Message from Dr. Robert J. Reidy, Jr.

September 2013

Dear Colleagues:

As a new school year begins, all indications are the leadership challenges you will be facing will be even more demanding and complex than previous years. During these challenging times your stewardship of our public schools is more critical than ever, as you strive to provide hope and opportunity for your students, community and staff. 

Our primary goal at The Council is to support you in your leadership in any way possible. The following is a brief Council update, which demonstrates how we are constantly striving to improve member services, Council viability and sustainability to better serve you. Last year, we developed and implemented four action plans focused on: 

Financial Planning • Technology • Value • Hope

The following represents a brief overview of a few key activities we have engaged in related to the aforementioned goals: 

Financial: To maintain The Council's fiscal health and viability. 

To date, we have been hitting all of our financial, membership, strategic partner and program goals. I view this as a testimony to you and our colleagues’ commitment to The Council and LEAF. We are also appreciative of our strong and loyal strategic partner base. Without our strategic partners, we could not provide the level of services members currently enjoy.

LEAF regional meetings this past year were very well attended, as were our 2012 Fall Leadership Summit and 2013 Winter Institute. The support provided by the membership for the dues restructuring was exemplary and should go a long way to contribute to our long-term financial stability. Thank you. 

We are also cautiously exploring branding and revenue sharing arrangements with new partners. We currently have a unique arrangement with Forecast5 Analytics and are in the exploratory stage with JASON Learning. New York Schools Insurance Reciprocal (NYSIR) also contracted and sponsored LEAF’s Harvard Institute this past summer. 

The Council will continue to pursue quality opportunities that contribute to the fiscal stability and viability of The Council and LEAF with the goal of providing the best service possible.

However, we are aware there are many “unknowns” ahead. In order to be proactive, we have formed The Council's  Forecast 2018 planning group. The group is small and comprised of staff and members. To date, planning has consisted of reviewing historical data. We are now in the process of identifying priorities. Eventually, the planning group will develop possible scenarios based on environmental scanning and anticipate possible actions The Council should take, if environmental changes materialized.

Technology: To maximize the use of technology in all Council operations and services. 

Over the past two years, we have significantly increased our technological capabilities, both internally and to support our members. Theresa A. Wutzer, Associate Director and Director of Marketing and Communications and Deborah N. Orsini, Associate Director for Finance and Human Resources led our ongoing technology initiative. The following represents a few examples of the new systems developed:

  • Internal data management system;

  • New Council and LEAF, Inc. website with membership-only areas; 

  • The Council's Career Center, a revenue opportunity that provides a complimentary online job service for members;

  • Online membership renewal, conference and hotel registration;

  • Online voting for elections;

  • Searchable online Superintendent Resource Bank listing past requests and responses;

  • Use of Twitter and Facebook to communicate with and on behalf of superintendents;

  • Leadership in Education Action Network, an advocacy tool to contact legislators successfully and easily; 

  • Conference mobile app to provide easy access to conference scheduling and information;

  • Future opportunities include CouncilShare - an internal private network for members;

We continue to explore opportunities for more online training, interaction, and information-sharing.


Value: To demonstrate value to our customers-internal/external. 


Hope: To convey a message of hope and optimism to our members.


Every day we continue to seek out ways we can add value and provide hope for our members. 

  • Robert N. Lowry, Deputy Director for Advocacy, Research & Communications made a comprehensive presentation on advocacy, at the last House of Delegates’ meeting, sharing important and significant work they are undertaking. Most recently, they led the effort opposing pending Special Education legislative changes during the last session.

    He has also provided extensive Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) support to many of you over the past six months. This support and liaison function with the State Education Department on APPR is a new role for The Council. It is obvious, from the positive response of the membership, this support was greatly appreciated.

  • Jacinda “Jazz” H. Conboy, Esq., General Counsel continues to support many of you through contract development, Level II Legal Services and legal briefings. This past year, Jazz negotiated approximately 245 contracts for members.

  • Vreneli G. Banks, Assistant Director for Professional Development; Kelly O. Masline; Director of LEAF, Inc. and Nancy E. Wengert, Program Associate provide high quality professional development and ensure LEAF remains nimble in adapting to your ever-changing needs. The programs and services offered through LEAF continue to be well received and highly rated by participants. We appreciate your support.

  • Theresa A. Wutzer, Associate Director leads the planning and execution of our highly successful fall and winter meetings as well as coordinates and writes key communication vehicles while managing our website. Dena A. Gauthier, our Senior Graphic Designer, does a beautiful job designing our publications and managing printing vendors.

  • Our strategic partner program is conducted by Deidre G. Hungerford, Assistant Director for Business Development which remains a vital source of revenue. Deidre has done a wonderful job of cultivating a sense of loyalty between and among our partners.

  • Melanie M. Seiden, Membership Services Associate has done a terrific job refocusing our membership services and communicating with our members. Our newest colleague, Kelley A. Pratt, Administrative Assistant has proven to be a valuable addition to our team providing excellent customer service. She also manages the new online Career Center.

  • Venerina “Rina” T. Greco, Executive Assistant, has assumed additional responsibilities and now provides executive support to Bob Lowry, Kyle, Jazz and myself, as well as managing the governance area for members. Her willingness to take on this responsibility has allowed all of us to better serve you.

  • Finally, Deborah Orsini, Associate Director, has revised our budgeting and monitoring processes to ensure that we remain fiscally responsible and accountable to our members.

Every day, The Council staff strives to support you in every way possible. Thank you for your support of and commitment to The Council.

Robert J. Reidy, Jr., Ph.D. Executive Director