Building a Board of Trustees: Diversity in Action | James Wickenden | 2 Min Read

TIME, TALENT, AND TREASURE. These traits have long been the guidelines for creating an outstanding Board of Trustees. But unless a Board Chair is given the opportunity to create a governance body for a new school, the vast majority of Board Chairs inherit their team of trustees, with some being superb and others receiving mediocre marks. But for the purpose of this article, I will approach the topic as if I have been asked by a newly appointed Board Chair to specify the criteria to be used when building a Board. My advice is as follows: 

Approach this issue as if you are the owner of a professional football or baseball team. I am using this analogy, not because I love sports (which I do) but because every football or baseball team needs to recruit and develop athletes with different skills. The same is true with a Board of Trustees. Rather than have a homogeneous Board composed only of wealthy alumni or parents (though these are important to include as well), I recommend that the Chair of the Board, working collaboratively with the Head of School, adopt the philosophy of recruiting individuals with different skill sets. Consider these professional profiles…

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Jim Wickenden

Jim is a Principal at DRG and Founder of Wickenden Associates, an affiliate of DRG. Having been the CEO of one of the premier education executive search firms in the United States, Jim brings unparalleled experience and networks to best serve clients. With over 30 years of experience identifying and guiding Heads of Schools and other senior administrators of schools across the country, Jim approaches each search with flexibility and openness that responds to the individual needs and concerns of schools and their leaders. Before founding Wickenden Associates, Jim served as the Dean of Admissions at Princeton University and Director of Student and Alumni Affairs at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. A graduate of Tabor Academy and Princeton University, Jim holds a master’s degree in Counselor Education from Rutgers University, a master’s degree in the General Purposes of Education from Harvard University, and a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Boston University. As a former member of eight boards of independent schools with a wide range of missions and resource levels, Jim also knows firsthand the responsibilities shouldered by today’s trustees; and knows how to guide boards through tough transition processes and on good governance practices. Jim lives in Princeton, NJ, and when he is not at the office he enjoys reading enlightening books.