Joy McGrath ’92 Named Incoming Head of School
Liz Torrey

The Board of Trustees of St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, Delaware is honored to announce the appointment of Joy McGrath ’92 as St. Andrew’s fifth head of school. The Board voted unanimously to confirm Joy as head of school following a comprehensive ten-month national search that vetted and engaged with a broad cross-section of exceptional educational leaders. Joy will be the first woman, and the first St. Andrew’s alumnus, to serve as head of school. Joy’s appointment will commence in July 2021 following the remarkable 24-year career of our current Head of School Tad Roach. 

To that end, Joy will also be the first leader to serve as the Daniel T. Roach, Jr. Head of School. The headship is currently named the Merrill M. Stenbeck Head of School's Chair, in honor of the mother of two St. Andrew’s alumnae. The endowed headship was established in 2010 by a gift, with a provision that the headship be renamed to honor Tad upon his retirement.

In seeking a new head of school, the search committee received extensive input from faculty, staff, students, families, and alumni. In selecting Joy, the committee took to heart our community’s sense that our next head should continue to foster St. Andrew’s unique culture, values, and traditions, while also demonstrating the ability to explore and employ new approaches necessary to position the school for success in its next 90 years. 

Joy has the knowledge, the experience, and above all, the character to lead our community and steward St. Andrew’s mission. She brings to St. Andrew’s a unique blend of exceptional managerial skills, a deep appreciation for our mission, and a profound commitment to educational excellence. She is adept at articulating a vision and goals for institutions and aligning diverse constituencies and resources in support of them, and she has proven experience guiding institutions through crises. Joy has shown her ability to lead high-impact teams of educators and administrators with clarity, fairness, and empathy, with a strong focus on creating diverse teams. Her leadership style, which is strategic, process-driven, and outcomes-oriented, will help our institution navigate change as we work to strengthen St. Andrew's at this particular moment in our history. 

A member of St. Andrew’s Class of 1992, Joy has worked in education for more than two decades. For the past 13 years, she has worked at Yale University, where she currently serves as chief of staff to the president of the university. In this role, Joy manages a complex array of critical functions, including strategic planning, development, project management, and communications on behalf of the president; she is also leading Yale’s emergency response to COVID-19 in conjunction with the university’s continuity plan. 

Prior to serving as chief of staff to the president, Joy served in Yale’s Office of the Provost, where she helped the provost manage Yale’s (at the time) $3 billion budget during the 2008-2009 financial crisis and its aftermath. An accomplished fundraiser, she was recruited to Yale to become the first director of development for Yale College (the undergraduate body of the university), where she led the college’s component of a successful $3.9 billion university-wide capital campaign. 

Joy’s colleagues consistently describe a person who displays the sterling qualities of good judgment, interpersonal effectiveness, and compassion, as well as an astonishing work ethic. 

Yale President Peter Salovey says of Joy, “She is an accomplished and respected leader of uncommon energy, intelligence, and personal integrity. And I know just how much Joy loves St. Andrew’s and how strongly she views her education there as life-changing. The opportunity to lead St. Andrew’s takes full advantage of her skills, passion, and imperturbable moral compass.” 

Joy’s career in education began at St. Andrew’s, where she served for eight years before her transition to Yale. As a faculty member, Joy was recruited to work in the Advancement Office, and immediately immersed herself in the life of the school. The first woman ever to serve as a boys’ dorm parent, she lived on Schmolze Corridor, taught IV Form English, was a beloved faculty advisor, and launched the school’s Organic Garden as an extracurricular activity. Joy completed her first career at St. Andrew’s as director of advancement, where she designed and implemented the school’s first fundraising campaign that relied on broad alumni outreach and philanthropy. 

Joy knows and loves the life of the student, teacher, administrator, and alumnus at St. Andrew’s, and will draw upon her deep connection to the school’s history in her work to build relationships with all of our constituencies. Joy’s former advisee, Ashley Gosnell ’02, has this to say about Joy: “Joy will bring so much more than her experience as an educator and as an executive to her tenure as head of school. Engaging with and supporting students has always been a fundamental part of how she has enacted her role in a school community—just to make the point, even as she was overseeing Yale's emergency response to the COVID crisis, she has continued to have advisees. Her warmth, her compassion, and her instinctive ability to identify the moments that a student needs an extra set of eyes looking out for them will be a gift to the students of the school for years to come.”

A native of nearby Smyrna, Delaware, Joy entered St. Andrew’s as a V Former with the help of the school’s financial aid program.  She excelled during her time at St. Andrew’s. The recipient of the William H. Amos Prize for the Life Sciences and the Chester E. Baum Prize for English, Joy also ran cross-country and was coxswain of the girls’ senior eight. After St. Andrew’s, she earned her A.B. magna cum laude at Harvard University, where she majored in sociology, worked for four years in the law library, coached and coxed the Cabot House crew, and taught Sunday School at The Memorial Church in Harvard Yard (ultimately serving as head teacher). Upon graduation, she received the Cabot House Prize for contributions to her residential house at Harvard.

Joy is married to Ty Jones, a 1992 classmate from St. Andrew’s. Ty grew up in Chesapeake City, Maryland, and works for his family business.

In accepting this appointment, Joy said, “It will be an immense privilege to lead St. Andrew’s—to build on its distinctive culture of faith and learning and seize opportunities for continued growth and excellence. 

“I believe in the power of education—particularly a St. Andrew’s education—to transform young people and prepare them for lives of meaning and purpose. From the first moment I stepped on campus, I knew there was something special about this community where young people from all backgrounds and walks of life live and learn alongside dedicated, inspiring faculty. The school completely altered the course of my life, and since then I have seen the work of St. Andrew’s in the lives of countless other students and alumni as well. 

“As head of school, I will work to strengthen St. Andrew’s superb financial aid program that is at the heart of the school’s distinctive culture, ensuring that we continue to attract diverse and deserving students without regard to financial means. I look forward to collaborating with the entire St. Andrew’s community—students, faculty, alumni, and families—as we nurture this school we love so well, while we challenge ourselves fully to live up to our responsibilities to one another and to the world.”

Joy has also shared this message to our community.

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