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Trustee Governance Conference: Strategic Thinking for Boards and Heads of School

Date: Saturday - December 08, 2018
Time: 8:30 AM to 2:00 PM
Location: Masters School

Strategic Thinking for Boards and Heads of School

Register Here

Campus Map

All sessions will be held in the Middle School Building


8:30 – 9:00

Continental Breakfast and Registration

9:00 - 9:15
Doc Wilson Hall

Welcome - Mark Lauria, Executive Director, NYSAIS
Laura Danforth, Head of School, The Masters School

9:15 - 9:45
Doc Wilson Hall

Keynote – Addressing Allegations of Student Sexual Abuse: Proactive Strategies for the School and the Board
Caryn Pass, Venable LLC

Independent schools have been flooded with allegations of sexual abuse by faculty against students as well as students against students.  The news is filled with reports of letters sent by schools putting alumni on notice of allegations and asking for those with information to come forward. These charges can expose a school to legal liability as well as have serious negative impact on a school’s reputation.  While the past cannot be changed, schools can take proactive steps so they are in a position to effectively respond should an allegation come forward. Moreover, the school can set up policies and procedures to ensure that such behaviors are prevented from occurring in the future.  Caryn Pass will discuss these important issues and provide practical steps that schools can implement.

10:00 - 10:50

Breakout Sessions 1

Doc Wilson Hall

1. Legal Trends in Independent School Boards of Trustees
Caryn Pass, Venable, LLC

Legal issues facing independent schools require an increasing amount of time and attention from school administrators as well as Trustees.  As a fiduciary and trustee of the institution, it is important for board members to keep abreast of the legal issues that could face the school and pose both financial and other burdens on the institution.  Independent School Lawyer Caryn Pass will discuss the wide range of legal challenges confronting independent schools and pro-active strategies that can limit liability exposure. Ms. Pass will address issues including student travel, social media, intellectual property, and transgender students & employees.


2. Board / Head Partnership: a facilitated discussion
Eileen Davidson (Head of School) and Ann Gillin Lefever (Board Chair), Ursuline School
Laura Danforth (Head of School) and Edith C. Chapin (Board Chair), The Masters School
Dane Peters, ELAS, Moderator

A strong and open relationship between the Board Chair and Head of School is essential in creating a bond of trust and mutual support. The success of the school when embracing change and weathering crises depends on this partnership. In this session we will discuss how to foster the best relationship possible for the benefit of the school.


3. Campus Security and Student Safety
Robert Aldrich, Miss Hall's School

Concern about the safety and security of our school communities is at an all-time high yet schools continue to struggle with concerns over changes in culture and community acceptance of the new normal.  Strong governance is critical to successful policies and implementation.  In this workshop, you will review the due diligence of school leaders and ways to move your safety conversations into meaningful action. This workshop will also review basic safety nomenclature, its importance, and will provide attendees with resources to assist you in this important work.

Robert Aldrich is currently the Director of Campus Services at Miss Hall's School (boarding day school) in Pittsfield, MA.


4. Trusteeship 101
Mark Lauria, Executive Director, NYSAIS

Especially for new Trustees, Mark  Lauria will review essential steps to becoming a valuable, contributing member of your Board of Trustees.


5. Assessing School Governance through Accreditation
George Swain, NYSAIS Associate Director for Evaluation and Accreditation

Effective and strategic governance is crucial to securing a durable and viable future for schools. The review of best practices strengthens school governance and ensures that individual trustees are knowledgeable of their critical role in the health of the school they serve. School accreditation is a vital instrument in this regard by applying rigorous standards in governance that allow for the self-evaluation of such matters as how successfully trustees have internalized the mission and culture of their schools, understand their roles and obligations, provide a strategic vision, function ethically and ensure that the financial resources are secured so that goals can be met.  The tools provided through the accreditation process are applicable to good governance whether or not a school is readying for an accreditation visit.

10:50 - 11:00     


11:00 – 11:50

Breakouts 2

Doc Wilson Hall

1. What Keeps You Awake at Night? Can ELAS Help?
Josie Holford and Dane Peters, ELAS Ed-visors, former NYSAIS Trustees and former Heads of School

Experienced Leaders Advising Schools (ELAS) is a NYSAIS support program that provides affordable, high-impact advising and mentoring for leadership and governance.

Two ed-visors discuss how ELAS has helped schools in succession planning, downsizing, strategic planning, governance and decision-making, advancement and enrollment, community building and more. ELAS may be the affordable effective resource you and your school needs to break free of an impasse and move forward.


2. Cyber Security: What the Head and Board Need to Know about Data Security and Insurance
Michael Brooks, Executive Vice President, Austin & Co., Inc. and Jay Kramer, CIPP/US, Data Privacy & Cybersecurity Practice, Lewis Brisbois Law Firm

A briefing on the evolving cyber security risks to schools, and the solutions for managing those risks.  The material will include real world examples of school breaches and the response process.


3. Campus Planning and Facilities Conditions Assessment for Trustees
Pam Babuca and Philip Conte, Studio Jaed

Buildings and grounds are among of the most valuable assets of a school.  If not managed properly, however, those assets can quickly turn into major liability, draining valuable resources at inopportune times.  Find out how a facilities conditions assessment (FCA) can put school leadership in the facilities management driver’s seat and allow you to better align strategic goals, financial resources, human resources, capital campaign drivers, and community commitment to achieve aspirational goals.  StudioJAED, which has worked with independent schools and is currently engaged with Princeton University on their FCA, will present this one-hour workshop designed specifically for independent school trustees and heads of school.

Pamela Babuca, a Principal of StudioJAED, is an Accredited Learning Environment Planner (ALEP) and a professional member of several organizations (A4LE, APPA, SCUP, IFMA, ASID) with 20+ years’ experience in developing, implementing, and managing a diverse collection of facilities related solutions.  Her responsibilities include the management of over 400+ million square feet of deferred maintenance, educational adequacy, and/or operational facilities assessments. She utilizes her expertise to present findings and recommended solutions so stakeholders will have a shared understanding of existing conditions and potential opportunities.  Pamela’s passion is to serve and enjoys assisting others develop stewardship-minded practices that improve the spaces and places in which we live and learn.

A Principal of StudioJAED, Philip Conte’s strengths and qualifications are in his ability to achieve project objectives through a work plan that is logical and rational.  As our senior-most Architect, his responsibilities include assessment, programming, planning, design, specification, and construction administration, and the lead liaison between the owner and Project Team.  Philip spearheaded the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) as an integral component of StudioJAED’s design capabilities and has used his experience and expertise to successfully oversee and manage projects.  He shares his knowledge as an adjunct professor at the University of Delaware. 


4. Board Chair Roundtable – a conversation
Moderated by Mark Lauria, NYSAIS

This is an opportunity for Board Chairs to discuss issues and concerns in an environment of collegiality, confidentiality, and support. The moderators have long experience in governance and school leadership.


5. The value of investment: what boards and heads must know to achieve long-term goals
Elizabeth Ziegler, President
and CEO, Graham-Pelton

Without the strategic involvement of your school’s Board of Trustees, it is difficult to meet your fundraising objectives. But what should that involvement look like? What happens when the appropriate investment does not take place? And where should a school allocate resources to board engagement and relationship management? This talk will detail the areas where strategic investment is necessary, along with the ways to consider and evaluate the oft-discussed ROI.

Graham-Pelton is a fundraising and management consulting firm for leading nonprofit organizations worldwide. Select clients include All Hallows High School, The Calhoun School, Cardinal Hayes High School, City & Country School, The Harley School, Iona Preparatory School, Lycée Français de New York, The Masters School, Marymount School of New York, Metropolitan Montessori School, The Park School of Buffalo, Parkside School, Portledge School, Rippowam Cisqua School, and The Ursuline School.

12:00 – 1:30     
Doc Wilson Hall


Working Luncheon and Keynote - Sexual Misconduct and Crisis Communication
Jane Hulbert, The Jane Group

Schools can no longer say “It can never happen here.”

This session will take an in-depth look at sexual misconduct focusing on prevention and what to do when there is an allegation of misconduct (past or present), and how to communicate when the unthinkable occurs. Communications guidelines, bystander intervention, general training, and key steps to take are shared in this session. Participants will gain a clear understanding of how to manage communications on this difficult issue.

Keynote Speakers

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.

Jane Hulbert, partner at The Jane Group, has been the NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) crisis communications consultant since 2001. She counsels independent, international, for profit, and charter schools on crisis and reputation management issues, crisis preparation and planning, messaging, media management, and provides training for the media spokesperson. She works with schools that are not in crisis, to prepare them for the possibility. She has handled hundreds of issues that have impacted schools, including arrests of teachers, sex abuse, past and present, high-profile lawsuits, safety matters and many other difficult and sensitive situations. Jane conducts trainings across the US and internationally.

Prior to consulting, Jane was a communications executive at McDonald’s Corporation responsible for the Crisis and Media Relations Department. She was the key spokesperson on high profile global crises including the "hot coffee” incident. Jane is a graduate of the Park Tudor School (IN) and a cum laude graduate of Boston University.

Suggested Hotel

Hilton Tarrytown
Address: 455 S Broadway, Tarrytown, NY 10591
Phone: (914) 631-5700

Transportation from the Train:

Masters School vans can offer a Train Shuttle at the times below.
o    From Grand Central at 7:20 AM             arrives at Dobbs Ferry at 8:05 AM
o    From Grand Central at 7:47 AM             arrives at Dobbs Ferry at 8:32 AM
o    From Dobbs Ferry at 1:20 PM                arrives at Grand Central at 2:07 PM      
o    From Dobbs Ferry at 1:50 PM                arrives at Grand Central at 2:28 PM

Registration fee covers breakfast and lunch.

Registration and Credit Card Payment

A late fee of $10 will apply after December 1st. Group discounts (5 or more registering together) are available. Questions? Contact

To get the best pricing, be sure to register your group together in a single transaction. Addiing attendees at a later time will be treated as a new transaction.

Register Here

  • NYSAIS Members - $90.00
    • Group rate (5 or more registering together) $75.00
  • Non-members - $100.00
    • Group rate (5 or more registering together) $85.00