Carolyn Hapeman of Westtown School Named 
2023 John Batley Award Recipient

May 3, 2023 - The traditional highlight of the PAISBOA Annual Meeting is the presentation of the John Batley Award, our highest honor. A former CFO of Westtown School and recipient of the PAISBOA Visionary Award -- and the man in whose name the John Batley Award was created -- John’s legacy is one of selfless giving and inclusion in PAISBOA. We celebrate his character, competence, and consistency each year with the presentation of the John Batley Award.

For 2023, the John Batley Award goes to Carolyn Hapeman, Dean of Finance and Operations for Westtown School

It is fitting that, on the 25th anniversary of the John Batley Award, PAISBOA will present its highest honor to Carolyn Hapeman, Dean of Finance and Operations at the Westtown School, the same school where John Batley served for 31 years, and where, during those 31 years, he occupied the office right next to where Carolyn now works.

For the last nine years – since 2014 – Carolyn has served on the PAISBOA Board, and in fact joined the Board before she came to Westtown in July of 2015. Carolyn has always been a passionate supporter of independent school business associations in general, and PAISBOA in particular. “I was active in Cal-ISBOA (at New Community Jewish High School in Los Angeles),” she said. “So I knew the importance of getting immediately involved in PAISBOA as the CFO at Linden Hall when I started there in August 2013.” 

Carolyn’s passion for independent schools is not lost on her peers. “Carolyn Hapeman is the consummate professional!” said Adam Wojtelwicz, Chief Financial Officer at Trinity Valley School in Fort Worth and former CFO at The Shipley School, who also served for a year as Carolyn’s Vice Chair on the PAISBOA Board before moving to Texas. “She is a role model for what is means to be an Independent School Business Officer. Always willing to lend a hand in a time of need or be a sounding board for issues within our schools, I have come to rely on Carolyn for her wisdom, grace, and feisty sense of humor, and I can think of no one more worthy of the John Batley Award. Our schools are collectively better due to the leadership that Carolyn has exemplified throughout her career.”

In addition to her responsibilities in the finance office, she has eight direct reports who refer to themselves as “Team Carolyn.” Those departments include Auxiliary, Facilities, Finance, Food Services, Human Resources, Security, Technology, and Transportation. She also serves the Westtown Board as the primary staff liaison for the Finance Committee, Investment Committee, and Risk & Audit Committee, and she supports the work of the Buildings, Grounds, and Environment Committee, as well as the Sustainability Committee. “My best ‘other duties as assigned’ involves “managing” a colony of 19 feral barn cats, but that’s a story for another day!” she said.

Carolyn holds a BS in Accounting from Messiah College. The first half of her career was spent in public accounting where she did both audit and tax work. After that, she had a year and a half stint at a Fortune 500 company. In 2007 she found her way to the world of independent schools in Los Angeles, then to Linden Hall in Lititz, until finally landing at Westtown. “Since then, I have never looked back!” she said.

Chris Benbow, Head of School at Westtown, shares “In her time at Westtown, she has thoughtfully grown and deftly supports a great team of eight finance and operations direct reports, whose countless contributions are essential to the smooth functioning of the community. She implemented zero-based budgeting schoolwide, a practice which continues to support our school's culture of responsible stewardship. She also locked in historically low interest rates for both refinanced and new debt that will support campus improvements for decades to come. These are but a few of the ways that Carolyn’s sharp attention to detail, deep understanding of the big picture, and outstanding rapport with colleagues have manifested themselves in her consistently exceptional work.”

If you ask about her proudest achievement at Westtown, Carolyn will happily point to a collection of lockers right outside her office. “These are my Amazon lockers,” she said. “Since we’re a residential campus, we get tons of deliveries, so we created an entire wall of self-service lockers where deliveries are placed and coded by student ID. The student scans their phone and the locker containing their package automatically opens. It’s saved us so much time and energy!”

She is also grateful – and proud – to have assembled an extremely competent team. “You know how you know when you’re doing a good job?” she asked. “You keep finance and operations issues out of the Head of School’s office. Their initiative and hard work has made all of our lives so much easier.”

What about PAISBOA? “Leading the Board through the pandemic,” she said. “Building relationships between the Board members, empowering the staff to do good work, and being an advocate and ambassador for PAISBOA within the membership.”

As Board chair, Carolyn has built those relationships between the Board members by starting each meeting with what she likes to refer to as a “Query.” Her topics have ranged from “who’s the best boss you ever had and why” to “what was your first or favorite concert” to “pick one of the last 20 pictures on your phone and tell us about it” … and more. “It’s been a great way for us to get to know each other,” she said. “That’s very important to keeping everyone involved in what PAISBOA is trying to do. It helps us all get on the same page.” And stay there.

“Carolyn is the ultimate team player,” said Lisa Carbone Warren, Director of Finance and Operations at Moorestown Friends School and President of the PAISBOA Services Corporation. “She has served Westtown and PAISBOA for many years and, in that capacity, has demonstrated outstanding listening and leadership skills. Carolyn possesses academic experience and knowledge but also understands that those characteristics are only a foundation for successful leadership. She also espouses respect, integrity, and an openness to what Quakers (Friends) refer to as ‘unity’ in decision-making. For Friends, discernment is the act of searching for truth and remaining open to the Light beyond the self. Carolyn sets the bar high and is a shining example to her peers.”

When asked who has had a significant impact on her career, Carolyn would like to highlight three specific individuals:

  • “First and most importantly, my husband of 30 years – Jeff. He has always been by my side on my happiest and my darkest days.
  • “Second, my first Head of School, Dr. Bruce Powell, was an incredible mentor as I transitioned from the corporate world to the very different independent school world.
  • “Third, my second Head of School at Westtown, Tori Jueds, recognized early on that I could manage a lot more. During her tenure, she took me from just two direct reports (Finance and Auxiliary) to the eight that I have now.

“I am very grateful to Jeff, Dr. Powell, and Tori for their significant, positive impact on my career,” she said.

Besides PAISBOA, Carolyn has also served the Independent School community by involving herself with other associations. Gary J. Niels, Executive Director of PAIS (PA Association of Independent Schools), offered up a short tribute: 

“Over her years at PAIS, Carolyn has served in nearly every volunteer capacity. On the Commission for Accreditation, Carolyn was regarded as one of the most insightful, wise and respected Visiting Team members, always adding her light-hearted humor and wit. As a Commissioner and Visiting Team member, Carolyn was particularly valued for her knowledge and experience with Buildings and Grounds and all matters related to Finance. It is not an exaggeration to say that Carolyn played a valuable role in the betterment of many schools accredited by PAIS. Carolyn serves on the Executive Committee of the PAIS Board as Treasurer,  and contributed to countless strategic conversations and decisions about our future direction. Carolyn also developed highly valued long-term financial models and projections based on emerging assumptions. On a personal level, Carolyn has been a trusted Director who has often provided me with valuable insights. Carolyn will be hard for PAIS to replace.”

Outside of the office, Carolyn enjoys spending time with Jeff and her daughter Maren, who is a junior Economics major in the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State. She also enjoys being with her parents, who just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this past March. Hobbies include enjoy cooking and baking. “My daughter and I like exchanging new recipes to try, but not our chocolate chip cookie recipe – we’ve perfected that one!” she said. 

Carolyn and Jeff also love surrounding themselves in nature, particularly looking for birds. They’re excited for their 30th anniversary trip to Ecuador in June, followed by a week in Cape May in August. Then, in December, Carolyn, Jeff, and Maren are headed to Costa Rica for more birds and nature.

Before heading out on those much-needed vacations, Carolyn has some advice for new Business Officers and other staff new to PAISBOA: “To steal Nike’s tag line…JUST DO IT! In all seriousness though, please consider taking full advantage of everything PAISBOA has to offer. This job is just too difficult to go it alone. A lost goose is a vulnerable goose.

Finally, Mark Gibbons, Chief Financial Officer at La Salle College High School and Carolyn’s immediate predecessor as Board Chair, had this to say: “I extend my congratulations to Carolyn on receiving this much-deserved award. From the first moment that Carolyn arrived at Westtown, she jumped in and became a fully involved member of PAISBOA. All our schools have benefitted from her experience, professionalism, and kind spirit. As a prior Board Member of PAISBOA, I witnessed how well Carolyn has understood the spirit of our group by looking out for all our schools’ best interests.”

“I am truly grateful to be a member of the flock,” said Carolyn. “I am continually humbled by what I learn from my colleagues on a regular basis, especially on the listserv. I also take great comfort in knowing that I have all sorts of relevant resources available whenever I need them.”

PAISBOA is grateful to have such a resource as Carolyn Hapeman.

Read More About John Batley