Divisional Leadership Institute (DLI)

The newest addition to the NYSAIS Institute line-up is the Divisional Leadership Institute (DLI). In response to feedback from heads of school and past workshop participants, we expanded the popular “Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire” workshop series for new division directors into a full institute. This unique cohort-based professional development opportunity will create a dynamic environment for new division heads in their first year to learn best practices, ask questions, share concerns, and receive quality feedback.

Many newly-appointed division heads are thrust into positions of significant authority without much training or even the opportunity to reflect with others upon their immediate situations. For many independent school leaders, this is best described as “trial by fire.” The Divisional Leadership Institute (DLI) is designed to break this pattern by providing training, guidance, and support during the critical first year in a new division head’s administrative career.

DLI cohort members will participate in:

  • A three-day residential conference at the Carey Institute for Global Good 

  • The three-day Associate Head and Division Head Conference at the Mohonk Mountain House 

  • 4 in-person sessions 

  • Online meetings with cohort members and facilitators.

  • An online professional community.


  • “Identity and Leadership” Participants will reflect on the ways that personal identity shapes the leadership environment.

  • “Planning and Organization.” Participants will bring real projects/initiatives from their schools with which to plan, design and receive feedback.

  • “Hiring and Supervision.” Participants will review successful strategies for hiring, supervising, and supporting teachers.

  • “Crisis Management and Conflict Resolution.” Participants will examine case studies and techniques to manage crises and resolve conflicts effectively.

  • “Having Difficult Conversations.” Participants will learn how to navigate difficult conversations effectively.

  • “Serving on an Administrative Team.” Participants will learn how to best collaborate with other academic and operational leaders within their schools.

  • “Equity, Justice, Diversity, and Inclusion” Participants will learn to incorporate techniques into their practice to assess and promote equity, justice, diversity, and inclusion in their school communities.

  • “Knowing Your Leadership Style.” Participants will undertake, share and analyze self-assessments to identify useful information relative to their own leadership styles.

  • “Leading and managing.” Where does the “vision” come in?

The Divisional Leadership Institute is designed to be a practical, flexible experience, which will respond to the specific needs and challenges of the participants. One of the most valuable outcomes will be the establishment of a strong, supportive network of colleagues.

Schedule for 2020-2021:

  • Residential retreat at the Carey Center for Global Good (July 22-24, 2020)

  • Associate Head and Division Head Conference at the Mohonk Mountain House (November 18-20, 2020)

  • Four in-person sessions over the course of the school year (dates/locations TBD)

  • Frequent online meetings with cohort members and facilitators (TBD)

Registration for 2020-21 will be opening in spring, 2020.

Registration for this program is intended for division directors/heads in their first year of service, and will be managed on a first-come, first-served basis until the cohort has filled. Participation is for those whose responsibility at their schools is at the level of full leadership of their respective divisions. This institute is not intended for those serving in division-level deanships or as assistant division heads.


NYSAIS Member Rate: $3500 - all-inclusive, including both residential experiences.

Non-Member Rate: $4000 - all-inclusive.


Marcy Mann is currently the Associate Director for Professional Learning at NYSAIS.  She has also served as the Associate Head at Professional Children's School, and was a division head in three schools: Upper School Head at Nightingale-Bamford School and as Middle School Director at The Calhoun School and The Hackley School. She holds an advanced degree in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University, as well as having attended the Principal’s Institute at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Marcy has also served on the staff of the NYSAIS Beginning Teachers Institute, Young Women’s Leadership Institute at Barnard College, and the NYSAIS Professional Development Committee.


George Swain is currently Associate Director for Evaluation and Accreditation at NYSAIS. He has also served as Head of Middle School at both Poughkeepsie Day School and Brooklyn Friends School. He holds advanced degrees in Educational Leadership from Columbia University and in History from Binghamton University and has received both the Klingenstein and NAIS/EE Ford Fellowships. George has also served on the staff of the NYSAIS Beginning Teachers Institute, the NYSAIS Division/Assistant Heads Conference Committee and currently coordinates NYSAIS-Now as well as an international network of accreditation professionals. He has offered workshops for teachers and administrators on a range of subjects.

In addition to this institute, Marcy and George also co-direct the NYSAIS Emerging Leaders Institute (ELI).

Staff (2019-20)

Tasha Elsbach is in her fourth year as Middle School Head at The Masters School. Prior to her time at Masters, she spent sixteen years as Middle School Head and a history teacher at The Brearley School. Earlier in her career, she taught in the San Francisco Bay Area. Tasha was a Klingenstein Fellow at Teachers College, Columbia University and earned her M.A in Educational Leadership there.


Laura Higgins began her teaching career as a 4th-grade assistant teacher at The Brearley School and then taught 2nd grade for 10 years at The Town School. She has an MS in Math Leadership from Bank Street College, and served as Town’s K - 3rd-grade math specialist for 10 years. During these years, she also taught as an adjunct professor at Bank Street in the Math for Teachers course. She currently serves as Head of Lower School at The Cathedral School.

Danny Isquith has been at The Calhoun School for 16 years. He is currently the Upper School Director and has previously been the Middle School Director, Dean of Academic Affairs, College Counselor, and Math/Science Teacher. He is a diehard Mets fan and an avid crossword puzzle solver.


Jessica Romero is the Dean of Faculty at Village Community School, where she was also Upper School Director (Grades 6-8) for many years. She started her career as a middle school Spanish teacher, athletics coach and Dean of Students at Nichols School.

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17 Elk Street (First Floor)     Albany, NY 12207     Tel: 518-694-5500     Fax: 518-694-5501

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