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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.”

Kathleen Devaney with her husband, Mark de Kanter, and their children

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.