Board of Trustees

Trustee Biographies

John Hockmeyer, President

John is a lifelong advocate of education as a vehicle for people to improve their lives. John has a B.A. from Vanderbilt University, M.Ed. from George Washington University, and M.B.A. from Johns Hopkins University. John taught high school level English in Charleston, SC, at the county magnet school for at-risk youth. He then changed career fields and worked for MedImmune-AstraZeneca, a global life sciences company, for 17 years. He held several roles of increasing responsibility in Sales & Marketing, Corporate Development & Strategy, and Biologics Manufacturing Operations Strategy. John and his family moved to Talbot County in 2013 from Bethesda, MD. John left the pharmaceutical industry and now manages agricultural properties; his wife Tracy Hockmeyer, PhD., a former research scientist, is a licensed acupuncturist and co-owner of EbbTide Wellness Studio in Easton. They have two young children at The Country School, Boden and Grace.

Blenda Armistead

Blenda Armistead's career has focused on local government, finance, education, and community service. She served as County Manager and Finance Officer for Talbot County for 18 years. Prior to her appointment as County Manager, she was the Assistant Dean in the College of Business and Management at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is a director of Shore Bancshares and has been on the board of Shore United Bank (formerly The Talbot Bank) for almost 30 years.

Blenda has been active in many community-based organizations, having chaired the Boards of Chesapeake College, Shore Health System, The Country School, the Academy Art Museum, and the Talbot County YMCA. A past member of the Easton Rotary Club, she has also served on the boards of  Talbot Mentors, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, the Waterfowl Festival, the YMCA of the Chesapeake and the Talbot Historical Society.  

A graduate of Smith College, Blenda earned an M.B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Ph.D. in Management and Higher Education from Florida State University.

Gray Boutté '98

Gray is a member of The Country School Class of 1998 and a graduate of Episcopal High School and the University of Vermont.  In school Gray enjoyed wrestling, boxing, and rugby.  He is currently Managing Director – Investments with Wells Fargo Advisors in Easton.  He also worked in boat yards and as a mountain guide before becoming a financial advisor.
Gray resides in Easton with his wife Krista and their two children, Mason ‘26 and Lea ’21. Gray was named The Country School’s Outstanding Young Alumnus in 2014.  He has been an active volunteer for the US Coast Guard, District 05-S; Mates of the States Leadership Society; Character Counts; and The Country School. He has also served as a member of the Steering Committee for the Trust for the National Mall and a Partner of Habitat for Humanity.

Jean Waller Brune

Jean Waller Brune was Head of Roland Park Country School from July 1, 1992 until her retirement in June of 2016 when she became Head of School Emerita. She was the sixth Head in School history and the first alumna to serve in this position.  She graduated from Middlebury College, magna cum laude, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Jean holds a Master’s in Liberal Arts from Johns Hopkins University.

Before RPCS, she worked at Gilman School for 24 years as a teacher and administrator, serving as Lower School Head from 1988-1992.  She has served on the AIMS (Association of Independent Maryland Schools) Academic Advisory Board, chaired the AIMS Accreditation Committee and is a past President of the AIMS Board of Trustees.  She is also past President of the IAAM (Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland) and has served as a member of the Landon School Board of Trustees. Additionally, Jean serves on the Executive Committee of the Baltimore Educational Scholarship Trust and has been the District IV Regent for Cum Laude for the past several years.  Jean was named one of The Daily Record’s Top 100 Maryland Women in 2012.

She received the Rotary Club of Baltimore Paul Harris Fellow in 2011 for service to the community and a Fullwood Foundation Honor in 1997 for Roland Park Country School’s commitment to diversity. Jean also received the Gilman School Edward K. Dunn Fellow for exceptional contribution to the development of character of students. She is active in Roland Park Presbyterian Church, where she has contributed as Clerk of Session, taught Sunday School, and chaired the Stewardship and Worship Committees.

Richard Counts

Richard Counts grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland. He attended Duke University, the University of Maryland (BA, 1965), and the University of Chicago (JD, 1968). He moved to the Eastern Shore in 1980.
Richard practiced law in Easton for 32 years, retiring from Parker and Counts in 2012.  His primary practice areas were estate planning, estate and trust administration and real estate.
Each of his three children, Meredith, Richard and Catherine, attended Country School from kindergarten through the 8th grade, and his granddaughter Keane entered the School’s inaugural pre-kindergarten class in 2019.

Tim Cureton

Tim Cureton is Owner and CEO of Rise Up Coffee, an independent coffee company based out of Easton, Maryland. Tim graduated from Salisbury University, earning both a B.A. in Sociology and a Master’s in Education. After college, Tim’s desire to travel and interest in other cultures drove him to volunteer for the Peace Corps. Tim would have what would prove to be a life changing coffee experience while traveling home from his service in Micronesia. His love affair with coffee had begun. In 2005, Tim along with Abby West opened the first Rise Up Coffee in St. Michaels, Maryland. What started as one small coffee trailer in a parking lot, has evolved into five iconic locations. From the complexity of taste, its global reach and the connection provided to other world cultures, Tim finds continuous fascination through his life in coffee. Any time away from coffee is time spent with the greatest individual humanity has ever known, Tim’s seven year old son, Koa (‘24). Tim Cureton currently resides in Easton, Maryland.

Zuleika Ghodsi

Zuleika and her husband Ali Soulati moved to Easton in 2001. Zuleika is the president of Delmarva Laser Eye Center. She has practiced Ophthalmology in Easton for thirteen years. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Northwestern University after which she attended Medical School and continued with her Ophthalmology residency at the University of Iowa. She is currently a board member for the United Fund of Talbot County.  At the Country School, Zuleika has served as a room parent for multiple years, Hospitality Chair, Chair of Grandparents and Special Friends Day, rummage sale volunteer, and is a member of our Diversity Committee. Their daughters Heleah ('17) and Anya ('21) currently attend The Country School.  Her oldest daughter Hanna graduated from The Country School in 2014 and now attends St. Andrews School.

Christy Gibson

Christy Gibson has been a part of The Country School family for three years now. Her two sons are currently in the first and second grade. Christy is no newcomer to Country School events though. She has been involved in the school’s fundraising and volunteer activities since day one by serving as a Buddy Family, an Auction Co-Chair, a Golf Tournament Co-Chair, a Room Parent, a Committee Member in the Lower Head School Search and participating in several CSPA events in one capacity or another.
Prior to her life at The Country School, Christy spent more than ten years in Washington, D.C. in government relations working with national organizations in corporate, non-profit and for-profit sectors with a focus on fundraising, advocacy and technology. Locally, Christy is a member of the Mid-Shore League of Republican Women, Daughters of the American Revolution, General Perry Benson chapter and the Christ Church of Easton where she served as a member of the Vestry for three years, during their most recent Capitol Campaign. She is also involved in the fitness programs at Hearthstone Health and Fitness.
Previous professional and social affiliations in Talbot County include serving for the Republican Central Committee as Treasurer and Member and working on several local and national political races. Christy served Christ Church Day School as President of the Parents Association and on various other committees, as well as volunteering for Talbot Hospice Festival of the Trees, The Waterfowl Festival, among others. Christy earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Maryland, College Park, and currently resides in Easton.

Hugh E. Grunden, P.E.

Hugh Grunden joined Easton Utilities in 1983 and became the President & CEO in 1994. He provides the strategic direction for a multiple division municipal utility that serves the Town of Easton and portions of Talbot County, Maryland.
Mr. Grunden currently serves on the Board of Directors of the American Public Power Association and Hometown Connections, LLC. He also serves in an advisory role for M&T Bank and The Country School. In addition, Mr. Grunden was recently appointed to the Governor's Task Force for Rural Internet, Broadband, and Cellular Service and formerly served on the Governor’s Task Force Advisory Group for Electric Industry Restructuring in Maryland.
Mr. Grunden holds a BS in Civil Engineering from University of Maryland – College Park, an MBA from The Johns Hopkins University, and is a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Maryland. 

Chad Hill '94

Chad Hill was born and raised in Easton, Maryland, and is a member of The Country School Class of 1994. He is a 1998 graduate of The Hill School in Pottstown, PA, and a 2002 graduate of Elon University, where he earned a Business degree with a concentration in Marketing.

Upon returning to the Eastern Shore, Chad lived in Salisbury, where he owned and operated a successful full-service car wash. In 2010, Chad married Lindsey Moore. They moved to Easton in 2014 and now have two children: Laurie (Class of ’26) and David (age 4). 

Chad is vice president of Hill Hospitality, a hotel management and development company based in Easton, which operates a number of hotels along the East Coast. He is vice president of Caulk Management company, which manages various commercial buildings and businesses in Maryland. He serves as a Board member for Channel Marker, Inc. and is passionate about mental health awareness and advocating for the fight against the stigma of mental illness. He is also a proud and active volunteer for Character Counts and Junior Achievement.

Chad’s many interests include playing golf, traveling, surfing, and spending time with family and friends at the beach.

Chad Nagel

Chad Nagel is a native of Maryland’s Eastern Shore where he resides with his wife, Stephanie and 3 children, Rex ('16), Caroline ('18) and Clay ('21), all students at The Country School.  Currently, Chad is Executive Vice-President of Nagel Farm Service, Inc. which is an agri-business firm in the Mid-Atlantic focused on trading physical agricultural commodities and providing risk management services to grain producers.  His day-to-day activities include directing the company’s risk management practices, grain merchandising efforts, transportation logistics, and crop insurance agency.  He has also worked for the Linn Group on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade and for Frost Brown Todd in Chicago, a 500+ attorney national law firm, where he directed the firm’s estate plan administration service. Chad also has his CPA.

When not at the office, Chad enjoys waterfowl hunting, skiing, boating, golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.  Chad is very active with Bay Area Community Church in Annapolis, MD where he and Stephanie lead an affiliated group on the Eastern Shore.  Presently Chad is Treasurer of the Advisory Board for The Salvation Army of the Mid-Shore, a board member of the Caroline County Chamber of Commerce and a director for the National Grain and Feed Association where he also serves on the country elevator committee.

Justin Nonemaker

Justin Nonemaker is co-founding partner of ShoreGate Partners, a privately held real estate company based out of Easton, Maryland.  ShoreGate invests and manages a real estate portfolio for close family and friends with a wide range of holdings including commercial and multi-family properties located throughout the Mid-Atlantic as well as several thousand acres of timber and farmland on the Eastern Shore.  Prior to founding ShoreGate Partners, Justin was a Managing Director of the New York and Mid-Atlantic region for Meritage Properties, a private equity firm focused on commercial real estate investment.  He was responsible for the asset management of over 1.4 million square feet of office space spread over seven assets located in the New York City metropolitan area and greater Washington, DC. Prior to joining Meritage in December of 2005, Justin spent nearly four years with Goldman Sachs & Co. in downtown Manhattan, working within the Equities Division. Justin graduated from Colgate University in 2002 with concentrations in both Economics and Spanish. 

Justin met his wife, Chesley, in Manhattan in 2005 and they married on April 5, 2008.  They have three children, Camilla (5), Sage (4), and James (2).  Justin and his family moved to Easton in June of 2013 from Potomac, Maryland.

Lakshmi Vaidyanathan, MD, MBA

Lakshmi is a physician who specializes in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine. She is currently the Medical Director of the Palliative Care Program at the University of Maryland Shore Regional Health. In addition to the clinical care of patients, Lakshmi has leadership experience in health care, having chaired and served on a number of hospital committees and initiatives. Her passion is innovation in health care delivery that can improve quality and affordability.
Lakshmi completed her medical school at Grant Medical College, Mumbai, India. She then went on to complete a residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. A life-long learner, Lakshmi recently graduated from the Executive MBA program at the University of Maryland R. H. Smith School of Business. Lakshmi lives in Easton with her husband, Dr. John Foley and their children Tara (‘23) and Arjun (‘25).

Doug Walker

Doug Walker graduated from St. Maria Goretti High School in Hagerston, Maryland in 1995, St. Mary's College of Maryland in St. Mary's City, Maryland in 1999 and the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2002. 
After graduation, he immediately began practicing in Towson, Maryland at Royston, Muller, McLean and Reid, LLP. After five years in Towson he accepted a position at Miles & Stockbridge, P.C. and moved to Easton with his wife (Melissa) and daughter (Mia) in July of 2007. In December of 2016 he stared his own law firm (McAllister, DeTar, Showalter & Walker, LLC) and over the last two years the new firm has been representing a variety of mostly local individuals, business, and financial institutions in addition to a handful of national private equity firms and/or financial institutions throughout the state of Maryland. In addition to a variety of local affiliations, Mr. Walker has been Co-Vice Chair (2010-2014) and Chair (2014-2015) of the Partnerships and Limited Liability Companies Committee of the American Bar Assocaition's Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section. 
Daughters Mia ('21) and Emma ('23) came to the Country School for the 2017-18 school year and Chloe ('27) will begin Kindergarten in the fall of 2018. 

Richard Ward

Richard Ward is the Vice President and owner of Rockville Fuel and Feed Company, Inc., a family business in Rockville, MD with a main product of ready-mixed concrete for commercial construction projects. He is also President and Founder of RFF Properties, a commercial real estate and property management firm and President of Richards-Wilbert, Inc. a funeral products supply and service company. Richard has a BA in Economics from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from Wake Forest University. He is a Board Member Emeritus at The Treatment and Learning Centers in Rockville, MD. At TLC Richard was a board member for 14 years, Board President for 3 years and was instrumental in adding a high school for severely learning-disabled children. Richard is very familiar with the independent school world having attended Georgetown Preparatory School, and serving on the boards of The Christ Episcopal School in Rockville, Saint Anne’s School of Annapolis, and Trinity School of Frederick where he also served some time as Head of School. In his spare time, Richard enjoys boating and spending time with his family. His twins, Lilli and Colin, graduated from The Country School in 2017.

© 2017 The Country School. All Rights Reserved.
The Country School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, age, gender, nationality, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation in the administration of its educational, admission, and employment policies, or its financial aid, athletic, and other school administered programs.
716 Goldsborough Street, Easton, MD 21601 • 410.822.1935