June 21, 2021
Dear Friends School Community,
We hope you are enjoying the first weeks of the summer break. The search for our permanent Head of School continues to move forward and we remain on track to complete the search by Fall 2021.
The Search Committee again thanks those who participated in focus groups with the consultants from Carney Sandoe, and who completed the survey. All of the data gathered through that process helped to shape the Head of School position statement
, which was approved by the Search Committee last week. We have already posted the position widely and will continue to disseminate the information in order to garner candidates both nationally and internationally.
In the next few weeks, members of the Search Committee will be participating in anti-bias training on June 23, and then will begin receiving candidate packets in mid-July with the goal of selecting semi-finalists in mid-August. Our originally published timeline
is still on schedule, and we look forward to sharing another update later this summer.
|Norman Forbush '78 P'21
||Lester Davis P '28 '28 '30
May 10, 2021
Dear Friends School Community,
With the announced departure of Head of School Matt Micciche at the end of this school year and the recent appointment of Dennis Bisgaard as Interim Head of School for the 2021-2022 school year, Friends School has now actively begun the search for our next permanent Head of School, who will join in July 2022. The Board of Trustees and our community heartily extend our gratitude to Matt for his tremendous leadership and service over the past 16 years. Given Friends School’s exceptional reputation in the independent school community, we are conducting a national search to attract the best qualified candidates for our next Head. We are confident that with the school’s long history, Quaker-led mission, and financial stability, we will be able to assemble a pool of excellent candidates interested in the position. The Head of School Search Committee will provide regular, detailed updates about the search. There will be several opportunities for our Friends School community members to provide input and we look forward to your engagement throughout the process. Today, we are excited to share an update on the next stages of our Head of School search process.
The Head of School Search Committee
The Executive Committee has approved representative individuals from the Board and the Friends School faculty/staff to join the search committee and conduct the search. It is the responsibility of the Search Committee to screen and evaluate candidates and to make a recommendation to the Executive Committee and the Board of Trustees, who will make a final decision on the successful candidate. The members of the Search Committee are:
Kristen Andrews P’24, ’27 - Upper School French Teacher
Larry Clements - Trustee and former head of Friends Community School; member of Adelphi Friends Meeting
Tiffani Sterrette Collins ’00, P’29 - Trustee
Lester Davis P’28, ’28, ’30 - Co-Clerk of the Search Committee, trustee (Clerk of the Diversity Committee)
Norman Forbush ’78, P’21 - Co-Clerk of the Search Committee, Clerk of the Board of Trustees; member of Stony Run Friends Meeting
Katie Hearn ’81 - Past-Clerk of the Board of Trustees
Brandyn Hicks P’31, ’33 - Trustee (Clerk of the Development Committee); member of Germantown Monthly Meeting
Chris McNeal - Middle School Dean of School Culture and Community Life
Steven Rookwood - Second grade teacher, Co-clerk of Friends School Faculty/Staff Meeting for Business
The Board is committed to following Quaker practice, and to conducting a transparent, fair, and deliberate search process. The Friends School community thanks the Search Committee members in advance for their dedication to the School in this important endeavor.
Our Search Consultants
The Board has chosen Carney Sandoe & Associates (CS&A), a leading national search firm, to guide us through the process. Having reviewed several firms’ proposals, CS&A stood out with their network of senior administrator talent and their offer for the Search Committee to engage in implicit and cognitive bias training, work that is critical in building an inclusive hiring process and demonstrating to school communities that the hiring process is fair and equitable. The large network of relationships maintained by the CS&A consultants in their Search Group is enhanced by the hundreds of teachers and senior administrators that their Placement Group places annually in schools throughout the US and internationally. CS&A draws on their extensive network of school heads and directors of regional associations, who help them identify potential candidates, and CS&A leverages the contacts made by their Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Practice, who offer consulting and search services for schools, non-profits, and universities to expand their knowledge of talented professionals. CS&A has been involved in over 10 senior administrator searches at Friends schools since 2015 and are committed to identifying candidates who will be comfortable living and promoting our distinctive Quaker values. With that, we are thrilled to introduce our consultants Bob Vitalo, Burke Zalosh, and Becky Sykes, who will lead this search.
Former head of Media-Providence Friends School in Media, Pennsylvania, Bob Vitalo
) served several terms on Friends Council for Education and was a faculty member for the Friends Council Seminar for New Quaker Heads, held annually at Pendle Hill. He has also served as a trustee at the Mary McDowell Friends School in Brooklyn, NY. Bob’s last headship was at The Berkeley Carroll School in New York City, a PreK through grade 12 school of almost 1,000 students. With over 34 years as a Head of School, Bob has a deep understanding of what it takes to lead a large and complex institution. Since coming to Carney Sandoe, Bob has worked with two Quaker schools and many other distinctive institutions around the country.
) is a Search Consultant for the firm’s Head of School and Key Administrator Practice and has been part of the firm for over 20 years, serving in a variety of capacities. She brings an unmatched level of expertise and experience to this assignment. She is appreciated for her superb work recruiting candidates and for her attention in seeking the alignment between the candidate and the opportunity. She is committed to presenting a diverse group of candidates for each search and is proud to have had five women of color selected as heads of school or division heads in her recent searches. The range of her 40+head of school and senior administrative searches encompasses religiously affiliated schools, PreK-8 schools, K-12 schools and single sex schools across all regions of the country.
) served with distinction as Associate Head of School at Phillips Academy (Andover) for 17 years and as Acting Head for six months. She left Andover in 2013 to become President of the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation and Leadership Academy Foundation, to oversee Oprah Winfrey’s philanthropic work in the United States and South Africa. During the 2018 academic year, as Becky continued her leadership of the foundations, she was interim head of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls - South Africa (OWLAG). On behalf of the OWLAG Board, Becky worked closely with a Johannesburg firm to manage the search for the next head of the school. She has governance experience as a member of a broad range of boards, including those of Simmons College (now Simmons University); the Museum of African American History, Boston; The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS); and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy. At both Andover and OWLAG, Becky played a key role in the design of multiple strategic plans. She is a quick study and understands the importance of an institution’s mission, context and unique community when seeking a new leader. Becky’s experience is global, and she is recognized as a leader in diversity and equity work in schools.
The Search Process
The first step in the process is Carney Sandoe facilitating virtual (Zoom) focus group sessions for different constituents in our community over the course of the next few weeks. Separate communications around these sessions for faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents, trustees, and other friends of the School will go out shortly. In addition, there will be opportunities for all of our community constituents to provide input to Bob, Burke and Becky on the qualities you most value in our permanent Head of School through a confidential community-wide survey
. We hope that everyone will participate in some way, so that the Carney Sandoe team can come away with a deep understanding of Friends School of Baltimore, what makes us special, and what we value most in our next leader. CS&A will take all the input and create a Search Document and Position Profile, which will be shared as soon as it is ready.
Over the next several months, CS&A will work with the Search Committee to identify and evaluate potential candidates. Our goal is to select two or three finalists who will visit our campus in September, 2021. While the exact shape of those visits will need to be determined once we have our finalists, we will publish the dates and schedule well in advance. Following these finalist visits, the Search Committee will make a recommendation to the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees. Our goal is to announce our next Head of School in the fall of 2021. Here is our proposed timeline
The Head of School Search Committee will communicate with the FSB community regularly over the next several months, including sharing updates on the School’s website. We also encourage you to contact the Search Committee at HoSSearch@friendsbalt.org
with questions, input and concerns. Looking forward to the search process ahead of us!
April 26, 2021
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am delighted to introduce Dennis Bisgaard as Friends School of Baltimore’s Interim Head of School for the 2021-2022 school year. Dennis is well-known in the independent school community and is a highly respected leader with more than 15 years’ experience as a head and over 30 years as a teacher and administrator.
Dennis is currently the Interim Head of the Northwest School in Seattle, Washington and is happily anticipating a return to the area; his family resides in Washington, DC, where in 2018, he became the Founding Head of School of the newly established Whittle School & Studios, an innovative educational start up. Previously, he spent 12 years as Head of School at Kingswood Oxford School in Hartford, CT, founding the Kingswood Oxford Leadership Institute for Educators of Color, six years as Associate Head of School at Shady Hill School in Cambridge, MA, and six years as Associate Dean of Faculty and Director of Diversity at Collegiate School in New York, NY, where he founded and directed The Collegiate School Teaching Institute for Educators of Color.
Having started his career a few blocks away as an English and physical education teacher at The Bryn Mawr School, Dennis is “excited about our working together and returning to Baltimore where my independent school journey launched 32 years ago. When I worked at Bryn Mawr, I had my eye on Friends School, and I was invited as a guest lecturer for several English classes speaking about my dissertation on Toni Morison.”
Beyond his day job, Dennis has been a force for good in his community, having served on 13 different boards, ranging from the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) to Student Achievement through Opportunity, a nonprofit aimed at narrowing the opportunity gap for students in Hartford, Connecticut, to Interval House, Men Against Domestic Violence Against Women. He also has participated in and presented at numerous conferences throughout the world.
The interim head search committee and representatives from the administrative team, faculty, parents, and students were impressed with his proven ability as a head and particularly that throughout his career Dennis has focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), cultural competency, and Social and Emotional Learning. He is known as an attentive listener, consensus-builder, mentor, and a person who carries himself with simplicity, embodying Quaker values even without having worked at a Friends School!
During the 2021-2022 transitional year, the Board is focused on supporting our Quaker mission, maintaining high academic standards and financial strength, and continuing to push forward with our DEI initiatives. The School also will be completing its 10-year accreditation and will be welcoming the accreditation team to campus next spring. And, of course, Dennis, with the Board’s support, will prepare the School for the permanent head.
Interestingly, current Head of School Matt Micciche and Dennis attended the prestigious Heads of School Program for 20 heads around the world at the Klingenstein Center at Columbia University in 2015. Dennis is eager to continue the strong school foundation that Matt is leaving him after 16 years. “I was fortunate to have met Matt at Klingenstein and am honored to succeed him after his long and successful tenure.” The good will is reciprocated, with Matt noting, “Dennis exemplifies the qualities of a Quaker school head and I look forward to working with him to ensure a smooth transition.”
Dennis was born in Germany and grew up in Denmark. He received an M.A. and Ph.D. at Odense Universitet in Denmark, had a post graduate fellowship at Temple University, and received his MA in Educational Administration at Columbia University. He speaks fluent Danish and German, played Division 1 basketball in Denmark, and is an avid yoga practitioner. He and his wife Monica, who is also an educator, have two children: Nicolas, a senior at New York University, and Saudea, a high school junior. Monica and Saudea will remain in DC as Saudea finishes her senior year.
Friends School of Baltimore is fortunate to have found such an experienced educator, extraordinary leader, and wonderful person to lead the School through this transitional year and I know you will join me in warmly welcoming Dennis and his family. In the coming months, there will be opportunities – both virtual and in-person – for members of the community to meet and speak with Dennis.
Clerk, Board of Trustees
April 8, 2021
The search for both the Interim Head of School and the permanent Head continue to move forward. I am pleased to share the following update.
- The Interim Head Search Committee has completed interviews with all the finalists and are at the decision making stage. We are on track to announce the Interim Head this month.
- As I mentioned in the last update, our search for a permanent head is underway. The first step is to hire a consulting firm. Several firms are making presentations to the selection committee.
- The search firms will be evaluated on their demonstrated abilities to identify and place candidates at Quakers schools with a priority on their ability to recruit a diverse pool of candidates.
- We anticipate that the search firm will be selected by mid-April. Once that happens, the search firm will drive many of the next steps, from educating and communicating processes, detailing community engagement, identifying and vetting candidates, and supporting the school throughout the process.
March 24, 2021
If you have questions or would like to speak with someone about the search process, please send an email to HoSSearch@friendsbalt.org
Thank you for your continued partnership in the important work of selecting both the Interim Head and the next Head of School.
Today I am pleased to share an update on the process of the two impending searches -- one for an Interim Head, who will begin on July 1, 2021, and the other for a permanent Head of School, likely to be in place by July of 2022. The interim search is already underway with the intent of naming someone to this position by April. We are working with Peter Bailey, executive director of the Association of Independent Maryland/DC schools and Drew Smith, executive director of Friends Council on Education to assist with this process. Members of the Interim Head Search Committee are all current trustees and include:
The process of selecting the interim head will be more abbreviated than the full search. Our need to work quickly and find an excellent interim will require a process that will primarily include the Board of Trustees and Administrative Council, with the latter getting input from their respective divisions, as feasible.
Will also plan to begin the search for a permanent head of school as quickly as possible, with an anticipated launch of that process in April 2021. The search for a new Head of School will be a community-wide and inclusive process, and all constituent groups will have the opportunity to offer input on the desired qualities and characteristics for our new head. A search committee for this permanent Head has not yet been formed, but the Executive Committee of the Board is currently exploring different search firms to aid us as we complete that process. We anticipate being able to share a timeline for that search with everyone in April.