It’s that time of year again. With winter holidays behind us, we are well into the new semester but still in the depths of winter. It’s a time when NBOA brings you something to celebrate — the top awards in independent school business, which highlight the generosity of remarkable individuals and the accomplishments of innovative schools.
As NBOA president and CEO, I am honored to announce the recipients of the Ken White Distinguished Business Officer Award, the Sarah Daignault Outstanding Support of Independent Schools Award, and the Jeffrey Shields Innovation in School Business Operations Award. All recipients were selected by the NBOA Awards Selection Committee from peer nominations. Our goal is both to acknowledge this tremendous work and to inspire the fearless leaders of independent schools to innovate and excel in business operations in support of their world-class schools.
The 2024 NBOA Ken White Distinguished Business Officer is Sam Goldfischer. For over 32 years, Goldfischer has served as director of business and finance at Newark Academy, a grades 6-12 day school with 667-students in Livingston, New Jersey. Goldfischer served two terms on the NBOA Board of Directors, from 2009-2015, and as a faculty member for NBOA’s Business Officer Institute in 2018. He received the NBOA Will Hancock Unsung Hero Award in 2015. Goldfischer is exceptionally active in the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools (NJAIS), where he has served on various committees, including the accreditation and audit committees. In his role as accreditor, he has provided invaluable financial analysis to schools, which has helped correct their path toward financial sustainability. He is also a cherished mentor, relied upon by newer and highly experienced colleagues alike. Beyond the business office, Goldfischer serves on the NJAIS Task Force for combatting anti-Semitism in independent schools. “He understands and promotes the notion that a rising tide lifts all boats, and that when independent school business officers collaborate effectively, all of our schools thrive in this challenging industry landscape,” said one nominator. “Sam represents the best of us, and he makes me proud to be a school business officer.”
Sam represents the best of us, and he makes me proud to be a school business officer.
The 2024 Sarah Daignault Outstanding Support of Independent Schools Award recipient is Suzanne Bogdan, partner in the Fort Lauderdale office of Fisher Phillips LLP. With 30 years at the firm, she's a dedicated advocate for independent schools, offering expert counsel in employment-related matters, including family leave, wage hour, privacy and breach of contract. As Chair of Fisher Phillips' Education Law practice group, Bogdan has been instrumental in establishing the firm as a go-to resource for independent school matters. Bogdan was chosen to serve as Chair of the Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Congress, and her legal accomplishments have earned her a Chambers USA distinction in labor and employment for 25 consecutive years. She was Employment Lawyer of the Year in 2020, a 2020 Power Leader, and the recipient of the 2017 Influential Business Woman award by the South Florida Business Journal. Bogdan’s commitment to independent schools is demonstrated through her close collaboration with many associations, including NBOA, NAIS, SAIS, MISBO, MAIS and the Florida Council of Independent Schools. "Suzanne has been a tireless advocate and partner of independent schools providing thought leadership and guidance in areas of the law that have the greatest impact on schools — the relationship with our people,” said one nominator.
Suzanne has been a tireless advocate and partner of independent schools providing thought leadership and guidance in areas of the law that have the greatest impact on schools — the relationship with our people.
The 2024 Jeffrey Shields Innovation in School Business Operations Award goes to La Salle Academy & Rhode Island Hydro Power Alliance Members, which came together to develop the Remote Net Metering Credit Consortium. The Consortium is a partnership of seven independent schools and an arts education center to create a hydroelectric power consortium. All parties entered into a 20-year remote net metering agreement, taking advantage of Rhode Island’s Clean Energy Grant Incentive Program, which supports investment in renewable energy sources. This initiative has already saved member schools a combined $390,000 since the program began producing credits in March 2022. “While the specifics of the program are Rhode Island centered, the principles and benefits of the transaction are universal,” said Patrick Meehan, chief financial officer at La Salle Academy in Providence, Rhode Island. The Alliance “demonstrates the power of what can happen when thoughtful, prudent and like-minded individuals come together to create something that benefits each of their institutions.” Participating schools included La Salle Academy, the Gordon School, St. Andrew’s School, Wheeler School, The Grace School, Lincoln School and Highlander Charter School, as well as The Steel Yard, a nonprofit industrial art center. NBOA members can read more about the initiative in a recent Net Assets article article.
The Alliance demonstrates the power of what can happen when thoughtful, prudent and like-minded individuals come together to create something that benefits each of their institutions.
I hope you will join us in celebrating these achievements in independent school business on Tuesday, February 27, during the NBOA Awards Luncheon at the 2024 NBOA Annual Meeting Annual Meeting in Atlanta. Always a highlight of the meeting, recipient remarks will precede a keynote address by Bertice Berry, a sociologist, comedian and bestselling author celebrated for her thought-provoking lectures.
Congratulations once again to the impressive recipients of these NBOA awards! We are lucky to have you in our community.