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Leadership Transition

Dr. Karen Bohlin to conclude 18-year tenure; Board unanimously appoints successor

Karen E. Bohlin, EdD will complete her 18-year tenure as the Head of Montrose School at the end of this academic year. Board Chairman William Noonan announced Dr. Bohlin’s planned resignation and her successor in a November 18 community-wide email, writing, “This transition commenced three years ago, under Dr. Bohlin’s characteristically prescient insight, when she appointed Mrs. Katie Elrod as our Associate Head of School. I am thrilled to let you know that the Board of Trustees has unanimously voted to name Katie Elrod as our 8th Head of School, effective upon Karen’s departure in June 2021.”
An international leader

Dr. Bohlin’s tenure was marked by several major milestones. Under her leadership, Montrose School relocated from rented space in Natick to its permanent 14-acre Medfield campus. Along the way, she helped raise $30 million for capital investments and need-based financial aid; and she solidified Montrose as a leading independent school for girls with a national and international reputation for excellence. In the last two decades Montrose has earned several distinctions including the Boston Magazine Top Ten Private School ranking, National School of Character recognition, and College Board awards for women in AP Computer Science, while Montrose students have earned honors locally, nationally and internationally in every subject and have been selected to present at university conferences and been published in international peer reviewed journals.

“To say that her commitment to the Montrose mission has shaped the future for hundreds of women is an understatement,” said Mr. Noonan. An international leader in the field of character education, Dr. Bohlin brought her unique, visionary leadership to the School, prioritizing the intellectual lives of teachers and helping young women develop the habits of mind, heart and character they need to lead and engage the world.
Bold leadership

Incoming Head of School Katie Elrod said of Dr. Bohlin’s achievements, “Drawing on her vast network, Karen brought colleagues from around the world to our students, faculty and parents. We are grateful for her countless contributions. Under her bold and visionary leadership, the Montrose academic program has grown in breadth, depth and interdisciplinary focus. Each department is anchored by educators who are passionate about their disciplines and outstanding mentors to young women leaders, fostering academic excellence through the formation of enduring habits—of heart, mind and character.”

Most recently, Dr. Bohlin founded the LifeCompass Institute (LCI), which provides practical wisdom to parents and educators. Before joining Montrose, Dr. Bohlin served as Assistant Professor of Education and Director of Boston University’s Center for Ethics and Character. She will return to her roots as a scholar-practitioner and plans to take the work of LCI to its purposeful evolution as an independent professional development center. 

“She is inspirational,” Mrs. Elrod said. "I’ve seen her work here at Montrose and on the international stage engaging leaders in the most important questions. She is going to return to this intellectual work full time and collaborate in professional development on a global scale. She leaves us extremely well positioned.”
Strategic vision

Dr. Bohlin shared her gratitude with the school community saying, “The spirit of our students, faculty and families has never been more vibrant. It is truly a gift to be a part of this school community. The world needs more Montrose graduates, and the school will grow and thrive under Katie Elrod’s dynamic leadership.” 

As Associate Head of School, Katie Elrod specializes in strategic visioning and leadership in every area of the independent school experience. Professionally, Mrs. Elrod has taught at every grade level, from elementary through college and has also served as an adjunct professor in the philosophy department at Boston College. She co-led the Abigail Adams Institute’s summer seminar “Divided We Stand: Pursuing the Common Good” in Cambridge, MA. Mrs. Elrod is a published author and a frequent presenter, having spoken at the University of Notre Dame, MIT and St. Joseph’s College, and the University of Navarra, Spain. A Lonergan Fellow, she received her BA and MA in philosophy from Boston College. She teaches Montrose School’s flagship Capstone course, “Embracing Big Questions and the Ethics of Human Flourishing.” 

Former Montrose Board Chair Neil Jacob, who worked alongside Dr. Bohlin throughout her tenure, said, “Karen has led Montrose with vision, tenacity and, most importantly, great joy these past 18 years as the school has doubled in size and developed its own campus and identity in Medfield. I am impressed at how thoughtfully the Board has planned for this succession. This transition has been three years in the making, when Karen appointed Katie as Associate Head of School. We knew then we had a star in Katie.” 

Two servant leaders

“Montrose young alumnae are thriving at colleges and universities around the country and across the globe including Harvard, MIT, UPenn, Dartmouth, University of Chicago and Notre Dame. More importantly, they are making an enormous contribution to impact our world for good. We have complete confidence that, under Katie’s leadership, the school will continue along its already impressive trajectory,” Mr. Jacob added.

Reflecting on his Board work with both Dr. Bohlin and Mrs. Elrod, Board Chairman Bill Noonan noted the transition’s potential as an opportunity for Montrose students to witness powerful synergy between two servant leaders. “In this change, our students get to witness responsible succession, an example of passion and response to a call. Montrose is the kind of place that attracts and launches great leaders in the world. This is an exciting time for Montrose, and I am honored to continue my work alongside these two great leaders in the months ahead.”
    • Dr. Karen Bohlin

      Dr. Karen Bohlin

    • Mrs. Katie Elrod

      Mrs. Katie Elrod

    • Dr. Bohlin has led Montrose School for 18 years

      Dr. Bohlin has led Montrose School for 18 years

    • Katie Elrod will take the reins as Head of School

      Katie Elrod will take the reins as Head of School