Meet the Green Ivy Team

jennifer jones

Jennifer Jones, Founder & CEO

Green Ivy Schools

Dr. Jennifer Jones is the founder and visionary behind New York City’s Green Ivy Schools network and a lifelong entrepreneur and advocate for evolved learning experiences for children from birth to high school and beyond.

She has developed 24 schools and draws from a rich background as school developer, international policy consultant, and teacher. She has advised boards and governments at regional, state, national and international levels, served as a university professor and authored a successful book on child development.

Her career is defined by pioneering efforts to break through economic and social barriers to ensure that young people from every walk of life achieve maximum potential through engaged, relevant and cutting edge approaches to education.

Her specializations include educational technology, transglobal education, bilingual education, literacy, and economic development.

Dr. Jones is the creator of Parenting for the Future, a new and engaging series of speakers, panels and hands-on workshops which invite parents of digital natives to explore and learn more about how technology will shape the lives of and future opportunities for their children.

Follow Dr. Jones:

PYP international school lower manhattan

Eileen Baker, Head of School

Pine Street School

Eileen is an experienced international school leader who has implemented the IB programs in four schools in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. She is Montessori trained and has been a workshop leader and school inspector for the International Baccalaureate Organization since 1999.

She is uniquely qualified to bring our vision of a global school to life because she grew up overseas, immersed in a classroom of real world cultural experiences. Her experience in training teachers from around the world has given her a distinct ability to strategize, collaborate and accomplish great things across all cultures.

She believes that schools should be responsive to research and adaptable to changing needs, so she’s always reading the latest findings. Her goal is to prepare students for the future, not the past. Eileen loves traveling and could never see enough museums, market places, art and architecture.

Anna Rita Pergolizzi-Wentworth

Anna Rita Pergolizzi-Wentworth, Head of School

Battery Park Montessori

Anna Rita joins us from Del Mar Academy, an independent, bilingual Montessori and International Baccalaureate school located in Nosara, Costa Rica. While there, she taught, consulted, and served as Head of School.

Anna Rita has an Ed.M. in Educational Leadership Studies from Teachers College, Columbia University. She worked closely with the Klingenstein Center at Teachers College and, with its director, co-taught a distance-learning educational leadership course to Bilkent University graduate students in Ankara, Turkey.

Anna Rita was raised speaking Spanish and Italian. Her linguistic and cultural background, coupled with her language interests as an adult, allows her to bring a unique perspective to language acquisition. Anna Rita is a firm believer that being able to communicate in more than one language opens windows to understanding the idiosyncrasies of people's histories, cultures, and everyday lives.

She believes that a Montessori classroom is an ideal place to encourage the learning of a new language because children are allowed to work at their own pace, are encouraged to learn from their mistakes, and are embraced for their differences in who they are and how they learn. She believes that this allows children to build the necessary sense of security required to take risks, especially linguistic ones.

Anna Rita has had the opportunity to work with and learn from key individuals and institutions in the Montessori and independent school sector: As a graduate student, Anna Rita shadowed Dane Peters, former Head of School at Brooklyn Heights Montessori School.

barbara ristauBarb Ristau, Chief Financial Officer

Green Ivy Schools

Barb is a CPA with over 20 years of experiences in organizations large and small. She handles strategy development, financial forecasting, budgeting and more for our rapidly evolving schools.

She holds a BBA in Accounting from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

She is a board member of the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra as well as the Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation.

carolina zapata

Carolina Zapata, Director of Talent and Recruitment

Green Ivy Schools

Carolina has worked as a human resources leader in countries all around the world. Originally from Colombia, she has built teams in Colombia, Panama, Luxembourg, Sweden and the United Kingdom. She has recruited on a variety of levels, from CFO’s and CCO’s to managers and basic operational roles.

She loves the everyday challenge of being a Green Ivy team member because it forces her to question previous assumptions and approach every task with a fresh set of eyes. She understands that people are the heart and soul of every organization, and she is passionate about bringing only the best to Green Ivy.

Carolina is fluent in Spanish, English and French, and she is an avid Bikram Yogi. She loves traveling, meeting new people and listening to everyone’s unique story.

yonca oktay

Yonca Oktay, Assistant Head of School & PYP Coordinator

Pine Street School

Yonca (pronounced "Yonja") Oktay, brings with her 28 years in the field of international education, including 15 years abroad in Mexico, Portugal, Singapore, Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar and Norway. Throughout her career, Yonca has served as an International Baccalaureate Educator, traveling worldwide as a member of an elite IB network to support IB schools as a workshop leader and site inspector/authorizer.

Yonca holds a Master of Education from Georgia State University and has a professional career grounded in 16 years of teaching, with most recent positions as head of school, curriculum coordinator and college professor. She is a native New Yorker born to Turkish parents, and enjoys a rich cultural heritage.

Yonca believes passionately in community service and volunteers at a local hospital and with the Make A Wish Foundation in New Jersey. She believes that each day presents an "opportunity to learn more, do more, be more and grow more... often in unexpected and unpredictable ways." When she is not changing the world through education, she is hiking, exploring photography, reading, or doing yoga. She currently lives in New Jersey.

margaret gandolfoMargaret Gandolfo, Assistant Admissions Director

Green Ivy Schools

Margaret holds a B.F.A. from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She has worked for several years in acting, directing, teaching dance and drama, as well as arts program administration.

Margaret is passionate about her family, travel, and cultural identity. As a university student, she spent a semester in Florence, Italy.

She embodies the Green Ivy philosophy of fostering globalmindedness. In her free time, she loves going to the theater, especially to see shows featuring friends and colleagues.

Contact Margaret in the Admissions Office:

richard jakobRichard Jakob, Facilities and Purchasing Manager

Green Ivy Schools

Rich was born and raised on Long Island. He was an English major (BA) at Ohio State University. After college, he moved to Aspen/Snowmass, CO and eventually made his way back to the NYC area around 2003. He is currently a resident of Lower Manhattan and can most often be found running along the amazing waterfront or wandering around searching for a missing ingredient.

He joined Green Ivy after having spent over 9 years on the facilities and operations staff at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Coming from both an arts and facilities background was the perfect segue into his position at Green Ivy.

Rich is a member of and coach for the NYC Hydras Master’s Swim Team. His passion is Open Water Swimming and he competes in local races and has traveled as far as Montenegro and Croatia on holiday to swim. He also loves cooking healthy food, seeing live music, rooting for his favorite teams, and traveling.

gail gieseGail Giese, General Accountant

Green Ivy Schools

Gail holds a B.A. in Business and a B.A. in Accounting from Lakeland College Sheboygan in Wisconsin. Gail’s background is primarily in tax accounting and general accounting in non-profits and a start-up meal preparation businesses.

She chose Green Ivy because of the opportunity to work in a caring environment, in addition to the excitement of working with a new and growing company. She’s always excited to be learning new skills and technologies as well.

Conquering new things is what brings Gail the greatest joy. During her spare time she likes to go out to dinner with friends, watching her children’s sporting events, visiting with family and read crime novels.


jennifer jones, founder

Dr. Jennifer Jones, Founder and CEO, and the entire team welcome you to explore Green Ivy Schools. Parents, teachers, students and all members of the international community will find something to inspire them at our schools.