As part of this year’s Reunion, retiring Head of School Phil Peck had the opportunity to acknowledge and honor the accomplishments of several alumni with the presentation of the Distinguished Alumni and Tracy McCoy Gillette ’89 Distinguished Service Awards.
Distinguished Alumni Award
The Distinguished Alumni Award honors a graduate who has displayed outstanding leadership and/or service in their community or professional field.
Will Parish ’71
Will Parish ’71 has been a loyal and welcoming supporter of Holderness. Will has stayed deeply connected to our school, hosting over 30 gatherings at his home during our travels out West. But deeper than Will’s devotion to Holderness is his devotion and commitment to environmental education and advocacy.
After a legal career, Will recognized humanity’s destructive environmental impact as well as education’s role in helping reduce such impact. Will distinguished himself as an environmental science teacher for more than a decade, even advising the California State Board of Education on environmental education practices. Combining his classroom and advisory experiences, Will went on to found Ten Strands in 2012, a nonprofit dedicated to integrating environment-based education into all of California’s public K-12 schools. The vision of Ten Strands is “a world where everyone understands and experiences the interrelatedness of people and place; where all students have access to high-quality education with an environmental component; and where all people have the knowledge, awareness and ability to make decisions that promote health and wellbeing for themselves and their communities.” In large part to Will’s vision and advocacy, California has incorporated environmental literacy into its graduation requirements, a change that ensures 500,000 graduates a year enter the world with an understanding of our environment.
For his commitment to the environment, to education, and to Holderness, it is my distinct honor to award Will Parish the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Tracy McCoy Gillette ’89 Distinguished Service Award
The Distinguished Service Award is awarded to a graduate in a reunion class, who through their devotion and dedicated service has significantly and positively affected the health and well-being of the School.
Carolyn Cullen ’87
It’s undeniable that Carolyn Cullen ’87, through her devoted and dedicated service, has significantly and positively affected the health and well-being of the school. Her impact as a board member is indelible and will continue to serve Holderness far beyond her tenure as a trustee.
As Chair of the Board Governance Committee, Carolyn led with empathy and vision, working deliberately to design and implement systems and policies that were not only consistent with known best practices but that would also push Holderness towards its higher purpose. Carolyn pressed board leadership and those around her to consider the long-term strategic positioning of the board, ensuring that it was aligned with the school’s broader vision. Responsible for the identification and orientation of new trustees, Carolyn was a true advocate of representative leadership, working to increase the number of women and people of color on the board as well as establish opportunities for young alumni representation.
Carolyn further distinguished herself during the Head of School search, where she was an integral member of the search committee. Her governance expertise and deep affection for Holderness made her well-suited for this once-in-a-generation opportunity to select the school’s next leader.
For her care, commitment, and enduring love for Holderness, we are honored to present the Distinguished Service Award to Carolyn Cullen ’87.
Christine Louis ’81
Committed to the work of schools, Christine Louis ’81 has spent a career as a development director, ensuring that places of education have the resources they need. She returned to Holderness to lead the Annual Fund and later direct the Advancement Office. She has since led fundraising efforts for Currier Museum of Art, Tilton School, and University of New Hampshire. Through the important work of development, her expertise and vision are visible across our campus and across our state.
And when Christine wasn’t working in our Advancement Office, she remained deeply committed to the school. A long-time volunteer and fixture at regional events, Christine made sure that the bonds developed as a student remained as strong as ever as a graduate.
For her service to supporting education and her steadfast loyalty to Holderness School, it’s my pleasure to award Chrisitine Louis the Tracy McCoy Gillette ‘89 Distinguished Service Award.
Jay Webster ’57
Few people have had as deep a connection to Holderness School as, Jay Webster ’57. Indeed, one of Jay’s many senior superlatives was “Done Most for Holderness”. He was school president, a standout athlete, an active member of choir and Glee Club, and a distinguished student – earning the Spanish Prize, European History Prize, and Walter Alvin Frost Award, the school’s highest honor. Jay’s service to the school has gone well beyond his time as a student, however. In addition to a 16-year stint as a Holderness board member from 1968 to 1984, Jay was able to unite two passions – a love for snow sports and Holderness – with the Jay P. Webster, Jr. ’57 Endowed Scholarship Fund to provide financial aid for deserving snow sports athletes.
A Navy veteran, faithful Episcopalian, Princeton graduate, and later Princeton administrator, Jay’s life has been full. And, Jay has remained close to Holderness throughout this full life. When speaking of Jay and his family, Former Head of School Pete Woodward stated, “there are few families who, had they not been involved with and committed to Holderness, this School would either not be here or not be healthy. The Webster family is at the top of the list.”
For his enduring relationship with and commitment to Holderness, I am honored to award Jerome “Jay” P. Webster, Jr. the Tracy McCoy Gillette Distinguished Service Award.