October 9, 2020
Dear Dunn School Community,
On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the Head of School Search Committee, I am very pleased to announce that Kalyan Balaven will succeed Mike Beck as Head of School, effective July 1, 2021. Mr. Balaven will join the Dunn community with his wife Fatemeh, an elementary school teacher, and his two children, Husna (11 years), and son Matin (7 years).
A year ago, the Head Search Committee began the process of recruiting the strongest and best-matched candidates to Dunn School from across the country. Following preliminary, confidential interviews with the Search Committee, three of these candidates recently visited Dunn School for two days, during which they met with faculty, staff, students, parents, administrators, and trustees. We believe that any of those final three candidates would have been an excellent choice for Dunn’s Head of School.
After performing its subsequent due diligence, the Search Committee presented Mr. Balaven as its nominee to the Board of Trustees to serve as the next Head of Dunn School. On October 9, 2020, the trustees accepted the committee’s recommendation by unanimous vote. In the end, we agreed that Mr. Balaven was the absolute best choice, combining demonstrated hands-on and leadership experience, philosophical perspective, alignment with Dunn’s mission, and contagious positive energy that will guide Dunn School into its future as the leader in whole student education.
Mr. Balaven’s personal and professional journey is a unique one and his resume is impressive. Born in India, where his father and grandfather worked for the US Embassy, Mr. Balaven moved to California as an infant, where he would grow up, eventually earning a B.A in History from UC Berkeley and a J.D. from UC Davis. After practicing law for a brief time, during a particularly difficult case, Mr. Balaven realized his calling to education. During his tenure as an educator, Mr. Balaven has held numerous, varied roles, mostly during his 12-year career at The Athenian School. There he has served as a humanities instructor, the Dean of Equity and Inclusion, acting Head of School, and currently, Director of Teaching and Learning. Moreover, he has held many leadership roles, managed budgets and faculty, and created several innovative programs.
What distinguishes Mr. Balaven is his demonstrated desire and ability to establish educational programs that build for the future success of a school. Early in his career, he built four campuses from one small charter school. At the Athenian School, he helped build an LMS and blended curriculum program that allowed Athenian to quickly and smoothly transition to remote learning and which established the school as a leader in this area. Most famously, Mr. Balaven created the Inclusion Dashboard Consortium, a group of over 85 schools, recognized by the National Association of Independent Schools, that are building inclusion dashboards designed by him.
Following is a representation from each constituency of the many positive comments shared by members of the Dunn Community who met with Mr. Balaven:
Current parent: “I so appreciated the warmth and enthusiasm seeping from Kalyan’s pores...his passion for education and community/culture building feels as though they come from a deep and organic place.”
Administrator: "I liked the energy he brought to the campus and the students really responded well to him.” Another added, “He got me excited for how we could grow as an institution.”
Teaching faculty: “He’ll encourage everyone to bring their A-game.” Another offered, “I firmly believe that Kalyan has the ability to inspire staff and students to help Dunn be a leader in the field of whole student education.”
Student: “He answered our questions very honestly." Another added, "I think that Kalyan had great ideas...I like his ideas for communication and I like that sports are important to him.
In response to our offer, Mr. Balaven expressed these thoughts:
"I became an educator to help prepare students to do good in the world, and I'm overjoyed in carrying on this work in service to the mission at Dunn, where the journey of a student is as valued as the end result and the end is articulated as 'responsible leadership in society."
Choosing a new Head of School is one of the single greatest responsibilities of the Board of Trustees. All of us in the Dunn community owe a debt of gratitude to the efforts of our incredibly dedicated Search Committee members who were tireless and thorough during the entire search process. They volunteered countless hours reviewing resumes, video conferencing, and participating in meetings in order to take great care with the search process to ensure its successful outcome.
I’d like to personally thank the Search Committee members:
Bruce Thacher ‘73, Committee Chair, Former Trustee and Chair, Former Faculty
Debbie Jones, Committee Vice-Chair, Former Trustee and Chair, Alumni Parent
Cheryl Stauffer, Committee Vice-Chair, Trustee and Alumni Parent
Alice Berg, Dunn School Director of Learning Strategies
Ulises Castañeda, Dunn School Spanish Teacher
Jon Day ‘08, Alumnus
Christy Nordgren, Dunn Middle School Language Arts Teacher and Athletic Director
Eric Roberts ‘85, Alumnus
Chad Stacy, Chief Financial Officer and Current Parent
Julianne Tullis-Thompson, Current Parent
Gladdys Uribe ‘98, Trustee and Alumna
The Board of Trustees is also grateful to all the students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni who participated in the Head of School search and provided valuable input and feedback.
In closing, let me reaffirm that Mike Beck will continue to serve as our Head of School through the end of this school year. Mr. Beck will work with Mr. Balaven to assure a smooth transition in Dunn School’s leadership and help support him in building upon the legacy of whole student education that he has worked so diligently to champion and develop over the past 13 years, and for which we are so grateful.
I trust that all will join in welcoming Mr. Balaven to the Dunn community!
Chairman, Dunn School Board of Trustees