Head of School Search
Kathleen Devaney Named 12th Head of School
The Head of School Search Committee announced today, January 4, 2023, that Kathleen Devaney was unanimously selected by the Board of Trustees to serve as The Hill School’s 12th Head of School, beginning July 1, 2023.
The selection of Ms. Devaney, a veteran boarding school leader at Westminster School (Simsbury, Conn.) who is currently serving as the executive director of the non-profit Horizons at Westminster, follows an intensive search process. The search began with the School partnering with the firm RG175 to complete a thorough survey of The Hill community and concluded with three finalists identified from an extensive and impressive pool of candidates. Finalists visited Hill’s campus in mid-December to meet with students, faculty and staff, parents, and alumni who provided their valuable and thoughtful feedback.
In a letter he shared with the extended Hill community, Michael Harris ’84 P’22, Search Committee Chair and Trustee Vice Chair, noted: “Although all candidates were extremely impressive, Ms. Devaney stood out as having the experience, skillset, and characteristics needed to carry on The Hill’s mission of preparing students for college, careers, and life and to secure our School’s future. Her vision and leadership style immediately resonated with the community, making her the clear choice to lead our great School.”
The exciting news of Ms. Devaney’s historic appointment was shared first with students and employees by Trustee Board Chair James Alexandre ’75 during an all-school meeting this afternoon which was kicked off with a short address by Search Committee Chair Mike Harris who thanked members of the Search Committee and the entire Hill community for their participation in the process.
Mr. Alexandre, calling this day momentous for the Board and The Hill School, shared that Ms. Devaney’s initial meeting with the committee was a “had us at hello” moment, noting how impressed the committee was with her passion for boarding schools and her experience in leading a complex organization.
With her appointment, Ms. Devaney joins current Interim Head of School Dr. Sylvia Rodríguez Vargas as the first women to lead the School in its 171-year history, the same year we are celebrating 25 years of coeducation at Hill.
Mr. Alexandre’s formal introduction of Ms. Devaney as the School’s 12th Head of School was met with thunderous applause and a standing ovation. Ms. Devaney, present for the announcement, addressed the entire School community for the first time, sharing the following:
“I am honored and humbled to be named as the 12th incoming Head of School. Though I have known of Hill for many years, I had never been to campus prior to October, when my husband, Mark, and I decided to visit. During that visit, and again in December, what struck us was the beauty of the buildings, the warmth of the community, and the passion for School’s mission and belief in the power of the boarding school experience. Whether as a teacher, coach, adviser, dorm parent, or administrator, I have been proud to be a part of that educational journey, and I look forward to working to empower an outstanding faculty and staff who create an environment that allows for authentic learning for young people. That October turned into the beginning of a new, and what I hope will be a strong and deeply rooted relationship with all members of The Hill community. I am mindful of the responsibility I am undertaking as I step into this role of Head of School, and I look forward to partnering with you as we lean into Hill’s future together.”
Ms. Devaney first learned of the positive and profound impact of the boarding school experience serving on the faculty of Deerfield Academy for five years, where she coached soccer, alpine skiing, and lacrosse; supervised a dorm; and led the student activities office.
From Deerfield, Ms. Devaney headed to Westminster School, where she and her husband, Mark de Kanter, have served on the faculty for the last 24 years and raised their two children. During that time, in addition to teaching and coaching, Ms. Devaney has taken on several administrative positions including Assistant Head of School, Dean of Students, and Director of Student Life. Most recently, Ms. Devaney has served as the founding Executive Director of Horizons at Westminster, a tuition-free, academic enrichment summer program that leverages a unique public-private partnership to close the opportunity gaps and advance educational equity for students from Hartford.
Ms. Devaney has received numerous awards in recognition of her work and contributions and served on nearly every conceivable committee at Westminster, including: Strategic Planning, Faculty/Student Trustee, Academic Review, and Student Support. She serves on the Westminster Board’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and co-chaired Westminster’s Diversity Committee. Ms. Devaney also serves on the board of National Network of Schools in Partnership. Ms. Devaney earned her B.A. from Bowdoin College and master’s degree from Dartmouth College.
Ms. Devaney plans to visit The Hill several times over the next six months to work closely with Interim Head Dr. Rodríguez Vargas and members of the Senior Leadership Team, while also having an opportunity to get to know The Hill’s entire community better.
Dear Hill Community,
I first saw The Hill School in person this past fall. One weekend in October, my husband, Mark, and I were on our way to eastern Pennsylvania to attend the wedding of a former colleague. At that point, I had submitted my name to The Hill’s Head of School Search Committee, so Mark and I decided to detour off 276 to Pottstown to see the School. As we turned into the main entrance, we were greeted by Shannon at the gate, and we asked if we could take a quick loop through campus to get a sense of the place. We stayed in the vehicle as she instructed, but even from the car, we were struck by the stately buildings and the sense of community the grand campus conveyed. We are no strangers to prep school campuses, and The Hill immediately spoke to us.Mark and I returned to Hill in mid-December for a full slate of interviews and during this visit, we met the faculty, staff, and students who truly make Hill the special place that it is. Usually, the week of winter break departure is so hectic that there is little time for anything besides taking care of one’s work and getting to the end, but the people of Hill were so gracious—they took the time to get to know Mark and me and gave us the opportunity to get to know them. We found people passionate about Hill’s mission, dedicated to the education of students, and invested in the community at this family boarding school.
I have worked in boarding schools for most of my professional life, and I believe in the power of these institutions. These schools and the faculty and staff who make them go can have a tremendous impact on the lives of young people. Whether as a teacher, coach, adviser, dorm parent, or administrator, I have been proud to be a part of that educational journey, and I look forward to working to empower an outstanding faculty and staff who create an environment that allows for authentic learning for young people. Together with students, we will continue to foster a community of purpose and belonging for all at Hill.
October’s visit to see an old friend has turned into the beginning of a new, and what I hope will be, a strong and deeply rooted relationship with all members of The Hill community. With every interaction, I have learned more about Hill and find more to appreciate. I am mindful of the responsibility I am undertaking as I step into this role of Head of School, and I look forward to partnering with you as we lean into Hill’s future together.
Head of School Elect
A Message from Head of the Search Committee and Trustee Vice Chair Michael Harris ’84 P’22
Dear Members of The Hill School Community,
On behalf of the Head of School Search Committee, I am excited to announce that Kathleen Devaney has been unanimously selected by the Board of Trustees to serve as The Hill School’s 12th Head of School, beginning July 1, 2023. Ms. Devaney’s selection follows an intensive search process which began with a thorough survey of The Hill community and concluded with three finalists identified from an extensive and impressive pool of candidates. Finalists visited Hill’s campus in mid-December to meet with students, faculty, parents, and alumni, who provided valuable and thoughtful feedback.
Ms. Devaney stood out from an impressive group of candidates as having the experience, skillset, and characteristics needed to carry on The Hill’s mission of preparing students for college, careers, and life and to secure our School’s future. Her vision and leadership style immediately resonated with the community, making her the clear choice to lead our great School.
Ms. Devaney is a veteran boarding school leader, having served as Assistant Head of School at the Westminster School in Simsbury, Connecticut, where she also has served as Dean of Students, coach, and dorm parent. Most recently, she expanded her leadership experience as the Executive Director of Horizons at Westminster, a program that provides summer academic and enrichment opportunities to underserved youth in Hartford.
Board Chair Jim Alexandre ’75 adds: “We are delighted to name Kathleen Devaney as The Hill School’s 12th Head of School. Kathleen brings a genuine and deep commitment to academic excellence, community, and collaboration—all of which make her a perfect fit to embrace the challenges and opportunities ahead.”
Ms. Devaney, who earned her B.A. from Bowdoin and master’s degree from Dartmouth, shared her excitement about the opportunity to lead The Hill School:
“I have worked in boarding schools for most of my professional life, and I believe in the power of these institutions. During our visit to campus, we found people passionate about Hill’s mission, dedicated to the education of students, and invested in the community at this family boarding school. I look forward to working to empower outstanding Hill faculty and staff who create an environment that allows for authentic learning for young people. Together with students, we will continue to foster a community of purpose and belonging for all at Hill.”
More information regarding Ms. Devaney's historic appointment as Head of School, a letter from Kathleen to The Hill community, as well as a letter from Board Chair Jim Alexandre '75 can be found on the Head of School Search website.
Please join us in welcoming Kathleen Devaney; her husband, Mark de Kanter; and their two children home to The Hill.
Michael W. Harris ’84 P’22
Head of School Search Committee, Chair
Board of Trustees, Vice Chair
A Message from Trustee Board Chair James L. Alexandre ’75
Dear Members of The Hill Community,
I remember distinctly the moment our Search Committee tasked with identifying Hill’s 12th Head of School first met with Kathleen Devaney. I wondered if others were having the same reaction as we heard Kathleen express her passion for the boarding school mission, demonstrate her deep and broad experience and leadership approach, and most importantly share her unifying vision for Hill’s future. By the end of our meeting, I had no doubt she would be an excellent Head of School for The Hill, and I am delighted that she has accepted our offer to join and lead our family boarding school.
Another special connection was evident during that meeting. Two members of the Search Committee, Shelly Gyves ’01 (Trustee and Chair of our Legal and Audit Committees) and Courtney Neese ’00 (Chair of our English Department), were part of that pioneering first group of young women to enroll at Hill back in 1998 when our critical evolution to coeducation began. We were all moved by the historic implication of naming the first woman to lead the School in its 171-year history the same year we are celebrating 25 years of coeducation at Hill.
At The Westminster School in Simsbury, Connecticut, Kathleen has distinguished herself in her roles as the Assistant Head of School, Dean of Students, Dorm Parent, and Coach. Most recently, she has been the Executive Director of Westminster’s high-impact Horizons program, which seeks to expand educational opportunities for underserved youth in the Hartford area during the summer months. Kathleen and Search Committee Chair Mike Harris ’84 P’22 have already had discussions about how that experience can benefit Hill’s own community engagement initiative, Hobart’s Run.
When her term as Head of School begins in July 2023, Kathleen will be committed to building on Hill’s striking transformation over the past several years, and to engage with students, faculty, parents, and alumni to advance Hill’s mission of providing an unparalleled educational experience that prepares our students for their futures. For the balance of this school year, we are fortunate to be in the good hands of Dr. Sylvia Rodríguez Vargas, Hill’s Associate Head of School, who is now serving as our Interim Head.
Please join me in welcoming Kathleen, her husband Mark de Kanter, and their two children to The Hill community.
James L. Alexandre ’75
As announced on August 18, 2022, Head of School Zachary G. Lehman P'16 '18 will depart Hill at the conclusion of the 2022-23 academic year. The search for The Hill School's 12th Head of School is being led by Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees Michael Harris '84 P'22. We encourage you to visit this page often for updates on this search process.
Update from Search Committee Chair Michael W. Harris '84 P'22
September 26, 2022
Letter from Search Committee Chair Michael W. Harris '84 P'22
September 1, 2022
Letter from Board Chair James L. Alexandre '75
August 18, 2022
Letter from Head of School Zachary G. Lehman P'16'18
August 18, 2022
Michael W. Harris '84 P'22, Search Committee Chair
John F. Green, Search Consultant at RG175
Hill School Search Committee Members:
The Rev. Khristi Adams, Dean of Spiritual Life and Equity and Chaplain
James Alexandre '75, Board Chair (ex officio)
Preston Athey '67, Board Chair Emeritus
Michelle Gyves '02, Trustee
Lynda Hamilton-Kirk P'22 '24, Chief Strategy Officer (ex officio)
Katy Hudak P '21 '23, Academic Dean
Peter Humphrey '72 P'02, Trustee Emeritus
Courtney Neese '00, Edward Tuck Hall Distinguished Chair in English
Hans Maentz '89, Trustee
Richard Tabarrini, Jr. P'16 '18 '21 '23, Trustee
September 9, 2022 | Community Survey Due
In order to have the best representation of our diverse community, we invite alumni, parents, employees, and students to complete a survey regarding the characteristics and qualities you most wish to see in our next head of school.
September 13-15, 2022 | RG175 Campus Visit and Interviews
RG175 will spend two full days on campus meeting with members of our Board of Trustees, senior administrators, employees, students, and other stakeholders to learn more about our Hill culture and leadership priorities.
Mid-September | Position Statement Release
Following a very thorough survey and interview process, the Search Committee and RG175 will partner to release a Head of School Position Statement that best reflects our family boarding school community and identifies the qualities, skillset, and experience desired in our next leader to move our great School forward.
October 28, 2022 | Candidate Applications Due
Following the application deadline, RG175 spent several weeks conducting phone interviews and reviewing resumes and supporting materials to present Hill’s Search Committee with a group of candidates for consideration. Through this process, the Search Committee identified a slate of candidates whose qualities and expertise best align with the School’s position statement.
November 12-13, 2022 | Search Committee interviews semi-finalist candidates Philadelphia, Pa.
The Search Committee conducted a round of semifinalist candidate interviews in Philadelphia, Pa. the weekend of November 12-13. Although all candidates were extremely impressive, several candidates stood out as having the experience, skill set, and characteristics needed to preserve The Hill’s historical mission of preparing students for college, careers, and life and to secure our School’s future.
December 4-15, 2022 | Finalist Candidates Visit Campus
Candidates will be visiting The Hill School on the following dates: Candidate 1 Visit | December 4-6, Candidate 2 Visit | December 11-13, Candidate 3 Visit | December 13-15. The bios for each candidate will be posted on this page 24-48 hours prior to their visit and available for reference through each candidate's visit to campus.