Head of School Search

In October 2019, Sandra Luna announced that she will retire from her role as head of school at the end of the 2020-2021 school year. We are grateful for Sandra's dedication and service to the School's mission over the past 14 years.

After an extensive head of school search process, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved the appointment of Michele Spitulnik as Julia Morgan School for Girls’ next head of school, effective July 1, 2021.

Read the New Head of School Announcement Letter from the JMSG Board Search Committee.

Search Committee Updates

List of 4 items.

  • May 27, 2020 Letter

    May 27, 2020
    Dear members of the Julia Morgan School for Girls community,
    We wanted to provide you with an update on our head of school search and how it’s progressing. 
    Recently, the search committee interviewed seven semi-finalists, each of whom offered a variety of skills and experiences. After thoughtful deliberation, the committee reached a consensus to invite three candidates back for more extensive meetings and interviews. We are confident that any of these individuals would make a great head of school for Julia Morgan for years to come.
    As noted in our last communication, the finalist visits are a critical step in the search, as it allows both the candidates and the school community to engage with one another. We initially thought it would be best to conduct these visits once school opened in the fall. However, we are not entirely certain what the opening of the next school year will actually look like. These times require all of us to be flexible and adapt to a new reality where our primary focus is on the safety and well-being of our community and the candidates. As such, we have decided that it is best to move forward with virtual visits for our finalists and not wait until the fall.
    We are currently developing a virtual visit schedule for early to mid-June that will allow the finalists to interact with our community and help them get a sense of who we are. All members of our community will have the opportunity to meet with each finalist. We will send you information on the candidates and the schedule once it is set. We will also include an online feedback form to share your thoughts on the finalists with the search committee.
    Please note the search committee will be thoroughly checking the references for each finalist. Because of the serious nature of this process and the professional courtesies we must provide to the candidates, we ask that you allow the search committeeand the search committee aloneto conduct reference checks. In keeping with the respectful and professional protocol we have agreed to with the candidates, if you know of someone whom it would be appropriate for the committee to speak with, please contact us so that we may reach out to that person directly.
    Throughout this process, the search committee has worked hard to gather all of the data necessary through evaluation of candidate materials, interviews, reference checks, observations, analysis, etc., to find the right person to lead Julia Morgan School for Girls. Feedback from our community and further engagement with the candidates will be another tool as we decide. Ultimately, from this work, the committee will be making a recommendation to the board of trustees for their review and final decision.
    This is an exciting time for our community and we look forward to the final phases of our search for the next head of school for JMSG. Meanwhile, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.


    Zoe Leonard-Monrad
    Search Chair

    Steve Chan
    Board Chair
  • April 14, 2020 Letter

    April 14, 2020
    Dear members of the Julia Morgan School for Girls community,
    On behalf of the Head of School Search Committee, we would like to provide an update. Understandably, we, like the rest of the world, find ourselves in this unprecedented time. Our first priority is the well-being of our students, their families, and our faculty and staff as we deal with the challenges of COVID-19 and its impact on our community.
    During this time, we have been working with our search consultants Risa Oganesoff Heersche and Mathew Heersche of Educational Directions. Risa and Mathew have been recruiting and evaluating candidates. We are thrilled to report that the response has been very positive. All of our prospective candidates have resonated with JMSG’s mission and values, our strong sense of community, the dynamic programming, and our reputation.
    While Risa and Mathew are working to narrow down a group of candidates that best match the qualities we are looking for in our next head, the current circumstances have impacted the process. As you would expect, the educators who are potential candidates are also dealing with challenges at their current schools and, clearly, their focus and priority are with supporting their current school communities. As a result, the recruitment and evaluation process is moving slower than anticipated. In spite of these challenges, we have a quality pool of candidates and Risa and Mathew are continuing to recruit and evaluate additional prospects.
    What’s next:
    Our search committee will narrow down this candidate pool to a group of semi-finalists to interview. Given the situation, these interviews will take place via video in early May. This group will be interviewed only by the search committee in order to preserve the candidates’ confidentiality. Confidentiality is standard practice at this stage of the search, to avoid any unnecessary repercussions for candidates who have not informed their respective school communities of their interest in pursuing other opportunities.
    After the semi-finalist interviews, the committee will select finalists. In normal circumstances, each finalist would conduct a two-day visit at JMSG. This visit is a critical step in the search process for the finalists and our school communityit allows our community to get a sense of the individual and, just as importantly, to allow the finalist to get a sense of us. Given the importance of this stage of the search, it’s crucial that these visits be done in person (not via video) so the candidate and community can interact.
    We had originally planned to conduct finalist visits in May, and identify our next head prior to the end of this academic year. However, as our physical school will not reopen this academic year, we plan to host these visits as soon as school is open in the fall (early September). We recognize the uncertainty of the moment and continue to encourage flexibility and understanding on everyone’s part. Candidates are also fully aware and understanding of the current circumstances.
    We are still in an excellent position for finding our new head of school. We have a strong pool of candidates, and we plan to identify this individual early in the new school year, allowing time for the transition and a July 2021 start. We will continue to provide updates as we move forward. We are deeply grateful for our JMSG community and truly appreciate your understanding during these difficult times.
    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us or Risa and Mathew, our search consultants from Educational Directions.
    Zoe Leonard-Monrad
    Search Chair   

    Steve Chan
    Board Chair
  • February 5, 2020 Letter

    February 5, 2020
    Dear members of the Julia Morgan School for Girls Community,
    As you know, our search professionals from Educational Directions, Risa Oganesoff Heersche and Mathew Heersche, were on campus January 30 and 31 to learn about JMSG’s community, and culture, hopes for the next head of school and the qualities we seek for this role.
    If you did not have the chance to meet with them, there is still an opportunity to share your thoughts through our online survey—they’d love to hear from you. The survey is available by clicking on the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JMSG21. It will remain open until Monday, February 10.
    Mathew and Risa have shared their initial impressions with us. They noted that JMSG is a warm and welcoming community with a real sense of family, and one that lives out the spirit of its mission and its commitment to educating girls. They saw great opportunities for the next leader as we continue to move forward into our next chapter.
    The next step is for Mathew and Risa to develop a search prospectus (position description) in which they will articulate the special aspects of our JMSG community, the opportunities for the next head of school, and the qualities we seek for this individual, both personally and professionally. This document will be shared with the search committee for review and approval and will be posted on our website.
    This document will be used by Mathew and Risa as part of their recruitment efforts. Over the course of the next months, they will be marketing and recruiting for this opportunity. In addition to Educational Directions’ extensive database of prospects, they will be reaching out to individual educational leaders, executive directors of educational organizations, a variety of educational leadership programs, including those focusing on girls’ education and regional school associations to notify them of this wonderful opportunity.
    Risa and Mathew will be identifying and screening top prospects whom they will present to the search committee. Our goal is to determine a group of top-level candidates and then narrow that number down to those individuals whom the search committee will interview. From that group will come finalists. There will be opportunities for school community members to meet the finalists at the appropriate time.
    We look forward to the search process and will keep all members of our school community informed on its progress via regular updates.
    Zoe Leonard-Monrad
    Search Chair

    Steve Chan
    Board President
  • January 21, 2020 Letter

    January 21, 2020
    Dear Members of the Julia Morgan School for Girls community,
    With the recent announcement of Sandra Luna’s retirement, the Board of Trustees has begun the search process for her replacement. The selection of the new head is one of the most important responsibilities of the Board of Trustees. In order to continue the outstanding work Sandra has accomplished, we will search for an exceptional individual who believes in our mission and shares a love for our students. The Board has established a search committee which will be led by Zoe Leonard-Monrad, Trustee. Search committee members are:
    • Zoe Leonard-Monrad, Trustee and alum ‘07
    • Steve Chan, Board President
    • Judith Glickman, Trustee
    • Emily Selvin, Trustee and alum ‘03
    • Pam Maycroft, Faculty
    • Scott Mackey, Faculty 
    Another action was to identify and engage a search firm to assist us in this all-important task. We carefully researched and spoke with a number of highly regarded firms, selecting the highly respected national firm, Educational Directions of Portsmouth, Rhode Island, as our partner. The search will be led by Risa Oganesoff Heersche and Mathew Heersche. Risa and Mathew both bring deep experience as leaders in education (primarily in California), as search professionals, as well as expertise and enthusiasm to our search. For more information about the firm and our consultants, we invite you to visit the Educational Directions’ web site at www.edu-directions.com.
    The head of school search process will be an open and inclusive one. An important first step is that our consultants Risa and Mathew spend time on campus to learn as much about our school as possible. They will visit Julia Morgan on January 30-31 and interview members of our entire school community (students, faculty, parents, administrators, alumnae, board members) as to what we seek in our next leader. Among the key questions that they will ask of all of us are:
    • What makes JMSG special, i.e. what differentiates it from other schools?
    • What are JMSG’s aspirations?
    • What are the perceived challenges and opportunities for the school at this time?
    • What experience/leadership styles/personality traits will best meet those needs within our culture?
    We would love your input and encourage you to attend our Parents/Alumna forums scheduled at the following times:
    • Thursday, January 30, from 2:45pm at JMSG
    • Friday, January 31, from 8amat JMSG
    In addition, we are providing an additional opportunity for your input through an online survey. You can access the survey at the following link: Head of School Search Survey Link.
    From all of the information gathered through this process, Risa and Mathew, with the search committee, will develop a search prospectus to be used as part of their overall marketing and recruitment efforts. We will, of course, share this description with all members of the JMSG community once it is completed.
    Our search professionals will be reaching out both nationally and locally to educational leaders, executive directors of educational organizations, as well as other organizations to notify them of our opening. Over the next few months, they will be identifying and evaluating top prospects. Our goal is to identify a group of top-level candidates and then narrow that number down to five to seven individuals with whom the search committee will conduct interviews. From that group will come three finalists who will be visiting us. We ensure there will be opportunities for school community members to meet each of the finalists.
    We are grateful for all that Sandra has done for us and there will be opportunities to recognize her work throughout the 2020-21 academic year. We look forward to the search process and will keep all members of our school community informed as to its progress via regular updates. All information pertaining to the search will be posted on the “Head of School Search” page on our website. 
    Zoe Leonard-Monrad
    Search Chair

    Steve Chan
    Board President