Head of School Search
At the end of the 2020-2021 school year, Dr. Judith Dwyer will conclude her tenure as the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur's Head of School. During her time at the Academy, Dr. Dwyer has exemplified the mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur by emphasizing the importance of local and global service and leadership. Her legacy and innovation will continue to inspire the young women of Notre Dame for generations to come.
To support the search effort, the Academy's Board of Trustees has created a Head of School Search Committee, which includes current and past parents, alumnae, faculty and staff members.
Updates from the Head of School Search Committee will be shared below.
- Letter from Anne Vazquez, Chair of the Board of Trustees, March 1, 2021
- Letter from Anne Vazquez to the Notre Dame Community, January 22, 2021
- Letter from Anne Vazquez to the Notre Dame Community, August 13, 2020
- Letter from Anne Vazquez to Faculty and Staff, July 21, 2020
- Letter from Dr. Judith A. Dwyer, Head of School, July 1, 2020
- Letter from Anne Vazquez, Chair of the Board of Trustees, July 1, 2020
Announcement from the Chair of the Board of Trustees
Dear Notre Dame Community,
I am very pleased to announce that the Board of Trustees has unanimously approved the appointment of Dr. Laura M. Hotchkiss as the next Head of the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur effective July 1, 2021.
Dr. Hotchkiss currently serves as the Associate Head of Academics at Marlborough School in Los Angeles, California, a nationally recognized, all-girls' school. Having spent her entire career at Marlborough, Dr. Hotchkiss has been part of the school's senior leadership team for the past 20 years. In this role, she has helped to guide the school through strategic planning, leadership transition, the development of financial, operational, and academic plans, as well as fundraising efforts. As a champion of girls' education, she has served on the boards of One Schoolhouse and the National Coalition of Girls' Schools.
Dr. Hotchkiss received her B.S., M.Ed., and Doctorate in Education from UCLA. Dr. Hotchkiss and her husband, Dwight, have two children, one of whom graduated from Villanova University. Dr. Hotchkiss commented, "I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to serve as Head of School at the Academy of Notre Dame and my sincere thanks to Dr. Dwyer, the Board, the Search Committee, and the many members of the Notre Dame family that I had the chance to speak with as part of the interview process. I look forward to starting my new role over the summer and getting to know all the incredible young women of Notre Dame."
When we embarked on this process, the Search Committee embraced our community and partnered with our consultants at Diversified Search to conduct a nationwide search for our next Head of School. The Committee solicited feedback from all constituents through surveys and group discussion that helped us to develop the desired qualifications and experiences we sought in our next leader. The Board is confident that we have secured this leader in Dr. Laura Hotchkiss.
Based on the feedback that we received during the evaluation process, it was clear that the community saw that Dr. Hotchkiss not only brings a very accomplished resume but the heart, mind, spirit, and faith to lead our community into the future:
"Dr. Hotchkiss recognizes the skills necessary for women to thrive, not just as students of Notre Dame, but as women in a global community."
"Dr. Hotchkiss was quite impressive, and appears to have the intellect, educational experience, skills, and temperament to lead Notre Dame."
"Dr. Hotchkiss seems to be a person I want in my daughter's life ... she seems unwavering in her commitment to the individual and student-centered on all aspects of her philosophy."
I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the Search Committee members as well as the dedicated members of our community for the time they devoted to this process. The Board is now committed to working with Dr. Dwyer and Dr. Hotchkiss on a smooth leadership transition.
Dr. Dwyer noted, "I am confident that Dr. Hotchkiss will be an excellent Head of School as she leads the Academy and its future of great promise in the spirit of the pioneering legacy of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur."
Please join me in welcoming the entire Hotchkiss family to the Notre Dame community. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to express our profound optimism and excitement about the future of the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur under the leadership of Dr. Laura Hotchkiss.
Anne Vazquez '99
Chair of the Board of Trustees
Dear Notre Dame Community,
Happy New Year. I want to provide you with an update on the Head of School Search process. First, I would like to thank the members of our Search Committee for their commitment and for sharing so much of their time and wisdom to assist with this important endeavor, and to our Board of Trustees for their continued support.
Last week, seven candidates were invited to Zoom interviews with the committee. All the candidates were strong, and we enjoyed hearing about their experience and their vision for Notre Dame. The committee identified two finalist candidates and invited them to campus for two days of intensive interviews with the various constituents of our community. I am pleased to share that both candidates have accepted this invitation and are excited to meet our community over the next few weeks.
At this point, the committee has worked with Diversified Search on the agenda and COVID-19 protocols for the campus visits. We are excited to show off our beautiful campus to the candidates and for them to meet our fabulous students and faculty. The interviews will happen in a hybrid way with an opportunity for various constituents to participate and submit questions ahead of time. The candidates will meet/Zoom with Trustees, students, faculty, administrators, alumnae and parents. They will experience the academic, athletic and spiritual aspects of our school.
This is a very important moment for our school as we look for our new leader. We appreciate everyone who took the time to participate in the surveys, and we invite you to join us for conversations with the candidates. The Board looks forward to your input in this process prior to making their final decision. Please look for an email in the coming days detailing how you can participate and submit questions.
Thank you for keeping us in your prayers as we continue this important process, and as always, please don't hesitate to reach out.
Anne Vazquez '99
Chair of the Head of School Search Committee
Chair of the Board of Trustees
Dear Notre Dame Community,
As you know, Dr. Dwyer will conclude her tenure as Notre Dame's Head of School at the end of the 2020-2021 school year. To support the search effort, the Academy's Board of Trustees has created a Head of School Search Committee, which includes current parents, past parents, alumnae, and faculty and staff members.
This committee is responsible for engaging a recruiting firm and presenting options to the Board for a successor for the Head of School.
After assessing numerous firms, the committee is pleased to announce the selection of Diversified Search Group, to conduct the search for our next Head of School for the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur. Consultants from Diversified Search, Storbeck Search, and Koya Leadership Partners form the Education Practice of The Diversified Search Group, a single firm comprising a portfolio of search firms focused on specialized market sectors. Founded by women, the three firms are recognized leaders in the areas of diversity and inclusion.
In 2020, the Diversified Search Group was ranked among the top five search firms in the world by Forbes. Their innovative, cross-firm partnership model allows them to leverage deep and broad industry knowledge and expertise with unparalleled access to highly diverse and expansive candidate networks. Our search is being led by Senior Managing Directors Kim Morrisson, Ph.D., Sherry Coleman, Ph.D., and Pete Gillin, who bring expertise in the secondary school, higher education and not-for-profit worlds.
The search process will be inclusive and robust. There will be opportunities for parents, faculty, staff, alumnae, and students to provide input on the priorities for our school and ideal qualities for the next head of school. In the upcoming weeks, Diversified Search will hold a series of meetings with these constituencies. Focus group sessions will engage the Notre Dame community to gather feedback about the future direction and leadership of our school.
The information collected will be used to develop a position description, which we will share with you and will ultimately be used to recruit outstanding candidates.
Following the creation of the position description, Diversified Search will work to gather a well-screened candidate pool for the Head of School Search Committee. Given the nature of independent secondary schools, the initial review of candidate information will be confidential, as it requires a great deal of discretion. This will be a quieter time in the search process, during which the Head of School Search Committee will vet applicants and narrow the field of candidates.
Upon the identification of three to four finalists, the process will again become public as all relevant constituencies reengage to meet the candidates. Our hope is that the Head of School Search Committee will be prepared by early January to make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees regarding the next Head of School.
We will be regularly communicating updates throughout the search process and have a dedicated webpage where you can access up-to-date information. Our goal is to be as open and transparent as possible.
On behalf of the Search Committee, thank you for your interest, support, and enthusiasm for this important endeavor for Notre Dame. We urge you to participate as much as you can, as we hope to make this process inclusive for our community.
Head of School Search Committee
Dear Faculty and Staff,
I hope everyone is well. As we move to hire a new Head of School for the 2021/2022 school year, I wanted to provide you with a brief update. The Board has authorized the formation of a Search Committee to oversee this process. Many people in the NDA community (including many of you) will be part of the interview and selection process. This will be a community effort!
The Search Committee is composed of Trustees as well as Faculty and Staff. The Trustees were appointed by the Board and are a mix between Executive Committee members and non-Executive Committee members as well as current parents, past parents, alumnae, parents of alumnae, and the Sisters of Notre Dame. From our Faculty and Staff, Sally Gallagher and Kara Brown will be working on the Committee. Below please find a list of the full Search Committee for your reference.
In the coming weeks, the search firm selected will be reaching out to school constituents with survey questions, interviews, etc. to gain alignment on what type of leader we are all looking for. I would encourage you to participate as your feedback is invaluable. Additionally, as we get further in the process and bring potential candidates to campus many people will be part of this process.
Lastly, if you know of any great candidates in the market (or someone we should try to recruit to NDA), please share your ideas! We will work to keep the community updated in the ND Weekly and in a section on the school’s website which will be dedicated to this (currently being added) but in the meantime, if you have any questions, concerns, etc., please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Anne Vazquez, Chair of Board
Head of School Search Committee
Sr Helen Bellew
Dear Members of the Notre Dame Community,
As the 2014-2020 cycle of Strategic Planning and the Comprehensive Campaign that supported its goals conclude (Our Time to Inspire), I have announced to the Board of Trustees that I shall also conclude my service as Head of School on June 30, 2021. I have lived these years of Our Time to Inspire with you — and together, we have accomplished many goals, all deeply rooted in our Catholic mission and the pioneering legacy of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
I had discussed this intent to transition with our Board Chair in February — and then came Covid-19 and the immediate priority of Notre Dame's safety. I am grateful that our March transition to a complete online teaching/learning environment was seamless and I commend our dedicated teachers and students for making this experience so successful.
This year brings its own leadership challenges as we continue to plan for the 2020-2021 academic year with Covid-19 still with us. In addition, there are multiple opportunities and new horizons before us, as we shape a more diverse and inclusive community and heal the racial divisions and painful experiences that have been shared this summer, especially by our Alumnae of color.
I am deeply grateful to the Board of Trustees and the entire Notre Dame community for all your support throughout these years. I have been very blessed to meet so many extraordinary and talented students and their families. I have been deeply impressed with our Alumnae and their accomplishments and I am grateful to work every day with faculty, staff and administrators who are truly dedicated to our mission of educating young women. It has been a genuine privilege to serve as Head of School since 2014 and I shall assist the Board with the transition to a new administration in every way possible.
Notre Dame's future is one of great promise and I look forward to these days and months ahead with abiding hope. God bless.
Judith A. Dwyer, Ph.D.
Head of School
It is with both profound gratitude and a heavy heart that, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am announcing that Dr. Dwyer will be celebrating her last year as the Head of School at the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur. In early 2020 Dr. Dwyer initiated discussions about concluding her tenure at the Academy and her decision not to renew her contract beyond June 2021.
When she transitions from her position, she will have given our beloved community seven amazing years of service and leadership. Dr. Dwyer's inspiring leadership, passion and commitment to Notre Dame will have a permanent imprint and lasting legacy in the school's honored history.
We want to thank her for her years of dedicated service in growing our mission. This involved many significant accomplishments, including:
- Launching the Academy's Center for Global Leadership and establishing sister school relationships with private girls' schools from eight different countries around the world
- Continuing to position Notre Dame as the premier independent Catholic academy for young women in North America
- Leading the comprehensive "Our Time to Inspire" campaign, surpassing all fundraising records and putting the school on sound financial footing for the future
- Spearheading the efforts to build the Riley Center for STEM Education and crafting a comprehensive academic curriculum to support the physical space
- Aligning the school's infrastructure to its strategic goals and initiatives, including implementing the one-to-one laptop initiative
- Recruiting and mentoring top administrators and teachers to continue to propel Notre Dame into the twenty-first century
- Driving record enrollment
The Board of Trustees has appointed and authorized a Search Committee that will lead the efforts in concert with a nationally recognized recruiting firm to recruit a new Head of School to start in July 2021. This process will be a community effort. In the coming weeks and months, the Search Committee and the recruiting firm will be soliciting feedback across the community to gain alignment. We look forward to the participation and involvement of the community.
We cannot thank Dr. Dwyer enough for her dedication, passion, love and tireless work in service of the Academy educating young women and empowering them to be honorable compassionate leaders in a global world. We truly appreciate that she will partner with us this coming year to prepare for the next chapter of the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur.
Anne Vazquez '99
Chair, Board of Trustees
Click here to read the full announcement from Board Chair Anne Vazquez '99 and a letter from Dr. Hotchkiss.