(in photo above, l-r: Executive Director Heather Hoerle, Kathy Mitchell O'Neal, Eric Barber, Peter Gilbert, Chris Bartlett, Board Chair Kevin Plummer)
Two distinguished members of the independent school admission community were the recipients of awards at the 2016 Annual Meeting in Baltimore. Peter Gilbert, director of admissions at Salisbury School (CT), was named the 2016 recipient of the William B. Bretnall Award and Kathy Mitchell O’Neal, director of enrollment management at University Prep (WA), was named the 2016 recipient of the Everett E. Gourley award.
The Bretnall award was presented to Gilbert by his friend and colleague, Chris Bartlett, director of enrollment and marketing at Proctor Academy (NH). Bartlett entertained the crowd with reminiscences of his and Gilbert’s longstanding friendship, emphasizing, “Peter is both a consummate school professional and ‘student first’ school person. He is highly competitive, and while competitive means ‘cutthroat’ to some, he is one of the most collaborative competitors I know. He always speaks highly of other schools and programs, mentors younger admission people, and personifies the values of our profession.”
Gilbert, a native of Illinois, is a career admission professional who has spent over 25 years in independent schools and has served at Salisbury School for nearly 20 years.
In addition to his work, Gilbert has written and given presentations at national conferences for such organizations as The Enrollment Management Association, National Association of Independent Schools, and Independent Educational Consultants Association on topics that include data-driven admission work and non-cognitive assessments in admission.
The Gourley award was presented to O’Neal by her colleague and friend, Eric Barber, director of enrollment management at Crossroads School for the Arts & Sciences (CA), who said, “Throughout her tenure at UPrep, Kathy not only significantly advanced her school’s diversity and inclusion goals, but made the issues of access and outreach central to what would be the formation of the Seattle admission consortium, Puget Sound Independent Schools. Her ability to bring professionals together to work on behalf of prospective students has successfully introduced thousands of families to our schools and the life-changing education we provide.”
Mitchell O’Neal has worked in independent schools for more than 20 years and currently serves at University Prep, where she has overseen admission and financial aid programs for more than 10 years. She is the co-chair of the steering committee for the Puget Sound Independent Schools admission consortium, and the co-founder of the Independent School Fair for People of Color in Seattle, now entering its 11th year. She has actively served for many years on the National Association of Independent School Call to Action, a think tank on diversity, and was co-chair for the 2006 NAIS People of Color Conference.
Heather Hoerle, executive director of The Enrollment Management Association, stated, “These two professionals exemplify the reason we present the Bretnall and Gourley awards. Their exceptional contributions to our profession, our community, and the families and children seeking the opportunity to enroll in our schools is commendable. Their careers should serve a Award winners Kathy Mitchell O’Neal and Peter Gilbert s an inspiration to us all.”