Tell me about your role here at CB. As the President and CEO of Christian Brothers High School, my role is to ensure that we have the resources we need to fulfill our mission. My day-to-day primary responsibilities include strategic planning, financial oversight, fundraising, governance, public relations and marketing, admissions, and facilities.
On a deeper level, we are all here to realize the vision of our Founder, St. John Baptist de La Salle, who established the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools to provide a human and Christian education to the young, especially the poor. Today, we know that means we must focus our efforts on educating the whole person, providing a rich and transformative educational experience that both teaches the minds and touches the hearts of our students. And, we have to work to ensure that our schools are economically, academically, and socially accessible to all.
I would like us to grow in our partnerships with the Oak Park community, where we reside. We’re not just a school on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. I want to make sure the faculty, staff, and most importantly the students, feel part of the community, that this is a place that they call home – not because this is where they spend much of their time, but because it feels that way in their heart.
A primary function as President is to make sure that there’s safety, operation, and organization. But from my heart, my job is to be a servant leader and work to make sure that our mission is carried out by our faculty and staff. I want to ensure that the children entrusted to our care are being fulfilled academically, spiritually, socially, and emotionally.
Working at Christian Brothers and serving our Lasallian Catholic mission is a vocation. It is a blessing to come to work each day and serve the students, families, and graduates of this incredible school.
When did you start on this journey with Christian Brothers?
I became President/CEO of Christian Brothers High School in July 2020.
Have you ever had a year like that before in your career?
I have to say no – and I’ve had many challenging positions in my career. But the pandemic was not something any of us expected. I’ll always reflect on this time as an opportunity to see things differently, to do things differently, to highlight traditions we want to keep, but also to explore ideas we might not have had this not been such a unique situation.
But I’ll admit it was difficult. Because one of the aspects I really loved about Christian Brothers was the community. When I first visited, I toured the campus with teachers and again at lunch with students. And those students were my toughest crowd. They asked a lot of questions. They’re very transparent in their feelings and so, as we walked around, I knew I was getting a true sense of what CB was about and it made me want to be a part of it. And so, after that experience – loving the community and my interview process – it was a challenge to officially begin the year with no students on campus. And then, to ensure that our safety protocols and procedures were in place so that we could return to campus as safely as possible presented its own set of unique challenges.
However, once we had opportunities to have small groups of students on campus, I was so excited. Then, came our return to HyFlex education and our students could come to campus two days each week. I cherished those moments. Even now that we are back to five-day-a-week instruction, the best part of my day, every day, is helping with school traffic and saying good morning to the students as they arrive.
In the year or so that you’ve been here, what are your key reflections or memories?
Moving from the public-school sector into the private school world, first and foremost I have to say that it is incredible to pray as a part of our daily life on campus. Our Chapel is beautiful, and when we celebrate Mass or prayer services on the main lawn, its awe-inspiring. Coming to California from the Midwest, I am struck by how incredibly beautiful it is here in Northern California. From the beauty of the greenery to the birds and other animals, not to mention the loving care of our facilities team, this campus is incredible. Walking into the Chapel, with its bright light and serene ambience, truly is all that you could want in a place for reflection and prayer.
I would love for us as a school to take more advantage of our regional resources. I am excited by the possibilities of bringing nature into our school community and into our curriculum, to give students practical experiences that they can take to their homes, to their jobs, and their employers. We can partner with local organizations to come in and be part of our curriculum. That’s exciting for me, and one of the things I’m most excited about working on more.
What was your background before you came to CB?
I was a superintendent. I’ve worked in education for about 25 years – everything from finance, to human resources, to academics throughout my career. And I’ve learned from every facet of it. I think the most important for me is that I love teaching. I love being involved in the classroom and with the students. When I sit with a student at this age, so filled with promise who has lots of personality, it can positively change my whole day.
And that was in the Midwest?
Yes, I’m from Chicago. We lived only a mile away from the projects, where there’s lots of urban feel, which is truthfully something I love. When I learned that CB was considering, years ago, moving the school to a different location, I was glad to know that we remained here. Because I think that’s who we are at our foundation.
What are some aspects of the CB experience that matter to you, but the public may not realize?
I would say that the curriculum we have is really based on service. We talk a lot about community, but what that looks like in the classroom is creating skills that are long living. One of the things we’re doing with our strategic visioning this fall is learning more about what CB has to offer. And that’s not just as a college preparatory school that prepares students for college, but also ready for life – ready to be a productive, high-performing employee. And that might not always include college. I was excited at graduation to see that we had students going to serve in the military, to exchange programs, and other opportunities to learn and grow. It’s not a one-way road.
I think it’s important to recognize that every student is different. It’s important to love what you’re doing, love who you are, and then everything else will fall in place. Academics will fall in place. Your career path will fall in place. And it’s not a one-size-fits-all. Every student needs to do what’s going to make them happy because happy students are happy people who will make the world better – in that order.
Looking forward toward your vision and your expectation of CB’s future and your role in it, what does that look like?
This is Christian Brothers’ 146th year of Lasallian Catholic education in Sacramento. By year 150, I want to strengthen our foundation, to continue to grow our endowment, ensure that we have strong and stable student enrollment, and to live out our mission in person every day.
When people walk into CB, I want our mission clearly visible. What I hope for is the understanding that an education here is an experience. You’re not just coming in and getting a grade. You’re coming in and every day that you’re on campus, you experience at least one thing that makes you feel, “Wow, I couldn’t have gotten this anywhere else. I learned this in math and I’m going to apply it to my career. I learned this in science and I’m going to apply it to my garden at home.”
Summing up, I want our students to feel their experience was so memorable that I don’t even need to ask them to come back and be an active alum because they are passionate about their CB community and can’t wait to get back here. And more importantly, when they step out into the world, they feel prepared for whatever it is they want to do. And that they have the tools and the resources to be a faith-filled, productive person who contributes to the world.
That’s how I want every student to leave here – as an active contributor to making the world a better place.