Head of School Search

After 18 years of thoughtful leadership, dedication and service to Newark Academy, Head of School Donald M. Austin will retire at the conclusion of the 2024-2025 school year. Further details are provided below.

News & Announcements

List of 2 items.

  • Information for Candidates - May 16, 2024

    Please see our Information for Candidates document.
  • Newark Academy Head of School Search Survey Follow-up - April 30, 2024

    April 30, 2024
    Dear Newark Academy Community,
    Many thanks again to all who were able to participate in the listening sessions hosted last week by our search consultants, Pilar Cabeza de Vaca, Mary Seppala, and George Sanderson, during their campus visit. They expressed their appreciation for the very warm welcome they received and for the thoughtful, informative feedback you offered. We greatly appreciate all who provided invaluable feedback through our online survey—we had over 400 respondents. Your input, in addition to conversations with school leaders, will guide our development of the Information for Candidates (IFC) document, which will be published in the coming weeks and for which a link will be provided on this website. This comprehensive document will provide potential candidates with an overview of our school, an outline of the opportunities and challenges before us, and a profile of the skills and attributes we will look for in our next Head of School.

    We would like to report back on what we heard from our community in the survey. Specifically, the most referenced answers from respondents were as follows:

    • Most valued aspects of Newark Academy are the strong academic program, including the AP and IB Diploma programs (71%); our deeply committed faculty and staff (68%); small class sizes (52%); preparing students for success in a world of interconnectedness and change (49%); and academic resources to support each student (45%).

    • Priorities for the next Head of School include recruiting and retaining excellent faculty and staff (91%); educational leadership through innovative programs (58%); a strong track record of relationship-building (51%); Strategic Planning (47%); and continued professional development for faculty and staff (45%).

    • Professional experiences believed most important for the next Head include Independent school leadership/management (83%); Strategic Planning (60%); collaboration and team building (58%); classroom teaching (56%); and successful experience in building external partnerships (38%).

    • Most important characteristics or qualities include active listener and excellent communicator (78%); honest and trustworthy with strong personal integrity (58%); friendly, warm, genuine, and approachable (52%); innovative forward thinker (44%); and engaging and inspiring (44%).

    We will be seeking a leader who enthusiastically embraces and champions the school’s mission, which states that Newark Academy will contribute to the world engaged individuals instilled with a passion for learning, a standard of excellence, and a generosity of spirit. We encourage you to share information about this exciting leadership opportunity in your personal and professional circles and to direct any interested individuals to our consultants, who will follow up directly.
    Throughout the process, input and involvement from faculty, staff and our parent and alumni community will be highly valued, with opportunities provided for further input and participation. 
    This leadership opportunity will be highly attractive to many prospective candidates thanks to Don Austin’s inspiring and thoughtful stewardship of Newark Academy over the past 17 years. The next Head of School can continue to enhance the strong foundation he has built across so many areas of the school.
    We’ve created this Head of School Search page, where we will keep you updated on our progress. Search Committee communication, the search timeline, and frequently asked questions are posted here - we hope you will find this helpful. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions, and thank you in advance for your time and continued commitment to Newark Academy.
    David Crall
    Search Committee Chair

Message From Head of School Donald M. Austin

April 11, 2024

Dear Newark Academy Community Members,
It is with bittersweet emotions that I am writing to notify you that I will be retiring from Newark Academy at the end of June 2025.
Serving as head of this extraordinary school has been the defining chapter of my professional life, and it would be hard to find a more rewarding job. My days are enriched by moments like the community’s discovery of a student’s unique musical gift during Morning Meeting, witnessing an impactful program ignite a student’s passion, and having a meaningful conversation with a student or faculty member. My time here has been a constant source of personal and professional satisfaction, but it is time for me to travel more and pursue my other interests. 
Two years ago, I spoke to Board Chair Samuel Croll about my intention to retire soon, and we decided that the 2024-2025 academic year would be my last at Newark Academy. When I leave in June 2025, I will have served 18 years.
The success we have enjoyed during my tenure is in large measure thanks to our wonderful students, our committed faculty, administration, and staff, and outstanding leadership from the Board of Trustees. Parents and alumni, united by their belief in the school, have also supported our vision and mission in countless ways. In short, it is the power of this community — its diversity, wealth of talent, and common purpose — that have allowed Newark Academy to rise and flourish and to reimagine itself, just as it has over the past 250 years. I am extremely proud to have been at the helm during a period of growth and change that has strengthened this venerable institution.
By both short and long-term measures, Newark Academy is in excellent shape, making it an ideal moment for a new Head of School to step in. Our alumni are making their mark on the world in an extraordinary range of ways, leading lives shaped by the standard of excellence, passion for learning, and spirit of generosity instilled in them during their time at Newark Academy. Applications and yield rates are at all-time highs, even after we have grown enrollment 20%. The endowment has more than tripled, and the campus has been expanded and enhanced. Our superb teaching and professional staff is seasoned and engaged, with a breadth of talent that has allowed us to develop signature programs such as the IB, June Term, Capstone, and Immersion, along with outstanding academics, arts, athletics and extracurriculars. Together, we have improved an already revered institution, and I am excited to see what the future holds for Newark Academy.
My intention is to remain fully engaged until June 30, 2025, working to keep things running well and facilitating a smooth transition for my successor. I am confident that when I leave, this great school will be poised to continue to grow and evolve under new leadership.


Donald M. Austin
Head of School

Message From The Chair of The Board of Trustees

April 11, 2024
To The Newark Academy Community:
I want to take this opportunity to share my thoughts about Don’s tenure at Newark Academy and to chart the path forward towards the selection of the Academy’s next Head of School. 
The past 17 years have been a time of extraordinary change at the Academy. We could not have asked for a more thoughtful, considerate, gracious, and dedicated Head of School than Don Austin. Having worked with Don for the past 12 years, I know him to be the embodiment of our school’s mission to contribute to the world engaged individuals instilled with a passion for learning, a standard of excellence, and a generosity of spirit. Our strong senior leadership team, seasoned faculty and staff, our unique programs, the significant growth of our endowment and, most importantly, the enduring excellence of the education that we offer are a reflection of Don’s wise stewardship. Applications to the Academy together with yield rates have increased steadily on Don’s watch. Our endowment has grown exponentially. He has overseen significant investment in infrastructure while recruiting and mentoring our extraordinary faculty. By any measure Don has left an enduring mark on the Academy. 
As stewards of the school charged with ensuring the Academy’s long-term sustainability, the Board of Trustees has no greater responsibility than to choose a Head of School. To that end, I have asked David Crall to chair our Search Committee. David and his wife, Hilary, have three children that have graduated from or currently attend the Academy. David is the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer of Nomura Corporate Research and Asset Management. David received a B.A. in English from Yale University. The following trustees will join David on the Committee:

  • John Bess, '69
  • Rasheea Williams Hall, '95
  • Lawrence G. Cetrulo '67, Secretary of the Board
  • Patricia Budziak, Alumni Parent

I will serve as an Ex Officio member.
We are committed to conducting an inclusive, deliberate, and thoughtful search. I want to thank David, John, Rasheea, Larry, and Pat for their willingness to dedicate themselves to this task. 
The Committee has met to discuss the search process in detail and to interview several independent firms. We have selected Educators Collaborative, a premier executive search firm staffed by a group of long-serving heads of school to partner with us. Educators Collaborative has decades of experience conducting national and international searches for independent school leaders. Their work is based on integrity, inclusivity, knowledge, transparency, and flexibility. The depth of their team and its collaborative approach will serve the Academy well in the weeks and months ahead.
Mary Seppala, Pilar Cabeza de Vaca, and George Sanderson will comprise the Educators Collaborative team, with George serving as our main point of contact. George served as vice-chair of Newark Academy’s decennial accreditation visiting team in 2016 and chaired the 5-year accreditation committee for NA in 2021. As a result of his work with NA, and his considerable experience with the independent school community, George is uniquely qualified to partner with NA on our search. 
There will be many opportunities for you to add your voice to the search process. During the third week of April, you will receive an online survey from the Search Committee. The results will illuminate what you value in a leader, describe the core strengths of NA, and identify the personal and professional attributes that you believe are important for our next Head of School.
Mary, Pilar, and George will visit campus on April 25th and April 26th to hold listening sessions with Academy stakeholders and decision-makers including faculty, staff, parents, students, and alumni. We will share the details of the schedule for this visit in the coming days. Together, the input we gather from the survey and the listening sessions will inform and guide the creation of our Head of School Position Profile. The profile, which will describe the key attributes we are seeking together with the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead, will reflect your input. To keep you informed, the Search Committee has set up this webpage with the latest information about the search. In addition, we will send periodic updates as the search progresses. 

While the transition from a long-serving head of school to a new leader may seem daunting, it also presents us with an opportunity to take stock of our institutional strengths and to be aspirational about what we can become. I look forward to your contribution to this important process. On behalf of the Search Committee and the Board of Trustees, thank you for your steadfast commitment to Newark Academy.
Very truly yours,
Samuel W. Croll III, '68 
Chair, Newark Academy Board of Trustees

Frequently Asked Questions

List of 9 items.

  • What role will the Board of Trustees play in the search process?

    The Board is responsible for hiring, supporting, and evaluating the Head of School, its sole employee. The Board has created an internal search committee with members who have a breadth and depth of relationships with the school.
  • What role will the Search Committee play?

    Members of the search committee vet, interview, and evaluate candidates that are referred to them by the search consultants and then, after receiving input from the community, make a recommendation to the Board on whom to hire as the next Head of School.
  • Will people other than the search committee get to meet the candidates?

    Absolutely. Community input in this process is very important. The finalists – usually 2-3 people – will be invited to campus early in the fall and have an opportunity to meet with members of the Newark Academy community. Community members will, in turn, be asked to provide their confidential feedback to the search committee.
  • How will the school select the right person to lead Newark Academy?

    In the coming weeks, our search consultants will conduct a community survey and visit school for two days of meetings with a wide range of constituents. Using the information gathered from this process, the consultants, in partnership with the search committee, will develop a position statement that articulates the opportunities and challenges that await the new Head of School as well as the professional skills and personal characteristics most desirable and relevant to successfully lead Newark Academy. 
  • Newark Academy has committed and dedicated professionals in the building – wouldn’t it be easier to choose someone here?

    Newark Academy is fortunate to have such a talented group of educators working at the school. Individuals who have an interest in the Head’s role will be encouraged to apply for the position. All candidates will be considered and reviewed in the same manner in order to both maintain the integrity of the process and ensure we select the individual we believe to be best suited to be the next NA Head of School.
  • How long will the search process take?

    Like most independent schools, NA will engage in a thoughtful search and well-planned transition over the next nine months. We anticipate the following timeline:

    Position posted    May 2024
    Semifinalist interviews   August 2024
    Finalist visits   September 2024
    Appointment      October 2024
    Start date   July 1, 2025
  • What if I know someone who may be interested?

    Interested candidates should contact Pilar Cabeza de Vaca, Mary Seppala, or George Sanderson of Educators Collaborative directly. They will maintain confidentiality in reaching out to potential leaders. We also invite members of the community to make referrals of appropriate candidates. Please contact Pilar, Mary, or George to share names and contact information of potential candidates, and the firm will reach out directly to candidates confidentially.
  • What is the scope of the Head of School search?

    We are conducting a national search. While we know there are many talented educational leaders locally, we also know that Newark Academy is an outstanding school with a national reputation for excellence. We are thus confident that well qualified individuals from outside the New York and New Jersey area will likely be interested.
  • What if I have additional questions?

    Feel free to contact the Search Committee chair, David Crall, directly or any of our search consultants for more information.

Head of School Search Committee

  • David Crall, Search Committee Chair, Trustee and Alumni Parent
  • John Bess '69, Trustee
  • Pat Budziak, Trustee and Alumni Parent
  • Lawrence G. Cetrulo '67, Secretary of the Board of Trustees
  • Samuel W. Croll III '68, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Search Committee Ex Officio
  • Rasheea Williams Hall '95, Trustee
Educators Collaborative
An independent school for students in grades 6-12