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Head of School Search
At Friends Academy, we achieve educational excellence by committing to the highest standard of learning and living.
Head of School Announcement
On March 16, 2022, Head of School Andrea Kelly informed the community that she would be leaving Friends Academy effective June 30, 2023, after six inspiring years in the position. Over the coming months, as the Search Committee conducts its work for Friends Academy's next Head of School, please check back here for updates on this process and progress.
Search News & Updates
Click below to read current updates from the Head of School Search process:
- June 16, 2022 – FA Head of School Search Update: Candidate Slate
- April 28, 2022 – FA Head of School Search Update: Position Statement
- March 30, 2022 – FA Head of School Search Update: Parent Zooms
- March 28, 2022 – FA Head of School Search Update: Kickoff
- March 16, 2022 – Announcement from Head of School Andrea Kelly and Board of Trustees President Frank Ingrassia
View the Position Statement
Please view the Position Statement for the next Head of School, which outlines the core mission, strengths, and opportunities of Friends Academy, as well as the qualifications and qualities that the next Head of School will embody.
Frequently Asked Questions
The goal of this section is to anticipate your questions about the Head of School Search. You are also welcome to submit questions, comments and/or concerns through our Head of School Search email.
Who is leading the search process?
The Board of Trustees is responsible for hiring Friends Academy’s next Head of School – this is the single most important role of a school board. To lead the process, the FA Board has selected a Search Committee comprised of Trustees. Steve Witthuhn (Alum ’01, Parent ’31, ’35) will clerk the committee, whose full membership can be found below. The Search Committee will partner with a dedicated independent school search consulting firm to drive the process and recommend a candidate to the Board. The full Board will ultimately be responsible for approving the appointment of Friends Academy's next Head of School.
What are the goals for the search process?
The most significant goal is to identify a new Head of School for Friends Academy. We are seeking a leader who will embody our Quaker values and traditions, and who will embrace the strategic plan laid out a few years ago – to which the Board of Trustees remains committed – while, of course, infusing his or her own leadership perspective. Importantly, the search is an opportunity to engage the entire Friends Academy community as we seek a new leader. Selecting a new head of school is the most important decision a Board of Trustees makes, and our board is committed to doing so in as transparent and inclusive a way as possible. Community members will have the chance to meet with our search consultants at the start of the process, communicate with the search committee and consultants during the process, and provide feedback on the finalists who are invited to visit campus in the early autumn.
What is the role of the Board?
The Board of Trustees has the full and final responsibility for selecting and hiring Friends Academy’s next Head of School. To facilitate the search process, the Board created a Search Committee that will be involved in every step of the search process, getting to know candidates deeply and well. The full Board will meet final candidates advanced by the Search Committee and, at the conclusion of the process, will name the new Head based on the Search Committee’s recommendation.
What is the role of the Search Committee?
What is the role of the consultants?
The Search Committee selected Carney, Sandoe & Associates (CS&A) from several leading independent school search firms that were interviewed. CS&A has led hundreds of national searches for independent schools in the greater New York metropolitan area and around the country. The CS&A team, led by consultants Bruce Dennis and Marsha Little, will work with the Search Committee to identify Friends Academy’s next Head of School. Bruce and Marsha have decades of experience leading schools and recruiting new leaders.
The consulting team will advise and guide the Search Committee throughout the entire process, ensuring that best practices are employed to represent the interests of Friends Academy. After studying the school’s mission statement and other written documents, the consultants will visit the school, meet with hundreds of members of the Friends Academy community, and craft a position description that will be used as a recruitment tool. They will then begin actively recruiting and identifying promising school leaders, drawing on the consultants’ intimate knowledge of the marketplace and their relationships with top school leaders around the nation. After conducting preliminary candidate interviews, the consultants will present comprehensive dossiers of the top candidates to the Search Committee. The consultants will then support the Search Committee in its identification and recommendation of the successful candidate, as well as the initial transition process.
What is the role of the current head?
Andrea Kelly will continue her outstanding leadership of Friends Academy throughout the search process and after its completion, through the date of her departure in June 2023. While Andrea will not formally be involved with the search process, she will meet personally with the consulting team to offer her perspectives on the future leadership needs of the school based upon her successful six-year tenure at and deep understanding of Friends Academy.
Most importantly, Andrea and the Board of Trustees remain fully aligned and in close partnership on the direction of the school and eager to continue the strong momentum that has been built over Andrea’s tenure. Andrea and her team will remain fully responsible and empowered by the Board to implement the school’s operating plan through the time of her departure, as well as continue to make a range of investments to continue the school along its strategic path.
What is the role of faculty, staff, and administration?
The Search Committee is committed to an inclusive process that involves input and engagement from faculty, staff, and administration throughout. These groups will be involved from the beginning of the search process, starting with interviews and open forums during the consultants’ initial site visit that will shape the position statement for the next Head of School. We will be forming an Advisory Council including faculty, and potentially others, to assist and provide input to the Search Committee throughout the process. And we anticipate that faculty, staff, and administrators will be involved during the site visits this fall when finalist candidates come to campus to meet the members of the Friends Academy community. The Search Committee also welcomes outreach throughout the process to members individually or collectively through the email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the role of current parents?
Parents will have the opportunity to engage in the process throughout. The Parent Council Executive Committee will meet in person with the search consultants during the upcoming April 6-7 site visit. Over these dates, all Friends Academy parents will be invited to participate in Zoom meetings with the consulting team, as well as complete a community survey, both of which will offer opportunities to provide feedback about FA and suggestions for characteristics and attributes for the next Head of School. We anticipate that parent representatives will also have the opportunity to meet with the finalist candidates in the fall when they come to campus to meet members of the Friends Academy community. The Search Committee also welcomes outreach throughout the process to members individually or collectively through the email address email@example.com.
What is the role of students?
Students will be invited to participate in the process in different ways, depending upon what is most age-appropriate. Groups of Middle and Upper School students will be invited to meet with our consultants on campus during the initial site visit to offer their thoughts on the qualities they would like to see in a new Head of School. We also expect student representatives to have a role this fall during finalist candidate site visits so that the Search Committee can benefit from their perspective and candidates can have the opportunity to engage with Friends Academy students before a final recommendation is made.
What is the role of alumnae/i?
We anticipate offering alumni the opportunity to offer their perspective during a Zoom meeting on April 6th that will be scheduled and we will also solicit their feedback through an online community survey. As with other community stakeholders, the Search Committee welcomes outreach from alumni throughout the process to members individually or collectively through the email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the expected timeline for the search process?
The process kicks off with the development of a position description that describes the attributes that will be most important in our new Head of School and lays out for potential candidates the range of opportunities that the position offers. To develop this position description, our consultant team will review a broad range of documentation about Friends Academy and will visit the school on April 6 and 7, spending two full days and evenings meeting with and hearing from faculty and staff, members of the school’s leadership team, students, parent representatives, trustees, and other constituencies. In addition, we will be scheduling Zoom meetings with the extended parent body and Friends Academy alumni.
Active recruiting will begin immediately after the visit and the consultants plan to present to the Search Committee a group of the most promising candidates in the early summer. We anticipate that the Search Committee will interview these candidates over the summer and identify finalists who will visit the campus shortly after school reopens in September 2022. The Board expects to appoint a new Head of School by the early autumn, allowing ample time for a thoughtful and comprehensive transition over the next school year, in close partnership with Andrea Kelly.
When will the Friends Academy community get to meet the candidates?
Finalist candidates will be invited to the FA campus this fall, ideally shortly after the start of the new school year. We anticipate that members of the community will receive bios in advance of each visit and a schedule of meetings that will maximize the opportunity for broad-based community involvement. Up until that point in the search, please understand that we will need to keep the identity of candidates confidential in order to protect the integrity of the process.
Whom do I contact if I have any questions or thoughts on the search or if I wish to recommend someone for consideration as the next Head of School?
Questions concerning the search process can be directed to the Search Committee at email@example.com. We will also be posting regular updates on this Head of School search webpage, which can be accessed from the friendsacademy.org homepage. We welcome recommendations and referrals from members of the FA community for candidates that merit our consideration. All referrals received will be turned over to our consultants who will determine appropriate follow-up.
The Search Firm
Friends Academy will be working with Carney Sandoe & Associates to help us find the perfect match for our school. Since 1977, Carney Sandoe has worked successfully with over 1,800 independent, private, boarding, and charter schools in 48 states and 32 countries to provide exceptional faculty recruitment, head of school search, and strategic consulting services.
Dr. Bruce Dennis
Bruce brings 40 years of experience in senior leadership in public and independent schools to his work as a senior consultant.
Bruce completed his successful 15-year tenure as Head of School at The Packer Collegiate Institute (NY) in June 2019. During his distinguished career, he has developed an exceptional network of both public and independent school educators and he has several years of prior search experience, working as a senior search consultant for Hazard, Young, Attea, & Associates where he guided public school boards of education in many of New York's most prominent suburbs, including Mamaroneck, Eastchester, Croton-on-Hudson, Locust Valley, and Chappaqua, in their hiring of new school superintendents.
Director of Professional Learning and Development, Search & Consulting Practices; Search Consultant
Marsha is Director of Professional Learning and Development, Search & Consulting Practices and a search consultant for the firm’s Key Administrator and Head of School Practices. She also supports schools with a range of consulting needs, including coaching and strategic planning.
The Search Committee is committed to an inclusive search process. We intend to keep the community informed throughout while also respecting the confidentiality of the candidate recruitment process.
If you have questions about this process, or if you have someone to recommend for the Head of School position, please email the Search Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.