Michele Cannon Bessler Named Sullivan Strength in Leadership Recipient
The Christian G. Sullivan Strength in Leadership Award is given bi-annually to a member of the community whose leadership has actively enhanced the mission of the schools, and demonstrably advanced the institution from strength to strength. Key characteristics of the award recipient include vision, creativity, accountability, intellectual curiosity and decisiveness in matters familiar and challenging.
The 2020-2021 school year was a critical one for Annie Wright Schools. COVID presented challenges unseen in more than a century. The School’s ability to navigate these unfamiliar waters hinged on leadership. The community wanted to see strength, intentionality, and clarity. They wanted AWS to deliver its stellar education and be safe in the process. They wanted accountability and empathy, stewardship and rigor. In a year where leadership was critical, Michele Cannon Bessler delivered. As Chair of the Board, Michele actively supported the work of the institution by keeping the Board regularly and fully informed. As a pediatrician, she stayed in close contact with local health professionals and directly informed Annie Wright’s COVID response. She pushed forward a strategic planning process to ensure AWS came out of the pandemic ready to soar. She worked closely with Head of Schools Jake Guadnola on a nearly daily basis, helping Annie Wright Schools deliver on mission, vision, and values. AWS knew Michele’s strength in times familiar, and it learned firsthand of her strength in times unfamiliar. In this year, under these circumstances, Annie Wright Schools needed strength in leadership. It found it with Michele Cannon Bessler, this year’s recipient of the Christian G. Sullivan Strength in Leadership Award.