Olney Friends School
Board of Trustees
Dottie (Stratton) Churchwell ’59 lives in Madison, WI. She graduated from Earlham College and has a master’s degree in mathematics from Indiana University. Dottie began her teaching career at Olney and that was followed by teaching at Friendsville Academy in Tennessee. She is now retired from a career in the Math Tutorial Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Twelve years ago she became involved in helping to run a small children’s summer camp in southern Wisconsin and this project continues. Dottie grew up in an Olney connected family with multiple generations of connections to the school and local area. Life at Olney was a good fit for her. She loved sharing a dorm room with two or three roommates, loved her classes and especially remembers learning about spring wildflowers in the Belmont County woods. Traveling with her astronomer husband to international astronomy conferences and telescope sites, having friends all over the world, visiting children and grandchildren in California, New Zealand and England, plus working in the garden at home are all important parts of Dottie’s life.
After graduating from Olney, Mimi earned a B.A. from Earlham College and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Purdue University. Friends Boarding School, as it was then known, has played a key role in her life, not only through its Quaker values but also as a shaper of her beliefs and practices as an educator. She believes that it is important to meet students where they are, but even more important to challenge them to exceed what they believe they can do. Once, after a difficult descent on a steep ski run, the instructor gathered the class and said, “Don’t rush to the chair lift in a hurry to get out of here. Stop, and look back up the hill. Appreciate what you have accomplished, knowing now that you can do it again.” That’s the kind of spirit Olney fosters.
During her career as a professor of English, she has taught writing and business communication to undergraduates at Prince George’s Community College (Maryland) and to graduate MBA students at Purdue University (Indiana) and Georgetown University (Washington, DC). She also authored college-level writing and business communication textbooks and built a consulting practice that took her organizations across the country. During 12 years as chair of the English Department at Prince George’s, Mimi managed a faculty of 75 and led statewide curriculum development and assessment committees. In 2013 she received the President’s Medal, the highest honor awarded by her college. These experiences as a faculty member, administrator, and educational consultant have informed her service on Olney’s board of trustees.
Mimi and her husband, Gary, enjoy international travel. Their first date was to the American Embassy library in Copenhagen as Earlham students on Scandinavia study abroad. Gary is a chemist, retired from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. His current project is restoring a 1946 Harley-Davidson motorcycle. For fun Mimi reads mystery and detective fiction, a hobby that has evolved into a course she teaches at the Johns Hopkins University-Osher Institute. She is a member of Sandy Spring Friends Meeting. The Kramer home in Gaithersburg, MD, is ruled by two Siamese cats.
Lars’ legal practice focuses on estate planning and administration, charitable giving and nonprofit governance. He works with individuals and families, and with local and national cultural, education and health organizations. He started his legal career as Counsel with the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and was then Counselor to the Vice Chair at the Interstate Commerce Commission. Lars served also in senior and cabinet appointments for four mayors in two cities (Bosley and Harmon in St. Louis, MO; and Williams and Fenty in Washington, DC). In addition to practicing law, he is a trustee of Olney Friends School, in Barnesville, OH, and is a member of the Alumni Board of Governors at Washington University in St. Louis. By mayoral appointment, he is a member of the DC Commission on National and Community Service (Serve DC), and is Vice Chair of the Saint Elizabeths East Advisory Board. Lars is a cum laude graduate of Saint Louis University School of Law, where he was Editor in Chief of the Saint Louis University Public Law Review. He received his undergraduate degree in history from Washington University in St. Louis. Lars is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia and the State of Missouri. He lives in DC with his husband, Gregory Hoss, the President of David M. Schwarz Architects, Inc., and their energetic dachshund, Ada.
When I left Olney, I never dreamed I’d be back someday with a teenager of my own: my son, Joe Velick, is a junior. Between my junior year and his, I’ve graduated from Earlham College (majoring in classics), lived overseas as a teacher of English, gone to graduate school in linguistics, and worked as the editor of an arcane academic bibliography. While living in Austin, I met a fellow Michigander, Henry Velick; we moved back to Ann Arbor, and somehow I ended up going to business school. We live in a crumbling old house near downtown, with two big hairy dogs, and Joe, when he’s here. During the day, I teach entrepreneurship to undergraduates and consult with small businesses and start-ups about marketing. In the evenings, I make art in my basement and pack up care packages with dried fruit and warm socks to send to Joe at Olney.
Frank has a long history with Quaker education. He has taught at five Friends’ schools, including Olney in the mid-80’s. Currently he is teaching History at the Friends Central School in Wynnewood, PA and serves as an Advisor and Grade Dean. He earned a BA in History from Earlham College and received his MA in History from Ohio University. Frank is a member of the Germantown Friends Monthly Meeting in Philadelphia, PA, and his meeting duties include Hospitality, Worship and Ministry.
Gwen graduated from Olney in 1978 and earned a BA in Theater at Otterbein University and an MFA in Acting at Ohio University. She spent several years in Cleveland, working in the Shakespeare in the Schools program at the Great Lakes Theater Festival. She has taught acting, improvisation, voice, scene study and Shakespeare.
Most recently she has worked as a writer and editor in financial services and risk management, managing newsletters, websites and communications planning and execution. She is on the leadership committee of her firm’s Racial & Ethnic Diversity employee resource group, and has also been a diversity & inclusion trainer and consultant, and done pro bono and freelance grant writing. She has volunteered for the Posse Foundation, City Harvest and Streetwise Partners. She lives in central New Jersey.
Michael attended Olney for all four years of high school. While a sophomore there, Michael’s interest in psychology was awakened for the first time when he was assigned to read Dibs in Search of Self by Virginia M. Axline. After obtaining an undergraduate degree in psychology at Earlham College, he earned a doctorate in clinical psychology at New York University. Michael has worked in a variety of clinical settings including outpatient and inpatient hospital settings in New York City and Worthington, Ohio. Currently, he maintains a busy, full time private practice in Columbus, Ohio working with children, adolescents, adults, and families. The values brought into sharper focus and nurtured during his years at Olney, such as unconditional respect and a belief in the resiliency and value of each person, remain at the center of his work. Michael joined the board of trustees in 2017.
Paul graduated from Olney in 1963, attended the March on Washington that August, and enrolled at Earlham College in the fall. After transfer, he graduated in 1967 from the University of Iowa at Iowa City. Planning to avoid Vietnam, Paul was accepted to teach math for the Peace Corps in Liberia; but his local draft board refused to honor the acceptance, and drafted him.
For the next two years, including nine months in Vietnam, Paul served as a medic in the Army. After earning an early discharge in 1969, he returned to Shelby, N.C., to begin a career with Investors Diversified Services. Paul ultimately became an Agent with State Farm in Charlotte, N.C., and has retired after 20 years there.
Paul and his wife Gilda live in Charlotte with their dachshunds, Jack and Kelly. He has three daughters, Melanie, Paula, and Joey ’13 (who graduated Olney fifty years to the day after her father); and one grandchild, two-year-old Trevor. Paul joined the Board of Trustees in 2016.
Sam Leath, ’06 is a Columbus native. He attended Olney from 2002 – 2006 and has served as a trustee since January 2013.
Sam, a first-generation college student, earned his bachelor’s degree in Anthropology, with a concentration in Latin American and Iberian Studies, from Haveford College in 2010. During his undergraduate career, he studied and volunteered abroad in Costa Rica, and gained leadership roles in several multiculturalism-focused campus programs. Sam became a nationally certified sign language interpreter in 2013 and relocated to Northern California, interpreting at San Francisco State University.
In 2016, Sam moved to Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain to pursue a Master of Science in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at ESADE Business School. In addition to earning the Unity in Diversity scholarship, he collaborated on a consulting project with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Comitè Català and was a finalist in his school’s 2017 Hult Prize @ ESADE competition—an international business model competition that encouraged small teams of entrepreneurs to build sustainable, scalable social enterprises that restore the rights and dignity of 10 million refugees by 2022.
During his time in graduate school, Sam was grateful for opportunities to travel to Amsterdam, Berlin, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Madrid, Paris, Prague, Seoul, and Windhoek, Namibia. The highlight of his travels, however, was participating in a week-long intensive course focused on entrepreneurship and social enterprise in Africa, hosted by the Graduate School of Business – University of Cape Town.
After graduate school, Sam returned to Columbus, where he currently employs his knowledge of American Sign Language, Spanish, and English in his work as a trilingual interpreter. Sam is deeply committed to multiculturalism, racial justice, LGBTQ equality, disability rights, and the rights of immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers — core values he began to develop during his time at Olney.
Olney Friends School is an independent, co-educational, college preparatory boarding and day school offering individualized instruction in small class settings for grades 9-12.
The Main Office is staffed seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. till about 10:00 p.m. when school is in session. The administrator on call is available for emergencies 24 hours a day during the school year at 740-359-4015.