Edith Chapin Steps Down As Board Chair


Matthias Jaylen Sandoval

Edith Chapin and Head of Schol Laura Danforth, after meeting with Tower staff for lunch in 2021

Oliver Kreeger, News Editor

Edith Chapin, ‘83 and current interim senior vice president for news at NPR News, also has had an important side gig: chair of the Masters board of trustees.  Chapin has served as chair of the board since 2017, and has had a seat on the board as a regular member since 2001.  

Over the past two decades, she’s helped oversee long-term planning of the School’s finances and was involved in a head of school search which saw the appointment of Laura Danforth to her present role in 2015. After 21 years of service, Chapin is set to step down entirely from the board of trustees shortly after the end of this school year.  She is also slated to receive an award for services to the school, starting from her time as a student to her long period of service on the board of trustees more recently.

Chapin grew up the child of an American diplomat, and spent significant portions of her childhood living in Ethiopia.  Circumstances in Ethiopia eventually caused Chapin’s family to seek education for her elsewhere.  She said, “My dad worked in the State Department, so we were living in Ethiopia at the time and the school closed, a long story not worth getting into, but I had to go to boarding school regardless.”  Chapin continued, “And Masters being easy to get to from JFK, which was good for international flights, was certainly a consideration.” She added,  “It was a few years after the big fire and Masters Hall, and the campus seemed so fresh and renovated. Energetically, I was like, ‘Yeah, I like this one. Can I go here?”  Once at Masters, Chapin’s initial love for the school was reaffirmed – and she even served on the staff of this very publication (Tower).

During her time on the board, Chapin has been a key influence and decision-maker during a variety of changes at Masters.  “We’ve had Morris Hall built and opened the Fonseca Center,” Chapin said. She went on to explain how the board grappled over whether to take on the expense of building a swimming pool in the middle of an economic crisis.  “This was when the economy was really bad in 2008, we had to make a decision about whether this is a smart thing to do, or is this a really stupid thing to do?”

She clarified they waited a year and then took the plunge. “We sort of delayed a year to see how the economy would go and then decided, ‘Okay, if we’re building this building, we’ve got to put the swimming pool in now because we’re never going to put it in later if we don’t put it in now.’  We went for it.” She concluded, “That was the right decision.”

Chapin has also overseen the renovation of the dorms, the library, and the construction of the soon-to-be-complete IEC.  Her proudest act on the board, however, she said, was her role in the hiring of Laura Danforth in 2015. 

She said,  “I was asked, and led the search committee that selected Laura Danforth to be head of school. The board was ecstatic when we met her, and the board has been very pleased with her as head of school ever since. And so I think, undoubtedly, that’s my proudest achievement.” 

Danforth weighed in on her working relationship with Chapin. She said, “

She has demanded excellence from the board.  If you show up on time, you’re late. We have an expectation that everyone on the board gives to the annual fund every year, that they show up for their committee meetings.

— Laura Danforth, head of school

She added, “I think, at the board [level], what she has done is she has created an opportunity for board members to learn something at every board meeting, to be inspired at every board meeting, and to have some kind of a generative conversation.”

Although Chapin is stepping down from the board, she has made it clear to Danforth and the administration that she’s “only a phone call away.”  She said, “I will miss, for sure, the people, I have met people that otherwise I am highly unlikely to have met in life.” She went on to note how, as board chair, she’s been able to make many intergenerational connections, even from her home base in Washington, DC. 

“It’s one thing to know fellow alums where you might meet them at a reunion or some alumni event, but I’ve gotten to know a lot of parents who’ve served on the board and even alums from different generations. I’ve met people from all kinds of professions and learned a lot from them,  and trying to sort of ask the right kind of questions to make sure that we’re sort of doing the right thing, which has been phenomenal,” Chapin said.