11/20/2019 by Carney Sandoe Staff |

Women Leaders Rising

Women Leaders Rising

“When women support each other, incredible things happen.” — author unknown

We know the statistics on the shortage of women in leadership roles at independent schools. We know the leadership ladder is often riddled with challenges unique to women. We also know that strength comes in numbers, and that empowered women empower women.

On November 13, Carney, Sandoe & Associates hosted its inaugural Women Leaders Rising networking event at the College Club of Boston. Founded in 1890, the College Club of Boston was the first-ever women's college club in the United States — and inspired a palpable energy at the event.

This first gathering for our Women Leaders Rising initiative was designed to help aspiring New England-based female leaders expand their network and learn more about the pathways to headship in independent schools. The event was attended by over 80 women, approximately 12 of whom were sitting heads of school. Schools represented included Phillips Academy (MA), Westminster School (CT), St. Paul's School (NH), Noble and Greenough School (MA), Brooks School (MA), Advent School (MA), Northfield Mount Hermon (MA), Shady Hill School (MA), The Putney School (VT), Taft School (CT), Holderness School (NH), Milton Academy (MA), and Winsor School (MA), among others.

Spearheaded by CS&A senior consultant Barbara Chase and search consultant Lisa Parsons, the event was structured in an intimate setting. Attendees met in small groups with heads of school to discuss a number of topics they had previewed and ranked by importance. The groups were set by attendees' ranking of the topics. Heads and participants openly shared wisdom and advice about not only the process of becoming a school head, but also the day-to-day experience of being a head. From discussing resumes, interviewing, and the search process, to sharing tips on achieving a work-family-personal life balance, strategies for obtaining relevant work experience, and how to know if you're ready to be a head of school, the topics covered were deep and wide-ranging.

The spirit at the event was one of teaching and learning all around! Feedback from the event has been outstanding, and a number of attendees have written in to share how valuable the experience was from both a learning and networking perspective:

“The event was a two-way inspiring experience — to be able to share some of the wisdom that comes from being a head and to also learn from women in other positions who are doing amazing things in our school communities. It is so important to bring us together.”

“It was fun to meet and network with other women who are in a similar position to mine in considering a headship in the future. I also appreciated hearing from current heads about their experience and how they arrived where they are and what advice they may have as we begin the process. What an inspirational group.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations and appreciate the new friendships and connections. You are doing great work in helping to support and advance women in independent schools.”

“I so enjoyed the evening and I met so many impressive and dynamic women. I left the event feeling informed, inspired and energized.”

CS&A sends our sincerest thanks the heads of school for their honesty in communicating their enthusiasm for the job, as well as their candor in expressing the very real challenges. We also thank the participants for their curiosity and openness, and hope they made some connections that will endure — whether in the form of advisors, mentors, or sponsors who can help as they propel their professional journeys forward.

Stay tuned for more Women Leaders Rising events across the country.

Looking for more resources? Check out CS&A's Women's Institute on June 19, 2020 in Boston, a daylong event for women working in education. You can also read leadership stories from female heads of school in our series on Women in Leadership.

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