Founders & Directors
Our Co-Chairs and Directors work closely with each other to ensure the same quality of education at all campuses.
Karen Hobbs, Ph.D., Co-Founder
Karen Hobbs, Ph.D. is a graduate of UC Davis and the California School of Professional Psychology who has specialized in adolescent psychology for over 30 years. She worked at an East Bay high school for nine years, participating in numerous IEP meetings and working with guidance counselors and teachers to help students succeed in school. Dr. Hobbs has taught courses at the college level and has presented at professional conferences. Karen oversees the direction of both Tilden Walnut Creek and Tilden Albany.
Shary Nunan, Ph.D., Co-Founder
Shary Nunan, Ph.D., a graduate of Yale University and the California School of Professional Psychology, is a licensed psychologist who has worked with teens for over 30 years. Prior to starting Tilden Prep with Karen in 2006, her work included conducting educational assessments for students with a range of learning styles and needs, and working in conjunction with educational professionals to maximize their success in school. She has taught courses at the college and graduate level, and has presented at numerous professional conferences. She finds working with Tilden students, parents and teachers to be constantly rewarding and fun, and the challenge of building a school that is always working to improve itself for its students to be a fascinating and compelling endeavor. Shary oversees the direction of both Tilden Albany and Tilden Walnut Creek.
Laurie Kumar, M.S. is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and John Hopkins University, School of Education, specializing in Leadership and Administration. Prior to teaching at Tilden, Laurie worked in administrative roles for five years and taught for two years. During that time, she also worked in research internships at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Department of Psychology at UC Berkeley, and the National Writing Project. She taught for an additional seven years at Tilden prior to joining the administrative team--she served as the English Department Head at Tilden's Albany campus for three years in addition to teaching Humanities and Math classes. She has considerable experience creating successful learning spaces for students with a variety of learning needs. During her free time, she enjoys organizing community meditation events.Laurie Kumar, M.S., Director
Laura Schreck, M.A. Ed., M.A., Director of Operations and Curriculum
Laura received her undergraduate degree in rhetoric with a focus in narrative and image from the University of California, Berkeley. She went on to pursue Master’s degrees from Loyola Marymount University in education, with a credential in secondary math, and the University of San Francisco in sport management. This included interning during the 2012 season with the World Champion San Francisco Giants and completing graduate research in sabermetrics. Laura taught both high school and middle school in Los Angeles and was previously an administrator and department chair. When she returned to the Bay Area, she began teaching at Tilden, where she enjoyed working one-on-one with students and developing curriculum and resources for English, history, fine arts, math, and science. When not watching or analyzing baseball - Laura has been published by The Society for American Baseball Research - she enjoys reading, writing, knitting, and spending time with her Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
Katie started her education career working in Special Education, Inclusions, and Developmental Psychology. She received a Bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Oregon and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Mills College in Oakland. Katie spends part of her summers in Indonesia studying the daily time budgets of a troop of long-tail macaque monkeys. Her research experience in how technology affects behavioral data collection methods, and how it can be used to bring state of the art research opportunities to students in rural communities around the world. Her passion for individualized education has led her to Tilden. She is proud to support the Tilden Community as the Assistant Head of School in Albany.Katie Rutledge, M.A., Assistant Head of School
Walnut Creek Campus
Malcolm Govender, M.A., Head of School
Malcolm began his education career through diverse teaching and administrative roles in both private schools and nonprofits, all of which have afforded him the opportunity to collaborate with a diverse group of student learners to meet the common goal of increasing student achievement and well-being. His educational philosophy is based on the belief that all students can learn, given a positive and innovative learning environment, strong and knowledgeable leadership, a committed and focused educational team, and an encouraging community. He received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Hunter College in New York City and a master’s degree in Asia Pacific Studies from the University of San Francisco. He enjoys supporting and engaging students as Head of School and leading the campus Leadership and Maker club.
Carolyn Smith, B.A., Assistant Head of School
Carolyn Smith has worked in education for over ten years. Prior to teaching at Tilden, Carolyn coached water polo and swimming. Carolyn has taught in public schools, non-public schools, and Tilden. Overwhelmingly, the best teaching and learning experiences were at Tilden. Carolyn taught history and English for seven years at the Albany campus before joining the administrative team, and served as the History Department Head for six years. She worked to create positive learning experiences for students with a variety of learning needs. During her free time, she enjoys spending time with her cat and husband, especially while they are camping!
Jane received her undergraduate degree in theatre from Northwestern University. She worked professionally for ten years on stage before obtaining a master’s degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Jane was the high school secretary at the East Bay Waldorf School for eight years before joining Tilden’s Albany campus in January of 2010 as the student affairs coordinator. She has been working at the Walnut Creek campus since September of 2014.Jane Muller, M.A., Academic Support Coordinator & Registrar
Breanna is a North Bay poet who is passionate about community. She received her degree in English from San Francisco State University, and she’s using her expertise to start her own arts nonprofit. She believes in helping creatives pursue their passions and making sure everyone’s voice is heard. When she’s not consumed with the literary arts, she enjoys watching comedy specials, crocheting, thrifting, taking care of her plants, and trying new places to eat—especially bakeries. Breanna loves cupcakes.Breanna Hardy, B.A., Administrative Assistant
Olivia Schneider, B.A., Administrative AssistantOlivia started at Tilden Prep in January 2023. She received her Bachelor's in English literature from San Francisco State University and loves to write poetry and short stories in her spare time. She is a voracious reader, particularly of historical fiction and fantasy, and hopes to get her own work published someday. Before she started working at Tilden, Olivia was a lifeguard at Concord Community Pool for 5 years, eventually working her way up to aquatics manager, and she still enjoys swimming during the summer. She is also an animal lover, and has done some volunteer work in the past with the Animal Rescue Foundation, mostly working with the socialization of rescue cats. Her other hobbies outside of work include hiking, taking trips with her friends, and exploring new places.
Haley Garcia, B.A., Administrative AssistantHaley is a UC Davis graduate with a B.A. in Theatre. She’s passionate about the arts and literature and is an amateur animator. She has previous experience in stage management, accounting and administrative roles, and customer service. Her hobbies include reading, listening to true crime podcasts, drawing, and learning new things. Her favorite book is Pride & Prejudice (because it’s beautiful and amazing, obviously). She loves working at Tilden because every day is different and she gets to be around wonderful people!
"I wish that traditional schools would look at the Tilden model, so that more kids would have a chance to succeed at school."Tilden Parent