Board of Trustees
The Salem Academy Board of Trustees is the legal governing body of the school. The Board is held accountable to the public and ensures that the school’s academic program is successful, that the school is faithful to the terms of its charter, and that it is organizationally viable. With these ends in mind, the Board is responsible for determining the school’s mission and vision; managing its property and assets; recruiting, supporting, and evaluating the Executive Director, continually developing the Board, setting effective policies, and ensuring the school’s legal compliance and fiscal health.
B.A., American University; M.A., The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University
Term 1: 9/1/19 – 12/31/19
Term 2: 1/1/20 – 12/31/22
Alison Palmer brings a unique perspective to our Board of Trustees. She has been familiar with
Salem Academy since its founding, became a student here in 7 th grade, and was a member of
our second graduating class. While many shied away from the small, fledgling school, Alison
saw it as an opportunity to explore the concept that attracted her to Salem Academy and still
inspires her: Service Learning.
This says a lot about Alison. From establishing our track program, including researching and
presenting a proposal to the Executive Director, to her participation today in Girls on the Run,
Alison understands what “service” means. Professionally, she has taught in Japan, where—no
surprise—she established a program to support more than 350 exchange teachers in Tokyo.
We value her knowledge of Salem Academy, first-hand appreciation of the challenges teachers
face, and her work on the school’s behalf, especially helping to establish an alumni mentoring
program. She serves as well on the Development and Education Committees.
Today, armed with a MA from Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Alison is focused
on environmental law and sustainable food systems. As an account manager for Divert, Inc.,
Alison works with grocery stores to minimize food waste. She practices what she preaches; this
passionate gardener is the proud “mother” of a four-year-old avocado tree grown from a
supermarket avocado pit.
Term 1: 1/1/18 – 12/31/20
Term 2: 1/1/21 – 12/31/23
Not many commercial litigation attorneys can also put Teach for America on their résumé, but
Dan McCaughey can. As a partner in Boston-based Ropes & Gray, Dan is adept at assessing
situations, providing informed counsel, and representing clients effectively…all skills that would
make him a welcome member of any board. But add to that his earlier experience as a high
school English teacher and it’s easy to see why we are particularly glad to have him on our
Board of Trustees.
Initially attracted to Salem Academy in 2018 by the opportunity to stay involved in public
education, Dan remains inspired and energized by the accomplishments of our students and the
unique dedication of our faculty and staff. He now serves as our Vice Chair and Chair of our
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in History, Dan spent time in
Louisiana with Teach for America before heading to law school at Boston University. From
History to English to the law, the subjects may have changed, but one thing has remained
constant: Dan’s love of the out of doors, especially fishing, skiing, and hiking. Once a youth
baseball and soccer coach in Louisiana, today he coaches his own kids in his hometown of
Hamilton…and still finds time for a serious vegetable garden.
Term: 1/1/20 – 12/31/22
One could say Salem Academy is a tradition for the Aroko family. Eddie and all three of his
siblings are graduates of the school. In fact, it was here, through service learning, that he first
began working with non-profit and community service organizations. The fact that he continued
to do so in college and in the years since speaks volumes about the impact Salem Academy
can have on young people’s lives.
Edward brings this understanding of non-profits and appreciation of the importance of building
relationships to our Board of Trustees. He serves on the Development Committee, where he
focuses on developing an alumni advisory program. That’s not too far off the mark from what he
does professionally: onboarding new hires as Senior Human Resources Coordinator for Alder
Like many people, in his spare time Eddie heads for the out of doors. But unlike just about
everyone else, he can say he has his own clothing line. Arokstar.com offers streetwear
designed to bring people together by bringing out their inner rock star.
First Term 1/1/22 – 12/31/24
If it has to do with accounting, technology or the interface between them, Mark Stevens is your go-to person. Salem Academy values his extensive background in the intricacies of both as well as his understanding of non-profits and his ability to take an enterprise-wide view of a situation. A senior accountant for the Peabody Essex Museum, Mark previously held financial positions with companies as diverse as Au Bon Pain and Osram Sylvania. He received a BS in Accounting from Southern New Hampshire University.
As the parent of a Salem Academy student, Mark’s interest in the school is natural, as is his membership on our Governance Committee. He is inspired by the growth, community building and learning he sees in the school in general. Community involvement is important to Mark, who is President of the Board of the Bridge at 211, an historic former church now exploring a second life as a hub for artistic, cultural, and social events in Salem.
B.A., Amherst College; M.Ed., Harvard Graduate School of Education
Term 1: 1/1/18 – 12/31/20
Term 2: 1/1/21 – 12/31/23
It would be difficult to find a better match for the Salem Academy Board of Trustees than Mekka Smith, our current President. Her commitment to creating an educational system that is responsive to students’ strengths and needs has been apparent throughout her entire career, beginning with Teach for America (TFA), her first job after graduating cum laude from Amherst College. She has been an elementary school teacher, a teacher’s coach, and a charter school administrator, always working in urban settings, most recently at KIPP Academy Lynn. She is currently a doctoral candidate studying education policy and leadership at Harvard Graduate School of Education
Mekka is passionate about Salem Academy’s mission and its commitment to collaborative community building. In addition to her responsibilities as Chair, Mekka is a member of the Education Committee, Governance Committee and Advocacy Advisory Group. It is our good fortune that a fellow TFA alum and Salem Academy teacher introduced her to our school and suggested her for Board membership. We are also lucky that Mekka became a teacher and did not indulge her desire to be a bridal consultant. She has seen every “Say Yes to the Dress” episode and has strong opinions on all of them!
Term: 2/24/21 – 12/31/23
The name of one’s company isn’t always relevant to understanding who the person is, but in Mikki Wilson’s case, the fact that her company is called Dot Connector Consulting is spot on because, she is indeed a connector…of people, ideas, action and profitability. Building relationships is obviously essential for this entrepreneurial marketing consultant, and a huge advantage for our Board as Mikki chairs our Development Committee and is keenly aware of the connection between raising funds and effective promotion of our school.
What brought Mikki to us in the first place was her connection to a Salem Academy parent. Her well-known energy and long-term commitment to her various communities soon translated to support for our mission and students. As the first person in her family to graduate from college, she is inspired by and supportive of our students’ achievements and their goals for the future. A graduate of Salem State University with a BA in Marketing, Mikki also has Associate degrees in Legal Administration and Liberal Arts. Who would guess she began college headed for a career in Engineering.
Term 1: 1/1/19 – 12/31/21
Term 2: 1/1/22 – 12/31/24
Rick Winter currently acts as Treasurer of the Salem Academy Board of Trustees and Chairs
both the Finance and HR Committees. Rick’s deep experience as an HR Executive is valued by
the Board and by the school’s administration. Similarly, he is familiar with the diversity, equity,
and inclusion (DEI) work to which we are committed.
Rick came to Board membership because, as a Salem Academy parent, he wanted to be part of
his daughter’s environment. His involvement and commitment to Salem Academy’s mission has
only deepened as he has seen firsthand the difference we can and have made in students’
A self-described water dog in the summer, he enjoys both sailing and fishing, which is not
surprising given that he grew up in Florida. Rick is a graduate of Florida International University
and is currently pursuing is MBA from Southern New Hampshire University. What may be
surprising, perhaps, is that he cooked in a five-star restaurant during his college years.
B.S., Northeastern University; M.S., Boston University
Sasha Durand served on the very first Board of Trustees when Salem Academy was founded in 2004 and returned to advise a much larger, dynamic school in 2021. As the owner of Cordis Management, Inc., a family/woman owned construction management company, Sasha brings to the Board an understanding of the building issues our growing school encounters routinely. Not surprisingly, she chairs the Facilities Committee. Previously, she held marketing positions with PwC and ArCadd, Inc., a Boston-area architectural and engineering firm.
A graduate of Northeastern University, Sasha also has a Masters in Photojournalism from Boston University. She is a licensed Massachusetts construction supervisor and a licensed Massachusetts home improvement contractor. Sasha is an avid skier, lives in Wenham and, unbeknownst to most, is a highly skilled finder of four-leaf clovers.
First Term 1/1/22 – 12/31/24
The Salem Academy Board always welcomes members with a financial services and strategic planning background, which bank executive Toyuwa Newton certainly has. It is his history of community service, especially working with and mentoring young people, however, that is truly notable.
Toyuwa serves on the boards of Pathways, Inc. (formerly Operation Bootstrap) and Centerboard, whose mission is to empower families, young people, and communities for
success. He is also a past president of the Swampscott Rotary. If joining our board and serving on our Finance Committee were natural moves for this parent of a Salem Academy student, staying involved is a testament to what he has found here. “Salem Academy staff are the most amazing people I’ve encountered in a school environment.”
With degrees in Management from Northeastern University and Executive Management from Babson, Toyuwa has served in capacities ranging from portfolio manager to business development manager for several financial institutions and is currently a mortgage loan officer with Movement Mortgage. Not surprisingly, he finds time to pursue his commitment to mentoring minority youth and engaging in service projects at food pantries and soup kitchens. Somehow, he also finds time for other passions, including poetry and photography and Jeopardy.