At the end of the 2013-14 school year, we honored five transformative leaders as they retired after a collective 22 years of service to The Carey School Board of Trustees. Betsy Berman, Markus Hunt, Erich Sengelmann, Bill Silver, and Henry Sohn are dedicated, committed friends of the school whose visionary leadership, keen insight, and humor and grace have benefited the school in tremendous ways. The contributions of these leaders are far-reaching and transformative. They helped shepherd Carey through change and growth, including our enrollment expansion to achieve double classes at all grades K-5, two capital campaigns and their associated building projects, the growth of our financial reserves and endowment, the crafting and execution of two strategic plans, and the hiring of a new Head of School. Throughout their service, they were thoughtful and strategic leaders who contributed countless hours, expertise, and insight to make Carey the very best it can be for the community of students, faculty, staff, and families we serve. As impressive as their contributions is the manner in which these remarkable individuals conducted themselves. Tireless, thoughtful, decisive, generous, and cheerful, they led our school with integrity and candor, always keeping the best interests of the students at heart and in mind. These trustees will be missed, but their example of leadership and service will endure, and we are tremendously grateful.

To read about their contributions to The Carey School, please click on their names below. Comments were excerpted from speeches read at their board retirement dinner.

Betsy BermanMarkus HuntErich SengelmannBill SilverHenry Sohn
Betsy_Berman

The “gold standard” of trustees, Betsy Berman combines the best of independent school expertise and professionalism with “Carey red” passion. A tireless contributor in her six years on the board, Betsy has set the highest standards for her own service and, in turn, has inspired all of us to do the same. Devoted, reflective, smart, insightful, honest, funny, and down-to-earth, Betsy has been a strong leader and mentor, always urging us to remember our history as we look ahead. Of all Betsy’s talents, perhaps the greatest is her discipline to listen. Betsy’s first instinct is to pay attention, to learn, to hear people out, to consider all opinions, and to reflect. And then, once she has thought it all through, she comes out with the zingers – common sense, articulate, hit-the-nail-on-the-head ideas that have the rest of us nodding and saying, “Yes, what Betsy said.”  This ability to listen, her inherent trustworthiness and her open, approachable nature have made her a close and trusted confidant to so many in our community. Trustees, parents, and teachers alike seek Betsy’s counsel, and we are all the better for every interaction with her. But Betsy’s talents go far beyond listening. She is committed to excellence and to instilling “best practices” in everything she does, and our school’s fundraising and board development programs have been tremendous beneficiaries. Her mark can be seen everywhere – leadership of two capital campaigns and numerous annual funds. An enduring program for new family education and cultivation around giving.  A thoughtful, thorough, confidential, and highly effective board recruitment process. A trustee onboarding program that emphasizes education, support, an ethic of confidentiality, and an expectation for hard work and fun. A thoughtful and thorough Head of School evaluation process. A systematic approach to leadership succession. In the end, Betsy’s legacy is that she improved everything she touched, engaging great people in great conversation to make a great school even better. Betsy, you are a relationship builder. You lead by example. You know everything there is to know, but never let on. You are eloquent, tactful, and sincere, and you exude kindness. You love Carey so much, you cried at your first Walkfest and when you toured the new buildings for the first time. As one of us said, “You are the twin engines of wisdom and humor whose fuel is Midwestern common sense.” You simply cannot be replaced.

content_Markus

Although Markus Hunt’s time with us was short, his impact will be lasting. Insightful, reflective, thoughtful, considerate, warm, and deeply knowledgeable about independent school operations, governance, and culture, Markus improved the conversation every time he engaged. He demonstrated his commitment to our school and his own professional growth by asking to serve on two committees when our outside trustees are only expected to serve on one, and we have benefited tremendously from that generosity and service. Markus’ work on the Diversity & Inclusion committee – especially his perspective as a long-time educator and school person – helped us navigate a challenging area that ultimately led to our adoption of a diversity statement we are all proud of. We also benefited from Markus’ service on the finance committee, where he could always be counted on to share his insight on everything from resource allocation to financial controls. Equally valuable were Markus’ contributions to our substantive discussions on our important strategic work this year. He asked the right questions at the right time, always urging us to challenge our assumptions and wear our trustee as opposed to our parent hats. And he did all of this while serving as Head of Upper School at Cathedral, commuting from San Rafael, and engaging in his own journey to become a first-time Head of School. Markus, we are grateful for your service this year, and we are proud and not at all surprised that The Logan School in Denver recognizes all the same great qualities in you. As one of your fellow trustees put it, “As Carey loses a talented, thoughtful, forward-looking, and strategic board member, The Logan School gains a true leader.”

Erich_Sengelmann

Our most visible accomplishment as a board this year is the beautiful buildings that house nearly 5,000 feet of new and improved instructional, play, and community space, and we have our next retiree in large part to thank for it. When Erich Sengelmann joined the board five years ago, he was tasked with planning and preparing for the school’s most ambitious capital project, ultimately leading the charge to groundbreaking. Armed simply with renderings from 2006 of what “might be,” he led a board committee, school administrators, and a team of outside professionals – architects, contractors, and a project manager – through the design, planning, and pre-construction process that got us to the pivotal March 2013 board meeting where our project – the right project – could take flight. Erich laid the framework for our great success this year through his careful planning; his “calm, cool, and collected presence;” his diligent attention to detail; and his conviction that the project must be done, and must be done right. Erich could always be counted on to present the challenges and opportunities in every situation honestly, in a straightforward and digestible manner, to help us make informed decisions. Importantly, his even-keeled, nothing-to-worry-about style, combined with his deep experience and knowledge about real estate and construction, made the rest of us relax, even as we undertook the school’s most ambitious project in its 85 year history. Erich, we will miss your humor, your charm, and your easygoing leadership style, but we will remember your great service every time we gather in one of our wonderful new spaces.

Bill_Silver

The wise, always thoughtful, and charismatic “father figure” to the board for the past six years, Bill Silver has generously contributed his vast school knowledge, objectivity, experience, humor, and sound judgment to every area in which the board has functioned. And his influence goes far beyond matters of finance. Consider that since he has been on the board, Carey has expanded enrollment, completed two capital campaigns, built three buildings, taken on debt, grown our budget by about 50%, hired a new Head of School, taken full ownership of our facility, built our reserves, and crafted two strategic plans. With each of these monumental issues, the board discussed, opined, and then asked, “What do you think, Bill?” And then we hung on every word he said as he provided sage, sober, and balanced counsel. Always there, with the consummate thought and best advice on any issue, Bill could be counted on to ask the right question and to raise and often defend the counterpoint, even if he were the lone voice in the room. In so many meetings, Bill was the voice of reason, reflective and steady, providing guidance and perspective based on years of relevant experience. We worked harder, debated smarter, reflected deeper, and decided better because of Bill’s influence. In many ways, Bill is the consummate trustee: forthright, smart, grounded, experienced, objective, dispassionate, trustworthy, and dedicated.  As one trustee says, “Bill is like a lighthouse. His light points us in the right direction. As a guide, in the true sense of the word, he helps us find our own path, and he doesn’t force us there. He allows his light to serve as a beacon, steady and reliable.” Bill, we will miss your wit and your warmth, your guidance, your strong presence, and the depth of your caring for our little school. And we are thrilled you have agreed to extend your stay a bit longer to chair our Audit committee next year. You have been one of the great board members of Carey’s history, and we are very grateful.

Henry_Sohn

Combining smarts and savvy with humility, generosity, and thoughtful perspective, Henry Sohn has in many ways defined the board culture these past three years – committed, caring, open to new ideas, and always posing the question that advances the conversation. Henry possesses so many qualities that make him not only a wonderful trustee, but also a wonderful person: He is trustworthy, smart, warm, engaging, dedicated, funny, and strategic, and we have benefited as a board and personally from knowing him. Henry’s contributions – from his great work as a Carey Forward lead donor solicitor to a strategic contributor to both the content and architecture of our new Strategic Plan – advanced some of the board’s most important work during his term.  Henry’s commitment to our school is truly inspirational, evidenced by his continuing to serve after his family’s move to Marin and while convalescing and recovering from a serious accident. As inspiring as his commitment is the humility with which he has served. Always the first to raise his hand to volunteer for tasks large and small, he is a quiet yet powerful presence, and brings enthusiasm and authentic interest and engagement to all he does, from taking photos and chaperoning class trips to creating historic school videos and fostering meaningful connections with our former trustees. And all of it is done without thought toward attention, acknowledgment, or recognition but out of a genuine love for his children and an authentic desire to serve. A straightforward communicator, able to get to the heart of the matter quickly and ask the right question in the fewest words, Henry brought insight that raised the level of conversation and improved every decision. Henry has an enormous heart and is a wonderful listener, with that unique gift for making people feel as if they’re the only one in the room. Henry is the essence of cool, and someone whom many of us strive to be more like every day. When he speaks, everyone in the room listens. As one trustee said, “Henry personifies everything I value about Carey: honesty, humility, integrity, caring, authenticity, kindness, respectfulness, and, last but not least, true dedication. Henry’s voice in the boardroom and his work behind the scenes have enriched our school in innumerable ways. The Carey School is a much better place for having Henry Sohn a part of it.”