New President Tom Kiely Assumes Duties July 1


Lauren Van Gheem, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Notre Dame Academy recently announced the selection of its new president who will assume duties July 1, 2020. 

The new president Tom Kiely is currently a consultant for the National Catholic Educational Association. 

“I have been working on issues dealing with the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Schools,” he said, “strategic planning, developing the mission effectiveness and Catholic identity of schools and mentoring Catholic school leaders.”

A friend and colleague informed him that Notre Dame was looking for a new president.

“I identified quickly with the school’s place in the community through previous shared work with Catholic Link and the GRACE schools,” Kiely said. “In conversations with a good number of community members I was charmed by the place and the people.”

Kiely believes his knowledge of Catholic schools and how they work will help him be a successful NDA president. 

Board member Alisa Conway, who headed the search committee, said, “The strongest characteristics of Mr. Kiely were his impressive experience in Catholic education leadership – specifically his knowledge and skills with implementing best practices in strategic planning, fundraising systems and development plans.”

The interview committee consisted of 12 members, including board members, people of the community, faculty and alumni. 

“The experience was both easier and harder than expected. It was easier than expected because the search firm we worked with did a fantastic job keeping us organized and on track,” said Conway. “It was harder than expected because we did not find the candidate that was the right match for NDA in round one.”

The search process began at the beginning of the school year while the interview process began in January. 

“The NDA Board of Education created a list of priority criteria from the insights we received from our community that helped guide us throughout the search process. We asked all of the people that met with the candidates to fill out a survey to provide us their feedback on how well well the candidates performed on these and other key areas. The Board of Education reviewed this information, provided our feedback and then made our recommendation to the Notre Dame Academy Corporate Board. This group reviewed our recommendation and approved Mr. Kiely as our next president,” Conway said. 

Mrs. Char Dunlap, the Executive Assistant to the President at NDA, played a big role in the process. 

Conway said, “She put an immense amount of time and energy into making the process run smoothly. We owe her a huge debt of gratitude for all of her help.”

Mark Warpinski, the Chair of the Board of Education, said, “We look forward to moving Notre Dame Academy forward with Mr. Kiely. We will be scheduling opportunities to meet Mr. Kiely as he prepares to join us this summer.”


                                                  Q & A with New NDA President Tom Kiely

Q: What do you see as your strengths for the job here?  

A: I love educational environments and can contribute in any ways that may present themselves.  Additionally, I enjoy working with families in their educational and social journeys of raising young people.

Q: What would you want the students to know about you and your vision for the school? What exactly IS the role of the president?  

A: I would want the students to know that I am approachable regarding their lives at NDA.  I want to know what we are doing well and where we can grow. 

From my vantage point, the president of the school is the public voice and face of the entire school experience.  Whereas faculty and administration will always be the practical voices of school programs, the president should speak to the overall school mission and its effectiveness.

Regarding a vision for NDA, I think some of this will be the result of many voices: the Board; the Norbertines, Bishop Ricken; the Sisters of St. Joseph Carondolet, the parents and alumni and the students.  A key part of this listening and visioning process will also be what is required of a Catholic school in the future. How do students need to be served by the school? How will the school stay vital and connected to the lives families envision for their sons and daughters?  I think these questions will help guide us to a clear sense of how to proceed and what goals to set.

Q: What do you do for fun?  

A: I spent a good number of years in the restaurant business, so I cook a lot, and always learn more.  I also have a bottomless attachment to detective stories whether in print, audio books, or via Netflix.  I also like to visit my friends and family. I have a son who lives in Minneapolis and a daughter who lives in Chicago.

Q: What is your family situation?

A: My wife is a nurse practitioner, and we have been married for nearly 32 years.  As stated earlier, we have a daughter and a son who are both engaged to wonderful people and slated to be married in 2020.  I am originally from NY and have a brother who lives in Illinois and a sister who lives in Pennsylvania. Truth be told, my brother is a life-long Packers fan.  I took him to his first game at Lambeau a couple of years ago.

Q: What is your own educational background, such as high school and college? 

A: I went to a Marianist High School in Mineola, New York, called Chaminade HS.  I then attended Georgetown University in Washington D.C. and earned a BA in English and Theology.  I received an MA from The Catholic University of America in Religion and Religious Education and went back to Georgetown for a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies focusing on Catholic Education and Public Policy.  There have been additional studies ranging from teaching to cooking over the years as well. In some contexts you could say I am in 27th grade.