Unsung Hero: David Wollam, Winchester Thurston School

Wollam’s negotiating skills have helped Winchester Thurston School expand its campus and foster long-term financial health.

Oct 22, 2021


The Will J. Hancock Unsung Hero Award is given to business officers who have made extraordinary contributions to their schools and exemplify exceptional integrity, knowledge and motivation. At the end of each school year, new Unsung Heroes receive their award from their head of school, often at a significant school occasion such as a board meeting or an all-school ceremony. What makes these Unsung Heroes so special? The highlights below come straight from their colleagues' nominations.

Title: Director of Finance
School: Winchester Thurston School, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Years in Position: 17
Years in an independent school business office: 17

Superpower: Eye for expansion: Wollam has been instrumental in acquiring a commercial property near the school, which will serve as a second campus to accommodate enrollment demand. Wollam built the financial models related to the capital campaign and helped raise the resources needed to renovate this new building. “Through his work, we have been able to refinance our existing debt and do the work we need to support the expansion of our program. We could not have done it without him,” said Head of School Scott Fech.

Decision-maker: Years ago, the school was faced with a tough decision to either close or keep open a second campus, which was operating at a financial loss. “David discussed how closing the second campus could result in a positive financial impact to overall school health. The board trusts David so much that they were finally able to make the decision after two decades of consideration.”

Thoughtful communicator: “David makes finance understandable to a wide range of people, even to this non-financially-minded head of school,” said Fech. For example, Wollam gives a “Finance 101” presentation to the board and administrative every year. “No question goes unanswered. He takes everything into consideration, and when he speaks, everyone listens to him. Because of his diligence, David has complete trust from the board of trustees and the administration.”

Creative implementation: “As the head of school, I can have very big plans. Never once has David swayed me from those plans. Instead, he finds creative ways to make these plans come to fruition.”

From the heart: “Even as David is preparing for retirement, he remains deeply engaged and committed to the school's long-term financial health. And through it all, David maintains an amazing sense of humor, a commitment to equity and inclusion and is a kind and warm human being.”

See a full list of the 2021 recipients and read more about the Will J. Hancock Unsung Hero Award. NetAssets.org will post additional profiles of Unsung Heroes throughout the fall — check in to learn more about other recipients.



years is the target ceiling for a school plant's financial "age."

Get Net Assets NOW

Subscribe to NBOA's free twice-monthly newsletter.