January 24 – 26 | In Person!
Join us for our 2023 Heads’ Retreat and Annual Association Meeting. We are excited to come together for days of community, laughter, learning, and growth. Engage in thought-provoking discussions, hear from world-class speakers, share experiences, and connect with fellow school leaders. Whether you are new to the AISNE community, or an old friend, you will find this in-person gathering stimulating and reinvigorating.

Pricing and Hotel:

$599/pp | This event is exclusively for AISNE Members.


Hotel Information
Wentworth by the Sea
588 Wentworth Rd
New Castle, NH 03854

Reserve Your Hotel Room

Agenda at a Glance

Tuesday, January 24

  • 4:00 – 5:00 PM | Heads of Color Cohort Meeting
  • 5:00 – 6:00 PM | Welcome Cocktails & Registration, Courtesy of Blackbaud
  • 6:00 – 8:30 PM | Dine on Your Own
  • 8:30 –  | Cocktails & Conversation 

Wednesday, January 25

  • 8:00 – 9:00 AM | Breakfast
  • 9:00 AM – 10:15 AM | Collaboration Café: New Heads of School (Years 1 – 3)
  • 9:00 AM – 10:15 AM | Collaboration Café: Veteran Heads of School (Years 4+)
  • 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM | General Session: Skill Building with Martha Haakmat 
  • 12:00 – 1:00 PM | Lunch 
  • 1:00 – 3:00 PM | Featured Session with James Rhee 
  • 3:00 – 4:30 PM | Networking Break/Free Time
  • 3:30 – 4:00 PM  | Optional AISNE Member Benefit Info Sessions
  • 4:30 – 5:30 PM | AISNE Annual Meeting 
  • 5:30 – 6:30 PM | Cocktails
  • 6:30 – 8:30 PM | Dinner 
  • 8:30 –  | Cocktails & Conversation 

Thursday, January 26

  • 8:00 – 9:00 AM | Breakfast
  • 9:00 – 10:00 AM | Topic Sessions
  • 10:15 – 11:15 AM | Presentations by Your Peers
  • 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM | Featured Session with Melissa Bowler
  • 12:30 PM – 1:00 PM | Lunch & Closing Reflections

Featured Sessions

Wednesday, January 25 | 1:00 – 3:00 PM
James Rhee | Let it Fly: Kindness, Math, and the Power of Goodwill 

arvind grover, Head of School at Meadowbrook School of Weston, will host a fireside chat with James Rhee. Join them for this engrossing conversation about how a simple act of generosity can put someone on a new, groundbreaking course. Mr. Rhee will elaborate about why kindness matters and how, when you combine goodwill and math, you can break out of the trap of a revenue-first mentality. We will unpack the power of goodwill—which is actually an accounting term—and how it affects many other things that we need to be thinking about. James and arvind will also share a number of tools, lenses, and music we should be considering as we define what success looks like for us and our organizations. Come away uplifted by this beautiful conversation and infused with hope and possibility for the power of you and your community’s future potential.

James Rhee is an acclaimed impact leader, entrepreneur, educator, investor, and goodwill strategist. He transforms people, brands, and organizations by identifying and unleashing purpose through the systemic union of mathematical and creative systems, thereby making tangible the otherwise intangible. His most current venture, red helicopter, is a collective media-education platform that is uniting a forward-looking global community at the intersection of the values of kindness and math. 

The celebrated reinvention story of Ashley Stewart, a brand serving and employing predominantly Black women, under his unlikely leadership as chairman, CEO, and investor from 2013-2020, is tangible proof of the power of diverse ecosystems and a blueprint for the future of multi-stakeholder capitalism. The story has been featured by the world’s leading media platforms, including, most recently, TED Conferences and Brene Brown. 

As an educator, he serves as the Johnson Chair of Entrepreneurship and a Professor of Entrepreneurship at Howard University. He is also the Executive in Residence and a Strategic Adviser at the MIT Leadership Center and holds an appointment as Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management. James provides connectivity across and on behalf of people by serving as a member of the Advisory Council of JPMorgan Chase’s Advancing Black Pathways and the Governing Committee of the CEO Action for Racial Equity. He also served as a director of Conscious Capitalism, where he was on the Executive Committee. He is a Frederick Douglass honoree of the New York Urban League. 

Thursday, January 26 | 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Melissa Bowler | Connecting through Comedy

We’ll end our Retreat with a fun, interactive, and hilarious session with comedian Melissa Bowler.

She will lead you through easy-to-play improv exercises that will help illustrate lessons in empathy, biases, and communication. This session is a combination of games, stand-up, and discussion to create an unforgettable learning and leadership experience that will leave you laughing and energized.

Melissa Bowler is a communication consultant and teaching artist who has worked with corporations and universities across the United States. She is the co-founder of Providence Improv Guild (PIG), a training center and comedy venue in Rhode Island.

Since 2009, Melissa has traveled across the country with her workshop “Connecting through Comedy”, an award-winning curriculum designed to train professionals in teamwork, open communication, and creative problem-solving. She currently offers this program online through virtual workshops, in-person sessions, and speaking programs.

Conference Agenda

Tuesday, January 24

Heads of Color Cohort Meeting | 4:00 – 5:00 PM
Participants in the 2022-2023 Heads of Color Cohort with Martha Haakmat will take advantage of this in-person opportunity. Connect, share stories, and offer support to one another as you engage in the work of leading your school communities with all the joy and challenge this brings.

Welcome Cocktails & Registration | 5:00 – 6:00 PM
Our friends at Blackbaud are happy to welcome you to the 2023 AISNE Heads of School Retreat. Join us for an open bar and conversation with your peers at this informal kick-off reception.

Dine on Your Own | 6:00 – 8:30 PM
Explore the local area and restaurants independently, or sign up for a small, informal dinner with Heads from programs and backgrounds similar to your own. If you would like to dine with fellow attendees, sign up for a casual group experience here

Cocktails & Conversation | 8:30 – 10:30 PM
Join us in the Salt Bar, located in the hotel lobby, for a nightcap.

Wednesday, January 25

Breakfast | 8:00 – 9:00 AM

Collaboration Café: New Heads of School (1 – 3 Years) | 9:00 AM – 10:15 AM
As a new head of school, you have either joined a new school community or transitioned into headship—and AISNE is here to offer you a space to share generously and openly with your peers. We have designed the time to focus on you and your leadership. We will help set you up for long-term success by discussing how to balance the many roles and challenges of headship. Join us for this time, and let’s ‘press pause’ to celebrate, reflect, converse, and share tools to bring back to your day-to-day work.

Collaboration Café: Veteran Heads of School (4+ Years) | 9:00 AM – 10:15 AM
Come together for an open discussion of the challenges facing you and your peers today. As a group, we share resources, best practices, and solutions that you can bring back to your school.

General Session | 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM 

Skill Building for Leadership of More Diverse and Inclusive Communities | Martha Haakmat, Executive Director, Haakmat Consulting

In this interactive session, Heads of School will explore how your own identities and membership in various social and cultural groups impact your leadership. We will also examine your awareness of and skills for supporting all members of your community. This work will be done in the context of the changing nature of headship, the increasingly more diverse and inclusive pipeline for school leaders, and the post-pandemic demands for community connection. Join us to engage in this conversation with peers and to take away tools for exploring identity and community building as forward-facing leaders. Sponsored by FLAIR.

Lunch | 12:00 – 1:00 PM

Featured Session with James Rhee | 1:00 – 3:00 PM
Let it Fly: Kindness, Math, and the Power of Goodwill
See above.

Networking Break/Free Time | 3:00 – 4:30 PM
Coffee and Donuts provided by SAGE Dining.

Optional AISNE Member Benefit Info Sessions | 3:30 – 4:00 PM

Committing to Continuous Improvement: AISNE Accreditation Info Session

Join Sara Wilson, AISNE’s Director of Accreditation, for an information session all about the AISNE accreditation process. Learn what makes AISNE’s approach to accreditation unique and how the process, which is included as part of your AISNE membership benefits, can support your school’s institutional goals.

Enhance Your School’s Business Strategy Using Pulse Points Data

Join Eliza Alexander, AISNE’s Managing Director, Northern New England, and Alexander Noren, AISNE’s Director, Finance, Technology & Research, to deepen your understanding and skills for how to more efficiently mine the data set and create reports that advance your school’s institutional goals. Pulse Points is a yearly salary and benefits benchmarking study that is included as a part of your AISNE membership benefits.

Break | 4:00 – 4:30 PM

AISNE Annual Meeting | 4:30 – 5:30 PM
Our Annual Meeting is a time to reflect on the successes of the past year and look to upcoming initiatives for the future. We will celebrate our community and share in the progress we have collectively made. Join AISNE’s Executive Director, Claire Leheny, and our association’s Board President, Sarah Pelmas. 

Cocktails | 5:30 – 6:30 PM
Cocktails provided by Rockland Trust.

Dinner | 6:30 – 8:30 PM
Thank you to our sponsor, Modern Capital.

Cocktails & Conversation | 8:30 – 10:30
Join us in the Salt Bar, located in the hotel lobby, for a nightcap.

Thursday, January 26

Thank you to our friends at ISM (Independent School Management) for sponsoring our final morning of the Retreat. 

Breakfast | 8:00 – 9:00 AM 

Topic Sessions | 9:00 – 10:00 AM
Effectively Investing in Your Most Valuable Asset: Faculty and Staff

Jennifer Borislow; President and Founding Principal, Borislow Insurance
Brian B. Garrett; Of Counsel and Chair of Education Group, McLane Middleton
Faculty and staff are the lifeblood of every school. In today’s highly competitive work environment, schools need to strategically expand their talent pool while striving to achieve their mission of an aligned and passionately committed workforce. It is critically important to focus attention on the policies, benefits, and practices that create an attractive work environment. This session will explore regulatory and legal updates that impact faculty and staff compensation and benefits. We will also view best practices in faculty and staff retention and recruitment through the legal lens.

Racial Inequity at School: How to Be an Active Bystander

Nii Cleland; CEO/Co-Founder, FLAIR Impact
Nadia Harmsen; Client Success Manager, FLAIR Impact
In this interactive session, you will be presented with various real-life situations of witnessing racial inequity in a school setting, asked how you would likely respond, and provided with alternative models of response. Various frameworks for intervention will be explored as well as examples, case studies, practical tools, and models that can be applied immediately in the classroom. You will have an opportunity to share ideas in small groups about how best to support students and staff who may be subjected to racism in a school environment. Come away feeling more confident in how to intervene when you witness racial inequity.

Financial Aid Trends: Inflation and Economic Changes Affecting Our Independent Schools

Megan Fangmeyer; Product Manager, FACTS
Financial aid continues to evolve due to economic situations and technology changes. In this session, we will discuss the impact of the pandemic and inflation to affordability, the ongoing challenges for middle-class families, and considerations for K-12 as the FAFSA simplification launches changes to their formula and processes around college financial aid.

How to Strategize and Message the DEI Work in Your School

Heather Flewelling; Chief Talent Officer, Carney Sandoe & Associates
Brandon Jacobs; Consultant, Carney Sandoe & Associates
Devote time to consider how to integrate proactive and equity-focused messaging across all areas of your school. Heads of School play a critical part in reminding their communities why they are doing the work and ensuring that all school operations are engaged and coordinated in their efforts. From the governance level to the daily lived experience of students, DEIB efforts should be seen as everyone’s work and to everyone’s benefit. This session will discuss how DEI is practiced in both academics and operations and consider how heads of school and school leadership can strategically message and support DEIB work as an essential component of school operations.

Presentations by Your Peers | 10:15 – 11:15 AM
Leading Institutional Change for Racial Justice

Katherine Bradley; Head of School, Dana Hall School
Chris Cheney; Head of School, Kents Hill School
Holly Hirst; Head of School, Andover School of Montessori
In July 2022, these Heads joined the inaugural cohort of
AISNE’s Leadership for Racial Justice Fellows for a three-day retreat centered on inclusion and equity in our schools. The program was facilitated by a team of experts in anti-racist organizational development—leading DEIJ educator Erica Pernell; Jadi Taveras, Head of School at Esperanza Academy in Lawrence, MA; and Melissa Lawlor, Upper School Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Milton Academy in Milton, MA. A cohort of twenty educational leaders from across New England engaged in mindful racial justice leadership. Drawing on theories, case studies, and models for organizational change, Fellows were charged with developing a ‘performance task’—something they committed to implement at their own schools. Jadi will moderate this session, where you will learn more about the Fellows’ experiences and the work they are undertaking as they lead for racial justice at their schools.

Drive Balcony-Level Thinking: Recruiting, Restructuring, and Reprogramming Your Board

Lise Charlier; Head of School, Cambridge School of Weston
Ashley Marshall; Head of School, The Pike School
Mike Schloat; Head of School, The Bement School
While the traditional structure of board committees does help the school achieve its mission, it has limitations. Since committee structures often mirror the structure of the Administrative team, there can be a blurring of lines between the role and work of trustees and that of the Administrative team. This group of Heads will share their experiences about working with a new structure that enables trustees to engage in strategic and generative dialogue and focus on the long term sustainability and thrivability of the school. Come away with fresh perspectives for managing up to ensure successful support from your board.

Taking Action to Address the Opportunity Gap: The Public-Private Connection

Aline Gery; Head of School, Lexington Montessori School
Allison D. Webster; Head of School; Dedham Country Day School
Learn about the positive impact of hosting a six-week, tuition-free summer program—the Horizons program—for students in the greater community. What does it take to open your doors to students whose families are eager for a summer school/enrichment program but can’t afford it? Learn about the funding, implementation, and logistics from program leaders at Dedham Country Day School and Lexington Montessori School who have hosted the Horizons program on their campuses for years. Hear how adding Horizons to your campus can further align your school’s mission and DEI & Belonging goals. You will discover how Horizons can positively impact students on campus and in your community.

Featured Session with Melissa Bowler | 11:30 AM – 12:45 PM
See above. Thank you to Carney Sandoe & Associates for sponsoring this featured session.

Lunch & Closing Reflections | 12:45 PM – 1:30 PM
Enjoy lunch, either to stay or to go, as we close out the Retreat. We’ll share some final thoughts… and a parting gift for you!

Join Your Peers

  • Martina Albright, Apple Orchard School
  • Tory Amorello, Waterville Valley Academy
  • Eric Barber, Walnut Hill School for the Arts
  • Jon Bartlett, Brookwood School
  • Bradford Bates, Dublin School
  • Deanne Benson, Lesley Ellis School
  • Beth Black, Wellan Montessori School
  • Diana Blazar, The Chestnut Hill School
  • Brian Bloomfield, Lyndon Institute
  • Derek Boonisar, The Fenn School
  • Jennifer Borman, Commonwealth School
  • Katherine Bradley, Dana Hall School
  • Jeffrey Burroughs, Lincoln Academy
  • Marshall Carter, Atrium School
  • Charles Carter Jr., Beacon Academy
  • Eric Chapman, Pine Cobble School
  • Andy Chappell, The Derryfield School
  • Lise Charlier, The Cambridge School of Weston
  • Christopher Cheney, Kents Hill School
  • Rebecca Clapp, The Riley School
  • Josh Clark, Landmark School
  • Lance Conrad, Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall
  • Aléwa Cooper, The Foote School
  • Will Crissman, Tenacre Country Day School
  • Marcia Diamond, The Bay School
  • Margaret Douglas, Odyssey Day School
  • Nicole DuFauchard, The Advent School
  • Todd Eveleth, Nantucket New School
  • Henry Fairfax, Concord Academy
  • Adam Fischer, The Rashi School
  • Gretchen Forsyth, Glen Urquhart School
  • Chris Fortunato, Thayer Academy
  • Allison Gaines-Pell, The Wheeler School
  • Renee Greenfield, The Carroll School
  • arvind grover, The Meadowbrook School of Weston
  • Judy Guild, Brimmer and May School
  • Thomas Haferd, St. Paul’s Choir School
  • Justin Hajj, The Learning Project
  • Jim Hamilton, Berwick Academy
  • James Hickey, Austin Preparatory School
  • Holly Hirst, Andover School of Montessori
  • Sharon Howell, St. Johnsbury Academy
  • Ben Jackson, North Yarmouth Academy
  • Tracy Keller, Green Mountain Valley School
  • Moira Kelly, EXPLO
  • Ben Kennedy, Friends Academy
  • Kristy Kerin, Brewster Academy
  • Walter Landberg, St. Michael’s Country Day School
  • Brendan Largay, Belmont Day School
  • Gretchen Larkin, Charles River School
  • Sophie Lau, Lincoln School
  • Marie Leary, The Sage School
  • Donna M. Luther, Inly School
  • Dexter Mahaffey, Vermont Commons School
  • Ashley Marshall, The Pike School
  • Erin Mayo, Fryeburg Academy
  • Patrick McInerney, Wolfeboro Camp School
  • John McVeigh, Holderness School
  • Rene Menard, Thornton Academy
  • Martin Mooney, Bridgton Academy
  • Mary Newman, Sharon Academy
  • Daniel O’Brien, The Putney School
  • Karen O’Neill Thomson, Red Fox Community School
  • Edward Parsons, The Rivers School
  • Julie Parsons, Cambridge-Ellis School
  • David Pearson, Maine Central Institute
  • Kelly Pellagrini, Charlestown Nursery School
  • Sarah Pelmas, The Winsor School
  • Patrick Phillips, Hebron Academy
  • Timothy Powers, Pinkerton Academy
  • Jennifer Price, Buckingham Browne & Nichols School
  • Colleen Ramsden, Derby Academy
  • Grace Regan, Boston College High School
  • Diane Rich, Rocky Hill Country Day School
  • Kimberly Ridley, Fayerweather Street School
  • Tim Saburn, Bancroft School
  • Sessa Salas, Peopleplace Cooperative Preschool
  • Kim Samson, Beaver Country Day School
  • Katherine Saunders, Tilton School
  • Mike Schloat, The Bement School
  • Gregory Schneider, Belmont Hill School
  • Timothy Seeley, George Stevens Academy
  • Whitney Slade, Riverbend School
  • Tao Smith, Gould Academy
  • Charlie Spencer, The Center School
  • Mark Stanek, Shady Hill School
  • Mark Tashjian, Burr and Burton Academy
  • Jadihel Taveras, Esperanza Academy
  • Brian Thomas, Proctor Academy
  • Noni Thomas López, The Gordon School
  • John Turner, Heronfield Academy
  • Zach Verriden, The Academy Hill School
  • Geoff Wagg, Waynflete School
  • Mary Warner, Berkshire Country Day School
  • Allison Webster, Dedham Country Day School
  • Serena Wilkie Gifford, Tower School
  • Joe Williams, New Hampton School
  • Michael Wolfe, Stanstead College
  • Scott Young, The Park School
  • Jennifer Zaccara, Vermont Academy

Thank You to Our Sponsors

The AISNE 2023 Heads Retreat and Annual Meeting would not be possible without their generous support.


Cancellation Policy

Virtual Events
Cancellations and transfer requests must be sent via email to info@aisne.org. Cancellations will receive a 100% refund less a $25 administrative fee. Transfers of registrations from one person to another are permitted up to 24 hours before the start of the event, or first event of a series of events.

In-Person Events
Cancellations and transfer requests must be sent via email to info@aisne.org. Cancellations received up to 14 days before the start of the event will receive a 100% refund less a $25 administrative fee. Cancellations received within 14 days of the start of the event will receive a refund less a $100 fee. This fee covers the cost of our minimum commitments with our hotel partners; thank you for your understanding. Transfers of registrations from one person to another are permitted up to 24 hours before the start of the event.

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