Ms. Susan Kearney

Named Next

Head of School



December 18, 2018

Dear Faculty, Parents, Alumni, and Friends:

We are pleased to announce that Susan Kearney, Assistant Head at St. Paul’s School, has accepted the invitation of the Board of Trustees to become Head of Harford Day School effective July 1, 2019.

The members of the Search Committee and the Board of Trustees are confident Ms. Kearney will be a wonderful addition to our Harford Day family and we look forward to working with her in the new school year. She will succeed Ashleigh Wilkes, who has served as Interim Head for 2018-19.

The selection of the Head of School is one of the greatest responsibilities of trusteeship and all of us can be proud not only that Susan has accepted the appointment, but also that HDS attracted such high quality candidates. Working with the firm of Educators’ Collaborative, the Search Committee reviewed the credentials of 17 candidates from all parts of the country, eventually inviting three excellent finalists to come to the campus for two-day visits in early December.

In addition to carefully considering the credentials and references for each of the finalists, the Search Committee also reviewed the feedback from all constituencies, including parents, faculty and staff. The Committee was particularly impressed with the survey comments from faculty, who said they found Ms. Kearney “warm, engaging, genuine. She seemed approachable and genuinely interested in the culture of Harford Day School.” Parents said they found her “knowledgeable,” “personable,” and “confident.”

Discussions with her references were equally compelling. Through many conversations with those most familiar with her tenure at St. Paul’s, including former HDS Head of School Su Harris, the Search Committee learned that Ms. Kearney “navigates complex situations with grace,” is a “great listener,” is “highly committed to faculty,” and established “great relationships with parents.”  

On December 17, the Search Committee recommended Susan Kearney as its nominee for Head of School to the Board of Trustees, which unanimously confirmed her appointment.

Ms. Kearney said she feels such a natural connection to HDS because of all the exceptional HDS graduates who have come to St. Paul’s over the years. “They have consistently been among our superstars, which I know reflects Harford Day’s academics, faculty, core values, and nurturing environment. I’m thrilled to be asked to lead such an outstanding community.”

At St. Paul’s for more than 20 years, Ms. Kearney oversees academic affairs and curriculum review.  She also leads the Academic Council, a group of academic leaders whose work focuses on faculty growth and development, department review and inclusivity. She has served on the Board of Trustees’ Finance and Property Committees and was co-chair of the AIMS Accreditation Steering Committee. Susan has taught an information technology course in the Upper School and has been an affiliate faculty member at the Loyola University of Maryland School of Education.  She currently serves as President of the Board of Trustees of the Irvine Nature Center.

Ms. Kearney and her husband, Mitch, an attorney, have two children—a daughter, Emma, who is currently living and working in Shanghai, China and a son, Tommy, who is a junior at Miami University of Ohio. We hope you will extend a warm welcome to our new Head of School and her family.

Fred Kuhn, MD,  President, Board of Trustees

Greg Benfield ’85, Search Committee Chair

Search Updates

December 12, 2018--Finalists Visits Completed

Dear HDS Community,

We would like to update everyone on the search process. We have now completed on-campus interviews with each of our finalists, all of whom were very impressive. Each had the opportunity to meet with parents, faculty, staff and trustees. Most important, they had the opportunity to meet with our students and see our excellent National Blue Ribbon Award-winning program in action.

We would like to thank everyone, especially our parents, who took time from their busy schedules to meet with the candidates.  The Search Committee has also spent many hours interviewing each candidate and speaking with dozens of their references. Each candidate will also be subjected to a formal background check.

The Search Committee will be meeting later this week to review and carefully consider each candidate before making a recommendation to the Board. The full Board will meet early next week to make a final decision. We plan to announce the new head of Harford Day School shortly thereafter.


Greg Benfield ’85                          Fred Kuhn, M.D.
Search Committee Chair                Board President


October 26, 2018--Information for Candidates

The search consultants, Deirdre A. Ling and Joan Beauregard, of Educators' Collaborative, visited campus as planned Thursday and Friday, September 27-28, 2018. During their time on campus, they met with HDS constituents including: students, alumni, former and current parents, faculty and staff, trustees, and friends of our school. Following their visit they synthesized their meeting notes with survey data to create this Information for Candidates document.

The Search Committee anticipates narrowing the candidate pool by mid-November 2018, and inviting finalists to campus to meet with all constituent groups by early December 2018. More information will be posted here as soon as specific dates and information emerge. Thank you for your continued support of the search process.

September 12, 2018--Community Survey and Meetings Announced

Dear Harford Day Community Members, 

As Dr. Kuhn, President of the HDS Board of Trustees, shared with you in his earlier communication, Educators' Collaborative has been retained to assist us in our search for the next Head of HDS.

The Board of Trustees is committed to making this an inclusive process and will provide opportunities for community input through in-person gatherings and an electronic survey.  The two EC partners assigned to our search, Deirdre Ling and Joan Beauregard, will be on campus September 27th and September 28th.

Current Parents

They welcome HDS parents to drop in and meet with them from 2:45 to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 27th or from 8:00 to 8:30 a.m. on Friday, September 28th.

HDS Friends

Friends of HDS, including past parents and alums, are invited to meet with the Deirdre and Joan on Friday, September 28th from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Faculty, staff, PA officers, and former and current trustees will also have scheduled time to meet with Deirdre and Joan on the days listed.

Our consultants have begun to build the pool of candidates by listing the position with appropriate agencies and associations, contacting selected educational leaders to solicit recommendations, and reaching out to potential candidates with whom they and their colleagues are familiar. Through this process we will seek to find an appropriate balance between involving community input and respecting the privacy of the candidates. Until we get to the finalist stage, candidate names will be held in confidence by the Search Committee. This latter consideration regarding candidates is very important to help ensure the strongest possible candidate pool.

The Search Committee members and Board of Trustees are grateful for your support and will offer periodic updates as the search process progresses.  We look forward to seeing current parents at the information sessions later this month.


Greg Benfield '85 Chair

Head of School Search Committee

September 10, 2018--Search Firm Announcement

Dear Members of the Harford Day School Community:

After interviewing several consulting firms, the Board of Trustees has retained Educators' Collaborative to help us with our search for a Head of School. This firm has conducted more than 1,000 successful head of school searches since 1971. Deirdre A. Ling and Joan Beauregard, two partners with the firm, will be our consultants.

The success of this search will depend in large part on the input the Search Committee and the consultants receive from the Harford Day School community. Deirdre and Joan will be on campus September 27-28, and will meet extensively with members of the HDS community--students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni and trustees--in order to develop a leadership profile for Harford Day's next Head of School.

We realize that it will not be possible for everyone to participate in the on-campus interviews. Therefore, the consultants will make available an online survey that will address the following questions:

  • What are the strengths of Harford Day School?
  • What are the main challenges that the School needs to address over the next 3-5 years?
  • What specific personal and professional qualities would you like to see in the next head of Harford Day School?

You will be invited to participate in the survey through an email to be sent later this week. Comments shared with the consultants are confidential and will not be attributed to individuals. The survey will close on September 21.

Thank you for your support during this transition period. Your participation is crucial to our success. We will continue to keep you updated as the search progresses.


Frederick Kuhn, M.D.

President, Board of Trustees

2018 Head of School Search

On June 29, 2018, Board of Trustees President, Dr. Fred Kuhn, M.D., announced the resignation of Dr. Gray Smith, Ed.D., Head of School. Mrs.Ashleigh Wilkes, Lower School Head, was unanimously appointed by the Board as Acting Head of School as of July 1, 2018.


A Search Committee was immediately formed for Harford Day School’s Eighth Head of School. The Committee hosted three search firms on campus in August. On August 30, 2018, Mrs. Ashleigh Wilkes was named Interim Head of School. On September 10, 2018, The Board and Search Committee announced Educators’ Collaborative as the firm selected to lead the national search.

Search Committee Members

  • Greg Benfield '85, Chairman, Trustee, alumni parent
  • Mary Jean Craig, alumni parent, former Trustee
  • Reggie Flowers, current parent, and Parent Association President
  • Katy Giannelli, alumni parent, Trustee
  • James Haven, current/alumni parent, Trustee
  • Irna Jay, alumni parent, Trustee Emeritus
  • Fred Kuhn, M.D., Board President, alumni parent
  • Niteen Milak, M.D., Board Vice President, alumni/current parent
  • Carla Yeago '82, Trustee, alumni parent

Ashleigh Wilkes, Interim Head of School

The Board is pleased to announce Mrs. Ashleigh Wilkes, former Lower School Head, as Interim Head of School. Mrs. Wilkes holds a B.S. degree from the University of Delaware and a Masters from Loyola University of Maryland with a reading specialist credential. Since joining the Harford Day faculty in 2003, she has taught 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades and served as learning specialist and Intermediate Division Head. With her wide range of experience, she understands what makes Harford Day a special place for students, teachers and parents. Mrs. Wilkes lives in Abingdon with her husband, Eric, and their two children, Julia (rising 7th grade), and Emily (rising 4th grade).