DMA Board Members

Ali H. Ghaffari - Founder and Board President

Ali GhaffariAli was born and raised in Vermont an atheist in a nominally United Methodist family.  After attending Phillips Academy Andover and Colby College, Ali studied his way into the Catholic Church, joining Easter of 2004.  Ali is a career naval officer, having spent time flying a variety of naval aircraft, but most notably the F/A-18 off of aircraft carriers.  His most recent job in the Navy was at the Naval Academy, teaching leadership and ethics to Midshipmen, faculty, staff, and coaches. Ali has Master's degrees in Philosophy and Theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary.  Ali and his wife, Mary, decided to start Divine Mercy Academy when they were inspired by the beauty, truth, and goodness found in classical education and wanted that for their children.  Ali recently published his first book - Mount Doom: Tolkien's Prophecy Revealed

Jack Grimes - Vice President

Jack DmaJack Grimes is the Director of Math Content Development for the Classic Learning Test, a new college entrance and high school assessment exam. Jack also teaches Geometry at Israel Henry Beren High School, the secondary school for Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Pikesville, and he was a founding faculty member for Chesterton Academy of Annapolis. Jack earned a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Political Science from Tufts University.  He worked several years as Senior Legislative Aide for a State Assemblyman in New Jersey.  After beginning graduate studies in Theology at Seton Hall, he discovered a passion and talent for teaching, which he put to use as a volunteer catechist and later as a full-time academic mentor for BrainStorm Tutoring.  For more than five years with BrainStorm, Jack worked with hundreds of students to prepare for all sections of the SAT and ACT, as well as improve in their high school Math and Humanities courses.  Jack continues to offer tutoring privately through St. Catherine Test Prep. Raised as a nominal Lutheran, Jack experienced a profound Evangelical conversion to love for Christ at the end of high school.  Fervent pursuit of understanding the faith in college led to his reception into the Catholic Church on Divine Mercy Sunday a few years after graduation. Jack enjoys steering students towards reflection on the reality behind the grammar, reading, and math they are studying.  As a tutor and teacher he love to encourage thought about invisible nouns and intangible verbs, the power of questions and distinctions, and the elegance of equations so that his students have a chance to ponder the nature of truth, goodness, and beauty.

John Jeske - Secretary

When John Jeske was 12, he apprenticed his father, Theodore Jeske in the field of home improvement. He exhibited undivided attention to residential and remodeling homes with an eye for accuracy and details. His father taught him one of the most beneficial lessons in life and the business; pray and work hard for Our Lord. John has been doing this since he left his father to work with Klopp Design, United Gen.Contractors, and Ensor Homes. In 1991, he became proprietor to Jheta Home Services and to this day still carries the most crucial lesson in his work. His goal is to serve other people and to help improve their plans to make their homes attractive. In his spare time, he serves on the board as Vice President, at the Allview Family Enrichment Center, Allview committee for design and planning. He enjoys baking, cooking, camping, and biking with his wife and three children.

Chester Bartels

Chester BartelsChester Bartels was elected to the DMA Board in 2022. He and his wife live in Crownsville, Maryland and have a daughter who attends DMA. They are parishioners at the National Shrine of St. Alphonsus Liguori. Chet is the Founder and Design Principal of Steam Collaborative LLC, a Brand driven Architecture Agency located in Annapolis. He and his family enjoy spending time on their fishing boat on the Chesapeake Bay, gardening and Bee-keeping. Chet has designed and directed several leading brand experiences, buildings and environments around the Country for many Fortune 500 Companies. His work has garnered multiple Excellence in Design Awards. His approach sits squarely at the intersection of purpose, story, and economics as his process connects design solutions to business growth. Throughout his career, Chet has led the design of sports and entertainment developments, progressive learning environments, commercial interiors, retail, and health care projects. Chet studied engineering at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston and studied Architecture and planning at Manchester University in England.

Ross Conley

RossRoss Conley was elected to the DMA Board in 2022. He is a husband and father of two boys who attend Divine Mercy Academy. Ross’s Catholic faith ignited in 2020 at the same time he discovered the Classical Education movement, through schools and programs like DMA and the Classical Learning Test (CLT). He is a parishioner of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Severna Park, MD. Ross is a Naval Officer and Permanent Military Instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy. There, he teaches Political Science, English, and other leadership courses to future sea service officers. Before embarking as teacher, he flew a variety of military aircraft in both the U.S. Navy and Air Force. He has travelled extensively through his service, highlighted with a year assignment to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. After returning from Pakistan, he earned a Master’s of Arts in Strategic Security Studies (South and Central Asia) at the National Defense University in Washington, DC. He received a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park. Ross regularly re-reads Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and enjoys strolling through the monuments in Washington, DC.   

William Haun

William Haun 1William Haun was elected to the DMA Board in 2022 and is excited to contribute to the school's mission of making saints through the classical educational model that is shepherded by the Catholic Church's best traditions. His wife and children live in Millersville and are parishioners at the National Shrine of St. Alphonsus Liguori. Will is Senior Counsel at a national nonprofit law firm that defends religious liberty for all faith traditions. He is also a nonresident fellow at a policy and research institute where he focuses on constitutional law. In law practice, Will has represented religious institutions, current and former elected officials, and a variety of corporate entities in many state and federal courts, particularly in the U.S. Supreme Court and federal appellate courts. His writing on law and religion appears in a variety of popular and scholarly publications, and he is often invited to speak on those topics at major universities. He received his Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, where he was a published member of the Law Review. He received his Bachelor of Arts in political science, cum laude, from American University. 

Kevin McClain

KevinmcclainKevin McClain grew up crabbing and waterskiing on the Chesapeake Bay. He currently resides in Severna Park, Maryland with his wife and four wonderful children. He was an enlisted officer in the Infrastructure flight for the Civil Engineer Squadron the United States Air Force Reserves. He retired in 2018 after serving twenty-one years. While serving in the reserves, he worked as an HVAC mechanic for Johnson Controls. He took his mechanical and leadership skills and started  Bayside Heating and Cooling, a residential HVAC company, in 2015. His first goal is to raise children to do the will of God. His second goal is to develop a company that inspires individuals to become the best version of themselves so they will have a positive impact on the community in which they provide home comfort services. His hobbies include mountain biking with his two sons and home improvement projects.

Monica Ruppert

Dma FacultyMonica Ruppert holds a BA in Music Education from The University of Notre Dame of Maryland. She is a veteran homeschooler of her 10 children and is distinctly dedicated to family-centered education. She believes Divine Mercy Academy will support families as essential building blocks of an ardent Catholic community on the front lines of The New Evangelization. Monica will implement the Ward Method of music education at Divine Mercy, a classical program rooted in and directed toward Gregorian Chant, in which every child learns the art of singing, sight-reading, composing and conducting. After 25 years of teaching her own children as well as many others in co-ops, tutorials, and various other unique settings, Monica is excited to share her zeal for the catholic liberal arts the full-day setting of Divine Mercy Academy. With her natural talent for teaching children and her joyful confidence in classroom management, Monica is ever grateful each Monday for another week of sharing and discovering the revelations of God with her students.

Ben Switzer

Img 16 2President - Catholic Culture Association

As a son of a military family he grew up in Abilene, Texas and moved to Virginia in high school, where he met his wife, Shirley. Following high school he attended the Virginia Military Institute and was commissioned into the US Air Force. While in the military he and his wife have welcomed 4 sons as they have been stationed in Dayton, OH, Warner-Robins, GA, Okinawa, Japan, and Annapolis, MD. He currently resides in Severna Park, MD and is stationed in Washington DC. Two of his sons attend Divine Mercy Academy. He is currently serving as the President of the Divine Mercy Academy Catholic Cultural Association, which is the school's parent teacher organizati

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