Russ and Nicole Allen

Accelerate Pace Donor Spotlight 

Pace alumnus RUSS ALLEN ’93 and his wife, NICOLE ALLEN, have deep roots at Pace Academy, to say the least. The parents of four children, all current students who began in Pre-First, have a Pace story that began in 1980 when then 5-year-old Russ enrolled—also as a Pre-First student. He explains that his father, Life Trustee SAM ALLEN, and mother, JANE ALLEN, decided to send him to Pace because they were so pleased with the education it was providing his older sister, LAURA ALLEN NOEL ’84.

This year, as Russ and Nicole’s son ADGER ALLEN ’24 commences ninth grade, the couple reaches a noteworthy Pace parent milestone: children in all three divisions. Daughter ELOWYN ALLEN ’25 will be in the eighth grade, while their youngest children, daughter CARYS ALLEN ’28 and son HART ALLEN ’30, continue their Lower School journeys in the fifth and third grades, respectively.

Since becoming Pace parents almost a decade ago, the Allens have shown a deep commitment—a companion to their deep Pace roots—to supporting the school in every possible way. Notably, the couple was early to pledge to the Accelerate Pace capital campaign, launched this year, for the new Kam Memar Lower School. 

Having their children in Lower School for so many years—a combined 20 to date—the couple recognizes the significance of the campaign to the entire Pace community. “Accelerate Pace will provide for a vastly updated, needed space for the Lower School children,” Russ says. “In addition, the new building will enhance the traditional, aspirational feel of the historic campus.” 

“We see Accelerate Pace as an exciting, necessary next step to continue the school’s drive ‘to have the courage to strive for excellence,’” adds Nicole.

Involvement at Pace has been an Allen family tradition since Russ and his sister were students. Nicole notes that Russ’s father, as a Board member, was deeply engaged with the Pace of earlier generations. “When we discussed Accelerate Pace with Sam, he recalled Pace’s first major capital campaign, which brought Pace the Fine Arts Center,” she says. “He cited the leadership of past board members [Life Trustee] BOB YELLOWLEES and CHUCK BRADY, and [former] Head of School GEORGE KIRKPATRICK, which helped lay the groundwork for boosting Pace’s resources as well as preserving its relevance for the future.”

She adds, “Russ and I see this campaign as a continuation and an expansion of that tradition, positioning the school to educate future generations of students with improved resources and collaborative spaces.”

Director of Advancement HEATHER WHITE describes the Allens as “volunteers who take seriously the concept of sharing ‘time, treasure and talent’ with the school. They have been generous with the school in so many ways through the years,” she says.

“Nicole has served as a grade representative multiple times, chaired several Parents Club committees, served as a Fall Fair co-chair, and this year is president of the Parents Club,” White explains. “Russ has helped Pace with fundraising and is a graduate of the second class of Leadership Pace, our two-day alumni retreat aimed at building future school leaders. He’s even helped with Pace’s Scout troops.”

Russ laughs, “If we gave all our reasons for our passion for the school, I’m pretty sure it would go over the page limit.” He names as most important: “Pace teachers and staff who foster curiosity, analytical thinking and the ability to write—areas where otherwise excellent schools sometimes fall short.” 

Nicole reflects, “When we were looking for a school home for our children, Director of Admissions JENNIFER MCGURN said Pace was a place that would cherish children for who they were. That message really made an impression on me, and we feel the school has stayed true to that promise. I know my kids are learning. I know my kids are being exposed to arts and athletics. But most importantly, I know my kids are happy at Pace.”

She continues, “The other night we ‘zoomed in’ for Adger’s Middle School graduation ceremony. I had low expectations going in, but the Middle School leadership team knocked it out of the park. They managed to pivot to a Plan B scenario and create an atmosphere of intimacy and joy so the eighth graders, together—albeit virtually—could celebrate the transition to high school. The programming was thoughtful and well-executed, and everyone at my house truly enjoyed themselves. They really brought their ‘A-Game’ to Plan B; it’s experiences like these that cement our resolve to support Pace in every way we can.”

“As a student and alumnus, Pace has been a place not just of learning, but of warmth and friendship for me,” Russ says. “No place is perfect because people are not perfect, but Pace has worked hard to preserve the best parts of its legacy while looking to a broader and hopefully even better future. Nicole and I want to support the school’s ability to continue this tradition for our children and for others in the community.”

-Read this profile and more in the Summer 2020 issue of KnightTimes