CA celebrates the legacy of outgoing Board of Trustees president Fay Lampert Shutzer ’65

Photo by Margaret Lampert

Sometimes the right person comes along just when they are needed most. So it was that Fay Lampert Shutzer ’65 was at the helm of the Board of Trustees during an unexpectedly trying time, in the lead-up to Concord Academy’s most historic year. 

“Something special is going to happen,” Shutzer told CA Magazine in 2018 as she began her tenure as president, having already served more than 10 years as a trustee. “We’re part of figuring that out. That ability to support our kids and inspire them—that’s why we’re here.” Shutzer had anticipated CA’s approaching Centennial, but little could she, or anyone, envision what else lay in store. Two years later, she began steering the school through the turbulence of the COVID-19 pandemic, then a leadership transition, an interim period, and a head of school search. Throughout these challenges, she was imperturbable. She guided the Board and school leaders to consensus around complicated issues—asking probing questions, listening, and balancing disparate views with empathy and compassion. 

“Her love for CA is so clear,” says Jennifer Pline P’13 ’15, who along with Jen Burleigh ’85 assumed the co-presidency of the Board of Trustees on July 1. “As a collaborative leader, she had an amazing way of framing a conversation and helping us focus on the key issue at hand.” “Fay has been an extraordinary leader during an extraordinary time for CA,” Burleigh says, citing her positivity, enthusiasm, and “rare ability to connect with others and make them feel heard.” Through the stresses of uncertainty, she adds, “she kept the Board grounded and calm, always focused on the best immediate next steps without ever losing sight of the mission and CA’s bright future.” 

“It felt as though she was able to hold the entire institution at once in her gaze,” says Kerry Hoffman P’14 ’20, trustee and former CA Parents president. “She kept every constituency in mind but instinctively knew where and when movement needed to happen.” 

“Fay’s natural temperament is inclusive,” says Kevin Parke P’12 ’15, vice president of the Board. “She really delegates and respects delegation, and she gave the Board an opportunity to see how new leadership could develop.” During Commencement on May 26, in her final address as president, Shutzer said her interest in group dynamics took root at CA. A boarding student from Topsfield, Mass., she first encountered concepts in developmental psychology and personality theory in a course about community service. Soon afterward, she took a risk with her term paper for a chemistry class, choosing to research the chemical basis of schizophrenia. The school arranged for her to have access to the Harvard Medical School library. “My passion, like so many other CA students’, was no problem for our faculty,” Shutzer said in her speech. 

Her teachers’ encouragement led her to become a teacher, then a school psychologist, and later a psychologist in private practice with children, adolescents, and families. At CA, she also laid the foundation for another, ongoing, professional passion: painting. 

Classmate, former board president, and life trustee Kitty Fisk Ames ’65, P’95 recalls Shutzer as “quiet, organized, very creative.” Looking back at CA’s 1965 yearbook (Shutzer was editor-in-chief), Ames says she “caught a glimpse of the perceptive and fearless leader she is today.” On her page, Shutzer had quoted William Makepeace Thackeray: 

The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly upon you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly kind companion; and so let all young persons take their choice. 

Shutzer exuded a similar “calm, unflappable, and optimistic” spirit decades later with the Board, Ames says. 

Under her direction, not only did Concord Academy survive the pandemic, it also found a dynamic new head of school in Henry Fairfax and made tremendous progress in its Centennial Campaign. “We couldn’t have asked for a steadier hand to see CA into its second century,” Fairfax says. “From her guiding vision and mentorship to her ability to galvanize support for investments in CA’s future, Fay’s contributions to this school have all been grounded in inclusion—that’s what makes her legacy so powerful.” 

Trustees Carol Moriarty P’02 ’05 ’07 and Andy Ory P’16 ’21, co-chairs of the Centennial Campaign alongside Shutzer, admire the perspective she brought to fundraising. “With a calm and positive attitude, she listens and adjusts her thinking to understand what motivates others to think the way they do,” Moriarty says. 

Ory cites Shutzer’s capacity to rally people around the school’s values and vision, even in less than ideal circumstances. “Our cohesion and ability to stay on task was because of her direct leadership,” he says. The fact that Shutzer “thinks of leadership as a collaborative sport,” he adds, has been crucial. “One of her greatest strengths is that she understands people and approaches all issues and discussions from a position of respect and grace.” 

When she first stepped into the presidency Shutzer said of CA, “We’re a school that prioritizes values and culture over image. That’s the school I loved as a girl, and that’s the school I found once again when I finally came back.” Thanks to that orientation, she has left this institution and our community stronger for her leadership.

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