Education Featured High Schools

After a decade at Salesianum, president Brendan Kennealey is leaving

Brendan Kennealey
Salesianum President Brendan Kennealey is leaving after the 20-21 school year.

After leading Salesianum School through a highly successful decade, School President Brendan  Kennealey is stepping down at the end of the 2020-2021 school year.

The Harvard-educated Kennealey served as the fourth president of the prestigious private Catholic high school for boys and the first lay-person to be named president in the school’s 118-year history. 

In addition to forging a public/private partnership with the City of Wilmington to develop the $25 million Abessinio Stadium, Kennealey was credited by school officials for solidifying enrollment, bringing in a record amount of fundraising, increasingly diversifying the student body and staff, and making the school more accessible through dramatically increased financial aid, among other accomplishments.

[adrotate group=”11″]


“He came to Salesianum with great expectations from the trustees and the community-at-large,” said Nicholas Marsini, chairman of the Board of Trustees, in a letter to the school community.  “He will leave us having not only exceeded those expectations but having forever changed ours.”

Board members knew of Kennealey’s decision to leave 18 months ago but convinced the 1994 graduate to stay and oversee the completion of the stadium. Kennealey said he is exploring his options after he departs, including launching a residential real estate venture.  He and his family would prefer to stay in Delaware, he said.

“It was the right decision at the time, the right time to come to the end,” he said. “But now the notion of leaving is very, very hard.” 

[adrotate group=”11″]


Some of the achievements during Kennealey’s time at the helm include:

  • Securing two separate gifts of $10 million and $16 million, which rank in the top 10 of the largest gifts ever to a Catholic high school.
  • Prioritizing accessibility to the school. During his time, financial aid awards increased 340 percent and annual giving nearly tripled.
  • Building a culture of inclusion and increased diversity, tripling enrollment of students of color and advancing initiatives that included a curriculum review and strategic hires to support a variety of cultures and viewpoints.

Of his many accomplishments during his time at the school, Kennealey said he was proudest of the increased available financial aid and the opportunities that afforded many young people. 

Like Salesianum, Kennealey has repeatedly proven his commitment to serving those on the margins. As the school’s President, he was eager to set that tone by example.

[adrotate group=”11″]


During the 2016-17 school year, he  volunteered to simultaneously serve as the interim president of Nativity Prep, a school he helped found with the Oblates in 2003. In addition to serving on numerous non-profit boards, Kennealey also created a book club for the prisoners at the Howard R. Young Correctional Facility (Gander Hill) where he taught Homer’s “Odyssey” and other major works for many years.

An eight-member search committee has been formed to identify the next school leader, with the assistance of a yet-named national search firm. The school’s website invites anyone with questions or comments on the search for Kennealey’s successor to share their input at

The search for Salesianum’s fifth president is being chaired by Salesianum School Board of Trustees Vice Chairman Robert Byrne ’80. To learn more about the search and transition, go to