St. Mary’s Academy’s Board of Directors and the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary Province Ministries has named alumna, Emily Niedermeyer Becker ’86, as the next president of St. Mary’s Academy. The selection caps a comprehensive search following the announcement of Christina Friedhoff’s retirement after 30 years of distinguished leadership at St. Mary’s Academy. Becker will be transitioning into the role this month.
Board Chair, Mariah Scott, shares that Becker is “uniquely well-qualified,” and “Emily’s deep administrative experience, passion for all-girls' education, as well as her relationship to St. Mary’s Academy as an alumna and current parent make for a perfect fit. Blessed Mother Marie Rose Durocher, foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, cited her favorite passage of scripture as ‘I have come to cast fire on the earth. How I wish it were blazing already.’ The board believes strongly that Emily embodies this same sense of purpose and will bring this energy to her leadership.”
Most notably, Becker has extensive experience as an educational leader throughout the Northwest and Portland metro area. She brings over two decades of experience from outside St. Mary’s Academy through her leadership positions at Whitman College, Reed College, Pacific University, Catlin Gabel School, and “I Have a Dream” Foundation-Oregon. Most recently, Becker has served as Vice President for Development of St. Mary’s Academy for the last nine years. In this position she has played a critical role as an administrator, advisor and strategic thought partner on a host of institutional projects. Becker’s experience as a creative and collaborative leader throughout her career includes building strong teams, leading effective and successful multi-million-dollar fundraising campaigns, creating and leading community engagement initiatives, launching inclusive access opportunities for young people, and consistently exceeding goals which enabled organizations to expand their impact and the critical work they do. Her role on the administrative team at St. Mary’s Academy will provide important insight into continuing to build and maintain strong relationships between St. Mary’s Academy and Portland metro area businesses and organizations.
Becker’s commitment to St. Mary’s Academy’s Catholic faith and the charism, mission and heritage of the SNJM Sisters is unwavering, and she cites it as a significant factor in dedicating her career to servant leadership. Becker’s presidency will bring St. Mary’s Academy and its 162-year legacy into the future as she states, “I am looking forward to leading St. Mary’s Academy as we fearlessly own our purpose as an
all-girls school and acknowledge the evidence-based impact our unique educational experience offers students. The world needs diverse women leaders, women in STEM, and women advocating for change and equity in every element of society, and St. Mary’s Academy prepares young women to step into those roles. Now, more than ever, we need to elevate women’s voices in order to ensure we address society’s most pressing issues. Our graduates possess the unique combination of unabashed confidence, grounded in compassion, kindness and a deep commitment to social justice.”
Becker has a long history with both the SNJM Sisters and St. Mary’s Academy. Her education has been directly shaped by the Sisters, beginning with her first-grade teacher and those that followed in her high school career. Becker is not only an alumna with strong family ties to St. Mary’s, her sisters and sisters-in-law are also alumnae. Additionally, she and her husband, Trevor, are current parents of, Renaté, a rising St. Mary’s sophomore. Her entire family, including her son Jack, are thrilled to be part of building St. Mary’s future.
Board member and alumna Karis Stoudamire-Phillips, ’94 says of the appointment, “Emily is the ideal leader needed at this time and she will carry on the strong presidential leadership that our alma mater has always known. I have personally witnessed Emily’s deep commitment to St. Mary’s, and I am looking forward to working with her, boldly facing all that is ahead. I am absolutely thrilled that my alumna sister has been named president.” Becker states she looks forward to working and collaborating with the St. Mary’s Academy community including the school’s board, administrative leaders, faculty and staff, students, parents, alumnae and supporters.
Becker says of the appointment, “I take the enormous responsibility of stewarding the SNJM mission very seriously. Serving as president of St. Mary’s Academy, the school that most significantly impacted me as a woman leader, is what I believe I am called to do.”