Mounds Park Academy | Head Search

A Message From The Search Committee Chair

May 13, 2024

Dear Mounds Park Academy Community,

I am writing with gratitude and to update the community on next steps in the head of school search process.

First, a heartfelt thank you to the many parents, students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents of alumni, retired faculty, and other community members who have participated in candidate forums and completed surveys. Your participation and feedback are essential and demonstrate the collective strength of our community. The feedback regarding all three candidates has been very strong.

Thank you also for providing such warm welcomes to each candidate who has visited. Each commented on MPA’s strong sense of community and belonging. Each also remarked on the joy of learning being profoundly evident at the school as they greeted students, walked hallways, and visited classrooms.

We also want to inform you the fourth finalist candidate has withdrawn from consideration after accepting an offer elsewhere, which means the candidate visit portion of the process is complete. This is not at all unusual in head of school searches, particularly with candidates of the caliber that MPA is considering who are highly sought after. The inherent fluidity of search processes is the reason we selected four highly qualified finalists rather than narrowing the finalist pool down to two or three.

After thoroughly vetting the feedback from our community on the three visiting finalists, the search committee will make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees for a new head of school. We hope to announce the new head of school in June, before the end of the school year. As a reminder, the new head of school will start in the summer of 2025 after Dr. Hudson’s retirement.

On behalf of the entire search committee, thank you for your support of and engagement with this process. Thank you also for showing our finalist candidates what is so unique and wonderful about MPA. Should you have any questions, please email headsearch@moundsparkacademy.org.

Sincerely,

Sincerely,
Betsy Van Hecke
MPA Parent of Alumni
Chair, Search Committee

Learning
Learning
Process
Engagement
Planning
FAQs
Leadership

As MPA searches for the fifth head of school in the school’s 42-year history, the school has retained Robert Vitalo and Jennifer Wong Christensen with Carney, Sandoe & Associates to lead the search with a search committee chaired by Betsy Van Hecke.

Betsy
Robert
Jennifer

 

Chair, MPA Head of School Search Committee, Trustee, Parent of Alumni

Betsy is the parent of two alumni, Kate from the Class of 2018 and Jack from the Class of 2016, and has been a trustee for three years on the governance committee. She is an attorney who retired in 2022 from Medtronic after 19 years, serving most recently as the vice president for legal and compliance in the Medtronic Greater China Region.

In retirement, Betsy coaches executives to enhance their leadership and accelerate the learning curve when entering a new role. Throughout her career, she has been consistently recognized for leadership excellence, business focus, and strategic vision.

Betsy received her B.A. with honrs in art history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received her J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School.

Vice President, Search & Consulting Services; Practice Leader, Head of School Search

Bob is the firm's Vice President, Search & Consulting Services, and Practice Leader, Head of School Search. He also helps run searches focusing on retained head of school and senior administrative searches, and leads strategic planning with boards and heads. With experience in elementary, single sex, religious, and K-12 schools, Bob works with a wide range of schools on their leadership needs. Bob has been a frequent presenter at NAIS, NYSAIS, NBOA, and CASE.

Previous Experience

Bob served as head of school at The Berkeley Carroll School (NY) from 2006 to 2019. Prior to BCS, he served as headmaster at Fairfield Country Day School (CT) and head of school at Media-Providence Friends School (PA) where he also held roles as assistant head of school and head teacher of the Lower School. He also taught at Grace Church School (NY) and in New York City Public Schools. Bob has served on committees and boards for the New York State Association of Independent Schools, Connecticut Association of Independent Schools, and International Coalition of Boys’ Schools, among others.

Education & Interests

Bob received his B.S. in education from New York University and an M.A. in psychology from Columbia University. He has served on the boards of independent schools, a charter school, and several child advocacy groups. Bob resides with his wife in New York City. He is an avid reader and enjoys the rich cultural life of New York.

Senior Consultant

Since Jennifer joined CS&A, she has worked on a diverse range of searches across the country and has proven to a quick study on a variety of schools and organizations. Head of school searches include Helios (CA), Marin Primary & Middle School (CA), Mary Institute St. Louis Country Day (MO), Oregon Episcopal (OR), Rowland Hall (UT), Spence (NY), Waverly (CA), and Woodside Priory (CA). Recent senior administrator searches include diversity, equity, inclusion positions at Lawrenceville (NJ), Marin Country Day School (CA), and University Prep (WA); division head searches at Bush (WA), Chadwick International (Korea), Head-Royce (CA), Kamehameha (HI), and Seoul Foreign (Korea); director of enrollment searches at Buckley (CA), French American and International (CA), Keystone Academy (Beijing), and University Prep (WA); and director of college counseling searches at Buckley (CA), Dalton (NY), Hillbrook (CA), Milken Community (CA), Stevenson (CA), and United National International (NY). She has also conducted searches for the Bridge the Gap (CA), McMillan Education (NY), and the Northwest Association for Independent Schools. The range of her work enables her to get to know a wide and diverse range of candidates.

In the higher education sphere, Jennifer conducted searches for the admission/enrollment teams at Case Western Reserve University, Colgate University, Colorado College, Macalester College, and the University of San Francisco.

Previous Experience

Jennifer began her career in college admission and served as the director of admission at Saint Mary’s College of California and Claremont McKenna College. She “switched sides of the desk” and directed the college counseling programs at The Archer School for Girls, Mayfield Senior School, Sonoma Academy, and Marin Academy. In these capacities, Jennifer visited over 500 different high schools and 250 colleges and universities and developed an appreciation of the distinct cultures and missions of each school.

In her previous roles, Jennifer focused on facilitating matches between students and educational institutions, and she views her search work with CS&A in the same vein: striving to understand individuals and schools to make the best match. The skills and expertise she developed during that time translate directly to her work as a search consultant: deep appreciation and interest in people; understanding and respect of institutions and their distinct missions and cultures; excellent communication and interpersonal skills; and belief in schools and education.

Education & Interests

Jennifer earned her bachelor’s degree at Claremont McKenna College and did graduate work at Saint Mary’s College of California and Stanford University.

Jennifer spent 10 years as a College Horizons volunteer. She enjoys all things culinary, learning about wine, traveling, playing mah jong, knitting, and running amok with her dogs, Kirby and Sona. She and her husband own and operate a small business, Brian’s Comics: For All Fankind, in northern California.

Carney, Sandoe & Associates (CS&A), an internationally recognized education search and recruitment, consulting, and coaching firm, will partner with us in the search for our next head of school. CS&A brings deep knowledge of independent schools from over 45 years of experience guiding schools through their searches for exceptional heads of school, senior administrators, and faculty. Carney Sandoe is known for its highly personalized approach to understanding the particular strengths, needs, and cultures of schools and then supporting them through the identification, recruitment, and hiring of excellent leaders, whose skills and experiences align with the school’s needs.

Position

In collaboration with the community at large, the board of trustees, the search committee, and the school, Carney, Sandoe & Associates has prepared a position description:

Dream Big. Do Right. Mounds Park Academy (MPA), a leading independent school in the Twin Cities, engages students in a rigorous college-preparatory experience that cultivates dreamers and doers. Founded in 1982, the school is progressive in spirit. With the focus on the whole child, the academic program is demanding, but not draining, and goes far beyond memorization. Students are challenged to apply their understanding to stir the human spirit, stand for justice, and shake the world. At MPA, this is called rigor with purpose and it grounds students in the radical idea that their identity in the world is not measured by a test score, but by the depth and decency of their impact on the world. The fact that all divisions reside under one roof allows for the development of meaningful, collaborative relationships across grade levels. Students are self-directed, internally motivated, and as proud of their own accomplishments as they are of their classmates’. MPA believes that it is only through this type of positive, supportive community are students able to discover who they are meant to be. A student noted, “Our teachers are dedicated, engaging, and caring. They teach us to be independent thinkers as well as collaborators. And they teach with passion and fuel our passions, too.”

POSITION DESCRIPTION >

Process

Mounds Park Academy and its board of trustees are committed to an open and transparent search process with as many opportunities as possible for community engagement. The search has begun and will conclude with the announcement of the next head of school in June 2024. Carney, Sandoe & Associates meet with members of the MPA community February 22-24, 2024 in order to create the position description. Candidate recruitment began immediately after, and the search committee reviewed candidate dossiers in March and will selected semifinalists for first-round interviews in April. Finalists will be on campus in May, and the search committee will forward their recommendation to the board in late May. The board votes on the recommended candidate in June, and an announcement is made shortly afterward.

Timeline

 

The search committee has five principal responsibilities:

  1. orchestrate the search to a successful conclusion;
  2. screen and interview candidates;
  3. keep the school community updated and engaged;
  4. maintain the integrity of the process; and
  5. make the final recommendation to the board of trustees.

As we look to the future, we have comprised a search committee that has been thoughtfully assembled to reflect our diverse perspectives as we seek our next Head of School for Mounds Park Academy. Search committee members were selected by board chair Tiffany Scott Knox and vice-chair Jeremy Drucker, in consultation with the head of school Dr. Bill Hudson, and the board’s executive committee. Members were chosen based on a number of criteria, including:

  • a strong commitment to the school and its success;
  • an understanding of the community and goals of the school;
  • an ability to consider the needs of the entire school, not just one constituency or group;
  • a willingness to listen to others without prejudice, to understand their position, and to work collaboratively toward a consensus of opinion; and
  • the ability to maintain strict confidentiality.
  • Jeremy Drucker ’97, vice chair, board of trustees
  • Yamini Kimmerle, MPA parent, Lower School faculty
  • Kari Kunze, MPA parent, MPA parent of an alum, Upper School faculty
  • Jason Martinek, MPA parent, board of trustees
  • Chad Nicholson ’97, MPA parent
  • Tiffany Scott Knox, MPA parent, chair, board of trustees
  • Mark Segal, MPA parent, Upper School director
  • Lamar Shingles, MPA parent, director of equity and belonging
  • Benjamin Silberglitt, MPA parent, board of trustees
  • Michelle Smith Ware, MPA parent, board of trustees
  • Betsy Van Hecke, MPA parent of alumni, chair, search committee, board of trustees
  • Natalie Waters Seum, MPA parent of an alum, director of admission and communication
Engagement

Jennifer Wong Christensen and Bob Vitalo from Carney Sandoe & Associates were on campus on February 22 and 23. During that time, they met in person or virtually with more than 70 community members, including faculty, staff, students, current and former parents, alumni, and trustees. In addition, more than 100 community members responded to the community survey, sharing their hopes and dreams for the future of Mounds Park Academy and its next head of school.

The next opportunity to engage with the search process will be in May when finalists will be on campus for two-day interviews. The visits involve a robust schedule of interactions with students of all ages, parents, parents of alumni, alumni, trustees, faculty, staff, administrators, and the search committee. In addition, each finalist will meet with Dr. Bill Hudson.

Knowing that Carney, Sandoe & Associates and the search committee have already ensured that all finalists are highly qualified school leaders, the campus visits are used to determine cultural fit with MPA. Equally important in this phase is ensuring the finalists feel warmly welcomed at MPA and get to know the community, school, and environment.

Please mark your calendars for the following open forums, which will provide you with opportunities to hear from our candidates and engage in Q&A sessions.

Candidate A: May 2 & 3
May 2, 2-3 PM: Current Parents and Caregivers, Martin Lenz Harrison Library
May 2, 3:15-4:15: Faculty and Staff, Recital Hall
May 2, 7-8 PM: Alumni and Parents of Alumni, Zoom (see email for link)
May 3, 11 AM-12 PM: Current Parents and Caregivers, Alumni, Parents of Alumni, Zoom (see email for link)
May 3, 3:15-4 PM: Faculty and Staff, Recital Hall

Candidate B: May 6 & 7
May 6, 2-3 PM: Current Parents and Caregivers, Martin Lenz Harrison Library
May 6, 3:15-4:15: Faculty and Staff, Recital Hall
May 6, 7-8 PM: Alumni and Parents of Alumni, Zoom (see email for link)
May 7, 11 AM-12 PM: Current Parents and Caregivers, Alumni, Parents of Alumni, Zoom (see email for link)
May 7, 3:15-4 PM: Faculty and Staff, Recital Hall

Candidate C: May 9 & 10
May 9, 2-3 PM: Current Parents and Caregivers, Martin Lenz Harrison Library
May 9, 3:15-4:15: Faculty and Staff, Recital Hall
May 9, 7-8 PM: Alumni and Parents of Alumni, Zoom (see email for link)
May 10, 11 AM-12 PM: Current Parents and Caregivers, Alumni, Parents of Alumni, Zoom (see email for link)
May 10, 3:15-4 PM: Faculty and Staff, Recital Hall

Candidate D: May 16 & 17
May 16, 2-3 PM: Current Parents and Caregivers, Martin Lenz Harrison Library
May 16, 3:15-4:15: Faculty and Staff, Recital Hall
May 16, 7-8 PM: Alumni and Parents of Alumni, Zoom (see email for link)
May 17, 11 AM-12 PM: Current Parents and Caregivers, Alumni, Parents of Alumni, Zoom (see email for link)
May 17, 3:15-4 PM: Faculty and Staff, Recital Hall

Communications

Mounds Park Academy is committed to an open and transparent search with frequent communication as needed. Watch for more information in Panther Post, Alumni News, and other emails to the community as the search progresses. All past communication will be logged here for the community to reference.

FAQs

Please direct any additional questions to headsearch@moundsparkacademy.org and those that are frequently asked will be added to this list.

Dr. Hudson will be the MPA head of school until June 30, 2025, and will continue to lead the MPA community until then. During this time, he will remain actively engaged, working closely with the leadership team and providing support to ensure the continued success of Mounds Park Academy. He is fully committed to supporting the search process and a smooth transition over the next 18 months.

Several trustees, including chair Tiffany Scott Knox, are members of the search committee. The board will thoroughly review the search committee’s recommendation and then vote.

Search committee members were selected by board chair Tiffany Scott Knox and vice-chair Jeremy Drucker, in consultation with the head of school Dr. Bill Hudson, and the board’s executive committee. Members were chosen based on a number of criteria, including:

  • a strong commitment to the school and its success;
  • an understanding of the community and goals of the school;
  • an ability to consider the needs of the entire school, not just one constituency or group;
  • a willingness to listen to others without prejudice, to understand their position, and to work collaboratively toward a consensus of opinion; and
  • the ability to maintain strict confidentiality.

Your continued support is invaluable. There will be many ways for families, students, alumni, faculty, and staff to be involved, such as a survey to create the position profile, small group meetings with the search consultants, and meetings with prospective candidates.