In July, the Trustees appointed Kira Fabrizio, P’20, ‘23, as the Chair of the Board of Trustees. Kira joined the Board in 2018 and she has been integral in supporting the School throughout the past three years through her work on the Finance and Investment Committee.
Kira dedicated her career to academia. With a Ph.D. in business from UC Berkeley, she was on the faculty at Emory University, Duke University, and Boston University business schools before retiring from academia in 2019. Her areas of scholarly interest include firm strategy, innovation, intellectual property rights, and environmental policy, and she developed programs to educate business students on strategic responses to climate change. Kira now spends her time parenting, adventuring, and enjoying the Brookwood community.
We sat down with Kira to learn more about her and the work she will move forward for the School. Read more of the conversation below:
Q: When we talk about community at Brookwood, what is most meaningful to you?
Kira: The Brookwood community is one of the things I value most about the School. To me, community at Brookwood means valuing authenticity and celebrating each member for their unique selves. This shows up in all of the different ways that Brookwood provides opportunities for students to explore interests, take risks, grow and develop, and recognize and celebrate, whether that is musical talent or performing arts, athletics or academics, serving the community or conquering the stock market. This community intentionally and mindfully encourages each student to discover how to be their best selves, and to appreciate the variety of best selves that emerge.
Q: Time at Brookwood seems to move so quickly. What would you like to share with your children about cherishing their time here?
Kira: You’re telling me! My youngest is just two very short years away from graduation, and I know it will feel like the blink of an eye. One of the primary things that I have tried to impress upon my kids is the importance of figuring out what they like by asking them, “what feels important and valuable to you, that fills you with joy and purpose?” This is a lifelong journey. Brookwood is a wonderful place to explore and take advantage of so many opportunities to get to know yourself, which is the most important guide for your future.
Q: What would you say are the opportunities and challenges for Brookwood in the coming year? How are these opportunities and challenges shaping the conversation in the Boardroom and the goals of the Board going forward?
Kira: Our challenges and opportunities this year are closely linked. I am so excited that Jon Bartlett is now in place as the new head of school. His (remote) start went so smoothly, thanks to the work of Nancy and the board transition team over the past year. The challenge is helping Jon get to know our community and vice versa when travel and gatherings are difficult. Our best-laid plans for August get-togethers are being re-worked, and we are exploring other options to bring Jon into our community. Notwithstanding the challenges of transitioning to a new head of school during COVID and across an ocean, this new leadership is a tremendous opportunity for Brookwood. Jon is the right leader at the right time for our school, and the Board is thrilled to work with him to develop strategic plans for the years ahead.
The second main challenge is managing what I hope is the tail end of the COVID pandemic. As we transition from an active pandemic to living with this new disease throughout the course of the coming year, the school will maintain the safety of students and staff as we return to a more normal educational environment. This will be a shifting and changing context and we will need to stay adaptive and responsive as we figure this out together. This is a challenge, and one that Jon and his Leadership Team will continue to tackle, but also an opportunity. COVID has forced adaptation and change at all schools and has provided us with an opportunity to think more broadly about how Brookwood can deliver value in our community more broadly. The board will continue to consider what we have learned from this experience and how it will shape the school moving forward.
Q: Brookwood is in the early phase of implementing the “Deep Roots, Bright Future” Strategic Plan. How do you see the Board helping with the roll-out of the Strategic Plan this year?
Kira: Yes! Our strategic plan was intended to cover the 2019-2024 period, and it was rolled out shortly before the distraction of COVID and the search for our next head of school. But the central tenants of the strategic plan still resonate. At our all-board retreat, we will review and revisit the plan, exploring where we have made progress, where we may need to update, and what feels the highest priority right now. There is a lot of excitement around where we can innovate and create new opportunities to become an even more engaging, extraordinary, and inclusive school. This will form the foundation of collaborative strategic planning work with Jon, setting the goals and priorities for the school over the coming 3-4 years.
Q: What is the role of the board, and the board chair, at an independent school?
Kira: The board is the governing body of the school. One of our primary responsibilities is hiring the Head of School, as we just did with the comprehensive search process that brought us Jon Bartlett. The trustees hold fiduciary responsibility for the school, overseeing significant school policies and the mission of the school. The Board Chair is the primary point of communication between the board and the head of school, organizes the work that needs to be done, and supports the work of board committees, which include Finance & Investment, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Institutional Advancement, and the Committee on Trustees. What the Board does not do is manage the operations of the school, hiring of staff or faculty, or admissions decisions. While there is a substantial collaboration between the Board and the Leadership Team at the School, there are also clear distinctions between the work of the Board and the work of the School.