Conferences & Workshops

 FAQ about Registration

Business Affairs Conference

Date: Wednesday - April 29, 2015
Time: All Day
Location: Mohonk Mountain House

New Paltz, NY

Wed. April 29 - Fri. May 1, 2015

: Catharine Bond Hill, David Lunken, Donna Orem, Caryn Pass,  and others
Exhibitors and Sponsors click here for information

The theme of this year's conference is Institutional Sustainability

In the schedule below, sessions designated with will be livestreamed. You can watch live, or click the logo to view all of the NYSAIS archived sessions from past conferences.
All meals in Main Dining Room


12:30 p.m.

Cliff View

NYSAIS BAC Committee lunch meeting

2:30 p.m.

Laurel Lounge

Informal Chat Group: New Business Officers and those who are attending the Business Affairs Conference for the first time. Hosted by Ann Marie Tidona, Erwin Villaorduna

4:00 p.m.

Registration Desk opens. Tea in Lake Lounge.

4:30 p.m.


Welcome - Ellen Lee

4:45 p.m.


Session 1 – Keynote Address – Access & Affordability in American Higher Education

Speaker: Catharine Bond Hill, President, Vassar College

Catharine HIll will discuss the importance of HIgher Education to America, for individuals, the economy, and our society in general. She will address a variety of challenges that we currently face, in particular increasing the share of our population that completes a higher education degree.

6:15 p.m.
Parlor Porch

Cocktail Reception - Courtesy of Janney Montgomery Scott 

7:30 p.m.

Dinner and introductions (Assigned tables)

Welcome - Mark Lauria

Late night networking in Carriage Lounge


7:00 a.m.

Continental Breakfast available in Carriage Lounge

7:30 a.m.

Buffet Breakfast

8:30 a.m.


Session 2  - David Lunken, Cedarcroft Advisors, Tackling Challenges using Design Thinking and LEGO®
Speaker: David Lunken, Cedarcroft Advisors

Presider: Ellen Lee, Gateway School

LEGO®SERIOUS PLAY™ is serious business!  LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY™ uses LEGO® bricks and elements and a unique method where people are empowered to "think through their fingers" - unleashing insight, inspiration and imagination. In a very direct way, you will be able to see what everyone knows inside the company – and what they don’t know they know! Within a surprisingly short time, an organization can have a clear, shared direction with people who are confidently aligned and committed to a course of action.

Learn  problem-solving techniques building models using LEGO® bricks, giving them meaning through story-making, and playing-out various possible scenarios, which deepens understanding, sharpens insight, and socially "bonds" together the group who "plays" together.  The physical and tangible construction allows for you to have conversations to flow without the fear of treading on personal feelings.

10:00 a.m.


10:15 a.m.


Session 3 –  "Aspects of Sustainability” – Preserving Purchasing Power for the Next Generation
Speaker: Tony Werley, Chief Investment Officer, JP Morgan Chase, Endowments and Foundations

Presider: Michael Devine, Churchill School and Center

What does the next 15 years look like in terms of broad market returns versus your operating return requirement?

It’s no longer just about asset allocation. Operating and investment sustainability concerns and institutional life spans come together perfectly in assuming more portfolio illiquidity.  Can your investment governance withstand more difficult market conditions ?  Does  values based or “sustainable” investing allow for “appropriate” returns ?

12:00 noon.


Welcome - Business Affairs Council Report

1:00 p.m.

Session 4 – Breakout Sessions


A. Human Resources and Benefits – Where Do You Fall In The ACA and Compliance Perfect Storm? 

Speakers: James Sidford and Lauren Seward, Austin and Company

There are many considerations for schools navigating through the perfect storm of ongoing and new compliance requirements. Did you know that ACA requirements are different depending on the size of your school? If you are a school between 51 and 100 faculty and staff, are you prepared for possible changes to community rating and significant premium increases? This presentation will review the three employer size groups, rating changes, ACA reporting, employer mandate action items, as well as the upcoming Cadillac tax.


B. 403b  Plans: Administration, Governance, and Development of a strategy to reduce your fiduciary risk.

Speaker: Carmie Howell, TIAA-CREF

Enforcement activities by both Department of Labor and Internal Revenue Service are increasing for 403(b) plans.  So are participant inquiries.  Learn how to appropriately position your plan to reduce your fiduciary risk and help you provide a valuable retirement benefit to your employees that is operationally compliant and cost effective.  We’ll talk about the

importance of plan governance, key considerations for delegating duties, best practices for establishing or updating your governance process, and the significance of oversight


C. Predictive Index: Can you predict the Success of Your Employees?- Presenter: David Lunken, Cedarcroft Advisors

Predictive Index® (PI®) is a powerful behavioral-assessment tool that can change the way you evaluate candidates and manage employees. Find out how to create a profile for a job and see which candidates best fit the position. Discover how your managers can use PI® to work with your staff. Learn how to get the most out of each employee, while creating a happier environment. Listen to real-life scenarios that illustrate how this system helped advance a school. Participants will learn how to make hiring decisions based on objective, valid and job related information, put effective and complimentary teams together, and how to train executives to understand their own strengths and management style and how to effectively flex to others.


D. Common Control Concerns – How You Can Get It Right!
Speakers: Jerry O’Neil and Rob Cordero, Partners of O’Connor Davies

As auditors and business advisers of many independent schools we see many strong business offices, and some not so strong.  In an effort to help you improve your policies and procedures – to improve controls and make you look good – we will discuss a list of recurring issues that we encounter often and we advise our school clients to avoid.  Things such as: assessing your key risks, when you can and cannot record pledges, do you really understand your restricted net assets and when to use them, how do you safeguard your data, and how well do you document key decisions?


E. Essentials of School Finance, Trustee Governance and their Fiduciary Role
Speaker: Ace Ellis, CFO, Emma Willard

2:00 p.m.


2:15 p.m.

Session 5 – Breakout Sessions


A. Human Resources and Benefits - Impact of the Affordable Care Act on your HR Budget

Speakers: Hope DeRocha and Stacey Lybrand, Austin and Company

This program will review how the ACA impacts your HR plan, Benefit Dollars, and your Business Office Team.  What proactive steps can schools take to plan in response to the DOL's promise to visit every employer in the next 10 years? The program will provide updates on ACA reporting, DOL Audits, and compliance with open enrollment and employee self-service.


B. 403b  Plans: Administration, Governance, and Development of a strategy to reduce your fiduciary risk.

Speaker: Carmie Howell, TIAA-CREF

Enforcement activities by both Department of Labor and Internal Revenue Service are increasing for 403(b) plans.  So are participant inquiries.  Learn how to appropriately position your plan to reduce your fiduciary risk and help you provide a valuable retirement benefit to your employees that is operationally compliant and cost effective.  We’ll talk about the importance of plan governance, key considerations for delegating duties, best practices for establishing or updating your governance process, and the significance of oversight


C. Financing Your Construction Project

Speaker: Kevin Quinn, Wye River Group with Jack Sproule, Saint David's


D. Designing Enrollment Contracts and the Online Process 201

Speaker: Caryn Pass, Venable

If designed strategically an enrollment contract can accomplish many goals.  If designed poorly or lacking the steps to ensure on-line authenticity, it isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on and may create liability for the School as opposed to limit legal exposure. Caryn Pass will be sharing with us strategies for getting the most out of your enrollment agreement by adding terms and permissions that will save time and secure the safety of the School.  She will also share strategies for ensuring your on-line agreement is “authentic”, enforceable and legally binding.  Join this session to learn the pitfalls and gain practical solutions to avoid risk.

Mountain View

E. Hot Topics - Conversation with Peers



F. NYSAIS Accreditation Review Process

Presenters: George Swain and Judith Sheridan, NYSAIS

Accreditation Directors Judith Sheridan and George Swain with be joined by a panel of experienced business managers to discuss the best ways to prepare the financial materials that support the self study as your school approaches accreditation as well as successful techniques for serving on an accreditation visiting committee

3:15 p.m. Free Time Afternoon Options

Enjoy the excellent trails, lake, new Mohonk Spa, tennis and golf

(weather permitting). Details at Guest Services Desk

6:00 p.m.

Vendor Showcase & Complimentary Cocktails in the Main Dining Room

7:30 p.m.

Dinner and Raffle
Angela Artale & Ann Marie Tidona

Wine courtesy of Austin & Co., Inc 

Cocktail Hour Courtesy of People's United Bank


Late night networking in Carriage Lounge


8:00 a.m.

Buffet Breakfast

9:00 a.m.


Session 6 – Hot Legal Issues Facing Independent Schools: An Overview
Speaker: Caryn Pass, Venable

Presider: Jack Sproule, St. David's School

This session will cover the hot legal topics facing business managers in independent schools. Highlights of topics popping up nationally will be presented, including:

  • social networking
  • student discipline
  • tuition collection and enrollment document drafting
  • investment challenges
  • fiduciary duty of the business manager as it relates to the board, head and school community.

10:15 a.m.


10:30 a.m.


Session 7 – A New Lens on the Business of Schools

Speaker: Donna Orem, NAIS

Presider: Nancy Diekmann, Manhattan Country School

The education landscape has become far more complex, challenging schools to rethink many aspects of their model. In this session, we’ll look at rapidly changing external forces, the forecast for school supply and demand, and new school models that are emerging in response to market conditions. We’ll also explore alternative revenue streams and new trends in development that could positively affect the bottom line.

Featured Speakers

Catherine Bond Hill is President and Professor of Economics at Vassar College. Catharine Hill became the 10th president of Vassar College in July 2006. Hill is a noted economist whose work focuses on higher education affordability and access, as well as on economic development and reform in Africa. Under Hill’s leadership, Vassar has reinstated need-blind admissions and replaced loans with grants in financial aid for low-income families.

Hill established a first-of-its-kind veterans admission partnership with the Posse Foundation, with Vassar enrolling its first eleven veterans as freshmen last year and its next group of ten veterans as part of this year's freshmen class.

Prior to her Vassar presidency, Hill served seven years as the provost of Williams College. Hill originally joined the economics faculty at Williams in 1985.

Hill holds degrees from Williams College, Oxford University, and Yale University.    Hill is a trustee of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, Ithaka Harbors, Inc. and an alumni fellow to the Yale Corporation.

David Lunken, Principal of Cedarcroft Advisors, has more than 20 years experience as a results-driven senior executive with in operations, sales and marketing. At Cedarcroft Advisors, David uses his entrepreneurial and business skills working with senior leadership in organizations to help them build effective teams empowered to achieve and surpass business goals. An expert in clarifying, planning and aligning organizations and teams, David develops and implements effective solutions to help his clients win the race.

David holds a Bachelors of Arts in Philosophy from Hobart College and a Masters in Business Administration from the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University.


Donna Orem, Chief Operating Officer, National Association of Independent Schools.  As the Chief Operating Officer for NAIS, Orem manages organizational strategic planning, provides vision for new organizational endeavors, and manages the day-to-day operations of the organization. She also oversees NAIS services for school trustees. She is the author of numerous monographs and articles on how external trends affect independent schools and presents around the world on these topics.

Orem joined NAIS in 1998 as the vice president for educational leadership. In this role, she was responsible for the NAIS Annual Conference and numerous workshops and online programs to help educational leaders at independent schools. Previous to NAIS, she served as the vice president for products and services development at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). In her 15 years at CASE, she also managed all services for the independent school advancement community including the annual CASE/NAIS Conference.

She also has served as associate director for the American Association of University Women, where she managed all member foundation programs, and as a director with the National Training and Development Service, a nonprofit organization serving state and local government. She has served on numerous independent school boards and chaired one.

Caryn Pass has represented independent schools for over 25 years. As chair of Venable’s Education Practice she advices over 200 schools nationwide on a wide range of legal issues while tracking trends specific to independent schools.

Ms. Pass works with schools on legal issues raised by students, parents, employees, trustees, donors, alumni, neighbors, and vendors by establishing policies, procedures, and strategies that promote positive working and learning environments while limiting potential liability exposure. A problem solver and strategic thinker, Ms. Pass helps avoid liability in a manner consistent with school culture.

Ms. Pass works on documents utilized by independent schools, including employment, enrollment and contractor agreements. She advises on the proper use of technology and social media, wage and hour compliance, employee and student discipline, admissions, investment and financial issues, FMLA, performance evaluation design, and employee termination. She conducts investigations involving students, employees, and other members of the school community. In addition, she reviews employee and student handbooks, develops emergency preparedness plans and works with experts in the assessment of campus security. Ms. Pass designs and reviews by-laws and governance policies and works with boards to establish good governance.

Anthony Werley is Chief Investment Officer for the J.P. Morgan Endowments & Foundations Group. In this role, he establishes overall investment policy and is responsible on an ongoing basis for strategic and tactical allocation, manager and vehicle selection, risk management and performance across discretionary assets within EFG. Tony also advises and conducts portfolio analysis on behalf of nondiscretionary client relationships, and has authored several white papers on topics germane to endowment and foundation investment management.

In addition to this EFG role, Tony has been a key member of the J.P. Morgan Capital Market Assumptions Committee since 2003, and serves on the Investment Review, Performance Governance, Alternative Investments Review, Global Investment and Fiduciary Governance committees. Tony joined J.P. Morgan in 2003 as a Managing Director where he held leadership roles including Global Head of Portfolio Construction. He has served in management, investment and sales capacities for institutional and private clients for over 30 years.

Prior to joining J.P. Morgan, Tony was with Graystone Consulting, advising on asset allocation and serving as Head of Transaction Advisory. Earlier in his career, he was President and co-founder of Asian research and private equity boutique Clarion Capital, and was the Global Head of Private Client Services for CS First Boston. Tony is quoted regularly in investment journals and the financial press and is a frequent speaker at leading industry conferences. He holds a B.A. from Georgetown University and an M.B.A. from New York University.

Registration is a 2-step process. Be sure to do both in winter, 2015.
1. Reserve your room with Mohonk by doing one of the following.


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. Registration and Credit Card Payment*
Early Registration Fees apply until 2 weeks before the event
  • NYSAIS Members - $345.00
  • Non-members - $380.00
Regular Registration Fees apply within 2 weeks of the event
  • NYSAIS Members - $395.00
  • Non-members - $430.00

Questions about the program? Email

Questions about registration? Emai

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