Head of School Search

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A Message from the Head of School Search Committee

November 29, 2022

Dear Taft Community,

On behalf of the Taft School Board of Trustees and the Head of School Search Committee, we are thrilled to announce that Peter Becker ’95 is the unanimous selection for Taft’s sixth head of school. Peter, who is currently head of The Frederick Gunn School, will succeed Willy MacMullen ’78 on July 1, 2023, following Willy’s remarkable twenty-two-year tenure as head of school. We are excited to welcome Peter, his wife Amy Julia ’94, and their three children, Penny, William, and Marilee, to Taft.

As co-chairs of the Head of School Search Committee, we were keenly aware of the challenge of appointing Taft’s next head of school. The six-month search was thorough and rigorous and attracted talented candidates from around the world. At the start of this process, we received more than 1,400 responses to a survey asking for perspectives on the school and ideal qualities of the next head. This comprehensive search was guided by the priorities so thoughtfully articulated by the Taft community, the school’s mission of educating the whole student, and Taft’s motto, “Non ut sibi ministretur sed ut ministret.”

Your feedback gave us clear priorities: maintaining the culture and personality of Taft, affirming and extending academic excellence, and ensuring the overall student experience and wellness in a school community marked by diversity and belonging. The next head needed to have compelling personal qualities, especially an authentic love for adolescents, a passion for community building, deep reserves of energy and hope, and the ability to inspire all community members around a vision that will support the next generation of Taft students. The next head also needed to possess strong leadership experience and competencies: the ability to organize and execute, the skills to plan strategically and effect change, and proven fundraising experience.

We have found all of this and more in Peter Becker.

As a Taft graduate, Peter knows, loves, and values our mission and culture: its insistence on excellence, passion for community and belonging, commitment to improvement and to service, and pride in school spirit. His career has always been about students. As a teacher, coach, advisor, dorm head, department chair, and head of school, he has worked with empathy and caring to help students feel valued so they can grow and succeed. As a head, he has shown a tremendous ability to administer and lead, inspiring others with a strategic vision and working collaboratively to improve and transform the school.

Peter’s educational career reflects a leader who has devoted his life to independent secondary education. He is a distinguished scholar, receiving a B.A. with Distinction in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia and an M.A. in History from Yale University. He was awarded a Fulbright Grant to study classical history, architecture, and archeology at the American Academy in Rome, Italy. After working briefly as an investment banking analyst for Harris Williams & Co., Peter first worked with independent school students while on the staff of FOCUS (the Fellowship of Christians in Universities and Schools). He began his boarding school career in 2003 at The Lawrenceville School, where he taught history and interdisciplinary studies, served as department chair, lived in and led Kennedy House, served on and ran multiple committees, and coached squash and tennis. At Lawrenceville, he worked across the school’s academic departments to lead the redesign of the Interdisciplinary Studies Department curriculum.

In 2012 Peter was appointed head of school at The Frederick Gunn School where he will leave a legacy of school innovation, improvement, and change. During his tenure, Peter worked with the board, faculty and staff, and the school’s leadership teams to translate the life and model of the school’s founder, Frederick Gunn, into core values and curriculum design pillars that leverage the inherent potential of boarding schools.

Peter has committed The Frederick Gunn School to significant and sustained work in diversity, equity and inclusion, creating new programs, positions and practices, and has led transformational fundraising initiatives. With his team, he has overseen more than $60 million in campus building and improvement projects; prioritized the hiring of a diverse and talented faculty; deepened and broadened the school’s curricular offerings; and fostered a global community marked by caring and empathy. During Peter’s tenure, Gunn has created a new Center for Citizenship & Just Democracy; a soon-to-be launched Center for Entrepreneurship; and the school’s IDEAS Program in engineering, robotics, and computer science. Peter has also become a leader of national stature in the independent school educational landscape, attending and presenting at professional conferences, serving on the board of The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools, and as a member of the Heads and Principals Association.

The Head of School Opportunity Statement noted that the next Head:

…will be a curious, dynamic leader ready to engage with a talented faculty and dedicated Board on continually improving the teaching and learning environment while ensuring that all students feel a profound sense of belonging…. will love being with students and will relish the opportunity to live in and lead in a fully immersive academic community where being present and accessible is expected…. must be an inspirational and clear communicator and be able to engage diverse audiences in conversations about institutional goals, priorities, and accomplishments.

The statement rings loud and true for Peter. We are excited that he and Amy Julia, award-winning author and speaker on personal and spiritual well-being and graduate of Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary (M.Div), will bring their family to Taft.

Please join us in welcoming Peter and Amy Julia back home to our Taft family.

With deep appreciation for our community’s input, trust, and support,

Kate Genung Taylor ’94
Sarkis D. Izmirlian II '90, P'20,'22,'24
Co-Chairs, Head of School Search Committee

Jonathan D. Albert '79, P'09,'11
J. Kingman Gordon '88
Ernest O. Kwarteng '98
Amanda Costanzo McGovern '93
Tamara M. Sinclair '05
Jo Klingenstein Ziesing '78, P'07,'09,'12
Head of School Search Committee

A Message from Peter Becker '95, Taft's Next Head of School

Dear Taft Community,

I am deeply honored and excited to serve as your next head of school. As a student, Taft was truly transformative for me: attending Taft was only possible for my family thanks to generous financial aid, I became an avid learner, continued a life-long passion for athletics and the arts, developed deep friendships, was challenged to consider what a life of service can look like, and even met my wife, Amy Julia (A.J.) Truesdell ’94. Today, Amy Julia and I have a profound love and appreciation for our school, and I am grateful for this opportunity to lead and serve the Taft community.

Taft has many strengths — chief among them, clarity of mission; a motivated, curious and spirited student body; an exceptional, hard-working faculty and staff devoted to student growth; and a fiercely loyal, connected alumni community that understands the ethos of Taft and the value of its mission and motto. Together, in partnership, we will build upon what is already a remarkable school. I look forward to meeting you — and to listening to and learning from you!

As someone who cares deeply about the holistic flourishing of students, I am both personally and professionally committed to making sure that Taft is a place where every student belongs and thrives. I am eager to work with the community to make sure that students express themselves authentically and challenge themselves and one another to grow amidst layers of diversity. This requires intentional, deliberate practice from each of us every day, as well as mutual respect and grace. I believe that, as educators, we need to be committed to equipping the young people in our care to become independently minded—not to teach them what to think, but to equip them to think for themselves with love, courage, and humility and to seek the good of their neighbor, starting with their roommate, dormmate, classmate, teammate. It is in this way that we can best create communities of welcome and belonging out of the beautiful pluralism that we step into on boarding school campuses.

Taft is, in the end, a school of the highest intellectual and moral calling, with inspiring and dedicated faculty teaching the whole student through a deep and broad curriculum. As a boarding school, that learning happens in the classroom and across the campus, from chance encounters in Main Hall and at the Jig to sit-down dinners to life in Centennial and HDT 3 to playing fields, courts, the Black Box and Bingham and through service learning and partnerships throughout Litchfield County and the greater Waterbury area. I am grateful for my own experiences at Taft, and for the ways in which the school has evolved since then. My family and I are excited to be a part of such a transformational educational community for current and future Taft students.

I am deeply grateful and proud to have led The Frederick Gunn School since 2012, and will be indebted for the rest of my life to my colleagues, students, parents, alumni and the Board there for their partnership in all we have created together. I am thankful for the preparation my experiences at Gunn have afforded me as I return to Taft. The town of Washington has been a beautiful, welcoming and gracious home to our family and we are grateful for the lifelong friendships and lasting memories that will be part of our lives forever.

To the remarkable Willy and Pam MacMullen, I also give thanks. Taft and its people have been nurtured and led by Willy; the school has been immeasurably fortunate to have such a wise, thoughtful, and kind leader for the past 22 years. We celebrate with gratitude the MacMullens’ 65 total years of service to Taft.

With excitement about the journey ahead together,

Peter Becker ’95

A Message from Taft's Board Chair

To the Taft Community,

It is with great excitement that I follow the announcement from Sarkis Izmirlian '90, P'20,'22,'24 and Kate Genung Taylor ’94, co-chairs of the Head of School Search Committee, that Peter Becker ’95 will serve as Taft’s sixth head of school.

I begin here: in expressing my enormous gratitude to the committee for its dedication, commitment, and wisdom.  It is impossible to overstate how hard they have worked over the past six months. The task they carried was one of the greatest weight and importance, and they served their school so well.

In Peter they have selected a leader who will continue the Taft tradition of great heads of school, one who will simultaneously affirm the work of Willy MacMullen ’78, P’14,’16 and the faculty in the past twenty-two years and also lead Taft in novel ways and to new places.

Peter’s understanding of Taft’s mission is deep. He was formed by our school, and he knows well and fully embraces the commitment to the education of the whole student. In addition, he will affirm that Taft is a community that strives every day and on every corner of campus to be a place where every member feels they belong and can thrive. Peter’s commitment to secondary education is impressive. In his years at Lawrenceville, he did everything a boarding school teacher must do and he did it well—he taught in a variety of disciplines, led a dorm, and served as chair of the interdisciplinary studies department, successfully leading curriculum redesign and implementation in addition to coaching girls’ varsity squash and ninth-grade boys’ tennis. As head of school at The Frederick Gunn School, he has a national reputation as a leader, his commitment to professional growth unshakeable and his voice widely respected.  What he has done for that school—in managing challenges, increasing the endowment, elevating its reputation, committing to equity and belonging, improving the campus, and building a faculty—is inspiring and reveals a leader of rare skills. He will also carry Taft’s reputation even higher. And finally, he will bring the kind of warmth, energy and humility that marks the faculty of our school. He and his wife Amy Julia, also a Taft graduate, are thrilled for their family to become part of the Taft family.

Willy shared this: “This is a great moment for Taft. I have followed Peter’s career with interest and pride. Indeed, I tried unsuccessfully to hire him years ago before he went on to get his Master’s degree! Peter knows and loves Taft, he is an empathic, caring and principled person, he will be visible and present in the community, he is a brilliant and innovative leader, and he will serve Taft with that rare combination of youthful energy and seasoned school head. I have the utmost respect for Peter, and I am so excited for Taft, and for Peter and Amy Julia—who is incredibly accomplished and impressive in her own right. Taft is in great hands.”

I speak for the entire Board of Trustees in welcoming Peter and Amy Julia, and their three children, Penny, William, and Marilee, to Taft.  This is a proud and exciting day for Taft.


Grant A. Porter ’69, P’00
Chair, Board of Trustees

Search Process

In February 2022, Head of School William R. MacMullen ’78 announced his retirement after a remarkable career at Taft. Willy and his wife, Pam, will retire following the 2022-23 academic year, having served Taft for a combined tenure of 65 years.

Willy MacMullen will continue to lead the school through the coming academic year and will end his tenure at Taft on June 30, 2023. The new Head of School will begin their tenure on July 1, 2023.

Head of School Search Committee

From left to right: Gordon (inset), Kwarteng, Ziesing, Sinclair, Izmirlian, Taylor, Albert, McGovern

Head of School Search Committee Members

  • Jonathan D. Albert '79, P'09,'11
  • J. Kingman Gordon '88
  • Sarkis D. Izmirlian II '90, P'20,'22,'24, Co-Chair
  • Ernest O. Kwarteng '98
  • Amanda Costanzo McGovern '93
  • Tamara M. Sinclair '05
  • Kate Genung Taylor ’94, Co-Chair
  • Jo Klingenstein Ziesing '78, P'07,'09,'12

Spencer Stuart Team

Taft's Head of School Search Committee has partnered with the global leadership advisory firm Spencer Stuart.