We are writing with exciting news about the Head of School search. The Search Committee met with our semi-finalist candidates this past weekend, and, after careful reflection and discernment, we reached unity on our three Finalists. We were able to have candid, thoughtful, and reflective conversations with each candidate and also allow for them to ask questions to glean a better understanding of BFS and our Quaker mission, the leadership opportunity and challenges, and Brooklyn. In the spirit of fairness, balance, and transparency, all candidates were asked the same questions which the Search Committee crafted, and we explored all aspects of their leadership qualities and personal and professional journeys, especially their aspirations to live and lead in a Quaker community. We thank Laura Hansen and Jim Wickenden for providing us with a deep, inclusive, and dynamic group of candidates, and the Search Committee is confident about the uniqueness and strengths of our Finalists. And, of course, you will soon get to meet each of them!
While the candidates are in the process of communicating within their own school communities about their plans, we are still holding their names in confidence. You will receive each name, a brief bio, and details of the two-day schedule just prior to the visit. The candidates will be at BFS on the following dates:
Candidate #1: October 11 and 12, Thursday and Friday
Candidate #2: October 15 and 16, Monday and Tuesday
Candidate #3: October 17 and 18, Wednesday and Thursday
During the visits, each candidate will meet with all constituencies in the BFS community, either individually or in small groups and larger forums. Please avail yourself of the opportunity to meet them and offer feedback. We are counting on you to have candid, thoughtful, and respectful exchanges with each Finalist so that you can submit substantive comments, all of which the Search Committee will see in anonymous and unedited form. Further, the visit allows the candidates to meet our wonderful community, and we want each to leave feeling, “I want to be at BFS!” Your welcoming participation will make a difference in who becomes our next Head of school.
To facilitate your feedback, we are using an online survey for each candidate. The survey is available on the password-protected BFS website dashboard. The names of each candidate will appear on the first day of the visit, and we will send a reminder with the link before each candidate arrives. Please submit your feedback as soon as possible after each visit, but no later than the end of the day on Saturday, October 20. Wickenden Associates will then collate your thoughts for the Search Committee.
The Search Committee will reconvene early in the week of October 22 to review and discuss all the materials about each Finalist, and your input will be essential to our Quaker discernment process as we seek unity on the candidate we will recommend to the Board of Trustees as the next Head of School for BFS. Please understand that there will be a quiet period while we make the offer and settle the details before informing the BFS community. Our goal remains to announce the next Head of School for Brooklyn Friends in early November.
We thank you in advance for all you will do to help us find the right person to lead us forward. We also ask that you thank your colleagues and friends on the Search Committee. Their work has been nothing short of dedicated, inspirational, and selfless. These are exciting, uplifting, and hopeful times for our school, and we ask that each of you hold each other and our community in the Light as we take these critical final steps in discovering our new Head of School. As always, please let us know if you have any questions or comments.
Macon Jessop and Bill Morris, Co-Clerks of the Head of School Search Committee
An excerpt from a letter to the community from the Board of Trustees on September 21, 2018:
After Laura Hansen and Jim Wickenden, our search consultants, visited our school for two days in May and met with many different constituencies, they prepared the Opportunity Statement for the Head of School (HOS) position in consultation with the Board. If you have not seen or read this yet, please do so at this link so that you can see how our school is presented and the leadership opportunity framed. During the summer, the consultants actively recruited, cultivated, and interviewed potential candidates and conducted initial reference checks.
Macon Jessop and Bill Morris, Co-Clerks of the HOS Search Committee, stayed in regular communication with them to monitor the process. Macon and Bill are excited about the depth, diversity, and experience of our candidate pool. Jim and Laura sent the Search Committee comprehensive credentials for the twenty candidates that they are recommending as potential Semi-Finalists. Earlier this month, the Search Committee participated in a workshop led by Diane Goodman on unconscious bias in hiring.
As part of the process, the Search Committee selects up to eight Semi-Finalists, who will then visit BFS on September 29 and 30 for interviews. At the end of those two days, the Search Committee will engage in a careful process of reflection and discernment to choose our three or four Finalists, who will then return to school in early to mid-October for two-day visits. These visits will also be the opportunity for the community to meet our Finalists, ask questions, and offer feedback to inform the final decision-making process. Please keep an eye out for more details about visits by the Finalists, and your opportunity to meet them.
Our goal is to select our next Head of School by early November. At this time we want to clarify why the search process will remain confidential within the Search Committee until the selection of Finalists (this is described in the Opportunity Statement). This is common practice in HOS searches in order to protect the confidentiality of candidates. Candidates who are sitting heads, or in other positions, may not want their whole school communities to find out that they are looking, so they may not enter a search where they do not have a guarantee of confidentiality until the Finalist round.
As is the case with most other academic institutions, the HOS is the only position at BFS that the Board of Trustees has ultimate responsibility for hiring and replacing. We are committed to conducting an open, transparent and inclusive process and as such, have formed a Search Committee with representation from all divisions as well as all constituencies within the school. The Finalist stage will be fully open and transparent within the BFS community. We all have the same goal – to follow a process that will bring the best possible candidate to BFS as our next HOS and to achieve a sense of unity around that choice – and we know that you will collaborate with us to reach that goal.
Based on Jim Wickenden and Laura Hansen’s meetings with members of the BFS community and the 324 candid responses to the online survey – thank you to all who took the time to complete the survey – the Search Committee has finalized the Opportunity Statement for potential candidates and our community. During the summer, Jim and Laura will be actively recruiting candidates and preparing dossiers for review by the Search Committee in early September. The Search Committee will select and interview approximately eight semi-finalists, and then select the three Finalists who will come to the school for two-day visits in early October. During the on-campus visits, you will all have the opportunity to meet each candidate, offer feedback, and represent BFS in an honest and appealing way so that we can attract the best possible Head of School to lead us forward. Macon and Bill will communicate more details as the process unfolds, but we want to underscore how important community involvement is in the search.
Earlier, you received a communication from the Board of Trustees and Larry Weiss about Larry’s retirement in June 2019. We wanted to take this opportunity to let you know the next steps in the search process.
We will be following best practices for a Head of School search at Independent Schools. As you know, hiring the Head of School is a key responsibility of the Board of Trustees.
1) A search committee will be created and will be clerked by two members of the Board of Trustees, Macon Jessop (parent of an Upper School and Middle School student) and Bill Morris (former Head of School at Friends Academy).
2) Faculty, Staff and Administration will be represented on the search committee and the process for how this will be determined will be shared in the coming days.
3) A request for proposal has been written for the hiring of a search consultant who will work with the committee on identifying candidates.
We will continue to communicate as more details become available about the process.
Ed Oliver, Co-Chair, Board of Trustees
Steve Burwell, Co-Chair, Board of Trustees
Macon Jessop, Co-Clerk of Head Search Committee
William Morris, Co-Clerk of Head Search Committee