Head of School Jenny Rao Elected President of NYSAIS Board of Trustees
The New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) has elected Jenny Rao, Emma Willard School’s 17th head, as president of the board of trustees. Founded in 1947, the Association is made up of over 200 independent schools in New York State and is affiliated with both the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and the New York State Coalition for Independent and Religious Schools (NYSCIRS).
Ms. Rao, who previously served as vice president and board trustee, assumed the presidency effective with the annual meeting of the NYSAIS board in November.
“I am honored to be passing on the baton of the NYSAIS Board Presidency to Jenny Rao,” said Dr. Jean-Marc Juhel, head of Buckley Country Day School and outgoing president of the NYSAIS board.
“Jenny joined the Board in 2018 and served as Chair of the Search Committee that brought our new Executive Director, Vince Watchorn, to NYSAIS. During the search process, her visionary and purposeful leadership clearly shone through and earned her the utmost respect and admiration of everyone who served on the Committee, as well as the entire Board of Trustees. Her voice, her infectious optimism, and her sincere concern for others inspire commitment and action. She is able to rally people behind a common vision in a way that makes everyone feel heard.”
Jenny Rao joined Emma Willard as head in 2017 and has overseen an unprecedented period of evolution and growth for the school. Her leadership and vision helped successfully navigate the institution through the challenges of COVID-19, drove the development of a comprehensive five-year strategic plan, established the school’s first office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and launched the largest fundraising campaign in the history of girls’ secondary schools. Prior to assuming the headship at Emma, Jenny served in the administration at Garrison Forest School.
“Jenny being named President of NYSAIS is the highest form of praise by her peers and much deserved recognition of her dynamic and inspired leadership,” said Lisa Allen LeFort ’72, chair of the Emma Willard board of trustees.
“We have witnessed firsthand Jenny’s leadership skills and I know NYSAIS will soon be similarly dazzled by her exceptionalism. Setting my personal bias aside, Jenny Rao is truly remarkable—the NYSAIS board could not have chosen a more adroit leader. She is the inspired voice of a dynamic and optimistic vision for the future of independent education. Congratulations, Jenny, on this honor and congratulations to NYSAIS on your selection!”
Including Emma Willard, there are 16 member schools of NYSAIS devoted to girls’ education. The Association focuses its activities in the areas of evaluation and accreditation of member schools, professional development for faculty, staff and school leaders, advocacy for independent education, and educational legislation and regulatory practice in New York State.