Proven Team


Jeff McConaghy, Ed.D.

School Founder

JMc Headshot.jpg

Jeff McConaghy joined the founding faculty of Sierra Canyon School in 2005 with one clear charge:  to design and build one of the most engaging and rigorous academic programs in the city of Los Angeles.  After the school’s first year, Jeff became the inaugural Upper School Director.  In that role, he led the development of curriculum, designed the school’s core values, composed many of the essential policies, helped craft a vibrant school culture, and hired nearly 50 faculty members to join the endeavor.  He next moved into the role of Associate Head of School, where he led academic and day-to-day operations of the EK-12 school, consisting of 950 students and 110 faculty members.

A graduate of Harvard School and Stanford University, Jeff holds his Doctorate of Education from UCLA’s Educational Leadership Program.  His doctoral dissertation focused on the founding of independent schools, and he went on to author Starting an Independent School: A Founder’s Handbook for the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).  Through his research, the publication of his handbook, ongoing consultation, and the founding of Sierra Canyon, Jeff has had the unique opportunity to become expert in the starting of schools.

Jeff has taught or administrated at five different independent schools and has twice founded outdoor education programs.  An experienced traveler, outdoorsman, and waterman, he has undertaken wilderness adventures around the world and has led students on expeditions throughout the West.

Now, Jeff endeavors to start a new school, one that harnesses the most innovative approaches to 21st Century Learning in order to fully engage its students in a lifelong educational journey and prepare them as leaders of a new generation. 


Advisory Board


Jessie Barrie – Executive Director, Independent Schools Experiential Education Network

Robert Benson – Design Principal & Architectural Innovator, Cannon Design

Stuart Brodsky – SVP & K-12 Education Practice Leader, Cannon Design

Tommy Davis – Ocean School Board Chair; Expert in Public, Media, and Government Relations

Tom Ford – Executive Director, The Bay Foundation

Brian Garrett Co-Founder & Managing Director, CrossCut Ventures

David Hertz – Leading Environmental Architect & Design Innovator

Nathan Iverson – EVP & Head of Design, Deutsch Advertising

Frederic Kerrest – Silicon Valley Entrepreneur; Co-Founder and COO, Okta

Rob Levin – Longtime CFO, Harvard-Westlake School

Scott Looney – Head, Hawken School; Founder & Chair, Mastery Transcript Consortium

Pat McCabe – Successful Businessman; School Founder; Non-Profit Consultant

Rick Newman – President of Lowe Enterprises Real Estate

Sean Raymond – Asst. Head, York School; Board Member, Independent Curriculum Group

Todd Richmond – Director of Advanced Prototypes, USC Institute for Creative Technologies

Michael Segal – Successful Businessman; Prolific Non-Profit Board Member