Leadership Updates Archive

Search Committee News –  February 2021

During the GSA Board of Trustees meeting held on Saturday, January 31 the Board received a report from the 22-23 HOS Search Steering Committee, a subset of the Board, that vetted search firms and selected the Search Committee below, now approved by the full Board.

The Search Committee will assist in vetting candidates which our search firm(RG175) will recruit this spring.  Specific tasks involve reviewing resumes, assisting in identifying semi-finalists, and participating in interviews.  The committee’s work will be informed by insight gained from the community through the GSA Community Survey as well as Discovery Visits scheduled for February 18th and 19th.  The agenda for the Discovery Visits is being developed and will be distributed with ample time before the visits.  The survey link is here https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/girlsschoolaustin and in this week’s On the Horizon.

We would also like to take a moment to introduce you to the Search Committee Chair, Rachel Nguyen.  Rachel is both a proud parent of two GSA alumni, Eve and Mimi, and a former GSA Board Trustee.   She is a marketing and business development professional with 15 years of experience in the private, public, and non-profit sectors. Before a recent move to consulting, she was Communications Manager for the Austin Public Library and responsible for the communications, programming, and partnerships at the system’s flagship Central Library and 20 neighborhood locations.  Rachel’s project management and communication skills will be invaluable to this search, and she is excited to return to the GSA in this new role to be a part of the forward progress that is embedded in the school’s DNA.

A Message from the Board – January 2021

The Board has selected Mr. John Farber from Resource Group 175 (RG175), to assist us with the 22-23 HOS search.   RG175 was selected from a finalist group of 4 firms.   The Board was impressed with Mr. Farber’s vast independent school experience working with K-8 schools, not only in supporting successful HOS searches but also in holding headship himself.   We were extremely impressed by Mr. Farber’s community engagement process that is deep and wide.  More details will be shared at the GSA Community Forum including the timeline for community (parents, faculty/staff, and students) surveys, visits, and discussions.  Lastly, Mr. Farber’s excitement and astute appreciation for GSA’s unique and special culture was palpable.  Please take a moment to learn about Mr. Farber and RG175 at https://rg175.com/bio/john-farber.

Although the Board was open to internal candidates, Dr. Peña has informed the Board that she will be pursuing other endeavors in the education field after her 21-22 term and is not applying for the permanent HOS role.

A Message from the Board – October 1, 2020

We are writing to share the news that Dr. Peña has agreed to extend her interim head of school commitment to include the 2021-2022 school year. When filling the interim role, we sought out strong and experienced leadership to transition GSA out of a challenging time and provide stability to our community leaving it in the best possible position for a permanent head of school.  We found this strong leadership in Dr. Peña and have witnessed her put that leadership into action. What we couldn’t know when we offered her the interim head of school position for this school year, was the continued impact of the COVID pandemic resulting in a new challenge and focus on distance learning along with safely and fluidly moving to on-campus learning.

As Dr. Peña spent the summer engaged in this work, a subset of the Board began to interview search firms for our permanent head of school search. When we engaged with the expertise of these firms, we began to better understand the shifting dynamics of undertaking a search for a new head of school at this time. Fundamentally, the pool of candidates is different than in the past as many candidates are choosing to stay on another year at their current schools to ensure stability.  Additionally, we believe that the reality of both virtual interviewing and virtual campus visits puts constraints on our ability to find the best permanent head of school to lead us into the future at this moment. As our understanding of the current context for a search evolved and we witnessed Dr. Peña’s leadership through these past months, the Board determined making an offer to extend Dr. Peña’s role as Interim Head of School to include School Year 21-22 would put GSA in the best position possible.  We are very excited and grateful that Dr. Peña has accepted the extension. This will allow her to lead us through this year and continue to build on our stability for our permanent head of school in the school year 2022-2023. Please see below the draft timeline milestones for the 2022-2023 permanent Head of School search.

Our entire Board continues to support the work of the collective team that is ensuring we are preserving the essence of the GSA learning experience while prioritizing the health and safety of our girls, our faculty and staff, and our larger community.