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.

Quentin M. Cole, Director of Communications

Quentin M. Cole, Director of Communications at Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS), joined the team in January 2024. He attended Gordon College, a private liberal arts institution on the north shore of Boston, MA, where he received his Bachelor's in Communication Arts with a minor in Political Science in 2023. Prior to college, Quentin spent the majority of his K-12th grade education at an independent school in Pennsylvania, where he graduated with highest honors in 2020.
Quentin's experience leading up to VAIS includes internships working with both in-house and agency communications. He worked as Corporate Communications Intern at Nissan Motor Corporation during the summer of 2023 and has over two years of experience at a PR agency which engages clients such as Vineyard Vines, Parker Clay, and OOFOS. Quentin has multifaceted experience in the world of communications; from professional writing and event planning to social media management and graphic design, he brings a diverse portfolio of experiences to his role at VAIS. As Director of Communications, he works to study and advance the methods of communications and digital presence held by VAIS.

Lelia G. 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 A. 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.

Wendy C. Lawrence, Director of Operations

Wendy Lawrence joined the VAIS staff in January 2024 as the Director of Operations. She is responsible for the Association’s day-to-day activities, with a primary focus on financial operations. Wendy has experienced first-hand the benefit of an independent school education as a student at St. Catherine’s School for 13 years, as a parent at St. Christopher's School for 13 years, and finally as an employee of St. Catherine’s School for 12 years.

Wendy holds her B.B.A. in Finance from the College of William and Mary. After almost 10 years in Commercial Banking at SunTrust Bank, she joined St. Catherine’s School holding various positions in the Business Office. She has earned the SHRM-CP Certification from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).  

Darcie L. TeVault, Director of Professional Learning

Dr. 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.