Conferences & Workshops

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Admissions and Placement Directors Conference 2019

Date: Wednesday - April 10, 2019
Time: All Day
Location: Mohonk Mountain House

New Paltz, NY

Wed. April 10 - Fri. April 12, 2019
Speakers: Leo Marshall, Carlos Prieto,  Laurence Steinberg, and others
(BBS)  Sold Out

2019 Admissions and Placement Directors Conference 
April 10-12, 2019
Mohonk Mountain House • New Paltz, NY

Exhibitors and Vendors, click here for information and to apply for the vendor show!

All meals and cocktails in the Main Dining Room.        General Sessions in Parlor

Sunset 1 & 2 across from Parlor; Azalea Lilac & Rose/Dogwood in Conference House

In the schedule below, sessions designated with will be live-streamed. You can watch live, or click the logo to view all of the NYSAIS archived sessions from past conferences.

Wednesday, April 10


NYSAIS Registration Desk opens.


First Time Conference Participants Meet Up, Lake Lounge


Main Dining Room

Think with Your Hands: Jumpstart Collaboration and Creativity with the LEGO® Serious Play® Method
Heidi Brant 

In this hands-on session, we will use the LEGO Serious Play method to practice a series of building exercises designed to surface insights about your way of thinking and allow you to explore a new technique for communicating with others. You will learn how to create compelling metaphors, take a deeper dive into current projects and rethink the way that collaboration fits into your workflow. 



Welcoming Remarks by Conference Chairs
John Nichols, UNIS; Donnie R. Smith, Academy of St. Joseph

Session 1 - The Admissions Committee: In Search of the Self
Carlos Prieto, The Packer Collegiate Institute

Dr. Prieto was 17 years old when he first worked with children in a psychiatric setting.  Since then, he has worked with children and adolescents in out-patient and in-patient units, in psychiatric emergency rooms and the back ward of a state hospital.   For the past 19 years, he has been the Upper School Psychologist at Packer Collegiate Institute, in Brooklyn, New York. He is also in private practice where he administers neuropsychological evaluations.  


Cocktails and  Dinner in Main Dining Room. Assigned tables



Thursday, April 11


Continental Breakfast available in Carriage Lounge


Buffet Breakfast

9:00 – 10:30


Session 2 - Age of Opportunity: Lessons From the New Science of Adolescence
Professor Laurence Steinberg

Adolescence now lasts longer than ever, and the adolescent brain is surprisingly malleable. These new discoveries show that this time of life is crucial in determining a person’s ultimate success and happiness. Dr. Laurence Steinberg, one of the world’s leading authorities on adolescence, will talk about the teenage brain’s potential for change, the elongation of adolescence as a developmental stage, and the implications of each for how we parent, educate, and understand our teens during this intriguing “Age of Opportunity.” Even though his talk will focus on adolescence, it will be of use for admissions and placement professionals who work with students of all ages.

10:30 - 10:45


10:45 - 11:30 

Session 3 – Breakouts


3A - Data-Driven Enrollment Management
Kate Auger-Campbell, The Enrollment Management Association

Successful enrollment management hinges on a school’s ability to collect and analyze data for the purpose of making data-driven decisions about the strategic allocation of time and resources. This presentation provides intelligence for enrollment managers about the need for institutional research in key areas—such as funnel metrics, market area, retention, and student success—about the types of data worth tracking, and about the resources available to help.


3B - The 5 Why’s
Ryan Burke, Leadership + Design

So often in schools, enrollment is identified as a problem.   We need more tuition-paying students. Of course, more tuition, more students would be awesome, but a huge barrier to overcoming that challenge is understanding what the actual problems are in a school that is creating the reality that we perceive as a problem.    This session will focus on using this tool (The 5 Why’s) to understand our challenges in new and more insightful ways.


3C - Placement Issues
Cynthia Rogers, Manhattan Country School

Donnie R. Smith, Director of Admissions & Placement, Academy of St. Joseph

This session will discuss these topics: financial aid and its impact on acceptance, the waitlist (and what it really means), online applications, application due dates, and the Character Snapshot.


3D - Early Childhood: Engaging a New Generation of Parents in a Shifting Marketplace
Nicole Pappas Ferrin, Director of Admissions & Administration, Barrow Street Nursery School

This interactive workshop will focus on ways to connect with a new generation of parents, ideas on how our nursery schools can stay flexible in a changing early childhood landscape. We will discuss how independent nursery schools can differentiate themselves from other programs in the marketplace. Participants will share what has been successful and what has been challenging and we welcome an exchange of information about what trends have been noticed across schools.


3E – Secret Admissions Tools that Save Time at Crunch Time
Rebekah Sollitto, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, Poly Prep Country Day School

During late January and early February, many of us are working simultaneously on file-reading, admissions committees, re-enrollment and financial aid in a multitude of combinations.  What strategies, spreadsheets, exports (in Ravenna and out) help save valuable hours when you need them the most? In this workshop, I’m pleased to share how final decision selections automatically update to predict yielded class size and other strategies.

11:30 - 11:45


11:45  – 12:30

Session 4 – Breakouts


4A -  The State of the Independent School Admission Industry
Kate Auger-Campbell, The Enrollment Management Association

The goal of The Enrollment Management Association’s biannual survey of independent school admission directors is to determine the industry’s current state and future needs and, when applicable, to compare the results across survey years. This trailblazing research has provoked significant national dialogue on the changing conditions of, and expectations for, independent school admission and enrollment professionals. In addition, results have provided an illuminating insight into the structure, process, and enrollment operations of the independent school admission office—as well as the significant challenges faced by many schools in their efforts to reach their enrollment goals. This presentation provides enrollment leaders with key findings and themes from our research.


4B - The Forest through the Trees
Ryan Burke, Leadership + Design

What trends and context are going to drive our work in admissions and enrollment over the next 3, 5, or 10 years?   How can we acknowledge the future and still work in the present? This session will focus on context mapping to understand the trends, influences and future forces that we will need to act on now to be ready for when the impact of these forces hits the markets we live and work in.   By the end of the session, participants will have created a map of these trends and begun the conversation about what possible actions could help their school prepare for this future.


4C - Students with Language-Based Learning Disabilities and the Admissions Process
Diane Kissner and Tanya Ehrlich,  The Windward School

What should admissions directors consider?

  • School performance
  • Admissions test performance
  • How to effectively interview students
  • Communication with placement directors


4D - Barriers, Boundaries, and Breakthroughs: Centering Equity in the Admissions Process
Renée M. Chung, Associate Director of Admissions & Financial Aid, Director of Parents & Guardians of Children of Color (PGCC), The Spence School

John Gentile, Co-Director of the Office for Identity, Culture, and Institutional Equity (ICIE), Horace Mann School

We maintain and uphold patterns and cultures that are limiting our communities from creating equitable and inclusive schools. Without the examination of the systems and practices we have in place, we will continue to miss the mark in creating authentically inclusive school communities. Our own identities and biases need to be unpacked in our roles as decision makers granting access to our institutions. In this workshop, we will explore the foundations of identity and share strategies to combat behaviors and manifestations of bias in our work as admissions professionals to advance equity and justice in our daily practices.

12:30 - 1:15


1:30 - 2:30

Session 5: A Legal Roadmap:  Navigating the Admissions Process
Janice Gregerson,  Venable, LLC

The admissions process is the first step in creating a dynamic and engaging school environment, providing independent schools with the unique opportunity to vet their potential candidates.  This opportunity, however, can also be rife with legal pitfalls if not done thoroughly, consistently and with consideration given to any applicable laws, including non-discrimination laws. In this session, we will discuss strategies for ensuring that you are collecting the information you need to properly assess the applicant and his/her family - from the parents/guardians, from any other schools the applicant may have attended and from any other possible sources - as well as identifying and collecting any other documents or information needed to inform the school’s decision.  This session will also review the particular considerations which arise in vetting international students, in applicant visits to the school and in the ultimate determination to admit, deny or waitlist an applicant. Finally, this session will review communicating the admissions decision, and issuing the enrollment contract.

2:45- 3:30

Session 6 - Breakouts


6A - The Enrollment Contract:  Legal Compliance and Practical Considerations
Janice Gregerson,  Venable LLC

Enrollment contracts, if used effectively, can set the standard and tone for the relationship between the school, the student and their parents, and can be the school’s best ally when the relationship goes sour.  Schools can use this document for more than establishing the commitment to pay tuition. In this session, we will discuss effective contract drafting to ensure compliance with applicable laws, and review strategies and considerations in drafting and issuing enrollment contracts, including those which arise with “perpetual” or “evergreen” contracts, use of electronic enrollment agreements, credit card swipe fees, and the Truth in Lending Act.


6B -  My Fear, Our Fear, and FEAR
Ryan Burke, Leadership + Design

As admissions and enrollment folks, we are responsible for filling the school with the people that make a school special.    This can often feel like a scary task. This session will focus on the tool of fear setting which is a tool that helps professionals understand themselves better.  What would I be doing, if I was not afraid of failing? How do my personal fears, our institutional fear, and fear in a more general context affect how we go about our work in admissions. This session will focus on using this tool to unlock new ideas, new possibilities and perhaps lead to reframing our thinking about barriers that feel current and hard.   


6C - Financial Aid from Brooklyn to the Bronx and Beyond: Communication is Key
Sheila Hicks-Rotella, Riverdale Country School; Vanessa Reynolds, Brooklyn Friends School

Join us for a discussion of the Financial Aid trends we're noticing in our schools as well as a dialogue about policies, practices, reporting techniques and tough conversations. Our session will focus on the ways that FA professionals need to communicate outside our offices - to our school communities, leadership, prospective families, etc. We will share what has worked for us and what has not worked, and we welcome an exchange of information about what's happening with Financial Aid in schools across the NYSAIS region.


6D - Steadying the Ship and Charting a New Course: How a Focused Data-Driven Approach to Marketing and Admissions May Help Improve Enrollment at Your School

Andrew Deyell (Head of School) and Stephanie Katzman (Director of Admissions),  Elmwood Franklin School

Founded in 1895, Elmwood Franklin School is Buffalo’s oldest Pre-K through 8th-grade independent school.  Join Head of School Andy Deyell and Director of Admissions Stephanie Katzman as they discuss the school’s new micro-targeted and approach to marketing and admissions. Learn why they decided to change, the process they took to find the right consultant, data-driven tactics the school employed, the benefits of their approach thus far, and how a similar approach might help your school.

3:30 – 4:30
Dining Room

Session 7 – Roundtable Conversations

4:00 PM

Tea in Lake Lounge

4:30 – 6:30


Free Time Options
Enjoy the excellent trails, lake, Mohonk Spa, indoor swimming pool, tennis and golf (weather permitting). Details at Guest Services Desk. Naturalist-guided walk?

5:30 – 6:30 

Affinity group for Admissions Colleagues of Color


Cocktails & Vendor Exhibits
Dinner, assigned tables in Main Dining Room


Karaoke in East Dining Room.

Friday, April 12


Continental Breakfast available in Carriage Lounge

8:00 - 9:15

Buffet Breakfast
Committee Breakfast Meeting, Table 1

9:30 - 11:15


Session 8 - Leading the Enrollment Management Office in Times of Stability and Uncertainty
Leo Marshall

A successful enrollment management effort centers on leadership skills not only at the top but throughout the entire organization. A retired director of admission (now a consultant) with 40 years’ experience at independent schools reflects on leadership that works and leadership that does not work, both when times are good and when the inevitable happens. This is about transformational - not transactional - leadership that embraces those qualities that inspire the entire enrollment management team and, as an extension, ensures the future of its school. This session is for all levels of experience in enrollment management, and heads, are encouraged to join the discussion.

Main Dining Room

Trail lunches available upon request

Featured Speakers

Heidi Brant is certified by the Association of Master Trainers in the Facilitation of the LEGO® Serious Play® method and materials. She designs and runs collaborative problem-solving workshops for a range of organizations and institutions such as Columbia University, NYU, Math for America and the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore. Workshop applications include design strategy, product development, team building, and education innovation. Prior to facilitating LEGO Serious Play workshops, Heidi worked for the LEGO Group as a creative digital producer and experience strategist, producing innovative content and engaging activities for children and their families. Heidi is a graduate of NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program where she co-teaches Design Research and Life Design. In addition, she received a BA in psychology from Brown University. 

Leo Marshall served in independent education for 40 years during which time he worked at day and boarding schools – all-boys, all-girls, and co-educational schools as a teacher, director of college guidance, head coach for wrestling, cross country, and track; director of admission; vice-president for advancement, assistant headmaster, and president/CEO. He has served on the board of directors of the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools (HAIS), and is the former chairman for the Western Boarding Schools Association (WBSA) and former faculty member for the Secondary School Admission Test Board (SSATB) Admission Training Institute; was the co-chair of that organization’s Admission Leadership Council; and a member of the advisory council for the Erdmann Institute for Enrollment Leadership.

The former director of admission and financial aid for The Webb Schools (Claremont, CA), Leo is currently the Senior Executive Advisor to Beijing Kentrexs Enterprises. Leo holds two degrees in education from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA and completed his advanced studies in education at Seattle University specializing in leadership theory and has a certificate in Leadership from The Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management’s Executive Management program.

Leo is also the 2006 recipient of SSATB’s Everett E. Gourley Award given annually to an educator whose “interest in students and concern for colleagues is an inspiration to those who serve in admission” and the Western Boarding Schools’ Association 2010 (WBSA) Hilton Award for outstanding leadership and service in admissions.

Mr. Marshall is a regular speaker at national and regional conferences focusing on issues in domestic and international admissions, financial aid, school leadership, and marketing.

Janice Gregerson is an associate with Venable's Labor and Employment and Education Law practices who focuses on employment counseling and independent school law. She represents a variety of clients, with a primary focus on independent schools. Janice works collaboratively with her clients, actively joining their teams to ensure she is intimately familiar with each organization's operations, mission, and environment.

Before joining Venable, Janice worked at a national law firm in its labor and employment practice, representing employers from a wide range of industries, including government contractors, local government agencies, nonprofit organizations, universities, healthcare providers, and restaurants, in the defense of employment litigation matters, including those involving claims of discrimination, wage and hour violations, and whistleblower retaliation. She has experience managing all stages of litigation in both state and federal courts, including initial investigations, discovery management, depositions, drafting and arguing pre-trial motions, and trial.

Dr. Carlo Prieto was 17 years old when he first worked with children in a psychiatric setting.  Since then, he has worked with children and adolescents in out-patient and in-patient units, in psychiatric emergency rooms and in the back ward of a state hospital.   For the past 19 years, he has been the Upper School Psychologist at Packer Collegiate Institute, in Brooklyn, New York. He is also in private practice where he administers neuropsychological evaluations.

Laurence Steinberg, Ph.D., one of the world's leading experts on adolescence, is a Distinguished University Professor and the Laura H. Carnell Professor of Psychology at Temple University. He taught previously at Cornell University, the University of California, Irvine, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Dr. Steinberg is the author of more than 450 articles and essays on development during the teenage years, and the author, co-author, or editor of 17 books. He has been a featured guest on numerous television programs, including CBS Morning News, TodayGood Morning America20/20DatelinePBS News Hour, and The Oprah Winfrey Show, and is a frequent consultant on adolescence for print and electronic media, including the New York Times and NPR. He has also written for the New York TimesWall Street JournalWashington PostUSA TodaySlate, and Psychology Today. A graduate of Vassar College and Cornell University, Dr. Steinberg is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Psychological Association, and the Association for Psychological Science. Read more on Dr. Steinberg's website.

 Registration is a 2-step process. Be sure to do both.

1. Reserve your room with Mohonk using one of the following.
  • Click here to reserve online
  • Click here to download the Mohonk Residential Reservation Form (room and board)
  • Click here if you will be a day guest at Mohonk (meals only)
  • Reserve by phone: 800-772-6646
  • Need car service? Please give the Mohonk 24 hours notice, or call a local taxi.

2. Conference Registration: Click to join the waitlist - SOLD OUT! and Credit Card Payment

Regular Registration Fees apply within 2 weeks of the event

    •    NYSAIS Members - $425.00

    •    Non-members - $465.00

Early Discount of $50.00 will apply until 2 weeks before the event.

Late fee of $20.00 will apply within 2 days of the event.

Questions about the program? Email
Questions about registration? Email
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