Board of Trustees

A Board of Trustees governs Alma del Mar. The Board of Trustees is comprised of local leaders who have expertise in education, law, business, and other areas. The Board of Trustees meets on a monthly basis to set policy and provide oversight to the school. Board members frequently attend Alma events and volunteer at the school. The Chair of the Board knows all of our teachers by name—and many of our scholars as well!

Board of Trustees (click to see bio):

Janice (Jan) Baptist (Chair)

Chris Arnold 

Mary Jean Blasdale (Secretary)

Bronwen Cunningham (Treasurer)

Martha Kay

Lucile (Cile) Hicks

Bob Unger

Gail Fortes

David Eckert


Alma del Mar Board of Trustees Profiles:

Janice (Jan) Baptist has forty years experience advancing and defending the ideal of equal opportunity, access and student success in higher education. In 2009, Jan retired from Bristol Community College after 36  years of service with 14 as the Director of Disability Services and the Assistant Director of the SSS/Quest for Success Program. She now teaches as an adjunct faculty member in the Psychology and English departments.  Jan is the author of several publications, including Welcome to Your Future: A Motivational Handbook for First Generation College Students. She is the chair of the New Bedford Human Relation Commission, and a member of the Women’s Fund Leadership Council.  She served as  past President of the Board of YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts and director of the YWCA New England Region. Additional past affiliations include the New England Educational Opportunities Association, Governmental Relations Committee of the Massachusetts Educational Opportunities Association, and the New England Peer Tutor Association.

Christopher Arnold is the co-founder of Educational Directions Incorporated, in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.  Mr. Arnold has taught Latin, ancient Greek,philosophy, history, and English; coached lacrosse, wrestling, and football; and held a variety of independent school administrative positions.  Chris launched his independent school career of more than two decades as teacher, coach, and dorm parent at the Pomfret School in Pomfret, Connecticut. Following this, he served as admissions officer, class dean, and department chair—in addition to teaching and coaching—at Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, Massachusetts. Subsequently, he received an appointment as visiting scholar at the Lakeside School in Seattle, Washington.  Chris capped his independent school experience as head of the upper school at Heritage Hall in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Mary Jean Blasdale, a graduate of Smith College, began her career with New Bedford’s first Head Start program. She worked with the Whaling Museum for more than thirty years, serving as Collections Manager, Curator, and now Trustee. Mary Jean is a Past President of the Board of the Grinnell Mansion for Congregate Living and previously served as Chair of the Board of Rotch-Jones-Duff House.

Bronwen Cunningham, MBA, worked in financial services at Fidelity, served on the Board of the Wellesley ABC program and of Babson College, and serves as a mentor and coach for students at Babson.

Martha Kay, M.Ed., is a former Principal of Gomes Elementary School and serves on the Board of Directors of GiftstoGive.

Lucile (Cile) Hicks received a Masters of Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School in 1986, after spending several years teaching high school math and science in San Francisco and Philadelphia.  She served for 16 years in the Massachusetts House and Senate and was a member of the Joint Committee on Education.  Cile was appointed to the Massachusetts Water Resources Board (11 years), co-chaired a capital campaign for a land trust, and served on the Board and Development Committee of the Whaling Museum.  Other Board memberships are the Boston Committee on Foreign Relations and Pioneer Institute, a think tank that supports the charter school movement.

Bob Unger served as the Editor/Associate Publisher for the SouthCoast Media Group, most recently as the Editor of The Standard Times, before retiring in 2015.  Mr. Unger is currently Principal at Unger Leblanc Strategic Communications and Editorial Director of College Press News.  Mr. Unger is also Chairman of the Board for Leadership SouthCoast, as well as a Board member and Co-Founder for the SouthCoast Alliance, committee member for New Bedford’s Economic Regeneration team, and a Board member for the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association.

Gail Fortes is the Executive Director of the YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts. She was named The Standard-Times’ 2015 New Bedford Woman of the Year for her years of work advocating for justice and equality, especially on behalf of women. Ms. Fortes serves as the President of the National Association of YWCA Executives, Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Lifestream, Board Member of New Bedford Chamber of Commerce, Board Member of United Front Development Corp., Board Member for the Cape Verdean Association in New Bedford, Member of Our Sisters’ School Board of Trustees, Member of the Board of Corporators for BayCoast Bank, and Human Services Advisory Board Member for Bristol Community College.

David Eckert is a retired CEO who, for 25 years, led businesses and served on many corporate boards of directors. Before his CEO roles, Mr. Eckert was a partner at business consultants Bain & Company. He was awarded an MBA from the Harvard Business School and received a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University. Mr. Eckert has long supported education. He is Chair Emeritus of the Board of Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, and former co-chair of the NU Leadership Circle Boston Regional Board. For many years, he was a member of the board of the Wayland (MA) Public Schools Foundation. Mr. Eckert recently retired from the national board of Let’s Get Ready Inc. — where he also served as the initial Chair of its New England Advisory Board — a nonprofit organization that helps scholars get into and succeed in college. David lives nearby in Rochester, MA, with his wife Jackie. They have four grown sons.