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: Chief Financial Officer & Chief Operating Officer
School: The Potomac School
Years in current position: 7
Years in an independent school business officer: 11
Superpower: Strong communicator: Thanks to Conroy’s coordination with local public health officials and clear communications, The Potomac School opened for in-person learning in fall 2020 with full support of the school community. She ensured that CDC guidelines were followed and COVID testing was available for all individuals on campus on an ongoing basis. “Reworking how we were going to operate took a great deal of effort, and she definitely earned the trust of everyone. Her communication kept us all functioning,” said Michelle Hernandez, accounts payable manager at The Potomac School.
Compassionate: Conroy “not only has the leadership skills for her position, she also has compassion,” said Hernandez. When the school suspended their lunch program during the early days of the pandemic, due to the school being closed for in-person learning, Conroy extended help to the families that rely on the program by sending Giant grocery gift cards. “This kind gesture meant so much to those who were in need. Her compassion has carried all of us through the pandemic.”
Power project planner: One of Conroy’s first goals upon entering the Potomac School was to oversee the construction of the school’s new athletic center, which opened in November 2019. “This was a huge construction event, and it was very successful with her committed leadership through the entire process.”
Innovator: Conroy helps her team “continue to make smart changes … and offers great advice for streamlining our processes.” For instance, she recently contracted a third-party payer, which has helped her team cut down on the time spent mailing checks.
Heart of the business office: “From day one, we [in the business office] knew she was the right person for the job. She has a very distinct laugh, and once you hear it, you want to hear it again and again. Being approachable is very important, and she welcomed everyone into her office,” said Hernandez.