Brian Moscona, who has served as the president of Cristo Rey Baton Rouge Franciscan High School for just 15 months, is leaving the position at the end of the school year to become principal at the St. Thomas More School in Sherwood Forest.
Moscona, who was principal at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic School before taking over at Cristo Rey in January 2017, says he’s leaving the startup school because of opportunities at St. Thomas More and not because of any issues at Cristo Rey.
“St. Thomas More has always been an incredible school and I went to high school with the pastor, Fr. Michael Alello, and so the opportunity to work with him and (former Catholic High School principal) Dr. Greg Brandao—who will be coming on as director of mission advancement in the fall—was too good to pass up,” Moscona says. “I’ll also have an opportunity for all three of my kids to be on campus with me. So it was really a family first decision.”
Moscona is the second president at Cristo Rey in as many years. He succeeded former Southern University Chancellor James Llorens, who resigned abruptly in October 2016, just two months after opening the new school.
Cristo Rey Board Chairman Bryan Jones says the short tenures of the school’s first two presidents do not indicate problems with the leadership or the institution. But he acknowledges starting a new school with a unique business model is a challenge.
Cristo Rey is part of a Chicago-based network of Catholic high schools that uses a corporate work study program to supplement tuition costs for its unprivileged students. Local companies partner with the school by underwriting the tuition of students, who in turn work for the companies.
“In a school like this, there are leaders who are visionaries and are well suited to the initial startup and there are leaders who transition you to ongoing operations,” says Jones, who previously was involved in starting up the Mentorship Academy charter school. “Cristo Rey is no different than any startup in that respect, but it is a very unique model, and we will evaluate the needs and skill set of the position and recruit the best talent.”
Cristo Rey board member and finance committee chairman Jay Campbell, former longtime president and CEO of Associated Grocers, will serve as interim president until a new president is named. Louisiana Association of Business and Industry President and CEO Stephen Waguespack will head the search committee.
That search will be focused on finding a leader whose experience will mesh with the requirements of the president’s position, which is to fundraise and develop partnerships in the business community.
“We will be looking for those with established relationships in the business and philanthropic community,” Jones says. “In a traditional school, I may be looking for someone with an educational background. That may not be the case here.”