Head of School Search

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Head of School Search

The 2022-23 school year will be Head of School Ben Williams’ 25th and final year at Cate and we meet this news with profound admiration for Ben’s accomplishments and great appreciation for his decades of dedicated service to this community. The Cate Board of Trustees has appointed a Search Committee to oversee this transition and to identify Cate’s next Head of School. This Head will provide the leadership and vision to guide our future students on their own unique journeys, while preserving the culture and spirit of this place that we all know and for which we care so deeply. Please continue to visit this page for updates on the committee’s timeline, process, and progress.

Opportunity Statement

The Opportunity Statement is based on Cate community feedback and articulates the qualities the School is looking for in its next Head of School while defining what makes Cate extraordinary. 

View the Opportunity Statement

The Process

The Search process includes extensive and thoughtful outreach, analysis, research and assessment and it is expected to take us through the end of 2022. A timeline has been established to guide this work and the Search Committee is committed to keeping the community apprised of its findings and providing regular updates while respecting the confidentiality of all candidates. This process consists of multiple steps.

The Search Committee will partner with Spencer Stuart in gathering information about Cate’s community and culture and in particular, our greatest challenges and opportunities. Using confidential listening sessions, one-on-one interviews and a community-wide survey as well as interactions with the School leadership, we will gather information that will guide us in developing a “position description.” This will be used to identify the ideal character traits of the new Head of School.


We will maintain the utmost respect for the confidentiality of all candidates to conduct initial vetting through interviews and reference checks. Much of this work will be done within the Committee and in partnership with Spencer Stuart.


As the candidate pool narrows, the Search Committee will be actively engaged in learning more about all prospects, conducting preliminary confidential interviews, and selecting finalists. During this phase it will be important to respect the wishes of all prospective candidates.


The Search Committee will finally present its nomination of a candidate to the Board of Trustees. The Board will then be responsible for voting in the new Head of School to begin their tenure in July 2023.


After identifying the new Head of School, efforts will be made to assist the chosen candidate in the transition process, during the remaining months of the School year. The entire Cate School community will play a major role in this transition.


Timeline

Any search process must allow for flexibility in timing and the decision-making process. The Search Committee will make every effort to fulfill its charge in the time allotted, but will also also act in the best interests of the School by being open to changes in this schedule.

The Search Committee

The hiring of the Head of School is one of the Board’s most important responsibilities. To this end, the Board of Trustees established a Committee composed of a diverse representation of parents, alumni, trustees and faculty whose charge is to identify and assess candidates for the position of Head of School and provide a recommendation to the Board. The Search Committee is committed to being thoughtful and unbiased, and to prioritizing and considering the interests of the entire Cate community.

Manage, collect and provide feedback from all Cate constituencies for the Head of School position description.

  • Coordinate Search firm interviews, visits, and assessments.
  • Review, evaluate, and confirm application materials, references, and background checks of candidates.
  • Organize and conduct meetings and interviews between candidates and appropriate community stakeholders.
  • Make a recommendation to the Board.
  • Provide a transition plan for the newly appointed Head of School.

 


  1. Engage in a thoughtful, unbiased process grounded in a commitment to diversity and a consideration of the interests of the entire Cate community.
  2. Ensure the reflection of the School’s values in all identification, recruiting and assessment efforts.
  3. Actively participate and listen during Committee discussions.
  4. Engage in anti-bias training, to ensure unbiased assessment of any and all candidates.
  5. Maintain confidentiality with regards to discussion or information of candidates or prospects.
  6. Be communicative with the Community around the search for the Head of School process.
  7. Act as representatives of the diverse body that makes up the Cate community.
  8. Encourage a safe place to openly share viewpoints of all Committee members.

Members of the Search Committee


Calgary Avansino ’93
Chair, Trustee


Maude Bond
Faculty


Frank Griffin P’09,’12
Faculty


Kristen Klingbeil-Weis
P’08,’09,’12,’22 (Trustee)


Sheila Marmon Heuer ’90
Trustee


Jay Melican ’84
Trustee


Rosalind Emmett Neiman
’89, P’21,’23,’25 (Trustee)


Annalee Salcedo P’26
Faculty

Marianne Sprague
P’91,’97,’98,’02,’05,’09
Trustee


Brian Tom P’22,’23
Trustee

Wyatt Gruber’93
Board Chair, Trustee, ex-officio

Lisa Stanson ’92
Board President, Trustee, ex-officio

Community Outreach

Gathering feedback from our community is essential in establishing an in-depth understanding of the culture, aspirations, and challenges of the School, as well as the ideal experiences and capabilities we seek in the next Head of School at Cate. Our search partners at Spencer Stuart have confidentially consolidated their findings from the in-depth outreach that has been conducted and they have shared them with both the Search committee and the entire Cate community.

The following community constituencies have been surveyed and have been offered various opportunities to provide input:

  • Faculty and Administration
  • Students
  • Parents
  • Alumni
  • Current and Past Board Members
  • Former parents
  • Former faculty
  • Friends of the School

The method of outreach for each community member reflected the interests and needs of each constituency. They were conducted both in-person and virtually by Search Committee members and Spencer Stuart consultants:

  • Small group listening sessions
  • Limited group information sessions
  • One-on-one interviews
  • In person meetings on the Mesa and virtually with interested groups

The Search Committee has also identified representatives within these groups to gather more in-depth perspectives including Student Council and Education and Student Life Committee student members, Cate Parent Organization leadership, Faculty and Administrative leaders and Alumni Council leadership. All members of our school community were also invited to share their thoughts through a confidential online survey administered by Spencer Stuart.


The Board and the Search Committee will keep this website current and provide updates throughout the process. Please see the Communications section of the Head of School webpage with the various communications to the community.

 


Confidentiality is paramount to the success of a search for Head of School, and all Search Committee members have signed a Confidentiality agreement that includes maintaining the privacy of names or details of any discussions around candidates and prospects introduced into the process. As part of this agreement, the Committee is also charged with identifying what, if any, information can or should be shared outside of the Committee, in any effort to support the efforts of recruiting and assessing potential candidates.


In an effort to be communicative around the transition process, updates on the Committee’s progress will be provided to the Cate community on a regular basis. The Committee will always consider the confidentiality requirements and needs of any candidates throughout this process.


FAQs

At the direction of the Board of Trustees, a Transition Committee was formed in 2021 to consider timing and communication of Ben’s and the Board’s announcement, to evaluate all available transition options including embarking on an immediate search, appointing an interim Head, or taking a transition year. The Committee’s final charge was to explore all necessary resources to accomplish the path chosen and make a recommendation.

Based on a study of NAIS Best practices, discreet consultations with persons identified as leaders in Education, and by engaging with multiple professionals in the executive search industry, the Transition Committee made the following recommendations:

  • Engagement in a full search to include internal and external candidates for a new Head to begin in the School year 2023/2024.
  • Hiring Spencer Stuart to assist in this search.
  • Immediate commencement of the search process internally and publicly with the Cate community following the announcement.
  • Establishment of a Search Committee to oversee the process of working with Spencer Stuart in identifying, assessing and evaluating, and recommending to the Board a succession plan.

Finally, the Transition Committee made a recommendation to appoint twelve members to the Search Committee. Three of whom are Faculty who were nominated by their peers. Extensive consideration was taken in the selection process to build an open-minded and diverse team of Faculty and Trustees who could guide us through this incredibly important transition.



If you have not already been contacted regarding the community survey, participated in one of the constituency specific outreach efforts, or if you are interested in sharing with the consultants at Spencer Stuart or with the Search Committee, please contact us directly. We welcome your feedback.

Contact the Search Committee Contact Spencer Stuart


The Transition Committee formed in 2021, was charged with researching and engaging the resources necessary in identifying Cate’s next Head of School. After establishing that a full global search was the favored path, the Committee gathered information on the top executive search firms in the country, especially those with experience in boarding and independent school communities. This effort included in-depth industry research and interviews with both consultants representing various Search firms as well as their clients.

The Search Committee partnered with Spencer Stuart, a leading executive search firm known for its broad access to a diverse pool of talent, a unique approach to the search process and a commitment to diverse thinking. The Transition Committee also appreciated their understanding of the Cate community’s approach to education and community involvement and their interest in engaging with all of the Cate constituencies throughout this process.

Our two lead consultants, Michele Haertel and Kristine Johnson, will guide and support Cate’s endeavors over the next year and are available to you anytime at CateSchoolHOS@SpencerStuart.com.


The intention of the Search Committee is to identify a new Head of School to begin their tenure in July of 2023. The Committee is also prepared to be open and flexible throughout this process and consideration will be given to alternative scenarios.