St. Thomas Academy has tapped a former Minnesota state legislator, business executive and school leader as its new headmaster.
Kelby Woodard, 49, will take over the top position at the all-male Catholic college preparatory and military high school in Mendota Heights on July 1, the school announced Friday.
Woodard comes to St. Thomas from Dallas where in 2014 he founded a college preparatory school for underprivileged students that relies on corporate partners for funding. In his six years as president of Cristo Rey Dallas, he raised $25 million to build a campus and annually helps raise $2.5 million to operate the school. He also served as a teacher, business manager and admissions officer and worked in human resources.
"Kelby has a unique background, a breadth of experience as corporate executive, in public service and as an academic leader that will serve St. Thomas well," said Dan Kubes, board chairman for the school serving boys in grades six to 12. "Today's school leaders need experience beyond academia and he embodies that. He will provide that leadership to advance St. Thomas into the next decade."
Woodard began his corporate career catching shoplifters at Target, where he later served as director of global security. In that role, he oversaw U.S. distribution centers and employees in 84 countries for the Minneapolis-based retailer. He also founded a global security consulting firm and a software company.
Woodard lived in Minnesota for 15 years before moving to Dallas. He served two terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 2010 to 2014. He also was a member of the Minnesota Civil Air Patrol and the Scott County Criminal Justice Advisory Board.
"It feels like I am coming back home, but it was a difficult decision" to leave Cristo Rey Dallas, Woodard said. "St. Thomas needed a new headmaster and it's the only position I'd leave my job for."
Woodard said his immediate goals are to work on St. Thomas' capital campaign and to increase and diversify enrollment.
He will replace Rear Adm. John E. Crowley Jr., who is the school's acting headmaster. Crowley stepped in after the school announced in June that Matthew Mohs had resigned as headmaster and that his resignation "was a deeply personal decision." Mohs had been headmaster for five years.
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768