About

Head of School Search

Saint John's School is Seeking a New Head of School

 
Saint John's School's Board of Trustees has launched a worldwide search for a permanent Head of School. A Head of School Search Committee has been established and has enlisted the help of a search firm, Carney, Sandoe & Associates, a nationally known consulting firm that works with independent schools to recruit and screen potential candidates. We expect to select our next Head of School in the Spring of 2023. 
 
As we navigate this necessary process, we will inform the Saint John's School community of the search progress. You will also find answers to some questions that are frequently asked about the search process. 
One of Saint John’s School’s greatest strengths is its devoted community of students, parents, alumni, friends, and dedicated leadership team, faculty, and staff. We are committed to making the permanent Head of School search process inclusive and welcome your participation as it unfolds.
 

FAQ's

List of 10 frequently asked questions.

  • Q. Where will the consultants look for candidates?  Can we make suggestions?

    We will conduct a thorough national and international search for the next Head of School. We encourage your input and suggestions. You can email us directly or contact Carney, Sandoe & Associates by email. 
  • Q. When will the Saint John’s School community get to meet the candidates?

    We expect to introduce the finalists of the Head of School search to the community in early 2023.
  • Q. How can I get in touch with the Search Committee or the search consultants?

    You may contact the Search Committee at headsearch@sjspr.org. You may also contact our consultants from Carney, Sandoe & Associates directly at the following emails:

    Ji Han: ji.han@carneysandoe.com
  • Q. What is the timeline?

     The actual timeline for completing the search can be highly variable. It is our hope to have finalists visit campus between January and February 2023, and to select the permanent Head of School by March 2023. If it is to the School’s benefit, these dates could change. The Search Committee will continue to keep the community advised of its progress. The permanent Head of School would start in or around July 2023.
  • Q. Who is leading the search process?

    The Saint John’s School Board of Trustees is leading the search process. As recognized by the National Association of Independent Schools in their Good Governance Guidelines, one of the Board’s most important fiduciary duties is the selection of a Head of School. Recognizing that selecting our next leader is a critical milestone for the School, the Board voted to retain a search consultant, Carney, Sandoe & Associates, to help manage the search process from start to finish.  Carney, Sandoe & Associates is one of the most experienced independent school executive search firms and has recently led successful searches for Heads of many leading independent schools in the United States and the world. The Board also appointed a Search Committee. 
  • Q. What happens if the search is unsuccessful?

    Saint John’s School is an extremely attractive school in an exciting place, and we do not anticipate any problems recruiting a top-notch candidate. We are working with one of the best, most experienced independent school search firms. We expect to find more than a few highly attractive candidates
  • Q. How will Saint John’s School keep the community informed?

    You can find the latest updates on the search process on this page, or we will be sending emails from the Search Committee. Those are the only two ways of communication about the search
  • Q. How will non-Trustees be able to give their input?

    Under the direction of the Search Committee, and with assistance from Carney, Sandoe & Associates, the search process has included active solicitation of input from parents, alumni, faculty, staff, and students.  This began with a community-wide survey that was open from October 27 to October 31, 2022, during which our constituents provided input to Carney, Sandoe & Associates as to the desired qualifications and characteristics of a new Head of School, as well as our strengths and opportunities.

    Our three consultants from Carney, Sandoe & Associates then held virtual interviews for three days from November 8 to November 10, 2022. They met with representative parent groups from each division, students, as well as a large number of our Administrators and faculty members. Later in the process, we expect to bring the finalist candidates to campus to meet with community members.

    Throughout the search process, the community is encouraged to share their thoughts with the Search Committee by email at headsearch@sjspr.org.
  • Q. What is the role of the consultants?  How will we give them input?

    The Search Committee will supervise the process, and the Board of Trustees will, in fulfillment of its fiduciary duty, make final decisions. Carney, Sandoe & Associates provides advice to the Search Committee concerning format, logistics, procedure, and best practices in the search process. They will organize the search, take input from the community, reach out to potential candidates, and present potential candidates to the Search Committee.

    Carney, Sandoe & Associates interview all candidates before referring their credentials to the Search Committee for review. They will provide Committee members with detailed interview questions custom-designed to probe whether candidates possess the specific leadership qualities required by the School. They help structure interviews and visits to ensure that these meet the candidates’ and the Committee’s needs for information.

    Additionally, Carney, Sandoe & Associates led the surveys and interviews that we recently completed. Based on the information gathered, the consultants will be able to serve as “honest brokers” with interested candidates and recommend candidates who are best qualified. This information was also incorporated in a position description that will be sent to the best-qualified candidates and be used as a basis for interview questions by the consultants and Search Committee. The position description can be found on the Head of School search page on our website.
  • Q. Who is on the Search Committee?

    The Search Committee consists of trustees Rafael Blanes, Manuel del Valle, Mariana Ortiz, José A. Fernández, and Nazli Iqbal. 

Search Update

January 23, 2023:

We are excited to announce Candidate Visits! Our parent community is invited to meet the three finalists at the following times: 

Candidate 1 - Dr. Damián J. Fernández: Thursday, January 26, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm 
Click here to see Dr. Damián J. Fernández's Resume
 
Candidate 2: Dr. Mónica M. Ruiz: Monday, January 30, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm 
 
Candidate 3: Thursday, February 9, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm 
Please register here

Location:  Carrady Center

Head of School Position Description

Click here to read Saint John's School Head of School position description.

Search Committee Members
  • Rafael Blanes (Board Chair, trustee, alum, and parent of students)
  • Manuel del Valle (Board Vice-Chair, trustee, alum, and parent of students)
  • Mariana Ortiz (trustee, alum, parent of alum, and of students)
  • José A. Fernández (trustee, parent of alums, and grandparent of alum and of a student)
  • Nazli Iqbal (Search Committee Chair, trustee, and parent of alum and of a student)
We welcome you to contact the Search Committee at headsearch@sjspr.org if you have any questions, comments, or concerns. 
You may also contact our consultants at Carney, Sandoe & Associates directly with feedback concerning the search: 
Interested candidates may contact John Chandler directly at john.chandler@carneysandoe.com. 

Recent Communications

List of 9 items.

  • 10/14/2022 - Message from our Board Chair

    Dear Saint John’s School Community,
     
    I hope this communication finds everyone in our community well.
     
    We are already at the midpoint of this semester, with the Holiday season approaching.
     
    Since early September, the ad-hoc Head of School Search Committee has been evaluating different recruiting firms to ensure a successful permanent Head of School search process. As promised in the 'Meet the Board' event on Thursday, September 29th, I am excited to share an important update.
     
    We are thrilled to announce that we have retained one of the leading national recruitment firms, Carney, Sandoe & Associates (www.carneysandoe.com), to guide Saint John's School through an important search process. This company not only specializes in placing high-ranking individuals, but it also has, over the past four decades, facilitated over 33,000 hires all over the world, and this past year alone placed more school leaders than any other recruitment firm worldwide.
     
    Carney, Sandoe & Associates clearly understands Saint John's School's expectations and is aligned with us to have a permanent Head of School by summer 2023, leading the way into the next academic year.
     
    Sincerely,
    Rafael Blanes
    Board Chair
     
  • 10/27/2022 - Message from the Head of School Search Committee #1

    Dear Members of the Saint John’s School Community,
     
    We are launching the search for our permanent Head of School this week. Our consultants from Carney, Sandoe & Associates first need to learn as much as possible about the school and its community. To that end, we invite as many members of the school family as possible to complete a confidential survey sharing their thoughts about the school and the personal and professional qualities and qualifications they would like to see in the next Head of School.
     
    It is very important to all of us that the search process be as inclusive as possible, and we want to ensure that everyone who wishes to share their thoughts has a chance to do so. Please help us conduct the best possible search by clicking here to complete the survey. It will be open from Thursday morning, October 27, and close on Sunday, October 30, at midnight. It is not long, but your responses are extremely important.
     
    Thank you,
     
    Nazli Iqbal
    Chair of the Search Committee
  • 11/04/2022 - Message from the Head of School Search Committee #2

    Dear Parents,
     
    As you know, Saint John's School is searching for its permanent Head of School.
     
    We are grateful to so many of you who took the time to complete last week's survey, the feedback from which will be very useful.
     
    Our consultants from Carney, Sandoe & Associates would also like to interview a representative group of parents for their thoughts. Interviews will be conducted on November 8, 9, and 10. If you are interested in being interviewed virtually, please sign up by clicking here. The sign-up period will close once all the interview slots are filled.
     
    We understand that not everyone who would like to speak directly with the consultants will be able to do so simply because of time. Still, we are confident that the conversation will be helpful to the consultants and the search process.
     
    Thank you,
     
    Nazli Iqbal
    Chair of the Search Committee
  • 11/18/2022 - Message from the Head of School Search Committee #3

    Dear Members of the Saint John's School Community,
     
    As we search for our next permanent Head of School, we want to ensure you are informed of this journey.
     
    We're pleased to announce a new page on the Saint John's School website that will be updated with the latest news on the search progress.
     
    Please click here periodically for the latest information about the search.
     
    Have a wonderful and restful Thanksgiving recess!
     
    Thank you,
     
    Nazli Iqbal
    Chair of the Search Committee
  • 1/17/2023 - Message from the Head of School Search Committee #4

    Dear Members of the Saint John's School Community,
     
    As we continue our search for the next permanent Head of School, we want to share with you the current status of the search process.
     
    During November and the first part of December 2022, our consultants from Carney, Sandoe & Associates evaluated nearly 100 people who had expressed interest in Saint John's School. They also identified a smaller group who seemed to be the best apparent fit with the school and the specific criteria outlined in our Position Description. After initial conversations with this group, they chose 14 candidates with whom they conducted in-depth interviews and referred ten to the Search Committee for review.
    The Search Committee was very impressed with the candidates' quality. I am delighted to tell you that we will proceed with semifinalist interviews with the six candidates who demonstrate the key qualities and represent the strongest fit for the position. Our goal is to identify three, or possibly four, finalists who we will invite to Puerto Rico to meet the Saint John's School community in February 2023.  
     
    We are pleased with the progress of the search and are thrilled we are staying on schedule. As always, we welcome any questions or comments from our community.
    You can click here for all past and future communications updates on the permanent Head of School search.
    I wish you a healthy, happy and prosperous 2023! 
     
    Best wishes,
     
    Nazli Iqbal
    Chair of the Search Committee
  • 1/23/2023 - Message from the Head of School Search Committee #5

    Dear Members of the Saint John's School Community, 
    As our head of school search moves into its final stages, we anticipate a very busy and exciting period ahead. We are thrilled to announce that three outstanding finalist candidates will visit our campus over the next three weeks. Each candidate visit will span two full days and include opportunities to interact with the administrative team, faculty, staff, students, and parents.  
    We encourage you to participate in the process by welcoming our candidates, learning more about them, and helping to enhance their understanding of and appreciation for Saint John's School. The purpose of these visits is not to determine whether the candidate is qualified-we have already made this determination. Instead, the campus visits are to determine cultural fit with our school. These visits will provide multiple additional touch points for the Board of Trustees to consider when making its final decision. Please keep in mind that you will have an opportunity to submit an online evaluation after each visit. Your thoughts are considered at every step of the process, and we welcome any feedback before, during, or after the candidate visits via email at headsearch@sjspr.org.  
    Reaching this final stage of the search is the result of a thorough and intentional process, and we are excited for our broader community to meet this group of highly talented candidates. Thank you for your engagement and support during this important time in our school's history.
    Our parent community is invited to a Meet and Greet with the three candidates in the Carrady Center. Due to space limitations, we ask that you register below for each event you will attend.   
    Candidate 1: Thursday, January 26, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm 
    Candidate 2: Monday, January 30, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm 
    Candidate 3: Thursday, February 9, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm 
    Due to the confidential nature of the search process, candidate names and biographical sketches will be emailed to you one day before the visit.  
    I look forward to seeing you at our Meet and Greets, and I hope you will be as delighted to meet our finalists as we are to present them to you! 
    Best wishes, 
    Nazli Iqbal 
    Chair of the Search Committee 
  • 1/25/2023 - Message from the Head of School Search Committee #6

    Dear Members of the Saint John's School Community, 
    We are excited to welcome you to meet Dr. Damián Fernández, a permanent Head of School position finalist, at our Parent Meet & Greet tomorrow, January 26, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm in the Carrady Center. This interactive meeting is designed to introduce Dr. Fernández to our community and allow parents to ask questions and get to know him.  
    If you have not yet registered for this event, you may do so by clicking here. Please read below a summary of Dr. Fernández's experience. 
    All past communications and updates from the Head of School Search Committee are archived for convenience on our website.
    We hope to see you tomorrow. 
    Best wishes, 
    Nazli Iqbal 
    Chair of the Search Committee 
    Dr. Damián Fernández 
    Damián Fernández received his B.A. from Princeton University in International Relations and Latin American Studies, his M.A. from the University of Florida, and his Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Miami. He has served as an educational leader in K-12 schools as well as institutions of higher education. With experience across a broad spectrum of institutions, he has honed his skills as an implementer of strategic plans, a future-oriented, entrepreneurial academic leader, a fundraiser, and a community builder.
    For five years as the Chief Executive Officer and Head of School at Fieldston, a top independent school of 1,700 students in New York City, he facilitated community conversations about the vision and strategic direction of the school with constituents. The resulting vision was an integrated academic focus emphasizing 21st-century teaching and learning. Under Damián's leadership, the school's STEM curriculum was strengthened, maker spaces were designed, a greenhouse with an accompanying curriculum was launched, and an engineer was hired to teach in the Middle School. The K-12 curriculum was mapped to ensure skill-building in a coherent progression. The Progressive Teaching Institute was established to develop and retain excellent faculty. With a $70 million annual operating budget, he oversaw 300 faculty members on two campuses. As President of Eckerd College, a liberal arts college in Florida, Damián facilitated a strategic plan around four pillars that prioritized innovation, community engagement, diversity, and sustainability. Under his leadership, the new student enrollment goal was exceeded, and the largest incoming class of first-year students was welcomed in the Fall of 2021. In the process, $37 million was raised, $10 million of which was for a mini-campaign for the Innovation Fund to seed Strategic Plan initiatives.
    Damián was raised in Puerto Rico and attended Jesuit and Mennonite schools. A culturally competent leader, Damián has worked on diversity initiatives in all his schools, from hiring faculty of color to securing gifts to establish a Pre-Doctoral Fellowship for Scholars from Underrepresented Groups to increasing admission pipelines for Latino students. Spanish is his first language, and he grew up bilingual. He also speaks French and Portuguese. He says, "Saint John's School offers an opportunity that inspires my mind and heart. Returning to the island to lead a premier school and help forge the future generation of leaders who will elevate Puerto Rico and the world would be a dream come true." 
  • 1/26/2023 - Meet & Greet Survey #1

    Dear Members of Saint John's School Community,
    You are receiving this email because you registered for the Meet & Greet on January 26 with Dr. Damián Fernández. We value your feedback and would love to hear from you. 
    Please complete the following survey if you were able to attend the event. 
    This survey will close at 5 pm on January 28. 
    Thank you for your continued support.
    Best wishes,
    Nazli Iqbal
    Chair of the Head of School Search Committee 
  • 1/29/2023 - Message from the Head of School Search Committee #7

    Dear Members of the Saint John's School Community, 
     
    We are excited to welcome you to meet Dr. Mónica M. Ruiz, a permanent Head of School position finalist, at our Parent Meet & Greet on January 30, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm in the Carrady Center. This interactive meeting is designed to introduce Dr. Ruiz to our community and allow parents to ask questions and get to know her.
     
    If you have not yet registered for this event, you may do so by clicking here. Please read below a summary of Dr. Ruiz's experience. Her resume has been uploaded to our website for your reference. After the meeting, you will receive a survey for your feedback.  
     
    All past communications and updates from the Head of School Search Committee are archived for convenience on our website
     
    We hope to see you soon.  
     
    Best wishes, 
     
    Nazli Iqbal 
    Chair of the Search Committee 

Saint John’s School

Saint John’s School is a non-profit, college preparatory, nonsectarian, coeducational day school founded in 1915. The school, located in a residential area of Condado, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, has an enrollment of over 800 students from pre pre-kinder to grade twelve. Instruction is mostly in English with the exception of language courses.