About CVA

Head of School Search

Head of School Search

In February 2023, Kate Webber Punderson ’89, Head of School, announced her intention to conclude her leadership of CVA in June 2024. And, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, Chair Lindy MacKinnon Gruen ’92, expressed deep gratitude to Kate for her exceptional leadership and longstanding commitment to the Academy serving for the past 12 years as Head of School, and for the 10 years prior in two leadership positions.

The Board is currently engaged in the search process for CVA’s next Head of School. Leading this important endeavor are Search Committee Co-Chairs Kevin Burns P ’04 and Peter C. Smith ’08. The Search Committee will share updates via this web page as the process moves forward to appoint Kate’s successor. Members of the CVA community can share their thoughts and perspectives with the Search Committee by emailing boardchair@gocva.com.
"Kate’s extraordinary leadership has been transformative for CVA’s past, present, and future Big Dogs. Living and breathing the CVA mission for decades, her selfless devotion, solid character, and unwavering commitment, along with her diligence, knowledge, and experience, have made her a special and invaluable leader. CVA is in a position of exceptional strength and is well-poised for continued progress through this leadership transition."
-Lindy MacKinnon Gruen ’92, Chair, Board of Trustees

Search Committee

List of 8 items.

  • Kevin Burns P ’04

    Honorary Trustee and Search Committee Co-Chair
    Kevin Burns has worked as a business owner for 30 plus years. Kevin is currently semi-retired and the managing partner of a property management group. He is the proud father of two adult children Meghan (41) and Benjamin (38 & CVA alumnus ’04) and the proud grandfather of 2 granddaughters and 3 grandsons ranging in age from 2 - 6 years old. He was a member of the Carrabassett Valley Academy Board of Trustees from 2005 - 2021 serving in various leadership roles including Board Chair from 2007 - 2013 and 2018 - 2020. Kevin received the King Cummings Service Award in 2013 and was granted the status of Honorary Trustee of Carrabassett Valley Academy in 2021. He had the privilege of working with two CVA Head of Schools, John Ritzo and Kate Webber Punderson ’89 during his Board Chair tenure. Kevin was a member of the Search Committee during the transition from John Ritzo to Kate Webber Punderson. Kevin lives in Falmouth, Maine with his wife Mary of 46 years. Together they enjoy traveling, getting lots of time with family, and spending as much time as possible in Carrabassett Valley at their Sugarloaf home enjoying the Sugarloaf area and all the great opportunities it provides.
  • Peter C. Smith ’08

    Treasurer, Board of Trustees and Search Committee Co-Chair
    Peter Smith, CVA class of 2008, spent 6 years post college working in finance between Philadelphia and Boston before making a career change to become an airline pilot. He has served on the CVA Board of Trustees for 6 years, 4 of which have been in the capacity as Treasurer. Prior to joining the board, Peter was on multiple sub-committees for the Academy including roles with alumni relations and annual giving. He is motivated by the important role CVA plays in the greater Sugarloaf community and is focused on maintaining financial stability for the school for many years to come.
  • Sean Dundon

    Vice Chair, Board of Trustees
    Sean Dundon was Co-Founder of a commercial real estate due diligence firm for 25 years prior to pivoting to his current business development role at a fiber-optic broadband software firm. Sean has connections to several CVA community and board members as well as expertise as Board Chair for an independent school for many years. Sean currently serves on the Board of Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), located in Brunswick, Maine. Sean was also a member and past-Chair of the City of Portland Planning board from 2013-2022. Sean has been a member of the CVA Human Resource and Governance (HRG) committee since joining the board in 2016 and now serves as the HRG Chair as well as Vice-President of the CVA Board. In his free time, Sean is an avid tennis player and skier and recently welcomed his first grandchild.
  • Tim Flight ’95

    Secretary, Board of Trustees
    Tim Flight grew up spending weekends skiing and snowboarding at Sugarloaf. His connection with CVA traces back to his time as a Weekend Program participant and later as a boarding student. Following his graduation, Tim continued his involvement with CVA by coaching the Weekend Program. Many years down the road, he became a member of the Board of Trustees and is currently Secretary of the Executive Committee. Currently, Tim works as a freelance software engineer, operating from his home in Carrabassett Valley. This dream locale has been his near full-time residence since his days as a CVA student-athlete. He lives with his wife, Anne, an Art teacher at Stratton School. His deep-rooted ties to the community extend to his roles as a member of the Town of Carrabassett Planning Board and History Committee. Additionally, he serves on the Board of Directors for the town's public library, which also serves as CVA's library.
  • Paul Fritzson

    Board of Trustees
    Paul Fritzson retired after a career as an executive with an international supermarket company. A Sugarloaf skier since 1977, he became a Carrabassett Valley resident following his 2005 retirement. Shortly thereafter he joined CVA’s Board of Trustees where he continued to serve prior to retiring from the Board in 2023. He served as Board Vice-Chair, Finance Committee Chair, member of the Executive Committee, and Chair of the Building Committee during the construction of the Bill & Joan Alfond Competition Center. A former Sugarloaf Ironman, he continues to ski virtually every day the mountain is open - and occasionally when it isn’t. When not playing in the snow, he and his wife, Kim, enjoy traveling with friends, with a particular fondness for St John in the USVI. At home, they are kept busy chasing their “kids,” Walter and Stanley, two extremely rambunctious Bernedoodles.
  • Lindy MacKinnon Gruen ’92

    Chair, Board of Trustees
    Lindy MacKinnon Gruen ’92 has been a senior administrator in independent schools for 27 years. For the past 11 years, she has served as the Director of Administrative and Strategic Affairs at The Fessenden School in West Newton, MA, a day and boarding school for boys in Pre-Kindergarten through grade nine. In this chief of staff position, she helps facilitate the smooth functioning of the School and prioritizes strategic communications and the implementation of resources. Prior to this role, Lindy served as Fessenden’s Director of Communications for seven years. Before Fessenden, she spent nine years at Shore Country Day School in Beverly, MA, as the Director of Communications. Prior to her time in independent schools, Lindy worked in public relations for a business intelligence software firm, and in marketing for corporate accounts in the beverage and oil refinement industries. She has served on the CVA Board of Trustees since 2018 and became the first CVA alumna to Chair the Board of Trustees in 2020. She received a BA in communications from Boston College.
  • Gilly Hitchcock P ’06, P ’10

    Former Board of Trustees
    Gilly Hitchcock, recently retired, sold an executive recruiting business specializing in pulp and paper industry executive searches. Early in her career she worked in the industry in engineering roles. Gilly is a parent to two CVA graduates, both of whom were day students as the family lived in Carrabassett Valley. She was very involved in the Parent Organization, fund raising, and more during their tenure in school from 2002 through 2010. Both children went on to college and skied successfully in their disciplines. Gilly served on the CVA Board for several years until 2021. She is currently a board member of the local hospital, Farmington Memorial Hospital. Gilly and her family enjoy spending retirement time between a home in Kingfield along the river and a home in Brooksville on Penobscot Bay, with their golden retrievers. 
  • Shelby MacLeod, P ’26

    Parent, Weekend Program Parent
    Shelby MacLeod has been a Sugarloafer since 1982 and raced alpine and nordic in high school with many skiers who came out of the CVA program. Her daughter Logan attended CVA for 7th, 8th, and 9th grade, racing alpine, and her son Charlie is a boardercross athlete who aspires to go to CVA in 2024 after he completes his final year with the weekend program. When Shelby isn’t skiing, she can be found managing Brand, Corporate Communications, and Live Events for IDEXX, a publicly traded animal health company based in Westbrook, Maine.
The results of the Head of School Search Community Survey, in addition to conversations with school leaders, guided the development of the Information for Candidates (IFC) document. This comprehensive document provides potential candidates with an overview of CVA, an outline of its opportunities and challenges, and a profile of the skills and attributes that the Search Committee will look for in the next Head of School.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

List of 9 frequently asked questions.

  • What is the timeline?

    The position will be posted nationally in July and candidate recruitment will continue in earnest through September 1st. The goal is to identify a candidate and make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees in the fall of 2023.
  • What is the role of the Board of Trustees in the search?

    The Board is ultimately responsible for selecting the Head of School. A board-designated Search Committee is conducting the search.
  • What is the role of the Search Committee?

    Search Committee members possess a broad range of experiences, talents, and perspectives, an understanding of CVA’s history and approach, and a strong commitment to the CVA mission. The Search Committee leads the search process, meets with and reviews candidates, and makes a recommendation to the full Board of Trustees. We are incredibly appreciative to the Search Committee members for this important and substantial commitment to CVA.
  • How will the Board and Search Committee keep the community updated?

    While much of the search process must be kept confidential, the Search Committee is also committed to transparency. The community will be kept informed through periodic email updates as well as  through this page on CVA’s website.
  • Will additional CVA community members be involved in the process?

    The Board and the Search Committee are committed to conducting a transparent and inclusive process that will include opportunities to engage the broader CVA community. Input and perspective from a wide-range of CVA community members will be critical to facilitating a successful leadership transition. We will invite feedback from all CVA stakeholders through listening sessions, online surveys, and candidate campus visits.
  • What are the criteria for selecting the next Head of School?

    The search committee in partnership with our consultant will develop a position statement (Information for Candidates) that articulates the opportunities and challenges that await the new Head of School as well as the professional skills and personal characteristics we believe are most desirable and relevant to successfully lead CVA. These include a passion for our mission, leadership experience in independent schools, excellent communication skills, and an understanding of the high-level athletic environment in which CVA students compete.
  • There are great people already working at CVA—wouldn’t it be easier to choose someone here?

    CVA is fortunate to have such a capable and committed group of professionals working at the school. We will encourage individuals who have an interest in the Head’s role to apply for the position. All candidates will be considered and reviewed for alignment with our desired leadership profile—this is crucial to the integrity of the process and to ensure we select the individual we believe to be best suited to be the next leader of  CVA.
  • What if I know someone who may be interested?

    Interested candidates should contact Tracy Bennett (tbennett@educatorscollaborative.com) of Educators Collaborative directly. She will maintain confidentiality for all recommended candidates. We also invite members of the community to make referrals of appropriate candidates. Please contact Tracy to share names and contact information of potential candidates, and she will reach out directly to them.
  • When will the next Head of School begin?

    CVA’s next head of school will begin their tenure on July 1, 2024. A Transition Committee will form in early 2024 to oversee onboarding, community introductions, and facilitate a smooth change in leadership. 

Search Updates & Communications

List of 6 items.

  • CVA Announces Next Head of School, October 6, 2023

    The Board of Trustees at Carrabassett Valley Academy (CVA) has announced the appointment of Alex Godomsky as its next Head of School. The Board’s unanimous decision followed the recommendation of the Search Committee. Alex, who will begin his tenure on July 1, 2024, succeeds current Head of School, Kate Webber Punderson, following her 13 years of service in the role.   

    The full communication is available here
  • Message from Search Committee Co-Chairs, September 11, 2023

    On September 11, 2023, the Co-Chairs of the Board of Trustees shared an update regarding the Head of School Search with the CVA community. 
    The full communication can be found here. 
  • Message from Search Committee Co-Chairs, July 28, 2023

    On July 28, 2023, the Co-Chairs of the Board of Trustees shared the results of the Head of School Search Community Survey with the CVA community. 
    The results from the survey, in addition to conversations with school leaders, guided the development of the Information for Candidates (IFC) document. This comprehensive document provides potential candidates with an overview of CVA, an outline of its opportunities and challenges, and a profile of the skills and attributes that the Search Committee will look for in the next Head of School.
    The full communication can be found here. 
  • Message from Search Committee Co-Chairs, July 13, 2023

    On July 13, 2023, the Board of Trustees announced that they have retained Educators Collaborative, a nationally-known consulting group that specializes in finding senior leaders for independent schools, to shepherd the process and ensure we identify candidates with the skills and experience necessary to lead CVA’s unique program and continue to deliver on our promise of academic and athletic excellence. Search Committee Co-Chairs Kevin Burns p'04 and Peter C. Smith '08 will work closely with EC partner Tracy Bennett as well as Kate and the staff to ensure a thoughtful and successful leadership transition.  
    The communication included a link to a Community Survey which provides the CVA community an opportunity to share input on the desired profile for CVA’s next leader. The survey must be completed by July 24th and responses are anonymous. 
    The full communication to the community can be found here.
  • Head of School Search Update, April 29, 2023

    On April 29, 2023 the Chair of the Board of Trustees announced the Search Committee members. 
    The full communication to the community can be found here.
  • Announcement, February 12, 2023

    On February 12, 2023, the Board of Trustees announced their acceptance of Kate's decision to retire effective June 2024. 
    The full communication to the community can be found here.