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: Aspen Country Day School, Aspen, Colorado
Years in Position: 24
Years in an independent school business office: 24
Superpower: Transformational leader: Hicks oversaw land-use negotiations with Aspen Music Festival, which had rented out land to the school since 1969; one of the school’s founders was then-chairman of the Festival. Hick’s negotiating skills resulted in a 50% ownership share and 75,000 square feet of new or renovated construction, with a total of 13 new buildings housing arts programs, a gymnasium, dining hall and many state-of-the-art classrooms. “During this time, Hicks was often seen in a hard hat conferring with architects and contractors. He is truly a remarkable person,” said Head of School Josh Wolman.
In 2021, the business office celebrated the end of a $50 million capital campaign for additional campus construction and endowment.
Growth mindset: For over two decades, Hicks has helped the school grow its financial assets and professionalize its business operations. He has seen the annual budget increase from $1.1 million to $9.5 million while helping double the annual enrollment.
Well-rounded individual: Wolman described Hicks as, “an amazingly hard worker who is quick to solve problems and has the ability to multi-task and wear many different hats.” For example, “He is the consummate professional who can spend the morning impressing our finance and investment committee with his knowledge and strategic thinking, then spend the afternoon impressing middle schoolers as he leads them up a mountain to climb and ski the Highlands Bowl.”
Other duties as assigned: Hicks regularly volunteers to substitute classes at all grade levels, has led numerous overnight outdoor trips, and has seen three of his own daughters graduate from Aspen Country Day School. And in the 2021-22 school year, Hicks met a last-minute need for the school by jumping in as acting middle school head, all while continuing his duties as director of finance.