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Head of School Search

Announcing Our New Head of School


Dear VES Community,

It is with great excitement that the Board of Trustees announces the appointment of Garth Ainslie as the 13th Head of School at Virginia Episcopal School, following the unanimous recommendation of the Search Committee and the unanimous vote of the board. Garth will succeed Tommy Battle effective July 1, 2020, and we could not be more excited to welcome him back to VES.
 
When taking into account what the Search Committee, our search firm and the VES community identified as the ideal qualities of a Head of School for VES, Garth best fits that mold at this time in the school’s history. He has strong emotional intelligence, tremendous interpersonal skills, and high intellect. He has shown both a love for and depth of knowledge of boarding schools, and has developed close relationships with students and families, particularly in the domestic boarding school community, and close relationships with a large segment of our alumni base and has its support. And he has a tremendous passion for VES—the school where he grew up and attended his early high school years, and where he assembled a strong team and led the Advancement work from 2012-2017. He shares in the vision we have created for our school, and while VES is currently very well positioned, Garth is poised to advance our school to even greater heights. Garth and his wife, Anne, both have shown a great deal of enthusiasm for taking on this role. 
 
If you would like to read details from Garth’s bio, please visit ves.org/headofschool.
 
I thank the Search Committee for the countless hours they poured into the search process. We chose early on to have a very transparent campaign in the final stages, and we were very proud of the committee’s decision on the finalists—three extraordinarily strong options to potentially lead our school. We conducted deep-dive interviews with each finalist; engaged them in conversations with students, faculty and staff, alumni, parents and friends of VES; and reviewed your input on the more than 640 surveys you completed and many emails and phone calls received.  
 
Search Committee Chair Robert Cook, MD, ’79, said, “I want to thank the entire VES community for their involvement in the process of hiring the next Head of School. From the large number of you who participated in this undertaking, the immense passion for our school is very apparent. Now that a decision has been made, it is time for us to rally that same energy and enthusiasm in support of Garth Ainslie as our next great Head of School. The Search Committee and the Board of Trustees are excited for the future of our school with Garth leading the way!”

When informed of the Search Committee’s recommendation, Headmaster Tommy Battle’s response was filled with enthusiasm and praise. He shared, “I was so excited when I learned of Garth’s willingness to consider this leadership opportunity. His love of and high expectations for VES were on display during the interview process. Garth’s fingerprints are all over our current successes and our future plans, and I look forward to partnering with him, the Board and our faculty and staff to ensure a smooth and wonderful transition. Our future is bright! Go Bishops!”

This is a time of great celebration and optimism for VES. 

With best regards, 
 
Mike Alford '82
Chair, VES Board of Trustees
 

 

Garth Ainslie

Garth Ainslie—who attended VES through 1981, graduated from Episcopal High School in 1984, and attended the University of North Carolina as a Morehead Scholar—brings both breadth and depth of experience and expertise to his candidacy for VES Head of School.

Education Experience
Currently Garth serves as Senior Leadership Gifts Officer with Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va., serving donors across the country from his base in Los Angeles, Calif. In this role, he is responsible for managing a portfolio of prospects, working closely with the Head of Advancement and EHS’s leadership team in all aspects of fundraising and donor development.

From 2012-2017 Garth served as a member of the VES leadership team. In his first two years as Director of Admissions, he grew enrollment 47% while reducing the discount rate, grew net tuition revenue by 93% and grew the 9th-grade domestic boarding enrollment 120%.

In his role as Assistant Head of School for Advancement, he introduced the Advancement structure at VES, bringing together the Admissions, Development, Marketing, Communications, and Events function under one office. He helped to successfully close the $36 million “Vision 2016” Capital Campaign by increasing capital and endowment gifts by 63% and 118% in FY 2015 and FY 2016 respectively, and oversaw the growth of the Annual Fund 30.6% over three years with three consecutive years of record Annual Fund dollars. He also directed VES’s Centennial Celebration, bringing more than 1000 guests to campus for the historic weekend event. During his time at VES, Garth also served as an advisor to students and a trusted leader to faculty and staff. Garth’s extensive connections and his ability to develop important relationships across all constituencies support the school’s business strategies.

Following his graduation from UNC-Chapel Hill, Garth served as a teacher and coach for two years at Ransom Everglades School in Florida. There, he taught 9th grade World History and 10th grade US history, was head coach for girls varsity basketball and boys lacrosse—a program he started at the school, and was an assistant coach for JV and varsity football and varsity basketball.

Financial Services and Legal Experience
Garth spent 13 years with Salomon Smith Barney/Citigroup in New York City as Director of Institutional Equities Research Sales with a focus on growing Citi’s wallet share with clients. He built and maintained successful client relationships, provided research sales coverage to institutional money managers and managed accounts across a wide variety of investment styles and assets, including hedge funds, mutual funds and private clients. He is FINRA Series 7 & 63 licensed.

For five years, Garth practiced law as an Associate General Counsel with Vail Resorts and an associate with French, West & Brown in Breckenridge, Colo. His legal experience spans ski litigation, real estate, and corporate law, commercial litigation, employment and environmental law, M&A transactions, risk management, and general corporate practice.

Other Experience
Garth is currently working as a consultant with Harlem Lacrosse. He works with Marissa Hewitt, Los Angeles Regional Director, and Michael Levin, CEO, advising the team on boarding school admissions and fundraising strategies.

During his time in New York, he co-founded and served on the board of trustees, as president and coach for 5th- through 8th-grade teams of Pelham Youth Lacrosse—which now encompasses more than 300 boys and girls from kindergarten through 8th grade.

Board experience includes:
  • Virginia Episcopal School Board of Trustees from 2010-2012, where he served from as chair of the Committee on Trustees, responsible for new trustee selection and all governance matters, as well as a member of both the Finance and Executive Committees.
  • Membership on the Board of Directors from 2014-2017 of Amazement Square, Lynchburg’s national award-winning children’s museum.
  • Onteora Park Board of Trustees in New York, where from 2010-2013 he served as Head of Parks, responsible for supervising the superintendent and overseeing operations at this historic Hudson Valley artistic and recreational community.

Education
University of Colorado 1994 – JD
University of North Carolina 1988 – BA, History – Morehead Scholar
Episcopal High School 1984
Virginia Episcopal School 1981

IDEAL HEAD OF SCHOOL QUALITIES

The following is a list of qualities of the ideal head of school. Not meant to be an exhaustive list, these qualities are of particular importance to the VES Head of School Search Committee, in addition to core leadership and management skills:
  • A strong belief in the educational direction of the school and the motivation to turn the ambitious VES Strategic Plan into a reality 
  • A deep appreciation for boarding school and the advantages it brings to students
  • A strong desire to embrace fundraising as an essential aspect of the job
  • A willingness to continue integrating VES into the larger Lynchburg community not only to enhance town-gown relations but also to strengthen the day student market
  • An optimistic and positive community builder who connects with all the stakeholders and engenders confidence in VES and its future
  • A “people person” with a high EQ—someone who is both approachable and willing to hold people accountable
  • A superb communicator who can be both direct and diplomatic as the circumstances require and who will inspire stakeholders
  • An effective manager and team-builder who leverages the team members’ strengths to accomplish goals
  • A person with strong self-awareness, understanding his or her strengths and weaknesses and able to identify key administrators who can appropriately compensate.
A College Preparatory, Independent Boarding and Day School for Students in Grades 9-12
400 VES Road, Lynchburg, VA 24503 • 434.385.3600