program. As Technology Director she mentors Technology Fellows, directs an innovation tech center, and has designed a cloud mobile strategy. She has devoted her tech director career to creating playful learning environments showcasing emerging technologies. Theresa holds a B.S. E.E. from Boston University and a M.Ed from UMass Boston. She is the Vice-President of Massachusetts Educational Technology Administrators Association (METAA) and chairs the CTO Clinic committee. She is also a member of Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), Association for Technology Leaders in Independent Schools (ATLIS), MassCUE and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).
Chief Financial and Operations Officer
Julaine McInnis comes to Thayer from Ursuline Academy, where she served as Director of Financial Operations. Previously she worked as the Business Manager at Inly School in Scituate, as CFO and COO at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts, and as the Assistant Business Manager at Milton Academy. For 17 years McInnis worked at Northeastern University, where for seven years she served as Director of Construction Accounting. Recently, Julaine was voted onto the Board of Directors at Community Music Works (CMW) in East Providence, RI and serves on the Finance Committee of the Board at The Conservatory Lab Charter School in Dorchester. For 7 years she served as President of the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Association of Non-Profit Schools and Colleges. She continues to serve on the board of the association. She is a graduate of Northeastern University, Accounting, Magna Cum Laude.
Director of Admissions
Jon is Thayer’s Director of Admissions and a Financial Aid Officer, positions he has held for 23 years. After attending an independent day school, and then Harvard University, Middlebury College (Bread Loaf School of English), and Harvard Graduate School of Education. Jon’s academic career has included teaching English, coaching soccer, basketball, and rowing, and living in a dormitory at three New England boarding schools.As a freshman advisor, he works closely with a group of eight freshmen each year, assisting them in their transition, including their freshman orientation at Camp Bournedale; checking in with them daily to support their endeavors; and communicating with their parents about their progress. Jon has also taught seminars for juniors in college essay writing and has coached Middle School tennis in the spring. Jon enjoys talking with young people interested in Thayer and hearing about their experiences, interests, and aspirations. Jon's wife Deb teaches and coaches at an independent elementary school. Their two sons Ben ’09 and Jonathan Traylor ("T") ’11 and their daughter Mollie ’15 are all Thayer Academy graduates.
Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director Connie Yepez joined the Thayer community in the summer of 2021 after five years at The Park School in Brookline, where she served as that school’s DEI director. During her tenure at Park, Yepez focused on aligning the school's policies and practices with its commitment to promote a sense of belonging for each and every one of its students. This work was an extension of similar efforts earlier in her career at Roxbury Preparatory Charter School, Noble and Greenough, Concord Academy, A Better Chance, and Groton School, from which she also graduated before earning her bachelor’s degree from Eckerd College. Yepez is committed to partnering with and supporting all members of the community in advancing Thayer Academy’s Strategic Plan for Racial Equity and Justice.