above: Claire Phipps and Michael Sousa with their children, Ruby and Sam. Photo by Devon McWilliams
On July 1st, Claire Phipps arrived at Gordon as the school's Chief Advancement and Experience Officer. Parents, faculty, alumni, grandparents and students will all get to know her well in the years to come; she answered seven questions to get the conversation started:
What brought you to Gordon?
I grew up in Barrington, and I first fell in love with Gordon while attending summer camp there. Working at Gordon has always been a dream of mine and my love for the school and community was confirmed during my visits here last winter. This school's mission of raising the next generation of changemakers directly aligns with my core values, and I am thrilled to be joining this unique and dedicated group of parents, educators and students in the work of creating a more equitable and just world.
How has your first week been?
My first week has been a whirlwind of learning that is both exhilarating and exhausting. Faculty, staff and parents have welcomed me to the Gordon community with (virtual) open arms and I am feeling the Gordon love. From Zoom coffee with new families to a self-guided masked tour of the school, I am busy getting to know Gordon better each day. I would love to get your thoughts on what makes Gordon special to you, and what is one thing you think I need to know; please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 401 434-3833 x113.
How are you staying connected with people during the pandemic?
Video calls over Zoom and Facetime have been critical ways for me to maintain lasting relationships that are meaningful and fun. Socially distant walks and coffee have also been very helpful, and I would love to start meeting with Gordon community members this summer in any of these ways.
What does a Chief Advancement and Experience Officer do?
This position is new to the independent school world, created especially for Gordon. The job integrates the responsibilities of a traditional advancement director, including fundraising, marketing and communications, and community relations, with the work of overseeing every family's experience at Gordon, from their initial visit to campus through to their experience as alumni of the school.
What are three goals you have for this first year?
1) To reach our goal for the Compassionate Community Fund and ensure that Gordon has the resources it needs to remain nimble and true to its mission and vision.
2) To get to know as many Gordon families as I can - past and present - and get a first-hand sense of the amazing people who make up this community.
3) To help new families engage with the school and with one another.
If you could learn one new skill overnight, what would it be?
I would love to be multilingual. After years of Latin class and Hebrew School, I am no closer to knowing a second language.
When you have an hour of free time, what do you do?
With two small children, free time is a scarce commodity in my house. When I do have free time, I like to garden or run. Having time alone with my thoughts while outside rejuvenates me and helps me be the best version of myself.