Welcome Our New Head of School


Dear Northern Light Community,

It is with great pleasure that I announce Sanjev deSilva as our next Head of School, effective July 1, 2023. As you may be aware, the School went through a thorough and inclusive search process this past fall semester and, through interview panels consisting of students, parents, faculty, administrative staff and board members, Sanjev resulted as the clear choice.

Sanjev graduated from San Francisco State University with a BA in International Relations and a minor in Ethnic Studies/Black Studies. He comes to us from The Athenian School in Danville, CA, and, with deep roots in Oakland, he’s thrilled to be moving back to the area to lead Northern Light School. While at Athenian, he’s been involved on the senior leadership team as their Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice, where he’s worked with faculty, staff and 6th – 12th grade students on programs and curricula to promote equity, inclusion, and social justice. He’s also served as a faculty member, teaching history classes ranging from ninth grade World Cultures to upper-level seminars.

Previously, Sanjev worked for the Mosaic Project in Oakland as the Director of Youth Leadership. He’s also worked for Bay Area Community Resources and Project Avary, also based in Oakland, and spent a year in Sri Lanka through the Asia Foundation. He serves on the board of People of Color in Independent Schools for Northern California, and is an artist within the hip-hop/reggae Bay Area music scene.

From his own words:

As a life-long learner and leader, I am sincerely committed to justice and equity in everything I do. The educational work I have led has always been centered in healing, restoration, and radical hope. It has been my life’s mission to provide knowledge and expertise in service to youth in particular and diverse communities in general.

My leadership and educational philosophy includes an emphasis on open communication, accountability, empathy, and integrity. As an educator I focus on teaching the whole student and empowering the next generation to be global citizens and change makers. As a leader I believe in empowering others, while standing firm on principles when making challenging decisions and also maintaining transparency to best ensure community trust. For the past two decades I have accumulated a wealth of expertise in community building, particularly among diverse populations in the education field. My cultural fluency skill-set has been built on an authentic foundation of being an active part of several different communities rooted in mutual respect, empathy, and understanding. By centering the importance of cultural competency, I believe that the whole student becomes actively engaged in their learning. Without an emphasis on cultural competence skill building, young people will enter this changing world ill equipped to deal with the many emotionally challenging issues of the day. Having worked with many Oakland schools and organizations, I have developed a leadership style that is focused on getting to know the hearts of those whom I work with so I can best support them authentically. I have spent the past 8 years as DEIS director, teacher, basketball coach, and dorm head at The Athenian School in Danville. This has been a powerful experience as the independent school world is quite different from the urban public schools I previously worked at. However, the holistic spirit of empowering young people through education remains the core of my work.

We are enthusiastic about the energy and background Sanjev brings to Northern Light. We will keep you informed as to the opportunities to meet him in person prior to his first day on July 1st.



Ann Hertelendy

Board Chair