Leadership and Governance

Alverno Heights Academy is an independent, Catholic, TK-8th grade for girls and boys and a college preparatory school for young women in grades 9-12. We are dedicated to preparing our students to function in a society as informed, knowedgeable persons, who have the requisite skills to make and implement mature decisions about complex problems. Join us for the Lower School Virtual Open House to learn more about our youngest learners!

Dear Friends and Family ,

I am so honored to be the Head of School of such a unique and amazing institution. Alverno Heights Academy was founded by the Sisters of St. Francis in 1960 and was later sold to Immaculate Community in 1978 which continues to sponsor Alverno to this day. The charism of both these religious orders is alive and well at Alverno. Alverno has always been more than just a progressive, independent, college preparatory for girls. It is a place where girls live out our mission and are “empowered to become exactly the person they want to be.” I began working at Alverno in 1990 as an English teacher. Throughout the years, I have assumed many roles: Chair of the English department, drama teacher, Dean of Students, Director of Activities, Assistant Head of School, and now Head of School. 

At the start of the 2020-2021 school year, Alverno will be embarking on a new journey as we add a TK-8th grade, creating a lower school and upper school all under the name of Alverno Heights Academy. The lower school will be co-ed while the upper school will remain all-girls. We will be one of the few schools in the area offering TK-12 on one campus and the only one in Sierra Madre. The upper school will hold a maximum of 200 girls and the lower school will hold a maximum of 200 students.

The Board of Trustees has been considering expanding the school for several years. In fact, we began doing our investigations way back in the late ‘90s. The benefit of having a lower school on our campus will help to bring a cohesiveness to the educational experience that is hard to find, yet very beneficial. Alverno is a family and we want to extend that special and unique connection to students at a younger age. 

For the past 60 years, our amazing young women, under the tutelage of a devoted and committed faculty, have thrived academically, spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Diversity in many different forms is celebrated at Alverno; academic, religious, socio-economic, and ethnic/racial. Alverno is known for its rigorous, yet inclusive academic program which serves the needs of all types of learners – from the extremely gifted (as evidenced by our Academy for Gifted Girls) to those who may struggle academically in a more traditional college preparatory setting. Our teachers use differentiated instruction in order to meet the academic needs of all of our students. Alverno is a Catholic school and embraces the teachings of Gospel. However, we welcome and respect students of all faiths to be part of our student body and recognize that everyone is precious in God’s eyes. We look forward to extending this same philosophy and vision to the children of the lower school in the years to come! 

Because Alverno is small our students are given individualized attention. Students are known by name by teachers, staff, and administration. Because they are so much a part of all that happens at the school, they connect to the school in a special way. This not only applies to the students, but to the faculty and staff. The average tenure of faculty and staff is 10+ years and the new lower school will include faculty and staff with long ties to our community. We are excited about the new members of our campus community and look forward to witnessing the growth, excitement and change they can bring to the already rich tradition of Alverno Heights Academy. 

As you can see, I am very proud of our school and our students. For those of you who are already part of our community, welcome back. For those who would like to know more about our awesome school, we would love to have you complete an inquiry so we can share more about us!. When you do, be sure to stop by and say hello.


Julia V. Fanara, M.A., M.Ed. P ’01, ’03, and ’05
Head of School of Alverno Heights Academy

Alverno Heights Academy is an independent educational institution overseen by an administration and Board of Trustees. Click here to learn more about our Faculty & Staff!


Julia V. Fanara P’01, P’03, and P’05, Head of School
jfanara@alvernoheights.org ~ (626) 355-3463

Sara A. McCarthy ’05, Assistant Head of School
smccarthy@alvernoheights.org ~ (626) 355-3463

Lisa Primero-Solano, Dean of Students
lsolano@alvernoheights.org ~ (626) 355-3463

Joanne Harabedian, Lower School Director
jharabedian@alvernoheights.org ~ (626) 355-3463


Ken Berry, Director of Athletics
kberry@alvernoheights.org ~ (626) 355-3463

Andrea Bertollini ’91, Director of Facilities 
abertollini@alvernoheights.org ~ (626) 355-3463

Susana Capra ’04, Director of Communications 
scapra@alvernoheights.org ~ (626) 355-3463

Angela Terrazas, Learning Support Specialist 
aterrazas@alvernoheights.org ~ (626) 355-3463

Wendy Finch-Burk, Director of Development and Institutional Advancement 
wfinch@alvernoheights.org ~ (626) 355-3463

Maria Jones, Director of Finance 
mjones@alvernoheights.org ~ (626) 355-3463

Melissa Royal, Director of College Counseling 
mroyal@alvernoheights.org ~ (626) 355-3463

Katie Witherington, Director of Enrollment Management 
kwitherington@alvernoheights.org ~ (626) 355-3463


Deanne Carnighan, English Department Chair
dcarnighan@alvernoheights.org ~ (626) 355-3463

Giselle Grams, World Languages Department Chair
ggrams@alvernoheights.org ~ (626) 355-3463

Katharine Guerrero, Theology Department Chair
kguerrero@alvernoheights.org ~ (626) 355-3463

Sara McCarthy, Social Studies Department Chair
smccarthy@alvernoheights.org ~ (626) 355-3463

Hoku Janbazian, Librarian
hjanbazian@alvernoheights.org ~ (626) 355-3463

Cynthia Cales, Visual and Performing Arts Department Chair
ccales@alvernoheights.org ~ (626) 355-3463

Lisa Primero-Solano, Math Department Chair & Science Chair
lsolano@alvernoheights.org ~ (626) 355-3463


President: Ken Farfsing P’00
Head of School: Julia V. Fanara P’01, P’03, and P’05
Director of the Lower School: Joanne Harabedian

Patrick Bowler, Jr.
Ellen Driscoll ’72
Julie Dyer-Lopez P’11 and P’16
Richard Enderlin P’07
Debbie Seanez P ’03 and P’13
Kathryn Clare
Father Michael Cooper P’20
Robin McCarthy P’05

Learn more about our Board of Trustees below:


  • After graduating from Loyola High School in 1999, Patrick Bowler decided to continue his Jesuit education by earning his Bachelor of Science in Organization, Analysis, and Management from Santa Clara University where he graduated Cum Laude in 2003. He went on to work at Wells Fargo Bank, starting out as a branch banker and then transitioning to a new role as Trust Associate. At this time, he mostly used financial modeling software to illustrate the impact of time on the trusts they administered. In 2008, he started his current job as Staff Accountant for Jenkins and Bowler, LLP, where he prepares tax returns; compiles, reviews, and audits financial statements; provides fiduciary services; and offers consultation services to small to mid-size businesses and individuals. He has passed two of the four CPA exams necessary for licensing as a CPA, and will pass the remaining two shortly.


  • After earning her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Cum Laude, from University of California at Irvine, and her Master of Arts in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling, from Trinity College of Graduate Studies, Kathryn Clare has devoted her professional life to helping others through counseling. Since 2001, she has been a Case Manager for Dual Diagnosis Patients in the Chemical Dependency Rehab Program at Kaiser Permanente, Chapman Medical Offices. She facilitates patients in recovery and relapse prevention programs. She also facilitates group therapy sessions and teaches coping skills. In addition to her work in helping patients to recover, Kathryn presents didactic lectures to contribute to the field.


  • After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Oregon, Ms. Driscoll earned her Juris Doctor from Southwestern University School of Law. Ms. Driscoll’s law practice is focused exclusively on representation of clients in family law proceedings, including dissolution of marriage, spousal support, child custody, child support, paternity actions and domestic violence. She is a Certified Family Law Specialist, having received this designation from the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization in 1996. Ms. Driscoll has handled over one thousand fmaily law cases. She has extensive trial and mediation experience. She has served as a volunteer Judge Pro Tem for the Los Angeles Superior Family Law Mediation Panel since 1994. Ms. Driscoll regularly attends continuing education classes and symposiums including programs sponsored by the Association of California Family Law Specialists (ACFLS), California Family Law Report (CFLR), and various local Bar Associations. She has served on the board of the Cancer Support Community of Pasadena as the Chair of Strategic Planning Committee. She continues to support local education by serving as a member of the Board of Directors of San Miguel Catholic High School and a Board Affairs Committee Member and Chair of Alverno Heights Academy. Ms. Driscoll has also completed over fifty triathlons, eighteen marathons, and forty half-marathons.


  • Julie Dyer-Lopez brings over 25 years of entertainment industry experience from a business, financial, and operations perspective, serving as Chief Financial Officer of ACT III Communications Holdings, LP, Partner and Chief Financial Officer of Act III Licensing, and Board member of Concord Music Group (which includes legendary jazz and blues label Fantasy Records). Julie has developed children’s and entertainment properties for various media platforms, something with which she feels right at home, having four children of her own spanning the ages of six to twenty. Julie is consistently involved in all her children’s schools, serving in various Chairperson and Board member positions for Sts. Felicitas & Perpetua School, St. Francis High School, and Alverno Heights Academy. Julie’s vast expertise spans the media spectrum from publishing, production, broadcasting, theatrical and music, but she takes her most pride in her role as a mother and wife to her beautiful children and family.


  • As Chief Operating Officer for BRC Advisors Commercial Real Estate, Rich Enderlin oversees all of the day-to-day operations of each of BRC Advisors’ five regional offices and 100 brokers out of the headquarter office in downtown Los Angeles. Enderlin has been the Broker of Record on more than $3 billion dollars of commercial real estate transactions and has Asset Managed and Property Managed over $1 Billion in real estate assets as well as being appointed as a Receiver on over a dozen properties. He also holds active Brokers licenses in Nevada and Arizona as well as California. BRC Advisors has entered into a joint Venture with Sperry Commercial Real Estate and has recently launched a new commercial real estate franchise called Sperry Commercial Global Affiliates of which Enderlin has also been asked to act as the COO of that venture. His responsibilities include recruiting and on-boarding new affiliates and brokers all over the country. Sperry Commercial Global Affiliates now has 7 new Affiliates and 160 brokers since their August 2016 launch. After attending Long Beach State and San Diego State Universities, Rich received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Pace University in New York in 1987. He enjoys basketball and wine tasting and currently resides in Pasadena, CA with his wife and daughter who is a graduate of Mills College in Oakland, CA and is currently attending UCLA for her Master’s degree.


  • Julia Fanara has been committed to Alverno for over 25 years. She started as a teacher here in 1990. She has held a variety of notable positions including English Department Chair, Director of Activities, and Dean of Students throughout the years. She has also helped pioneer Alverno’s accomplishments in creating individualized education programs for students with special needs as the Inclusion Specialist / SSD Coordinator. As Assistant Head of School, she oversaw the academic requirements, schedule, and reporting for the school. She also was responsible for instructional leadership, student academic progress, and management. She is now the Head of School overseeing all of the operations of the school. While she earned Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts from Loyola-Marymount University, she continued her professional advancement earning her Clear Credential in English from Loyola-Marymount University, her Master of Arts in Secondary Private School Administration from the University of San Francisco, and her Master of Arts in Catholic School Inclusion from Loyola-Marymount University. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Education in Special Education from Walden University pending the completion of her dissertation. Three of her daughters have graduated from Alverno while she worked here, and one even followed in her footsteps to teach here.


  • Farfsing has been active with Alverno Heights as a past parent since 1996 and a member of the Board of Trustees since 2000. He is a professional city manager having managed three local cities since 1992. Prior to his management career he was the community development director for two local cities, starting his planning career in 1979. Mr. Farfsing holds a Masters of Urban Planning degree from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California – Berkeley. His wife, Rita, graduated from Alverno in 1972 and his daughter, Rachel, graduated from Alverno in 2000.


  • Michael Higgins is a Passionist and serves currently as the Retreat Director of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center located in Sierra Madre, CA. He has been a priest for 46 years. For 24 of those years, he worked in retreat ministry in Passionist retreat centers located in Cincinnati, OH; Houston, TX; Sierra Madre, CA; and Detroit, MI. Originally from California, after 30 years living in the Midwest, he returned to California in 2013. In addition to his work in retreat centers, Fr. Michael has also served for 20 years in leadership positions in his Province. He was first elected to the Provincial Council in 1983. He served on the Council from 1983 – 1991 and then from 1995 – 1999. In 1999 he was elected Provincial of Holy Cross Province. He served as Provincial from 1999-2007. After his second term as Provincial, Fr. Michael served as Director of the Office of Mission Effectiveness for Holy Cross Province, Executive Director of the Province Development Office and, since August of 2013, the Retreat Director of Mater Dolorosa. Fr. Michael currently lives in Sierra Madre, CA, at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, 700 N Sunnyside Avenue, Sierra Madre, CA 91024.


  • A native of Los Angeles, California, Debbie has over 18 years of experience in the retail airport concession business as owner/Vice President and Corporate General Manager. Debbie oversees and manages all operations for Soto & Sanchez Investments, Inc. (dba I Love LA Gift Shops). Since 1998, Debbie has also served as Managing Member for Pacific Gateway Concessions. Her responsibilities are overseeing the entire operation, human resources, and company policies for over 30 locations at five airports generating 2011 sales of over $38 million. Prior to her airport experience, Debbie worked for over 15 years with one of the largest financial banking firms, Bank of America. During her tenure with the bank her responsibilities ranged from operations to management. Debbie serves on various Los Angeles committees, professional boards and councils, including Our Lady of Guadalupe School, St. Felicitas School, and Alverno Heights Academy. Debbie also supports many nonprofit organizations such as Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, City of Hope, and Los Angeles Pregnancy Center. Debbie graduated with an Associate Art degree in Business from Pasadena City College.


  • Since graduating from Alverno in 1965, Terry has remained an influential member of the school’s community. From 1997 to 2007 she worked at Alverno, responsible for academic records, issuing transcripts and admission and financial aid information, and working to enroll students. In addition to her professional experience with Alverno, Terry has served as the Alumnae President, Book Club Member, and member of the Board of Trustees. Outside of Alverno, she has worked in sales and business administration at Liz Clairborne, Inc., and 1994 Doncaster. She also has experience in corporate travel organization through Travel Etc., Bay Area Travel, and John Gibson Travel. Her commitment to educational institutions in Southern California is admirably extensive. She has served Sts. Felicitas & Perpetua School as PTO President, Parliamentarian, 2d Vice-President, Service Hours Chairman, Room Mother Chairman, Social Chairman, Room Mother – for various grades, Women’s Association Secretary, and Usher. She has also served St. Francis High School as School Events co-Chair, Gift Gathering Chairman, 3rd Vice President, Entertainment Chair, and Raffle co-Chair.


  • Tom Zimmerman graduated Loyola University in Los Angeles with a B.S. degree in Accounting in 1970. He was a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and a member of the California Society of Certified Public Accountants until he retired in June 2010. During his career, Mr. Zimmerman has worked as a Senior Audit Manager for Price Waterhouse, specializing in multi-national corporations and health care (1969-1981); as Vice President of Finance for MCA Motion Picture Group/Controller Universal Pictures (1981-1988); as Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration, and as a Member of the Board of Directors for Maxicare Health Plans, Inc. (1988-1990); as Vice President and Controller at Paramount Pictures Corporation (1990-1997); and as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Virgin Interactive Entertainment, responsible for worldwide financial activities of the $250 million interactive unit owned by Viacom, Inc. (1997-1998). Tom Zimmerman joined the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plans in August of 1998 and assumed the responsibilities of Chief Executive Officer (1998-2010). He returned to MPIPHP May of 2015 to assist the Plan Office as Interim Chief Executive Officer through January 2016. Mr. Zimmerman served as a Trustee of the Screen Actors Guild–Producers Pension and Health Plans for 15 years, wherein he was Chairman of the Jt. Board of Trustees in 1987. Other Boards served on include Covenant House of California (6 years), St. Anne’s (6 years), Delta Dental of California (6 years). At Alverno Heights Academy, Tom has served on the Finance Committee since 2011. His daughters, Patricia and Katherine, graduated from the school in 1994. Mr. Zimmerman has been coaching softball at the school since 1990.

Board of Trustees Emeritus:
Rose Chamberlin, IHM
Gloria Kolarik, IHM
Elizabeth Mahoney, IHM, In Loving Memory


Executive: Ken Farfsing P’00, Chair
Board Affairs: Ellen Driscoll ’72, Chair
Buildings and Grounds: Ken Farfsing P’00, Chair
Capital Campaign Planning: Rich Enderlin P’07, Chair and Ellen Driscoll ’72, Chair 
Charism: Kathryn Clare, IHM, Chair
Finance: Julie Dyer-Lopez, P’09 and P’16, Chair
Marketing and Development: Terry Traver ’65, Chair
Master Plan: Ken Farfsing P’00, Chair
Risk Management: Patrick Bowler, Jr., Chair