PAISBOA Visionary Award for
2024 Presented to Hal Davidow
of William Penn Charter School

May 8, 2024 - PAISBOA's Visionary Award -- first implemented in 2011 -- is presented to those individuals recognized for their Foresight, Initiative and Passionate Leadership on Behalf of the Association. In honor of his nearly three decades of service to PAISBOA, we are pleased to present the 2024 Visionary Award to Hal Davidow of William Penn Charter School.

If there was a Mount Rushmore of PAISBOA, Hal Davidow’s visage would be a prominent part of that sculpture, and as he nears the end of a nearly three-decade term of service to both PAISBOA and William Penn Charter School, we are pleased to honor him with the Visionary Award For Foresight, Initiative, and Passionate Leadership on Behalf of the Association.

Following a 20-plus year career at SEPTA, where he was responsible for the Subway Elevated system operations, bus and rail, and finally, Budget Director, he moved over to Penn Charter and quickly realized that, coming into the independent school world, he had to expand his knowledge base. That’s where PAISBOA came in.

“About 27 ½ years ago, I was invited to meet with business managers from the ‘Club 14’ schools,” he said. “The group was subsequently disbanded (after I was elected chair), and I joined PAISIG (PAISBOA’s predecessor), which met at Friends Central School, where (former PAISBOA Executive Director) Emily Miller first got me involved. The PAISIG program was well established when I joined, and I turned my attention and passion toward opening up other group purchasing opportunities.

“These connections shortened my learning curve dramatically. Initially, this group was just buying Health Insurance, but we began to rapidly expand in the late 90s into what PAISBOA is today.”

Currently working with his third Head of School at Penn Charter (Earl Ball, Darryl Ford, and Karen Warren Coleman), Hal is responsible for all business functions, including finance, personnel, maintenance, security, and transportation.

Over and above his job responsibilities at Penn Charter, PAISBOA has meant a lot to his career. Hal has served on both the PAISBOA and PAISBOA Health Benefit Trust boards for “I think 27 years.” He was PAISBOA Board Chair from 2014-2018, chair of the Energy Program for many years, has been on a number of committees, and was elected to the HBT Board of Trustees following his term on the PAISBOA Board, where he serves on the Executive Committee and chairs the Governance Committee. In addition, he was the recipient of the 2013 John Batley Award, our highest honor.

“This is an industry like no other,” he said. “While our schools are competing with each other for students, faculty, and staff, PAISBOA is the place that seeks to grow the industry through cooperation. In meeting after meeting with my peers, I have always felt cooperation, not competition. In the early years, the connections I made were also a source for my own professional development in addition to PAISBOA’s structured programs.

“Throughout my independent school career, PAISBOA has been constantly growing and evolving. Continuously looking for improvement, we moved from brokered healthcare plans to self-insurance. We moved from group commodity purchasing to a variety of services that are ever-growing. As PAISBOA has grown, so have the services that I have been able to bring to my school.”

Hal has also made a great many friends along the way. Frank Aloise, Chief Financial Officer at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy is one of them. “Hal was one of the first Business officers I met when we started in schools around the same time,” he said. “We became fast friends as we navigated the many things we were responsible for. He has always been a steady and calm presence for all of us. Early on he led the formation and evaluation of the PAISBOA Purchasing Consortium, which saved many dollars for schools over the years.

“Under the calm presence is great humor and intelligence that cuts through to the heart of the issues on the table and helps to get people to agree on the steps needed to move us all forward.”

Citing those who’ve had an influential impact on his career, Earl Ball and Darryl Ford helped mold his roles at Penn Charter and provided guidance. “Earl helped me transition from ‘the outside world’ and encouraged me to be involved in PAISBOA and JRPO (now INDEX)” he said. “Darryl taught me the nuances of leadership in a Quaker world. Both men had a great love of their work and compassion for the entire community.

“(PAISBOA staffers) Al Greenough, Emily Miller, and Aggie Malter taught me enthusiasm for my work, both at PAISBOA and at my school. Their can-do attitude was catching.

“And lastly, my wife has taught me humility.”

Hal’s advice to new Business Officers or other staff about PAISBOA? “In my mind, PAISBOA offers four things to our Business officers and their staffs:”

  1. The Connections - the people I have met have thoroughly enriched my understanding of this industry.
  2. The Deals - Telling our board, year after year, that our Medical premiums haven’t really gone up makes me look good. When energy rates sky rocketed, I told my board not to worry… we bought a fixed rate.
  3. The Time Saving - I don’t need to do RFPs for insurance plans or for paper or for office supplies or for any myriad of materials and services.
  4. Professional Development - Timely seminars have helped me tremendously over the years, particularly when we started tax exempt borrowing many years ago. It made me look smart (quite a challenge).

As he rides off into his second retirement, Hal looks forward to spending time with his family. “One of my sons is disabled and I have been involved with the KenCrest boards for 37 years. I also love to travel and have been all over Europe and Central and South America over the last few years,” he said. “Over the years, I have developed a passion for history and political science and spend my spare reading time in those areas.

“My wife of 41 years, Bonnie, is an RN and works in the disability field. One son, Evan, lives at home with us; our other son, Lee is married to Kim and has a daughter Maddy.”

Hopefully, in the next few months, all his time will be spare time. He is a retired marathon runner with over 70 races under his belt, and he has recently transitioned to biking. He plans to dramatically increase his biking and gym workouts, Pickle ball is in his future, and he is hoping to revive long-lost basketball skills from 50 years ago.

“When I am tired from the above, I am planning to return to Penn to audit history and political science courses,” he added. “It will be a joy to take courses that I want to take and not have to take, and to go to class but not take tests.”

What about a “third” career? “Down the road, I am considering doing consulting work for struggling schools,” he said. “This industry has changed dramatically in the last five years, and boards need to be flexible in meeting the new challenges in a changing market. I like to think I can help.”

“Hal always finds a way to help others find a way,” said Darryl Ford, his former Head of School. “He listens, offers clear and practical advice, and helps students, colleagues, and parents in ways that are never publicly known. He has done this most important work without accolade or fanfare.  Hal simply does it to help others.”

Hal joins fellow PAISBOA luminaries Al Greenough, Bob Mueller, and John Batley as recipients of the Visionary Award. We congratulate him on this singular honor and wish him well in the next chapters of his life.