Leadership Search Team

Our global team of Senior Associates have worldwide connections in the international school community and extensive knowledge of leadership in international schools, since they have themselves served as leaders of—and now consultants to—these schools. Many also have strong ties to U.S. and British independent schools

Jim Ambrose

James  Ambrose

A Senior Associate since 1997, Jim chiefly focuses on consulting with school boards on leadership searches, governance issues and strategic/long term financial planning. He has held numerous leadership positions at international schools, including Stavanger American School (Norway), Cairo American College (Egypt), the American Community School of Abu Dhabi (UAE), the United Nations International School of Hanoi (Vietnam), and schools in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Zambia. Jim was honored in 1997 as "Superintendent of the Year" by the Association for the Advancement of International Education (AAIE).

Jim is well-known for his work in school governance and has produced videotapes for this purpose sponsored by the Overseas Schools Advisory Committee and the National Association of Elementary School Principals. He has been a member of the governing boards for the Near East/South Asian Council of Overseas Schools (NESA), the International Educator (TIE) and the Commission of Elementary Schools, Middle States Association (CES-MSA). In addition, Jim has been a featured speaker at many professional conferences and his articles regularly appear in numerous publications. He has a B.A. from Hillsdale College (Michigan) and an M.A. in educational leadership from Eastern Michigan University.

Günther Brandt

Günther Brandt

As a Senior Consultant with Search Associates, Günther consults on leadership searches, board training, governance, strategic planning, and conflict resolution. Günther has served as a Head of School for much of his career, including for the Hamburg International School (Germany); Cairo American College (Egypt); Washington International School (USA); The Putney School (USA); The Graded School (Brazil); Country Day School (Costa Rica); Frankfurt International School (Germany); The Baldwin School (Puerto Rico) ; and The Universal American School, an ESOL EDUCATION IB World School (Dubai). Günther currently serves as Education Advisor for ESOL EDUCATION and has also been a Board Member since 2013.

Over the years, Günther has provided leadership to numerous international organizations, having served as a member of the IB Heads Standing Committee; a Board Member of AISGW (Washington Area Association of Independent Schools (AISGW), the Chair of the Board of the American Schools in South America, and a member of accreditation teams of SACS and MSA. He was elected as Commissioner for MSA in 2013. Günther was born and raised in Germany, received a B.A. in History from Stanford University and obtained an M.A. and Ph.D. in History from Princeton University.

David Cope

David Cope

David heads up Search Associates in the UK and Ireland, runs the London-Spring Job Fair in April, and is a member of its Executive Management Committee. A Cambridge University graduate with a BA and MA in History, he taught History, English and Spanish for five years before becoming a headmaster. For twenty years he led three British schools in the UK and France (Dover College, the British School of Paris and Marlborough College), with a special commitment to furthering co-education and international education.

David has been an active member of the British HMC (Headmasters and Headmistresses Conference) and also of ECIS (European Council of International Schools). He served as a founding member and for several years the Treasurer of COBISEC (the association of British international schools in Europe, which has subsequently evolved into COBIS). David has also had substantial senior management experience in other fields, including British Council representation in Mexico and running the VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) programme in Zambia. Most recently, he was responsible for building up the UK branch of Ashoka, a US-based development agency supporting 3000+ social entrepreneurs through a fellowship programme in more than eighty countries worldwide.

David Cramer

David Cramer

David joined Search Associates in 2015, following 33 years of direct involvement in education. He has taught preschool, middle school, high school and both undergrad and graduate courses, served as an administrator at both the high school and elementary school level, and was head of school at four international schools: AIS/D Dhaka, Bangladesh; ACS Abu Dhabi, UAE; ACS La Paz, Bolivia and JIS, Jakarta, Indonesia.

David left Jakarta to join the U.S. Department of State, where he worked in the Office of Overseas Schools as a Regional Education Officer for 6 years. During that time, he covered Central and Eastern Europe and Africa, and worked with many schools in both regions supporting school administrators, teachers, parents and students through grants, professional development and counseling. David has served on the boards of four regional international education associations: NESA, EARCOS, CEESA and AISA. He received his BS degree in education from Virginia Tech and M.Ed and D.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction from Penn State. He has his administrative credential from The California State University at Chico.

Barry Drake

Barry Drake

Barry joined Search Associates in 2010 following 40 years of teaching and leadership in international schools in Africa, the Middle East, South East and East Asia, including periods with the United World Colleges in Wales and Hong Kong. Barry has prime responsibility for the Search Associates Job Fair in Hong Kong, where he spent the last 18 years of his school-based career.

Barry's commitment to international education has been shaped by 26 years' involvement with the IB programmes, incorporating over 20 years as an IB History examiner and moderator. Barry also has considerable experience with bilingual, bi-cultural education in the Middle East and China, and was instrumental in developing comprehensive personal and social education programmes, including University and Careers Guidance, for students in his last two schools. He has a BA in Economics and Modern History, an MA in Economic History, and a PhD in Education from the University of Bath (UK). Barry's other major areas of interest lie in the fields of teacher improvement / appraisal policies and in the opportunities for transformational educational offered through service learning. In 2009 Barry was presented with the ECIS Award for the Promotion of International Education.

Gez Hayden

Gez Hayden

Gez joined Search Associates in 2009 following a 20-year career in international schools, preceded by ten years in domestic schools in the UK. Gez holds a BA in French and German Language/Literature from the University of Birmingham, UK, and an M.Ed. from the University of Bath, UK. Gez began his international career as Head of 6th Form at the International School of South Africa, joined Universal International School Thailand, and served a 12-year tenure as Director of Nanjing International School, China, establishing NIS as China's first three-programme IB School. One of the Founding Heads of ACAMIS (Association of China and Mongolia International Schools), Gez was closely involved with the organisation's transition from a sports and cultural organisation for students in China international schools to a full-range professional support resource for those working and studying in those schools.

In addition to leadership searches and teacher recruitment, Gez is the organiser of the Search Associates London January job fair. He and his wife and office partner Amelia Ren-Hayden maintain a permanent home, and a Search Associates office, in Nanjing, and also work for several months each year out of their other home, near Cape Town, South Africa.

Ralph Jahr

Ralph Jahr

Ralph has worked with Search Associates since 2010, principally as a consultant on leadership searches. He also recruits teacher candidates and consults with school boards on governance issues. Ralph began his career in international education in 1973 as a teacher of physics, math and physical science. He held teaching positions at St. Mary's International School in Tokyo (Japan) and the Antwerp International School (Belgium), and superintendent positions at the American Cooperative School in Monrovia (Liberia), IS-Manila (Philippines), the American School of Kuwait, the Karachi American School (Pakistan) and the Carol Morgan School (Dominican Republic).

As a vice president at International Schools Services (ISS), Ralph headed administrative searches for more than 11 years, facilitating more than 170 searches for school heads, directors and superintendents. His work with ISS included assisting many international schools with establishing and managing US 501 (c)(3) foundations. Ralph has a B.A. in physics from Beloit College (Wisconsin), an M.S. in physics from the University of Wisconsin in Superior, WI, and a Ph.D. in educational administration from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Nick Kendell

James  Ambrose

Nick joined Search Associates in 2011, following a successful career as an international school teacher and administrator. Nick directs the Australian/New Zealand office of Search Associates and also runs the Search Associates job fair in Melbourne. Prior to joining Search Associates Nick worked in international education for 13 years. His most recent role was at the New Cairo British International School in Cairo, Egypt as the Head of Primary. He has also worked in the independent schools sector in Australia as a Senior Administrator and spent a number of years at the Hong Kong International School.

Nick has been a member of the Australian Council of Educators and has been a keynote speaker at conferences in both Australia and New Zealand on educational and recruiting matters. He earned his Bachelor of Education and Diploma of Teaching from the Australian Catholic University.

John Magagna

John Magagna

John founded Search Associates in 1990 specifically to assist international schools in recruiting top educators worldwide. Since that time, John has personally led over 300 successful Head of School searches for American/international schools on every continent.

John has many years of experience as a leader in school administration, having served as Headmaster of several K-12 schools both in the United States and abroad. He began his career as a young math teacher on a Fulbright grant to the American School of Tangier, where he was soon appointed its Headmaster at age 31. Subsequent posts include Lower School Headmaster of Wyoming Seminary Preparatory School in Pennsylvania, and Headmaster at the Community School, Tehran, and the La Jolla Country Day School in California. His extensive administrative career culminated at Jakarta International School in Indonesia, where John served as Headmaster from 1984 to 1990.

He was educated in public, parochial, and private schools, graduating from Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School and the US Naval Academy. The recipient of various National Science Foundation grants, he continued his education at Bucknell and Dartmouth, and earned an MA degree at the University of Pennsylvania. John has also done postgraduate work at Harvard University. Active in civic and community affairs, he presently serves on several Boards, including those of the American School of Tangier, Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School, and the Philharmonic Society of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Bridget McNamer

Bridget McNamer

Bridget began her career in international education as an English language and literature teacher at the Jakarta International School and the North Jakarta International School in Indonesia. She consulted with Search Associates founders as they got the organization up and running, and periodically over the years until she formally joined the organization in 2013. Bridget earned a B.A. in History from Harvard University and an M.A. in International Relations and Economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

Bridget spent 20 years in the philanthropy sector, with a special focus on international and U.S. education reform, working for the Skoll Foundation, Gates Foundation, and Bank of America Foundation. Her professional experience has included consulting with leaders to improve the effectiveness of their organizations, including through leadership development. She has run highly competitive programs, including the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and the Bank of America Student Leaders Program, that involved creative strategies to identify, screen, and successfully "close the deal" with candidates for coveted positions, experience which she finds directly transferable to international school leadership searches.

Julie Ryan

Julie Ryan

Julie joined Search Associates in 2014, following nearly 30 years as an elementary school principal in international and US schools. Julie began her career as a reading specialist, first at the American School of Paris and then in California, where she then served as elementary principal at two schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. Julie went on to take a position as Lower School Principal at the American School in London, where she remained for 19 years. Julie has a BA in French and Elementary Education from Florida Southern College, an MA in Reading from Northern Illinois University, and a Certificate in Educational Leadership and Administration from San Jose State University.

Since 1998, Julie has been a trainer for the Principals Training Center (the PTC). She also serves on the Executive Committee and as Commissioner for the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSA). She has been a frequent presenter at international and U.S.-based educational conferences. In 1999, she was honored as one of two international educators to receive the "National Distinguished Principal Award" from the US State Department and the National Association of Elementary School Principals.


Did You Know…?

Executive Vice President David Cope's career has taken him to Europe, Africa, North and Central America, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.