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My Final From the ED 6.1.17

Dear Colleagues,

I have been writing to all of you at least once a month for nearly the past six years. This is my last “From the ED.” As my time leading MISBO comes to an end, I have thought a great deal about the transformation of MISBO over that period of time. MISBO has been serving independent schools for over 41 years, beginning in Atlanta with a small group of business officers looking to connect with each other, save money by combining their purchasing power, and learn from each other. Today, MISBO continues this tradition and reinforces our mission: MISBO connects independent school professionals and delivers exceptional value to enrich learning.

This affirms the thinking of the founder, Ken White at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, and the other leaders that first connected to get MISBO started. The prior mission statement noted “Southeast” and “business officers”; today MISBO serves about 350 school in 18 states. We are no longer just in the Southeast and we serve the entire school, which is evidenced by the over 2,500 independent school professionals that will receive this message today.

Today, MISBO continues to offer our member schools the only purchasing consortium designed and operated specifically for independent schools. MISBO staff listens to our members’ needs and collaborates with appropriate vendors to provide great value to your schools, from the smallest schools (less than 100 students) to our largest (nearly 3,000 students). The “power” of MISBO is the collaboration among our members that provides opportunities for schools of any size or type to participate and benefit.

We have developed a well-respected and valuable professional development program which offers programs and learning for a wide variety of independent school professionals including live events, webinars, and online resources; all designed to help you serve your school more effectively. I encourage you to attend the 2017 MISBO Fall Conference in New Orleans, LA, October 4-6. We have spent much of the last year working with IDEO and 12 cohort schools examining innovative ideas to transform the business model for independent schools through the MISBO + IDEO Project. The 2017 MISBO Fall Conference will provide an opportunity for you to learn from leaders of the participating schools as well as the IDEO team. I will be leading a couple of these workshops as well and hope to see many of you there.

The success of any organization is only possible with a strong team. For MISBO this means a devoted and talented staff whose focus is on service to you and your schools. It also means having a board of directors committed to leading the strategic direction of MISBO now and well into the future. I look back at the last six years and am very proud of the transformation of the MISBO Board of Directors. This group of dedicated volunteers represents all MISBO member schools. As with other changes, the board for 2017-2018 includes a diverse cross section of independent school leaders. For the coming year, the board will include seven business officers, three heads of schools, two technology directors, two human resources directors, one facilities director, one former business officer, one association executive, and one more whose position is more difficult to describe – a person who works with a group of six schools who are tied together. This wealth of knowledge is used to guide the MISBO staff and guide the future – always with member schools and your students in mind. This is the perfect opportunity for me to introduce the new board members who will begin their terms with MISBO on July 1st. I am so excited about the quality and diversity of this group; I wish I could be working with them:

These four were chosen from a large pool of very qualified candidates nominated to join the MISBO board. To me, this group of professionals represents the “power of MISBO” and the recognition we have received nationally in recent years. They are your representatives. Please reach out to them and the other board members with your thoughts, suggestions, comments, and complaints. MISBO can only get stronger with your help.

There are so many people I would like to thank and recognize for their contributions to MISBO and to me personally during my tenure as Executive Director. I want to acknowledge a few for now and hopefully you will join me in New Orleans for more. I would be remiss to not mention the contributions of Wendy Barnhart, former MISBO Board Chair and former Business Officer at The Westminster Schools. Wendy and I have been friends for many years and she served on the NBOA board when I was on staff with NBOA. She asked me for help as MISBO was struggling through a leadership transition, which ultimately led to my leadership of MISBO. Wendy’s vision for MISBO was much more than what existed at the time and I hope that she looks back with great pride on all of her contributions. Steven Wennerstrom, former Business Manager, Trinity Preparatory School, Winter Park, FL, followed Wendy’s leadership of the MISBO board. Steven supported and provided an amazing foundation for the board to begin working at a more generative level. Julie Ray, CFO, Mount Paran Christian School, Kennesaw, GA is the current MISBO Board Chair and will remain on the board for one more year as past chair. Julie had just joined the board when I joined MISBO. I could tell from day one that Julie was a force to be reckoned with and I immediately spoke with Wendy about asking Julie to take on a leadership role for MISBO. During Julie’s leadership over the past four years, MISBO has reinvented the board, restated its mission, rebranded, created its first vision, and grown to 350 member schools in 18 states (and DC). She also led the search for a new executive director and has been my friend and trusted ally for all of these years. I am sure some of you serve on boards. If you have not been a board chair of a large association, you may not appreciate the extreme commitment this takes; it is like having a second job. Thank you, Julie!!

I would also like to welcome Damian Kavanagh as the new Executive Director of MISBO. You can learn more about Damian’s background here. The MISBO board search committee asked me early on in the process for my thoughts about a new executive director. I expressed my desire to find a candidate that had both independent school leadership experience as well as independent school association leadership experience. That pool of possible people is not very large. I reached out to a number of colleagues to inquire about their interest. Damian, who was a VP at SAIS at the time, was clearly one of the top candidates and quickly rose to the top with the search committee. I am excited to see Damian step into this role and lead MISBO. We have already been working together for months to ensure a smooth transition for MISBO. I will continue to help Damian and the MISBO staff over the coming months and through the fall conference to make this leadership transition as seamless as possible for MISBO and, more importantly, for you.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to be a part of the MISBO community. I have had the chance to visit many of your schools – I figure about half, or 175 schools, over the past six years. I wish I could have made it to all of them. Being at a school and seeing the work you do and seeing the result (the students that thrive because of your work) is the greatest reward for me. About a year ago when we announced that I was leaving MISBO, I said that I did not have a plan for what’s next. That remains the same today. I made a commitment to myself, the MISBO board and staff, and to you to be 100% devoted to MISBO during this past year. I suspect that after some time for relaxation and reflection I will begin to consider new opportunities for my future. For the moment, I plan to enjoy a much quieter summer and fall, spend time with my family, hike, bike, play tennis, etc.

For those of you that know me well, you know that I can write (and talk) about schools, education, etc. at length. I know this is a long message. If you have read this far, I wish you all the very best. You each have a significant role to play for the future of our children. Each and every person at each and every school is critically important to the success of your schools. Thank you for what you do every day.


Marc Levinson
Executive Director, MISBO

We power independent schools.™

From → MISBO

One Comment
  1. Julie Ray permalink

    An amazing message from a formidable leader in independent school associations. I have learned so much from Marc Levinson, and MISBO has transformed under his leadership. Marc, well done! MISBO will miss you!

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