A Message From Claire P. Goldsmith

Claire Goldsmith

Board Chair

Lamplight Education, LLC

I joined the board of the Enrollment Management Association because Heather Hoerle inspired me with her vision: to focus the organization on empowering enrollment leaders. In fulfilling—and then exceeding—EMA's goals and this vision, she has been a model for the strategic and steadfast leadership we champion.

In the summer of 2025, after completing 14 remarkable years leading EMA, Heather has decided to retire as CEO. We will benefit from her continued leadership until this planned transition.

When Heather took the reins of what was then SSATB, it was known for its gold-standard admissions test and its roots in the schools that came together to found it in 1957. Admissions directors were historically seen as gatekeepers rather than strategic enrollment managers, and they did not always have a voice in school leadership.

Through her EMA leadership and advocacy, Heather has made great strides in getting these professionals a seat at the table and a say in strategy. From the outset, she got to work transforming our professional association so that it could best serve its members—expanding globally, educating about the field of strategic enrollment management through new and increased channels, and understanding the needs of all profiles of schools.

In 2016, she led the rebrand from SSATB to the Enrollment Management Association, clarifying our dedication to professionalizing the field, elevating practitioners within their institutions, and building an accessible and inclusive community.

While leading this organizational change, Heather herself served as our go-to resource on independent school enrollment trends and strategies that work. Whether presenting to a packed conference or offering counsel to a Head of School, she marries her wisdom and experience with EMA's superb research and insights, benefitting us all.

Through this period of transformation—and especially through the challenge of the pandemic—Heather led our organization with good sense and imagination. We all witnessed her drive for innovation while stewarding the association's resources.

EMA's Strategic Plan, launched last year and informed by extensive member research and data on a changed landscape, affirms EMA's commitment to professional development, our suite of enrollment management tools, and equity and access—all to champion transformational education journeys.

Heather has led our commitment to assessments—such as the SSAT and the Character Skills Snapshot—as part of a holistic admissions process. She has also kept us focused on making the journey to independent schools as seamless as possible for students and families through the Standard Application Online and Admission.org.

Indeed, access to our schools has been a north star for Heather, as evidenced in the $16.2 million in fee waivers for the SSAT given out during her tenure.

We all will miss Heather's references to her guru, Jim Collins, admonishing us to "get the right people on the bus." During her tenure, she proved over and over that it's the team that matters—from her team at EMA to the leadership teams in our schools to the team spirit, support, and joyful learning we all derive from our EMA relationships.

Now, a few words on what is next. Since Heather notified the board of her plans, we have been preparing for a smooth leadership transition, which is one of the key roles of any non-profit board. I have asked EMA's Governance Committee Chair, Victoria Muradi, to lead our Search Committee, and we have partnered with the firm Korn Ferry International. Victoria will share more details on the search—including how all of you can play a role—in subsequent communications.

Thankfully, over the next year-and-a-half, we will have ample opportunity to celebrate Heather and her achievements. I know our community will come together to applaud her incredible leadership and legacy.


Claire P. Goldsmith
Board Chair, Enrollment Management Association