Head of School Announcement
In an announcement on April 23, 2021, Board Chair Allison (Hiltz) Kropp '93 shared the news that Rich Wilson will retire at the end of the 2021-22 school year. He will be succeeded by Kelley Schiess, Assistant Head for Enrollment Management and Community Engagement, who will start her tenure as Head of School on July 1, 2022.
Letter from Allison (Hiltz) Kropp
Dear Summit Families, Alumni, Faculty, Staff and Friends,
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am writing to share with you that Rich Wilson has announced that he will be retiring as Head of School next year, after 12 years of leading our Summit. Rich will finish his tenure on June 30, 2022. Rich has been, and continues to be, an outstanding leader and a person of character. Our Summit is in a position of tremendous strength as a result of his skilled financial acumen and management. The strategic plan that he has led has enabled us to innovate our curriculum; expand the leadership and creative problem-solving components of our Character Education Program; and strengthened our value proposition, business model and culture of philanthropy. Over this next year, Rich will continue to lead us as we wrap up an incredibly successful Leading the Way Campaign and the final year of our strategic plan. I hope that you will join me in offering our most sincere gratitude to Rich for his exemplary service to our Summit. I look forward to joining with you as we celebrate his many accomplishments throughout the next year.
I also want to share with you that, after several months of a thorough and purposeful process, the Board has appointed Kelley Schiess, our current Assistant Head for Enrollment Management and Community Engagement, to succeed Rich as our next Head of School, starting July 1, 2022. This decision was made at a special Board meeting last week, where Kelley was unanimously approved. The Board is very excited about this plan of succession and the continuity of leadership that Kelley will provide for our Summit.
When Rich confirmed with the Board this past fall his intention to retire, the Board got to work implementing a process for identifying his successor. This process was led by the Coordinating Committee and was based upon a detailed needs assessment. The Committee’s goal was to find the right fit for our school at this time. The Committee agreed that, at this point in our school’s history, there would be great advantage in appointing someone who could propel us forward into our next strategic plan without losing momentum. If the next Head came with the insight into what has worked in the past, what has not, and what is working well now, it would accelerate our ability to advance new initiatives.
The Committee carefully considered an external search, but unanimously agreed that we had an exceptional internal candidate in Kelley Schiess. That decision was confirmed when Rich shared with the Committee his strong, thoughtful, and unequivocal endorsement of her. The Committee made its recommendation to the full Board at a Board meeting in February and sought input on both the recommendation and the process. Following that meeting, the Trustees participated in a series of small group meetings with Kelley in March during which we openly discussed her skills, experience, and vision for the school. As a result of these meetings, the Trustees collectively agreed that Kelley brings a new and unique perspective to the Head of School role, based on her many years of experience at our Summit, which positions her well to lead us forward in the coming years. The unanimous vote by the Board to appoint Kelley and not undertake an external search underscores the confidence we have in Kelley and her ability to successfully lead our Summit as its next Head of School.
The Board’s decision to elevate Kelley is reflective of the extraordinary culture at the Summit and our mission of developing leaders. Kelley has been a member The Summit’s leadership team and community for 19 years and has vast relationships across the community. Throughout her time at The Summit, Kelley has demonstrated a strong work ethic, and a deep love, passion, and commitment to our school. She understands our special Summit culture. She values and promotes our Notre Dame heritage and understands what it means for our Summit to be both Catholic and independent. She has a keen awareness of both the challenges and opportunities our unique identity presents for our school in this competitive school market, and she embodies the Summit core values of excellence, respect, grace and care. Additional information about Kelley can be found here.
We are and will continue to be led by leaders of character, who lead by example and inspire all of us to Aim High. I want to thank my fellow Trustees for their time and thoughtful approach to this important transition. We look forward to the future as our community continues to grow in grace and wisdom under the excellent leadership of Rich Wilson and Kelley Schiess.
Allison (Hiltz) Kropp ‘93
Chair of the Board of Trustees
Letter from Rich Wilson
Head of School
As Allison’s note indicates, the Board Coordinating Committee and I have been in discussion on the ideal timing for my retirement. The end of the next school year seems like the best time:
- I turn 70 in October and will complete my 12th year as head next March. Since the average independent school headship lasts six years, I have beaten the odds and better quit while I’m ahead!
- We will have completed the Leading the Way campaign and tied up the loose ends of that.
- The school is in strong financial shape with a balanced budget, no debt, and no crises on the horizon.
- The Leadership Team is very strong as are our faculty and staff. Our volunteer organizations have strengthened in recent years.
- The board will soon embark on the process of developing the next strategic plan to carry The Summit forward over the ensuing five years. It makes sense for the next head to participate in that process and then lead the school’s implementation of that plan.
I am thrilled that the Board has chosen Kelley to assume leadership of the school going forward. Having worked very closely with her over my time here, I’ve had a front row seat in observing her considerable leadership and managerial skills. Her communication skills are outstanding. Her thinking skills analytically, practically, strategically and creatively are all first rate. Her collaboration skills are some of the best I have seen in my career. She has the motivation and drive to push the school forward and inspire others to join her in doing so. She is highly regarded by the Leadership Team, the faculty and the staff. Importantly, she understands the school, its mission, its stakeholders, and the Cincinnati school market better than any outsider. I don’t believe she will have much of a learning curve in her new job. I believe the board has made a wise decision in choosing her as the next head.
I look forward to working closely with her in the coming year to ensure a smooth transition.
Head of School