Maureen Fonseca, Ph.D. has been selected, by a unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees, to lead The Elisabeth Morrow School. On July 1, 2019, Dr. Fonseca will become EMS' seventh Head of School.
- A Letter from Hanita Walia, President, Board of Trustees
- A Letter from the Incoming Head of School Maureen Fonseca, Ph.D.
Dear EMS Community:
It is with great pleasure that I announce that the Board of Trustees has unanimously selected Dr. Maureen Fonseca to be our seventh Head of School, effective July 1, 2019. She will succeed Dr. Judy Fox, our Interim Head of School.
Maureen brings to us outstanding experience in independent schools and non-profit organizations. She understands what students and schools need to thrive and she has a proven track record of success. Coupled with her exceptional experience, Maureen’s strength of character, warmth, and enthusiasm captured our hearts and minds. At every step of the search process, Maureen evinced both strength and humility.
She inspired us with her vision for children in the world of tomorrow. At the same time, she articulated personal standards and principles that align beautifully with our mission and core values. We wholeheartedly believe that Maureen is exactly the right person to steward EMS as we continue to grow and achieve the goals of our strategic plan.
Maureen has had many significant professional accomplishments. In 1988, she founded St. Philip’s Academy in Newark with a mission of preparing students for competitive secondary schools. In her 12 years there, St. Philip’s grew from an opening enrollment of 10 children in first grade to over 200 students, in kindergarten through eighth grade.
From 2000-2015, Maureen served as head of The Masters School, a day and boarding school in Dobbs Ferry, NY, where she led a significant expansion increasing enrollment by 70% in grades 5-12. She led the evolution of school, which had just become co-educational, and introduced comprehensive strategic plans and programs for faculty retention and professional development. While at Masters, Maureen and her husband organized forgiveness and reconciliation trips to rural areas in Rwanda and engaged Masters’ students in an international community of learners and educators in Haiti.
Maureen is currently Chief Executive Officer of Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation/New York Edge, a community-based organization serving 35,000 students in 150 under-resourced New York City public schools. There she has increased private funding, implemented a new strategic plan, and attained city-wide recognition for the organization's work. In fact, throughout her professional life, Maureen has distinguished herself with success in annual fundraising, large capital campaigns, and long-range vision and planning.
Maureen has contributed to many professional organizations. She is currently a Board Member of the French American School of New York and has served as Chair of the Fairchester Heads Association and as Treasurer of the Headmistresses Association of the East. She recently completed nine years of service as Commissioner on Accreditation for the New York State Association of Independent Schools.
Maureen is married to The Very Reverend Petero A. N. Sabune, chaplain and director of the New York Theological Seminary master's degree program at Sing Sing, the maximum-security prison in Ossining, NY. She has four children and four grandchildren.
Maureen earned a B.A. in French and Russian from Vassar College and an M.A. and Ph.D. in French Literature from Fordham. She speaks French fluently and is conversant in Spanish, and Russian.
The combination of Maureen’s impressive credentials as well as her many personal qualities convinced our Board of Trustees that she was the right choice to lead the Elisabeth Morrow School. Maureen’s lifelong commitment to and love of children shone through her many conversations with members of our community. Her engagement in service to others and her focus on our common humanity demonstrate that she lived the 4C’s before even meeting us.
We cannot stress enough how appreciative we are for everyone’s participation in the inclusive search effort. The Search Committee, composed of trustees, administrators, alumni, parents of alumni, and current parents, worked tirelessly to find the right candidates for our school. We are deeply grateful to them and to the committee chairs, J Agresta and Kathie Kamiel, who were unparalleled in their leadership. We are also thankful for the expertise of our search consultants, Wickenden Associates, and all the members of The Elisabeth Morrow School community, for your support. We valued and applied your insights, which helped us find exactly the kind of leader The Elisabeth Morrow School needs as we approach our 90th anniversary.
We will now begin the important work of ensuring a smooth and thoughtful transition process in partnership with Judy. There will be many opportunities for Maureen to join us on campus before the end of the school year but in the meanwhile, we know you will join us in extending a warm welcome to Maureen and her family as we look forward to partnering with her to lead our school into an even brighter future!
President, Board of Trustees
Dear Members of the EMS Community:
When I received the news of my selection as the next head of The Elisabeth Morrow School, I was overjoyed! From my first trip to campus as a semi-finalist, through the last moment of my two-day visit, I experienced warmth and extraordinary commitment from everyone I met. I quickly came to understand how vested everyone is in the success and well-being of each child. That day I left with a full heart, and the earnest hope that I might have the chance to join your wonderful community.
But this community is not just wonderful. It possesses the hallmarks of the strongest schools: a compelling mission, a circle of dedicated teachers and staff, a strong governing board, energetic and inquiring children, and supportive families and alumni.
What’s more, it is clear that every child is seen as unique and that each member of the community makes students feel safe, welcomed, and heard. It is also clear that your children love being at school - no easy feat!
What struck me most was EMS’ diverse student body. I witnessed respect for different ways of thinking and living during my visit. And I felt a deep sense of belonging in all members of the community.
I promise, therefore, to preserve all that is good at EMS. I promise to support school personnel and parents. Hand in hand we will inspire our children to learn with joy and empower them for bright futures. After all, what gives such deep meaning to the work of an educator is a student’s enduring success.
As for the school’s enduring success, there is no doubt in my mind that we are entering a new era in the school’s storied history. A bold strategic plan is in place, there are renovations and expansions underway, and support for the school from families and alumni is at an all-time high. Indeed, we are well positioned to fulfill all the ambitious goals of the strategic plan.
I look forward most of all to getting to know you and being wholly integrated into the EMS community in service to the children that our families have entrusted to our care.
With warm regards,
Maureen Fonseca, Ph.D.