Given to exceptionally active and inspiring individuals who have dedicated their careers to the support of others in the field.
Nominees may include individuals who have made outstanding contributions over several years in the field of independent school business operations, including service to other schools, business officers and groups. Nominees for this award, the association's highest honor, must be affiliated with an NBOA member school.
Nominations are currently closed for the Distinguished Business Officer Award.
The recipient is announced in January, and the award is presented at NBOA's Annual Meeting.
Hathaway Brown School
Shaker Heights, OH
Valerie Hughes has served as Hathaway Brown’s business officer for nearly two decades. At the all-girls independent school in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Hughes has mastered the ability to not only serve as a hands-on manager involved in day-to-day operations, but also lead several large-scale strategic initiatives. These include the construction of the Jewett-Brown Academic Center, which features a four-story glass atrium; the state-of-the-art Carol and John Butler Aquatic Center and an all-new turf field — a rarity for a school of HB’s size (842 students). In 2016, she helped HB host the Public Purpose of Independent Education, a national symposium that challenged educators to question the overly simplistic dichotomy of public versus private schools and investigate how all schools can best meet the needs of increasingly diverse populations. Perhaps her greatest source of pride is her leadership in creating a financially sound summer program called “Aspire,” which brings 150 inner-city middle school girls to campus each summer for academic enrichment.
Hughes’ service to others does not end at the borders of her campus. She has served the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools as treasurer for 10 years. She has also served on the board of the Midwest Business Managers affinity group, including one year as president. Most recently, Valerie was instrumental in hosting the week-long 2019 NBOA Business Officer Institute at Hathaway Brown and helped the association educate and support nearly 70 independent school business officers and business operations staff early in their independent school careers. Above all, she is the "go-to" person for her colleagues in Cleveland and always makes herself available to help problem solve and support business officers at other schools.
Every year since 1999, NBOA has honored an extraordinary professional with the Distinguished Business Officer Award. View the award's past recipients.
The Distinguished Business Officer Award honors the legacy of Kenneth A. White, Jr., who had a passion for this field and an incurable desire to help others. He could discuss business matters anywhere, and always had extra time for problems and questions. Ken pushed himself to find ways to do things better. He was a visionary, not just for his school, but for all schools. Upon his death in 1996, speakers at his memorial services recognized him as "a man of deep faith," a "mentor," and an "inspiration," as well as a valued colleague, neighbor, and friend.
Ken held a top financial position at Davison-Elkin College, and then served for 21 years at Westminster School in Atlanta. He was a founding member of MISBO (Mid-South Independent School Business Officers), and was active in many other organizations, especially ABOIS (Association of Business Officers of Independent Schools), and also served a term on the NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) Business Service Committee.