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The Happy Valley Foundation

Happy Valley Foundation

All trustees may be reached through the
Happy Valley Foundation Office:

Happy Valley Foundation
P.O. Box 804
Ojai CA 93024-0404

Phone/Fax: (805) 646-9951



Double Rainbow Over Besant Hill School
"Double Rainbow Over Besant Hill School"
Photo by Janat Dundas


Gail CottmanGail Cottman
(Los Angeles, CA)

Gail Cottman, entertainment business entrepreneur and former studio marketing executive, has spent 40 years in entertainment public relations and marketing. A former journalist for the LA Times and LA Magazine, she started her career at Universal Studios before joining MGM Television as Director of Publicity. Gail was founder and President for 27 years of National Satellite Production Media Services (NATSAT), the first client supported satellite news agency. Headquartered at its Los Angeles Broadcast Center, NATSAT produced live satellite campaigns for an eclectic clientele including Prince, Pope John Paul, President Bill Clinton and the Dali Lama.

Under her Pro Video Production banner, Gail served as executive producer of the documentary, BEATRICE WOOD: SPECIAL PEOPLE, which won a gold medal at the New York International Festival of Film and Television. Inspired by Beato’s whimsical charm, Gail started work in l991 on The Garden of Oz, a children’s mosaic, folk-art garden in Beachwood Canyon. Featuring ceramic art from over 75 artists (including Beato) the garden was designated a Historic Monument in 2015 by the City of Los Angeles and was recognized by the Smithsonian Institution on its tenth anniversary in 2001.

A member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since l983, Gail divides her time between Los Angeles and Nipomo.  

Martha M. DoorninkMartha M. Doornink
(Boerne, TX)

Martha M. Doornink, M.Ed. is an educator and mother of four. She and her husband Ron were thrilled to watch as Besant Hill School provided a life-changing experience for their son, Evan, who graduated from Besant Hill School in 2012. Martha holds a BS from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and a Masters in Education from Xavier University with Montessori AMS Teaching Credentials (primary). She recently returned to school, earning a post-graduate Certification in Integrative Health Coaching from Duke University. She enjoys practicing as a Health Coach in both group and one-on-one settings, relishes her service on two other non-profit boards, and is a passionate gardener. She and her husband live in Manhattan Beach and enjoy visiting their grown children in Portland OR, Olympia WA, and Chicago, while looking forward to empty-nesting in the fall of 2014 when their youngest matriculates at Reed College.

Richard FloresRichard Flores
(Ojai, CA)

Artist and educator, Richard Flores, was born in Southern California and has studied fine art throughout most of his life. Some accolades include a full tuition scholarship to Brooks Institute, Santa Barbara, Ca., Recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award, Los Angeles Pierce College, Visionary Leadership Award, Ventura County, multiple full tuition scholarships from California Institute of Earth Art and Ceramic Architecture in Hesperia, Ca. and Professor of the Year Award from College of the Sequoias, Visalia, Ca.

Richard now shares his time between College of the Sequoias as the 3-D Fine Arts Professor; instructing courses in all levels of Ceramics, Sculpture, Glass and 3-D Design and working as a professional artist at his studio/residence in Ojai.

William B. KaplanWilliam B. Kaplan
(Agoura Hills, CA)

Bill is a graduate of Happy Valley School (now Besant Hill School) (1960-1963). He was in the school's Ukrainian folk dance performance group, was president of the student council, class of '63 and gave his son Jesse's Happy Valley School 2001 graduating class commencement address. After attending the University of Arizona and USC, Bill received a B.A., B.S. and a M.A. (theater arts/film), from UCLA. Bill went into motion picture production sound mixing, where he has been for the past forty-two years. He has received seven Oscar nominations for more than a hundred and twenty-five Hollywood feature films.

Bill is a strong believer in the positive, transformative impact the School’s philosophy has on students, regardless of their personal histories. He is the first alumnus to have his child graduate from Happy Valley School as well.

Radha SlossRadha Sloss
(Santa Barbara, CA)

Radha is a graduate of the Happy Valley School (now called the Besant Hill School), attended Swarthmore College for two years, BA from Scripps College and received an M.A. in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley. She has written two published books, India Beyond the Mirror, and Lives in the Shadow with J. Krishnamurti, as well as an "in house" volume, The Story of Happy Valley.

Radha's earliest memories include picnics on Happy Valley with many of the original Board members. She and her husband, Jimmy Sloss met in the first year of the school (1946) with which they are still associated.  Radha has served on the Happy Valley Foundation Board since 1986.  

Ken TennenKen Tennen, President
(West Hills, CA)

Ken is a graduate of Happy Valley School (now called the Besant Hill School), and attended the University of the Americas at Cholula, Mexico, receiving his Licenciatura degree in cross-cultural psychology at UDLAP. After completing his Masters work in Government at Georgetown University, Ken returned to California, receiving his Juris Doctor degree from the University of La Verne. Ken practices consumer law in Southern California.  

Jan Caldwell ThorpeJan Caldwell Thorpe
(Berkeley, CA)

Jan is a graduate of Happy Valley School (now Besant Hill School). She graduated from Vassar College with a BA in English Literature. After marriage and raising two sons, during which time she taught herself silkscreen printing (limited edition serigraphs) for ten years, she attended graduate school. She received an MA in Clinical Psychology (Outstanding Student Award), received a Certificate after attending a two-year intensive training at The Psychotherapy Institute in Berkeley, began a private practice in Berkeley and San Francisco, and earned her PhD in Clinical Psychology in 1999. She has been in practice for 27 years. She also works with clients in her husband’s family law practice where her oldest son and daughter-in-law are partners and her youngest son provides paralegal services.

Currently Jan keeps a part time practice in Berkeley and is working on a trilogy of three novels (psychological thrillers) that she is re-writing and editing with a goal to publish at the end of 2018.  

Kevin WallaceKevin Wallace
(Ojai, CA)

Kevin Wallace is Director of the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts, where he curates exhibitions of work in a wide-range of media, as well as producing concerts and theatrical productions. He has guest-curated exhibitions for a number of museums and art centers, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Long Beach Museum of Art, the St. George Art Museum and the Craft & Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles. He has authored numerous books on contemporary art and craft, including River of Destiny: The Life and Work of Binh Pho, Moulthrop: A Legacy in Wood, Transforming Vision: The Wood Sculpture of William Hunter, Celebrating Nature: Craft Traditions/Contemporary Expressions and Every Exit is an Entry: The Life and Work of Liam O’Gallagher. He has co-authored numerous other books and is a regular contributor to periodicals including Craft Arts International, American Woodturner and Woodturning Magazine.  

Nina de Creeft WardNina de Creeft Ward
(Santa Barbara, CA)

Nina de Creeft Ward graduated from Happy Valley School (now Besant Hill School). Nina received a BA degree from Scripps College with a major in Art, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Claremont Graduate University. Nina has sculpture in the collections of Iowa State University, Charles H. MacNider Museum in Mason City, Iowa, and the University of Northern Iowa. She has taught Art to children and adults. An adjunct Art Instructor at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa for nine years, Nina and her husband lived in Cedar Falls for twenty-six years and raised four sons and a daughter. They have lived in Santa Barbara, where Nina grew up, since 2001. Nina continues to be active making and exhibiting clay sculpture, drawings, and prints. She was Alumni Representative to the Happy Valley/Besant Hill School Governance Committee for five years, until she became a member of the Happy Valley Foundation Board in the spring of 2009. 

James SlossJames Sloss, Emeritus
(Santa Barbara, CA)

Jimmy is a graduate of the Happy Valley School (now called the Besant Hill School), attended Duke University, received his B.A. in Physics from Pomona College & received his PhD in Math from UC Berkeley. He taught Mathematics for 35 years at UCSB and has published over 200 articles in mathematics. Jimmy never suspected when he arrived at the Happy Valley School (now the Besant Hill School) as a boy of 15 that he would be captivated for life. He served on the HVF Board from 1960 to 1966 and from 1989 to 2017.

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