Board Update, Summer 2021

Jerry Aubin, Board of Trustees Chair
As we close the 2020-2021 year and look forward to the start of a new school year, the Board of Trustees thanks each and every student, parent, guide, and staff member in our community for their ongoing support of Headwaters School.
Dear Headwaters Parents, Faculty, Staff, Students, and Friends --

As we close the 2020-2021 year and look forward to the start of a new school year, the Board of Trustees thanks each and every student, parent, guide, and staff member in our community for their ongoing support of Headwaters School. We are looking forward to our 20th anniversary this fall as a time to reflect on our growth, accomplishments, and successes over the past two decades. I hope you will join us in these celebrations this year. 

Throughout the challenges of the past school year, the Board continued their active oversight of all aspects of governance at Headwaters through monthly meetings and committee work, which included the Executive Committee, Finance Committee, Facilities Committee, and the Committee on Trustees. As the school continued to adapt and respond to the pandemic, the Board served as advisors with an eye on the present and the future of the school. Please join us in also thanking the community volunteers on our Health Advisory Group (Erin Moffitt, Laurie Seremetis, Vy Ngo, and Sarah Mayes). They provided invaluable counsel and support to the school throughout this unprecedented year.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank four Trustees who are stepping off the Board this month. We are grateful to each of these community members for their incredible work during their terms. In celebration and recognition, we took time at the June 10 meeting to individually acknowledge departing trustees in the room, a practice familiar across the school.
  • Aaron Levy: Joining us in the fall of 2017, Aaron’s expertise in land development and building made him a vital part of the Board. Aaron’s teamwork and partnership with Madhu Phillips supported the school in developing our facilities plans. He will continue to be connected to the community  as a Headwaters parent on the Creek Campus. 
  • Julia Cuba Lewis: Julia joined the Board in the fall of 2015. Her non-profit experience as the Executive Director of Girls Empowerment Network (GEN) provided her valuable insight to the Board and to Ted. While on the Board, Julia became a part of the community, attending events and even sharing the Promise, Purpose, and PACT with the Austin community and helping families to find us. Her input on the evaluation process for the Head of School will be a lasting legacy to help continue honest and constructive feedback for years to come. 
  • Madhu Phillips: Madhu joined the Board in the fall of 2018 and quickly joined the Facilities Committee. As the founder of MÄD Architecture, an architectural firm concentrating on commercial design, he was able to successfully support facilities planning and execution. He also is the parent of two Headwaters students rising into 12th and 10th grades. We will miss his insights and partnership on the Board but look forward to seeing him in the community!
  • Jim Rudden: In the fall of 2016, Jim Rudden joined the Board and brought his extensive background in marketing. As a parent of three children, two of whom are recent alumni, Jim spent time on campus supporting the Marketing and Enrollment Committee in various ways from strategizing value propositions to delivering Headwaters cookies to schools in the area. His optimism and skills will be missed! 

In April, we also welcomed two new Trustees with an earlier-than-usual vote to allow these members to attend and participate in the final three meetings of the school year. We are so thankful for their willingness to join us and participate so fully. I would like to introduce you to:
  • Allan Cole: Allan was recently named Deputy to the  President for Societal Challenges and Opportunities at The University of Texas at Austin. He also serves as Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor in the Steve Hicks School of Social Work and as Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Dell Medical School. His work in academia and experience at the University brings a wealth of knowledge and support to our school. Allan is also a parent of a Headwaters High School student.
  • Magdalena Vial: After learning about Headwaters through her involvement in The New Philanthropists, Magdalena has immersed herself in Headwaters to learn more about who we are. She brings fifteen years of board leadership experience and specializes in strategic planning and financials. Her background in technology leadership also gives her an eye for innovation. We appreciate her willingness to engage with the school in such a hands-on way.
In our past year of Board business, here are some notable achievements and projects:
  • We added an extra meeting in July 2020 in order to stay in touch with the latest impacts of the virus on the school and the planning for 2020-2021. 
  • The Board approved refinancing the school’s debit in October 2020, lowering the school’s debt service by $200K. 
  • The Facilities Committee of Aaron and Madhu helped secure an extension for the Creek Site plan to allow more planning to go into any future work.
  • The Board continued to monitor fundraising goals, admissions and retention data, and our efforts around marketing. 
  • The Board worked on the Bylaws in accordance with the recommendations provided from the ISAS visiting committee. 
  • The Board decided to discontinue the Head Support & Evaluation Committee (HSEC) in favor of a more active executive committee.
  • The Board approved another 990. The most notable change in this year’s 990 was the addition of the Bird’s Nest, as well as amended and disclosed tax-exempt debt.
  • In February, the Board was presented the goals of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity efforts, including origins of the work, current data, curricula, professional development, students, community, hiring & staffing, and making diversity a strategic priority. This continued to be a topic at each meeting when discussing admissions and staffing. 
  • After a year of conservative spending and diligent planning by the school’s leadership, the Board Finance Committee voted to approve a preliminary budget that returns all staff to pre-COVID levels and restores employee benefits. 
  • New Board Member Magdelena Vial has taken on a large project to help with Strategic Priority Efforts. She is spending time getting to know each campus and how they fit together into one school to help create a model for goal setting and trustee sponsorship. This may change the traditional committee model for some of the committees that don’t meet as often. 
  • In an effort to help the Board develop greater understanding of all aspects of the school, each meeting of the Board included a Board Awareness topic. These included technology, the International Baccalaureate, DEI, Program Updates, Financial Aid, and more. These topics led to conversation in and out of the meetings. 
  • The Board continued its model for supporting the Head of School and assessing performance in a constructive manner. 
  • We hosted some meetings on campus throughout the year, always following the latest health guidance and offering an online hybrid option. 
Again, we want to thank the entire community--parents, grandparents, students, family, guides, staff, alumni, and beyond--for your continued support. The 2020-2021 school year provided challenges we could have not imagined, but as the year closes we are reflecting on what we learned and what we need going forward.

We look forward to our next Board meeting in September as we finalize the 2021-2022 budget and start the new school year. If you have questions or wish to attend a meeting, please email boardoftrustees@headwaters.org

Regards,

Jerry Aubin
Board Chair
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Springs Campus

18 months to Pre-K
6305 Menchaca Rd.
Austin, TX 78745
Phone: 512-443-8843

Creek Campus

Elementary School
9607 Brodie Ln.
Austin, TX 78748
Phone: 512-804-2708
Fax: 512-628-4810

River Campus

Middle & High School
807 Rio Grande St.
Austin, TX 78701
Phone: 512-480-8142
Fax: 512-480-0278