Rhode Island School for the Deaf

Rhode Island School for the Deaf Announces Director Finalists

The Rhode Island School for the Deaf Board of Trustees (RISD) is pleased to announce that Christopher Kaftan and Sarah McGaughey are the finalists for the position of RISD Director. After a thorough review of their qualifications and experience, and meeting with the candidates in interviews, both finalists were recommended by the RISD Director Search Committee.

The finalists will visit the RISD campus and interview with the Board of Trustees over a two-day period dedicated to each individual finalist. Sarah McGaughey will visit on April 25, 2023, and Christopher Kaftan will visit on April 26, 2023. The finalist visits will include campus tours and meetings with students, staff, and administrators. Additionally, each finalist will participate in an assembly held in the afternoon during school hours at the Rhode Island School for the Deaf (RISD) gymnasium during school hours and then will interview with the Board of Trustees.

The Rhode Island School for the Deaf Board of Trustees would like to thank the RISD Director Search Committee members for their commitment to and support of this process, as well as the RISD staff and community members who are contributing to the search process. Additionally, we are grateful for the guidance from our partners at the executive search firm, Innivee Strategies, Inc.

About the Finalists

Christopher Kaftan

A native New Yorker, Christopher Kaftan has spent more than two decades in Deaf Education. After working as a high school history and social studies teacher at MSSD, Kaftan began working in school administration, first serving as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Maryland School for the Deaf, and then as Secondary Principal at Marie Philip School. Currently, Kaftan is the Director of Student Services at The Learning Center for the Deaf in Massachusetts. Since starting his career, Kaftan has focused on putting inclusion and innovation at the forefront of his values and actions. Kaftan is known for his unrelenting advocacy and commitment to ensuring all Deaf and hard-of-hearing children are given an equitable and excellent education. In all his positions, he has focused on operational excellence, ensuring resources flow to classrooms and supporting teachers and students. Kaftan graduated from Gallaudet University with a bachelor’s degree in history and secondary education, and a master’s degree in Deaf Education. He received a graduate certificate in special education administration from Johns Hopkins University. Kaftan and his wife, Erika, have four children and a deaf dog. In his spare time, Kaftan enjoys hiking, reading, raising his chickens, and doing woodcraft projects.


Sarah McGaughey

Sarah McGaughey is currently the Elementary Principal at Marie Philip School at The Learning Center for the Deaf. After graduating from Gallaudet with a specialist (PsyS) and graduate (MA) degrees in School Psychology, and a special education teaching license from Bridgewater State University, Sarah has been actively involved in Deaf Education for the past twenty years as a Principal, Assistant Principal, School Psychologist, Early Childhood Specialist, and Elementary Teacher. Sarah’s focus has been on developing the whole child through social-emotional learning, teacher-caregiver connections, and identity building. Sarah is committed to disseminating knowledge to support educators. She has worked with education leaders in the fields of Deaf education and school leadership both nationally and internationally. She partnered with colleagues to work closely with the Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD) in providing leadership development training as part of a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) grant. Sarah has also co-authored two chapters in a professional book for pre-and in-service educators to support their knowledge and expertise in the area of reading and writing.


Please continue to follow along with the search process by following RISD and Innivee Strategies’ social media channels and website. More information about the finalist forums will be released in a future update.

About Rhode Island School for the Deaf

Rhode Island School for the Deaf (RISD or RISDeaf) is a school for deaf students established in 1876. RISD serves deaf and hard-of-hearing students in grades preschool through high school. RISD believes strongly in students becoming bilingual in ASL and English. To learn more about RISD, please visit their website at www.rideaf.ri.gov.

About Innivee Strategies, Inc.

Innivee Strategies, Inc. is an organizational and leadership development company. We believe that communities are only as strong as the organizations that serve them. We consult with organizations and leaders to create and achieve goals, manage change, obtain and utilize data, cultivate community buy-in, and nurture and retain inspiring and transformative leaders.