October 3 & 5, 2023 (Tues & Thurs)
Presented virtually via Zoom. 

Healthy and Productive Board Practices
Attend the AISNE Governance Conference to turn your strategic decision-making from reactive to proactive in our post-pandemic era. Take a deep dive into the executive-level topics that keep a school operating at its highest quality, including finance, human resources, and equity. We will cover the hot topics in education today, create a community of support, and make intentional time for balcony-level thinking. You will come away with a solid foundation to make progress on improving your school, no matter your goals.

The conference is designed specifically for Heads of School, CFO/COOs, and their Board of Trustees. Bring your full board to maximize the impact of your learning. 


AISNE Members save $100/person compared to non-members. Not a member? Join today.

Number of Attendees   AISNE Member Schools   Non-Member School  
1 – 3 $269/person $369/person
4 – 9 $239/person $339/person
10 – 19 $219/person $319/person
20+ $199/person $299/person


Board Members Can’t Make It?
We understand scheduling your board can be difficult. Registrants who are not able to attend live sessions will have access to recordings of all topic sessions, the keynote, and the general session—more than 10 hours of learning content! Register each of your board members and unlock access to the recordings.


Agenda at a Glance

Tuesday, October 3

  • 1:00 – 2:15 PM | Opening Keynote
  • 2:15 – 2:45 PM | Break
  • 2:45 – 4:00 PM | Topic Sessions
  • 5:30 – 7:00 PM | In-Person! Trustees of Color Peer Gathering (Hosted by Cambridge School of Weston)

Thursday, October 5

  • 1:00 – 2:15 PM | Topic Sessions
  • 2:15 – 2:45 PM | Break
  • 2:45 – 4:00 PM | Keynote & Reflections


Tuesday, October 3 | 1:00 – 2:15 PM
Dr. Cathy Trower | Positive and Proactive Strategic Thinking for Independent School Boards

Independent school boards play a pivotal role in shaping the future of their institutions. Dr. Cathy Trower will join us to help empower board members, board chairs, and Heads of School with ideas and mindsets necessary to navigate complex challenges and capitalize on emerging opportunities. She will discuss proactive strategic thinking and how it relates to anticipating challenges, threats, and opportunities. You will come away with a deeper understanding of how a proactive mindset hones your planning for the future and aids you in recognizing and preventing potential hazards.

Cathy will introduce you and fellow attendees to a positive and proactive approach to strategic thinking, aimed at ensuring the sustained success of your schools. You will be encouraged to foster a culture of inquiry, strategic foresight, and adaptation among your school leadership team. This session is designed to equip you with tools to navigate uncertainty, govern and lead with confidence, and positively shape the future of your independent school.

Dr. Cathy Trower is President of Trower & Trower, a board governance consulting firm, through which she has provided coaching services to over 300 nonprofits including dozens of independent K-12 schools, colleges, and universities. She writes a monthly blog for the Independent Schools Chairpersons Association in which she answers governance questions from members. Formerly Research Director at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Trower studied governance, leadership, faculty work life, employment issues, policies, and practices including the experiences of faculty through a generational lens, women in STEM disciplines, and underrepresented populations for 16 years. Prior to Harvard, Cathy served as a senior-level administrator of business degree programs at Johns Hopkins University. Trower has authored numerous academic publications, including books, articles, and case studies on board governance, faculty policies, and culture.

Thursday, October 5 | 2:45 – 4:00 PM
Scott Clemons | Aligning Your School’s Strategy & Investments

How can you integrate the mission of your school with your approach to investing? This session will consider that question and demonstrate how to unite your school’s strategy and investment approach through a more objective framework centered on reviewing asset allocation on a regular basis. Regardless of the size or your school, or its endowment, you will come away with a toolkit for aligning your strategy, mission, and investments. You will engage in a conversation that focuses on the role good governance plays in keeping the school’s mission front and center when considering new strategy. We will review several scenarios that will help you imagine how to make practical application of this approach.

Come away with strategies for how to review your asset allocation, shared language that trustees can use to engage in productive, forward-thinking financial discussions, and an understanding of the proper checks and balances needed for managing your endowment.

Scott Clemons is the Chief Investment Strategist for Private Banking and a partner at Brown Brothers Harriman, America’s longest-standing investment firm. Scott began his career at the firm in 1990 in international equities, managing and analyzing portfolios across Europe and Asia. In 2001, he expanded into domestic equity management and research, and from 2005 – 2010 managed the firm’s Private Wealth Management business.

Scott is a regular contributor to print and broadcast media, appearing frequently in the pages of the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, as well as on CNBC and Bloomberg TV. Outside of his professional interests, Scott is a trustee of the Morgan Library and Museum in New York, Rare Book School at the University of Virginia, and the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, the oldest foundation in the United States dedicated to basic scientific research. He is a CFA charter holder and a member of the New York Society of Security Analysts and the CFA Institute. Scott is a graduate of Princeton University.

Topic Sessions

Tuesday, October 3 | 2:45 – 4:00 PM
Choose one topic session to participate in live. All sessions are recorded for your post-event viewing.

Strategic Thinking & Master Planning: A Bird’s Eye View into Two Schools

Presented by
Derek Boonisar & Taragh T. Mulvany, Head of School & Board President at Fenn School
Sarah Pelmas & Allison Kaneb Pellegrino, Head of School & Board President at Winsor School
Get a window into two schools’ productive partnerships around strategic thinking and master planning. See how this has helped both schools focus on finding and developing unique opportunities. Come away understanding the value of strategic goal setting, the differences between master planning and strategic planning, concrete suggestions for ensuring all voices are heard in the process, and how and when consultants can add value to this expansive work.

The Building Blocks of Small School Financial Health

Presented by Brooke Carroll, Principal Consultant and Coach at Acies Strategies
Small school administrators and board members often struggle to ensure the financial health of their schools. Short-term issues can take time and energy away from the sort of planning that secures long-term success. This session lays out the steps boards and administrators can take to prepare board members to make strategic decisions regarding the finances of their school. This includes defining financial health and learning how to measure it, examining how financials are reported and communicated, ensuring a robust and knowledgeable Finance Committee on your board, conceptualizing your school’s business plan and more. Come away more confident in your small school’s ability to chart its own course and move forward.

Govern & Support: Redefining the Head of School and Board Partnership

Presented by Jerry Larson, Managing Partner at Educational Directions
In this session, you will be introduced to a reframing of the board/Head partnership using a model of the board as strategic partners and trusted advisors. You will learn the importance of reframing the “boss-employee” relationship into a true strategic partnership. By exploring the role of the board as a whole and the role of an individual trustee, you will gain a deeper understanding of governing boundaries and the importance of your voice as a trustee. Come away with an appreciation for developing a governing dashboard and leave with a clarity of the role of a trustee and the Head of School. You will also learn how to clarify and define accountability measures for both the board and the Head.

A Restorative and Anti-Racist Approach to Building Community

Presented by Eric Barber, Melissa Cassel, and Linda Hughes, Head of School, Dean of Students, and Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Walnut Hill School of the Arts
Building a community-wide restorative and anti-racist culture in a boarding and day school is a complex and challenging task. It requires strong leadership and a clear shared vision, thorough and mindful planning and implementation, and a long process of forming community-wide understanding and buy-in. Key drivers for building an anti-racist institution include using assessment tools, reframing community norms, and strengthening relationships. This collective effort must include all constituencies: the board, administration, parents and guardians, faculty and staff, alumni, and students. Join this session to learn about the journey and story of community change happening at one school. Learn what worked well, what lessons were learned, and how you can continue to grow and move forward. 

Head Evaluation: Opportunities & Risks in a Range of Approaches

Presented by John Littleford, Founder and Senior Associate at Littleford & Associates
This session will highlight the recent and increasing use of constituent surveys in Head evaluation. You will learn the risks these tools may pose to the security of Heads and the stability of schools. We will ask what the proper role is for such surveys. We will also review how Heads can continue to make the tough and moral decisions required in their role if they are evaluated in ways that potentially undermine their willingness and ability to lead. This session will highlight healthy, substantive, and proven protocols for Head evaluation used worldwide and yet still provide boards with the data they need for making assessments about Head support, renewal, and compensation decisions.

Thursday, October 5 | 1:00 – 2:15 PM
Choose one topic session to participate in live. All sessions are recorded for your post-event viewing.

Making Strategic Thinking Actionable (and Lasting!)

Anne-Marie Balzano and Jason Kern, Senior Governance Strategist and Senior Innovation Strategist at Mission & Data
Leaders and trustees want their school to be rooted in mission-driven, data-informed decision-making. Yet many schools struggle to turn strategic plans, visionary initiatives, and accreditation recommendations into action and to effectively communicate progress to the board. Join us to review research-based processes to align success metrics to strategic goals and accreditation recommendations. You will receive strategies on how to measure subjective goals such as joyful learners or engaged students, and see examples of effective strategic plan dashboards.

Building or Rebuilding a Healthy, Inclusive, and Active Board

Presented by Holly Hirst, Independent Leadership Development Consultant
The onboarding and continuous development of Board members are crucial components of a healthy, inclusive, and active Board, but is often skipped due to lack of time, talent, or funds. The health of your school, however, requires this crucial investment. In this session, we will discuss centering inclusivity in all things board-related and who is responsible for recruiting new board members. We will walk through creating a board recruitment calendar, identifying high-quality board candidates, onboarding new board members, and developing a culture of perpetual board development. You will come away knowing what to do when a board becomes fractured or broken, and how to move forward in a positive fashion.

Mobilizing & Activating Volunteers for Fundraising Success

Presented by
Kate Villa and Bob Weston, Executive Vice President and Senior Vice President at CCS Fundraising
Lise Charlier and Adam Fischer, Heads of School at Cambridge School of Weston and The Rashi School
Schools constantly pursue big ideas to drive innovation and growth within their institutions. In this session, we will explore the steps schools can take to harness volunteer leadership potential—a powerful asset in the campaign fundraising required to fund those big ideas. When engaged strategically, volunteers serve as a campaign’s best advocates and most dedicated—and often most significant—donors. This session will include a short presentation on campaign and volunteer trends, followed by an interview/conversation with Heads of School Adam Fischer of The Rashi School and Lise Charlier of the Cambridge School of Weston. These Heads will share insights from their successes and best practices for building your own robust volunteer structure to accelerate campaign fundraising. Come away with strategies for engaging high-level volunteers in refining, validating, and building out big ideas.

The Role of School Governance in Support of Depolarization

Presented by Kent Lenci, Founder at Middle Ground School Solutions
How do we prepare students to step into a world shaped by the bitter acrimony caused by political polarization? This polarization is deeply entwined with the work of DEI and is a challenge for educators and students, both today and well into the future. Come to this session to find hope in the fact that Americans are not as polarized as we may assume we are. You will leave with concrete examples of the curricular work that could unfold in your school in support of depolarization. Come away with a framework for leading and discussing the work, and inspiration to model this work for peer schools.

AI in Schools: Keeping Your Privacy on Lock

Presented by David McCarthy, Founder and CEO at Ark HQ™
In the evolving digital landscape, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming an ever more prominent feature of our lives, and its application in education is gaining considerable importance. Join this session to focus on the crucial need to protect privacy as AI becomes a common tool in education. We will begin by establishing an understanding of AI’s current role in schools—from learning management systems to tutoring apps—and the significant privacy implications it carries. You will receive help in fully comprehending the potential pitfalls of AI and learn strategies to identify and tackle them. We will also review the current regulatory landscape, including some overseas efforts that may be adopted in the U.S., and how they impact your school. This session is designed to help you stay proactive to current and inevitable technological advancements to our society writ large.

In-Person Networking

Tuesday, October 3 | 5:30 – 7:00 PM
Peer Gathering: Trustees of Color
Hosted by Lise Charlier, Head of Cambridge School of Weston
45 Georgian Rd, Weston, MA 02493 (Map)

Our friends at Cambridge School of Weston are hosting this fun and informative gathering for Board Chairs and Trustees who self-identify as BIPOC.

Join fellow BIPOC trustees in an affinity space to gather in fellowship and share what you enjoy about the trustee role and your contributions to your respective school, and what challenges you experience personally and as a Board. This event will feature a panel discussion with trustees of color from several independent schools and light refreshments and hors d’oeuvres.

Note: This event requires a separate RSVP. Email Sherrill Bounnell, Executive Assistant to the Head of School, sbounnell@csw.org.

Join Your Peers

We warmly welcome school leaders from throughout our community, including these schools:

  • Andover School of Montessori
  • Bancroft School
  • Belmont Day School
  • The Bement School
  • Berwick Academy
  • Birches School
  • The Cambridge School of Weston
  • Charlestown Nursery School
  • The Chestnut Hill School
  • The Derryfield School
  • Fayerweather Street School
  • Fenn School
  • Friends Academy
  • The Gordon School
  • Inly School
  • Kingsley Montessori School
  • The Learning Project Elementary School
  • Meadowbrook School of Weston
  • Middlesex School
  • The Mountain School at Winhall
  • Nantucket New School
  • Nashoba Brooks School
  • Pinkerton Academy
  • Red Fox Community School
  • The Rivers School
  • The Sage School
  • St. John’s Preparatory School
  • St. Michael’s Country Day School
  • Stanstead College
  • Tenacrre Country Day School
  • Vermont Academy
  • Waterville Valley Academy
  • The Wheeler School
  • Winsor School

Cancellation Policy

Cancellations and transfer requests must be sent via email to info@aisne.org. Cancellations will receive a 100% refund, less a $50 administrative fee. Transfers of registrations from one person to another are permitted up to 2 business days before the start of the event, or the first event of a series of events.

Not an AISNE Member?

Become part of a network of more than 260 schools across New England. Enjoy opportunities for your entire school staff and faculty to connect with and learn from peers, and engage in high quality professional development. AISNE is here to support your school’s excellence and continuous improvement.

Join today or renew your membership.