A standing ovation for Dr. Kate Morse Erwin ’69, this year’s recipient of the Joan Shaw Herman Award, the sole honor CA awards annually, for service to others.

On June 7, the Friday of Reunion Weekend 2019, Concord Academy welcomed more than those expected at their class reunions. All CA alumnae/i from every generation were invited to campus to begin a new tradition — the Annual Alumnae/i Assembly. Keep the date in mind for next year: June 5, 2020!

Speaking at the event, which nearly 60 alumnae/i attended, Alumnae/i Association President Laura McConaghy ’01 described the assembly as an “evolution of the Annual Meeting” historically held every spring in conjunction with the senior class barbecue, now rescheduled to coincide with Reunion Weekend in order to significantly increase participation from alumnae/i. McConaghy recognized the approximately 200 alumnae/i volunteers who gave their “time, energy, and heart” in 2018–19, and the dozens who had returned to campus to share their expertise.

Assembly speakers. Left: Board of Trustees President Fay Shutzer ’65. Right: Laura Twichell ’01 and Marie Myers P’19 ’21, reporting on behalf of the mission review committee.

Board of Trustees President Fay Shutzer ’65 spoke about the highlights of the recent school year: record enrollment, the CA community’s commitment to the CA Houses campus improvements, athletic and artistic accomplishments, the 30th anniversary of the GSA (Gender Sexuality Alliance, formerly the Gay-Straight Alliance), the inaugural student-led Women in Technology conference, the second consecutive Red and Blue Day, and student activism, including CA students’ success in urging the Town of Concord to adopt a resolution supporting the Green New Deal climate action legislation.

“This is your school,” Shutzer said. “This is our school. Together we will carry CA into a very bright future. Welcome back.”

Shutzer also addressed the school’s reaccreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), a lengthy process that takes places every 10 years and involves significant self-assessment. The NEASC self-study reinforced the need, identified earlier by the CA at 100 Task Force, to revise Concord Academy’s mission statement to align it more clearly, actively, and assertively with the school’s guiding values — love of learning and common trust — and its ongoing commitments to fostering global citizenship, social justice, and environmental stewardship.

Two members of the Mission Review Committee that undertook that work — Director of Enrollment Management Marie Myers P’19 ’21 and Assistant Dean for Community and Equity and English faculty member Laura Twichell ’01, soon to serve as interim academic dean — discussed the deliberate process and careful consideration of language the group of nine CA alumnae/i, faculty, staff, and parents engaged in. Shutzer will share more about the revised mission statement with the entire CA community later this summer in her annual letter.

Jamie Comstock ’82, P’17, who chaired the Joan Shaw Herman Award Committee, announced this year’s honoree, Dr. Kate Morse Erwin ’69, and a great cheer arose from Erwin’s classmates. “CA does not award any honors or prizes for student achievement,” Comstock said, “and it is particularly meaningful that we choose to bestow only one award in any given year. It is an award in recognition of service. I feel that this is a true testament to the lasting impact of the CA experience and places noble emphasis on our tradition of nurturing those who will go out into the world ready to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Left: Jamie Comstock ’82, P’17, chair of the Joan Shaw Herman Award Committee. Right: Dr. Kate Morse Erwin ’69, upon receiving the 2019 Joan Shaw Herman Award.
Erwin, who would later speak at the reunion and will return to campus during the 2019–20 school year to engage with students, faculty, and staff, received this recognition in honor of her work in forensic psychiatry and with at-risk youth. She has spent much of the past 30 years counseling individuals in the prison system, with a focus on those serving the longest sentences. As Comstock said, “Her passion for improving mental health for the incarcerated is rare and unparalleled.” Erwin herself said she had never dreamed of receiving an award for the one-on-one work she does. She spoke movingly of the reaction of one imprisoned patient, who was surprised and overwhelmed that anyone cared about reducing the side effects of her medication. “I’ll tell you what I’ve found,” Erwin said. “It’s that service to others really is primarily a service to yourself. It’s hard to feel better than seeing a look like that on that woman’s face.” Finally, the alumnae/i present for the assembly unanimously voted to elect the following new members of the Alumnae/i Steering Committee for the 2019–20 academic year: Noah Fisk ’93, New York Area Regional Committee co-chair; Eliza Grossman ’17, Concord Academy Young Alumnae/i Committee (CAYAC) co-chair; Dat Le ’06, CAYAC co-chair; Michael Lichtenstein ’94, class secretaries chair; Becca Miller ’14, CAYAC co-chair; Eric Nguyen ’00, Alumnae/i Admissions Interview Network chair; and Paolo Sanchez ’14, Comunity and Equity Committee co-chair. The assembly was also an opportunity to recognize the service of the current Alumnae/i Steering Committee members, including McConaghy; Adil Bahalim ’02, Community and Equity Committee co-chair; Jennifer Beal ’79, P’12, New England Regional Committee co-chair; Alex Berlin ’01, Alumnae/i Annual Fund Committee member; Jamie Comstock ’82, P’17, Joan Shaw Herman Award Committee chair; Gabe Greenberg ’98, New York Area Regional Committee co-chair; Lindsay Kolowich ’09, New England Regional Committee co-chair; Karen McAlmon ’75, Community and Equity Committee co-chair; Matt McCahill ’95, Alumnae/i Annual Fund co-chair; Claire Moriarty Schaeffer ’05, Alumnae/i Annual Fund co-chair; Miriam Perez-Putnam ’12, CAYAC co-chair; Lauren Bruck Simon ’85, past president; and Fannie Watkinson ’08, Alumnae/i Service Committee chair. The event closed with a video of this year’s Red and Blue Day, a revived tradition that now strengthens and celebrates common bonds across the generations of CA alumnae/i. Those who had come for the assembly joined alumnae/i returning for their reunions on the Chapel lawn in celebration of the enduring spirit of CA.

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