Presidential Search

December 16, 2019 Letter

Dear St. Francis Xavier Catholic School System Community,

On behalf of the Saint Francis Xavier Catholic School System President Search Committee, I am pleased to share a brief update.  The process timeline we laid out in late October remains on schedule.

Recruiting and outreach efforts remain in full swing and candidates are being processed and vetted as applications are submitted.  Semifinal candidate interviews will be held on-campus in mid to late January, with finalists returning for extended visits in February.   The next President of our school system should be able to be announced shortly thereafter. 

Our retained search counsel, Partners in Mission School Leadership Search Solutions, will be accepting applications through January 6, 2020.   

Please continue to keep this mission-critical process in your prayers.

Amy Pfefferle-Oelhafen
Search Committee Chair


November, 2019 Letter

Dear St. Francis Xavier Catholic School System (SFXCSS) Community,

I am pleased to provide you with an update on the search process to identify and secure our next President. As you are aware, Deacon Ray DuBois recently announced his plans to retire at the end of our current school year.   

First and foremost, it was important that we establish a committee which is representative of our school system’s community.  I am delighted to report that the following individuals have accepted the invitation to join me on the Search Committee: Brian Wierzbinski, Chair of the Board of Trustees and CFO of EAA; Eric Kessenich, Member of the Board of Trustees and President of U.S. Oil; Yvette Dunlap, Member of the Board of Trustees and retired Assistant Superintendent – Student Services at Appleton Area School District; Jan Fuller, Member of the Board of Trustees and retired attorney; Mike Mauthe, Principal at Xavier High School; Tara Pearce, Vice President of Admissions at Xavier Catholic Schools; Geoff Crowley, Owner and former CEO of Air Wisconsin Airlines; Pastor Bill Swichtenberg, Pastor of St. Mary Parish, Appleton; Todd Blahnik,  Superintendent of Catholic Schools / Green Bay Diocese; Ann Engelhard, Vice President Donor Services & Gift Planning at the Fox Valley Community Foundation.  

In our effort to secure the best and brightest candidates from near and far, we have retained Partners in Mission School Leadership Search Solutions  to serve as our search counsel. Based in Westwood, MA, Partners in Mission  is a nationally recognized full-service consulting firm focused exclusively on delivering excellence in Catholic school leadership, advancement, and enrollment management. In serving as our advancement and strategic planning counsel for the past four years, Partners in Mission has a first-hand understanding of our school system, our mission and culture, and our competitive educational market.  

Michael Furey, Partner and Dr. Bob Tift, Partner will lead our search. They recently spent three days in Appleton visiting our school campuses and meeting with focus groups of students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff, board, pastors and administrative leaders. Enriched with these many perspectives and working jointly with our Search Committee, Partners in Mission will develop a detailed Search Prospectus which highlights our exciting leadership opportunity.

As the search progresses, the Partners in Mission team will be working with a wide range of individuals within their extensive network of mission-driven Catholic leaders from across the nation. Their search efforts will focus on prospective candidates most familiar with our charism and competitive market, gradually expanding their extensive outreach initiatives throughout the United States to recruit only the most personally, professionally, and culturally fit leaders. Ultimately, they will develop a vetted list of top candidates for our Search Committee’s consideration by mid-February. The Search Committee will meet shortly thereafter narrowing this pool to a list of semi-finalists that they will interview.  

This select group will be interviewed only by the Search Committee in order to preserve candidates’ confidentiality. Confidentiality throughout this process is standard practice when conducting a leadership search.

After semi-finalist interviews, the finalists (typically two or three) will be selected by the Search Committee.  The finalists (and spouses, if applicable) will have the opportunity to return to the SFXCSS community in March for individual day-long visits.  The Search Committee will meet again shortly after the last finalist’s visit to review all the information gathered throughout the process, which will include feedback received from members of the SFXCSS community who’ve had an opportunity to engage with all finalists.  At the conclusion of this process, the Search Committee will present their recommendations to the Board of Trustees for its recommendation to the Corporate Board of Directors. 

The search calendar that we established remains on track. We anticipate that we will secure SFXCSS’s next President by mid-March, with a start date in early July. Keep in mind, the retained search function is a dynamic, fluid, and competitive process. Should top candidates emerge ahead of our anticipated schedule, we maintain the ability to adjust these timelines and remain best-positioned to secure the most ideal candidates currently available.   

In the coming weeks, please watch for additional communications detailing the progress of our search efforts.  In the interim, if you have questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I remain grateful to all of you for your insights as the search moves forward, and I am confident that this process will identify the most ideal candidate able to continue and enhance the outstanding academic traditions we have come to expect at SFXCSS. 

Amy Pfefferle-Oelhafen
Search Committee Chair