A Commitment to Leading with Courage, Compassion, and Integrity

An interview with Indira Nallakrishnan, Chair of the Board of Trustees

Interview by Ken DuBois, Editor

“I really care about this institution, and I want to see it into the future. I like digging into the essential questions: Who are we and where are we headed?”

Indira Nallakrishnan has been a Catlin Gabel Trustee for five years, serving as Vice Chair for the past three years, and stepping into the role of Board Chair in April 2020. She has been part of the Board’s Executive Committee and Governance Committee, and chaired the Inclusion and Diversity Committee for the past four years. She is the parent of one current student and two alumni.

You’ve worked with former Board Chair Bart Eberwein for the past several years in setting goals and planning for the school’s future. What priorities have you established with Bart that you plan to carry forward?

We’ve worked hard to stay true to our mission and uphold our values as a school, and we’ve been committed to leading with courage, compassion, and integrity. One of our priorities has been to make diversity and inclusion work everyone’s work—as Bart always says, "Moving this work from a priority to a value." I plan to continue that work, along with our ongoing efforts to support school leadership, and execute strategic and campus plans.

One thing I really appreciate about Bart is he’s not afraid of change if it means that we can better our school environment. He is always willing to embrace new ideas, or the prospect of change. He’s courageous, and I admire that. That inspires me, and I know that I have big shoes to fill.

Why has it been important for you to make this commitment to Catlin Gabel?

I really believe in the philosophy of Catlin Gabel School. I care about this institution, and I want to see it into the future. I like digging into the essential questions: Who are we and where are we headed? It has  been a gift to see the inner workings of the school and see how the Board and school leadership carries out our mission in all aspects of the school—every committee’s work and every decision. It’s the integrity of Catlin Gabel.

I see it as a privilege to be able to work closely with school leaders. And I’m proud to be a part of an institution that I really believe in. I think that the work we do to educate our kids and our community is so important and it is our duty to work hard to get it right.

What do you consider unique and special about Catlin Gabel, and the elements you are committed to sustain and grow?

It is the community of students—they are learners, thinkers, and doers. And it’s the quality of the teaching and the teachers. This makes for such a rich environment for our students when they’re supported in their learning and inspired by their teachers. That’s something I’m really committed to preserving and building upon.

Something that I think is essential, must continue, and deepen are the conversations that we’ve been having around privilege, and diversity, and inclusion. We are having some really good conversations. It has been bumpy, and it’s part of the process—it’s supposed to be. These conversations must lead to action and accountability. I’m hoping that there’s more engagement from the wider community on these critical topics and this vital work.

How has your experience as a Catlin Gabel parent shaped your thinking about the school and the work of the Board?

I find that the students’ perspective, not just my own kids, is the true temperature check of our work as a school, and as school leaders. The students are highly evolved in their thinking, talents, passions, and contributions. I believe that listening and learning from our students is the number one way for us to grow as a school. I’m committed to that and our school leaders, administrators, and division heads are committed to that as well.