HEADS OF SCHOOL
Searching for a new Head of School?
You can trust us to get it right.
Selecting a Head of School is the most consequential decision a Trustee Board will make. It is absolutely essential that the Board gets it right. If your Trustee Board is considering a search for a new Head of School, you might be wondering, "What does this search process entail?" A great first step is to contact Bo Dixon, our Managing Partner.
At no obligation to you, Bo will answer your questions and concerns, while maintaining the utmost confidentiality. Bo has more than 10 years of hands-on experience with successful Head of School searches, and spent over 30 years as a Head of School for 3 independent schools. Bo will walk you through the Head of School search process, explain what you can and should expect, and answer any other questions you may have.
Choosing a search firm can be complicated. Search committees often choose a search firm based on its size, or its transaction volume, without considering how a smaller, more focused search firm might be a better fit. Some search firms cater more to higher education markets, or to corporate/Fortune 500 customers than they do to independent schools. The Finney Search Group limits the scope of our client schools to the top 100 – 150 independent schools in the country. This is the sole market space in which we operate.
Unlike most search firms, The Finney Search Group is transformation-driven, not volume-driven. Rather than undertaking as many Head of School searches as possible, we believe a better approach is to carefully and purposefully select a limited number of Head of School searches to perform each year. Our willingness to take on fewer searches allows all 5 FSG partners to devote extra time & effort to conduct a thorough & timely search for a transformational leader.
Check out our Success Stories. Learn how we're different. Then let's have a conversation.
How The Finney Search Group is Different
Proven History of Success
Our 100% retention rate when placing Heads of School demonstrates our understanding of what makes great leaders of independent schools. The Finney Search Group has thrived because our managing partners are accomplished placement professionals, not just because of their prior careers as independent school heads and leaders. Our team has developed a special lens that recognizes the difference between a “good” candidate and a truly authentic, transformative leader.
The Quality of Our Network
Most good search firms have large networks. The Finney Search Group is no exception. However, we believe it’s not the size of our network, but the quality of our network that sets us apart from other search firms. Our national network is comprised of “1%’ers” - respected leaders who are priceless credits to their school communities. Many are so passionate about their work that they rarely take the time to look for other opportunities. We excel in proactively recruiting such candidates and sharing your School's "story" with them.
Total Team Approach
Trustees and Search Committees expect a search firm's top talent to assist in the search for a Head of School. We won't assign your search management to former Heads of School now working as independent consultants. Nor do we assign your search to be managed by junior partners. When you engage with The Finney Search Group to find your next Head of School, founding partners Sherm Bristow and Bo Dixon, along with partners Chris Hutchins and Trey Hooper, personally collaborate with your Search Committee to find an exceptional leader for your school.
Chief Operating Officer of Crescent Capital
Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Verbum Dei High School, Los Angeles, CA
“We could not have been more pleased in hiring The Finney Search Group to source a new president for a Jesuit high school. The entire team was highly engaged, very professional, brought strong candidates for the committee to consider, and provided valuable counsel to the search committee. If the need arises, we would hire them again.”
We Work Together to Build Out a Custom Timeline
A typical Head of School Search might last 12 – 18 months from announcement of the search to the selection of the new Head of School. However, The Finney Search Group has developed a successful accelerated process whereby the process is condensed to 6 – 8 months. In all cases, we work together with the Search Committee to build a custom timeline that takes each school's unique situation into account. For more information on how we’ve accomplished this in several of our most recent Head of School searches, please contact Sherm Bristow.
No Upfront Subscription Fees
We do not charge an upfront subscription fee as some firms do, and we only present you with qualified candidates that meet your unique requirements for the position you need filled. We are fiercely proud that we know our candidates as applicants, teachers, administrators, coaches, Heads of School and human beings.
We work closely with the Trustees and Search Committee to clearly understand the skills and character traits required of the position, and how the school's culture will influence the process. The importance of this listening step cannot be over-emphasized. Led by Sherm Bristow and Bo Dixon, our team carefully listens to your requirements, while also providing support and guidance as an objective third party evaluator.
A thorough and comprehensive job prospectus is developed that presents the job opportunity, describes the school and its core values and culture, and outlines the job qualifications sought in the new leader.
Search Process Legwork
The Finney Search Group relieves you of all the preliminary legwork and discovery. We collect and review all resumes, including those submitted directly to Board members. We handle all candidate correspondence, phone calls, and interviews, leaving the Board free to focus on other critical issues and objectives. Depending on the specific preferences of the Board and search committee, we provide you with the desired distance from the process.
We Communicate Effectively and Efficiently
We don't inundate you with dozens of potential candidates and resumes. Privately, if requested, we can work as closely as you wish to pare the list of potential candidates. We provide periodic updates to your designees as the process unfolds and meet with any constituency to provide updates during the process.
We Submit the Finalists
The Finney Search Group delivers to you an agreed-upon number of semi-finalists, at which point the Board and/or Search Committee takes over the final step of the process, culminating in the hire.
Our Placement History
Teachers, Administrators, Coaches
Heads of School/
Division Heads of School
“The St. James Academy Head Search Committee could not have been more pleased by the services provided by The Finney Search Group. They were responsive to our needs and our timeline. They listened to our community and helped us find the best candidates for our school. At no point did we feel like we were involved in a cookie-cutter process or were being sent the "next man/woman up." At each juncture of the process, from developing the job description, community meetings, vetting the candidates, conducting the interviews, narrowing our selection, and finalizing our choice, our confidence in Sherm, Bo and Chris grew and our trust was rewarded.”