About Howard » Head of School Search 2022

Head of School Search 2022

Dear Howard School Community,


I am writing to provide an update on the Head of School search process at an exciting and pivotal juncture.


Over the summer, our consultants, Carney Sandoe, conducted a very thorough search. Out of a large pool of candidates, they chose nine, each of whom the Search Committee met with virtually. Following these intensive interviews, the Committee chose four finalists. The finalists will each visit the School for two days to meet with the leadership team and other groups. Our goal is to encourage consistency with each person or group across all meetings. Those who participate will be offered the opportunity to complete a confidential survey. After considering the schedules of both the School and finalists, we have confirmed the following dates: September 20-21, 27-28, October 6-7 and 13-14. We will distribute information about each candidate to the involved groups a day or two prior to his or her visit. 


Once we have completed all of the interviews, the Search Committee will gather to review feedback, and ultimately make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees. We will keep you updated on our progress.


In the meantime, I want to extend my deepest gratitude to all of the Search Committee members for their dedication and commitment of their time. And thank you to every member of The Howard School Community for your partnership and support.


Steve Young

The Howard School Board Chair, Search Committee Chair


Dear Howard School Community,


I am writing today to provide you with an update regarding our Head of School search and the process we intend to follow in the coming months. Given Marifred Cilella’s exceptional reputation in the independent school community, we will conduct a national search to attract the best qualified candidate to succeed her as Head of School. We are confident that with the School’s unique mission, history, financial stability, and exceptional community we will attract a pool of excellent candidates for the position.


We are pleased to announce that the Search Committee has selected Carney, Sandoe & Associates (CS&A), the largest nationally recognized educational search firm to assist in identifying the next leader of The Howard School. Carney Sandoe brings a deep knowledge of independent schools from over 40 years of experience placing school leaders, administrators, and educators.


We are pleased to share that Barbara Daush and Marsha Little will serve as our consultants. Before joining Carney Sandoe, Barbara was the first lay President at St. Agnes-St. Dominic School in Tennessee. She transformed the campus through two multi-million-dollar capital and endowment campaigns. Barbara also emerged as a leader among her peers by being elected to serve as the President of the Boards of the Southern Association of Independent Schools, the Tennessee Association of Independent Schools and the Memphis Association of Independent Schools. Marsha joined CS&A after two decades in independent school administration, most recently as Assistant Head of School at The Lovett School in Atlanta. Thanks in part to her longstanding professional involvement with the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS), Independent School Data Exchange (INDEX), and Global Online Academy (GOA), Marsha has a significant professional network across the country.


The Board of Trustees has assembled a Search Committee whose members will work closely with our consultants from CS&A throughout this process. It will be the responsibility of the Search Committee to screen and evaluate candidates and to make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees, which will make a final decision on the successful candidate. Our expectation is that this process will lead to an announcement of our next Head of School by fall or early winter of 2021. I am grateful to those who have agreed to serve as members of the Search Committee. Their names are listed below.


We intend for this process to be as inclusive as possible, and our goal is to offer our entire community multiple opportunities to share thoughts and aspirations along the way. Barbara and Marsha will conduct virtual stakeholder meetings within the coming weeks and are looking forward to meeting as many individuals in our community as possible, including parents, students, faculty, and alumni. More specific details about their visit will be shared in the very near future.


While we will endeavor to remain as communicative and transparent as possible, we recognize that we most likely will also need to honor requests to work confidentially with candidates to ensure that we are able to recruit and interview the most talented leaders in the country. Additionally, we have been encouraged by our consultants and others that we should maintain a nimble and fluid approach in this search, given the extremely competitive landscape of leadership recruitment. We look forward to providing updates as appropriate over the coming months. In the meantime, please feel free to be in touch with me if you have questions.


We are deeply grateful to the Search Committee and the entire Howard community for their ongoing support and enthusiasm as we navigate this transition.


Thank you,


Steve Young




Members of the Search Committee:

Steve Young, Board Chair, Alumni Parent

Angus Haig, Board Member, Current Parent

John Seeds, Board Member, Alumni Parent

Jenny Ling, Board Member, Alumni Parent

Rhonda Matheison, Board Member

Isaac Washington, Board Member

Anne Echols, Past (Retired) Faculty Member

Jon Fredericks, Past (Retired) Faculty Member

March 26, 2021 (Atlanta) – The Head of The Howard School, Marifred Cilella, announced last week her plans to retire effective June 30, 2022, at the end of the 2021-2022 school year.  


“Over these many years under Ms. Cilella’s leadership, The Howard School has remained true to its core mission, and continues to be the only K-12 language-immersion school for students with learning differences in the City of Atlanta,” said Board Chair Steve Young.


Ms. Cilella joined The Howard School as Head of School on July 1, 2005. Under her leadership, The Howard School has experienced a tremendous amount of physical growth, beginning with the transition from the previous location on Ponce de Leon Avenue to the school’s current location on Atlanta’s westside, to the latest and very successful $14.3 million Opening Doors Capital Campaign. An expanded campus, including two new facilities—the Young High School and the Marifred Cilella Student Center— have provided the physical structure that gives each student the true experience of a comprehensive school. “I know that every time anyone is on the campus they can look to the center of it and see the Marifred Cilella Student Center (The Fred), a tribute to a great person with a warm heart who truly cares about everything that is The Howard School,” Mr. Young said.


Ms. Cilella has held a variety of different volunteer leadership positions during her time in Atlanta, including President of the Atlanta Area Association of Independent Schools (AAAIS) in 2009-2010, Georgia Independent School Association (GISA) Board Member from 2011-2018, Board Member for the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) from 2013-2019, Board Member for the International Dyslexia Association Georgia Branch (IDA-GA) from 2006-2012, and Committee Member for the Beltline Subarea and Master Plan in 2010-2011. She currently serves as President of the Georgia Association of Private Schools for Exceptional Children (GAPSEC). Ms. Cilella was recognized numerous times as a Who’s Who in the country, was a member of the Leadership Atlanta Class of 2009, and is a current member of the Kiwanis Club of Atlanta.


“It has been a privilege to lead, serve, and be a part of such a talented and passionate community,” said Ms. Cilella. “Together we have remained committed to our mission to provide a Howard School education to as many children with language-based learning differences as possible.”


Mr. Young said a national search will be conducted for a new Head of School.