June 29, 2015

Susan Andres Assumes Director of Marketing Position

A seasoned marketing executive with experience in building and motivating teams, establishing clear road maps for success and supporting team members in achieving their goals, has joined Bishop O’Dowd High School as the director of marketing. Susan Andres replaces Nicki Shaw who departed her position this summer.

Andres’ experience will be significant as O’Dowd prepares to launch the next phase of a master plan that includes the purchasing of the adjacent 20-acre Seneca Reservoir site. The current plan is to relocate an athletic field on the site to gain additional space for new facilities on campus.

“Susan’s 25 year marketing background mixes her innovative non-profit marketing experience with her high level corporate marketing background. She shares O’Dowd’s core values and knows our challenges in this rapidly evolving market. She will add her voice to telling the story of O’Dowd’s authentically diverse, academically excellent, high character graduates,” O’Dowd President Steve Phelps said.

Andres is impressed by O’Dowd’s strengths on all fronts – academic, the arts, athletics, and the school’s focus on the moral development of its students.

Her immediate goals at O’Dowd are “to achieve a powerful and differentiating understanding of and appreciation for what O’Dowd delivers to its students and families and the world at large amongst current and potential stakeholders so that they can benefit from this knowledge and, of course, to support strong registration and fundraising numbers.”

Andres holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Stanford University. “It was a cross-disciplinary major that included studies in economics, political science, psychology, fine arts and other fascinating areas,” she said.

She most recently ran her own marketing consultancy, serving as a brand and marketing strategy consultant directly with and embedded with design agencies for leading local non-profits and sustainability-minded brands including the Nature Conservancy, WildCare, Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility, Habitot Children’s Museum, Environmental Forum of Marin and Stanford Summer Session.

Andres previously held executive leadership and consulting positions with leading for- and non-profits. After spending 10 years in the advertising world managing and directing accounts at agencies like Foote, Cone & Belding and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, she transitioned to the non-profit world where she served at the director level at The Marine Mammal Center and The Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association.

“Major achievements at all of my prior positions were to take brands to the next level of capacity and growth, from Levi’s Jeans for Women to The Nature Conservancy’s marine program,” she said.

Andres was initially drawn to marketing because it draws on her keen interest in merging strategy and creativity. “It can also be a powerful force for positive change when applied in the environmental and social arena,” she said.

A company or organization that is not brand and marketing focused is missing out on opportunities to achieve full capacity to deliver against its mission and goals, Andres said. “A powerful brand strategy sets the tone and content for shaping how the brand will be perceived and responded to and ultimately engaged with, and a marketing strategy is the delivery mechanism for getting this information out to key audiences and stakeholders,” she said.

Andres says the most rewarding aspect of marketing is unifying the organization under one powerful and differentiating connection with current and potential stakeholders that benefits both the brand and its stakeholders. “It’s a continuous circle not a one-way conversation and when that loop is created – both internally and externally – the potential for mutual benefit is unlimited,” she said.


O’Dowd’s First Marketing Director Nicki DeMarais Shaw ’81 Departing

O’Dowd’s first Director of Marketing, Nicki DeMarais Shaw ’81, who played a pivotal role in managing and coordinating the school’s marketing efforts, departed her position this summer.

For the past four years, Shaw has worked to establish a marketing driven approach to communications at O’Dowd. She provided oversight of the school’s “brand” identity, created and implemented a multitude of comprehensive marketing campaigns, supported the Admissions Department in student recruitment and retention efforts and the Advancement Department in increasing funding, and managed the school’s marketing/advertising budget.

She’s also identified, recruited, trained and supervised volunteers and teams to assist with the implementation of various aspects of marketing, served as a liaison to the Dragon Parent group, and offered her time and expertise to local Catholic elementary schools in need of marketing advice.

“Nicki set a standard of professionalism that made it easier for us to attract the wonderful students we have, and we were fortunate to have had her on our team for the past four years,” O’Dowd President Steve Phelps said. “While she will be missed as an employee, she will always remain a respected and loved member of our community.”

Prior to joining the O’Dowd staff in 2011, Shaw served on the strategic plan committee (2007-09) and on the Board of Regents (2009-11). She’s also been part of the parent community for the past six years as her children Gretchen ’13 and Andrew ’15 attended O’Dowd. “I had many different perspectives of our school, which was really nice to bring to the table,” Shaw said.

One of the initiatives Shaw is most proud of is her effort to drive a branding strategy/responsible positioning in response to the increasingly competitive student recruiting environment. “The process is going and it has great momentum,” she said. “We were able to start to identify how we should be talking to our various constituencies – some at the emotional level and others at the aspirational level – but always with a cohesive, positive institutional message.”

Shaw leaves O’Dowd with many fond memories. “I’ve always been very proud to say I’m an alum, a parent and an employee,” she said. “I think O’Dowd is an amazing place for kids to grow, and there’s that continuing commitment to keep growing in its richness.”

Added Shaw, “Everybody on staff here takes on more than they have time for and offers ideas and criticisms in a constructive way. I do truly feel that I’ve been blessed to work with everyone.”

Shaw’s immediate plans include spending time with her children this summer before they head off to college. And, she’s excited about having the time to explore other career opportunities starting next spring.


June 10, 2015

Apollo Robbins: The art of misdirection

Hailed as the greatest pickpocket in the world, Apollo Robbins studies the quirks of human behavior as he steals your watch. In a hilarious demonstration, Robbins samples the buffet of the TEDGlobal 2013 audience, showing how the flaws in our perception make it possible to swipe a wallet and leave it on its owner’s shoulder while they remain clueless.

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June 5, 2015

Summer Construction in Full Swing

The O’Dowd campus has been the site of much activity this summer, with several major construction projects either completed or fully underway.

Most noticeable is the Quad lawn replacement project. The lawn was replaced with turf as part of O’Dowd’s sustainability effort to minimize our landscape water use.

The area between the library and main classroom building was expanded, resurfaced and realigned to allow for more parking and greater student traffic separation. As part of this project, ADA parking was added near the library.

An amphitheater, which will be used as a meeting and teaching space, is being constructed in the area in front of the Center for Environmental Studies. This project was made possible due to generous support of the Class of 2015 Gift Campaign, in which more than $57,600 was raised.

Other projects underway include sewer system repairs and the installation of sunshade awnings on the main classroom building.

If you happen to be on campus please be extra cautious, remain clear of the construction areas and do not cross over the yellow safety tape.


June 4, 2015

New Alums Visit Richmond School

Three new alums generously volunteered their time to play a few games of basketball with some very excited kids at Mira Vista School in Richmond on June 3. Ivan Rabb ‘15, Isaiah Thomas ‘15, and Jeevin Sandhu ‘15 arrived on campus to be greeted by a multitude of adoring fans; all standing at least three feet shorter than the three hoops stars. A Q&A session was held in one of the first grade classrooms where the kids asked them questions like, “What’s your shoe size?”, “Can you backwards dunk?”, “Can you eat anything you want?” After responding to these questions with answers that held the kids in disbelief (shoe sizes were 14 and 15!), Ivan, Jeevin, and Isaiah took to the court to play on the staff team in the teachers versus students game. Although there was no score keeping for the game, it was clear that the teachers might have had a slight advantage over the students. However, it was the joy that these new alums brought to the kids that made it an extra special day for everyone.


June 1, 2015

Commencement 2015

Bishop O’Dowd High School’s 61st Commencement, held on Sunday, May 31, at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre of the Arts.

On May 29, members of the Class of 2015 and their families gathered in the large gymnasium for the Baccalaureate Mass, celebrated by Fr. Jay Matthews, a member of the O’Dowd Board of Regents. A reception on the Quad followed.

At the Commencement, Emma Braden delivered the valedictory address, while Emma Shilliday gave the salutatory address.

One of the highlights of the Commencement was the presentation of the Cor Unum Award to Judy Logan Smith ’64 and her husband Timothy Smith, who each made brief remarks.

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Named for the school’s motto, “One Heart in Christ,” the Cor Unum Award is Bishop O’Dowd High School’s highest honor. It is presented each year to select members of the O’Dowd community whose lives and work embody the core values of leadership, service, social justice and intellectual competence expressed in the school’s mission.

The Smiths have long supported O’Dowd through the Timothy and Judith Smith Foundation, ensuring a Catholic, college preparatory education to students who would otherwise not have the opportunity to attend O’Dowd.

Meanwhile, several students received special awards during the Commencement Exercises.

Alice Beittel and ChrisLeBoa received the General Activity awards, presented to students who are distinguished by scholarship, excellence in conduct and outstanding devotion to Bishop O’Dowd High School through participation and demonstrated leadership in extracurricular and cocurricular activities.

Emma Shilliday and Sam Deck received the Loyalty awards, presented in recognition of their consistent support to the student body, staff and parents in carrying out activities, and their willingness to give of self in terms of service.

Scholar-Athlete awards went to Colin Burke and Asha Tyler-Thomas for distinguishing themselves through consistent excellence in academics and athletics, and demonstrated good sportsmanship on the athletic field.

Elena Gonzalez and Bryce Grandison received the Regents’ Award, given to the seniors who most exemplify the mission of Bishop O’ Dowd High School.

The 295 members of the Class of 2015 will soon be headed to colleges and universities throughout the country. A complete listing will be included in the fall 2015 issue of the Dragon magazine.

Dr. Phelps Commencement Address

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Commencement 2015 – Diploma Reception

These are not the official graduation photos. Those are provided by a vendor O’Dowd hires to cover the event. Therefore your diploma reception photo may not be here. Please check back in a week for login information to access your photo from our vendor.

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Commencement – Back Alley

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May 31, 2015

2015 Senior Pre-Graduation Slideshow

The Senior slideshow isn’t playing because of YouTube’s new copyright system. Sorry. You’ll have to add your own.


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