Head Of School Search

The Mission of Harbor Country Day School: ‘Harbor cherishes childhood, cultivates wonder and inspires confident learners and leaders.’

On March 4, 2021, Harbor Country Day’s beloved Head of School, John Cissel, announced his retirement, effective June 30, 2022.  Following the announcement, Harbor’s Board of Trustees appointed co-chairs for the Head of School Search Committee. The co-chairs, along with the board chair, spoke with four and interviewed three educational leadership search firms to identify one to serve as consultant for Harbor’s search.  After careful deliberation and due diligence, the Board hired Educators’ Collaborative and its Co-Managing Partner, Jean Lamont, to work with Harbor to manage the search process.

Input from all constituents of our community will assist us in identifying the critical skills, experience and vision necessary to ensure the continued success and future growth of Harbor. Our next leader will be charged with continuing the growth of Harbor’s whole child-centered curriculum, while upholding our core values and honoring the school’s mission.  Moreover s/he will be working to fulfill the school’s fundraising, strategic and master plan goals to ensure a strong foundation for the future of Harbor.

This page will be updated as the search progresses. Please check back regularly throughout the next few months.


April 2021 – Community Survey & Review Period
April 2021 – Constituent Sessions with Consultant 
August 1, 2021 – Deadline for Candidate Applications
August/September 2021 – Review and Evaluation of Candidates
September/October 2021 – Finalist Visits to Harbor Country Day School
October 2021 – Selection and Approval of New Head of School

Dates may change due to scheduling issues. Please watch this space.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How can I be involved in the search process?

    Community input is critical to defining the leadership qualities and characteristics desired in our new Head of School. We will be hosting Zoom sessions with the Board, parents, middle school students, faculty and staff to gather their input. A survey will be conducted from March 27 through April 5 to provide additional opportunities for members of the Harbor community, including past parents and alums, to provide input. Please do not hesitate to email our Educators’ Collaborative consultant, Jean Lamont (jlamont@educatorscollaborative.com) if you would prefer to contribute your insights regarding the next Head of School via email.

    There will be additional opportunity for community involvement when the finalists are brought to Harbor, pandemic permitting. More information will be sent as we get closer to the finalists’ visits. More ways you can help include:

    If you happen to know someone who you believe is a strong candidate for Head of School, please submit this information to our consultant, Jean Lamont, directly at jlamont@educatorscollaborative.com. Our goal is to conduct this search in an inclusive and transparent manner. If you have any concerns or questions about the process, please contact the co-chairs, Adrienne Owen (owentreeo@gmail.com) or Cynthia Lippe (cwong.lippe@icloud.com). We want everybody on board! Please read communications regarding the search and check back to this web page for updates!

  • Who is Educators' Collaborative?

    Educators’ Collaborative (EC) is the oldest firm in the independent school search business. Since its founding in 1971, we have conducted hundreds of head of school searches. The firm consists of twelve partners, all of whom have served on average, twenty years as Heads of School. The partner who will be working with Harbor Country Day School is Jean Lamont. Jean has been with EC since 2008 and has conducted more than 50 executive searches, nationally and internationally. She has also consulted with numerous independent school boards regarding strategic planning and governance. Jean has her Master's Degree in Educational Administration from Columbia University Teachers College and B.A. from Middlebury College. She has served as a science teacher, Head of Upper School, grades 7-9, School Counselor and most recently as Head of School of The Foote School in New Haven, CT (1992-2004).

  • What is the role of the Search Committee in the search?

    The Search Committee will be approving a leadership profile based on input from the Harbor community via a survey and constituent sessions with the consultant, Jean Lamont. It will review candidate files, interview the most promising candidates, and identify three or four finalists who will visit Harbor. Working with the Advisory Group, and considering input from members of the Harbor community who meet with the finalists, as well as conducting reference and background checks, the Search Committee will recommend one candidate for appointment by the Board of Trustees. Ultimately, the Search Committee recommends a head-elect to the Board of Trustees for formal approval.

  • What is the role of the Advisory Group in the search?

    The Advisory Group, selected by the Search Committee Co-chairs, will spend time with the finalists while they are visiting Harbor. They will interview and get to know the candidates and then provide valuable feedback to the Search Committee.

  • How is the Board of Trustees involved in the search?

    The Board is responsible for approving the Search Committee’s recommendation for the next Head of School. The Board will formally vote to tender an offer to the selected candidate. Upon acceptance of the offer, the Board will announce our new Head of School.

    The Board of Trustees includes:

    Corinne Hammons; P'20, Current Parent, Chair
    Neal Mellert, Esq.; Current Parent, Vice-Chair
    Therese DeAngelis, C.P.A.; P'08, P'11, Treasurer
    Alex Doboli, Ph.D.; P'20, Member at Large
    Nancy Langdon Hickerson, Ph.D., P'12, P'15, Secretary

    Rose Antilus, M.D.; Current Parent
    Robert Antonacci, M.D.; P'16, P'16
    Seema Bhansali (Venkatesh), Esq., Current Parent
    Monica Bugallo, Ph.D.; Current Parent
    John Cissel; Head of School, ex officio
    Vincent Della Pietra, Ph.D.; P'15
    Agnes Ferro, D.P.T.; Current Parent
    Michele Filosa, Esq.; Current Parent
    Bob McCarroll; ‘78, Current Parent
    Adrienne Owen; P'20, Trustee Emerita
    Marina Polonskaia, Ph.D., ; Friend of Harbor
    HP Wei; Current Parent

    P = Parent of HCDS graduate

Comments or Questions? 

If you have questions or recommendations for our Head of School search, we would love to hear from you!

Search Committee

Rose Antilus
HCDS Trustee, P’25, 27
Alex Doboli
HCDS Trustee, P’17, 20
Nicole Fotis
Principal of HCDS Upper and Lower School
Bob Gaffney
HCDS Alumnus ‘76
Corinne Hammons
HCDS Board Chair, P’20, 22
Nancy Hickerson
HCDS Board Secretary, P’12, 15
Cynthia Wong Lippe
Co-Chair, Former Board Chair, P21, 24
Adrienne Owen
Co-Chair, Former Board Chair, P’20
Ralph Pepe
HCDS History Teacher, Upper School Advisor and Coach

Advisory Group

Laura Huang Ernst
2nd grade teacher, Co-Chair*
Erik Johnson
5th grade parent, Co-Chair*
Diane Abrams
Director of Finance and Business Manager
Brooke Bergen
Pre-K 3 and 2nd grade parent
Krystina Gallo
Pre-K 3 teacher and Early Childhood Division Head
Robin Herrnstein
3rd grade parent
Bart Jones
7th grade and alumni parent
Kandra Kane
5th grade teacher and Upper School math teacher
Ariya Lapan
Pre-K 4 and 1st grade parent
Artie Weissbach
Director of Technology and Upper School technology teacher