Meet Our New Head of School

Hear Karen Eshoo speak about King (Videos)

Karen Eshoo's letter to King Community

Dear King community,

It is truly an honor to have been chosen as the Head Elect of King School and to share my excitement about joining you all as a member of the King community! The Search Committee’s thorough process allowed me to meet a broad group of faculty and staff, trustees, students, parents, and alumni, and it was clear to me that you all share a passion for the School and the many ways it serves its students, families and colleagues – ways that distinguish King as a forward-thinking and cutting edge institution. I am grateful and humbled that the Board of Trustees is giving me this opportunity to lead the School, to partner with them and with all of you as we continue the rich traditions that characterize this community, and to explore innovative ways to best prepare King students for the world they will enter upon graduation.

My enthusiasm stems from the fact that I have found a School that shares my deepest values and passions, particularly for developing authentic academic excellence; fostering and supporting teaching that inspires curiosity and empowers students to make their place in the world; and preserving a school culture that respects childhood and adolescence, and that prioritizes character, kindness and inclusion. During my campus visits, King students described a program that is rigorous and focuses on critical thinking and mastery rather than unnecessary “busy work.” Students told me about teachers with unmatched expertise who demonstrate daily that they care about students, taking the time to get to know them as whole people, not disembodied intellects. Everyone I met described King as a school that intentionally fosters and values the relationships between students, teachers, and parents. In my experience leading schools with children from elementary to high school, it is these formative relationships that are the foundation upon which students can find ways to challenge themselves and grow. All these are reasons why I feel so fortunate that King and I have “found each other,” and why I can’t stop talking with my family and friends about what an excellent fit we are for each other.

In the coming months, before my “official” July 1 start date, I will be visiting the King campus to spend time with trustees, my new colleagues, students, parents, and alumni. I am especially looking forward to spending time with Tom Main, whose leadership and vision have been central to creating this unique School and nurturing the values that we share. These visits will be the first step in my entry process that will last through my first year, during which time I will literally meet thousands of members of the King community. I am ready to begin working with the Board to establish the vision for King’s next strategic plan, which will be influenced by what I hear and learn from all of you.

On a personal note, I am very excited to be moving to Connecticut - my other home state. My mother grew up in New Britain and Old Saybrook, and I enjoyed many summers with family in that area when I was growing up. I also spent a high school semester on “exchange” at Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich. I am thrilled to come back home and join the King School community!


Dr. Karen E. Eshoo
Head of School Elect

Learn about new Head of School Karen Eshoo


Karen Eshoo, Ed.D

Karen Eshoo

Karen began her tenure as the second Head of School of Vistamar School in El Segundo, California in 2011. Prior to her appointment, she spent over 20 years in teaching and leadership in independent schools as a high school teacher, the Middle School Head and the Principal of Grades 1-8 at Sacred Heart Schools in Atherton, California – also her alma mater - and the Assistant Head of School at Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco, California. She holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of San Diego; Masters degrees in Education and History from Stanford University; and an EdD in Education from the University of California, Berkeley.

Karen currently serves on the Boards of the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) and the California Teachers Development Collaborative (CATDC). She also is a member of the faculty of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Institute for New Heads.

Outside of work, she loves to cook amazing dinners for friends and family. While Karen is not a great athlete, she is a consistent exerciser and an avid sports fan. She also enjoys traveling internationally, reading about current events around the world, and dabbling in stand-up comedy. Karen is especially excited to return to Connecticut to be closer to her family near Old Saybrook, and her friends and family in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Announcement of New Head of School

Dear King Community:

I am pleased to announce, on behalf of the Board of Trustees and the Search Committee, that Dr. Karen Eshoo will be the new Head of School at King, effective July 1, 2018.

King School conducted an extensive, global search that began in May. We owe a special thank you for their excellent work to our dedicated Search Committee, including Co-Chairs Ed Cesare ’78 and Lynn King; Trustees Mi-Sun Freeman, Rob Holtz, Sue Mirza, and Linda Petrone; and Administration and Faculty Patrick O’Neil, Marnie Sadlowsky, Helen Santoro, and Rob Waller. As part of the process, we had three top finalist candidates meet and talk with close to 150 members of our school community, including faculty, staff, parents, students, administrators, Trustees, and alumni, in a series of small group meetings in September. We gathered additional feedback via a survey of community members and from Dr. Eshoo’s references, which were outstanding, so that as many people as possible could contribute their voice to this decision. I am proud the process was thorough and inclusive and produced such outstanding candidates for consideration.

Our school community is very excited that Dr. Eshoo, a highly sought-after candidate, chose King and Karen is equally excited about the opportunity to join our school community and build on our successes. The Board strongly believes she has the right combination of credentials, charisma, and accomplishments to lead King effectively.

Karen is coming from the Vistamar School, a private, independent high school in Los Angeles, where she has served as Head of School for the past six years. She is known as an educational thought leader with a demonstrated record of success, and has made innovative changes that have improved the quality of education at the schools where she has worked for the past 20 years. She has impressive academic credentials, including two Master’s degrees from Stanford University in Education and History, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of California, Berkeley. In addition, she is a well-regarded leader in both NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) and CAIS (California Association of Independent Schools), as well as a frequent presenter at conferences and a mentor to other Heads.

Throughout the many discussions with Karen, her abilities and her passion to lead King were evident. She is a decisive leader with a strong moral compass who encourages respectful sharing of different perspectives. For those who would like more details about her accomplishments, her biography is listed below.

In her personal time, Karen loves cooking for and eating with friends and family, traveling internationally, reading about current events around the world, and keeping up with her favorite sports teams. She is especially excited to return to Connecticut to be closer to her family near Old Saybrook, and her friends and family in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

We look forward to welcoming Karen to our campus for visits over the coming months, while recognizing that Karen has active responsibilities at her current school. The Board will appoint a Transition Team to guide the leadership change and Karen will be working this year with Tom Main and the King senior Leadership Team so she can learn about our community and contribute her expertise to key initiatives such as the strategic planning process. You will be hearing more from Karen in the coming weeks.

Please feel free to contact me at with any questions you may have. I hope you will join me in warmly welcoming Karen to our King family. Personally, I am confident Karen has both the expertise and energy to represent King well and lead us successfully into the next era.


Tom Conheeney
President, Board of Trustees

Please click on the tabs below to read more.

Head of School Transition Committee

MEET THE Head of school Transition COMMITTEE

The Head of School Transition Committee will facilitate the smooth transition for King School's Head Elect, Dr. Karen Eshoo. The committee will coordinate the multiple demands on Dr. Eshoo as she delves more deeply into the King culture and prepares to assume the position of Head of School on July 1, 2018. The committee will keep Dr. Eshoo informed of current initiatives and develop a calendar and agenda for her visits to King. The committee will also support Dr. Eshoo in identifying priorities for her initial 100 days at King.

  • Tom Conheeney (Co-Chair, President Board of Trustees)
  • Thomas King (Co-Chair, Board of Trustees)
  • Jessica Drbul (President Parents' Association)
  • Carmen Failla (Board of Trustees)
  • David Hursty (Strategic Consultant in Residence), email:
  • Tamra Lichtman (Director of Strategic Marketing and Communication)
  • Doug Perlman (Vice President Board of Trustees)
  • Marnie Sadlowsky (Interim Associate Head of School for Curriculum, Head of Upper School)
  • Judy Valentine (Assistant to the Head/Board of Trustees)
We invite you to share your perspective with Committee members.

Head of School Transition Process Overview

October 2017

  • Announce Head of School-Elect to the community (COMPLETE)
  • Form Head of School Transition Committee (COMPLETE)

November 2017

  • November 20-21: Karen Eshoo visits campus (COMPLETE)

December 2017

  • December 11: Karen Eshoo visits campus (COMPLETE)


  • January - June: Additional visits
  • April 3: Get to Know Dr. Karen Eshoo: A Panel Discussion, 7:30-9:00 p.m., PAC (COMPLETE)
  • July 1: Karen Eshoo starts as Head of School