DMA Board Members
Ali H. Ghaffari - Founder and Board President
Ali 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
William Haun - Board Vice President
William 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.
Jordan Derby - Board Secretary
Jordan is a father of 3 with one son attending DMA. He has a Bachelors Degree in Industrial Design and a Masters Degree in Cyber Security Technology. He currently works as a Technical Director at a Federal Agency and enjoys doing woodworking, CNC projects, and 3-d printing. He and his wife converted to Catholicism during college after being introduced to the Newman Catholic Campus Ministry at University Heights.
Stuart McGeady - Treasurer
Stuart joined the DMA Board in 2022 after following the school’s progress since its founding in 2018. He is a longtime proponent of independent schools, especially when his daughters Molly and Emily-Kate attended Christian Family Montessori School (CFMS) in Washington, D.C. Stu was Treasurer and Bookkeeper for CFMS, organizing and automating its books to assist the headmaster, fundraisers, and grant writers to strengthen and grow the school. Later, Stu was tutor of American History at St. Peter the Rock Academy in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. As a boy, he attended grammar school at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a long-time parishioner of St. John the Evangelist Church in Severna Park, Maryland, where he serves on the finance council, and as a lector, cantor, and chorister. He is a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus. Years ago, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Duke University. Stu currently is a Senior Accountant for Powercon Corporation in Severn, Maryland, as well as Bookkeeper for Wellspring Life Ministry, which operates pregnancy resource clinics in Bowie-Crofton, Severna Park, and Annapolis, Maryland. He is proud to serve and support Divine Mercy Academy!
Cliff Andersson joined the DMA board in 2022. He and his wife live in Ellicott City, Maryland and he has one son and two grandsons. Cliff is a Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch, having been there and with predessors since 1990. He is active with Ahavas Yisrael, the only kosher food bank in Maryland and with the Piquette Avenue Ford factory in Detroit, Michigan.
Cliff was ordained a deacon in the Lutheran church in 2006, but came to realize that the fullest expression of faith is best found in the Catholic church. He is a parishioner at Mount Calvary Catholic church, part of the Ordinate of the Chair of St. Peter. There Cliff is involved with Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and the hospitality ministry.
Chester 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.
Adam is a former F/A-18 weapon system officer and currently works as a cyber security operations officer for the US Navy. With almost 20 years of leadership experience in the service including graduating from the prestigious Navy Fighter Weapon School (TOPGUN) and working with elite Navy SEALs. He trained and developed combat aviators and SEALs to perform their best under the highest pressure and achieve the greatest success. As a cyber security operations officer he led efforts to defend the 2018 and 2020 elections from malicious cyber actors.
Additionally, Adam is a certified private pilot and has two masters, one in computer science focusing on network security and one in business administration focusing on marketing. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2004. He currently lives in Maryland with his family.
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.
Michelle "Miki" Hill
Having spent a few years working in DC politics and marketing for Xerox after college, Miki was committed to becoming a full time wife, mother and evangelist when she married Tim Hill. Miki has served on many national boards and has worked directly with both the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops), as well as three Pontifical Councils in Rome advocating for the support and instruction of strong Catholic marriage and family principles. MIki has been involved in pro-life work since before abortion was legal and has spoken at conferences across the U.S. and in Ireland about evangelizing families. A member of the Catholic Women’s Forum though the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington DC, Miki has advocated for balanced Christ-centered women’s roles both in the Church as well as in the society. Pioneers of the Catholic Homeschooling movement, Miki and Tim raised 9 children and presently have 25 grandchildren. They are passionate about the role that a classical/liberal arts education can play in bringing our society to Truth Goodness and Beauty.
Timothy McMorland joined the Board in 2023 after his son, Luke, completed his first year at Divine Mercy Academy. An "all-in" missionary disciple of Jesus Christ and His Bride the Church, Tim dedicated nearly a decade of his early adulthood to Catholic spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation before marrying his wonderful wife Tina and seeking to sanctify secular society as a Senior Program Manager for a major defense company (Northrop Grumman) and as a lay volunteer for various apostolates. A passionate believer in lifelong learning and ongoing formation, Tim holds a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, an M.B.A from Loyola University (Maryland), an S.T.B. (Bachelor of Sacred Theology) from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the "Angelicum"), an S.T.L. (Licentiate of Sacred Theology) from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross ("Santa Croce"), and certificates in Philosophy, Contract Management, and Program Management. Tim is on fire with love for St. John Paul the Great's call for a New Evangelization as we enter an extremely challenging yet exhilarating Third Christian Millenium. He sees Divine Mercy Academy as an extraordinary response to that call, and he is committed to leveraging his God-given skills and experiences to help our school's students, families, tutors, and collaborators become saints and saint-makers who will draw souls to Jesus and convert nations to a New Christendom.
Becky Shipley joined the DMA board in 2023. She and her husband, Erik, live in Ellicott City with their six beautiful children, four of whom attend Divine Mercy Academy. Becky and her family are parishioners at St. Louis Catholic Church, in Clarksville, MD. After attending the local parochial school, Becky felt called to homeschool their children through home based learning, followed by the Hybrid-homeschooling model. Trusting in the Lord and the intercession of St. Joseph, their family's Patron, the Shipley's discovered the beauty and goodness of classical education offered at Divine Mercy Academy.
Becky earned a Bachelor of Science degree from James Madison University. She has worked extensively with executive leadership teams and has Marketing and branding experience, along with a meeting and event planning background from her time at Northrop Grumman. In 2011, Becky and her husband founded Point Blank Technologies, a small defense contracting company, where Becky serves as CEO and works alongside her husband. Having been recognized within the industry as a fast growing and successful business, Point Blank has partnered with a major defense contractor to prime a large effort, fulfilling work mandated by Congress.
She is excited to be a member of the board at DMA and brings passion for her faith, as well as a business and team-centered mindset.
Jack Grimes - Faculty Representative
Jack Grimes is the sixth grade humanities tutor at Divine Mercy Academy. He was formerly 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.
Fr. David Ousley - Board Chaplain
Fr Ousley, ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church in 1979, served as Rector (pastor) of the Church of Saint James the Less in North Philadelphia beginning in 1983. The parish left the Episcopal Church in 1999, and entered the Catholic Church in 2012. It later merged with another former Anglican congregation to become Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Bridgeport (near Philadelphia), Pennsylvania, a parish of the Ordinariate. Fr Ousley was the first Pastor. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2012, and retired as Pastor of Saint John’s in 2021. He moved to Maryland for his retirement.
His experience with classical education includes founding a classical grammar school in the
inner city at Saint James the Less – with markedly less success than Divine Mercy Academy! He was educated at Yale College and Nashotah House Theological Seminary, and holds Ph.D. in historical theology from the University of Chicago. He lives with his wife and Corgi in Millersville, and has three children and four grandchildren.
Monica Ruppert - Co-foundress
Monica 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 - President, 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