Salesianum President Stepping Down Next Year

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On Wednesday Salesianum announced that President Brendan Kennealey will say goodbye at the end of this school year.

The announcement came in a letter addressed to the Salesianum Community:

Dear Salesianum Community,
On June 30, 2021, after a decade of extraordinary service, Brendan Kennealey ’94 will be
stepping down as President of Salesianum School.

Brendan approached the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees 18 months ago to
initiate a transition. As part of those discussions, we asked him to remain to complete the work
of Abessinio Stadium. We were fortunate that this extension coincided with the pandemic,
providing additional stability and leadership when the school needed it most.
Brendan’s presidency began under an historic banner. Selected to serve as the school’s
first lay president, he came to Salesianum with great expectations from the trustees and the
community at large. He leaves us having not only exceeded those expectations, but having
forever changed ours.

Brendan’s tenure is filled with achievements and success. You can view the school’s
official press release at salesianum.org/presidential-search to learn more about the many
highlights of his term in office. I join my fellow trustees, and the entire Salesianum School
community, in applauding these and his many other accomplishments. But beyond the physical
plant transformations, policy achievements, fundraising growth, and stability he created, the
most laudable element of Brendan’s legacy is the manner in which he positioned the school for
enduring success.

You can see the strength of that position present each day in the many talented educators
and administrators he has helped to attract and maintain. You see its boundless potential in the
options available to administrators to be adaptive and flexible to the times. And, most
importantly, you can see its durability when you consider the school’s mission, which he worked
tirelessly to strengthen and serve through a variety of initiatives.

In Brendan’s most recent letter to the school community about Salesianum’s response to
systemic racism, he cited Martin Luther King’s Letter From a Birmingham Jail, which warned
against the evils of being passive and displaying benign neglect. Salesianum has a rich history of
avoiding such passivity and challenging the status quo, most notably with Father Lawless’s
admission of five African American students in 1950. I’m grateful to Brendan for never being
passive and appreciate his willingness to lead and project the school’s influence for the good of
the community we serve.

Saint Francis de Sales wrote often about progress and perfection. Brendan himself likes
to quote our patron’s words, “those that have made great progress will constantly press ahead,
never for a moment thinking they have reached their goal.” As we embark on a search for new

leadership, these words seem to have new relevance. In celebrating Brendan’s tenure as
president, we remain humble in our understanding that so many more successes and
achievements lie ahead for the school and our community. Our mission is nearly 125 years
old. We have indeed made great progress and we look forward to continuing this great work in a
spirit of gentleness and tenacity with our next leader.

The Board of Trustees has already begun the work of finding the fifth president of
Salesianum School. Trustee Vice Chairman, Robert Byrne ’80 will chair the Presidential Search
Committee. Moments like this in the life of a school present far more opportunity than
challenge.

Salesianum is vital, thriving, and viewed as a leading institution locally and
nationally. Our ability to attract a capable, dynamic leader worthy of inheriting the legacy of
leaders such as Fromentin, Tucker, Lawless, and now, Kennealey, has never been stronger. The
Trustees and the Presidential Search Committee will use this period in our history to solicit
feedback from all of our constituencies, affirm those values that matter most to us, and select the
candidate best suited to advance those values and priorities. To learn more about the presidential
search, nominate a candidate, and to read the latest updates on the process through the coming
months, I encourage you to visit salesianum.org/presidential-search.

Just prior to his installation as President, Brendan was married to Nicole Duffy. Few
would describe the demands of taking the helm of a school as a honeymoon. But from the start,
Brendan and Nicole treated it like one: being open to every experience, living in the present
moment, and finding joy in doing the little things well. While in office, Brendan and Nicole
welcomed two daughters. Saint Francis de Sales said, “those who stay, go and those who go,
stay.” As we give thanks for Brendan’s success in office, we also give thanks for his family and
the vital role they’ve played in the school’s success. In sharing their lives with us, they do
indeed stay, having left so much of themselves behind.

Tenui Nec Dimittam,

Nicholas M. Marsini, Jr. ’73
Chairman, Salesianum School Board of Trustees

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First State Update's Delaware editorial team covers New Castle County, Kent County and Sussex County breaking news, political news, and general news stories. We bring the reader the latest news from the Wilmington, Newark, Dover, Rehoboth Beach and all point in between. If you have news to share, email us at desk@firststateupdate.com.

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