Jim Leonard

Fully certified by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), Jim has coached a dozen Heads of School as well as a division head and a grade-level dean. He believes the coach-client relationship offers school leaders greater self-awareness, valuable time and space to reflect and reframe, and the opportunity to align their values and beliefs with their actions.

Jim Leonard served 21 years as Head of School at Santa Fe Prep, retiring in 2020. During his tenure, Prep launched Breakthrough Santa Fe, developed the Davis New Mexico Scholars program, completed three successful capital campaigns totaling $26 million, was selected as a Malone Family Scholars school, and established the Edward E Ford Summer Teachers’ Colloquium with an Educational Leadership Grant from the EE Ford Foundation. Jim also coached boys’ varsity soccer for eleven years and taught a senior English class each spring. He has served on the boards of United World College in Montezuma, New Mexico, The Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS,) and The Santa Fe Conservation Trust.

Prior to joining the Prep community in 1999, Jim was the Assistant Director and an English teacher for seven years at The Mountain School of Milton Academy in Vershire, VT. He and Story began their teaching, coaching, and residential life careers at Pomfret School in 1986.

Jim is a 1982 graduate of Williams College and received his Master’s degree in English literature in 1991 from the Bread Loaf School of Middlebury College. He and Story have three daughters, all graduates of Santa Fe Prep: Kelsey ‘11, Molly ‘12, and Campbell ‘20.

From Jim Leonard, I am enjoying the most valuable gift I've received as a school head: an unanxious space where I can explore out loud -- with an attentive, thoughtful, patient, savvy professional -- the uncertainties, worries, ambiguities, and cluelessness that I vigorously try to conceal at all other times. For the first time in over four decades of work, through the coaching relationship, I've been given regular opportunities to exorcize the anxieties quietly gnawing at my sense of professional fulfillment.

As a leader, Jim is an excellent listener, non-judgmental advisor, and enjoyable collaborator who can elevate and inspire students and colleagues in the same way that he lifted Santa Fe Prep.

Jim Leonard knows independent schools: the business, the value, and the inevitable challenges. Over his successful and innovative tenure as a Head of School, Jim demonstrated the skills and mindset crucial to investing in and developing the talents of his team, building a positive and dynamic school culture, and effectively realizing strategic opportunities.

Coaching @ Altitude has beautifully matched mentors with our school's leadership team. Each of my colleagues expresses gratitude for the skilled navigation they've experienced with their assigned coach. Often, a team member will refer to a suggested strategy shared by their coach or suggest that an issue we're dealing with be introduced at their next session because the insights and suggestions have been so helpful. Jim and his team have been simply wonderful to work with and I'm doubly grateful that he is my coach! I have a safe place as Head to air ideas and frustrations, but more importantly, reflect on how I can be a better leader for my colleagues and school.

Jim helped to shape me into a leader on the soccer team and in the school community; he encouraged me to be a better version of myself each and every day. I continue to strive to emulate Jim Leonard by supporting my friends and family as they pursue their goals, just as Jim supported me.