Avi Baran Munro, head of Community Day School, has announced she will retire after the 2023-2024 school year.
Munro said the decision, after serving as the head of school for 20 years, was made for family reasons.
“I am a grandparent of a child that doesn’t live in the city,” she said. “So, the call to travel is much bigger than it used to be.”
Bolstering her decision to announce her retirement, Munro said the private Jewish day school is in a “very strong place right now.”
CDS Board President Evan Indianer thanked Munro for her leadership in a statement, calling her a “visionary and transformative” leader.
“For nearly two decades, Avi has led with a full heart, exceptional intellect, tireless resolve and trademark optimist, and as a result, CDS is as strong as any point in its history and poised for significant growth,” he said.
Under Munro’s leadership, CDS made major campus renovations, built the Gary and Nancy Tuckfelt Keeping Tabs: A Holocaust Sculpture, strengthened both its secular and Jewish studies curriculum, expanded to include an early childhood program, recruited faculty and increased teacher compensation.
A search committee will be named to find Munro’s replacement. It will be led by Indianer, CDS Executive Vice President Shiri Friedman and board member Neta Bar.
CDS, Munro said, is in a good place as it begins a search that will consider national, local and possibly international candidates.
“I’m proud to have us invite candidates to look at it,” she said. “I think the school and the city make for a very compelling potential place for someone to lead. Leaving the school in this strong position, to me, equates with good timing.”
The timing of the announcement, more than 15 months before Munro steps down, is part of solid succession planning, Munro said.
“A good search,” she explained, “includes getting input from all the stakeholders about visions for the future.”
CDS, Munro said, follows the National Association of Independent Schools best practices for independent schools’ operations and governance. It celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.
Munro’s tenure included shepherding the school through its COVID-19 response.
Munro said that three years ago, the school was forced to cancel the middle school musical performance because of the pandemic. She attended the in-person event this year, the day her announcement was made public.
“It was a very high point in the recovery from COVID,” she said. “Certainly, all schools are feeling the long-term impact of that period, but I feel like our students have shown how eager they were for things to be in full bloom. They’ve embraced it with a lot of positive energy.”
While the board searches for Munro’s replacement, she said she will remain fully focused and engaged on the job as CDS’ head of school.
Munro has started to think about her two decades as the CDS’ head of school, she said, but deferred from listing achievements from her 33 years in educational roles at school and in the wider community. Instead, she said for now she’d like to highlight the relationship with the school’s board and staff.
“We’ve been able to achieve many things with very stable governance, experienced and very dedicated talented staff members who are definitely at Community Day School for the right reasons,” she said.
The soon-to-be-retired head of school said that her four children attended the school, and it was the only school she wanted to serve in this type of role.
“I can’t imagine doing this job at any other school,” she said. “It’s very intertwined with my community and passions. So many of my friendships came through the school, and I feel like Pittsburgh has been especially generous in allowing me to have this job in this community and I have found people to be very respectful of boundaries, so it’s been comfortable to be in this position in my own community.” she said. PJC
David Rullo can be reached at email@example.com.