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NYSAIS Emerging Leaders Institute (ELI)

Leadership is deeply personal and relational, yet it also involves skills, techniques and habits of mind that individuals may develop and cultivate over time. Who is an emerging leader? An emerging leader is anyone with some experience with, aptitude for and interest in leadership along with a desire to learn more.

The NYSAIS Emerging Leaders Institute (ELI) is designed to meet the demands of today’s emerging independent school leaders by fostering individual growth while exposing participants to the best examples of leadership in today’s schools. The program’s curriculum is both theoretical and practical and intimately connected, through a range of NYSAIS programs, to concrete examples of school leadership in action. An important theory behind the Emerging Leaders Institute is that leaders learn best by doing. As such, much of the program’s curriculum is tied directly to the participants’ work in schools. Leadership can be found in many shapes and forms in independent schools, and this program is designed to meet the needs of those at an early stage of their leadership journey. It is not designed for current division directors, assistant heads or others with considerable formal leadership authority within their schools.

ELI is a two-year course of study, during which emerging leaders from NYSAIS schools become members of a dynamic cohort, work alongside experienced school leaders and develop a customized program to meet their own personal goals and objectives. In addition to the residential components, cohort members participate in an online community that involves social networking, webinars on specific topics, and shared readings. The online community is an ongoing resource for participants with periodic scheduled meetings and required assignments. During the second year, cohort members work on individual projects related to their personal goals and areas of interest. NYSAIS is interested in increasing the number of women and people of color in educational leadership positions and encourages their application to this program.

Over the course of two years, cohort members will participate in:

  • Three residential summer retreats
  • Two residential conferences
  • One Trustee governance workshop
  • One accreditation visit
  • A series of webinars
  • A mentor partnership
  • An on-line community with regular meetings
  • An independent leadership project
  • Readings

Topics include:

  • Charting a vision
  • Leading change
  • Building and maintaining high performing teams
  • Supporting diverse constituencies
  • Communicating under pressure
  • Designing and facilitating meetings
  • Strategic planning
  • Fiscal management
  • Conflict resolution
  • Supervising others


Year One – Dates for 2023-24

  • November 2022 – Application will open; watch this site for details
  • January 13, 2023 – Application Deadline
  • March, 2023 – Cohort announced
  • August – Summer Leadership Retreat
  • November 15-17, 2023 – NYSAIS Division Heads/Assistant Heads Conference
  • NYSAIS Accreditation Visit (Various: Spring 2024, Fall 2024 or Spring 2025)

Year Two – Dates for 2024-25:

  • August 2024 – 3-day Summer Leadership Retreat
  • September 2024 or January, 2025 – Trustee Governance Conference of your choice 
  • NYSAIS Residential administrative Mohonk conference of your choice (Various: i.e. Business Affairs, Admissions, Advancement, Information Technology)
  • June, 2025 – 3-day Closing Summer Leadership Retreat


The Emerging Leaders Institute is open to people in NYSAIS member schools only.  Our next ELI cohort will begin in July 2023. The application process is now open, and must include a letter of recommendation from the applicant’s Head of School by that same date. Here is the candidate application form and here is the link for Heads of School to submit a letter of recommendation.

Cost: $5,750 (NYSAIS member schools only) – all-inclusive, for the 2-year program. In support of the applicant’s professional growth, schools are encouraged to cover the program fee. 

Questions about the program should be directed to Worokya Duncan.


“The ELI experience in general has opened my eyes to so many elements of school leadership, and every bit of it has exposed me to something new – from the governance workshop to the admissions conference I just attended to the to assistant and division heads conference last year.”

“The ELI program is incredibly expansive, challenging, and enriching. By encouraging technologists and librarians to pursue leadership positions, NYSAIS and NAIS schools can tap into a set of uniquely broad, forward-looking visions for schools.”

“My experience on the accreditation committee was eye opening. Through the whirlwind of those three days I learned more about the inner workings of a school than I’ve ever known about my own school.”

“ELI is about connections.”

“It’s often said that people learn best by doing, and that maxim proved true during my accreditation experience.”

“Having a bird’s eye view of a school was an invaluable experience. It gave me an understanding of the different roles within an administrative team, the engine fueling both the academic and operational program and the constraints under which people operate.”

“This has been a great experience and I really value the connections I have made. I am looking forward to maintaining these connections in the years to come.”


The principal leaders of ELI are Eric Osorio and Jessica Romero. Additional facilitators contribute to the program in various ways.

Please contact Worokya Duncan for additional information.

Eric Osorio began his career in independent schools as an intern in the admission office at Noble and Greenough School just outside of Boston. During his tenure, he eventually grew beyond the admissions office, and in 2006, was appointed the school’s first Dean of Diversity Initiatives. In 2008, he left Nobles to become Assistant Head of Upper School at Packer Collegiate Institute. He eventually returned to the New England region to oversee student life at Worcester Academy as the Dean of Students. In 2015, Eric joined The Swift School in Atlanta, Georgia as Associate Head of School.  Eric returned home to his beloved New York City, and currently serves as Associate Head of School for Teaching and Learning at The Calhoun School. Eric earned a B.A. from Tufts University, where he was a double major in Sociology and International Relations. He also holds an M.A. in Private School Leadership from Teachers College and was honored to receive a Joseph Klingenstein Fellowship. Eric is also a proud alumnus of Prep for Prep, an experience that continues to inform the work he does in independent schools.

Jessica Romero is currently the Assistant Head of School at Village Community School, a K-8th Grade independent school in the West Village of Manhattan. In that role she leads and nurtures faculty and oversees the educational program. Jessica started her tenure at VCS in 2005 as the Upper School Director and spent twelve years guiding the daily operations of all matters associated with the school lives of sixth, seventh and eighth grade students, their families and teachers. Her career started in the middle school at Nichols School in Buffalo, NY, where she was a Spanish teacher, athletics coach, dean of students and department chair.

Graduate school led Jessica to New York City, and she earned an M.A. in Organization and Leadership with a concentration in Private School Leadership from the Klingenstein Center at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her undergraduate years were spent at SUNY Buffalo studying sociology, and in Seville, Spain studying Spanish. Living abroad ignited a life-long interest in travel and engaging with people, as well as a love of food, the arts and natural beauty. Whenever possible, Jessica retreats to her small cabin on a lake in the Adirondacks. There, she enjoys hiking, skiing, paddle boarding and simply reading by the lake. She revisits that lake in her mind’s eye every morning while meditating on the New York City subway.