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Holderness Welcomes New Behind-the-Scenes Leaders

Emily Magnus '88
“The magic is in the process, the excellence of the everyday, those moments that are the most authentic expression of Holderness and its beliefs,” wrote one of the candidates for the Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications in his cover letter. His understanding of the position for which he was applying was clear; moments of celebration and accomplishment at Holderness are often the focus, the points at which we acknowledge our pride in Holderness. But there is so much that has to happen behind the scenes, in the process, in the everyday. There are countless individuals at Holderness who work behind the scenes and labor tirelessly to make the school run efficiently and effectively.
This summer Holderness hired two new champions of the everyday—both a new director of strategic marketing and communications and a new chief financial officer.
In April, Director of Strategic Marketing and Communication Suzanne Dewey chose to return home to Williamstown, MA, where she will be working at the Emma Willard School as the new director of strategic communications. Her capable leadership and efficient running of the Communications Office at Holderness was invaluable, and the school worked quickly this spring to select her replacement so that no traction was lost in the transition.
As the process to fill Suzanne’s shoes commenced, we received over 30 qualified applicants from a number of different industries and backgrounds. Ultimately, after an extensive review and interview process, the search committee chose an inside candidate, Andrew Herring--who also happened to write the introductory quote of this article.
Since 2012, Andy has worked as the assistant to Holderness School’s Head of School Phil Peck. Growing the position and taking on new responsibilities throughout the past seven years, Andy has been a faculty advisor to the student newspaper, The Picador, established a faculty online forum for critical reflection, The Lamp, and acted as a faculty advisor for senior thesis students. Andy has also participated in four NEASC accreditation teams for The Putney School, St. George’s School, St. Johnsbury Academy, and Kents Hill School.
These last experiences came in handy in 2017 when Andy co-chaired the NEASC accreditation of Holderness with Director of Teaching and Learning Kelsey Berry. Through a comprehensive and inclusive accreditation process, Andy worked with his colleagues to hold a mirror up to Holderness and expose both its beauty marks and its blemishes. As a follow up, he has been co-leading the 2019 revision of the school’s strategic plan, putting in writing the school’s plans for the future.
“I’ve had the great opportunity to understand Holderness as it is and plan for the Holderness that can be,” says Andy. “Holderness has made commendable progress, yet we seek to climb higher, to gain elevation. In this new position as director of strategic marketing and communications, I am looking forward to working toward that vision.”
Andy received unanimous support from the hiring committee as well as from Phil Peck, who said he will miss having Andy as his assistant. “The search committee wanted an appropriate balance of strategic thinking, cultural awareness, independent school experience, communications and marketing experience, and relationship-building skills,” says Phil. “Andy has an excellent blend of all these skills; we are fortunate to have his leadership in the Communications Office.”
A second champion of the everyday has been hired to replace CFO Peter Hendel in the Business Office. It is impossible to truly fill Peter’s shoes, but we are pleased to be hiring a replacement for him who will bring many of Peter's strengths. Peter will be retiring on September 1, and so will have a month to overlap with his successor Walt Schaeffler who will start in early August.
“I most hope to continue to serve the Holderness community as well as Peter did for so many years,” says Walt. “Community and character have been central values in my life, so to be able to serve an institution that puts them at its core is enormously gratifying.  My experiences on campus so far have matched the comments made to me about Holderness by friends that attended years ago—which is to say very, very positive.” Walt comes to Holderness from Choate Rosemary Hall School, where he served as the CFO. Prior to Choate, Walt was the associate CFO and treasurer for Amherst College. He will be joined on campus by his wife Amy and children Ella and Johnny. 

“Walt has a wealth of finance and investment knowledge and the hard and soft skills to thrive in the Business Office and at Holderness,” says Phil Peck. 

Treasurer of the Holderness Board of Trustees Bob Cunha agrees: “I was initially impressed by Walt’s passion to come to Holderness; he ‘gets’ us and will be a valued member of the community. And, in his professional role, he will support Holderness as we face unprecedented opportunities and challenges—everything from tuition affordability to cash flow maintenance to preparation for an economic downturn. Peter Hendel is a tough act to follow, but if anyone can do it, Walt can."

As a new school year begins, we are grateful to have both Andy and Walt working behind the scenes. They both bring unique skill sets with them that will serve the community well and help us to accomplish all that we are and aspire to be in the coming years.

List of 3 news stories.

  • Emerald Pool Study

    The Emerald Pool Opens at the Edwards Art Gallery

    Andrew Herring
    Albert Bierstadt, the German-American painter renowned for his landscapes of the American West, came to the White Mountains to capture its simple yet overwhelming beauty. What came to life through nearly a decade’s worth of work was The Emerald Pool, a massive oil-on-canvas monument to the natural majesty of a hidden swimming hole along the Peabody River in the Pinkham Notch.  Recounting The Emerald Pool, Bierstadt said, “I never had so difficult a picture to paint, as this White Mountain subject the Emerald Pool; my artist friends think it my best picture and so do I.” 
    Read More
  • Being On Mission: Convocation 2019

    Phil Peck
    At Holderness we deliberately build community through the people we bring in and programs we support. Today I want to share one story about people who showed us what it means to be a mission-centered community and talk about one unique program that is hitting a milestone. 
    Read More
  • The Bulls are Back in Town! Holderness School Welcomes New Class of Students

    Andrew Herring
    Kicking off its 141st year, Holderness School welcomed new students to campus on September 5th.  Under blue skies and surrounded by the cheers of joyful Senior Leaders, 114 new students eagerly joined the Holderness School community.  The day was filled with smiles as new students and families unpacked their cars and turned dorm rooms into a home away from home.
    Read More
Holderness School
33 Chapel Lane, Holderness NH, 03245
mail P.O Box 1879 Plymouth, NH 03264-1879
phone (603) 536-1257