Continuing a 28-year career in independent school administration, Julie Gray entered the role of chief advancement officer (CAO) on July 1, replacing Interim CAO Katie Small, who held the position for one year. Ms. Gray will bring Head of School Jen Price up to speed on fundraising, alumni relations, external affairs, and the head role with respect to those.
Ms. Gray comes to this community from the Dana Hall School, where she served as director of advancement beginning in 2006. Previously, she had been director of development at Tenacre Country Day School for 10 years and director of annual giving at the Fessenden School for six. These experiences working at the lower, middle, and upper school levels will inform her plans to advance a school with all three levels, she said.
“I’m looking forward to getting into each division and learning more about how they operate, how the parents help out, and what the fundraising needs are,” Ms. Gray said, adding that at the Upper School (US), her particular focus will be meeting and talking with students to learn what they know about fundraising.
Ms. Gray described her professional move as a natural transition from Dana Hall and said she was drawn to the job because of the new head of school.
“I was excited by the fact that there was a change of leadership,” she said. “I met Jen Price early on in the application and interview process, and I was really excited about the opportunity to work with her.”
Ms. Gray said that having worked previously with two heads of school who did not have fundraising experience, she is looking forward to enjoying that familiar scenario.
To find a new CAO, the school hired a Boston-based consulting firm called Lois L. Lindauer, which specializes in development and advancement careers. The firm put together a prospectus for the job and advertised the position on their website and in print to find interested candidates. After the firm presented the school with 11 candidates, Dr. Price reduced the pool further to three finalists, who then interviewed with her and members of the Board of Trustees and senior leadership team, including Lower School Director Anthony Repucci, Middle School Director Mary Dolbear, US Director Geoff Theobald, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer Tara Gohlmann, Director of Communications Joe Clifford, and Associate Director of Admission Sanchali Biswas.
School Transition Team Head Charlie Ruopp, who was part of the search and interview team, said Ms. Gray’s experience made her stand out.
“We wanted someone who has a lot of experience in fundraising and with alumni—some of the experience that Dr. Price does not have,” he said, adding that Ms. Gray and Dr. Price together strike a good balance.
Dr. Price called Ms. Gray fit for the job because of her success in development work and her level-headed personality.
“She seems very steady, like not much is going to shake her, and very committed to the work,” Dr. Price said.
Over the summer Ms. Gray accompanied Dr. Price during her listening tour—a series of events around the country aimed at connecting with alumni—and at local events with parents, students, faculty, and staff.
“Like Dr. Price, I need to spend a lot of time listening and meeting people to learn the culture of the school and start work with her on key donor relations,” Ms. Gray said.
Dr. Price will report her findings from the listening tour later in the fall, and in January, she will begin a strategic planning process for funding as a school community, which may lead to a capital campaign, she said.