January 21, 2021
Dear Members of the NYSAIS Community:
Sitting next to Mark Lauria for dinner at Mohonk is not simply the guarantee of lively conversations about political intrigues in Albany, his family, or southern California; Mark will most certainly take you, vicariously, on one of his adventurous trips to distant destinations around the globe, including, most recently, an expedition to Antarctica. Mark wants to continue to see the world, and for that, he needs time - time only retirement can provide.
Earlier this month, Mark informed the Board of Trustees of his decision to make the 2021-2022 school year his last at the helm of the New York State Association of Independent Schools, thus concluding thirteen years of remarkable leadership as Executive Director. Mark being the thoughtful and deliberate person that he is, it was clear that asking him to consider giving NYSAIS a few more years would be in vain.
Mark’s tenure as Executive Director of NYSAIS since 2009 has been nothing short of transformational. Simply put, he has brought our association into the twenty-first century. Utilizing highly-effective communication strategies and inspirational thought leadership, he has managed to engage all of us in the critical work of NYSAIS, be it through accreditation, professional learning, or advocacy. Mark has led the development of best practices that serve as guiding principles to our schools and have made NYSAIS a model for other state and regional associations.
New York is a vast state, geographically and culturally, and Mark has worked hard to make certain that NYSAIS represents and meets the needs of each region. His listening and informational regional tours have ensured that NYSAIS serves all of our schools, big or small, urban or rural, well resourced or not. Mark has also shared generously of his wisdom and expertise with individual schools across the state and has become in the process a trusted friend to many. The support NYSAIS has provided to our schools as we navigate the current pandemic crisis is but one example of how critical Mark’s work has been. As individual and unique as we would like our schools to be, we need a voice to represent our collective interests in Albany. Mark has been that forthright voice, most notably as he led NYSAIS’s response to the concerns we expressed over the interpretation of substantial equivalency.
As only a great leader would, Mark has built a superb team of professionals that will ensure continuity and make this leadership transition easier. Over the next several months, the Board of Trustees will create a transparent and inclusive process designed to appoint the next Executive Director to lead NYSAIS and do the critical work that our schools have come to rely on.
The good news is that Mark will be with us for another year and a half. During that time, we will find many opportunities to thank him and honor him with the proper pomp and circumstance for the visionary leader and outstanding educator that he is.
I trust that you will join me in wishing Mark and his wife, Chris, the very best, as they prepare to write their next chapter and, no doubt, start planning their next trip.