About ISACS > Meet the Staff
Keith E. Shahan
When I was growing up, I was lucky enough to attend two wonderful independent institutions—John Burroughs School in St. Louis and Amherst College in Massachusetts. There I learned my great love for the liberal arts—teaching students to question and think for themselves.
In initially choosing a career in public education, I sought to bring what I saw as the advantages of my own education to the greater world. One of my first ventures, the School Within A School in Brookline High School in Massachusetts, was an attempt to bring more personal attention to public school students in a smaller setting, the kind I was used to in independent education. Another, the High School of the Arts in University City High School in Missouri, melded the same impulse with my love for the arts.
In the mid-1980’s I spent three years at the International School of Amsterdam as Upper School Head and Assistant Director. There I learned the value of a global perspective. I also determined that the independent headship was the ideal job for me – it would give me the opportunity to work directly with students and teachers, the crucial players in any school, as well as the Board and parents, who make everything possible. After 23 years as head of my alma mater (John Burroughs School in St. Louis), and 31 running schools, I am ready and eager to help others do the same in my role at ISACS.
Business Manager and Program Administrator
I joined ISACS in February 2008 in a temporary position which developed into a part-time job by July 2009 as I continued to assist the staff with varying tasks. I currently serve as business manager which involves bookkeeping and financial planning, am responsible for human resources, and provide program support.
My two children attended an ISACS school from preschool through 8th grade, and I am very familiar with the philosophy and structure of independent schools. I volunteered at my children’s school in fundraising, event planning, merchandising, and held several positions as Executive Committee member of the Parent Association. I continue to volunteer with several organizations as time permits.
I received a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. I have worked as a public and private accountant, and was director of communications and manager of public affairs at non-profit organizations. I’m very happy to be at ISACS and enjoy working with the wonderful staff.
Office Administrator and Programs Assistant
Three years ago, ironically while visiting Chicago, I was fortunate enough to be offered a position with St. Francis High School, an ISACS school in Louisville, Kentucky. Raised in the catholic school system, working at St. Francis was my first glimpse into the independent school system. I couldn’t be more excited about continuing my experience with ISACS back in Chicago where it all began.
Chicago holds many new exciting opportunities for me with ISACS and in the Chicago theatre community. In 2007, I obtained a B.A. in Musical Theatre Performance from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, so Chicago has always been an evitable move in my future. My passion has always been musical theatre but these past three years in education administration has really been meaningful and fulfilling.
In addition to my career in theatre and education administration, I have worked as a Program Director in charge of Scholarships and Internships for Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, I have produced national conferences and major events from coast to coast for F.S.A. Management, and produced concerts for legendary headliners like Loretta Lynn and KC and the Sunshine Band for AXXIS Inc. I have particularly enjoyed my time volunteering as a fundraiser for the GLBT Community.
Coordinator of Accreditation Services
I joined ISACS in September 2013 following five years as the Director of Admission and Marketing at The Avery Coonley School in Downers Grove, IL. As Coordinator of Accreditation Services, I support the Director of Accreditation Services to insure that the evaluation of member schools is a comprehensive, smooth, and rewarding process.
My career in education started as a teacher, coach, and dorm prefect at Marmion Academy in Aurora, IL. After a two-year adventure in Montana where I pursued a graduate degree, I returned to the Midwest as an Admission Counselor at Aurora University and eventually joined The Latin School of Chicago as Assistant Director of Admissions and coach. Relocation to the Chicago suburbs brought a few experiments in careers outside of education, but I was drawn back to independent schools in 2008 and look forward to continuing to support the work of educators at ISACS schools.
I spend much of my “free” time trying to keep up with the lives of my three daughters and occasionally sneaking away to watch my favorite sports teams.
Director of Accreditation Services
As Director of Accreditation Services I have the opportunity to use my educational journey in Independent Education in new and exciting ways. Whether I look back to my days as a teacher in an English classroom, coach of a cross country or swimming team, director of the all-school musical, coordinator of Community Service, Division Head, Senior Principal, or Head of School, I am able to use bits and pieces from my past every day. Working with faculty and administrators to guide and support schools through the accreditation process presents daily contact with schools, offers myriad opportunities in which I can lend a helping hand, and features many moments when I can, I hope, be a helpful, listening ear.
Personally, I attended Kents Hill School, Maine for my high school years, Bethany College, WV and Rutgers University, NJ, for my under grad and graduate degrees, and the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and Harvard University for leadership certificates. I find Chicagoland to be as close to being the perfect city in which to live as one can find – symphony, ball teams, parks, museums, architecture, friendly people, it’s all here! My time away from ISACS is filled with running (usually with my Irish setter, Amelia), biking, swimming, sailing or water skiing (on the lake by our family home in Maine), working with wood, or reading. I welcome calls or emails from anyone involved with the accreditation process or anyone just wanting "to talk independent schools!"
Director of Professional Development
After teaching in public school, I began my career as a teacher in Independent schools at Canton Country Day School. I then joined the faculty of the Wellington School where I taught and assumed a variety of administrative responsibilities including serving as the Director of Professional Development and Head of the Lower School. A frequent trainer and presenter in the area of faculty development and mentoring, I became the Director of Professional Development for ISACS in 2001 while also remaining at the Wellington School.
Karen D. Zeitlin
I come to ISACS from a fifteen-year career in philanthropy. Most recently, I was the Interim Program Officer in the Population and Reproductive Health (PRH) area at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in Chicago. Previous to working at MacArthur I served as Executive Director of the Girl’s Best Friend Foundation (GBF) in Chicago, which provided support to programs for girls and young women throughout the state of Illinois.
The majority of my career has been spent at the Moriah Fund, a private foundation in Washington, DC. I worked at the Moriah Fund in various capacities for more than 9 years in both administrative and programmatic capacities. I have a B.A. in international affairs from Tufts University and a Masters of Public Administration from George Washington University. In addition, I attended an independent school - Dwight-Englewood High School in New Jersey. I was proud to serve for more than four years as an advisory board member to the Teen-to-Teen Sexuality Education Project now known as Answer at Rutgers University. I spend my free time with my young daughter Maya, traveling to see family and friends, practicing yoga, and enjoying everything Chicago has to offer.