The St. Mary’s Academy board of directors and the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary have named Emily Niedermeyer Becker, a 1986 graduate, as next president of the venerable downtown Portland school for girls.

The selection, announced July 19, caps a search following the retirement of Christina Friedhoff after 30 years at St. Mary’s Academy.

Mariah Scott, board chairwoman, said Becker is “uniquely well-qualified,” adding, “Emily’s deep administrative experience, pas-sion for all-girls' education, as well as her relationship to St. Mary’s Academy as an alumna and current parent make for a perfect fit.”

Scott said Becker embodies a sense of purpose that echoes the favorite Scripture quote of Blessed Mother Marie Rose Durocher, foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Names: “I have come to cast fire on the earth. How I wish it were blazing already.”

Becker’s first grade teacher was a Holy Names Sister, as were some of her teachers at St. Mary’s.

Becker has more than two decades of experience as an education leader in the Pacific Northwest and Portland metro area. She has held leadership positions at Whitman College, Reed College, Pacific University, Catlin Gabel School and Oregon’s I Have a Dream Foundation.

For the past nine years, Becker has served as vice president for development of St. Mary’s Academy. She has been an administrator, advisor and strategic thinker on many projects.

“Becker’s experience as a creative and collaborative leader throughout her career includes building strong teams, leading effective and successful multi-million-dollar fundraising campaigns, creating and leading community engagement initiatives, launch-ing inclusive access opportunities for young people, and consistently exceeding goals which enabled organizations to expand their impact and the critical work they do,” said a press release from the school. “Her role on the administrative team at St. Mary’s Academy will provide important insight into continuing to build and maintain strong relationships between St. Mary’s Academy and Portland metro area businesses and organizations.”

Becker said her commitment to St. Mary’s Academy’s Catholic faith and the charism, mission and heritage of the Holy Names Sisters is unwavering. She cites those qualities as significant factors in why she dedicated her career to servant leadership.

“I am looking forward to leading St. Mary’s Academy as we fearlessly own our purpose as an all-girls school and acknowledge the evidence-based impact our unique educational experience offers students,” Becker said. “The world needs diverse women leaders, women in STEM, and women advocating for change and equity in every element of society, and St. Mary’s Academy pre-pares young women to step into those roles. Now, more than ever, we need to elevate women’s voices in order to ensure we address society’s most pressing issues. Our graduates possess the unique combination of unabashed confidence, grounded in compassion, kindness and a deep commitment to social justice.”

Becker is the ideal leader needed at this time, said Karis Stoudamire-Phillips, a 1994 graduate and member of the board. “I have personally witnessed Emily’s deep commitment to St. Mary’s, and I am looking forward to working with her, boldly facing all that is ahead,” said Stoudamire-Phillips.

Becker said she takes the enormous responsibility of stewarding the Holy Names mission seriously.

“Serving as president of St. Mary’s Academy, the school that most significantly impacted me as a woman leader, is what I believe I am called to do,” she said.