Jen Burleigh ’85 (left) and Jennifer Pline P’13 ’15.

When they were asked to step into a joint leadership role as co-presidents of Concord Academy’s Board of Trustees, Jen Burleigh ’85 and Jennifer Pline P’13 ’15 promised theirs would be a true partnership—they would speak with one voice. Since they assumed this role in summer 2023, they have met every week to stay in alignment. 

“We started out with a high degree of love and trust,” Pline says. “When the idea was proposed, it was really easy to say yes.” 

Burleigh adds that while the co-presidency model is new for CA, “it’s a very CA approach.” She and Pline developed an ease with collaboration while serving CA as trustees over the past decade, including through the challenges of the pandemic and a head of school transition. 

“Jen and Jennifer are phenomenal leaders, thinkers, and stewards of CA’s mission,” says John Grossman P’17 ’19 ’26, vice president of the Board. “Either alone would no doubt be an excellent Board president, but they complement each other so well, with offsetting strengths and ‘growing edges,’ that they truly embody the aphorism of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. What’s more, they operate that way, providing the Board with united, considered, and strong leadership.” 

Burleigh and Pline are partnering with Head of School Henry Fairfax to ensure that CA fulfills its mission and pursues a strategic course. “In Henry, we have a leader willing to think outside the box,” Burleigh says. “He’s a flexible thinker who is able to take on new ideas.” 

And Fairfax, in turn, says he appreciates their “advice and counsel, deep appreciation for CA’s culture, and understanding of the incredible opportunity and responsibility we have to extend our influence beyond our campus.” 

Burleigh, an attorney, became a trustee in 2015. With a focus on Board composition and demographics, she previously chaired the Committee on Trustees and co-chaired the Head of School Search Committee. “Of all the many wonderful institutions I’ve been involved with, CA has had the greatest impact on my life,” she says. “This school formed who I am and how I approach things. When I meet other CA alums out in the world, I have confidence that they’ll be kind and decent and thoughtful, and I hear over and over from other alums this same idea: ‘I got something at CA I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else, and it’s central to my life.’”

Pline joined the Board in 2013. An investment executive, at CA she has served as treasurer, chair of the Finance Committee, and a member of the Audit and Investment Committee and West Campus Steering Committee, as well as the trustee representative in CA’s 2017–18 New England Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation process. She says witnessing her daughters’ transformative experiences at CA was powerful: “What motivates me is thinking about how to bring that to as many people as we can. I love that CA is so focused on bringing in as diverse a student body as possible, across all dimensions.” 

As Concord Academy enters its second century, the co-presidents are looking ahead with great excitement. “We’re both personally committed to the Centennial Campaign,” Pline says. “CA is my top philanthropic priority.” 

“The skills CA students are learning—thinking critically and compassionately—are so needed right now”

Jen Burleigh ’85

“If we don’t think about the next 100 years, we won’t dream big enough.”

—Jennifer Pline P’13 ’15

When she gives tours to prospective families, Pline shows them the science and residential houses the community has invested in during recent years and explains how the new Centennial Arts Center, now under construction, will transform CA’s campus. “This will allow us to do so many things we can’t even imagine yet,” she says. 

Considerable excitement is also building about CA’s strategic planning. With a committee of trustees, administrators, and faculty, Burleigh and Pline will gather input from all constituencies about what the school should focus on in both the near and distant future. “The next three to five years is a more reasonable time frame,” Pline says, “but if we don’t think about the next 100 years, we won’t dream big enough.” 

Burleigh stresses how important the process is for CA. “It’s essential to make sure our community feels heard and takes part in setting our direction,” she says. 

“We really want to hear different opinions,” Pline adds. “It’s sometimes a dissenting view that causes you to look at something slightly differently, and often to come to a better conclusion.” 

Burleigh and Pline envision a bright future for CA. As Pline says, the school’s “essence has not changed in 100 years, and yet we’re adapting— in our physical campus, our educational approaches, and how we think about the role of this school in the world.” 

“The skills CA students are learning—thinking critically and compassionately—are so needed right now,” Burleigh says. “The education students are getting at CA is going to help transform the world.”

More CA Magazine Stories

Whose Stories Get Told?

Whose Stories Get Told?

We asked three CA alum storytellers working in film and television about their recent projects and why diverse representation matters in their work. Caroline Suh ’89, Ami Boghani ’99, and Eugene Sun Park ’96 share how they create entertainment.