New President

DETROIT – Loyola High School made history today with the announcement that Dr. Deborale  Richardson-Phillips has been named President of the all-male Jesuit high school in northwest  Detroit.  

When Richardson-Phillips succeeds retiring President Dave Smith on July 1, 2024 she will be  the first female and first African American president in the school’s illustrious 30-year history. 

“The entire Loyola community is blessed to have found such a qualified and capable executive  with extraordinary credentials and experience like Deborale,” said Mike Bernard, chairman  of the board at Loyola. “At the same time, we are forever grateful to Dave for his service,  leadership and results during a time of unparalleled transformation at Loyola.” 

Barb Runyon, chair of the president search committee and vice chair of the Loyola board,  added, “It was quite evident from our interactions with Deborale that she has a strong desire  to make a positive, lasting difference in the lives of young people by leading a faith-based,  mission-driven school like ours.” 

Richardson-Phillips will be the seventh Loyola president since the school was founded in  August 1993 as a unique collaboration between the Archdiocese of Detroit and the Jesuits  of the USA Midwest Province. Today Loyola is home to approximately 150 young men on an  annual basis and is one of only three Catholic high schools still operating in the City of Detroit. 

Most recently, Richardson-Phillips was Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the  prestigious Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, where she created the school’s first-ever  DEI strategic plan; collaborated with Office Advancement on stewardship efforts, including an  increase in giving by alumni of color; and taught African American history, among many other  contributions. Her 25 years of corporate and educational experience also include leadership  positions at FirstEnergy in Akron, Ohio and at Case Western University and Cuyahoga  Community College, respectively. 

Richardson-Phillips earned both a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Human Development and a Master of  Public Administration from the University of Delaware. She also received a B.A. in Political  Science/Sociology from Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina and is currently  studying for a Master of Arts in Theology from Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans. 

“I have dedicated my career to putting people and relationships first and have found that  doing so leads to better outcomes,” Richardson-Phillips said. “This is the same approach I  will take as Loyola president. The centerpiece of my administration will be a focus on student  success. I am committed and will work tirelessly to enhance the student experience, both in  and out of the classroom. I am honored to be joining such a faith-based school like Loyola and  look forward to building on the tremendous success that Dave and his team have achieved  these last several years.” 

Smith joined Loyola in 2019 and brought new energy and life to the school’s vision of creating  “Men for Others, Men for Detroit.” Under Smith’s leadership, this past May the school recorded  its 13th straight year of 100 percent of Loyola graduates being accepted into college. Most  notably, Smith also led the recent ground-breaking launch of “Empower Loyola – A Campaign  for Exceptional Sons,” a $9 million campaign currently underway that will eventually transform  the Loyola campus to include: 

  • A 200-seat chapel, the first new Catholic chapel to be built in Detroit in over 60 years. 
  • An all-new Welcome Center along Fenkell Road near Wyoming that will not only benefit  Loyola students and staff, but also provide state-of-the-art meeting space for community and  neighborhood groups throughout northwest Detroit. 
  • Scholarship and Faculty Retention Funds, respectively, to attract even more students and  educators to the Loyola mission, while also retaining and strengthening an exceptional staff. 

“I look forward to working with Deborale to ensure a smooth transition between now and July  and helping her position Loyola for even greater heights and educational excellence in the  years ahead – including realizing the full promise and potential of ‘Empower Loyola,’” Smith  said. 

A person of deep faith throughout her life, Richardson-Phillips converted to Catholicism as an  adult and has embraced the Catholic faith ever since. While working with the young men at  St. Ignatius in Cleveland, she saw first-hand the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit and is  passionate about strengthening the faith formation of the young men at Loyola. 

“I’m thrilled that Deborale Richardson-Phillips will be the next president of Loyola High School,”  said Fr. Karl J. Kiser, SJ, provincial of the Midwest Province of the Jesuits. “I have known and  admired her work for years. Her deep love for the traditions of Jesuit education comes from  her experience as a faith leader. The students of Loyola will be in excellent hands.” 

Laura Knaus, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Detroit, added, “I am  so pleased to welcome Deborale to Detroit and to Loyola, where her extensive educational and  Catholic school experience will be of benefit to all. I am confident that the Loyola community  and the ministry of Catholic education in the City of Detroit will be strengthened and will  achieve great success under her leadership.” 

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Founded in 1993, Loyola High School, located near Fenkell and Wyoming Roads, today  serves approximately 150 all-male students, predominantly African American young men from  the surrounding community. For 13 straight years, 100 percent of Loyola graduates have been  accepted to college, either four- or two-year programs. For more information, visit