Strategic Planning

An Overview

Emma Willard School celebrates a vibrant learning community, a growing endowment, and alignment with our mission where we proudly foster the habits of an intellectual life for young women. Founded in 1814, we acknowledge the early years of our third century by imagining an even brighter and more committed future. Our world today calls out to young women leaders who demonstrate moral strength and a commitment to serve and shape the world for the better. Emma Willard School was built for this moment in time. Just as founder Emma Hart Willard recognized the need for girls to be educated across all disciplines, we must take this opportunity to reflect on the needs of our students and anticipate how an Emma Willard student of today can positively impact others as leaders, collaborators, problem-solvers, and well-educated young women.
With bold and aspirational intentions, our school community chooses to establish a vision for the next decade by embarking upon a strategic planning process that will clarify our strategic direction, reinforce our mission, and establish the central priorities that will guide the school. We’ve been inclusive in our process by drawing on thinking from our students, parents, faculty, staff, alumnae, and others. We engage in this strategic planning process as a way to infuse creative approaches in all areas of the school with the central focus on enhancing the student experience.
We’ve utilized insights and recommendations from the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) accreditation process which incorporated a community-wide assessment, along with a recent analysis of market trends and the school’s market position to engage in conversations about the school’s strengths and challenges. Building on this excellent work with various community inputs, we take this opportunity to examine questions related to mission, purpose, and educational possibilities within a changing landscape. We stand on a platform of opportunity, our school is strong across all measures, and our job is to build on that strength in the same bold and courageous manner that Emma Hart Willard displayed when she opened the doors to this incredible school
This webpage dedicated to the strategic planning process will contain information and reflections gathered during our journey.

Process and Timeline

To guide this work in an inclusive, transparent, and efficient manner, Head of School Jenny Rao convened a Strategic Planning Committee comprised of faculty, staff, administrators, and trustees. This group has been meeting since the spring of 2018 working to ensure that the strategic planning process is well communicated and that the various stakeholders are included in the process and their input included. The committee has also engaged Cambridge Hill Partners, a consulting group specializing in strategic planning and organizational change in the nonprofit and education sectors, to guide the strategic planning process. The foundational work to prepare Emma Willard School for strategic planning has included the following:

  • May 2018 -- A Comparative Analysis of the Emma Willard Program Against Ten Competitors
  • October 2018 -- "The Case for Change" presented by the Enrollment, Finance, and Advancement teams
  • October 2018 -- Visioning Session with the Board of Trustees
  • November 2018 -- Visioning Session with employees
  • January 2019 -- Development of a longform positioning statement
  • January 2019 -- Completion of a yearlong comprehensive self-examination culminating in the submission of a self-study report as part of the Decennial NYSAIS Accreditation process
  • June 2019 -- On-site review by the NYSAIS Visiting Team and successful reaccreditation of Emma Willard School
  • June 2019 -- Results from Voice of Emma Willard Alumnae Survey
  • Summer 2019 -- Planning for strategic planning panel and retreat
  • September 2019 -- Visioning Session with students
  • October 2019 -- Community-wide Strategic Innovation Session, Strategy Session
  • January 2020 -- Strategic Directives approval by Board of Trustees
  • May 2021 -- Approval - An Imperative to Lead with Purpose: Emma Willard School Strategic Plan 2021-2026 unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees on May 15, 2021.
285 Pawling Avenue, Troy, NY 12180 | P: 518.833.1300 F: 518.833.1815
PLEASE NOTE: All visitors to campus must check in with Campus Safety, which can be found at the red flag entrance to Sage Hall (Pawling Ave. entrance).

Welcome to Emma Willard School, a private day and boarding high school for girls in Troy, NY, and a leader in girls' education for over 200 years.