Our Board

Executive Chairman
John Eriksen

Prior to founding The Drexel Fund, John worked at the Leadership Roundtable with a focus on Catholic schools. At age 34, John became one of the youngest Catholic school superintendents in the country in Paterson, N.J., where his work was featured in the Time magazine article “Looking for Solutions to the Catholic School Crisis.” John began his career in education as a high school teacher in Baton Rouge, La., as part of the fourth cohort of teachers in the Alliance for Catholic Education. John earned a B.A. in economics, history and government from the University of Notre Dame, as well as an M.A.T. from the University of Portland and an M.P.P. from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. John is an Aspen-Pahara Institute Fellow.

Thomas J. Healey

Tom is the founder and managing partner of Healey Development LLC. Tom is a founder of Prisma Capital Partners, a founder of the FIA Timber Partners funds, and a founder and partner of Anthos Capital, a private equity firm focused on small-capitalization private equity. Tom was a senior fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he taught a course in financial institutions and markets. Tom received a B.A. from Georgetown University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Tom formerly served on the boards of trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation and Georgetown University and chaired both institutions’ investment committees.

Nick Howley

Nick is executive chairman of Transdigm Group Inc., a large global designer, producer and supplier of highly engineered aircraft components, systems and subsystems, which he co-founded in 1993. Nick is one of the founders of The Howley Foundation and a member of its board of directors. Nick is the former board chair of the Cristo Rey Network. Nick’s charitable governance experience also includes service on the boards of Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Clinic, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Washington and Jefferson College, St. Martin de Porres High School and Gilmour Academy. Nick received a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Drexel University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

Darren Jackson

Darren was most recently the CEO of Advance Auto Parts from January 2008 to January 2016. He had been a member of the board of directors since 2004. Between 2001 and 2007, Darren served as chief financial officer of Best Buy. Prior to joining Best Buy, Darren began his retail career with Carson Pirie Scott in Milwaukee, holding various executive positions, including CFO. He then spent three years with Seattle-based Nordstrom Stores as vice president and CFO. Darren is on the boards of Baird Advisors, Lacks Enterprises and Cree Inc., chairing the latter. Previously, he served on the boards of Fastenal Inc. and Marquette University. Darren’s long-time commitment and leadership in supporting education for students from a low-income background includes board positions with the Cristo Rey Network, Cristo Rey Twin Cities, Wallin Education Partners, and—most recently—as the founder of All-In Milwaukee.

Michael Messner

Mike was a co-founder of Seminole Capital Partners. Through their family’s Speedwell Foundation, he and his wife, Jenny, have been involved in various philanthropic efforts nationwide and for Charleston, S.C., their hometown, focused on urban parks and education. The Messners have helped launch two charter schools: Carolina Voyager Charter School and Allegro Music Charter School. Voyager, an elementary school, uses technology-based learning to enhance the education experience. Allegro, a middle and high school, incorporates three hours of music education into each student’s school day. Mike received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, a B.S. in civil engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, and an M.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mike is a member of the MIT Civil Engineering Visiting Committee and is on the Georgia Tech Foundation board and investment committee.

Darla Romfo

Darla serves as president and chief operating officer of the Children’s Scholarship Fund (CSF), a national nonprofit dedicated to providing partial scholarships for low-income children in grades K-8 to go to private school. CSF has provided scholarships to 185,000 children since its inception in 1998. Immediately prior to joining CSF, Darla practiced law in both the public and private sectors. She worked on Capitol Hill from 1993 to 1999, serving senators John Breaux of Louisiana and Kent Conrad of North Dakota. Previously, she was an attorney in private practice specializing in tax law. In addition to her service with The Drexel Fund, Darla is on the board of Brilla College Preparatory Charter Schools. Darla graduated from the University of North Dakota with degrees in political science and accounting. She is a CPA and received a law degree from George Washington University.

Abigail Schumwinger

Abby spent seven years as The Drexel Fund’s investment director launching and implementing its applicant review and grant and data management processes, including six years in the role of partner. Prior to joining The Drexel Fund, Abby spent seven years as a program officer for the Walton Family Foundation’s Systemic K-12 Education Reform Focus Area where she led the Foundation’s strategy to grow high performing private school networks serving low-income students in publicly funded private school choice geographies nationally. Abby previously worked for a Milwaukee nonprofit implementing an initiative to start 50 new, small high schools in the city and was a researcher for School Choice Wisconsin and the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington. She taught first grade for two years at Visitation Catholic School on Chicago’s South Side as part of the Inner-City Teaching Corps. Abby received a B.A. from Northwestern University and an M.P.A. from the University of Washington – Seattle.

Christopher Wilson

Chris is a retired senior partner of Stonehill Capital Management, an investment advisory firm specializing in distressed situations. Chris is founder and trustee of the Wilson Sheehan Foundation, which has a mission to address the root causes of poverty, usually leading to educational initiatives. Chris is a board member of the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities at the University of Notre Dame, which conducts impact analyses to determine the effectiveness of poverty programs. He is chairman of the board of St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, Conn. Chris is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and serves on several advisory councils for the university.

Chairman Emeritus
BJ Cassin

BJ is founder and chairman of the Cassin Educational Initiative Foundation (CEIF), launched in 2000, to establish private, college preparatory middle and high schools in economically challenged communities throughout the country. CEIF provided startup funds for 16 Cristo Rey high schools and 37 Nativity Miguel middle schools. BJ was a founder of the Cristo Rey Network, serving as its chairman from 2003 to 2009. He was also a founder of the Nativity Miguel Network in 2006 and served as its chairman until 2011. BJ sat on the board of trustees of Saint Mary’s College of California for eight years, serving as chairman from 1995 to 1999.