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Empowering Excellence

Empowering Excellence

Tabor Academy recognizes Kate Kernan Doerge ’92 and Matt Reynolds ’82 as the newest class of Circle of Excellence awardees. On Thursday, May 2, 2024, the Circle of Excellence ceremony was presented in front of the entire school for the very first time—marking a significant milestone for community recognition.

“We last presented the Circle of Excellence awards in 2022 and, we were moved and inspired by the alumni who had made so much out of their Tabor educations,” says Head of School Tony Jaccaci. “We felt this was an opportunity to share stories more widely with our students and adult community. As such, we used All School Meeting to hold the ceremony, allowing students, faculty, and staff to be a part of the celebration.”

Circle of Excellence award recipients are role models for past, current, and future students of Tabor Academy. The highest honor that the School by the Sea offers, this award celebrates members of the extended community for their contributions to Tabor and the world, and acknowledges those who personify Tabor’s mission to connect, serve, and lead. For the third time since its inception in 2019, selecting from a pool of over 7,000 graduates, the Circle of Excellence committee agreed that Doerge and Reynolds fit this description perfectly.

As Principal of Kate Doerge Consulting, Doerge is a proven business leader, brand strategist, and trusted advisor, relentlessly driving organizational transformation and delivering impactful results. She is highly regarded for launching, building, and revitalizing consumer lifestyle brands for prestige clients including L’Oréal, H&M, Kate Spade, Tag Heuer, Oscar de la Renta, and Elie Saab. In addition to her work in consulting, Doerge also established Penny’s Flight Foundation, a nonprofit launched in celebration of the life of her daughter, Penny. Through Penny’s story, they aim to bring awareness to and make medical advancements for Neurofibromatosis (NF), while also inspiring others to find positivity in the face of adversity. 

Reynolds is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representative of the UN Refugee Agency to the United States of America and the Caribbean. His distinguished career includes more than 35 years in government service, humanitarian response, oversight, and management. Additionally, he is a Senior Congressional Fellow with the Stennis Center for Public Service, and a trustee of International College in Beirut, Lebanon.

In the ceremony’s opening remarks, Jaccaci emphasized, “In just four weeks from now, we will gather again—right outside this building—to confer diplomas to the Class of 2024. Where there now sits a student, one month from now will be an alum who goes on to do great things in this world. I hope that today’s awardees will serve as an inspiration to each and every student here and remind us all that the only limits we face are the ones we set for ourselves.”

During the ceremony, Seawolves engaged from both their seats and their stage. The honorees were introduced by Olivia Rodrigues ’25 and Mohamed Mohamed ’25. Rodrigues highlighted Doerge’s inspiring positivity and work ethic, while Mohamed noted similarities between himself and Reynolds, such as speaking Arabic and arriving to Tabor as third-year students.

In Doerge’s address to the All School community, she shared her journey from student to professional. She also reflected on what she calls “the magic” of Tabor. For Doerge, that magic comes from the community and support she received from teachers, coaches, and her classmates. She explains, “Tabor taught me I can do anything; it was work hard, focus, and get it done—and that’s what I did…I’m so grateful for my time here; the building blocks of Tabor truly are what built my foundation and why I am who I am today. I am beyond honored to receive this recognition.”

Reynolds shared what he has learned during his time working with refugees and in politics. He reminded the community the importance of being a responsible world citizen, urging students to use their voice, “but use it wisely.”  In addition to commenting on his career, he also expressed gratitude for the skills that Tabor provided him. Reynolds expresses, “What makes Tabor a true and worthy preparatory school are the steadfast fundamentals and its superior academics. The depth, breadth, and rigor of Tabor’s academic program will put you ahead of many of your peers in college and beyond…While you may complain about Study Hall and ‘Lights Out,’ that structure and discipline will serve you well in life, especially in college where you can more easily balance studies with having fun—and do have fun, because the working world,” he laughs, “is not as fun.”

After Doerge and Reynolds accepted their awards, the ceremony concluded with a Q+A session for students. They asked questions like “What is the most important thing we should take advantage of at Tabor” and “What are the soft skills that helped you further your career?” Following the ceremony, the awardees spent the rest of their day on campus, interacting with the community in classrooms, at lunch, and during co-curriculars.

“We love when opportunities exist for our students and alumni to interact, and what better way than with our Circle of Excellence awards. Given all the accomplishments of both Kate and Matt, this is an incredible chance for our students to be inspired by graduates, who at one point, shared the same experiences as Tabor students,” adds Stephen Ginter, Director of Advancement.

The School by the Sea is committed to recognizing alumni who have made a difference in their fields, and who have supported the school's mission of creating a sustainable and equitable world. Tabor celebrates the accomplishments of its alumni and seeks to share their stories to inspire future generations. As the school approaches its 150th anniversary, it is important to reflect on the achievements of the extended community. By doing so, we can create a detailed framework, known as the Portrait of a Graduate, that not only defines what it means to be a Tabor graduate but also provides a blueprint for students to follow, ensuring they acquire the essential skills and knowledge to chart the course for a bright a successful future.