MEET OUR TEAM

GARY J. NIELS
Executive Director
412-491-9606
[email protected]
Gary Niels brings to PAIS over 30 years of independent school experience, which included roles as teacher/coach, dean, chaplain, division director, and assistant head in both day and boarding schools. Gary served as the Head of Winchester Thurston School in Pittsburgh, PA for 16 years. In his time as Head, enrollment increased by 25%, the endowment tripled in value, the school developed a nationally recognized community based learning program entitled, City As Our Campus, and four of his associates went on to be school heads.Prior to assuming his leadership role in PAIS, Gary served as an Interim President at The Neighborhood Academy, a faith-based school for African American students in grades 6 through 12. One of the compelling aspects of Gary at the helm with PAIS is that he knows the challenges of heading a school.

Gary is a graduate of the University of Maryland, where he was Captain and All American goalie for the 1975 NCAA Championship Mens Lacrosse Team. Gary holds a Master in Theology from Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia and a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from Teachers College Columbia University where he was a year-long Klingenstein Fellow. Gary splits time between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Gary’s wife, Elizabeth Patterson is Director of Social and Emotional Health at St. Edmund’s Academy, where their two sons attend school.

LUCRETIA WELLS
Director of Accreditation
215-570-8681
[email protected]
Lucretia “Lukie” Wells joined PAIS as the Director of Accreditation, in 2016, after thirty plus years of working in independent schools. Lukie started her independent school career as a dorm parent, admissions officer and coach and, throughout her career, has been a teacher, Learning Specialist, Dean of Students, Assistant Head of School and Head of School. She raised her hand to serve on any committee that needed members and thoroughly enjoyed the workings of a school community. Lukie has an undergraduate degree from Boston University as well as a Masters in Special Education from Portland State University and a Masters in Organizational Dynamics from the University Of Pennsylvania. Wells participated in the NAIS/E.E. Ford Foundation Fellowship for Aspiring Heads, and is a Board member for the Osborne Association an organization which support individuals and their families who are affected by the criminal justice system. Lukie lives in Bucks County with her husband, Jonathon Wells, who is a fine arts photographer and hydrogeologist. 

MARY MCANDREW
Director of Communications & Operations
610-420-5167
[email protected]
Mary joined PAIS in March 2020 as Director of Communications and Operations. She spent majority of her career in corporate communications and marketing and brings 15 years of experience to her role at PAIS. Mary earned her bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. She is a native of the Philadelphia area and currently lives in Wayne, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.