Head of School Search

The Austin Waldorf Schoool seeks an experienced school leader to start in the 2019-2020 school year. Our Search Committee will conduct a process, partnering with the search firm Carney, Sandoe, and Associates, that will include many constituencies, including faculty, staff, parents, alumni, and trustees. We will provide updates to the community as the process proceeds.

Head of School Position Description

Search Committee

The following individuals will utilize a diverse set of experiences and backgrounds to manage the search process. Thank you to these volunteers, who are committing a significant amount of time as we identify our next Head of School.

Rene Crosby, Trustee, Current Parent
Kim DeVittorio, Enrollment Director, Alumni Parent
Dawn Harrienger, Faculty, Alumni Parent
Jennifer Harrison, Trustee, Current Parent, Alumni Parent
Niko Hilgerdt, Pedagogical Leader, Current Parent
Van Hoisington Jr., Current Parent, Alumni Parent
Deb Mann, Trustee, Faculty, Current Parent, Alumni Parent
Katie Owen, Parent Society Leadership Council, Current Parent
Mike Sekel, Trustee (President), Current Parent

Contact the Search Committee


Head of School Candidate Visit 01/14-01/16

Dear AWS Community,

We hope that everyone had a wonderful time off to recharge and renew with friends and family over the holiday break.

The search committee has continued to meet weekly during the break and we are pleased to announce we have selected a candidate for further consideration, Ms. Lisa Barry.

Lisa was the Admissions Director for the San Francisco Waldorf High School and was the Head of School at Siskiyou Waldorf School in Oregon.  She is the parent of a Waldorf graduate, has taken two of the three years of Waldorf teacher training and has been an AWSNA delegate.  Prior to moving to education, Lisa was the Operations Director of two for-profit businesses.

The search committee agreed after our initial video conference with Lisa, that we found that her extensive background in admissions, finance, leadership, and HR check a lot of the boxes that we are looking for in leadership for our school.  So, we are excited to take the next steps and welcome Ms. Barry on campus for 3 days, January 14th, 15th, and 16th.

Attached you will find the schedule of meetings. We went to great lengths to ensure adequate time was dedicated to each of the constituencies of our school.  AWS employees should please note the meeting times and locations assigned to faculty and administration.  Parents, please note that two Open House meetings are scheduled for AWS parents on Tuesday 01/15 from 8:30am until 9:30am in the Orchestra Room and again from 3:15pm until 3:50pm in the Recital Hall.  

We highly encourage your participation and want your feedback on this candidate! Here is the link to an online survey to provide input after meeting the candidate.   Survey reminders will be sent next week during Lisa’s visit and the survey will close on Friday 1/18.

As always, if you have any questions or feedback please reach out to the committee directly at hossearch@austinwaldorf.org.

The Head of School Search Committee

Rene Crosby, Trustee, Current Parent
Kim DeVittorio, Enrollment Director, Alumni Parent
Dawn Harrienger, Faculty, Alumni Parent
Jennifer Harrison, Trustee, Current Parent, Alumni Parent
Niko Hilgerdt, Pedagogical Leader, Current Parent
Van Hoisington Jr., Current Parent, Alumni Parent
Deb Mann, Trustee, Faculty, Current Parent, Alumni Parent
Katie Owen, Parent Society Leadership Council, Current Parent
Mike Sekel, Trustee (President), Current Parent
Lee Uerkwitz, Finance Director

Lisa Barry Visiting Schedule

Search Update: Title Change and Position Description - 11/7/2018

Dear Community,

The Austin Waldorf School is conducting  a world-wide search, with the help of Carney, Sandoe & Associates,  for a new school leader. While refining the job description, the Board of Trustees consented to change the position title to Head of School in order to clarify the position and attract applicants with the skills and experience we are seeking.

From the recent community survey, qualities such as leader, visionary, experienced, collaborative, strategic, and in alignment with Waldorf Education were frequently mentioned.  In comparing these traits to titles used in education, the title that best fit is Head of School.

Carney, Sandoe & Associates, has posted the position description on their website and the search is underway.  We hope to be interviewing candidates in the very near future.

You can now monitor the progress of the search through the Austin Waldorf School website.

We will continue to update our community as the search continues.

The Head of School Search Committee
Rene Crosby, Kim DeVittorio, Dawn Harrienger, Jennifer Harrison, Niko Hilgerdt, Van Hoisington, Jr., Deb Mann, Katie Owen, Mike Sekel, Lee Uerkwitz

Search Update - 10/19/2018

19 October 2018

Dear AWS community,

Thank you for your involvement in the first step of our search process to find a new leader for our school. Between our online survey and in-person meetings this week with our Carney, Sandoe & Associates consultant, Skip Kotkins, almost 300 of you shared your thoughts about the future of our school and the kind of leader we seek.

Skip wanted us to pass along his appreciation for your candor and your obvious love of the school and commitment to our future together. He has pointed out that your input is critical as Carney Sandoe drafts the Position Description that will be used to recruit candidates. That Position Description will be posted on our website as soon as it is finalized. Our goal is to have it up by November 1.

You will again have a vital role in the process later this school year when finalist candidates come to visit our school. At that time, you will have the opportunity to meet the finalists, to hear from them, ask them questions, and provide your impressions to the Search Committee. Those impressions along with background and reference checking, and extensive interviews, will help the Search Committee make a recommendation to the Board.

Those of you who met with Skip heard from him that he has worked with a number of Waldorf schools. He came away from his time at AWS understanding why so many of us are both proud of and committed to our school. Indeed, we have wonderful things going on here, and Skip especially remarked on how impressed he was with the students with whom he met.

Thank you again for your involvement in this stage of the Search Process. We will keep you posted as things progress.

The AWS GSL Search Committee

Rene Crosby, Kim DeVittorio, Dawn Harrienger, Jennifer Harrison, Niko Hilgerdt, Van Hoisington Jr., Deb Mann, Katie Owen, Mike Sekel and Lee Uerkwitz

Head Search Update: Search Firm Visits - 10/3/2018

Dear AWS Community,

As you know, we have retained the services of Carney, Sandoe & Associates to assist us in our search for our next General School Leader. All members of our school community will have a very important role in this search. First, at the outset, your ideas about the school will help shape the Position Description used to attract candidates. When finalist candidates visit the school, you will have the chance to meet them, ask questions and share your impressions with the search committee. Both of these roles are absolutely crucial to the success of our search.

Thank you in advance for your participation.

Skip Kotkins, our lead Carney Sandoe consultant will be visiting our school October 14 -16 to learn from all of us about our vision for the school and our next leader. While voluntary, we hope that many of you will come to meet with Skip. He will be asking three questions:

1) What about Austin Waldorf School must not change? What makes us unique and special? What gives us our character and culture?  

2) What about our school should be different. What might we do in the future that we are not doing now? What might we do differently or better than at present?

3) What skills and personal attributes must the new leader possess in order to be successful leading our school.

For parents we have three opportunities to meet with Skip:

  • Monday, October 15 from 8:30 – 9:30 AM PAC Recital Hall
  • Monday, October 15 from 7:00 – 8:00 PM PAC Recital Hall
  • Tuesday, October 16 from 8:30 – 9:30 AM PAC Recital Hall

No RSVP is required and these will be informal group sessions. All responses will be anonymous and aggregated by Carney Sandoe.

This is an exciting time for our school as we look to the future. Your input is valued and we hope as many of you as possible will take the time to meet with Skip and share your thoughts about the school.

Thank you,

AWS GSL Search Team

Rene Crosby, Kim DeVittorio, Dawn Harrienger, Jennifer Harrison, Niko Hilgerdt, Van Hoisington Jr., Deb Mann, Katie Owen, Mike Sekel, Lee Uerkwitz

Carney, Sandoe & Associates Selected as Search Firm - 9/21/2018

Dear All,

The General School Leader Search Committee had a second meeting on Monday, September 7th.

Our homework from the previous meeting included reviewing materials and proposals from four professional search firms that we had solicited.  We looked at Carney, Sandoe & Associates, Wickenden Associates, The Education Group, and Educator’s Collaborative. All four firms specialize in hiring educators and administrators for schools.

We discussed at length the pros and cons of each firm. In the end, with unanimous (and enthusiastic) consent, we decided to make the proposal to the Board of Trustees to contract Carney, Sandoe & Associates. The proposal, along with a recommended budget for the search then went to the Board of Trustees and was reviewed by the Finance Committee. As of Wednesday, the Board reached consent to officially contract Carney, Sandoe & Associates to partner with us in this very important endeavor!

Carney, Sandoe & Associates offices are located in Boston, MA.  The company was founded in 1977. Over 1550 client schools have retained them to conduct successful executive searches for heads of school and other top administrators. As we did our rounds of discussion on each firm, every single member had CS&A as their top choice.

Our search consultant will be Skip Kotkins. Most recently, Skip completed the successful search for the new Head of Cedarwood Waldorf School in Portland, Oregon. Skip also led the search for a new Head of School for Three Cedars Waldorf School, which has now merged into Seattle Waldorf. In 2016/17 Skip conducted the search for the new Administrative Director for San Francisco Waldorf School and he is currently working with them on their Strategic Plan.  In Austin, Skip worked with St. Andrews School and their head Sean Murphy, on their Strategic Plan.

To inspire you, we would like to share a paragraph from their proposal, “We know that Waldorf schools, in particular, are inclusive, process-oriented communities. A successful search is about much more than just finding candidates. It is essential to design a process that engages the school community in appropriate ways and assures the community that the process is transparent, credible, thorough, professional and objective. By definition, an impartial outside expert assures all of those things.”

Skip will be letting us know what we need to do next and will be visiting us, the community, Sunday, October 14 – Tuesday, October 16. We will continue to keep you up to date as our process moves forward.


GSL Search Committee

“Waldorf education develops creativity, critical thinking, and analytical processing. A connection with nature and a sense of community are also nurtured. It is a well-rounded educational experience.”