SAIS Distinguished Service Award

Established 2012 in Memory of Dale Regan

This award is given by the SAIS Board of Trustees to a head of school or senior administrator in recognition of a long and distinguished career in independent education as well as service to SAIS. Recipients are recognized at the SAIS Annual Conference.

The creation of this award in 2012 was inspired by the life and work of Dale Regan, who devoted 34 years of her life to the Episcopal School of Jacksonville, and who, posthumously, was the award’s first recipient.


Marifred Cilella
The Howard School – Atlanta, GA
Award presentation video

Marifred Cilella has served as head of The Howard School in Atlanta since 2005. Under her leadership, the school has experienced a tremendous amount of growth and change that she has overseen, beginning with moving the campus across town all the way to the latest $14.3 million capital campaign. The new location and larger facilities have allowed The Howard School to broaden its horizons and offer new programs.

Before moving to Atlanta, Marifred served as founding director of The Russel & Mary Williams Learning Project at Park Tudor School in Indianapolis. She began her career in administration at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School in Columbia, SC, first as lower school principal, and ultimately, as associate head for finance and operations. Prior to those positions, she was as a teacher, consultant, continuing education director for the American Association of Museums, and she served on the White House domestic affairs staff.

Marifred has held a variety of leadership positions in the independent school community. In addition to serving on the SAIS Board of Trustees, she served as a board member of the Georgia Independent School Association (GISA), the International Dyslexia Association-Georgia (IDA-GA), and as a member of the Advisory Council of the Disabilities Ministry of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. She served as president of the Atlanta Area Association of Independent Schools (AAAIS) and continues to serve on the AAAIS Executive Committee. She is the president of the Georgia Association of Private Schools for Exceptional Children (GAPSEC), has been recognized on numerous Who’s Who lists, is a graduate of Leadership Atlanta, served on the Atlanta Beltline Planning Committee, and is a current member of the Kiwanis Club of Atlanta.

Marifred received her B.A. in English from Rosary College (now Dominican University) and her Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Notre Dame. She completed additional graduate work in early childhood education and educational leadership at the University of South Carolina as well as The Principals’ Institute at Harvard University.

Mark Reed
John M. Belk Endowment – Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Country Day School – Charlotte, NC (2009-2021)

Award presentation video

Mark Reed served as head of Charlotte Country Day School from 2009-2021. During his tenure, he led efforts to substantially increase the school’s endowment to its current high of $64 million. Enrollment also grew under his leadership, and a reenrollment rate of 97% was achieved. A capital campaign that yielded over $100 million afforded the construction of five new buildings plus three renovations.

Prior to his arrival at Country Day, Mark served as the assistant head at St. John’s in Houston, where he worked his way up from roles including teacher, coach, dean of students, and interim director of advancement.

A native of Montana, Mark received his undergraduate degree from the University of Houston, his master’s in independent school leadership from Columbia University, and an honorary doctorate of education from Lees-McRae College. He was a world-class high jumper from 1986-1993 and competed on the international track and field circuit.

In addition to serving on and chairing the SAIS Board of Trustees, he has served on the boards of the Foundation for the Carolinas, the Good Fellows Club, the North Carolina Banking Commission, and Atrium Health. He is a field professor and advisory board member of the Klingenstein Center at Columbia University as well as the National Merit Scholarship Advisory Council.


Jill Muti
Ashley Hall – Charleston, SC
Award presentation video

Marcia Prewitt Spiller
Woodward Academy – Atlanta, GA
Award presentation video


Sandra Adams
Summit School – Winston-Salem, NC (1990-2008)
Award presentation video

Bob Shirley
Heathwood Hall Episcopal School – Columbia, SC (1978-2000)
Award presentation video

Kirk Walker
McCallie School – Chattanooga, TN (1999-2014) and SAIS President (2015-2019)
Award presentation video


Sarah Whiteside
Altamont School – Birmingham, AL (2007-2017)
Award presentation video


Pat Taylor
Jackson Academy – Jackson, MS (2007-2017)
Award presentation video


Marvin Lishman
Magnolia Heights School – Senatobia, MS (1981-present)

Ned Fox
Charlotte Latin School – Charlotte, NC (1976-2001)


J. Robert Chambers
Athens Academy – Athens, GA (1983-2013)

J. Peter Jernberg
Jackson Academy – Jackson, MS (1988-2014)

William W. Jablon
Maclay School – Tallahassee, FL (1976-2014)


Dale Regan
Episcopal School of Jacksonville – Jacksonville, FL (2007-2012)