Lee Anne Cali

Lea Anne Cali Retires After 22 Years of Board Service

The conclusion of the 2022-23 academic year also marked the end of a remarkable run of board service by Lea Anne Cali, dating back to July 2001.

Mrs. Cali’s career began in the late 1970s when she joined New Directions Youth and Family Services as a registered nurse within its residential program. She also served its mother-infant group home, its foster care program, and a residential program it ran in Lockport. She went on to provide 39 years of service and care to New Directions until she retired in 2016.

Mrs. Cali has literally observed Randolph Academy’s entire existence, starting with its 1985 launch when the New York State Legislature created a union-free, K-12 public school district to provide educational services for up to 100 students, including New Directions’ residential students.

“Randolph Academy began by operating out of two little rooms in our (New Directions) facilities,” she says. “Then, they expanded into one of the residential living units, before outgrowing that too and building the school in use today.”

It’s been wonderful, she adds, to see the growth and advancement of the organization over the years, especially the evolution of the normative culture which New Directions professed into the full-scale restorative justice system that now operates across the district.

However, Randolph Academy’s expansion into Hamburg claims the top spot among her many points of pride while serving on the board.

“Our Hamburg campus acquisition – the former Hopevale School – was a truly memorable occasion,” she shares. “It allowed those students to continue attending, and it added capacity so that many more students could be served as well. It was a major undertaking, but one I’ll always remember.”

Superintendent Danielle Cook shared her appreciation for Mrs. Cali during her orientation to the district and throughout the past two years.

“Lea Anne has been a phenomenal board member,” Dr. Cook attests. “She welcomed me to Randolph Academy, providing me with insight and background so that I was prepared to take on district initiatives, while supporting me personally to ensure that I experienced work-life balance.”

Cali served on the board’s finance and policy committees and was instrumental in updating district job descriptions to be relevant, current and connected to restorative and normative practices.

“Lea Anne always guided decision-making from a student-centered perspective,” Dr. Cook adds. “Her vast experience working with our student population was also valuable, and she’ll be greatly missed.”

Cali also reflects upon her board colleagues fondly, noting how wonderful and supportive they all have been over the years. She particularly valued the guidance and friendship of Brad Sande, who was also a co-worker for all her years at New Directions.

“Brad was sort of my model on the board,” she says. “He’s an amazing board member.”

Mr. Sande knows full well the many contributions and insights Cali provided, as well as the institutional knowledge which is walking out the door with her.

“For Randolph Academy’s student population, Lea Anne was an ideal board member,” Sande explains. “She had a deep understanding of the needs of our students, experience in forming policies, a vast knowledge of medical and psychiatric issues, and a sharp focus on the well-being of our children. Her special blend of knowledge and experience all combined to benefit our children, staff and school.”

Despite all the friendships Cali has formed, she’s eager to move on to the next chapter of her life with Doug, her husband of nearly 50 years. (“We pretty much do everything together,” she laughs.) They are hoping to do some more travel now that two of their three grandchildren have graduated high school.

“We love the coast of North Carolina and haven’t been in a couple of years,” she says. “We’d also really like to take a trip out west…across Route 66, up the Pacific Coast, through the Badlands and of course, to the Grand Canyon. We’ve always wanted to visit those places.”

All of us at Randolph Academy hope Lea Anne gets the chance to visit each of those places and more. She’s certainly earned it. Safe travels, Lea Anne!