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Succession Planning

The Head of School Search Committee was delighted to announce that the Board of Trustees approved the appointment of Dr. Lori-Anne Brogdon as Catherine Cook's next Head of School on November 30, 2018. Dr. Brogdon is thrilled to be joining our community, and "was struck by the warmth generated by the students and adults that filled the hallways and classrooms, and is honored to be selected as Catherine Cook's next Head of School." Please click here to learn more about Dr. Brogdon.

Succession Committee

Ellen Best, Trustee
Tom Doar III, Trustee and Interim Head of School
Nate Eklund, Search Consultant
Penny Fine, Trustee
Dave Laurenson, Trustee

Roger Liew, Trustee
Linda K. Myers, Trustee
Stacy Shafer Peterson, Director of Advancement
Jeff Zappone, Trustee


Head of Early Childhood Announcement - February 14, 2019

Dear Catherine Cook Community:

We are excited to announce the appointment of Ms. Lisa Zimmer as the next Head of Early Childhood at Catherine Cook School starting July 1, 2019. Most recently, Ms. Zimmer served as the Head of the Primary School at Sacred Heart Schools of Chicago on Sheridan Road, and brings a wealth of expertise and experience in early childhood education, development, and curriculum.

A graduate of Kansas State University, Ms. Zimmer began her teaching career in Kansas City as an early childhood educator and program developer. After relocating to Rockford, IL in 1994, she participated in the transformation of a low performing school into a sought-after destination in a diverse school community, first as primary school teacher, then as a Curriculum Development Coordinator and Student Support Specialist, and finally as Principal.

In 2005, Ms. Zimmer accepted a Principal position at Edna Maguire Elementary, a PK-5th Grade school of more than 600 students in Mill Valley, CA. In this role, she led the design, building, and opening of a school rebuild, including the first outdoor garden classroom in California. Among her many responsibilities, she coordinated Teacher Leadership Teams and conducted training for collaborative planning utilizing a project-based curriculum approach.

After ten years at Maguire, the Head of Primary School opportunity at Sacred Heart brought Ms. Zimmer to Chicago. In her nearly four years there, she helped with the establishment of a new Preschool and the development of a S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) Lab in the Primary School.

Ms. Zimmer places a huge focus on character development, creativity, hands-on learning, critical thinking, social-emotional learning, and social justice so children reach their full potential. Catherine Cook's philosophy on progressive education initially captured Ms. Zimmer's attention, and that interest was renewed after her visit to campus.

"The school welcomes you in! Once you are inside, it's clear that the entire school community works together in creating an environment that is focused on the whole child," Ms. Zimmer shared. "It was exciting to see that the instructive power of the learning environment lends itself to creating experiences that foster a child's independence, curiosity, and creativity as global citizens. I am truly excited to have this opportunity to work with all of you and look forward to making a positive contribution to the Catherine Cook community."

We are grateful for the support and dedication the community has shown during the search process. The Search and Advisory Committees, along with our parents, faculty, and staff, have continued show what makes Catherine Cook an amazing community.

With gratitude,

Dr. Lori-Anne Brogdon, Head of School Elect
Mr. Tom Doar, Interim Head of School

Head of School Announcement - November 30, 2018

Dear Catherine Cook Community,

The Head of School Search Committee is delighted to announce that the Board of Trustees has approved the appointment of Dr. Lori-Anne Brogdon as Catherine Cook's next Head of School. Dr. Brogdon is thrilled to be joining our community, and "was struck by the warmth generated by the students and adults that filled the hallways and classrooms, and is honored to be selected as Catherine Cook's next Head of School."

Dr. Brogdon is currently serving as the Assistant Head of School and Academic Dean at Poly Prep Day School, a coeducational Preschool through 12th Grade school with 1,100 students, in Brooklyn, NY. In this role, she is responsible for decision making around curriculum and instruction and creating a comprehensive vision of Poly's academic program. Additionally, she leads professional development, hiring, and evaluations.

Upon graduation from Connecticut College with a B.A. in Environmental Science, Dr. Brogdon returned to her alma

mater, Poly Prep, and taught Lower School for two years. She moved on to teach Middle School math and science for four years in Westchester, NY, and then became the assistant principal of H C Crittenden Middle School in Armonk, NY. While in this position, she was awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Leadership in Developing a School Recycling Program from the Byram Hills School District. Dr. Brogdon received both her M.S. and Ph.D. in Elementary Science Education and Administration from Columbia University's Teachers College.

In 2012, Dr. Brogdon returned to Poly as the Head of Middle School and was promoted to Assistant Head of School and Academic Dean in 2016, where she began working closely with the finance, admissions, and development offices.

Dr. Brogdon is a native New Yorker and comes from a multiracial family. Diversity and social justice have long been at the center of her personal and professional values. As Head of the Middle School at Poly, she implemented the Kaleidoscope program in Middle School advisories, where groups of students from different grades gather together to discuss current events and issues and participate in community service. She is also facilitator in the annual (NAIS) People of Color Conference.

We are grateful for this community's strong support during our Head of School search process. The Search Committee and Advisory Committee, along with the faculty, staff, parents, and students, have truly embodied our mission during this period of transition and we are looking forward to your continuing partnership as we prepare to move into our next chapter.

Following her visit to our campus, Dr. Brogdon shared "the thoughtful questions, purposeful moments created for reflection, and most importantly, the smiles and laughter, made it evident that learning at Catherine Cook is a joyful endeavor."

We are delighted to welcome Dr. Brogdon, her husband Alan, and her children Alice-Ann (8) and Pierce (10) to Catherine Cook.

Thank you again for your support, your patience, and your thoughtful participation during this search process. Let's move ahead together in a spirit of community, collaboration, and growth.

With gratitude,

Linda K. Myers

Board of Trustees, Chair

Head of School Search Update - November 11, 2018

Dear Families,

After careful consideration, we have added a fourth finalist to the Head of School search. Due to a family emergency, this candidate was unable to attend the original semi-finalist interviews, but was able to meet with the Search Committee yesterday. After the semi-finalist interview, it was decided to move this candidate forward in the process.

Our fourth finalist will be visiting our campus on Thursday, November 15, and Friday, November 16. A Parent Coffee will be held Friday, November 16, from 8:00 – 9:00 a.m. in the Cafeteria. Please click here to RSVP.

We hope to see you at the Third Head of School Finalist Parent Coffee on Wednesday, November 14, from 8:00 – 9:00 a.m. in the Cafeteria.

We appreciate your patience and support during this process.

Head of School Search Committee

Succession Update - October 25, 2018

Dear Friends,

The first two months of the school year have brought significant progress in our Head of School succession plan for Dr. Roberts. With the help of our consulting firm, Educational Directions, we contacted more than 250 independent school leaders across the country who had potential to be exceptional candidates for the Head of School position at Catherine Cook. Sixty of those leaders expressed interest in the position, nearly 30 applied for the role, and the Search Committee reviewed and completed a preliminary interview with 12 high potential candidates who fit our ideal profile. At this time, the Search Committee has narrowed the field to seven semifinalists who will be interviewed on campus this weekend.

After the semifinalist interviews, the Search Committee will narrow the candidates to three finalists, each of whom will be invited to Catherine Cook School for a two-day visit where they will have the opportunity to meet faculty, staff, administrators, trustees, students, and parents. Parent Coffees with the three candidates will be held for each individual candidate from 8:00-9:00 a.m. in the Cafeteria on the following three dates:

  • Tuesday, November 6
  • Friday, November 9
  • Tuesday, November 13

NAIS Best Practice dictates the need for confidentiality for candidates so as not to jeopardize their current positions. Therefore, each candidate's name and a brief biography will be shared with the community the day before that candidate visits. We ask that this information be held in confidence by all members of our community.

This is a very exciting time for Catherine Cook School, and we thank you for your continued support through this process. We hope you'll be able to join us for our finalist visits in November. As always, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out.

The Head of School Search Committee

Linda Myers (Chair)
Abigail Andrick
Flavio Arana
Ellen Best
Tom Doar III
Jeff Edmonds
Penny Fine
Mike Kruse
Dave Laurenson
Lisa Snow
Bhavan Suri
Jeff Zappone

Leadership Update: Advisory Committees - September 12, 2018

Dear Friends,

I hope the new school year is off to a smooth start for all of our families, faculty, and staff. Over the last several weeks, we have been working hard to establish our Advisory Committees for the Head of School and Head of Early Childhood searches. These committees represent the various school constituencies and will present counsel and advice to the Search Committees with regard to the selection of a new Head of School and Head of Early Childhood. Thank you to the following faculty, staff, and parents for their support during this important process:

Head of School Advisory Committee
David Harris (Chair), Middle School Humanities Teacher
Jolene Fairchild, 2nd Grade Teacher
Kathy Gilmore, Lower School Coordinator
Lauren Goldberg, Junior Kindergarten Teacher
Ryan Harris, Current and Alumni Parent
Margaret Hermanek, Associate Director of Annual Giving and Special Events
Calvin Jackson, Current Parent
Jenny Kernan, Current Parent
Marc McManus, Current Parent
Wayne Norman, Current and Alumni Parent
Eddie Pryce, Assistant to the Head of Middle School and High School Placement Counselor
Sandy Schwarz, Current Parent
Allegra Weiner, Current Parent
Natasha Witte, Lower School Learning Specialist

Head of Early Childhood Advisory Committee
Sandra Kane (Co-Chair), Early Childhood/Lower School Art Teacher
Kelly Waters (Co-Chair), Current Parent
Karla Beard-Leroy, Early Childhood/Lower School Music Teacher, Current Parent
Daniel Fierro, Technology Specialist
Barb Fisher, Junior Kindergarten Teacher, Current Parent
Stephanie Free, Current Parent
Patrick Gall, Early Childhood/Lower School Librarian
Malcolm Scott, Physical Education Teacher and Assistant Athletic Director
Kathryn DeVito, Current Parent
Susan Flosi, Current Parent
Meredith Goldman, Current Parent
Joe Guzowski, Current Parent
Susan Wilde, Current Parent

Additionally, we hope parents can join us for coffee this Thursday, September 13, from 8:00-9:00 a.m. in the Cafeteria as we welcome our consultants from Educational Directions, Jerry Larson and Sam Richards. After a short overview of the search process, Jerry and Sam will open the floor to any questions you have about the leadership search. We hope to see you there!

As always, we welcome any questions, comments, or feedback to HOSsearch@ccookschool.org.


Linda K. Myers
Chair, Board of Trustees

Succession Update: Interim Head of School Selected - August 21, 2018

Dear Friends,

Welcome back! As you know, the Catherine Cook Succession Committee has been working diligently to develop a strong succession plan for Dr. Roberts' upcoming retirement this December. It is with great enthusiasm that I announce Catherine Cook Trustee and educational leader Tom Doar III as our Interim Head of School. A formal email will be sent to the parent community tomorrow morning, but I wanted faculty and staff to be the first to know.

This September, Tom will begin visiting our campus at least once per week to shadow Dr. Roberts, meet with faculty and staff, and begin making deeper connections within our community. He will officially assume his role of Interim Head of School on January 1. Tom will be an incredible asset to our team as we continue to navigate this time of change.

Tom became a valued member of the Catherine Cook Board of Trustees in 2017, shortly after retiring as the Head of School at North Shore Country Day School in 2016. He brings 43 years of educational leadership to our community, of which 36 years were spent in a diverse range of administration roles at independent schools. He has three children and five grandchildren, one of whom will begin Senior Kindergarten at Catherine Cook this fall.

Please join me in welcoming Tom Doar III in this new leadership position! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me or your division head.


Linda K. Myers
Chair, Board of Trustees

Leadership Update: Search Committees - August 20, 2018


I hope this finds you well and enjoying the last weeks of summer. We are excited to welcome students back and look forward to another successful school year. This summer, as Chair of the Board of Trustees, I have been working closely with our search consultants, Educational Directions, to identify the Head of School and Head of Early Childhood Search Committees.

The following trustees, faculty, staff, and parents will utilize a diverse set of experiences and backgrounds to manage the search process, meet and interview candidates, and recommend a new Head of School and a new Head of Early Childhood to the Board of Trustees. I thank these volunteers for their significant time commitment and dedication over the next several months as we identify two new leaders who will build upon the amazing work and legacies of Dr. Michael Roberts and Dr. Jean Robbins.

Head of School Search Committee
Linda Myers (Chair), Trustee (Chair), Alumni Parent
Ellen Best, Trustee (Secretary), Alumni Parent
Dave Laurenson, Trustee (Vice Chair), Current & Alumni Parent
Penny Fine, Trustee (Treasurer)
Jeff Zappone, Trustee (At Large), Current Parent
Tom Doar III, Trustee
Flavio Arana, Trustee, Current Parent
Lisa Snow, Trustee, Alumni Parent
Abigail Andrick, Junior Kindergarten Teacher
Mike Kruse, 4th Grade Teacher
Jeff Edmonds, Dean of Students and Middle School Math Teacher
Bhavan Suri, Current Parent

Head of Early Childhood Search Committee
Michelle Kilkenney (Chair), Trustee, Current Parent
Marta Delgado, Trustee, Current Parent
Tom Fuller, Trustee, Current & Alumni Parent
Roger Liew, Trustee, Current Parent
Sarah Heaven, Preschool Teacher
Megan Altmayer, Lower School/Middle School Librarian
Josh Sutter, 1st Grade Teacher
Sunni Kitson, Interim Head of Lower School, Current Parent
Cory Stutts, Head of Middle School
Jill Due, Director of Admission
Stacia Garriott Kass, Current & Alumni Parent
Anjani Bhargava, Current Parent

We are also looking forward to hosting Educational Directions consultants Jerry Larson, Chris Arnold, and Sam Richards from September 11-13 to conduct individual and group meetings with administrators, faculty, staff, students, and parents. Their objective in gathering this information will be to better understand our community and, as a result, help them identify candidates best suited for Catherine Cook. Through your discussions with the consultants, you'll be able to share your valuable opinions regarding the qualities and talents you are looking for in our prospective new leaders. To learn more about Educational Directions, please visit edu-directions.com.

In the next week, we will solidify and announce the Head of School and Early Childhood Search Advisory Committees. We welcome any questions, comments, or feedback to HOSsearch@ccookschool.org.

Linda K. Myers
Chair, Board of Trustees

Leadership Search Update - June 25, 2018

Greetings Catherine Cook Community,

We are excited to announce that the Board of Trustees has engaged Educational Directions to lead our succession and search process for the Head of School and Head of Early Childhood positions. As a first step, Educational Directions will help us identify and build Search and Advisory Committees for each search in the fall.

The Search and Advisory Committees bring together individuals with a diverse set of experiences, backgrounds, and points of view to manage the search process, meet candidates, and ultimately recommend a new Head of School and Head of Early Childhood to the Board of Trustees. Members will include trustees, faculty, staff, administrators, and parents. These Committees will dedicate a significant amount of time over the next several months to ensure the Board of Trustees appoints the best leaders to build upon the deep foundation at Catherine Cook and the exceptional work of Dr. Michael B. Roberts and Dr. Jean Robbins.

We look forward to our partnership with Educational Directions – they are a well-respected search firm that has conducted more than 350 independent school Head of School searches. Dr. Jerry Larson, a highly skilled and experienced search consultant, will be the lead partner working closely with the Committees and the Board of Trustees. Jerry will be assisted by his associates, Sam Richards and Chris Arnold. They will be visiting Catherine Cook on Wednesday, September 12, and Thursday, September 13, to conduct individual and group meetings with administrators, faculty, staff, students, and parents. Their objective in gathering this information will be to better understand our community, and as a result, help them identify candidates best suited for Catherine Cook. To learn more about Educational Directions please click here.

Thank you for your ongoing support of Catherine Cook. We expect to share regular updates with the community on the search progress over the coming months. We welcome any questions, comments, or feedback to HOSsearch@catherinecookschool.org.


Linda K. Myers
Chair, Board of Trustees

Leadership Update - May 31, 2018

Greetings Fellow Catherine Cook Community Members,

As promised, we are writing to update you on the work we have been doing on leadership succession for our school. The Succession Committee of the Board, along with our fellow Trustees, has been working on plans for leadership succession in the coming years. We would like to provide you with an update and will share information about our progress and decisions as they are made. Thank you for your support as we continue building on the success of Catherine Cook.

It is with great respect that we announce the retirement of Dr. Michael Roberts, effective December 31, 2018. Dr. Roberts made this decision with great thought for the school's focused trajectory and his own personal considerations. With deep appreciation for his many contributions to Catherine Cook School, we are supportive of him in this decision. There is no question that his vision, leadership, and talent will be greatly missed. Catherine Cook is a leading independent school due, in large part, to his visionary commitment to our students, families, faculty, and staff. Dr. Roberts will carry out the Head of School duties through this fall, guide us towards the ISACS visit, and add his wisdom to our upcoming searches.

Below is a brief timeline of the work that is already in progress and what we expect to accomplish in the coming months:

  • Top education search firms have already been contacted, and the Succession Committee will begin interviews with finalists on June 1
  • Upon selection of a firm, the Search Committees for Head of School and Head of Early Childhood will be assembled, comprised of representatives from the Board of Trustees, administration, faculty, and parent community
  • A Head of School interim leadership plan will be presented this summer, outlining the strategy for January through July 2019
  • The Head of School search will begin July 2018 and the Head of Early Childhood search will begin September 2018
  • The new Head of School will be announced in late Fall of 2018 with a start date of July 2019
  • The new Head of Early Childhood will be announced in early 2019 with a start date of July 2019

We are pleased to announce that Sunni Kitson has agreed to serve as Head of Lower School for two years, through June 2020. We are delighted that Sunni will extend her service and provide continuity of leadership. We will not need to conduct a search for a Head of Lower School during the period covered by this timeline.

We wish you a great end to the school year and an enjoyable summer break. The Board and Succession Committee will continue to work diligently on the important task of identifying the newest members of our school's leadership team.

Thank you for your continued confidence and your support as we look ahead to next year and beyond.

Catherine Cook School Succession Committee

Ellen Best
Tom Doar III
Nate Eklund
Penny Fine
Dave Laurenson
Roger Liew
Linda K. Myers
Stacy Shafer Peterson
Michael Roberts
Jeff Zappone