Who We Are

Hillsdale named a “School of Opportunity”

The National Education Policy Center out of the University of Colorado has named Hillsdale a “School of Opportunity”, the first in California to earn the gold level and one of 8 schools to be so recognized across the country this year. The Washington Post, September 2016.


The Hillsdale High School Foundation is a nonprofit organization that raises funds to sustain Small Learning Communities at Hillsdale. The organization consists of an Executive Director and thirteen active board members, plus ad-hoc committees. The board is comprised of parents, alumni, faculty and staff who contribute a wide range of expertise. See how you can get involved


  • Akhila Aiyer

    Akhila moved to San Mateo in 2010 with her husband after living in Atlanta for over 20 years.

  • Dave Chandler (President)

    After living in San Francisco for twelve years, Dave moved to San Mateo in 2004

  • Debbie Conliffe

    Debbie is a Psychotherapist and has been in her private practice for over 15 years in San Mateo.

  • Ritu Dhawan

    Ritu Dhawan an original native of India, came to US to pursue higher education.

  • Jeff Gilbert (Lead Principal)

    Jeff is the Lead Principal at Hillsdale High School. He received his Masters of Education,

  • Shika Gupta

    Shika lives with her husband and two girls in Foster City.

  • Don Leydig (VP and Co-Chair of Alumni Committee)

    Don is a Founding Member, Past President and now

  • Katie Lipka 

    Katie was born in the deep south and raised in Berkeley, CA.

  • Jane Mason (Treasurer)

    Jane is a Hillsdale Parent of two alumni (Patrick ’09, Erin ’11) and has been active with the Hillsdale

  • Michael McCall (Faculty Liaison)

    Mike has been teaching math at Hillsdale High School since 2012.

  • Holly McKelvey

    Holly has lived in Foster City for 24 years with her husband, three daughters and two dogs.

  • Bridget Michelsen (Secretary)

    Bridget is a life long resident of Foster City. I graduated Hillsdale High School,

  • Rev. Dr. G. Penny Nixon

    Penny Nixon has been the Senior Minister of the Congregational Church of San Mateo (CCSM),

  • Gina Vallée

    Gina was born and raised in San Francisco.


Jennifer Burke Russell  joined the foundation team in July 2015. Her most recent position was at Stanford University where she worked for four years in fundraising and program management for students pursuing an MBA in the public sector, nonprofit, or socially responsible business. Prior to that, she worked at The Development Fund, a national non-profit, as a Program Director for six years designing, launching and raising money for public purpose community development financing intermediaries.  Her other work experiences include paralegal work, banking, consulting and teaching middle school in Thailand. Jennifer’s volunteer experiences include running large fundraising events for St. Paul’s School, serving on the PTA of Foster City Elementary School and coaching her kids soccer teams.  Jennifer attended both Dartmouth and Vassar colleges graduating from Vassar with a BA in History. She studied International Business at Erasmus University in the Netherlands while earning her MBA from UC Davis. As the mother of one current, Gillian (2021), and two future, Sean & Fiona, Hillsdale students, Jennifer is heavily invested and dedicated in the school’s continued success.


Jane Mason is a Hillsdale Parent of two alumni (Patrick ’09, Erin ’11) and has been active with the Hillsdale High School Foundation since 2009.  She began as bookkeeper in 2009, served on the Foundation Board from 2011-2014, and returned to the back office as bookkeeping/office manager in 2015. Her dedication to the Foundation and the School is extraordinary and she always goes the extra mile to provide excellent customer service and do what is best for our school community.


Founded in April 2007, the Hillsdale High School Foundation serves as the school’s primary fundraising entity. The HHSF kicked off its fundraising efforts with an event honoring Homer Zugelder and Rich Mazzoncini, two respected and admired Hillsdale coaches. In 2009, district budget cuts endangered Small Learning Communities. HHSF now focuses its fundraising campaigns to insure that SLCs continue to thrive for Hillsdale students. Learn more

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