NAIS's History: Highlights

Read highlights through the years.


  • NAIS moves it headquarters to 2001 K Street NW, Suite 1150, in Washington, DC.


  • Debra P. Wilson becomes the ninth president of NAIS, succeeding Donna Orem, who retires after serving as president since 2016.
  • Donna Orem publishes a cumulative booklet based on her Looking Ahead Series called Conversations for Independent School Leaders: Using Data, Trends, and Forecasts to Plan for the Future. 
  • Data tools help members with pressing needs. Market View 6 includes enhancements for enrollment planning; Salary Explorer helps schools set competitive salaries during a tight labor market.
  • NAIS research explores topics such as health and well-being, student engagement, and the impact of polarization on independent schools.


  • 2022 marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of NAIS.
  • At the conclusion of the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the NAIS membership exceeds 2,000 schools (1,679 member school and 328 subscriber schools).
  • Donna Orem announces her 2023 retirement, and a presidential search is launched.
  • The first-ever Heads’ Summits are held at the 2022 NAIS Annual Conference and the 2022 NAIS People of Color Conference.  
  • NAIS publishes the 11th edition of The Trustee Handbook.


  • NAIS enters into a data-sharing partnership with the National Business Officers’ Association (NBOA).
  • NAIS launches the New View EDU podcast, which explores big ideas and the future of education.
  • NAIS publishes online toolkits on International Student Retention Strategies and Reimagining Tuition, as well as the books Hopes and Fears: Working with Today’s Independent School Parents and Better Together, a guide for parents.
  • NAIS publishes the research report The State of Independent School Leadership.


  • NAIS schools pivot to online learning as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts learning in U.S. schools. To meet members’ most pressing needs, NAIS rolls out several new high-touch services and resources: COVID web resources, Trend Report webinars, Snapshot Surveys, the Sharing Solutions and Community Market websites, practitioner meetups, and the Leadership Webinar Series.
  • For the first time, NAIS hosts its summer institutes and national conferences virtually.
  • NAIS publishes the scenario planning guide Education Unknown and the reports Why Do Teachers Select Independent Schools? and Why Do Donors Give to Independent Schools?
  • NAIS publishes The Trustee’s Role in Fundraising
  • More than 7,300 copies of the 2020-2021 NAIS Trendbook are sold.


  • The total NAIS community now encompasses 1,876 schools, including members and subscribers.
  • The new NAIS mission, “As the largest association of independent schools, NAIS co-creates the future of education by uniting and empowering our community” is approved by the NAIS board, along with a new vision and values.
  • NAIS releases a pivotal report based on the Jobs-to-Be-Done methodology that helps schools understand parents' motivations for selecting independent schools.
  • NAIS publishes The Board Chair Handbook and the second edition of The International Trustee Handbook.
  • Partnering with The University of Pennsylvania, NAIS launches a survey to explore turnover among independent school leaders. 


  • NAIS rolls out Market View, a tool to help schools better understand their market.
  • The first Strategy Lab cohort meets.
  • NAIS conducts the 2018 Governance Study with nearly 2,000 heads and board chairs.
  • In partnership with Authentic Connections, NAIS conducts surveys on the health and mental well-being of youth in high achieving schools.
  • With The Association of Boarding Schools, NAIS hosts the NAIS-TABS Legal Symposium.
  • NAIS publishes The NAIS Head Search Handbook.
  • NAIS’s Student Diversity Leadership Conference celebrates its 25th year.


  • The NAIS People of Color Conference (PoCC) celebrates its 30th year in Anaheim, California.
  • NAIS holds its first Equity Design Lab institute on the topic of culturally responsive teaching.
  • NAIS publishes research reports including the Diversity Practitioner Survey and Survey on Independent School Hiring Practices.
  • NAIS helps members interpret the implications of major tax reform. 


  • The NAIS board announces Donna Orem as the next NAIS president.
  • Independent School magazine celebrates its 75th anniversary.
  • The Member Voices podcast is launched, featuring voices from the independent school community.
  • Donna Orem sends the first edition of Looking Ahead, a monthly communique about critical issues for school leaders.  
  • NAIS launches the Innovation Kitchen to help schools incubate new ideas to solve pressing problems.
  • The NAIS Leadership Summit convenes a group of independent school educators, academics, and thought leaders.
  • NAIS and The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) form the Independent School Task Force on Educator Sexual Misconduct. 
  • NAIS enters into a collaboration with Education Brands (now Community Brands) to manage School and Student Services (SSS).


  • John Chubb passes away in November 2015. Donna Orem, NAIS COO, is named interim president.
  • The Independent Ideas blog is launched, reaching more than 230,000 readers in its first year. 
  • NAIS convenes research summits on equity and the science of learning.
  • NAIS publishes the 10th edition of the Trustee Handbook and the fourth edition of The Handbook of Philanthropy.  


  • The total NAIS community now encompasses 1,520 full and candidate school members.
  • John Chubb announces the new NAIS vision, to be “a vibrant community of independent schools for a changing nation and demanding world.”
  • NAIS convenes research summits to explore the topics of health and well-being in independent schools and the economics of independent schools.


  • John Chubb, formerly interim CEO of Education Sector, is named president of NAIS.
  • Data and Analysis for School Leadership (DASL) debuts.
  • NAIS launches Inspiration Lab, an online showcase for creativity at independent schools.
  • NAIS Connect online communities become a new member benefit.
  • New book titles include Diversity Work in Independent Schools, Handbook on Child Safety for Parents, and International Students in Independent Schools: A Guide for Educators.
  • NAIS publishes several research reports, including Financing a Private School Education: The Role of Financial Aid.


  • NAIS moves its headquarters to 1129 20th Street, NW, in Washington, DC.
  • NAIS celebrates its 50th anniversary.
  • The NAIS People of Color Conference celebrates its 25th anniversary.
  • NAIS publishes four books: The Inclusive School, The Greening of America’s Schools, The Enrollment Management Handbook, and The Child Safety Handbook.
  • The board announces a search for a new president, when Patrick F. Bassett retires on June 30th, 2013, and forms a search committee.


  • With the National Business Officers’ Association (NBOA), NAIS holds the first NAIS / NBOA National Town Hall on the topic of financial sustainability. It is also available by webcast.
  • NAIS publishes the books NAIS Trendbook 2011-12 and The Head's Handbook: A Guide for Aspiring, New, and Experienced Heads of School.
  • NAIS publishes the reports Independent School Graduates: Well-Prepared, Open-Minded, and Eager to Learn and Hybrid/Blended Learning in Independent Schools.
  • The NAIS 21st Century Curriculum/Technology Task Force publishes the Online Learning Guide.
  • NAIS publishes the 2011 NAIS Parent Motivations Survey
  • NAIS publishes the first issue of the electronic newsletter The Savvy Trustee.


  • NAIS publishes the NAIS Trendbook 2010-11.
  • NAIS publishes the reports K-12 Online Learning: A Literature Review and NAIS Graduates: Ready and Able to Adjust and Excel at Academic Life.
  • The NAIS 21st Century Curriculum/Technology Task Force publishes Online Learning: A Continuum of Opportunity.
  • NAIS publishes the first issue of the electronic magazine Independent School Teacher.
  • Principles of Good Practice for Environmental Sustainability, Educating for Global Citizenship, and Use of Technology in Schools are approved.


  • NAIS creates a Facebook page.
  • NAIS publishes Affordability and Demand.
  • NAIS publishes the reports Parent Views on Independent Schools, Given the Current Economic Situation and 2009 State of Independent School Leadership.
  • NAIS offers the online Parents’ Guide
  • SSS's name is changed to School & Student Services to encompass the suite of services SSS offers to schools and parents. Comp*Assist Online goes live, adding document collection and data capture and comparison.


  • NAIS launches the Survey Center.
  • NAIS publishes Middle School Handbook.
  • NAIS pilots the High School Survey of Student Engagement and Measures of Academic Progress as tools to show the value added of an independent school education.
  • NAIS publishes the report Reducing Tuition Reliance Through Alternative Sources of Income
  • NAIS publishes Stories of Excellence: Case Studies of Exemplary Teaching and Learning with Technology, a booklet prepared by the NAIS 21st Century Curriculum/Technology Task Force.
  • NAIS launches the online Trustee Guide.


  • NAIS launches the Demographic Center.
  • NAIS publishes the reports The State of Independent School Governance and Independent School Teacher Satisfaction Survey
  • NAIS publishes the Trustee Handbook, 9th edition, the International Trustee Handbook, and The Strategic Process.
  • The NAIS 21st Century Curriculum/Technology Task Force creates and publishes Critical Questions for School Leaders: A Companion Piece to the NAIS Principles of Good Practice for Technology Use in Independent Schools.


  • NAIS conducts a Public Opinion Poll.
  • NAIS publishes The Head Search Handbook, Financing Sustainable Schools, and the first booklet in the Independent School Trustee Series, “Holding the Trust.”
  • NAIS publishes the report Marketing Independent Schools to Generation X and Minority Parents.
  • The NAIS 21st Century Curriculum/Technology Task Force holds its first meeting and develops the first Principles of Good Practice for Technology Use in Independent Schools.
  • NAIS Board reaffirms the purpose and mission for the People of Color Conference.


  • NAIS lays out a vision for schools: to become sustainable in five areas: demographic, financial, environmental, global, and programmatic (schools of the future).
  • NAIS launches the Challenge 20/20 program, connecting schools in the U.S. with schools in other countries in a global problem-solving exercise.
  • NAIS offers the Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism evaluation tool.
  • Strategy and Design meetings are held around the country to inform NAIS’s strategic planning.
  • NAIS publishes the report NAIS Opinion Leaders Survey: Forecasting Independent School Education to 2015.
  • NAIS publishes Understanding Independent School Parents and Admirable Faculty: Hiring, Training, and Retaining the Best Independent School Teachers.
  • StatsOnline enhancements include School Dashboards and the Financial Calculator.


  • NAIS launches the Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism (AIM).
  • NAIS hires a Director of Global Initiatives and the Annual Conference is held outside U.S. (in Montreal) for the first time.
  • NAIS Commission on Accreditation replaces the recognition program, and charges the Commission and its 19 independent school associations that accredit with the responsibility for agreeing upon core criteria and model standards for accreditation.
  • Parents’ Financial Statement (PFS) worksheet and background materials are offered in Spanish for the first time for families applying for financial aid.
  • NAIS and the National Business Officers' Association jointly hold the first Independent Schools Financing Symposium.
  • NAIS and its 34 coalition partners complete the third year of the formal Advocacy Initiative collaboration.
  • NAIS publishes Values Added: The Lifelong Returns of an Independent School Education.
    NAIS publishes Independent Schools: Preparing Students for Achievement in College and Beyond.


  • NAIS Annual Conference attendance reaches record numbers: 5,300 attendees.
  • NAIS develops a web-based application to accept Parents’ Financial Statements submitted online.
    NAIS publishes Leadership and Technology at Independent Schools and The Trustee Handbook, eighth edition, as well as the Parent Series booklets “Surviving the College Search,” “Understanding Your Child,” and “Gifts that Give Back.”
    NAIS enters into its first international partnership with a group membership for all the independent international schools in NESA, the Near East South Asia association.
  • NAIS launches the Parent Satisfaction Survey and publishes the 2003 Parent Survey Report.


  • NAIS launches the NAIS Leading Edge awards program.
  • NAIS establishes the Aspiring Heads Fellowship with support from the E.E. Ford Foundation, as well as a series of leadership professional development.
  • NAIS offers the online Career Center.
  • NAIS publishes its first e-newsletter, the NAIS E-Bulletin.


  • Patrick Bassett, former executive director of the Independent Schools Association of the Central States, is named NAIS's president.
  • NAIS publishes Marketing Independent Schools in the 21st Century.
  • NAIS conducts its first Hot Issues survey and publishes Issues Facing Independent Schools.


  • Private schools celebrate the 75th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Pierce v. Society of Sisters in which the right of private schools to exist and operate was upheld.
  • NAIS Public Affairs Leadership Network membership exceeds 2,400 individuals.
  • Established in 1984, the NAIS Association Grants Funds has staffed 26 workshops and awarded $117,000 in grants to member associations for teacher development.
  • NAIS member associations establish task forces on accreditation, professional development, and the role of its Coordinating Committee.
  • TABS establishes separate identity and moves to offices of its own.
  • NAIS restructuring plan to take effect August 1, 2000.


  • 16% of NAIS schools are single-sex; 84% coeducational.
  • SSS membership has grown to more than 1,900 schools, half of which are members of NAIS.
  • NAIS, in partnership with ISACS, the Ohio, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia associations, conducts its second national public opinion poll: 30% of American adults would choose independent schools for their children if cost and location were not obstacles.
  • NAIS day schools in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, and New York successfully boycott U.S. News & World Report’s high school rating project.
  • NAIS posts Auctions & Raffles, its first fully-downloadable, interactive publication.
  • NAIS publishes second edition of Financial Aid Administration for Schools.
  • NAIS statistics pilot project expands to include the California, Connecticut, and Southern associations.
  • NAIS Board of Directors undertakes strategic long-range planning
  • Staff begins restructuring plan.


  • NAIS publishes How Girls Thrive:  An Essential Guide for Educators (& Parents).
  • NAIS publishes Taking Measure: Perspectives on Curriculum and Change.
  • NAIS publishes Community Service and Service Learning Initiatives in Independent Schools.
  • NAIS conducts a study and publishes an online resource on property tax exemption and independent schools with the Association of Independent Schools in New England.
  • NAIS and ISACS undertake a pilot program to model online gathering and dissemination of statics for NAIS member and nonmember schools.


  • NAIS publishes fifth edition of Business Management for Independent Schools.
  • NAIS publishes A Great Balancing Act: Equitable Education for Girls and Boys.
  • NAIS establishes a task force on statistics to analyze the design, data-gathering, and reporting of independent school statistics.
  • Principles of Good Practice for Athletics are approved.


  • NAIS launches website.
  • NAIS publishes Philanthropy at Independent Schools.
  • Principles of Good Practice for Secondary School Educators are approved.
  • Principles of Good Practice for Equity and Justice are approved.
  • Attendance at the NAIS People of Color Conference tops 1,000 for the first time.
  • The NAIS Board creates the Legal Assistance Advisory Panel and revises policy on legal assistance to allow NAIS participation in cases before state and federal appellate courts in addition to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • NAIS joins the Hawaii, California, and Pacific Northwest associations in sponsoring the first Pacific Basin Conference.


  • The CASE / NAIS Conference celebrates its 25th anniversary.
  • Principles of Good Practice for Elementary School Educators are approved.
  • NAIS cosponsors its first Moral Life of Schools workshop in conjunction with the Independent Schools Association of the Central States.
  • SSS methodology revised to address the increasing tuition pressure on middle class families.


  • CWIS renames itself the Committee for women and Girls in Independent Schools, dedicated to bringing attention to attitudes, policies, and practices that either encourage or inhibit the fair treatment and the fullest development of women and girls.
  • Principles of Good Practice for Early Childhood Educators are approved.
  • Principles of Good Practice for School Search Committees and Search Consultants are approved.
  • Public Affairs Leadership Network membership exceeds 1,000 individuals.
  • NAIS publishes Access and Affordability: Strategic Financial Perspectives for Independent Schools.


  • NAIS moves to 1620 L St, NW, Washington, DC.
  • NAIS membership first exceeds 1,000 schools:  935 active members, 6 in new school services, 84 affiliate schools in other countries, for a total of 1,025.
  • Principles of Good Practice for Middle Schools are approved.
  • NAIS and the New York State Association of Independent Schools test the viability of providing services to schools via an electronic bulletin board.
  • Boarding Schools, now called The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), launches its website.
  • NAIS publishes Finding the Heart of the Child:  Essays on Children, Families, and Schools, articles from Independent School magazine, first published as a collection by the Independent Schools Association of Massachusetts.
  • NAIS publishes Shaping Strategy: Independent School Planning in the ‘90s.
  • The NAIS People of Color Conference expands to include a student leadership component.
  • The Independent Education Fund is dissolved.


  • Karan Merry is elected chair of the NAIS Board of Directors, the first person of color to serve in that capacity.
  • Principles of Good Practice for Financial Aid Administration are approved along with Guidelines for Merit Awards and Tuition Remission.
  • Principles of Good Practice for the Hiring Process are approved.
  • NAIS conducts a survey of members on Educating the Heart: the Moral Life of Schools.


  • NAIS conducts its first national public opinion poll: 87% say private schools are good for the country because they provide choice for parents, 57% support vouchers.
  • NAIS Board of Directors announces upcoming move of the association headquarters to Washington, D.C.
  • Peter Relic, former upper division principal at Hawken School, head of Kyoto International School, and public school superintendent, is named president of  NAIS.
  • First NAIS broadcast fax to member schools, a media alert regarding a soon-to-be-released Associated Press story on property tax exemptions for private schools.
  • Principles of Good Practice for Parents Working with Schools / Schools Working with Parents are approved.
  • NAIS publishes The Next Marketing Handbook.
  • NAIS publishes Paths to New Curriculum.
  • Independent School magazine’s 50th anniversary issues features a retrospective on the response of independent schools to the challenge of diversity.


  • NAIS publishes The Middle School Handbook.
  • The Governance Through Partnership program, providing on-campus, custom designed workshops for heads and boards, is established.
  • Principles of Good Practice for Teachers and Supervisors of Teachers are approved.
  • The NAIS Independent Education Fund produces a videotape on the need for advocacy on behalf of independent education.
  • NAIS establishes an Exemplary Programs Database.


  • NAIS moves to 75 Federal Street in Boston.
  • Principles of Good Practice for Admission are approved.
  • NAIS Office of Minority Affairs is renamed the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Services.
  • NAIS Umbrella Recognition Program is introduced in response to request from member associations.


  • NAIS publishes The Difference It Makes: A Resource Book on Gender for Educators.
  • NAIS establishes the Public Affairs Leadership Network of grassroots advocates who have close relationships with Members of Congress.
  • NAIS publishes book and videotape versions of Profession at Risk: Eight Schools Face the Faculty Compensation Issue.
  • NAIS publishes Risk Management at Independent Schools.


  • NAIS celebrates its 25th anniversary.
  • 25% of member schools are single-sex; 75% are coeducational.
  • Principles of Good Practice for Business Managers are approved.
  • The Boarding Schools group at NAIS publishes The New Marketing Handbook.
  • NAIS publishes Strategic Planning for Independent Schools.
  • NAIS changes the name of the School Scholarship Service to the School and Student Service for Financial Aid.
  • NAIS publishes Teaching School.
  • The third book resulting from the NAIS/NASSP Commission, The Last Little Citadel: American High Schools since 1940, is published.


  • The first National Conference for Teachers and Administrators of Color in Independent Schools, pre-cursor to the NAIS People of Color Conference, is held in Reston, Virginia.
  • NAIS publishes Community Service Programs in Independent Schools.


  • Principles of Good Practice for Fund-Raising are approved.
  • The second of three books resulting from the NAIS/NASSP Commission on Educational Issues is published: The Shopping Mall High School: Winners and Losers in the Educational Marketplace


  • NAIS Association Grants Fund is established through which NAIS provides matching grants of up to $1,000 to member local, state, and regional associations to stimulate development of direct services to teachers.
  • NAIS Board of Directors approves the creation of the Independent Education Fund to enhance capability for building a legislative lobbying network.
  • Principles of Good Practice for Heads are approved.
  • Principles of Good Practice for Boards of Trustees are approved.
  • Principles of Good Practice for Independent School Trustees are approved.
  • NAIS publishes Extended Day Programs in Independent Schools.
  • A Study of High Schools, co-sponsored by the National Association of Secondary Schools Principals and NAIS Commission on Educational Issues, leads to the publication of Horace’s Compromise: The Dilemma of the American High School.


  • NAIS publishes Evaluating the Performance of Trustees and School Heads.
  • NAIS publishes A Legal Primer.


  • NAIS membership exceeds 900 for the first time.


  • NAIS publishes the Handbook on Teacher Renewal and Development.
  • NAIS publishes Faculty Burnout, Morale, and Vocational Adaptation.


  • NAIS publishes The Business Manager in the Independent School.
  • NAIS moves from 4 Liberty Square to 18 Tremont, in Boston.


  • The NAIS Task Force on Secondary Mathematics publishes Occasional Papers #1-3.
  • NAIS publishes Interdependence:  A Handbook for Environmental Education.


  • John Esty, former head of Taft School and staff associate of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, is named president of NAIS.
  • NAIS establishes a full-time office in Washington, D.C.
  • NAIS Task Force on Women in Education is reconstituted as the Council for Women in Independent Schools (CWIS), a more action-oriented group focused on developing women’s potential as leaders.
  • NAIS publishes Research: Its Role in Development.


  • NAIS publishes A Teachers’ Round Table on Sexual Education.
  • NAIS publishes Accounting for Independent Schools, 2nd Edition.


  • Jean Miller is elected chair of the NAIS Board of Directors, the first woman to serve in that capacity.
  • NAIS publishes Understanding Faculty Unions and Collective Bargaining.
  • NAIS establishes a part-time office in Washington, D.C.


  • The NAIS Teacher’s Notebook series adds its eighth volume, Alternatives for Children with Learning Problems.
  • NAIS publishes The Selection and Appointment of School Heads, 2nd Edition.


  • NAIS publishes A Teacher’s Notebook: French.
  • NAIS publishes A Teacher’s Notebook: Latin.
  • NAIS publishes The Independent School Trustee Handbook, 3rd Edition.


  • NAIS Task Force on Women in Education is established by the board, a discussion / awareness group responsible for development of several conference sessions each year.
  • Private schools note the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Meyer v. Nebraska in which a private school’s curricular independence is upheld.
  • NAIS publishes A Teacher’s Notebook: Language Arts, K-4.
  • NAIS publishes A Teacher’s Notebook: Spanish.
  • NAIS publishes A Teacher’s Notebook: German.


  • NAIS publishes Learning to Think in a Math Lab.
  • The Council for American Private Education is established and NAIS president Cary Potter is chosen as the first chairman.


  • NAIS publishes The Integrated Day in an American School.
  • The Support for Secondary Schools Conference is held in Boston, sponsored by NAIS and the American Alumni Council, a precursor of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).


  • NAIS establishes the Office of Minority Affairs.
  • NAIS publishes Latin Word Test.
  • NAIS publishes Benefit Plans for Faculty and Staff.


  • The School and Scholarship Service becomes an arm of NAIS and the first contract with the Educational Testing Service is signed.
  • NAIS publishes The Library in the Independent School.


  • Cary Potter is named president of NAIS.
  • NAIS publishes The Independent School Trustee Handbook.


  • The first NAIS Annual Conference is held in New York City with 3,000 participants representing 660 member schools.
  • John Chandler, head of Grosse Pointe University School, becomes the second president of NAIS and Cary Potter, Executive Secretary of  NCIS, is named vice president.


  • Delegates from the Independent Schools Education Board (ISEB) and the National Council of Independent Schools (NCIS) vote on March 1 to establish the National Association of Independent Schools.  The first board chair is John Gummere.
  • Francis “Torch” Parkman, who had been president of NCIS and former head of St. Mark’s School in Southborough, Massachusetts, is named the first president of  NAIS.
  • 66% of NAIS schools are single-sex, 33% co-educational.