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SAAS Welcomes New Board Chair Matt Echohawk-Hayashi

As we are wrapping up the 2021-22 school year, we are excited to welcome Matt Echohawk-Hayashi as our new Board of Trustees Chair. 

Matt has been on the SAAS Board for two years and served as the Chair of the Board DEI Task Force, on the Board Executive Committee, and as Board Vice-Chair during the 2021-22 school year. Matt is also an experienced non-profit board member and board consultant.

Matt says: “It's been a rare privilege to get to serve on the board with such a wonderful cohort of parents and community members. SAAS is truly a special place and an even more special community of people. My family and I are so grateful to experience the legacy of curiosity, creativity, and service which so many families, faculty, and individual students have built here at SAAS. I look forward to extending that legacy with my fellow board members for our current students and for those who will join us in the future.”

Matt has been a longtime Seattle resident, and he grew up in indigenous communities in Kaneohe, Hawaii. He has served in numerous leadership roles focused on collaborative engagement and bridging communities together. Matt’s wealth of experience includes facilitating discussions between Seattle Public Schools and Seattle’s urban Native community over efforts to close achievement gaps for Native learners; leading a project to partner Indian Health Service and a Montana Tribe to find equitable solutions over water disputes; and facilitating team-performance workshops for a physician partnership at Swedish hospitals.

He is currently the principal organization development and leadership consultant for Headwater People and serves on the Board of Real Change. Matt also has the knowledge and experience of being a SAAS parent to two current students in the Middle and Upper School.

At this year’s SAAS in the City where he spoke with his wife Colleen, they conveyed how, “The experiences that [our current students] have is dependant upon this community,” which Matt expanded to include future generations of SAAS students who will be able to attend school with the assistance of financial aid. 

Matt is an outstanding leader, and the right person at the right time to lead SAAS into the next chapter as David Sheppard transitions out of the role of Board Chair, which he has served for three years. 

David shares: “It has been such a privilege serving as Board Chair at Seattle Academy. The trustees that I have served with during my term were incredibly gifted and selfless members of our community. And now I am looking forward to SAAS continuing to move forward under the leadership of Matt. He has proven to be a wise and thoughtful leader. Thank you for your support and continued commitment to our community.”

David Sheppard joined the SAAS board in 2018 after serving on the Finance Committee. He has provided guidance during several pivotal times such as the opening of the new Middle School building, the transition to remote learning during the pandemic, the social unrest of 2020, and SAAS’ reaccreditation through the Northwest Association of Independent Schools. We will miss his calming demeanor and speeches during graduations, moving up ceremonies, SAAS in the City, and countless other community gatherings. 

I can’t adequately express my gratitude to David for his unflagging focus on rooting decisions in the SAAS mission and guiding principles, his compassionate honesty, and his thoughtful and principled leadership. As has so happened throughout the last 39 years at SAAS, the right person at the right time came along to help guide the community forward. That’s been David these past three years, and we’re again fortunate that in Matt the right person has shown up at the right time as we move forward as a school community.


Rob Phillips

Head of School