At ISS we value our relationship with you and want to convey our commitment to your privacy. We have updated our Data Privacy and Protection Policies.

Supporting Women’s Leadership in Education: Mary Anne Haas Women's Symposium

At the close of the 2017-2018 academic school year, more than 30 women leaders from international schools in nearly 20 countries assembled for the annual Mary Anne Haas Women’s Symposium to discuss the context for women leadership in international schools, network, and further their own professional development in a stimulating series of workshops and conversations.

New this year, was an added focus on social media activity, as well as the recently released video montage, in an effort to spread the word far beyond this group setting, to the larger international education community, including young women and rising leaders.

Now in its sixteenth year, this annual symposium helps advance women educators in leadership in international schools – as well as provide important role models to future generations of women leaders. Little data exists on the diversity of international school leaders, but US data from the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) suggests that while women and educators of color are increasingly assuming a variety of leadership roles in schools, still only about a third of US private school heads are female and only seven percent are educators of color. In a presentation on the leadership pipeline, Liz Duffy, President of International Schools Services, stressed that, “It’s important that the leadership of international schools reflects the increasing diversity of students and families in those schools, especially since many studies have shown that diverse teams make better decisions and such teams provide effective role models for all students.

The symposium was held at the Chauncey Center in Princeton, NJ on June 17-19, 2018 and is supported through a generous grant from the Office of Overseas Schools at the US Department of State, as well as key sponsors. The 2018 participants now join a dynamic alumnae group of nearly 400 women, who have served as mentors, peer advisors, and motivators for a much larger cohort of female educators and students. Key organizer of the symposium, Beth Pfannl, ISS VP of Administrative Searches and Governance Services, said, “At 92 years young, Mary Anne Haas has been a wonderful mentor and dear friend to so many individuals, but now, looking at all of the symposium delegates and their positive energy, I can see the empowerment multiplying and spreading throughout the world. This event is a true catalyst and I am thrilled to be a part of it.” #issedu #ISSwomenlead #Wlead


Sponsors of the 16th Annual Mary Anne Haas Women’s Symposium

Grant: Office of Overseas Schools

Gold Level Sponsor: Near East South Asia Council of Overseas Schools (NESA)

Silver Level Sponsors: George Mason University; East Asia Regional Council of Schools (EARCOS); AAIE Institute

Bronze Level Sponsors: Association of American Schools in South America(AASSA); CSDA Architects; Frosch Travel; John Farrell & Taylor, LLC; College Board; Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA CESS); Mediterranean Association of International Schools (MAIS); and Central and Eastern European Schools Association (CEESA)

Mary Anne Haas

About Mary Anne Haas

Mary Anne Haas is the founder of the International Schools Services (ISS) Women’s Symposium. The Symposium provides an opportunity for growth and development for women in international education and leadership roles. In July 2016 Mary Anne retired from ISS at the age of ninety!

When Mary Anne joined ISS in 1996 she had already spent decades working overseas and supporting international education. Her late husband Stanley Haas was a teacher and headmaster. His work brought Mary Anne into this field, but her contributions are of her own design.

Born in Seattle, Washington in 1926, as the oldest of five (and the only girl), Mary Anne credits her parents with teaching her life lessons that have guided her adult experiences and interactions, including gratitude, pride in her heritage, and the importance of education and charity. Charity, as Mary Anne is quick to explain, is not limited to providing funds but rather “giving help in every way” to those less fortunate. Mary Anne has her own unique view of the world, one that is optimistic and informed. She is always learning, experiencing and adding dimension to her already varied and interesting life.

During World War II, Mary Anne left Seattle for New York, before moving to San Francisco in 1945. It was in California that Mary Anne met Stanley Haas. They married in 1949 and during their early married life, Stanley and Mary Anne traveled as much as possible, immersing themselves in other cultures. These trips would prove to be the foundation upon which they built a long career in international education.

In 1966 they made the daring decision that would change the direction of their lives: Stanley accepted the position of Headmaster at the American Overseas School of Rome. The family spent eight happy years in Rome, during which time Mary Anne was an active force in the school community, serving as President of the American Women’s Club.

In 1974 Stanley became Superintendent of the American Community School, and the family moved to Athens. Mary Anne explains, “We were successful as a family because we worked as a team.” In Greece Mary Anne again became involved with numerous organizations, serving as President of the American Women’s Club, and volunteering at the U.S. Embassy.

In 1978, Stanley became Executive Director of the Near East South Asia Council of Overseas Schools (NESA). Mary Anne and Stanley were a strong team and as time went on, her involvement with the organization increased. After her husband’s death, Mary Anne assumed Stanley’s position as Executive Director. The following year she joined ISS and has been the Executive Assistant to three ISS Presidents. She traveled to conferences, representing ISS by sponsoring and introducing keynote speakers. She has served on the Executive Board of the Association for the Advancement of International Education, and as Special Advisor for Strategic Partnerships for the National Art Education Association.

Her first Women’s Symposium was held in 2002. These Symposiums have provided opportunities for growth and development for women in international education and leadership roles. Her support of women in leadership, both in education and other fields, is part of her legacy. Mary Anne truly appreciates how important it is for women to support other women professionally, recognizing the unique opportunities that emerge when talented leaders converge.

Mary Anne has an immense amount of wisdom and life experience, but she never says that she is done learning. Indeed, she created opportunities and took advantage of the possibilities presented, and the result is a life that is filled with adventure, laughter and passion for others. She says, “What you think may be, isn’t. What you think is good enough, needs more work. Humility is as integral to success as anything else; have humility and success and happiness will follow. Stay true to yourself and you will be true to others.” Mary Anne is truly an inspiration and a valued friend to the international community.

Her mentor was Stanley Haas, but she is a mentor and inspiration to many. Mary Anne’s passionate contributions strengthen our community and our world.

Check out all of our events and conferences | 2018/19 conference dates: Atlanta, GA, USA (December 9-11, 2018)  •   Bangkok, Thailand (January 4-7, 2019)  •   San Francisco, CA, USA (February 7-10, 2019) |