Q&A: The Baldwin School’s Marisa Porges

The head of the esteemed all-girls institution will be celebrated at an installation ceremony on Sept. 9.

The Baldwin School has a new leader—and for the first time in its 128-year history, it’s an alum. Marisa Porges, a 1996 grad, took over in July. On Sept. 9, the school will come together for an installation ceremony celebrating Porges, the former U.S. Navy flight officer, foreign-policy adviser for the secretary of defense and, most recently, White House fellow for the National Economic Council. 

MLT: What’s it like returning to your alma mater as its head of school?

MP: It’s the same invigorating, wonderful community that I remember it being. Seeing it from this side has given me a whole new perspective on the amazing opportunities and challenges we’re giving today’s Baldwin girls—things I didn’t appreciate as much until I left. 

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MLT: How does an all-girls learning environment impact the students?

MP: Every leadership opportunity, every math problem that’s solved, every moment on the playing field is by a fellow classmate who’s a girl. You become role models for each other. 

MLT: You worked on many cyber-security initiatives and to bring internet access to a broader spectrum of people. What role does technology play in modern education?

MP: Whether it’s a school like Baldwin or a public school, it really does make a difference. It’s pushing us all to be more creative about how we’re presenting information. It’s critical for our girls to have a global perspective. [But] the face-to-face interaction is just so important, and that doesn’t happen online. 

MLT: Is there a moment from your time at Baldwin that’s stuck with you?

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MP: There was the longtime sculpture teacher. He helped me build a plane, and it was in those moments that I started piecing together the problem-solving and math-and-science parts of me with the more innovative art side. After that is when I decided I want to fly for the military. 

MLT: What made you leave foreign affairs and economics for education?

MP: It was all about Baldwin—what it gave me and what it’s giving the next generation. If I can help the next generation of graduates, it’s far and away the best thing I can do. 

MLT: How will you bring your varied and extensive experience into the academic environment?

MP: The perspective I’ve gotten in and out of government, in higher education and in the military gives me a unique perspective on what it takes to have a voice in the room, particularly as a woman. It’s something I want to help bring to the community. It’s also a global perspective on the challenges facing the next generation. It’s what we’re setting our girls up to face and meet head on.

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MLT: What are your plans for the school and your first few months in office?

MP: I’m trying to immerse myself in everything that’s going on—getting to know the faculty and staff, the kids, the families and the alumni community, and together figuring out how we build on Baldwin’s greatness and take it to the next level.

MLT: Are any of your teachers still around?

MP: Some of my favorite faculty, staff, coaches and support staff are still here. It’s just the friendly faces you grew up with. I know the impact they had on me and the impact they’re now having on today’s girls, which is really special.

MLT: What do you most hope to leave behind as your legacy?

MP: I’m excited to build on Baldwin’s greatness and ensure that we continue for another 128 years creating girls who lead and have impact on the world.

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