Joan Barone of PAISBOA Health Benefit Trust Named 2024 
John Batley Award Recipient

May 8, 2024 - The traditional highlight of the PAISBOA Annual Meeting is the presentation of the John Batley Award, our highest honor. A former CFO of Westtown School and recipient of the PAISBOA Visionary Award -- and the man in whose name the John Batley Award was created -- John’s legacy is one of selfless giving and inclusion in PAISBOA. We celebrate his character, competence, and consistency each year with the presentation of the John Batley Award.

For 2023, the John Batley Award goes to Joan Barone, CFO of the PAISBOA Health Benefit Trust

Come this Fall, the PAISBOA Health Benefit Trust will experience a significant change in leadership as their Chief Financial Officer, Joan Barone, heads off into retirement. A longtime PAISBOA member, Joan is wrapping up a two-decade plus career in service to both independent schools and our association, and in honor of her dedication, we are pleased to present her with the 2024 John Batley Award.

Before coming to the HBT, Joan served as Director of Finance and Operations at Waldron Mercy Academy for 16 years, starting with a part-time job in the business office in 2002. At Waldron, she was responsible for overseeing the business office, human resources and benefits, building and grounds, security and risk management, food service, child care center, and the music, theater, sports, after care, and summer camp programs.

“During my time at Waldron,” she said, “I worked with three different heads of school: Sister Patricia Smith, RSM; Nell Stetser; and Ann Marie Braca.” In addition to serving as treasurer of the school, she worked closely with both the finance and facilities committees of the board, was responsible for implementing the financial aid program, and established the school’s safety committee to reduce workplace injuries and create a culture of safety within the community.

“I also worked hard over those years to find funds to regularly maintain and upgrade the now 100-year-old building and grounds, including classrooms and common areas, bathrooms, lighting, the gymnasium and theater, playgrounds, and campus security,” she added. “For many years, I personally planted, weeded, and watered the flower beds and pots along the front circle of the school.”

Joan began her PAISBOA tenure around 2004 when Waldron Mercy Academy was recruited to participate in the health insurance plan. “We applied for membership right away,” she said. “While the major reason was for the health benefits (which saved us money while providing better products), we were also intrigued by the other group purchasing and professional development opportunities PAISBOA offered.”

Prior to joining Waldron Mercy, Joan spent 10 years in commercial lending at Girard Bank and 11 years as an investment broker and financial analyst for various investment firms in the Philadelphia area. “Working for a school was very different than my experience in the corporate world,” she said, “and I quickly saw that I had a lot to learn about how to work collaboratively with the Head of School and other administrators and faculty in setting policies and implementing best practices – really in helping to run the school as a business without losing sight of the community culture.”

That’s where PAISBOA came in, with valuable resources and connections. “The in-person meetings were a great way to meet other business officers and share experiences and resources, which surprisingly was done quite freely and generously, “ she said. “I came away from every meeting with a new idea, template or contact that just made my job easier.”

“As our CFO, Joan Barone performed an intricate balance between keeping the institution fiscally sound and at the same time providing the funds necessary for materials for students and salaries for teachers to keep our Independent Catholic School viable in an extremely competitive market,” said vice-principal Theresa Gannon, who has worked with Joan for many years. “Building personal relationships along the way enabled her to do all of this with grace and mercy even if direct financial conversations were unavoidable. She is truly a wonder, and I often marveled at her gifted acumen in the financial and benefit worlds.”

In 2010 she was approached by then-secretary Mike Noonan about joining the PAISBOA Board. “Of course I said “yes” in an effort to give back to this organization which had been so helpful to me,” she said.

Following her service on the PAISBOA board, Joan transitioned her focus to serving the Health Benefit Trust and has been there literally since its beginning. When the HBT was spun off as a separate entity in 2013, she became one of the six charter trustees on its newly formed board and also served as treasurer, a member of the executive committee, and chair of the finance committee.

Five years later, Joan began working for the PAISBOA Health Benefit Trust when she assumed the role of interim Executive Director while a national search was underway for a permanent director. After Guy Gilpin was appointed Executive Director in April 2019, she moved into the role of Associate Director and was later named the Chief Financial Officer.

“Joan’s combination of grace, grit, fairness and competence helped the PAISBOA HBT navigate some very challenging times in its early years as a self-funded entity,” said Martha Scache, Director of Business & Operations at Abington Friends School. “Writer, editor, governance guru, accountant, organizer, peacemaker -- the Trust wouldn't be where it is today without her steady presence and leadership during its infancy. We should all be grateful to Joan for her work and I will personally miss her very much!”

Despite leaving Waldron Mercy Academy, Joan has continued ties with her longtime employer. She has been a member of the school’s Board of Trustees since 2019, served as chair of the facilities committee, and moved up to vice chair in 2020. Joan has served as the Board Chair since 2021 and is currently beginning her second three-year term.

“After migrating to her leadership role with the PAISBOA Health Benefit Trust, Joan’s dedication and love for Waldron Mercy Academy continues through her leadership on our Board of Trustees,” said Mark Murray, current Director of Finance & Operations at the school. “Even more impressive is her unwavering leadership style, which faithfully adheres to the Mercy charism and is most impressive as she delicately, skillfully and successfully navigates difficult and challenging matters with tremendous grace.”

Outside of the office, Joan is an active member at St. Margaret Church in Narberth, where she’s been involved since getting married and moving to the area in 1989. She’s served as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, a member of the choir, administrator of the Pre-Cana marriage prep program, and most recently as a sponsor in the Ukraine Welcome Circle, a pilot program developed by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops' Migration and Refugee Services to help Ukrainian families resettle in the Philadelphia area.

She’s been married to her husband Joe for 35 years and has three daughters: Daniela and Alicia, who live in California, and Victoria, who lives nearby in Philadelphia. Joe and Joan also share their home with their furry Himalayan cat, Mia.

So what’s up after retirement? “Joe and I have a trip to Greece planned for the fall,” she said. “Joe is fluent in Greek and Italian, so one of our favorite family destinations is Italy and the Amalfi Coast.” Joan also enjoys spending time in Avalon NJ and Cape Cod. She also enjoys gardening, reading and doing puzzles, and walking in her beautiful Penn Valley neighborhood.

As things wind down on a rewarding career, it’s natural to look back on some of the people who’ve had a significant impact. Joan is no different, and she cites her husband Joe for his constant support and encouragement to keep learning and be open to change.

Also, she includes “Sister Patricia Smith, RSM for hiring me for that part-time job in Waldron’s business office back in 2002 as I embarked on a second career following some time as a stay-at-home mom, and for entrusting me with increasing responsibilities as the school grew under her leadership.”

And finally, “to Martha Scache, Carol Lerner, Tom Taft and the other early members of the HBT board for their support and dedication as we worked together to build the foundation of such a strong and successful organization.”

“I never dreamed that taking that part-time job in Waldron’s business office would develop into such a challenging and rewarding second career for me,” she said. “My involvement in PAISBOA provided me with so many resources to stay current on important issues, make sound business decisions, and keep learning... all while making so many wonderful friends.”

What would Joan tell new Business Officers or other staff about getting involved with PAISBOA? “Take advantage of the power of the flock and everything PAISBOA has to offer.  Consider joining one of the various PAISBOA or PAISBOA HBT board committees which matches one of your strengths or interests. This is a great way to learn more and give back.”

“Joan Barone truly exemplifies all of the characteristics possessed by John Batley,” added Mark Murray. “Great character, competence, consistency, selfless giving, and a long history of tireless dedicated service. She possesses goodness, grace and a generous spirit, which clearly align with everything she stands for. With her legacy of service to Waldron Mercy Academy and the PAISBOA community, Joan is truly deserving of the John Batley Award.”

Read More About John Batley