Board of Governors, Copenhagen International School (CIS)
The Board of Governors of CIS acts as the legal authorizing body of our school and operates in line with the school’s constitution. The main role of the Board is to support and promote the vision and mission of CIS. In addition, the Board strives to ensure the fiscal health of the school, and maintain good governance and risk management. The Board plays an advisory role to the Director of CIS, and delegates the day-to-day administration and operational decisions to the Director.
The Board drives the creation of a strategic framework, in collaboration with contributions from our school community. In May 2020, the Board approved a strategic plan for 2020-2025 that focuses on four major goals: Pursuing educational excellence, Nurturing our community, Empowering responsible world citizens and Sustainability in practice. The Board has overarching responsibility to ensure that these strategic goals are being operationalised and implemented well.
The Board consists of elected and appointed members, primarily parents of students enrolled with the school. The Board strives for gender balance and diversity of cultural background, skills and experience. All members are volunteers.
The executive board meets every month from August to May (excluding December) in executive board sessions, full board sessions, community board sessions and at the AGM in April. The Director of the school is involved in all the Board sessions. The full board sessions are attended by the executive board, Director, leadership team, heads of functional departments and student representatives. The community board sessions and AGM are led by the executive board and Director, and open to the school community including staff and parents.
Chair and Vice Chair
The Board Chair acts as a sounding board in weekly meetings with the Director, and oversees the composition and functioning of the committees, of which she/he is an ex officio member. In addition, the Chair leads the annual Board induction, presides over Board meetings and presents the annual report at the Annual General Meeting. The Board Chair liaises with and delegates authority to the Vice Chair as and when needed.
To enable the Board to function effectively, the Board members work in committees together with the Director, and other members of staff as well as parents. Each Board committee commits to the following:
Each committee will meet between four to eight times a year between September and May. The agenda will be circulated in advance. Additional meetings can be requested or scheduled to develop pieces of work as needed.
Each committee is accountable to the school Board. The Board is accountable to the parent body and all stakeholders in Education at CIS, and to the legislative framework for schools and families in Denmark.
Continuous learning and improvement
Each of the Board’s committees creates a set of goals for the academic year, in line with the responsibilities of each committee. In April each year, each committee will self-evaluate its performance in relation to the goals set and core responsibilities. Each committee will also invite feedback from a range of key stakeholders, including student representatives.
Poornima Luthra, Board Chair
“My name is Dr. Poornima Luthra, and I am a parent of two children who study at CIS. We are Singaporeans with an Indian heritage and our family moved to Copenhagen in 2015.
I have been in academia for more than 13 years as a faculty member in universities in Singapore and Copenhagen. I have a PhD, Masters and Undergraduate degree from the National University of Singapore, and am currently a faculty member at the Copenhagen Business School. I am also the founder and chief consultant of TalentED Consultancy ApS, a consultancy firm specialising in making workplaces and institutions more diverse and inclusive. The focus of my consultancy, research and teaching has been in the fields of diversity and inclusion, leadership, team dynamics and international talent management. Thinking about what is needed in education for the current and future generations to help them thrive in the 4th industrial revolution is something that I am passionate about.
As a member of the board, I look forward to being actively involved in the implementation of the school’s strategic framework helping to ensure that we are aligned with our vision and able to deliver on the needs of our school community.”
Fernando Bermejo, Vice Chair
“My name is Fernando Bermejo and I am the father of two boys, in primary and high school at CIS. We are an international family, partly Spanish, partly Nepali, and with close ties to the US. I joined the CIS board in January 2020, but have been part of the CIS community since 2015, when my wife took a job at UNHCR in Copenhagen.
In terms of work, my main occupation is to manage Media Cloud, a joint project of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the Center for Civic Media at MIT, and to lead its non-profit spin-off, the Media Ecosystems Analysis Group. In addition, I teach a couple of seminars every year at IE University in Madrid, serve as a faculty associate at the Berkman Klein Center, and do some consulting for the Global Media Partnerships Group at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Before moving to Copenhagen, and for over a decade, I was a professor in the Communication department at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid.
Education has been an integral part of my life in many dimensions. I grew up in a family full of teachers, was a student in different public and private institutions in Spain and the USA, and have been a university professor for most of my professional life. Being part of the CIS board adds a new dimension to my relationship to education, one in which I hope to contribute to make CIS an even better school than it already is. “
Caroline is British and has been living in Denmark and a parent at CIS since 2012 with her daughter currently in Grade 7. She lives with her husband and family in Østerbro.
She is a graduate of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology and a Chartered Management Accountant. She has worked in financial control and management roles for the past 20 years in Telecoms, FMCG and Pharma.
She was appointed a member of the Finance Committee in 2016 and has been privileged to play a small part in the evolution of the school from the old campus to the new home in Nordhavn.
Clare Gillsater is British and moved to Copenhagen in 2019 with her Swedish husband and three daughters (12, 14 and 16 years old). Her professional experience is grounded in international organizations and the international civil service. She currently works at UNICEF Supply Division doing communications in the director’s office.
Like her daughters, she grew up as a Third Culture Kid and left the UK at age nine to live in Austria and Japan before returning to England to study in London. The family have lived in multiple countries and moved to Denmark from New York.
“I am a father to two boys who are at CIS since when we moved to Copenhagen in 2017. We are a multi-national and bilingual family by birth and citizenship, covering Israel, South Africa, Ireland, the UK and Kenya, and we have lived and worked in many countries over the last two and a half decades.
I highly value diversity and inclusion, and it is one of the things I love about the International school system. I am therefore excited to be part of the school’s strategy delivery of creating an environment where teachers, parents and children all work together to allow every child to benefit from a diverse and inclusive learning environment, and understand and appreciate how these values, when turned into actions, enrich the learning experience for all our children – whether gender, race, religion, culture, skills, language, physical condition or otherwise.
Diversity and inclusion is not only something I am personally committed to, it is also core to the work I do as a Director in the United Nations, where I am engaged in setting corporate strategy and standards, corporate governance and risk management.
Being a parent with many years of international school experience, having four children now attending three, and after almost four years at CIS, I felt it was the right time to volunteer my experience in support of continuing the excellence in the CIS learning environment. I joined the board in 2021.”
Governance, Strategic Planning
“I am mum to two boys at CIS, in Primary and Middle school. We are from London, and came to Denmark in 2017. Prior, to living in Denmark, I was a senior manager for three London Boroughs (Westminster, Kensington & Hammersmith) managing child welfare services. A key area of responsibility for me was to oversee safeguarding standards in over 120 schools – that is the practice, culture and policies that promote the wellbeing of children and young people. I have experience of advising schools and other organisations in relation to a range of issues such as digital safety, bullying and the safe recruitment of staff. I plan to contribute to the life of the school by sharing these insights and perspectives at the Board level. I also have a good understanding of the needs of young people who require learning support and I am a strong supporter of inclusive education.”
“My name is Henrik Schmidt, and I became a part of the CIS Board in 2018. I am an external member of the Board in the sense that I am not a parent to any children in the school.
I work as a senior development consultant in Momentum Consulting A/S, situated in Nordhavnen. My areas of expertise are Brain Based Learning, Leadership Development, Change Management, Behavioural Design (Nudging), Systemic / Executive Coaching, and Cross-Cultural Understanding
I have more than 30 years of experience as a trainer, teacher and coach. Long time ago I started as a school teacher (1985) and became a school principal 2005. Concurrently I worked with educational counselling, private health practices and schools and has been a commissioned writer of educational and pedagogical materials.
In 2011 my professional career took a major shift when I joined corporate life in Novo Nordisk as a Senior Leadership Development Specialist. I worked at Novo Nordisk for more than 7 years before I recently started as an independent consultant in Momentum Consulting.
I have a master’s degree in psychology, diplomas in leadership development, social counselling (“AKT”), coaching and a bachelor’s degree in teaching.
Much of my time is spend on investigating human conditions and studying the fascinating human brain. It is a great passion of mine, and I work tirelessly to communicate the implications of this knowledge for teaching, leadership, coaching, etc. This, my many years of work in the public sector, and with my recent experience within corporate life, is what I bring to the board.”
Privately I have been married for more than 30 years, I have two adult children (22 and 25) and I love playing music.
“My name is Michael Vad, and I am a parent of four children out of which one studies at CIS. We are a Danish family based in Hellerup just north of Copenhagen.
I am Managing Partner for the Nordic business of Spencer Stuart – a global leadership advisory firm – where I specialize in Board and CEO succession across industries, private equity and family owned companies. I bring more than 20 years of board experience from listed and privately owned organizations and NGOs. Most recently as long-standing director and vice-chair of the Danish Cancer Society and advisory board member for Save the Children Denmark.
As a member of the CIS board, I would like to contribute to the continued development of the school, its unique culture and engaged community.”
Statements of Purpose
The finance committee works to safeguard the long term financial health and stability of CIS. We work with the school leadership to set financial and operational targets for each school year, we recommend school fee rates for the executive board’s approval and we assess long and short term risks with the aim of helping CIS to mitigate such risks.
Caroline Banerjee is the core Board member responsible for progressing the work of the committee. The Chair, Vice Chair, the School Director, and the School CFO also have core membership status and will attend regularly.
Aside from this, the chair of the ECIS board also has a non-voting presence in the
Finance Committee meetings.
Members of the school senior leadership may also attend by invitation, when it is
agreed in advance as appropriate by the Director, to discuss a specific theme or
- It is the core responsibility of the committee, in collaboration with the school
management, to provide guidance for long term financial health and stability to the
- The finance committee reports into the Board. The key decision points such as
budgets, forecasts, school fee updates, etc., are presented to the Board as a
recommendation, which Board can ratify and formalize, as relevant.
- A key responsibility is in setting the targets for the school — both in terms of
cashflow from operations and also operational goals such as costs and enrollment
- The finance committee works closely with the ECIS Board to ensure that the
complementary nature of financial health of both the organizations are handled in a
mutually transparent and beneficial manner.
- A clean audit report and transparency with the board is an essential part of the
finance committee roles
- Finally, assessing long and short term risks with the aim of helping CIS to mitigate
such risks remain a central part of the regular responsibilities of the Committee.
Governance & Risk Management Committee
School governance is the core work of the Board, and therefore is the responsibility of every Board member. The focus for this committee is to ensure good governance is embedded within everything that we do, and it functions as a working group to progress tasks identified by the Board as a priority.
Debbie Raymond, Michael Vad and Clare Gillsäter are the core Board members responsible for progressing the work of the committee. The Chair, Vice Chair and school Director also have core membership status and will attend intermittently or for specific agenda items as they consider to be appropriate.
Members of the school senior leadership may also attend by invitation, when it is agreed in advance as appropriate by the Director, to discuss a specific theme or focus area.
- Ensuring that the existing Board constitution is upheld, and that the work of the Board fulfils all statutory duties and responsibilities.
- To maintain and update a relevant set of Board procedures that uphold the values of the organisation, Board processes and meetings. The policy will guide practice for the Board, it’s committees, teamwork and culture.
- Recruitment and selection of Board members and the Director, plus succession planning and professional development.
- Establish a risk management framework with oversight of mitigation strategies to prevent actual or reputational harm.
- Quality Assurance of school policies. This may include a reflective review of any critical or significant incidents that have high-lighted the need for additional policies to be formulated in order to embed institutional knowledge.
- Monitor progress in relation to any external evaluations of the school
- Collate the training needs of the Board and propose a training plan for professional development, and to support the Chair in implementing Board and Director evaluation.
- Make recommendations to the Board for discussion items as appropriate.
The marketing of CIS plays a vital role in ensuring that we continue to grow our school in the coming years. The role of the marketing committee is to ensure that we build and preserve a positive reputation of the school and ensure that we are communicating and marketing CIS effectively to ensure long term sustainability.
Fernando Bermejo and Poornima Luthra form the board’s representation on the marketing committee. The school Director and Head of Community Relations also have core membership status and will play a key role in the marketing committee. The expertise of parents within the school community will be drawn on to add value to the work being done by the Head of Community Relations and her/his team.
- Ensuring that the goals and specific actions listed in the strategic plan for 2020-2025 are being met/ executed.
- Monitoring the enrollment numbers of the school.
- Ensuring that the marketing of the school is in line with the school’s manifesto.
- Provide input and ideas to add value to the marketing plan.
- Ensuring that the marketing spend and effort is being translated into increased enrollment.
- Streamline the internal communications with the various internal stakeholders of the school.
- Encourage partnerships with organizations that tie in with CIS’ manifesto.
People and Culture Committee
The purpose of the People and Culture Committee is to ensure that the Board is able to support the Director of CIS in establishing and maintaining a healthy working environment for all employees and students at the school.
Poornima Luthra, Henrik Schmidt, Nick O’Regan are the core Board members responsible for progressing the work of the committee. The school Director and Head of People and Culture also have core membership status and will play a key role in the People and Culture Committee. The Chair and Vice Chair will attend intermittently or for specific agenda items as the committee considers to be appropriate.
Members of the school senior leadership may also attend by invitation, when it is agreed in advance as appropriate by the Director, to discuss a specific theme or focus area.
- Provide advice and suggestions to the Director on talent management and talent development.
- Ensure that there are consistent and continuous efforts being made to improve the working environment of CIS.
- Ensure that discussions and decisions within the People and Culture Committee, as well as at the Board are taken with a strong understanding of the unique environment and complexity of CIS.
- Increase awareness that the school is subject to Danish organizational culture in the form of labor market laws and agreements with Danish unions (DFL and GL) that place restrictions on the flexibility of the leadership of the school.
- Help formulate the roadmap that will lead from the current state into the future. The basis of this will be the APV results from 2020 and the collaboration with the external consultant with whom the school has entered into an agreement.
- Develop feedback mechanisms that will ensure the leadership of the school, the teachers, students and the parents ways to evaluate the quality of the teaching. In connection with this, the committee will provide advice on creating guidelines for talent management and talent development.