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Alumni Spotlight

Deena Shakir '00

Deena Shakir is a successful business professional. She and her husband Mehdi have two children, 6-year-old Lana and 4-year-old Adam. She earned a joint BA in Social Studies and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard, and an MA from Georgetown's School of Foreign Service, funding her education through a variety of merit scholarships and side ventures, including co-founding her first company while in college.

She is currently a partner at Lux Capital, a venture capital company focusing on emerging, futuristic ideas in science and technology investments. In addition, she is a lecturer in management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Prior to joining Lux, Deena was a partner at Google Ventures where she led several investments, including early-stage products in healthcare and directed social impact investments at

During her career, Deena has had diverse experiences as an aspiring anthropologist, journalist, diplomat, aid worker and technologist. This was demonstrated by her role as a Presidential Management Fellow at the U.S. Department of State under Secretary Clinton, where she helped launch President Obama's first Global Entrepreneurship Summit in 2010.

Deena is a Forbes contributor featured in both print and broadcast sources such as Fortune, CNBC, and Marie Claire. She was named a "Top 30 Under 40 in Healthcare" by Business Insider, “Top 9 Women to Watch in Venture Capital" by The Wall Street Journal, and “Top 50 in Digital Health" by Rock Health.  She holds memberships and fellowships within renowned leadership networks. Deena recently gave an interview with Bloomberg Technology on International Women's Day regarding women getting hired in the tech field.

After watching Deena's interview, ACDS Speech and Debate coach, Chris Wardner, shared that, "We weren’t competing in speech and debate during Deena’s tenure. However, after Deena took my public speaking class I reached out to the Leland coach and let her know that one of the most engaging and articulate 8th graders in the world was coming her way.  Deena commanded the room and the respect of her peers in a way well beyond her years."

When asked in what ways her years at ACDS had an impact on her career and who she is today, Deena commented, "I have such fond memories of my time at ACDS, including making some lifelong friends who I still communicate with and see regularly." Her favorite tradition was the yearbooks!  She related one of the memories she'll never forget was the time when all four of the Shakir siblings (Omar´99Zade´06, and Laith´04) were at ACDS; "My mother came to pick us all up, and the Pre-K teacher reported that Laith, aged 4, had said to her, ‘What am I, chopped liver?’" Another fond memory was of her older brother, Omar, playing Rumpelstiltskin in the school play. During her years at ACDS she met Jessica Lee´00, who has remained her lifelong friend.

Deena Shakir collage

She advises younger alumni and current students to "Nurture and maintain those friendships." When asked what she would say to prospective families considering ACDS for their children, Deena said that ACDS is, “a beautiful, warm community, and has incredible teachers who become lifelong mentors.”

Deena was active in middle school community service, including serving as the chairwoman of the winter “Nacho Sales” fundraiser. Her ACDS 8th grade classmates voted her “Best Leader," and she has certainly confirmed that vote!

Visit Deena's website to watch her interviews, listen to her podcasts, and much more:

ACDS is proud of our alumni and their accomplishments. Below are a few more alumni spotlights that show just a small sample of the exciting paths they forged after graduating from ACDS.  Please contact us to share your ACDS alumni story.

More Alumni Spotlights...

Margherita Bassi '12

Margherita Bassi '12, aka Titti Bassi, who also pens under MV Marguerite, has been busy since graduating ACDS in 2012. She is currently a freshman at Boston College, studying English Literature while also juggling being Varsity volleyball team captain and being a young adult fantasy/sci-fi author.

Maya Kaul '09

Maya Kaul '09 attended ACDS from the 4-year-olds program to 8th grade. She graduated from Pomona College in 2017 with a B.A. in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and went on to study Finnish teacher education and development at the University of Helsinki as a Fulbright Scholar. Maya is currently an Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Predoctoral Fellow, William B. and Roberta V. Castetter Fellow, and Ph.D. student in Education Policy at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education with an anticipated graduation in May 2023.

Jake Heindel

Jake Heindel, Class of 2008, was first bitten by the film bug during his iMovie elective in middle school at ACDS and has been making films since then. Jake's latest short documentary is entitled, aptly, Perspective, and it is no wonder that this film went on to win the one of the prestigious 2015 Leigh Weimers Emerging Artists Awards.

Kristin Schroeder

Kristin Schroeder, MD, MPH, graduated from ACDS in 1993. Today, Dr. Schroeder is a Board Certified neuro-oncologist currently pioneering work with The Global Pathway, in partnership with Duke University, at Bugando Medical Center in Mwanze, Tanzania to improve access to chemotherapy and life-saving medications for pediatric cancer patients in Tanzania.

Bernie Zimmerman

Bernie Zimmerman '83 joined ACS as an inaugural ‘Country School of Almaden’ 4th grade student when the doors first opened in September 1982. Now the Clinical and Academic Director at Cherry Gulch, an award winning ranch-style therapeutic boarding school for boys, in Emmett, Idaho, Bernie credits his foundation at ACDS as a cornerstone of his academic journey and an influence on the standards set at Cherry Gulch. 

Early Childhood COVID-19 Safety Protocols

Jackson Bordelon '11 has always loved building things, and throughout his life he’s found ways to direct that love towards helping solve real world problems. As a freshman in high school, he participated in house-building trips to Tijuana, Mexico with his church, Presbyterian Church of Los Gatos. He’s currently preparing for his thirteenth trip to Mexico this summer. Jackson has sought out church leadership roles, first as a Caring Ministries Deacon and now as an Elder overseeing mission trips.