Four Points by Sheraton, Norwood, MA

8:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Registrations are now closed.

See Which Schools Are Participating

Courageous Leadership: Building Boards for the Future

Governance is an acquired skill - no one is born a perfect trustee. It takes practice and adjustment to know how to best serve your school community. And today's independent schools are facing a multitude of new opportunities and challenges, such as:

  • High stakes strategic planning endeavors
  • Leadership shifts and their resulting community-wide transitions
  • Increased demands for successful fundraising efforts & philanthropic advocacy
  • Sharpened focus on risk management
  • Enlightened appreciation for what it means to be truly inclusive and supportive

This conference is a place for board members and senior school leadership to consider what the practice of great governance looks like, in service to our schools, our students and our society. It's a time to come together to share and learn, recognizing the support and power within your community of AISNE peer member schools.

Arrival, Registration & Breakfast
8:00 - 8:45 a.m.

8:50 a.m.

Opening Keynote
How to Build Constructive Partnerships

9:00 - 9:50 a.m.

Susan Meier, BoardSource

In this opening keynote session, governance expert and consultant, Susan Meier, shares the latest thinking and practice regarding the critical partnership between volunteer trustees and the school's leadership. She will ask participants to reflect and engage with her and consider how to:

  • respect individual roles
  • articulate the key element of effective partnership
  • identify the greatest vulnerabilities of the working relationship
  • clarify what boards need and what heads need to make a successful partnership

Susan has spent more than 20 years in governance and nonprofit work, working collaboratively with nonprofit executives and board members to identify governance challenges and opportunities and to implement proven strategies to address a broad array of governance issues. Learn More

Breakout & Deep Dive Sessions

Choose Between:

One of Three Deep Dive Sessions: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
- or -
Two Breakout Sessions: 10:00 - 10:55 a.m.; 11:05 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Deep Dive Session Choices:

10:00 - 12:00 p.m.

Choose One:

Getting to the Heart of Equity: School Board Opportunities to Advance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion -- Facilitated by Ralph Wales

Every school board values and honors their school's effort in diversity, equity and inclusion but what exactly is the board's role in this work? In this interactive workshop, time will be given for participants to analyze and determine where their school's opportunities and challenges lie with regard to building and sustaining a truly inclusive culture. Practical guidance and "takeaways" will be provided that reveal how a board can directly advance diversity, equity and inclusion intentions in all spheres of school life - from the classroom to the broadest levels of institutional practice.

Ralph Wales is interim Head of School at the St. George's Episcopal School in New Orleans, Louisiana. He served as Head of School at the Gordon School in East Providence, Rhode Island from 1994 to 2018. During that time, Gordon's Board fulfilled the promises laid out in three strategic plans focused on school's demographic, its classroom practices and its financial operations. Ralph has advised schools and boards from around the country with regard to institutional equity, diversity and inclusion practices.

When Trust is Broken: Facing Abuse as a Community and Rebuilding Trust -- Facilitated by Todd Bland and Jamie Forbes

Join this session to consider ways board members and school leadership can develop trust with different constituencies while navigating a difficult situation. Attendees will explore how fear can hinder the process and learn how a path forward emerged from individuals who will share their lived experience at Milton Academy.

Like many schools, Milton has undertaken an extensive and ongoing process of investigating its past, engaging with abuse survivors, and working to chart an informed course for the future. Head of School Todd Bland and alum and abuse survivor Jamie Forbes '85 will describe steps taken to engage members of the Milton community, abuse survivors, and external professionals to respond to investigation findings, rebuild trust, and continually assess best practices for keeping students safe. Todd and Jamie will describe the ongoing process that includes the creation of an oversight committee, and the use of external consultants to assess Milton's current environment and to assist with the development and implementation of policies, education, and training programs.

This presentation, and the facilitated conversation with participants that will follow, provide a set of principals, concrete examples, and supportive insights for people interested in learning how to approach a tough topic in a safe space.

Taking a Fresh Course: Developing Your Board's Structure and Recruitment and Retention Strategies -- Facilitated by John Littleford

This session considers the critical role the Committee on Trustees plays in strengthening and maintaining the work of an independent school board. Too often this committee is not given the resources or attention to really thrive – and it can diminish the effectiveness of the board and the school it aims to serve. Working with schools around the globe, John Littleford brings his extensive experience to this hands-on session to consider how the CoT and the entire board can cultivate, screen, invite, orient, train, motivate, and evaluate a board. He will also address how board leaders may – at times – need to warn and remove errant or non-performing board members. With a mix of presentation, discussion and case study review, attendees will walk away form this session with practical ways to keep a board on track to support the mission, the school and its leaders.

Breakout Session Choices:

Session I: 10:00 - 10:55 a.m.

Choose One:

The Secret Sauce to Boardroom Success: Culture and Dynamics
In this session, Susan Meier will continue to share her expertise with attendees to consider how to create a healthy board culture with productive dynamics.

AISNE Accreditation: How it Works
How does AISNE accreditation inform and support school improvement initiatives at your school? And, what is the Board's role in AISNE accreditation? In this session, Sara Wilson, AISNE's Director of Accreditation will provide an overview of the AISNE accreditation process and will discuss how this process of reflection, affirmation, transformation, and accountability strengthens your school internally and with your wider market.

Organizational Indicators, with INDEX Research
This session takes a close look at macro trends across independent schools, drawing from the extensive research and data of INDEX, a benchmarking group that has been working collaboratively with schools for over 20 years. Participants also gain key insights from a current CFO about what data, internal and external, they track to understand progress against key strategic priorities. Facilitated by Lisa Pullman, Executive Director, INDEX, and Kimberly Boyd, CFO, The Park School

Leadership Transitions: Bringing Aboard a New Head of School
Our schools are going through a period of rapid change in leadership - and this poses incredible opportunities. But change can also be needlessly disruptive. This session considers how to be thoughtful and proactive in meeting the needs of both new and existing heads, as well as setting realistic expectations about what it means to introduce a new leader to a close-knit community. Facilitated by Amanda Riegel, Senior Associate, Carney Sandoe and Gordon School Board Vice Chair; Dr. Noni Thomas López, Head, The Gordon School; and Kim Ridley, Head, Fayerweather School

Session II: 11:05 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Choose One:

Governance Fundamentals for New Trustees
No one is born a good trustee; it takes time and practice. Attend this session to learn (or be reminded of) the fundamental practices that effective boards use to support school leaders, steward the mission and strengthen the community. Attendees will also consider the three levels of governance of high functioning boards – fiduciary, strategic, and generative – and how they underpin the work of mission-driven governance. Facilitated by Claire Leheny, Executive Director, AISNE

Fundraising: The Board's Role
Philanthropy is a key responsibility of key elements of successful fundraising initiatives. Trustees hold special roles and responsibilities for ensuring fundraising success. This session will cover specific ways trustees may leverage development staff efforts, what trustees should be able to expect of the staff and the Head of School, and what the staff should be able to expect of trustees. Facilitated by Carey Bloomfield, Senior Consulting Vice President at Grenzebach Glier and Associates, and alum and trustee, Dana Hall School.

Strategic Planning: New Approaches to Realizing the Future
An strategic planning process must reflect the needs and current operations of the school. A robust process might be a multi-year process, or it might be a six-month sprint. Consultant and board member Nina Bowman shares various frameworks for discerning what’s right for your community in terms of timing, outcomes and involvement.

Legal Landscape: Today’s Hot Topics and Trends
This session will review some of the emerging and recurring issues facing independent schools, including topics such as data privacy and protection, student mental health, campus security and new challenges related to the student use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices. As part of this discussion, we will review recent cases and discuss best practices for risk management. Facilitated by Julie Fay, Partner, Shipman & Goodwin

12:15 - 1:00 p.m.

Closing Keynote
1:15 - 2:15 p.m.

Stephanie Rogen, Greenwich Leadership Partners

From Surviving to Thriving: The Learning Board

The landscape for independent schools is increasingly complex and many of the challenges that lie ahead resist simple solutions. Learning is essential to adaptive work and while strong boards may not have all the answers, they know how to ask the right questions. How can boards encourage practices that leverage the talent, expertise and capacity of every trustee to learn, support leadership, and tackle the challenges ahead? Stephanie's closing session will encourage attendees to reflect on the learning of the day, offer a framework for board development, and consider how they can bring those insights to life in their work.

2:15 - 2:30 p.m.