About HMAE

Our Mission

Building on a significant history as an organization founded by women heads of girls’ schools for their mutual support and advancement. HMAE is a professional learning community of heads of all genders, who gather to share challenges and aspirations, and to learn, inspire, and engage with one another in a spirit of collegiality and a commitment to promoting and sustaining women’s leadership.


The Head Mistresses Association of the East (HMAE), the oldest NAIS organization for heads of school, was established in 1911 by a group of headmistresses of girls’ schools in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. The original mission of the association was:

To provide an opportunity for the furtherance of mutual acquaintance among heads of secondary or elementary schools for the interchange of ideas of common interest or looking towards the advancement of standards.

The association grew steadily over time to include essentially all of the heads of the prominent girls’ schools up and down the east coast. In the early 1960’s the association welcomed in significant numbers heads of co-ed schools, both men and women, still predominantly from the east coast. More recently, the association has welcomed members from across the United States allowing the organization to be truly national in scope. The head of school is the member, not the school, and the school must still enroll girls for the head to be eligible for membership.

The official records of HMAE from 1911 -1990 were accepted by Smith College in 1990 and are now part of the Sophia Smith Collection in the college’s archives. According to Smith College, these historic materials “provide a good record of the activities of the association as well as insight into the educational and social philosophy of private education in America.”

The Head Mistresses Association of the East celebrated its 100th anniversary in November, 2011 with a Centennial Birthday Party graciously hosted by Lawrenceville School.


The Head Mistresses Association of the East today is a vibrant and dynamic organization of all girls and coed heads of school from across the country. We meet once a year in early November in Princeton, New Jersey for our annual conference. We currently have over 100 Active members who are sitting heads of school. The membership also includes 45 Associate members who have retired from their respective headships, and 15 Honorary members, who have served as president of the association.

As we enter a new decade, we begin a period of self-reflection to ensure that we remain relevant and current and an essential part of our members professional development. We are committed, as one member noted, “to give us the tools to do our job well.” Additionally, our yearly gathering provides a safe, trusted place to develop and nurture personal and professional friendships, experience authentic collegiality, and renewal.

Through informative and provocative speakers and lively interaction among ourselves, we explore together the opportunities and challenges that are in front of us as leaders and our schools in an ever-changing landscape.

Members continue to cite the small size of the association as one of its most valued qualities.


David Harman

David has been a member of The Head Mistresses Association of the East since 1992 when he was Head of Rivers School in Weston, MA. He was appointed Executive Director in 2018, succeeding Diana Beebe, who admirably served in the position for ten years. David retired to Maine in 2016 after sixteen years as Head of Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, NY.


The organization is led by a volunteer board, all heads of member schools, and staffed by a very part time Executive Director. Our principal activity is our annual fall conference, with a special goal of assuring a warm, collegial welcome for all members.

Susanna Jones, President

Bo Lauder, Vice President

Kolia O’Connor, Treasurer

Ken Aldridge, Nominating Chair

Ann Klotz, Memorial Resolutions Chair

Sharon Lauer, Member

Mo Copeland, Member

Sarah Pelmas, Member

Nancy Mugele, Member

David Harman
Executive Director, 2018-

Elizabeth Forrest Johnson

Mary Hillard

Edna Lake

Lucy Madeira

Mary Schaffner

Virginia Wing

Barbara Colbron

Mildred Berendsen

Past Presidents of the Head Mistresses Association of the East

1942 – 1944: Edna F. Lake
1944 – 1946: Harold F. Osborne
1946 – 1948: Rosamond Cross
1948 – 1950: Valeria A. Knapp
1950 – 1952: Margaret B. Speer
1952 – 1954: Eleanor E. Potter
1954 – 1956: Anne Healy
1956 – 1958: Livingston Hall
1958 – 1960: Allegra Maynard
1960 – 1962: Lowell R. Comfort
1962 – 1964: Pauline S. Fairbanks
1964 – 1966: Elizabeth Parmelee
1966 – 1968: Barbara Colbron
1968 – 1970: Virginia Wing
1970 – 1972: Cecily C. Selby
1972 – 1974: Lewis E. Kimball, Jr.
1974 – 1976: Mary L. Schaffner
1976 – 1978: Charles G. Berendsen
1978 – 1980: John R. Latham
1980 – 1982: Blair D. Stambaugh
1982 – 1984: Agnes C. Underwood
1984 – 1986: Agathe K. Crouter
1986 – 1988: Kathleen G. Johnson
1988 – 1990: Evelyn J. Halpert
1990 – 1992: Barbara Boerner
1992 – 1994: Joan Ann Magnetti, RSCJ
1994 – 1996: Patricia G. Howard
1996 – 1998: Carolyn McClintock Peter
1998 – 2000: Auguste G. Bannard
2000 – 2002: David M. Felsen
2002 – 2004: Dorothy A. Hutcheson
2004 – 2006: Susan Graham
2006 – 2008: Priscilla Sands
2008 – 2010: Marjo Talbott
2010 – 2012: Ann Pollina
2012 – 2014: Peter Baily
2014 – 2016: Ann Klotz
2015 – 2018: Meg Taylor
2018 – 2020: Ken Aldridge
2020 – present: Susanna Jones