The Ascension ProjectThe Ascension Project


David Anderson


Senior Housemaster at Shore School in Sidney Australia

David Anderson has been Senior Boarding Housemaster at Shore School North Sydney Australia for 15 years. David teaches Senior Geography and he is Master In Charge of Publicity and Public Realtions for the School. David has been on the Board of Trustee of the International Boys' School Coalition and recently appointed Vice President (Australia and New Zealand.)

David has spoken at conferences throughout the world and written numerous articles about the pastoral care of boarders. There are two hundred boarders at Shore manily from isolated rural areas of Australia. David has specialised in meeting prospective boarding parents throughout Australia and carefully managing the orientation and introduction of the junior boarders to the boarding school.

David Banks


President, The Eagle Academy Foundation

David Banks is the President of The Eagle Academy Foundation and was the Founding Principal of The Eagle Academy for Young Men, an innovative all-boys public high school in New York City established in 2004. Before joining he Eagle Academy, David, who holds a law degree from St. John's University, was the Founding Principal of The Bronx School for Law, Government & Justice. During his tenure there, David helped spearhead a community-wide effort to secure a permanent home for the school. As a result, Bronx Law is now housed in a $75 million, state of the art facility, the result an unprecedented partnership between the criminal justice community and an inner-city high school.

Kai Bynum


Director of Community and Diversity at Belmont Hill School
in Belmont, Massachusetts

Kai Bynum is the Director of Community and Diversity at the Belmont Hill School in Belmont, MA, where he teaches English, coaches, and advises in the middle and high schools. Kai is a member of Call-to- Action (the National Association of Independent School's advisory counsel on diversity), he works closely with the Association of Independent Schools in New England in the development of diversity initiatives, he serves as a trustee for the International Boys' Schools Coalition, and he serves as a trustee for a K-8 independent school in Massachusetts. His experiences within public and private schools inform his work with global education and cultural consciousness. Kai earned his B.A. at the University of Washington, his Master's in Literature at Harvard University, and is completing his Master's of Education at Columbia University.

Rebecca Davis


Director of Diversity and Community Life University School, Nashville, Tennessee

Treda Collier is a veteran independent school educator and administrator having held senior level positions at Phillips Exeter Academy, Cheshire Academy, Miss Porter’s School and Northfield Mount Hermon among others. Her accomplishments in this sector have been far-ranging – a gifted public speaker, advocate for young people, mentor to younger faculty and visionary leader and organizer Ms. Collier now occupies a position of distinction among her peers and fellow educators.

A former Division I scholar athlete and graduate of the University of Hartford, Ms. Collier went on to earn a Masters of Liberal Studies from Wesleyan University and later went on to graduate from Yale Divinity School. Much of Ms. Collier’s academic research has focused on cultural identity and the socioeconomic factors impacting the development of African American girls and their perceived place in the world.

In 2001, Ms. Collier founded Sweet Sanctuary – an organization dedicated to securing resources on behalf of African American girls with a specific focus on meeting their spiritual, educational and social needs. Her work in this area extends to local, regional and national CBO’s, churches and juvenile correctional facilities.

Rebecca Davis


Dean of Faculty at The Haverford School in Haverford, Pennsylvania

Rebecca Davis is currently Dean of Faculty at The Haverford School where she formerly served as English Department Chair. She has taught in independent schools for thirty-five years and has received recognition as a master teacher and faculty leader. Her particular interest is shaping curriculum which promotes learning in the whole school community: teachers and students learning side by side, independently, and from each other.

Jeffrey Emil Diaz


Corporate & Management Consultant, Executive Coach

Mr. Diaz is an in demand, public speaker, trainer and facilitator. He provides executive coaching to a select group of individuals and teams that seek to better themselves in the areas of communication, vision, collaboration, and the realization of personal and professional goals. He has advised philanthropic organizations on how best to serve people in need and consults with for profits and not for profits in this regard based on his personal and professional experience.

Rebecca Davis


Principal of The Eagle Academy for Young Men, Bronx, NY

Jonathan Foy is currently the principal of The Eagle Academy for Young Men located in the Bronx.  In addition to being the principal of Eagle’s flagship school, Jonathan was the founding principal of the Urban Assembly Academy of History and Citizenship for Young Men (UAAHC), an all-male high school located in the Bronx, New York (founded in 2004).  Jonathan’s tenure at UAAHC and Eagle make him the longest standing principal of an all-male public high school in the country.  Jonathan has developed a consistent track-record for establishing effective methods of cultivating the genius in students who come from communities that have been traditionally underserved.  He has embraced the opportunity of expanding his unique vision and has devoted his life to serving youth in order to create high academic expectations, transform lives and empower young men to actualize their personal ideals.

Jonathan received his B.A. in History from the University of Maryland at College Park (1993); a M.A. from the City College of New York in Social Studies – Secondary Education (1998); and a Ed.M. from Bank Street College in Educational Leadership (2002).  Jonathan was a member of the first cohort of the Aspiring Principal Program in 2003. 

Rebecca Davis


President and Founder of the Hunts Point Alliance for Children

Maryann G. Hedaa is President and Founder of the Hunts Point Alliance for Children.  She is committed to the vision that every child growing up in one of the nation’s poorest zip codes, Bronx, NY 10474, will be ready for kindergarten, middle school, high school and college. In 2003, she founded Saint Ignatius Middle School for Girls in Hunts Point.  In collaboration with the Shakespeare Society Maryann initiated The Hunts Point Children’s Shakespeare Ensemble.  In 2013, she established the HPAC Young Writers Program and published the first volume of THE 6 TRAIN: HPAC YOUNG WRITERS REVIEW.

Prior to her work in Hunts Point Maryann founded Urban Adventures, which is now The New York City Outward Bound Center.  She spent fifteen years teaching graduate students at Weston Jesuit School of Theology and Columbia Business School.  Her area of expertise is in Leadership Development, Social Ethics and Organizational Behavior.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from St. John’s University, a Masters Degree in ethics and psychology from St. Mary’s College, a Masters Degree in business from Columbia Business School and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from Boston College Graduate School of Theology.


Jonathan Hensman


Headmaster of Anglican Church Grammar School in East Brisbane, Australia

Having enjoyed diverse experiences in serving in education since 1980,
Jonathan Hensman is in his second Headmastership.

This is Jonathan's eighth year at Churchie which is an Independent
Boys' School catering for 1723 boys from K-12, day and boarding, in
central Brisbane. The School is looking forward to its Centenary celebration
in 2012.

Prior to this Jonathan was Headmaster of Wanganui Collegiate School,
New Zealand's second oldest Independent School, established in 1854.
Wanganui Collegiate School is predominantly a co-educational seven
day boarding school.

Of particular interest to Jonathan in his educational leadership is how
to capitalise on the traditional aspects of long-standing, highly reputable
schools with the exciting imperative of providing a contemporary,
relevant and progressive set of education programs both inside
and outside the classroom. Pedagogy in its diverse forms and multiple
settings is of paramount interest.

Jonathan pursues with interest the challenge of contemporary governance
versus management issues as our schools increasingly respond
to rapid change in the wider business and social community. The
development of philanthropic practice and business strategy hold particular

Jonathan is deeply committed to building strong communities in
schools to ensure our young men are provided with a platform for a
healthy sense of personal well-being and a sense of spiritual, moral
and ethical purpose.

Jonathan is currently a Trustee of the International Boys' Schools
Coalition and a Director of 'Project K' - a Foundation for Youth

Tony Little


Vice-Chair of Boys Hope Girls Hope New York

Mary Lanning is vice-chair of Boys Hope Girls Hope New York where she has contributed for decades to the evolution of a model urban boarding program for teens that enables girls and boys to transcend poverty, brokenness, and futility, take possession of their own abilities, learn to live responsibly in a world community, and discover liberation through diligence and consistency, working and achieving with integrity, with hope, with altruism. 

In addition to her responsibilities as board member and vice-chair, Mary spends many hundreds of hours personally, year ‘round, with other people’s children – many of them Boys Hope Girls Hope children – mentoring, leading teens and staff in community service, developing and leading internships in dozens of legal, actuarial, investment, and insurance firms on Wall Street and throughout the Metro-New York financial community.  Mary regularly engages business executives, public policy leaders, sports and entertainment professionals, hardworking immigrants, business owners, and other adults in sharing their personal journeys with urban youth who are trying to figure out how they, too, can make their own new way successfully. 

Mary is a business development and regulatory consultant within the diverse Wall Street financial and commercial insurance sector in New York City.  She was designated one of the top 100 “game changers” in the past 100 years by Leaders’ Edge magazine in its 2013 survey of financial and insurance executives (cf. Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, Washington DC).   She founded and leads a community-based charity that brings the willing and the needy together to mend some of the cracks that cripple societies at the same time that they devastate individuals and families. 

The vast majority of those who find themselves in Mary’s inner circle carry the clear marks of having grown into adulthood without ever having experienced childhood in the embrace, the chiding, the guiding, of an imperfect but loyal, loving good man, their father.  Their expectations of themselves and others, their techniques in school, in work, in play, in relationships, their reservations about what is possible, their reliance on manipulation, their fantasies, their fears, all have been shaped by this fatherless void.

David Banks


Eastside Young Leaders’ Academy (EYLA)

Ray Lewis began working with youths at risk in 1995, when he set up London's Phoenix Project for teenagers with drug problems. After working for several years as a prison governor of a young offenders' institute, he launched the Eastside Young Leaders' Academy (EYLA) in 2002, an educational and leadership development organization with a strong mentoring component.

Based in the London Borough of Newham, EYLA is the first organization of its kind in the UK. It combines innovative teaching techniques supported by role models from the business community. The academy has profoundly changed the lives of the 90+ boys and families it serves. Early results were so compelling that EYLA has since given birth to two new Young Leaders' Academies in Southwark and Luton.

In 2003, EYLA received the Bernie Grant Civic Award and in 2006 Ray was nominated for the Great Britons Award. In 2007, Ray was named as one of London's 1000 most influential people by the Evening Standard; later that year, EYLA also won the Guardian Charity Award.

Tony Little


Head Master of Eaton College in Windsor, England

Tony Little was educated at Eton and Cambridge, where he was a Choral Exhibitioner. He read Law before deciding to read English Literature instead. He taught at Tonbridge and Brentwood (where he was Head of English and a boarding housemaster) before becoming Headmaster of Chigwell School in 1989. Some seven years later, he became Headmaster of Oakham, a large co-educational boarding and day school. In September 2002, he took up his post as Head Master of Eton College. Interests include music, theatre and poetry. He is a Vice- President of the International Boys' Schools Coalition.

David Banks


Cape Eleuthera, Island School

Chris graduated from Yale University in 1984 with a bachelor of art degree in history with a focus on ancient Greece. He entered the US Navy and successfully completed Officer Candidate School in Newport Rhode Island. He then reported to Basic Underwater Demolition School in Coronado, CA and later went on to become a SEAL.

He began teaching in the Interdisciplinary Department at The Lawrenceville School and was the housemaster for a boys’ dormitory. Chris found that his most powerful teaching experiences came while working with students outside the classroom and he and his wife began running trips to the Caribbean where students learned to SCUBA and gained an appreciation for the marine environment.

In 1996 Chris received the Joukowsky Fellowship allowing him to work towards his Masters in marine resource management at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. He formed the Cape Eleuthera Foundation and began to set the framework to build a school and research station at Cape Eleuthera in the Bahamas after falling in love with the magnificent seascape and the friendly Bahamian culture. South Eleuthera is a poor region in the Caribbean desperately in need of opportunities and the mission of the foundation is to promote education, research and conservation. In the fall of 1998 construction began to build a campus and on March 15, 1999 22 students and 6 faculty launched the first Island School semester program. The vision is to empower students and faculty to work toward solutions that help people become more self-sufficient. The Island School is a mind, body and spirit experience that challenges students by immersing them in the ocean and introducing them to another culture. Now ten years into the journey the Cape Eleuthera project has expanded to include a community school and resource center for local students in Deep Creek and a new Institute that can focus more energy on sustainable development initiatives. For all who come to live and learn at Cape Eleuthera there is an opportunity to feel like people can make a difference – that we can begin to turn the tide and effect positive change in the way we live.

David Banks


Headmaster, Cardigan Mountain School

Dave McCusker is the headmaster at Cardigan Mountain School, where he attended as a student during his 8th and 9th grade years, and later worked as a four-year, triple-threat faculty member. He has spent his 21-year career in education exclusively at independent schools, as a teacher, coach, advisor, dorm parent, trustee, and administrator.

Dr Steven Middleton


Director of Leadership at The King's School, Sydney Australia

Steven is currently the Director of Leadership at The King's School, Sydney Australia where he has oversight for the programs of character and leadership development for Australia's oldest independent school. His Doctoral Thesis, completed at The University of Melbourne entitled "To Grow Leaders," focused on models of character and leadership development for adolescent boys, noting the importance of aligning both the formal and informal curriculum of this nature with the culture and ethos of the school. Over the past 20 years Steven has taught in several of Australia's leading independent schools, establishing an educational philosophy which emphasises the importance of developing young men in the emotional, spiritual and character strength spheres of life as much the intellectual. Whilst a strong advocate for curriculum of this nature, his research has also focused on central aspects of the culture and ethos of schools including the strategic use of organisational history, stories, learning spaces and symbols as vital elements of character education. Steven is a regular contributor to various publications on educational issues in Australia and beyond, including writing and presenting on issues of Residential Boarding, Student Well-Being, Character Development and Pastoral Care in Schools.

David Banks



Peg Tyre, a longtime investigative journalist, is the author of The Trouble With Boys: A Surprising Report Card on Our Sons, Their Problems at School and What Parents Educators Must Do. She is currently a research fellow at Columbia University and speaks at public and private schools, education conferences and at corporations around the nation. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, novelist and television writer Peter Blauner and their two sons.

David Banks


Award-winning leader, educator, activist and youth advocate

As a teacher, and more recently as an executive in the nonprofit sector, Brad has galvanized generations of young people through programs of his own design whose results have earned regional and national recognition. Brad began his career as a teacher, first at the Eaglebrook School and then at Northfield Mt. Hermon School in Massachusetts, two of the nation's most prestigious independent boarding schools. At the same time, he developed and ran a literacy program at a maximum security facility for men in Somers, Connecticut.