Betsy A. Johnson, Executive Director

Betsy A. Johnson, Executive Director of the Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS), has dedicated  her 35+ year career to independent education. She was a middle-school teacher (science, drama, technology, leadership) and administrator (middle school, development, alumni) at St. Michael’s Episcopal School in Richmond for seventeen years, before joining VAIS in 2005 as its Director of Accreditation. Following a national search, Johnson was named Executive Director in 2014.

Since being named to lead VAIS, Johnson has steered growth in membership, worked with the association’s board and staff to solidify engagement with member schools, grown the corporate sponsorship program, and developed partnerships with like-minded associations for collaboration on behalf of member schools.  A strong advocate for well-being and mental health, Johnson has worked to increase support within schools in these areas. The VAIS State of the Headship research studies in 2019 and 2022, and a mentoring program for Heads new to VAIS provided opportunities for greater attention to supporting Heads in their leadership challenges. With intentional effort to transform the association's board to function in a more generative posture, Johnson has instituted protocols for committees and board meetings that allow for rich strategic discussions. Having accomplished this, she also developed the innovative BoardWORKS professional development program for independent school trustees. Most recently, she has advocated for greater retirement equity through the development of the VAIS Multiple Employer Plan (MEP) through which schools can lower retirement plan costs while at the same time increasing retirement benefits for employees.

Previously, she spent several summers in administration at the Governor’s School for Humanities and Visual and Performing Arts at University of Richmond and served as an adjunct faculty member in the Graduate School for Education at Virginia Commonwealth University, teaching a course in Organizational Behavior. Johnson’s leadership in independent education extends to the statewide and national levels. She has held several leadership positions for the Virginia Council for Private Education (VCPE), including serving on the Accreditation Committee, chairing the Advocacy Committee, and serving as Secretary and Vice President. In addition, she is on the Membership Committee and has served as Vice President of the Board for the International Council Advancing Independent School Accreditation (ICAISA), and also serves on the Boards of the National Association of Episcopal Schools and ISAnet.

Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Richmond and a master’s degree in educational administration from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has also earned a certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource.

Lelia Grinnan, Director of Accreditation

Harnessing a wealth of independent school experience as a student (Collegiate School, 13y), parent (St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School, 15y), tutor (A Scholar’s Progress, 12y), and teacher (15y, including Browne Academy, 9y), Lelia arrived at VAIS in August 2017 as the Director of Accreditation. In this role, Lelia capitalizes on a growth mindset to promote innovation, communication, and collaboration among member schools. Since her arrival, she has worked to streamline the accreditation process, to support schools’ ongoing improvement as they fulfill their unique missions, and to enhance the professional development experience. Working closely with heads of school, business officers, admissions and advancement directors, teachers, and other school constituents, Lelia works to advance understanding, self-reflection, and best practices among the best of Virginia’s independent schools.

Lelia holds a BA in history and French from The University of Virginia and a Master of English Literature from George Mason University. While pursuing a Master in Secondary Education in Curriculum and Instruction, she was inducted into Kappa Delta Pi, GMU’s chapter of the International Honor Society in Education. Lelia also has availed herself of professional development at Columbia University’s Teachers College and Montpelier’s Center for the Constitution. Her early teaching career began at Georgetown Day School and also included substitute positions at Alexandria Country Day School and St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School, among others. In 2005 Lelia founded A Scholar’s Progress, a tutoring company designed to meet the needs of independent school families seeking differentiated and specialized instruction. Her reputation as an innovative and caring instructor sparked her return to the classroom. At Browne Academy for nine years, she taught English literature and Global Issues, chaired the Language Arts and Curriculum Committees, led VAIS accreditation committees, created interdisciplinary programs, integrated technology to enhance learning opportunities, developed inquiry-based curriculum standards, and assumed critical administrative responsibilities. Lelia is a thoughtful communicator, skilled collaborator, effective public speaker, and incisive writer. 

Laura Godwin, Director of Member Services

Laura Godwin joined VAIS in August 2015 and now serves as the Director of Member Services. Working with the Director of Accreditation, she assists with the accreditation visit process while also overseeing the Association's data collection and advocacy efforts. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from the College of William and Mary. Born and raised in Midlothian, Virginia, she is the product of two VAIS schools, St. Michael’s Episcopal School and Trinity Episcopal School.

Darcie TeVault, Director of Professional Learning

Darcie L. TeVault, Director of Professional Learning at Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS), considers education to be a lifelong commitment. A native of Rhode Island, she worked in public education and private educational consulting practice before entering the world of independent schools. Prior to joining the VAIS team, Darcie served as a Language Development Specialist and Assistant Director for Teaching and Learning at an independent school in North Carolina. In that capacity, she was responsible for building teacher leaders, developing and implementing professional development, and providing instructional design support. She is also the proud parent of two independent school graduates.  In addition, she serves as Adjunct Faculty in the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, Mind, Brain, and Teaching. Darcie has experience in successful grant writing and has served on numerous boards with an understanding of sound governance practices through the lens of her multiple roles. 

Darcie earned her Bachelor's degree in both elementary and special education from Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. In 2017, she completed her Masters of Education at Johns Hopkins University with a concentration in The Mind, Brain, and Teaching, as well as School Administration and Supervision. In 2021, Darcie earned her Doctorate at Johns Hopkins University, where her research focuses on the relationships between teacher self-efficacy, collective teacher efficacy, and general pedagogical knowledge in the independent school context. 

Joan Fargis, Director of Program Logistics and Data Management

In 2000, Joan joined VAIS after several years teaching lower school in both independent and public schools. Joan’s focus at VAIS is on professional learning organizing all the logistical aspects of each event. In addition to those responsibilities, she also maintains and manages the member database as well as coordinating the website for the association. Joan holds a B.S. in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Reading from East Carolina University and has taken several graduate-level courses.

Ellen Bostic, Director of Operations

Ellen Bostic joined the VAIS staff in 1990 and has seen the Association grow from two to six employees.   In her position as Director of Operations, she is responsible for the Association’s day-to-day activities, with a primary focus on its financial operations. Ellen received her B.S. degree in business education from Virginia State University.