All Concord Academy alumnae/i were invited to tune in to CA’s third annual Alumnae/i Assembly, which took place virtually on June 9, 2021. An evolution of the former annual meeting, this annual assembly offers every member of the alumnae/i community a touchpoint for remaining involved or reconnecting with the school — its aim is to make CA an ongoing and relevant part of our graduates’ lives.
At this year’s assembly, Interim Head of School Sarah Yeh P’24 reported on the state of the school. After the many challenges of adapting to the pandemic and offering remote instruction for students who needed it throughout the year, the final weeks of the school year saw mask guidelines for schools relaxed outdoors. That “brought some much-needed fresh air,” she said. In recent weeks, students shared an incredible array of artwork, performances, presentations, and senior projects—even a feature-length film. “I’m just so proud of how hard our teachers and our students have worked to really keep our community together and maintain CA,” Yeh said.
The school had more than 90 boarding students back in CA houses this spring, and in-person classes four days a week. It was a highly successful year for admissions, with a record number of applicants and CA’s highest yield. Yeh looked ahead to the 2021–22 school year, expecting operations closer to usual with a vaccinated population.
Fay Lampert Shutzer ’65, president of the Board of Trustees, thanked Yeh for her interim leadership during this challenging time and saluted the adaptability and creativity of CA’s students, the dedication of faculty and staff, and the support of parents, trustes, and alumnae/i. “It was a really difficult year, but the strength of our community has been, every step of the way, so apparent to me,” she said.
Head of School Search
Jen Burleigh ’85, co-chair of the Head of School Search Committee, reported on the spirited, diverse, and highly representative group that is helping to find Concord Academy’s next head of school, supported by the independent school search firm Resource Group 175 (RG175). The application deadline is June 30, 2021, and the opportunity has attracted significant interest and a high-quality pool of candidates. Most importantly, Burleigh said, the process is being conducted in alignment with CA’s mission and values, with striving for equity in mind as a central concern. In July, the committee will review candidate files; in August, interview candidates; and in September, invite finalists to campus and make the most of opportunities for community engagement and feedback. The process will conclude when the committee choses one outstanding candidate to propose to the Board of Trustees in October.
Joan Shaw Herman Award
Kate Rea Schmitt ’62, P’88 presented the 2021 Joan Shaw Herman Award for Distinguished Service to Dr. Leslie Davidson ’66 and Dr. Ingrid Walker-Descartes ’91, who had given a virtual presentation on their work for the CA community the previous week. This is the sole award the school bestows—not on students for achievement but on alumnae/i for service to others. Davidson and Walker-Descartes were honored for their dedication and service to child protection, health, and advocacy. “Their work addressing pediatric trauma and children’s mental health, disability, and welfare is difficult, emotional, and often inconspicuous,” she said. “Leslie and Ingrid are children’s champions.”
While Walker-Descartes’ work involves helping individual at-risk children, Davidson’s interventions focus on broader populations. “Our whole country is riven and separated around issues of racism and who is entitled to a life that has potential,” Davidson said. The efforts of both of these honorees are making a difference in the lives of others.
Defining Equity at CA
Rob Munro, CA’s dean of academic program and equity, spoke about his work and that of CA’s Community and Equity Office in focusing on a central tenet of Concord Academy’s mission: striving for equity. “We’re one of the only schools I know of that has equity embedded in the mission,” he said, and to be truly a school that values equity “brings additional responsibility and obligation.” Acknowledging there is much work yet to do, Munro detailed what structures are already in place at CA, including comprehensive and robust financial aid, a diversified curriculum, professional development for adults and affinity and accountability spaces for adults as well as students, and school leadership that considers every major decision through the lens of equity.
Diving deep in a year in which the pandemic has stretched the definition of equity for everyone, Munro asked his team to develop an institutional definition of equity for CA that will be presented to the community in the next school year. In a nutshell, it’s giving each person what they need to have full access to our mission and program, what they need to be successful. “Ultimately, we’re working toward a model of justice, removing barriers that stand in the way for all of us,” he said.
With CA’s Centennial fast approaching, Alice Roebuck, Director of Advancement and Engagement, shared some of the planning underway for a series of centennial celebrations. These events, spread over a year and more, will be inclusive of as many community members as possible. Lucille Stott spoke about the interviews she has conducted with around 250 CA alumnae/i in preparation for a book celebrating CA’s 100 years.
Alumnae/i Association Membership and By-Laws
Karen McAlmon ’75, president of the Alumnae/i Association, thanked the members of the Steering Committee who were moving on from their roles: Jennifer Beal ’79, P’12, co-chair of the New England Regional committee; Dat Le ’06, co-chair of the Concord Academy Young Alumnae/i Community (CAYAC); and Claire Moriarty Schaeffer ’05, co-chair of the Alumnae/i Annual Fund for their years of service to CA.
McAlmon presented the new slate of officers for the 2021–22 Alumnae/i Steering Committee, which was unanimously approved by all participants:
Trelane Clark ’92, P’22, co-chair, Community and Equity Committee
Noal Fisk ’93, co-chair, New York Area Regional
Alexis Goltra ’87, co-chair, Alumnae/i Annual Fund
Gabe Greenberg ’98, co-chair, New York Area Regional
Eliza Grossman ’17, co-chair, CAYAC
Michael Lichtenstein ’94, chair, Class Secretaries
Karen McAlmon ’75, president
Matt McCahill ’95, co-chair, Alumnae/i Annual Fund
Becca Miller ’14, co-chair, CAYAC
Eric Nguyen ’00, co-chair, Alumnae/i Admissions Network
Miriam Perez-Putnam ’12, co-chair, CAYAC
Nella Rasic ’09, co-chair, New England Regional
Paolo Sanchez ’14, co-chair of the Community and Equity Committee
Kate Rea Schmitt ’62, P’88, chair, Joan Shaw Herman Award
A vote followed on amendments to the Alumnae/i Association by-laws, last revised and ratified in 2011. A draft had earlier been shared with the alumnae/i community and updated in response to input. Three significant updates to language were made to reflect the current structure of the Alumnae/i Association, move to a confirmation process for the selection of the present and new Steering Committee members, and reduce the number of required annual meetings from two to one—which is this meeting, held in the spring. The changes to the by-laws were unanimously approved.
Mark Your Calendars for Next Year
The Alumnae/i Assembly is an annual event held the Friday of Reunion Weekend. We look forward to gathering in person next spring!
Rethinking Call-Out Culture: Loretta J. Ross Speaks to Schools across the U.S. through New Roads Critical Conversations Series
In her work as an activist and teacher, Loretta J. Ross says she leads with “grace, love, and respect” as opposed to “blame, shame, and punishment.” She believes in the power of accountability though calling others in rather than calling them out.
In 2010, independent journalist Wen Stephenson wrote his first long personal essay about climate change and activism. “Walking Home from Walden” gave him a form to wrestle with his awakening to the climate crisis with help from 19th century transcendentalist writer Henry David Thoreau.
2021 Joan Shaw Herman Award Recipient Dr. Leslie Davidson ’66 Speaks About Service and Public Health with CA Students
Throughout her professional and academic career, physician Leslie Davidson ’66 has focused on meeting communities’ needs. “You have to be linked to the population of the community you are serving,” Davison said during a talk she gave at Concord Academy on November 12.