Tribute to Kate Lindsey
by Richard Swindell

Tribute to Kate Lindsey

Kate Lindsey is a mentor who has earned my deepest respect and care, and I have been privileged to work with her during her tenure at Sidwell Friends as Associate Head of School and Chief Financial Officer. The most challenging aspect of writing this tribute is that there is almost too much to say about Kate, and it’s all good. She packs every minute of her life with activity. I have received texts from her on my phone from one, two and three in the morning, but Kate never expected immediate responses. She just had a thought, a project she wanted to start, or just a pleasantry she wanted to share and she didn’t want to hold on to it until later. She wanted to share it and move on to the next thing. “Make a decision and move on,” was what Kate would say. She also noted that such an approach can be challenging to accomplish quickly in a Quaker consensus- building environment, but she more than managed.

Kate arrived at Sidwell Friends in June 2013 with 27 years of school management experience -- 23 years serving Georgetown Day School in Washington, DC and 4 years serving the Hewitt School in New York. In addition to her day-to-day practical experience, she brought the insights and warmth earned from a lifetime of working to connect with everyone around her. During those 27 years, she helped found the National Business Officers Association (NBOA), an association dedicated to advancing business excellence in independent schools. Kate also served as NBOA’s Board Chair, and for her support of NBOA and the independent school community as a whole, she was honored as the 2005 Recipient of NBOA’s Ken White Distinguished Business Officer Award. This is just one of the many organizations with which she has been affiliated that advances a cause near and dear to her heart. At the same time that Kate was achieving professional success, she and her husband Jeffrey raised two sons, John and Andrew, who are the center of her world.

During Kate’s tenure at Sidwell Friends she helped transition Heads of School and multiple principals, all the while strengthening the school’s Technology, Human Resource, Security, Buildings & Grounds, and Business Office Service Centers. Kate oversaw multiple construction and system upgrade projects to improve and update the school’s appearance and operations. Additionally, she oversaw the purchase of a Head of School residence and helped the school envision the potential of a single campus. This foresight resulted in the purchase of The Washington Home and Fannie Mae’s 3939 Wisconsin Avenue location. Kate noted that one of her regrets about leaving Sidwell Friends at this time was to not see the single campus consolidation project through to completion, but other responsibilities called.

Kate’s husband Jeffrey passed away just prior to her arrival at Sidwell Friends, and she will forever be my ideal for managing such a difficult period with dignity and strength. It is the management of the construction firm Jeffrey founded, Alpha Corporation, which has taken Kate away from Sidwell Friends and the independent school community that she has served so tirelessly for 32 years. There is no doubt in my mind that she will thrive in her next role, because she practices what she preaches: she masters and knows the facts with regard to whatever challenge she faces; she shares that knowledge with her colleagues; she rolls up her sleeves to do whatever work is necessary; and, perhaps her finest quality, she is kind, compassionate and patient with those with whom she works. Kate openly strives to understand people, believing that everyone has something to contribute. Kate once shared that she seeks to appreciate the other party’s perspective, so that she might better understand how to present her point of view and how to reach a mutually agreeable decision. That is a formula for success, no matter what the challenge might be.

I have heard Kate described many ways – warm, caring, bright, insightful, dedicated, generous, loving and loyal, to name a few. That being said, I like the way Courtney Peterson, Sidwell Friends’ HR Director, summed up her relationship with Kate – “I love the woman!”  I believe many of us feel likewise.