Meet the Team

With deep experience ranging from business operations to curricular design, we take a flexible, systems-based approach to all our work—giving us the ability to look beyond the silos of school organizational structure to solve difficult challenges and identify previously uncontemplated opportunities. That’s how we connect the dots.

David Thiel


David Thiel is a design, systems, and strategic thinker experienced in communications, branding, operations management, and organizational alignment. 

David’s design and strategic consulting experience covers the full spectrum—from work with multi-national for-profit corporations to projects for small non-profits, startups, and sole proprietorships. In the for-profit space, David worked with major brands, including Wegmans Food Markets, Russell Investments, M&T Bank, Birds Eye Foods, and Amazon.

David’s most recent work has been in bringing innovative, interdisciplinary thinking to education leadership. Prior to founding Aptonym, David’s work as a Communications Director built and led one of the most prolific and highly regarded communications operations at any school or college in New England. As a strategist and manager, David served as Head of School at Tilton School, a small boarding school in New Hampshire, and as Assistant Head of School for Strategy and Planning at Deerfield Academy, one of the world’s leading independent schools.

A Deerfield alumnus, David earned degrees in English and biology from University of Rochester and a Masters in Business Administration from the Simon Business School at University of Rochester.

David is father to two college-age children and enjoys a wide range of hobbies including woodworking, gardening, photography, cooking, and camping. 

For more information, connect with David on LinkedIn.

Peter Warsaw

Peter Warsaw

Senior Consultant

A lifelong progressive educator, Peter Warsaw is experienced in designing, facilitating, and managing school improvement.

Over a half-century as teacher and administrator, Peter has led institutions in creating high-quality, forward-looking, student-centered program: building the Phillips Academy Andover music program; redesigning Deerfield Academy’s academic program; and founding and heading three ground-breaking, innovative boarding schools in China, including Vanke Meisha Academy and Jack Ma’s Hangzhou Yungu High School. At each of these schools, Peter focused on student experience and ensured sustained success by designing dynamic, creative professional development programs.

During his career as teacher and Head, Peter has also served as leader of the Eight School Association Technology and Learning Initiative; as speaker, panelist, and presenter at educational conferences in Boston, Los Angeles, London, Beijing, and Shanghai; and as consultant to, among others, Waterford School, (UT) St. Paul’s School (NH), New England Conservatory (MA), and Educational Testing Service (NJ).

After graduating from Phillips Exeter Academy, Peter earned an A.B. from Harvard University and both M.M. and D.M.A. degrees in Piano Performance and Literature from the University of Rochester (Eastman School of Music). He later continued learning at Harvard Graduate School of Education (Instructional Rounds; Institute for New and Aspiring Leaders; and Data Wise Institute) and the Leadership and Learning Center (Leadership Institute, Boston).

Peter enjoys learning in golf, skiing, pickleball, table tennis, squash, bridge, chess, and Zen meditation.

For more information, connect with Peter on LinkedIn.
Peter Warsaw LinkedIn Profil

Pete Nilsson

Senior Consultant

As head of school at King’s Academy in Jordan and in a variety of leadership roles at Deerfield Academy, Pete has driven systems for innovation and growth in teaching & learning. Leadership in this field has also included curating the widely read newsletter the Educator’s Notebook and founding Athena, a collaborative platform where teachers share practices.

Pete serves on the advisory board for the Center for Curriculum Redesign and SXSWedu. He was the first humanities teacher to receive an innovation award from Wolfram Research, which develops mathematical and computational tools for industry and education. He also wrote a one-act hip-hop/pop/classical/EDM Boarding School Musical, which can be found on YouTube.

Pete attended Phillips Academy Andover and Middlebury College. He completed his MA at Columbia University. He received an NEH Institute grant to study Paradise Lost, and has thoroughly enjoyed taking classes with students at his schools.

Pete and his wife have two children who love Pokemon and are learning to ride various two wheeled forms of transportation. He enjoys writing music, trail running, cycling, and reading.

For more information, connect with Pete on LinkedIn.Peter Warsaw LinkedIn Profil

Vita Thiel​

Contributing Consultant

With experience as an auditor for Deloitte, a senior financial analyst for Wegmans Food Markets, and a human resources director in both services and manufacturing industries, Vita brings a powerful professional skillset to the educational world.

At Deerfield Academy, Tilton School, and at Williston Northampton School, Vita has served in a series of roles including international student coordinator, testing coordinator, academic database coordinator, and registrar. She is an expert at navigating the interface between academic administrators, students, and parents, and she has deep experience managing the complexities of academic and testing accommodations, NCAA eligibility, and the College Board.

In addition, Vita’s extraordinary technical acumen and deep experience with systems like Veracross, Banner, Crystal, and other student information and scheduling systems helps her identify powerful efficiencies for schools.

Lastly, Vita’s role as a private-school parent has granted her insight on both sides of the school/customer relationship. Vita’s children have attended Eaglebrook School, Bement School, Tilton School, Deerfield Academy, Oberlin College, and the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Vita holds a B.S. in Accounting from St. John Fisher University and a certificate in Human Resources from Cornell University.

Vita is an avid crafter, baker, and traveler—and she has probably circled the earth on her Peloton bike!

For more information, connect with Vita on LinkedIn.
Peter Warsaw LinkedIn Profil

Cara Cusson

Contributing Consultant

Cara is a versatile communications professional with nearly a decade of experience across the private and higher education industries and a dynamic skill set ranging from strategic planning through project management and copywriting.

Cara began her career in the award-winning communications office at Deerfield Academy, and today she is the Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives in University Relations at UMass Amherst, where she organizes, leads, and executes priority projects and strategic communications initiatives for the University. 

Having worked at top educational institutions in New England, Cara has a deep understanding of best practices and effective communication strategies in educational settings.

Cara holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from UMass Amherst and a master’s degree in corporate and organizational communication from Northeastern University

She is a proud aunt, avid reader, and a Peloton enthusiast.

For more information, connect with Cara on LinkedIn.Peter Warsaw LinkedIn Profil

Carmel Schettino

Contributing Consultant

With a 27-year career in independent schools, Carmel is passionate about curriculum, the construction of knowledge, and mathematics in particular. Her deep experience with problem-based learning includes extensive work with many schools on curriculum reform, assessment practices, and learning outcome alignment.

Launching her teaching career at Phillips Exeter Academy, Carmel then served as math department chair at Emma Willard School, where she led an effort to reform the mathematics curriculum. At Deerfield Academy she served as a math instructor and as the Academy’s Coordinator of Data Analysis.

In 2017, Carmel was appointed Global Academic Dean for Mathematics at Avenues, The World School. Working across five campuses—on three continents—and in the school’s online program, Carmel organized and ran professional learning for all Avenues faculty. In addition, she led the creation of a global, standardized T-5 curriculum.

Carmel speaks nationally and internationally on K-12 mathematics curriculum and has published several articles related to Common Core and Metacognitive Writing in math education. Carmel founded the PBL Math Teaching Summit in 2015, helping teachers to network with other innovative, like-minded instructors.

Carmel holds a masters in mathematics from Boston College and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from SUNY Albany. In her thesis work, Carmel studied discourse in STEM classrooms and gained expertise in coaching teachers to ask higher-order questions.

Carmel lives in upstate New York with her blue merle cardigan Welsh corgi, Starbuck. While not reading, Carmel enjoys playing pickleball, doing yoga, and trading tips with her 23-year-old daughter, who followed in her mother’s footsteps and teaches English at a boarding school.

For more information, connect with Carmel on LinkedIn.
Carmel Schettino LinkedIn

Headshot of Julia Rowinski

Julia Rowinski

Contributing Consultant

Julia is an independent one-woman-band of visual and verbal creativity. A photographer, videographer, writer, and strategist, Julia brings web and social media savvy, project management experience, and a creative, curious, and inquisitive approach to her work with Aptonym.

After completing her undergraduate studies at the continuing experiment in higher education better known as Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, Julia has worked with award-winning web and creative agencies in both techno-creative and operations management roles. Herself a product of K-12 public schools and both public and private colleges, Julia has a broad, intersectional point of view of independent education. Her  experience at The Williston Northampton School and work for LightHouse Holyoke further expand her perspective and invigorate her enthusiasm for alternative educational models and pedagogies.

In her free time, Julia can be found in the darkroom after a stomp through woods with her camera; losing at disc golf; dabbling in innumerable different arts and crafts; and contentedly lost, wandering scenic back roads of New England in a car with entirely too little ground clearance for the task.

For more information, connect with Julia on LinkedIn.
Carmel Schettino LinkedIn

There's more: Aptonym is a network.

Working with a broad array of exceptional creative and technical partners, we help organizations connect strategy to execution—promise to practice—by ensuring that great ideas become clear results. 

Whether the work demands governance coaching, policy documentation, creative strategy, or curriculum design, we not only help our clients identify the right strategy—we help them make it happen.