Two finalists for Collaborative for Educational Services executive director to interview Wednesday

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Publication Name: Rebecca Everett, Daily Hampshire Gazette
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NORTHAMPTON, MA – The two finalists for executive director of the Collaborative for Educational Services are the agency’s deputy director and a Northborough man.

In a press release issued Monday, the collaborative announced that William Diehl of Northampton, the deputy director, and Andrew Macdonald of Northborough were chosen by the board of directors search committee to succeed Joan E. Schuman, who is retiring as executive director. She has led the agency for half of its 40 years.

“This has been an exhaustive process,” said Lisa Minnick, chairwoman of the board of directors. “I believe we have two qualified candidates who bring very different backgrounds and characteristics.”

The board of directors is scheduled to interview the finalists and make a decision Wednesday.

Diehl, 62, of 75 Gothic St., said he has worked at the collaborative for 3 years and looks forward to serving the community in the future, but declined to answer more questions until after the interview Wednesday.

Calls to Macdonald were not returned Monday.

Minnick declined to give details on either candidate to avoid possibly influencing the board of directors before the interviews.

Minnick said the process of choosing a new chief administrator started a year ago, when the collaborative accepted bids from consultants to assist in the search. She said the collaborative paid Egmont Associates of Boston between $55,000 and $60,000 for its work.

The search committee – made up of board members, two superintendents and one community member – reviewed over 70 applications from around the country and asked Egmont Associates to interview the top candidates. The consultant then recommended four semi-finalists, whom the search committee interviewed before recommending Diehl and Macdonald.

The board’s first introduction to the finalists will be at the meeting Wednesday at the collaborative office at 97 Hawley St. It will begin at 6:15 p.m. with interviews scheduled for 6:30 and 8 p.m. The board is then scheduled to vote on a job offer, pending contract negotiations, according to the press release. Minnick said the board does not have a salary range in mind.

The Collaborative for Educational Services, formerly called the Hampshire Educational Collaborative, is a non-profit agency formed in 1974 that helps schools in Hampshire and Franklin counties assess and improve programming, instruction, learning, and achievement, according to the press release.

According to the job advertisement, the executive director is responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations, preparing the budget, overseeing grant writing, and advocating with politicians and municipal agencies.

Qualifications include 10 years of successful administrative experience in a leadership position and experience in fiscal management and program development and evaluation. An advanced degree and educational knowledge and experience is preferred, according to the advertisement.

In a September press release announcing her retirement, Schuman, 73, of Hampton Avenue, called it a bittersweet decision and said the collaborative had been like a family to her for 20 years.

“Over time, we’ve planted and nurtured many seeds that have developed the collaborative into the phenomenal agency that it has become,” she said in the release. “We’ve attracted an extraordinary group of people who have expanded our mission to provide the highest quality education for underserved populations statewide.”

Before working for the collaborative, Schuman spent 20 years with the Massachusetts Department of Education, working as director of the Central Massachusetts Regional Education Center and the Bureau of Student Services.

When Schuman was first hired by the collaborative, its headquarters were in the basement of a South Hadley elementary school, Minnick said. “It was a very small agency in providing special education services and a little vocational education to schools in the area,” she added.

In the last 20 years, its budget has grown from $5 million to close to $30 million and it offers far more programs and services now, Minnick said. “It’s now one of the most highly-respected educational service agencies in the commonwealth, in large part because of Joan’s vision,”she added.

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