Appointment is key as Florida’s oldest independent school is in Phase 2 of building campaign


(PALM BEACH, FL) Cynthia Kanai has been named Palm Beach Day Academy Director of Development, according to Dr. Rebecca van der Bogert, PBDA head of school. Ms. Kanai also currently serves as the school’s Director of Community Service – a position she has held for more than 20 years. Prior to her new role, Kanai was on the PBDA faculty as a fifth grade teacher for 25 years and in 2012 was awarded the William T. Dwyer Excellence in Education Award in Palm Beach County.

In her new role, Kanai is in charge of raising funds for the school, in phase 2 of a building campaign to add an education center to its lower campus in West Palm Beach.

“Cynthia was a perfect fit for this new role,” said van der Bogert. “Her career as a beloved and outstanding educator at PBDA spans more than two decades and a second generation of our family-focused school’s families. This experience coupled with Cynthia’s continuing leadership of PBDA’s community outreach has allowed her to cultivate meaningful partnerships throughout Palm Beach County and foster student leaders through PBDA’s hallmarked ‘Lead with Honor’ program. In addition, Cynthia pioneered an international partnership program uniting the global studies and foreign language departments with service opportunities for students and families abroad. Most notably, she has organized more than seven trips with students to China and recently the Dominican Republic. I can’t think of a better steward of the gifts given to our school and our entire school family is indeed grateful for her outstanding leadership.”

Striving always for the highest academic excellence, Palm Beach Day Academy has grown from a cottage colony school started in 1921 into an innovative, top-ranked day school serving nearly 500 students from the greater Palm Beach area. The educational program, for age 2 through grade 9, is dedicated to providing students with a learning experience that exemplifies the school’s vision to provide exceptional opportunities for academic development, intellectual growth, artistic and physical self-fulfillment, and moral awareness.

“As a teacher, I was dedicated and committed to my students,” said Kanai.  “I have thrououghly enjoyed every class that I have been fortunate to teach and all the incredible families that I’ve known over the years, and I look forward to all the new ones that I will meet in the future.  I truly believe in our school, and this is another way to be dedicated and committed to making it better than ever.”

As PBDA embarks on the homestretch of its current building campaign for a lower campus education center, there is great momentum as the community has stepped up to help the school meet its campaign goals. More than just an extraordinary addition to the PBDA lower campus, the vision for this building is to serve the entire community.

“I enjoy talking about our students and teachers, as well as our mission and vision for the future,” she said. “I am driven by long-term relationships, and I strive to build a sense of family within our school community. The opportunity to now play a role in our school’s positive growth is truly thrilling! PBDA really values opportunities to bring families and community members together around a shared vision for the future. There hasn’t been a single day in 26 years that I haven’t opened my eyes in the morning feeling passionate about how I can be part of discovering new possibilities for our children. This new role is a gift and an honor, and I am committed to achieving great success on behalf of our families and this beautiful community!”

In her spare time, Kanai is completing her masters in leadership from Palm Beach Atlantic University and graduates this May. In addition to her roles with PBDA and current class schedule, she is a member of the Leadership Palm Beach County Class of 2014; she serves on the Board of C.R.O.S. Ministries, the Board of the World Leaders Group, and is a member of the Association of Fund Raising Professionals. She resides in Atlantis with her husband, Dennis, a CFO consultant. Her two children are also graduates of PBDA – son Logan works for Aon in Tampa, and Megan is a junior at FSU majoring in economics.

Palm Beach Day Academy is located on two campuses 1.3 miles apart in Palm Beach and West Palm Beach. For more information on the school, Ms. Kanai or the current building campaign, visit or call 561.655.1188.