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Paula Bonarrigo, Campus Services and Events Director, 1996–2023

Paula Bonarrigo, Campus Services and Events Director, 1996–2023

In Milton Academy’s revenue pie—yes, that circle with different size pieces—you’ll find tuition, endowment, annual giving, and other.

Have you ever wondered where the “other revenue” comes from?

Nearly all of it comes from the Campus Services and Events team and its affiliated ancillary programs, about $2 million worth last year. And as director of that department (and its predecessor, business services), Paula has overseen somewhere in the neighborhood of two thousand rental contracts over her 27 years of service. She has also held multiple titles, from performing office administrative activities when she first started to operating the school’s former “sports plus” camps to overseeing calendar, events, and rentals, including the filming of multiple movies, commercials, and photo shoots. Over a decade ago, during the last recession, she took over management of our dining program. She also maintains relationships with Town of Milton organizations, ensuring that the school supports those who help us and children thrive. And, while doing all this, the best estimate is that she’s moved her office location eight times. In short, Paula has been busy.

But “busy” does not do Paula’s career at Milton justice, not even close. It is Paula’s unique qualities that have made her a tremendous partner to her colleagues and a champion for Milton.

Do you remember all the advice you were given when you were growing up? As I tried to summarize how I see Paula and what she has done for our school, I realized that Paula embodies the values that we—as mentors to young people—try to pass along.

Act with integrity
Paula always strives to be up front and fair with everyone. If there is something wrong, she will share it and seek to correct it. And, she will never ask someone to do something that she would not do herself. These things are not necessarily fun or easy. She asks rental groups to leave spaces when they have exceeded their time. Or, she informs them that their insurance certificate is out of date, incorrect, or does not meet the school’s requirements. She says no to “easy money” filming projects that would affect the school’s academic day or student programming. She also turns down projects associated with a controversial or darker theme that might affect Milton’s brand. “That’s not good for Milton or our students”, she would say, and she would be right.

Show respect
Paula has been a champion for respect for all, faculty and staff and contractors. In particular, she has worked to ensure that dining staff are heard, treated with respect, and have wages that meet or exceed the Boston living wage. The staff recently threw Paula a goodbye party with traditional Haitian food, music, and many gift bags, each with personally signed expressions of gratitude. And of course, they put up a life-sized poster of Paula, showing that—in their eyes—she has played an outsize role in supporting those who are not always seen.

Put yourself in others’ shoes
As a former parent & current grandparent of Milton Academy students, long-time resident of the Town of Milton, and as an observant person who cares deeply about her colleagues, Paula is uniquely attuned to what matters. She knows the tone to use and information that families need to put their students on a daily bus or sign up for a camp. She understands how a policy change will affect families, faculty and staff alike, and advocates for fairness and transparency in communication. She shares the history of “why we do it that way” to help everyone she can, knowing that there is a reason behind every policy at Milton. When Paula knows about a personal struggle a colleague is having, she will send a card, a gift, a thoughtful message – letting people know she is thinking of them. And, Paula supports families who she may not even know in their time of grief when they reach out to hold memorial services on campus.

Keep a secret
A few years ago, Paula was somehow able to keep Tom Brady’s presence on campus to film a commercial under wraps for days. Then, on the appointed day and time, Tom quietly began throwing a football on Stokinger field. The silence lasted for over an hour, until some observant adults and students realized who it was and went out to cheer his every throw. Tom left campus just as the helicopters began to circle, Paula having elevated Milton’s reputation for professionalism to new highs among filming scouts. And, leaving our chair of the board of Trustees bereft but amused that not even she knew about it.

Even as Paula literally rides off into the sunset—as she plans her retirement at the Cape—Paula continues to give of herself to make sure that the school is successful going forward; this year, she has mentored a new director, worked closely with ancillary program directors to plan for future growth, and been a member of the NEASC steering committee, whose work she is committed to supporting through the committee visit in October.

So I hope you will join me in taking a moment now to celebrate Paula Bonarrigo and her 27 years at Milton, and the legacy of care, integrity, and respect that she leaves behind. Thank you Paula.

Heidi Vanderbilt-Brown
Chief Financial & Operating Officer

The Community Issue

What do we owe to one another, our communities, and the world? In this issue, we take a look at what “community” means to Milton and the ways in which the school goes beyond the jargon to create genuine, mutually beneficial, lasting connections.