By Robert Gleason
Parker Board Chair
I’m Robert Gleason and it is my privilege to continue my service as your Board Chair, leading Parker’s dedicated Board of Trustees. My husband, Marc, and I are reminded daily of the remarkable school community at Parker as we watch our two boys flourish and grow with each passing year. Like you and my colleagues on the Board, I care deeply about this School, its mission and values, and the experience of each of its unique students.
The Board of Trustees is the guardian of the School’s vision, mission, and values–making sure they are relevant and vital to our community, creating a strategy to bring them to life, and monitoring the success of the School in fulfilling its stated objectives. The Board of Trustees takes its responsibilities seriously as we work diligently to move Parker forward. With that in mind, I want to use this column to provide some basics about the Board and its work.
So who are the Trustees? The Board of Trustees is comprised of 25 members who dedicate their skills, experience, and time to help the Board fulfill its responsibilities. Trustees are selected not only based on their education and professional or volunteer experience, but also to represent the broad diversity of the Parker community in terms of personal identities, backgrounds, and perspectives. The Board includes current and past parents, alumni, and the Head of School. You can read individual biographies for the Trustees here.
How are Trustees selected? Individuals who eventually become Trustees all begin by serving on a Board committee. Several times throughout the year, the Board Governance Committee solicits recommendations from the Parker community of individuals to be considered to serve on a Board committee. You might recall seeing similar postings in the Parker Family Connection, Next Week division newsletter, or Parents Association communications. Each year in the spring, the Board Governance Committee refers potential committee members to the Board Chair, who is ultimately responsible for determining committee membership for the following academic year. All committee members serve one-year terms and can be reappointed.
Also annually in the spring, the Board Governance Committee nominates a few committee members to serve as Trustees for a three-year term. In most cases, Trustees may serve two three-year terms, with a third term possible in the case of Board leadership. Trustees are elected at the School’s Annual Meeting, and Board leadership is subsequently elected by the Trustees.
What does the Board do? The work of Parker’s Board follows the 12 Principles of Good Practice endorsed by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). In the broadest sense, the Board of Trustees is responsible for helping the School fulfill its mission by ensuring there is a strategy in place to achieve its objectives, providing adequate resources for growth, managing and mitigating risks, and supervising the Head of School. It accomplishes this in a few specific ways.
First, the Board oversees the creation and implementation of a vision for the School’s future. The Strategic Plan adopted by the Board in 2017 is our North Star, creating a roadmap to ensure Parker students develop personal traits and qualities essential for success – not only in college, but throughout their lives. The objective of the Plan is to create balanced citizens of character through an unwavering commitment to achieving excellence in all facets of School life – academics, arts, athletics, and activities.
Second, the Board ensures that the School has the resources it needs to succeed. This starts through careful budgeting, strong financial oversight, and active risk management. But it is also accomplished by acknowledging and nurturing the power of philanthropy in sustaining Parker’s margin of excellence. As is the expectation of all Parker parents, 100% of the Trustees participate in the annual fundraising efforts of the School and in its important fundraising campaigns. We also take a leadership role in those efforts in order to ensure the School has the resources it needs – not just for today, but for generations to come.
Finally, one of the most important responsibilities of the Board is to select, supervise, and support the Head of School. In that role, Kevin Yaley and his team of talented administrators and faculty are responsible for the ongoing management of the School, including its curriculum, instruction, programs, and staffing.
How does the Board get all that done? The work of the Board is done largely through its committees. Each committee has a charter that reflects the purpose of the committee and specifies how it helps the Board fulfill its responsibilities. The staff liaison to each committee works with the Board Chair, Head of School, and Committee Chair to create objectives, an annual work plan, and meeting agendas.
All Trustees serve on at least one committee, and frequently two or more. In addition, 42 additional members of the Parker community who are not Trustees as well as 18 members of the faculty and staff serve on these committees to help them fulfill their stated purposes. The alphabetical list and purpose of the Board’s standing committees are as follows:
Alumni Relations: Engages alumni in the life of the School and encourages alumni support to advance its mission.
Audit and Risk Management: Oversees the school’s financial and compliance reporting processes, assesses liabilities, and makes recommendations for mitigating risks to the School.
Board Governance: Identifies and recommends members of the Board of Trustees and committees, orients and educates Trustees and committee members, and ensures compliance with the Board’s policies, procedures, and bylaws.
Communications: Ensures consistency in branding, messaging, and marketing, and advances the School’s reputation.
Compensation: Provides oversight of the compensation strategy and plan for key management, faculty, and staff; determines the performance appraisal, compensation, and employment terms for the Head of School.
Development Review: Reviews internal procedures and oversight of fundraising.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Reviews policies and procedures and makes recommendations that promote the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the School.
Finance: Oversees the School’s fiscal management and, through its Investment Subcommittee, oversees the investment of the School’s endowment and reserve funds.
Philanthropy: Supports the culture of giving that provides the necessary resources to advance the School’s mission.
Strategic Initiatives: Oversees implementation of the School’s strategic plan and monitors the achievement of its goals and objectives.
In addition, the Board currently has two ad hoc committees, each formed for a specific purpose and duration:
Facilities Planning: Provides input to and oversight of the School’s efforts to plan, design, construct, and maintain its facilities.
Organizational Structure: Formed to assess the School’s current governance model and Board composition and committee structure, and to develop recommendations to ensure the School is best positioned for financial and organizational sustainability. This committee is coordinating its work closely with the School’s self-study in connection with its accreditation review that is taking place this academic year. Committee members have studied best practices among independent schools, benchmarked Parker against similar institutions, and provided preliminary recommendations to restructure our Board to best advance the mission of the School and meet the future needs of its students.
It is an honor to lead Parker’s Board of Trustees. Individually and as a group, Trustees are ever mindful that we serve the mission, vision, and values of Parker and we are proud of what we are accomplishing through our partnership with the School’s administration, faculty, and families. On behalf of my colleagues on the Board of Trustees, thank you for the investment you make in your child’s education, for your engagement in our School community, and for being part of the Parker Family.