Hausner Board, Up Close and Personal: An Interview With Isaac Kontorovsky, Risk Management Committee Chair

Emily Waldorf, Hausner Board Secretary

What a year it has been! Thank you so much for your incredible service and leadership in chairing the Risk Management Committee during a global pandemic. What have you learned about the Hausner community in the process?

Leading Hausner’s Risk Management committee during a global pandemic has been a challenging yet rewarding experience, and our community has played a crucial role in our response efforts. Through uncertain times, I always felt the trust and support from our community, and in the midst of crisis, trust is paramount. This trust gave our risk management team enough confidence to deal with unknown variables and imperfect data, to make critical decisions. I always felt that our community stood behind our recommendations, knowing that we always prioritized the safety of our children, our teachers, school staff, and our larger population.

What do you enjoy most about the work of the Risk Management Committee?

We have an amazing group of people in our committee with a diverse professional background and expertise -by design. With our mix of strengths and skills, it has been incredibly satisfying to accomplish so much in the last year, particularly given the short time span to react to every presented situation. During the peak of the pandemic, things were coming to us extremely fast; while we all pushed ourselves for perfection in delivery, we often felt the need to aim for speed over elegance, as during a crisis, prompt action is always needed. As we look back and connect the dots, the balance of all decisions made seems really positive, which continues to feel very rewarding today. In retrospect, no matter the challenges, our group came through at all times with a great dose of optimism and with the willingness to be there for each other 24/7. Chairing our Risk Management Committee has been truly gratifying, thanks to the support from each of our remarkable team members and the support from our community. 

Please tell us more about your professional and educational background.

The engineering gene seems to run in my family, and I have always been passionate about land development and construction projects in general. Upon graduating with a B.S. in Civil Engineering in Venezuela, I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, particularly in Palo Alto, where I live with my wife, Mili, and with my daughters Miri and Meirav, who are current Hausner students. As a Principal at BKF Engineers (a Civil Engineering, Land Surveying, and Land Planning firm), I have had the opportunity to lead a fair amount of challenging private and public projects across the state, including large residential, academic, civic, and commercial projects. Interestingly, since joining Hausner I continue to find connections between my development projects and other Hausner parents, which make for some really fascinating conversations. Lastly, as a strong advocate of innovation, sustainability, and environmentally responsible design, you will often find me at speaking engagements on these topics; this is something that I am highly passionate about.

Why do you send your daughters to Hausner?  

I believe that children grow and thrive in the context of strong social connections and positive relationships. Before joining Hausner, we heard from other families about the positive relationships between teachers and students, the academics, the focus on social and emotional skills, the STEM program, the classroom environment, and many other factors that indicated a high-quality educational environment. Adding community building on top of everything else made Hausner the right school for our daughters, who constantly mention the love for the school, their teachers, and their friends.

What are you most looking forward to when the pandemic eventually winds down?

I’m looking forward to spending some quality time traveling with my family again; this is first on the list. Beyond this, I will find pleasure in gathering with friends at home for dinner, or even the simple joy of reading the newspaper at the coffee shop, seeing the smiles on people's faces without masks. The list is long… 

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