The Ellis School Announces Next Head of School

The Ellis School Board of Trustees announces Tambi Tyler as the sixteenth Head of School, effective July 1, 2024.

Ms. Tyler most recently served as the Head of School for The Colorado Springs School. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary English Education from Grand View University and a Master of Science in Effective Teacher Learning Leadership from Drake University. She has also completed doctoral work in Educational Policy and Leadership Studies through the University of Northern Iowa.

"I am delighted to be the next Head of School of The Ellis School,” says Ms. Tyler. "Ellis has a long history of empowering girls and young women to be bold, authentic changemakers and all-girls education is the elixir. It sets a solid foundation for grit, achievement, and confidence. This has been part of Ellis’ mission since the school’s founding, and I am excited to be part of the continuing success and bright future of Ellis and its students.”

Ms. Tyler will succeed Macon Finley, who joined The Ellis School as Head of School in 2017 and will retire in June 2024.

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  • Read Ms. Tyler's Bio

    Tambi Tyler was born in Mississippi and raised in both Mississippi and Iowa. She claims them both as home. She has five brothers and no sisters. Her mother’s emphasis on education and her tireless message of “think for yourself” allowed her to always see herself as independent and courageous amongst her peers. Ms.Tyler attended Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa where she explored journalism, cheerleading, culture club, track, and student leadership. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary English Education from Grand View University in Des Moines and a Master of Science in Effective Teacher Learning Leadership from Drake University in Des Moines.

    She began her teaching career in Des Moines Public Schools, where she worked for 19 years. She held multiple leadership roles, including teacher, Middle School Dean of Students, K-8 School Improvement Leader, interim Human Resources Director, and Middle School Vice Principal in an International Baccalaureate program. Ms. Tyler left Des Moines to join the faculty of Atlanta International School, a co-ed independent day school serving 1,200 students in preschool through 12th grade. At AIS, she served five years as the Upper School Principal and Deputy Head of Secondary Education. While leading at AIS Ms. Tyler conducted student-led assemblies and held the pulse of culture and climate. She worked closely with board members and the parent body, cultivated relationships and supported the Head of School with various initiatives. She also pioneered equity and inclusion initiatives at the school. At AIS, Ms.Tyler ensured a challenging and rewarding student experience through all school programming by training and mentoring faculty as well as monitoring ongoing student progress. As a pioneer and leader in promoting equity and inclusion at AIS, Ms.Tyler created an E&I (Equity and Inclusion) leadership task force, provided professional development for faculty and staff, and helped to model and define the first full-time E&I leadership position at the school.

    Most recently Ms. Tyler served as the Head of School for The Colorado Springs School. It is here where her talents blossomed under the pressure of a global pandemic. Her work with CSS involved a financial model overhaul with strategic priorities, streamlined acute marketing language for better messaging and branding of the schools value proposition, and collaborative work groups were formulated for future work. Ms. Tyler’s CSS resume includes increased enrollment year over year, increased fundraising year over year, and she provided key support to faculty and staff during the global pandemic that fostered trust and confidence.

    Ms. Tyler is excited about all girls education and she has spent her career supporting young girls through groups like Sisters for Success which she pioneered at Des Moines Public Schools, SEEDS (a young women's group designed to discuss careers and potential post high school ventures), and lastly she is active within her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, that supports women of all ages with a mission to promote unity and friendship among women. Ms. Tyler has always believed in the power of girls and their unstoppable potential.

About the Search

After seven years of outstanding leadership, current Head of The Ellis School Macon Finley will retire from her role at Ellis following the conclusion of the 2023–2024 academic year.

The search for The Ellis School's sixteenth Head of School was led by Board Chair and Ellis alumna Tomar Pierson-BROWN ’97 in partnership with RG175 and a trusted committee of Ellis trustees, helmed by Ariana Ornelas Smyth, and with input from Ellis parents, employees, and alumnae.

Our Search Committee Team

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  • Ariana Ornelas Smyth, Ellis Parent - Search Committee Chair

    Ariana, an Ellis trustee since 2021, is a healthcare regulatory attorney with Highmark Health/Allegheny Health Network. She has daughters in grades 1 and 3 at Ellis. She assists nonprofit organizations with corporate governance and also sits on the boards of the Women's Law Project and the Latino Community Center.
  • Barbara AARON Rosston ’80

    Barbara is a proud Ellis alumna and a trustee since 2019. She is a consultant specializing in strategic planning and governance in independent schools and nonprofits. She is also an attorney. Barbara has served on many independent school boards and has chaired two of them.
  • Stephen Chen, Ellis Parent

    Stephen ("Steve"), an Ellis trustee since 2022, is the General Counsel of Duolingo. He has held several senior legal positions across the tech industry. He has a daughter in grade 7 at Ellis.
  • Dora PLUMMER Magovern ’01, Ellis Parent

    Dora is a proud Ellis alumna and a trustee since 2019. She has a daughter in grade 4 at Ellis. Dora is trained as a clinical social worker and has worked in private practice, at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, and at the LEND Center of the University of Pittsburgh.
  • Tomar Pierson-BROWN ’97

    Tomar is the current Chair of the Board of Trustees, having served on the board since 2019, and is also a proud Ellis alumna. Tomar is the Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusive Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. She is also a clinical associate professor of law and the director of the Law School's Health Law Clinic.
  • Crystal McCormick Ware, Ellis Alumna Parent

    Crystal, a trustee since 2019, is the parent of an Ellis alumna. She is the inaugural Chief Diversity Officer and Senior Advisor to the President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Duquesne University. In her position, Crystal is responsible for advising the President, Cabinet, and Senior Leaders relating to University DEI strategies. She also develops and presents an array of innovative ideas and program concepts for consideration, selection, and implementation by the President and appropriate University units. 
  • Patrick Koeppl, Ellis Alumna Parent

    Patrick, a trustee since 2019, is the parent of an Ellis alumna. He is a Managing Director of Deloitte Consulting, where he leads public health research and evaluation projects for a wide array of government, nonprofit, and private-sector clients.

Our Search Consultants

The search for the next Head of The Ellis School will be conducted in partnership with RG175, an industry-leading consulting firm that specializes in searches for independent school leadership. The Ellis School will be assisted by RG175 partner Rebecca Upham (, a former Ellis Head of School, as well as her experienced partner Marcia Prewitt Spiller (

Search Timeline

December 2022 January February March April May June July August September October
Search firm RG175 selected; 
Search Committee announced
Position statement finalized Dossier review; semi-finalists selected Semi-finalists interviewed by the Search Committee; Finalists selected Finalists visit campus and meet with Ellis community Head of School selected and announced
RG175 Campus Visits;
Community & Student Surveys
RG175 recruits and interviews candidates

Search Announcement

Tomar Pierson-BROWN ’97

Macon Finley has informed the Ellis Board of Trustees, as well as faculty and staff, of her intention to retire as Head of The Ellis School at the conclusion of the 2023–2024 school year. Macon’s leadership at Ellis has been monumental, cultivating an era of significant growth for the School. From the moment she arrived, Macon has continually realized the Ellis vision while providing the wisdom, direction, and leadership essential to achieving our highest aspirations.

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  • Read the Statement from Ellis' Board Chair

    Macon has paid careful attention to every critical facet of the academic program, from recruiting outstanding faculty, to raising the capital to renovate our facilities, to attracting new students and families by successfully conveying The Ellis School’s legacy of educating girls and young women to become bold, authentic, and intellectually vibrant members of their communities. There isn’t a corner of our school that hasn’t been touched and improved by her involvement.

    Since beginning her tenure at Ellis in 2017, Macon, through a dynamic strategic planning process, produced our current school mission and vision statements. Her articulation of the four pillars of an Ellis education strengthened our already outstanding curriculum. Further, Macon has overseen significant improvements to The Ellis School’s campus. In particular, the pre-kindergarten classroom space has been expanded, a new, flexible teaching and meeting area has been added to the Middle and Upper School library, and quality upgrades have been made to the auditorium, Joy's Gym, and the art classrooms. Topping this impressive list is the recently completed, total renovation of the Middle School science classrooms. Ellis is as strong as at any point in its history as a result of Macon’s transformational leadership and purposeful execution. We are exceedingly grateful to her for all that she has accomplished so far as the Head of School.

    Given The Ellis School’s strengths, the Board is confident that we will find a remarkable leader to succeed Macon—someone who will build upon the significant accomplishments of the past seven years. We are equally confident in our community’s capacity to support a seamless transition. The Board of Trustees takes seriously its responsibility to select the next Head of School. We have already been engaged in succession planning as a normal part of our stewardship role. Successful fulfillment of this duty requires an inclusive search process, which will involve active communication and engagement with faculty, staff, families, alumni, and students.

    The Board of Trustees has chosen one of the leading independent school search firms—RG175—to assist in our search. We have the distinct pleasure of working with RG175 partner Rebecca Upham, who is also a former Ellis Head of School. We are confident that she will shepherd this process with tenacity and discernment due to her undeniable respect for and demonstrated commitment to Ellis. Rebecca’s experienced partner, Marcia Spiller, will also be a part of our team.

    Rebecca and Marcia will be working directly with the Trustees on the Head Search Committee. Chaired by Ariana Ornelas Smyth, a member of the Ellis community for many years, the Committee is comprised of current Trustees who represent a diversity of perspectives on the Ellis experience.

    Equally as important to a seamless transition is ensuring that Ellis continues on the strong, positive trajectory set by Macon. Macon will remain our active Head of School until her retirement, and she will continue to lead Ellis the way she has throughout her tenure: with the deepest conviction to growing Ellis students into future changemakers. We all look forward to honoring Macon and her many accomplishments over the next year and a half. Macon will be leaving Ellis better than she found it. Building a legacy takes effort, boldness, and careful planning. The most meaningful and enduring tribute to Macon will be our resolve to continue to build upon the extraordinary success that she has achieved at Ellis.

A Message from Macon Finley

"I hope by now you know how much I love The Ellis School, and how proud I am of all the work we are doing here to nurture and support our students to become confident, vibrant, authentic people who will leave us ready to make a real difference in the world. So it is bittersweet for me to be announcing that after next year—the 2023–2024 academic year—I will be retiring from my role at Ellis."

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  • Read More from Macon Finley

    I have been in conversation this fall with our wonderful Board of Trustees about the timing of my retirement, and I have their full support for a June 2024 departure. As much as I hate to leave this wonderful school community, it is the right time for me and my family, as my husband Peter and I hope to spend more time with our far-flung grown children and their growing families.
    I have been very fortunate to work with an incredible group of Trustees at Ellis since coming here in 2017, and this year’s Board of Trustees is no exception. Led by Board Chair and Ellis alumna Tomar Pierson-BROWN ’97, I know the Board is excited about the direction of the School and committed to finding an outstanding next Head of School. I am thrilled that they have selected RG175 as the consultants to lead the search, and I have every confidence that the search process will identify just the right person to serve as the next Head of School.

    One of my favorite parts of my work at Ellis has been recruiting faculty, staff, families, and students to join this special school community, as well as connecting with alumnae who return to campus for visits. Any time I am speaking with folks, I ask about their impressions of the School. To a person, they describe the warmth, care, and commitment they feel, whether it be teachers talking about how they work with students, students talking about how they feel about their classmates, colleagues talking about what it’s like to work together at Ellis, or alums talking about the lifelong friendships that started at Ellis. It is one of our greatest gifts, and one that Ellis has certainly given me.

    I am excited to continue at Ellis for the next 18 months, and I look forward to all the great work we will continue to do during that time.

About The Ellis School