January 7, 2019


Dear Merion Mercy Community,


On behalf of the Board of Trustees and our Head of School Search Committee, it is with great pleasure that I announce the appointment of Laura Farrell as Merion Mercy Academy's next Head of School, effective July 1, 2019. 


With more than 25 years of experience in education, Laura is joining us from the highly regarded St. Catherine's School in Richmond, Virginia, one of the largest JK-12 all-girls schools in the country, where she has served as the Dean of Faculty.


At St. Catherine's, her leadership has helped to shape and advance many areas of the school, including all academic departments and signature programming, such as Girls Innovate and global education. She has played an integral part in several key school initiatives, including professional development, marketing/branding, school accreditations, diversity and inclusion programming, and capital projects.


A seasoned independent school leader, Laura's career began in the classroom. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of William & Mary, Laura began teaching high school Social Studies. She was a Fulbright-Hayes recipient, received a summer study grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities, and went on to earn a Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the George Washington University. While teaching, Laura emerged as a leader and distinguished herself through her work on technology initiatives; curriculum design, review, and implementation; and staff development and mentoring.


After 17 years of teaching at the high school level, including four years on the faculty of St. Catherine's School, Laura accepted her first administrative role in 2009. As Dean of Faculty, her duties include facilitating the professional growth of more than 135 faculty members; developing and running the Intensive Studies Program in STEM, Global Engagement, Entrepreneurship and the Arts; leading the work of department chairs and coordinators; and serving as a member of the Core Executive Leadership Team and as a liaison to the Coordination Committee and Education Committee of the St. Catherine's Board of Governors; and co-chairing the Global Engagement Taskforce.


"I am ready to dedicate myself to the important work of leading a vibrant Catholic girls' school," said Mrs. Farrell.  "While I treasure being a part of the faith-filled and inclusive Episcopal community of St. Catherine's, as a lifelong practicing Catholic I would be privileged to lead a Catholic school. As an educator, I believe the best schools are those that develop the 'whole person' and seek to cultivate each student's spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional, and social gifts. Merion Mercy Academy was built on a foundation of excellence with care taken to cultivating the minds, bodies, and spirits of young women. Now more than ever, girls' schools are needed so that young girls can find their voices and develop to their fullest potential. I am honored to serve as the next Head of School of Merion Mercy Academy and lead it to its next level so that it can continue to educate young women who live mercy and seek justice."


A lifelong educator and champion of all-girls education, Laura brings outstanding experience in education and values-centered leadership to Merion Mercy, as well as a strong personal and professional commitment to educational excellence, diversity and inclusion, all-girls education, and collaboration.


Laura's appointment is the culmination of an invigorating and inclusive search process supported by Carney, Sandoe & Associates, which involved participation from many members of our school community over the past six months.  In open sessions with parents, parents of graduates, students, faculty, administration, alumnae, and trustees and 1,179 responses to the Head of School Search Community Survey, MMA stakeholders expressed their hopes for the next Head of School which greatly assisted the Board of Trustees in setting priorities for the search: a visionary leader and institution builder with a deep commitment to our mission and a passion for education; an approachable leader who engages with all constituents in a joyful and mutually respectful manner; and a leader committed to Mercy core values and principles of equity and inclusion .


On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I'd like to thank the entire Merion Mercy community for their engagement, support and guidance in this search process.  I also want to express our gratitude to the Search Committee, Angela DiCocco Donnelly '04, Megan Grady (parent '19, '20), Sister Lisa Griffith, RSM, Sister Christine McCann, RSM, Catharine McGeever (parent '16), Sister Ann O'Connell '62, RSM, Christine Wechsler Rayer '95, Laura Stubbs '75, and Michelle Williams '96, for their dedicated efforts to find the best next leader for our school.


I would especially like to thank Head of School Sister Christine McCann, who has embraced the opportunity to advance MMA. Her skillful and compassionate leadership continues to champion our school's mission and institutional priorities.  Sister Christine will shepherd Laura though the transition process, thus ensuring the continuity of leadership.


We look forward to having Laura on campus in the months to come and to formally welcome Laura and her husband, Tony, and their two children, Lucy, 17, and Will, 15, to the Merion Mercy Academy community this summer.




Bill O'Shea
Chair, Board of Trustees
Chair, Head of School Search Committee

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