William Bernhard

Dr. Bernhard has been on the faculty of the University of Illinois for twenty years and currently serves as Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. He is the parent of two children. On the weekends, he can be found at soccer games, tennis matches, and swim meets across central Illinois.

Bill believes that Academy High has the potential to strengthen secondary education across Champaign-Urbana.


Margareth Etienne

Margareth Etienne is a mother of two and a law professor. Her areas of expertise include Criminal Law, Education Law and Children and the Law.  Margareth holds a B.A. in History and a Law degree from Yale.  Prior to becoming a lawyer, she taught as a high school teacher, instructing French from Beginner to AP levels.  Most recently, she served as a trustee on the College Board.  Currently, she serves as the Associate Dean for Graduate and International Programs for the College of Law at the University of Illinois.

“I have worked in schools and studied schools for many years.  I was intrigued by the idea of a school that has the commitment and resources to squarely place the development of student’s passions as its core focus.  There are very few independent high schools around the country and even fewer that can ignite passions without sacrificing either academic excellence or access.   Schools like Academy High can never replace the excellent public schools in our communities but, like charters, they provide an opportunity to pilot new ideas in education.”

Gozen Hartman

Gozen Hartman is a former strategy consultant who co-founded and runs a local real estate development and property management firm.  She holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an M.S. in Transportation Engineering from the University of Texas, Austin.  She is active in the community, supporting education, athletics, music and the arts.

“I am excited to be part of a team that could change the dynamics of secondary education in this community and beyond.  I am particularly passionate about only using the status quo to inform but not influence our decisions on everything from delivery of education, to partnerships with businesses and colleges, to the ways to motivate students.  I think there’s tremendous opportunity to do something creative and new- what better place than in this truly innovative place we call C-U?”

Sarah Laufenberg

Sarah Laufenberg holds degrees in Kinesiology and Health Management and Informatics from the University of Illinois and the University of Missouri, respectively. She utilizes her leadership and project management skills and passion for educating and empowering others through her volunteer commitments in the community.

A mother of three, Laufenberg believes passionately in student-centered education. She believes that Independent Schools are nimble in applying evidence-based approaches to an array of learning styles. She is excited about the prospect of Academy High students conducting deep dives into areas of interest via project-based learning and internships, which fosters passion and engagement in the educational process.

Elissa Libman

Elissa Libman is an attorney who performs legal research and writing for a suburban-based firm, and she formerly practiced Labor and Employment Law for Sidley & Austin in Chicago. Ms. Libman, mother of three, is active in the community, supporting education, athletics, and charitable organizations. She holds a degree in Finance from the University of Illinois, and a law degree from Northwestern School of Law.

“I am honored to be involved with this new, forward-thinking school that helps students connect their work with the outside world. The shared commitment to character, compassion, and community is evident at all levels. The future of education is Academy High, and it is inspiring to be part of it.”

Henna Muzaffar

Dr. Henna Muzaffar is a Visiting Research Coordinator in the Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research focuses on obesity prevention programs with children and families in the schools and the community. In her free time, she cherishes spending time with her family and friends and enjoys travelling. She finds fulfillment in volunteering for community initiatives in the clinics, cultural centers, and the Champaign Public Health District (food pantry), to assist Champaign families in leading a healthy life. Both her career and her volunteer work has made her passionate to see Champaign-Urbana children learn and flourish and achieve their highest potential.

She believes in the success story of Academy High, because Champaign needs an innovative College Preparatory High School to accommodate children who want to learn in a nurturing, cutting-edge, challenging, and safe environment.

Duane Nelson

Duane Nelson is Executive Vice President of Westchester Group Investment Management, Inc. Prior to joining Westchester, Duane was Associate General Counsel in the Asset Management Law area of TIAA and general counsel for real estate investments at Citigroup Alternative Investments. He previously served on the Westport, CT Planning and Zoning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals and the Newtown, CT School Building Committee. Duane earned a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A. in Economics from Yale University.


Julianna Sellett

Julianna Sellett is the Vice President of Community Health Initiatives for The Carle Foundation. She has approximately 28 years of health care experience, with special interest in organizational strategy, systems management, performance improvement, population health, as well as cross-sector community integration. Her current work focuses on improving the health, educational achievement, and economic prosperity of disadvantaged populations, with special focus on early childhood development. She is a Registered Nurse (RN), with a Master’s degree in Nursing (MSN), Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA), and a Doctoral degree in Nursing Practice (DNP). In addition to her health care roles, she is actively involved in her community, and has been named by the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to the Board of Examiners for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

Julianna chose to get involved with Academy High because of its innovative and evidence-based approaches, flexible and holistic curriculum, and level of community integration.

Jeffrey Young

Jeff Young is the founder of Codagami Inc, a technology company that develops custom software and web applications for clients around the globe. Jeff has a master’s degree in both Computer Science and Business Administration from the University of Illinois. In addition to his full time work, he is a busy father of three daughters.