The Montclair PTA Council elected a new executive board, which will take office July 1. Current president Deborah Villarreal-Hadley and treasurer Kristin Wood-Werner will be stepping down after four years of service as required by the Council’s by-laws.
The new executive board consists of:
- Tessie Thomas, president (2021-2023)
- Reggie Valentine, vice president (2021-23)
- Brian Fleischer, vice president (2021-22)
- Diane Tehranian, treasurer (2021-23)
- Courtney Redfern, secretary (2021-22)
The council provided the following biographical information on each of the officers:
Tessie Thomas: When the pandemic hit, Tessie Thomas decided to continue a journey dedicated to contributing to the community by learning Zoom and building upon her 14 years of work supporting the Montclair Public Schools. She conducted the very first virtual Montclair Mayoral Forum, and as vice president of the PTA Council, brought the PTAs of all the schools together to work on common goals and learn from each other.
With a daughter who graduated from Montclair High in 2020 and a son who is now a Freshman at MHS, Tessie believes that it does take a village for the best development of our most precious and vulnerable resources – children. Her new role as President of PTAC, is the logical next step from her experience in various roles in the Montclair Schools including Nishuane PTA President, Chair of Fireball, PTAC Treasurer, Hillside/MHS MFEE grant liaison and Glenfield Chair of SATp.
Her love for our community also comes through her contributions as a Board Member at the Montclair Art Museum, the Garden Club of Montclair and Side Door Montclair. Tessie is a founding Partner of Enersights, a boutique consulting firm. Her work with the Montclair community leans upon the work ethic and learnings from Goldman Sachs, DE Shaw, and launching a language school in Italy. Her life on three continents and fluency in multiple languages have made her acutely aware of cultural differences, biases, and inequities. She is a strong advocate of fairness and equity and feels her life has prepared her well for this moment and the issues of our community.
Reggie Valentine: As vice president of schools, Reggie will be continuing the work of facilitating collaboration between all the PTAs in the common interest of all Montclair school children and their families. Reggie served as PTA president for Nishuane Elementary School during this last “pandemic” year. Reggie is also Tteasurer for the Montclair Pre-K Board of Trustees. His daughter, Lillian, attends Nishuane Elementary and is a graduate of the Montclair Pre-K. Reggie lived in Montclair during his “wonder years” between 1976 and 1986, and is a graduate of the Montclair Public Schools.
Professionally, Reggie is a Scaled Agile Framework program consultant leading companies through their portfolio budgeting and technology delivery, serving companies both small (e.g. Food Network) and large (e.g. Thomson Reuters) and others in between.
Reggie enjoys applying Agile methodologies in his personal life — he “scrummed” his wedding, the birth of his baby girl and all family vacations, spending time with his family, contributing to social media, scuba diving, following Depeche Mode and being jolly.
Reggie’s motto in life, which he borrowed from Walt “Clyde” Frazier, is “team work makes the dream work.”
Brian Fleischer: Brian Fleischer is returning for his second year of a two-year term as PTAC vice president for committees, and also serves as a member of the PTAC Equity, Anti-Racism and the Opportunity Gap Committee and the PTAC Finance and Facilities Committee. Brian’s daughter Marlee is in seventh grade at Glenfield, and his son Xander is a fourth-grader at Hillside. Brian is also finishing his second year as president of the Hillside PTA and in July will begin a two-year term as Co-President of the Glenfield PTA. Brian is a proud product of the Montclair Public Schools, having attended Watchung, Glenfield and MHS from 1976 through 1989. His mother, Carolyn, is a retired Montclair Public Schools kindergarten teacher, his father, Joe, is a retired architect whose projects included the mid-1980’s renovation of Glenfield, and his wife, Beth, is a school counselor at Teaneck High School.
Brian is a “recovering attorney” who has spent most of his career in K-12 public education administration, focusing on school district operations, finance, risk and compliance. Following 11 years in internal audit for the NYC Department of Education, including eight years as auditor general, Brian worked for the Montclair Public Schools as the district’s chief operating officer and school business administrator from 2013 to 2016. Since 2017, he has served as director of internal audit for the New York City School Construction Authority.
Diane Tehranian: Diane Tehranian has three children at Nishuane, Hillside and soon to be Glenfield. She has been an active member of the Nishuane/Hillside community and has served as Treasurer for Nishuane for the past two years. Diane also served as an MFEE liaison to Hillside and a SEPAC liaison to Nishuane and Hillside.
Most recently, she has enjoyed volunteering as a facilitator for MFEE’s Learning Circles on Race and working with the Nishuane and Hillside teams on their racial equity grant proposals. She is also racing in this year’s MFEE Amazing Fundraiser “The Clash of the Quaranteams” with her family and could use all the cheers she can get.
After taking time off from a career as an engineer and project manager, Diane will be starting MSU in the fall for her Masters of Teaching in High School Math.
Courtney Redfern: Courtney Redfern will be returning as secretary of PTAC for the fourth year and in July, will once again be serving as secretary at Buzz Aldrin Middle School. She is a huge fan of the magnet system and her two children have attended the Montclair PreK, Nishuane, Watchung, Hillside, Buzz Aldrin and now Montclair High School.
She has served as treasurer, secretary and vice president at Watchung PTA, PTA secretary at Buzz Aldrin, MFEE liaison, and vice president of the P.S. 165 PTA in New York City. She also worked as vice president for Title I schools in District 3 in NYC which includes Harlem and the Upper West Side. She volunteers with children and youth in foster care as a court-appointed special advocate. Professionally, she has worn multiple hats as a lawyer, executive coach, and diversity and cross-cultural trainer/consultant.