Dear Escuela Community-
The Board of Trustees of Escuela del Sol has some important news to share. Our Executive Director, Ms. Friedje vanGils, has for some time now indicated her readiness to end her tenure of more than 30 years and find a successor to take over the leadership of the organization. As you can imagine, after over thirty years with Friedje at the helm, finding the right person to bring the school and its art center forward into the next phase of development is a challenge.
As Chair of this Board, I am very pleased to be able to announce the result of our search and to introduce you to the person who will be the next Executive Director of our organization, Ms. Kate Chavez. Ms. Chavez is an alumna of the school, one of the first students to attend Escuela through Elementary, and she was the first alumna to give a commencement address. She has worked and studied all over the world, including New York City, Madrid, Spain, and London, UK. She brings a variety of experiences in the arts, education, non-profit management, and government. In Madrid, Kate’s experience included working with economists in the Spanish government and the executive director of the Spanish Olympic bid, helping them prepare for presentations at the European Economic Council and the International Olympic Committee. Upon returning to New Mexico, Kate joined the Legislative Finance Committee as a Fiscal Analyst in Education where she assisted on the state’s education budget, analyzed the fiscal impact of proposed legislation, and wrote policy briefs. Kate is also an educator who for the past five and a half years has taught and done administrative work at the New Mexico School for the Arts. Throughout these professional experiences, Kate has continuously worked as an artist in theatre and film. Kate holds a BA(Hons) and a MA from Brown University and has completed graduate studies at the London International School of Performing Arts.
Most importantly, Kate brings with her a passion for Escuela del Sol and its mission, as well as a commitment to use her talents, experience, and connections to be in service to our institution. Her years at Escuela give Kate insight and caring for this school. It also gives her a solid grounding in the Montessori pedagogy and mission of our institution. She understands more than many the importance of our Harwood Art Center. As she wrote to the Board, “The opportunities created by artistic outreach through the Harwood Art Center combine to make Escuela del Sol exactly the sort of institution the world needs right now.”
Ms. Chavez comes to us with a lot of experience, a great educational background, and, most importantly, a commitment to the growth and sustainability of this great institution. Additionally, the Board, Friedje, and Kate have worked out a transition process of at least six to eight months that allows Kate plenty of time to work in tandem with Friedje as she gets to know the intricacies of the organization and ensures continuity in the spirit and energy that Friedje has brought to Escuela. As Kate and Friedje work together this school year, I know they will find ways for you all to get to know Kate better and to help welcome her to this family that is Escuela del Sol.
Join us in entering this new chapter of Escuela del Sol / Harwood!
Maria Garcia Geer, Esq.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees