HEAD OF SCHOOL SEARCH
In April, Stephanie Flanigan announced that the 2017-18 school year will be her last as Head of School at Montessori School of Denver. The Board of Trustees is committed to finding our next exceptional leader who will honor MSD’s mission while leading us into the future.
The Board has appointed a Selection Committee whose objective is to lead a nationwide search to identify and recommend a Head of School candidate. The Selection Committee is charged with ensuring this process is inclusive and transparent, while also protecting the privacy of the candidates.
Questions or comments about the selection process? Please contact our Committee Chair, Cristin Brown, here.
Updates to the Community
Head of School Selection Committee
*Click on names to read Committee bios
Cristin is a current Trustee and parent to two MSD students, Taylor (3rd) and Kai (Kindergarten). Cristin and her husband Lindsay chose MSD for the remarkable primary program in 2011 and have loved every minute of their experience at the school. Cristin has served as a volunteer with MSD since 2012 in a variety of capacities including Annual Fund Ambassador, PA Treasurer and Trustee where she has also served as Secretary of the Board and a member of the Development Committee. Professionally, Cristin has worked in the telecommunications industry for nearly twenty years in roles ranging from brand and product management to her current work leading strategic planning and program management. Cristin has a passion for building high-impact teams and effective organizational planning and is excited to be leading MSD’s Selection Committee.
Lisa is a current Trustee and Chair of the Board. Parents at the school for over 12 years, Lisa and her husband David have enjoyed experiencing each of the school’s divisions through the journey of their three boys Shepard (4th), Harrison (6th) and William (freshman at Regis High School). Lisa has been active on the Board for the past ten years and has served MSD in a variety of capacities including serving on Committee on Trustees, Enrollment and Sports Task Forces, Finance Committee, and Investment Committee. She has been Chair of the Development Committee and the Long Range Planning Committee. She has also served as Secretary and Vice Chair of the Board. Lisa is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with focused training in adolescent development and family therapy. Lisa is a tireless advocate for MSD and a strong believer in the culture, mission and bright future of the school.
Anne is the Elementary Level Lead and proud parent of two MSD Elementary students, Samantha (5th) and Emily (2nd). She came to Montessori School of Denver at the start of the 1999 school year, as a Lower Elementary assistant and after school teacher. After two years in the classroom, and a couple more exploring the world, she returned to MSD in 2003 to begin her internship. She then took the reins and joyfully led her Lower Elementary Classroom for the ten years that followed. Anne transitioned to the Level Lead position in 2015, supporting teachers, students, and parents throughout their Elementary journey. Anne is passionate about Montessori education and is a highly engaged and enthusiastic member of the Montessori School of Denver team. She looks forward to continuing to support the school’s mission and goals as we look ahead to a strong future.
Salman has been a Trustee for the past four years and will be concluding his time on the Board at the end of the month. Salman has served as Vice-Chair for the past three years and as the Chair of the Long Range Planning Committee. Previously Salman served on the Finance Committee and Enrollment Task Force. Salman and his wife, Farina, and daughter, Emaan, have been at MSD for 10 years. Emaan will be graduating from the Middle School program in June. In addition to his work with MSD, Salman is a transformation & operations leader with diverse experience across global and entrepreneurial clients leading business transformation and acquisition integration. He has enthusiastically agreed to continue working with MSD past his board role to offer his personal and professional experience to the Selection Committee.
Paula is a current Trustee and is finishing her fourth year as an MSD parent having started in the Toddler Program with her oldest child Lucia who is currently in Kindergarten. Paula and her husband Todd also have a son, Rocco, who is a second-year primary. Paula is a current Trustee and member of Long Range Planning and Development Committees. In addition, Paula has served MSD as a former room parent and PA New Family Committee member. When not volunteering at MSD, Paula is a private practice litigation attorney at Bovo Law. She is also former Mayor Pro Tem for the City of Glendale, Colorado and has been diligently playing the role of Overlord of the Bovo Household since 2009! Paula is looking forward to serving MSD and the Selection Committee as we begin a new chapter in our school’s history.
Alicia is a current Trustee and has a long history being involved with independent schools and has a passion for being involved in the schools she has attended. She “aspires to give back” and remains active in fundraising and recruitment activities. Alicia’s educational background includes Kent School in Connecticut, Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, Culinary Institute of America in New York, and the University of Denver – Daniels College of Business in Colorado (MBA/MS RECM). In 2010, Alicia opened ChoLon Modern Asian Bistro in downtown Denver. Alicia and her husband Jim have two children at MSD, Amelia (4th), and Jake (Kindergarten). Their oldest daughter Chloe is at Kent Denver. Alicia served as the 2010 auction chair and joined the Board in 2011. During her term, she has been on the Executive Committee for three years and is currently the Chair of the Site Committee. Alicia was instrumental in the campus expansion as part of the Steering Committee and Facilities Task Force overseeing both the Architect and Construction teams. Alicia is pleased to share her rich MSD and independent school experience as a member of the Selection Committee.
Walt and his wife Shanna are committed, Montessori parents. MSD is their second Montessori school, which they found just after moving to Denver with their son Oliver (3rd). Walt has been involved with MSD for the past three years and is currently finishing his first year as a Trustee. Walt is an active volunteer with his past and present church communities, having served on parish vestries and taking part in three different search processes for church leadership. When Walt isn’t volunteering, he’s leading high performing software and technology sales teams, most recently in his role at Savvis. Walt is looking forward to bringing his unique experience to the Selection Process and is excited about the future that lies ahead for MSD.
Head Search Process Overview
The search process has been developed using national best practices and standard hiring practices, combined with Selection Committee guidance to ensure an MSD-specific process. The process is comprised of four phases:
- Community Engagement
- Candidate Pool Development
- Interviewing for Selection
- Recommendation to the Board of Trustees and Vote
Following the hiring of a new Head of School, the Board will appoint a small Transition Committee who will work with Stephanie and the incoming Head to create an intentional and successful transition of leadership.
Head of School Search Timeline
Each search process has unique timing. Here is a general overview of what we can expect in the following months. The timeline may shift as necessary.
- Head of School Search Announced
- Search Consultant Barbara Egan Retained
- Selection Committee appointed
- Webpage launched
- Community survey & feedback sessions completed
- Position description completed and disseminated nationally
- Candidate pool developed and interview process begins
- Additional details and timing of the interview process will be announced. The Search Committee will review candidates and interview semifinalists in a confidential phase of the search to protect the privacy of our candidates.
- Selection Committee presents the final candidate to The Board of Trustees for a vote
- New Head of School announced and transition planning begins
- New Head of School starts
The Selection Committee is ultimately responsible for submitting a recommendation for Head of School candidate to the Board of Trustees who will determine through vote whether to hire the candidate. To achieve the objective, the Committee will determine and oversee the search process, select outside search consultants, develop the school and position descriptions, and then interview and evaluate interested candidates. The Committee will use outside experts and national best practices to guide the development and execution of the search and selection process, while also making this a process specific to the needs of our community.
The members of the Selection Committee were appointed based on their unique and differing experiences and connections to the school. Their role throughout the process will be to objectively evaluate all interested candidates against the criteria identified in the position description. Confidentiality is a critical component of any hiring process and as such, the committee members will not be discussing any candidate (internal or external) until final candidates have been identified to meet with stakeholder groups.
The Executive Committee of the Board appoints the Selection Committee. The goal was to appoint individuals who collectively represent a diversity of views and experiences within MSD and individually can take a measured, objective approach in understanding differing points of view, and effectively review all qualified candidates against evaluation criteria once it is established.
To guide the initial steps in this process, the Board has retained the services of a highly regarded independent school advisor and search expert, Barbara Egan. Barb works with schools like MSD across the country in the selection and transition of the Head of School and provides consulting in a variety of related areas.
Aligned with national best practices, the Selection Committee will post the position internally and externally for any interested candidates to apply. To find the best candidate for MSD, it will be critical to look at all interested candidates carefully and objectively using the evaluation criteria established early in the process. The practice sets the next Head of School up for success, regardless of whether that person is an internal or external candidate.
The selection process may last anywhere from 4-5 months up to 9 months. While the goal is efficiency, great care will be taken to ensure the selection process is thoughtful and comprehensive.
The feedback from our parents and staff is one of the most important first steps in this process. There will be opportunities to provide feedback through online surveys and facilitated town halls that will be specific to each group. It is important to note that the information collected from surveys will remain completely confidential and anonymous. Survey responses will be collected by our search consultant who will summarize the responses for the Committee’s review. You may also submit your feedback at any time in the process through our Head of School Selection webpage. If you have questions about the search process, please contact Selection Committee Chair Cristin Brown.
The feedback collected through the surveys and sessions will be used to inform the final position description and evaluation criteria used to review candidates.
The selection committee’s work is exclusively focused on what makes a great head of school, and what MSD will need from its future leader to achieve the goals of our Long Range Plan. The Committee will use the themes identified in the surveys and facilitated sessions to articulate the Head of School position. Any questions or concerns around your day to day experience at MSD is best handled through the school’s regular channels.
The Board of Trustees has three duties: 1) ensure the financial viability of the school; 2) develop and actively work to achieve the Long Range Plan through the Mission of the school; and 3) hire & support the Head of School. In support of this third duty, the Trustees will monitor the progress of the Selection Committee, provide guidance as needed, meet with final candidates and ultimately vote on the Head of School candidate. The Board does not engage in day to day administration of the school as a business or educational environment, nor does it hire or manage any employees of the school except for the Head of School.
As Head of School at MSD for 17 years, Stephanie has an important perspective regarding her role which no one else can represent completely. While Stephanie will serve as a resource to the Committee, the Board and outside consultants, she will not have input in the Selection Committee’s final decisions or the ultimate vote by the Board. Stephanie will be actively engaged with the Selection Committee developing a thoughtful and comprehensive process for the selection and she will meet with the final candidates to share her insights about our school, program, and culture.
Stephanie will continue to serve as MSD’s head of school through the 2017-2018 school year. Once a new Head of School is identified, a plan will be put in place to ensure a comprehensive transition between Stephanie and the new head. As the Head of School is the only employee of the Board of Trustees, an appointed Trustee will lead a Transition Committee who will work back with the Selection Committee and forward with the Heads of School to create a smooth and successful transition for our community.
Your child's day to day educational experience will not be affected by the Head of School search. Our faculty, staff, and administrators are fully committed to our students’ education, and to advancing the mission of MSD now and into the future. As Head of School through the 2017-2018 school year, Stephanie will continue to lead the day to day activities to ensure the magic of MSD remains as strong as ever. Once a new Head of School is identified, the Selection Committee and Board of Trustees are committed to working closely with Stephanie and with our new Head of School to ensure a smooth leadership transition.