Head of School Search
A MESSAGE FROM ELIZABETH J. MCGREGOR, HEAD OF SCHOOL
November 19, 2020
Dear Richard and Members of the Westridge Community,
As many of you know, I always have a book in hand, or a book to recommend, and so it will come as no surprise to many of you that I measure my personal and professional life as a series of chapters. The most fulfilling chapter of my life has been at Westridge, and as I come to the end of my current, three-year contract at the end of June 2022, it will be one that I will close with my retirement. I am looking forward to traveling, exploring new volunteer and consulting opportunities, and spending more time with my husband and family, especially my grandchildren.
When I retire, I will have been at Westridge for 13 years, and I clearly remember the day when I first ventured onto the campus in the early 2000s. I was on a fact-finding tour to see how campuses had succeeded in marrying architectural styles that allowed for a sense of place to be maintained. I was amazed by the history and the style of the different buildings, rarely seen in the greater Los Angeles area, and even more impressed by the people I met who were passionately dedicated to their school and their students. As a graduate of a girls’ school that shaped who I am, I could see that Westridge had a joy and a goodness and a sense of purpose for educating young women and was not satisfied to rest in the past. And so, in 2007, when I was first given a hint that Westridge was about to embark on a search for a new head of school, I was eager to be considered.
I have not been disappointed, and in fact, my years have exceeded my expectations. I wanted to be at a school where I could park my heart as well as my mind, and one that was forward-thinking. With the Board of Trustees, my dedicated colleagues, and the Westridge Parent Association, we focused on building community and trust, expanded and inaugurated signature programs, celebrated our Centennial, and ensured that we had systems in place to see us through decades to come. Even in the most challenging of times, through a recession, the pandemic, and the reckoning that has come with racial and social unrest, I have seen how our school can lean into discomfort and challenge itself to grow and thrive for the sake of its students.
Ultimately, a school that flourishes is one that remains relevant and nurtures relationships across all constituencies. There are paradigm shifts happening in education that will make this next chapter of Westridge an exciting place to be. Guided by our deep and meaningful strategic thinking, the school will embark on innovative ways to deliver programs of academic excellence and ensure that it focuses on student leadership and agency, wellbeing, equity, and inclusion. And the strong bonds that have been formed with alumnae, trustees, families, faculty and staff, and students across three-divisions (oh, how I’ll miss them!) are the threads that bind us together and ensure that Westridge students will continue to lead lives of impact.
It has been an honor to be the head of school at Westridge, to stand on the shoulders of those who have come before who so believed in our mission and values, and to be able to pass on such an important and vibrant school to the next generation of leaders.
Westridge constantly strives to rise, and I will remain a passionate believer and supporter of the school until the day I leave—and beyond!
Elizabeth J. McGregor
Head of School
A MESSAGE FROM RICHARD C. FUNG, BOARD CHAIR
November 19, 2020
Dear Members of the Westridge Family,
After a highly successful tenure, Elizabeth McGregor has let me and the Board of Trustees know that she will retire in June 2022, at the end of her thirteenth year at Westridge.
Liz’s passion for all girls’ education and strong conviction in the Westridge mission and its power to develop female leaders of the future made her a tireless advocate for our school whose contributions will shape Westridge for generations to come. She has led Westridge through an important period of growth as we embarked on our second century, and she has done so with deep love for and commitment to the institution and the community in her care. Her respect for our students and alumnae alike is evident as is her delight in watching them raise their voices, stand up for justice, and make impact on their world.
The success of a head of school is often defined by tangible achievements, which are numerous in Liz’s case. She has played a pivotal role in evolving the school’s academic and co-curricular programs to meet the changing demands of education and needs of our students. She led innovation and expansion in programs in STEM, college counseling, theatre, speech and debate, and Peer-to-Peer. Under her tenure, the school greatly expanded its technology infrastructure, instituted a one-to-one laptop program, and significantly increased its focus on social emotional learning and student wellness.
And she has shaped our physical campus, leading the completion of the Science and Math Building, the purchase of Merwin House, and of the transformation of the Academic Resource Center into a modern learning commons and energetic hub of learning on campus. As part of her dedication to expanding opportunities for our girls STEM, she oversaw development of the STEAMWork Design Studio, a maker space that purposefully puts girls designing and building in the center of campus to inspire others.
The true hallmark of her leadership is found in some of the intangible results, creating an infrastructure of distributed leadership, and promoting a more diverse student body, faculty and administration, and board of trustees. Significantly, she steered the school through two generational crises—the great recession and the pandemic, making difficult early decisions to keep our community safe and promoting pedagogical approaches for optimal learning and student wellness during distance learning.
Importantly, Liz has positioned Westridge well for the future. In January she published a strategic plan that provides a strong roadmap for the next five years and is relevant for changing times, championing, among other things, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). She also has worked diligently to develop a culture of philanthropy at Westridge, overseeing significant expansion in both the school’s annual fundraising and endowment. Indeed, during Liz’s tenure, Westridge has risen to new heights, solidifying its national reputation as a recognized leader in girls’ education.
In the past three years, as Chair of the Board of Trustees, I’ve had the privilege of working closely with Liz, including through some unprecedented challenges. Throughout, she has shown care, patience, humility, and unwavering focus on the mission. On behalf of the Board, I thank her (and Ian), with our utmost appreciation, for her many contributions and singular dedication. Liz cannot be replaced, but she has put Westridge in the strongest of positions to attract a new head of school with the right attributes to build on her legacy and lead us in the continued pursuit of excellence.
We will conduct a national search, which will begin this month, and our expectation is to make a final decision by the end of the 2020-21 school year. I am pleased to inform you that Marc Harris, trustee, former parent, and our current DEI Co-Chair, will lead a sub-committee for the search. Other members of the Search Committee are trustees Darrell Chulay Banta ’77, Holly Bowyer, Akila Gibbs, Don Morgan, and myself. We have engaged the team of Coreen Hester and Doreen Oleson at RG 175 as consultants to provide professional support for our search. Coreen and Doreen, both former heads of school, bring a wealth of experience in education and head searches. In the coming months, we will be reaching out to the community for input in various forms on tailoring the search and evaluating candidates. We have been assured that the pandemic should not prevent us from identifying strong candidates.
As we embark on this exciting journey in search of our next head of school, let’s treasure the remaining time we have working with Liz. There will be many opportunities to celebrate and honor her as her retirement draws nearer. For now, please join me and the Board in thanking Liz and giving her our full support in writing the final chapters of a distinguished career with Westridge.
Richard C. Fung (father of Angela ’16 and Ashley ’19)
Chair, Westridge Board of Trustees