Kavitha Mehta is a native of Northcrest Indiana and attended Casa Montessori in the early 1980s. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University with minors in Spanish and Biology. Kavitha worked in corporate finance at Procter and Gamble in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she held various forecasting and analysis positions with such brands as Iams, Vicks, and Crest. In 2008, Kavitha earned her AMI Primary diploma at the Washington Montessori Institute and a Masters in Montessori Education at Loyola University Maryland. She was a Primary guide for eight years and is the founder and Head of School of Northcrest Montessori in Clarksville, Maryland. She also serves on the board of the Montessori Schools of Maryland. Kavitha lives in Maryland with her husband Nick and her children Lara and Dilan, both of whom were Montessori students.
Grace LeeSecretary, Board of Directors
Grace Lee has been fortunate to be part of the long standing DC Montessori community. She attended Georgetown University and received a B.A. in History. She completed her Primary training at the Washington Montessori Institute and received a M.Ed at Loyola University. She has experience as a Primary Guide in both the private and public sectors. Grace also had the opportunity to serve as the Montessori Instructional Specialist in the Office of Early Childhood with the District of Columbia Public Schools. She currently serves as the Director of Admissions at Aidan Montessori School. Grace is also an AMI Primary Consultant, in the Training of Trainers Programme at the Montessori Training Center Northeast, and co-leader of the DC Montessori Coalition state advocacy group.
Grace is passionate about all things DC and is very excited to be part of a thriving city that continues to provide ever-increasing access to high quality, authentic Montessori education across all sectors.
Sailini Magapu-LohiaTreasurer, Board of Directors
Sailini founded Fiore Montessori along with her husband, Sandeep Lohia, in 2010. The school became accredited by the AMI USA (Association of Montessori Internationale) as a committed practitioner of the authentic Montessori accreditation standards. She is trained as an AMI Montessori Primary Guide and has over 8 years of experience working with children ages 3 – 6. Sailini holds a M.B.A. in Finance and B.S. in Commerce. In a previous life, Sailini worked as a Business Director for Capital One. She and her husband have two sons, ages 10 and 12, and live in Vienna, VA. She is a committed Iyengar Yoga student and enjoys playing Bridge.
Maia Blankenship is an accomplished education entrepreneur and advocate for equity leading Wildflower’s growth in the DC Metro Area. She was the founding managing director for Education Pioneers, an organization that places talented people from other fields into education management roles. While serving as the regional executive director for The Achievement Network (ANet), an organization that provides high-quality aligned interim assessments and builds data-driven cultures in schools, she expanded its reach to over 200 schools in D.C. and Maryland. She then became Vice President of Strategic Growth & Partnerships at ANet, cultivating national and regional relationships that improved student performance. Maia is also an advisor and connector to organizations actively working to dismantle systemic racism and oppression, including serving as Vice-Chair of The Equity Lab. Most recently, she was awarded in the inaugural cohort of Black Voices for Black Justice Fund recipients. She is a ward 5 resident who lives in Brookland and the proud mother of an independent and adventurous 4 year old, who inspires her daily.
Alex has been a practicing technology attorney for more than 20 years, with a focus on the structuring and negotiation of complex technology-related arrangements for companies ranging from start-ups to the Fortune 500. After starting her career at a boutique technology firm in Chicago, Alex and her husband moved to Maryland and formed Collins Technology Law together in 2008. The evolution of technology has expanded Alex’s practice beyond legal advice to also include broader strategic assistance and risk assessment to organizations navigating the rapidly changing technological landscape.
A native of suburban Chicago, Alex’s interest in Montessori education is long-standing, having attended a primary program there in the late 1970’s. Alex’s two children attended an Annapolis-area Montessori program for their entire primary and elementary educations, and her son graduated from a Montessori adolescent program in 8th grade. Alex’s experience as an active member of that vibrant Montessori community, as well as her appreciation for her children’s educational development, has made her a passionate advocate for Montessori education.
Alex graduated Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania with degrees in International Relations and Communications, and she holds her Juris Doctor from Northwestern University.
Sandeep founded Fiore Montessori along with his wife, Sailini Magapu-Lohia, in 2010. The motivation to start Fiore came from having his own children, and the need to raise them to be confident, responsible and happy adults. Upon reviewing the landscape for childcare, they concluded that the authentic Montessori method represented a tremendous opportunity for humanity. It is among the very few scientific and holistic approaches available for preschool children and a significant opportunity for elementary age to develop every child’s unique gifts, instead of attempting to mold every child according to a standardized benchmark. In 2012, Sandeep assumed the role of head of school at Fiore Montessori. The school became accredited by the AMI USA (Association of Montessori Internationale) as a committed practitioner of the authentic Montessori accreditation standards.
Sandeep is trained as an Engineer and holds an M.B.A. He believes that a strong foundation is essential to long term success and is passionate about producing a conducive environment at Fiore for every child to develop a strong foundation for success and happiness. He and his wife have two sons, ages 10 and 12, and live in Vienna, VA.
Virginia McHugh is the Executive Director Emeritus of the Association Montessori International/USA. In this national position she had the opportunity to work with the Montessori family, travel extensively nationally and internationally and reach out to like-minded organizations, neuroscientists, researchers and future thinkers. She is an advocate of Montessori for all children in the private and public sectors. She initiated Montessori in the Rochester City School District and continues to support Montessori in the public school at every opportunity. Virginia received her AMI training from the Maria Montessori Institute in London, England, was a primary teacher and head of school at the Montessori School of Rochester. She is an AMI consultant, coach and workshop presenter. She received training in Emotional Intelligence from Yale University. She served as the AMI, NGO representative to the United Nations, a board member of the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE), the Council for American Private Education (CAPE) and the Selection Board for the Toy Hall of Fame at the Strong National Museum of Play. She received the Wisdom of the Elders Award granted by MACTE in recognition of leadership throughout the Montessori community as an educator. She currently is a Montessori pedagogical coach for the Cambridge Wildflower Montessori Schools and a Wildflower Partner.
Virginia’s background has allowed her to experience the joys and challenges of each position and to develop expertise in areas such as board governance, coaching, management, authentic Montessori and parenting. Her hope is to share her background and experiences to guide WMI as it pursues it’s future for broadening access to Montessori education for all children in the Washington, D.C. area and beyond.
Inga’s Montessori journey started 30 years ago at her son’s Montessori school in Virginia. After her family established a working farm in Maryland, she completed primary Montessori training and opened a land-based Montessori program. Upon returning to Washington, DC fifteen years later, Inga was invited to be a Research Assistant at American University, where she completed a Master’s degree in Arts Management and Administration. She designed an innovative marketing plan for the North American premiere of a drama recovered from a concentration camp near Prague, and implemented the events with cooperation from four university departments. She served as Treasurer on the Executive Board of the National Society for Arts and Letters (NSAL) and, in collaboration with The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, administered an awards program for outstanding art students from thirty-three schools. As part of her work with the DC Public Schools Central Office, Inga participated in a pioneering project to bring intercultural programs to underserved student populations. Inga continued her Montessori training at WMI with Kay Baker and received her AMI elementary diploma and M.Ed. from Loyola University Maryland. Since then, she has served as Guide and Director of Education in several area schools. She is currently owner and trainer of Montessori-Orff Music and the author of a comprehensive lesson manual for teachers, “Montessori and Orff’s Elemental Music: Pathways to Universal Musicianship.” Inga is grateful for the opportunity to share her experience in diverse learning communities, and looks forward to paving an equitable and inclusive path for Montessori education.