Harry Nelson

Please and Thank you

One month from today, on Wednesday, February 24, my wife Dorit and I are being honored by Harkham Hillel, the school that I have served as president for the past three years. We are both humbled and honored by this. We are only a part of a much larger group that has powered the renaissance at the school under the tenure of my friend, teacher, and inspiration, Head of School Rabbi Baruch Sufrin.

For those of you who can be there, I know it will be an incredible night. The theme, A Vision for Tomorrow, is near and dear to my heart. Eight years ago, I visited several other leading independent schools with Rabbi Sufrin to explore what we could learn from the success of others that could translate into the future of our school. We learned from many other school leaders, who were generous with their time and insights.

Since then, we have gone through three strategic planning cycles that were powered by the resulting vision of what our school could be. Each cycle, through the tireless work of the school’s professional leadership team, faculty and staff, board and committee leadership has helped us we’ve explored fundamental questions: What can we, as an organization, be? What do we need to do to get there? What benefits will come out achieving our goals, for our students, our school, and the broader community in the process? These simple questions have created a powerful framework for articulating a specific vision for tomorrow, thanks to the determination of our stakeholders.  Each cycle, we’ve achieved what we set out to do, setting ourselves to envision the next level ahead.

In a time of relentless, rapid change in the world, this approach has been critical to delivering the education that our children need. Just as we are trying to teach them to think critically, we need to continue to ask questions, build consensus, and move forward on the answers. Just as we are trying to build character and instill the values of our tradition and ethical character in our children, we need to continue to lead with those values and set an example of moral leadership. In envisioning tomorrow and driving toward that vision for our children, our school, and our community, we are setting a model for our children about how they need to envision tomorrow in their own lives as they grow into adulthood.

I believe in our vision, and I hope that we will meet our goals for attendance and fundraising so we can continue to work toward that vision. That’s the stressful part. You never know how people are going to respond when you ask them to support you. A good friend was honored by a nonprofit a few years ago, and he shared with me his frustration after professional colleagues were underwhelming in their support. I learned from him that part of the challenge is just getting on people’s radar and breaking through the “noise” to make sure people calendar the event and make it a priority. Thankfully, it has been wonderful to get an enthusiastic response from many quarters. But I recognize the $360pp is not in every budget. I am profoundly grateful to the many people who have made reservations, bought ads, and contributed at any level.

Working on behalf of Harkham Hillel is a deeply meaningful investment of time, energy, and philanthropy for both of us. It has been a genuine privilege to be part of such a dedicated and passionate group of people, from my fellow board members to an amazing professional leadership team to the many parents, teachers, and stakeholders who have worked hard to make the school stronger.

As much as we have accomplished, we have so much more to do. That only happens with your support. Thank you.

One comment to “Please and Thank you

  1. Natalie

    I was just looking at your Please and Thank you article. Here’s to Your success!


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