meet our new head of school
A message from our Board of Trustees
Dear Members of the Greens Farms Academy Community,
On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the Search Committee, we are excited and honored to announce the appointment of Bob Whelan as the next Head of School at Greens Farms Academy, effective July 1, 2018. He will succeed Janet Hartwell, who has provided inspired leadership and dedicated service since 2003.
Beginning last January, the Search Committee began the process of recruiting the strongest and best-matched candidates to our school from across the country and internationally. Interest in the opportunity at Greens Farms Academy was keen and the candidate pool robust. Following preliminary, confidential interviews and substantive sessions with the Search Committee, three of these applicants and their spouses were invited to visit GFA, where they met with faculty, students, staff members, parents, administrators, alumni, and trustees. On September 25th, the Search Committee presented Bob as its unanimous nominee to the Board of Trustees to serve as the next Head of Greens Farms Academy. The trustees enthusiastically and unanimously approved the recommendation.
During the in-depth interview process over several stages, Bob’s energy and enthusiasm for Greens Farms and its mission were evident to all. Members of the Search Committee also undertook extensive reference checking and received glowing reports from those who have worked with Bob and have direct knowledge of his skills and qualities. The clear theme that emerged to the Search Committee is that Bob is an individual of highest character, who cares deeply about all those who comprise a school community, and who has been an effective leader in achieving ambitious goals.
Bob’s personal and professional path to independent school leadership is one of diverse and interesting experiences. Raised in a small town in Maine, he attended Phillips Academy Andover. Matriculating at Brown University after Andover, he earned his B.A. in 1991 as a double major in American Civilization and Philosophy. For several years after graduation Bob’s career was involved with music as founder, singer, songwriter, business manager, and director of a band that performed over four hundred concerts and received a major label recording contract with EMI/Atlantic Records.
Bob returned to Brown in 2001 to serve in the University’s well-regarded Development Office. His initial responsibilities were with alumni Class Campaigns and subsequently as the Director of the Parents Leadership Program. During this time, he also earned a M.Ed. in Education, Policy, and Management from Harvard University.
In 2007, Bob accepted the position of Director of Development at Rippowam Cisqua School in Bedford, NY, with additional duties as a teacher and coach. His responsibilities soon broadened, as he became Assistant Head of School for Institutional Advancement and then Associate Head of School. In 2013, Bob was chosen as Head of School at Lake Forest Country Day School, a PreK-8 school of 406 students in the suburbs of Chicago. Bob’s leadership at LFCDS has been transformational in bringing about innovations that have improved the quality of the school’s curriculum, increased enrollment, remedied low faculty and staff morale, upgraded facilities, and created a more diverse and inclusive community.
Bob and his wife Annie, a veterinarian, have two children. Their daughter, Chloe, is a first-year student at Choate Rosemary Hall School and son Ben is a sixth grader at Lake Forest Country Day School. Bob currently serves as a Trustee at Catherine Cook School in Chicago. He is an active sports fan who enjoys bicycling, skiing, and reading, and has a strong interest in environmental issues as evidenced by his current volunteer work for Lake Forest Open Lands and his prior service with the Westmoreland Sanctuary Board of Directors in Bedford.
We will look forward to welcoming the Whelans to Greens Farms Academy for visits over the coming months, while recognizing that Bob has continuing responsibilities at his current school and that Janet Hartwell will continue as GFA’s Head through June 30th. The Board of Trustees will be appointing a Transition Committee to assist with various aspects of this leadership change, and you will be hearing more about plans to celebrate Janet Hartwell’s distinguished tenure.
Choosing a new Head of School is one of the single greatest responsibilities of the Board of Trustees, and all of us in the GFA community owe a debt of gratitude to the efforts of our Search Committee. Co-Chairs Carolyn Cohen and Lynne Laukhuf, who were tireless in their commitment to this process. We were honored to join them on the Committee, along with Trustees Vani Bettegowda, David Durkin, Steve Lawrence, and Zac Zeitlin, and faculty members Sarah Bayzick, Andrew Jones, and Charlie King. The Committee devoted countless hours and great care to the search process to ensure its successful outcome. Finally, we would like to extend our gratitude and appreciation to the entire GFA community for your feedback, support, and patience during this important time in the history of Greens Farms Academy.
Additionally we would like to thank the tri-chairs of the Head of School Search Advisory Committee, Justine Fellows, Drew Meyer, and Samantha Mooney, along with committee members Jim Brown, Aléwa Cooper, Frances Nixon Denote, Michael Diamond, Mari Flicker ’83, Jennifer Klein, Victor Llanque Zonta, Kate Roth ’90, Jenny San Jose, Carolyn Skiba, and Michele Whelan.
Thanks to the dedication of so many and their participation in the search process, Greens Farms Academy is poised for a bold and bright future.
Shelley Goldsmith & Tricia Vanacore
Co-Chairs, Board of Trustees