The Trustee Table Podcast

The Trustee Table is an NAIS podcast that focuses on providing insights and information for trustees, board chairs, and school administrators on critical governance and leadership issues. Each episode will include a discussion with an expert in the field on a specific topic or challenge facing independent schools. 

Be sure to rate, review, and subscribe to hear a new episode each month. 

Find The Trustee Table on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and Google Play

Looking for more NAIS podcasts? Listen to Member Voices for stories from the thoughtful, hard-working individuals who make up the independent school community.

Episode 11: Digging into Diversity—Essential Practices for Good Governance

Available: January 27

In this episode, Dr. Shirley Davis, president and CEO of SDS Global Enterprises, Inc., explores how boards can recruit and onboard diverse trustees, the impact of diversity on board culture, and how to manage conflicts that may arise from embracing diverse perspectives. Davis is the former Global Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Workplace Strategies for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). She has also been a featured expert on NBC’s The Today Show, USA Today, National Public Radio, The Wall Street Journal, Essence Magazine, Black Enterprise Magazine, The Washington Post, and Inclusion Magazine.  Davis is an experienced HR and diversity and inclusion thought leader, a senior executive, a certified leadership coach, and a former chief diversity and inclusion officer for several major Fortune 100 companies.

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Episode 10: Flipping the Strategic Plan on its Side: An Approach that Puts Students First

In this episode, Romayne Levee, school founder and Director of Education Strategy at Mission Minded, inspires trustees to set a new bar for their next strategic plan: one that is student-outcomes focused rather than school-operations focused. For 20 years, Levee has been professionally and personally fulfilled working among schools and colleges that challenge the status quo by innovating teaching and learning, diversifying their communities, affording life-changing paths to under-resourced students, and empowering young women to take their seat at the table. As the founder of an independent high school, she knows all too well the labor of love it takes to stoke the flame of an educational institution. She sat on the board of Vistamar School for 12 years as founding board chair, and currently sits on the board of Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. She is a graduate of UCLA with a degree in political science.

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Episode 9: Leveraging Emotional Intelligence in the Boardroom: Insights for Heads and Trustees

In this episode, Dr. Marc Brackett, founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and professor in the Child Study Center at Yale, discusses how his research on emotional intelligence can inform strategic planning, the head of school/board chair relationship, and board culture. Brackett has published more than 125 articles and is the recipient of numerous awards. He is the lead developer of RULER, an evidence-based approach to social-emotional learning that has been adopted by over 1,000 public, charter, and private schools across the United States and other countries. He is also a distinguished scientist on the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development and on the board of directors for the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). His latest book, Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive, was published September 3.

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Episode 8: Limitless Mind: A Conversation with Dr. Jo Boaler

In an episode that will further educate heads and trustees about the latest developments in teaching and learning, Dr. Jo Boaler discusses her research into unlocking learning potential at any age. Boaler is a professor of mathematics education at Stanford University and the co-founder of YouCubed, a website to give teachers, parents, and students the resources they need to excite students about mathematics. She is an elected fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (Great Britain) and a former president of the International Organization for Women and Mathematics Education (IOWME). She wrote the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on mathematics teaching and learning and is the author of 11 books and numerous research articles. Boaler recently was named by the BBC as one of the eight educators changing the face of education. Her latest book, Limitless Mind: Learn, Lead and Live Without Barriers, was released on September 3.

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Episode 7: Mastering Crisis Management: How to Stay Ahead of the Curve

In this episode, Jim Hulbert, a partner and lawyer at the Jane Group, shares his expertise on crisis management, including the major issues facing independent schools today and how heads and boards can approach crisis communication effectively. When a school is in crisis, Hulbert works closely with the board, often onsite, to develop communications strategies and protocols. He also trains school leadership in crisis management including sexual misconduct issues and other highly sensitive matters. Hulbert is a frequent presenter at NAIS, TABS, NAIS-TABS legal symposiums, and numerous regional conferences. In addition, he is a lead presenter on child protection for the Council of International Schools, a consortium of over 600 international schools throughout the world. He graduated from Culver Academies (IN). He was a Morehead-Cain Scholar at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, with a degree in American studies. He earned his law degree at Boston College, cum laude.

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Episode 6: Building the Future Together: The Board Chair and Head of School Partnership

In this episode, Jack Creeden shares how board chairs and school heads can partner effectively around critical issues such as promoting a positive board culture, onboarding new trustees, and engaging in the head of school’s evaluation. Creeden is a longtime independent school leader who has written and spoken extensively on governance, strategic planning, and the relationship between the board chair and head of school. He has served as head of Fountain Valley School (CO), Providence Day School (NC), and Chadwick School (CA). An expert on crosscultural competency and the intersection between global studies and diversity initiatives, he was also president of School Year Abroad. There he was responsible for the leadership and administration of the program’s four schools in China, France, Italy, and Spain. Early in his career, he held administrative positions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Rutgers University. He chaired the NAIS Board of Trustees and was a member of the National Commission on Accreditation. Most recently, he authored the soon-to-be-released NAIS Board Chair Handbook. He has an undergraduate degree from the College of the Holy Cross and his master's and doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Episode 5: Behind Closed Doors: Unlocking the Board Executive Session

In this episode, Cathy Trower provides behind-the-scenes insights of what happens during a board executive session, who on the board should be involved, and how the board chair and head of school can navigate this often complex governance issue. For more than 20 years, Trower has provided governance consulting services to nonprofit organizations including colleges and universities, hospitals and health care systems, independent schools, foundations, and community service organizations. She has been invited to speak about governance at numerous conferences, institutes, webinars, and meetings nationwide. Trower was co-founder of the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and most recently served there as a senior research associate and research director. She has studied nonprofit board governance and faculty employment issues, policies, and practices since 1996. In November 2013, she transitioned fully to governance consulting and research, and is the president and a principal of Trower and Trower, Inc. Trower is also chair of the BoardSource board of directors, and vice chair and governance committee chair of the RiverWoods board of trustees.

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Episode 4: Unpacking Board Culture: The Good, the Bad, and the Undiscussables

In this episode, David Brazer of Stanford University discusses why board culture is critical to success, the impact of board culture on schools and communities, and steps trustees can take to support and maintain a positive board culture. Brazer is an associate professor at Stanford and began his tenure as the faculty director for leadership degree programs in 2013. In addition to leading the Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies MA, and joint degrees with the graduate school of business, the public policy program, and the law school for the past five years, he has taught courses focused on leadership theory, research, and practice. He has published case studies on strategic decision-making, and his 15-year career as a K-12 educator spans middle and high school teaching in an independent school in Michigan and public high school administration in California. His newest book, Leading Schools to Learn, Grow, and Thrive: Using Theory to Strengthen Practice, was published in January 2019. Most recently, he has been working with TeachFX, a company focused on assessing student engagement.

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Episode 3: Sailing the Legal High Seas – What Every Trustee Needs to Know

In this episode, Debra Wilson, NAIS General Counsel, discusses some of the common legal issues trustees may face while serving on independent school boards, such as conflicts of interest, confidentiality, risk management, and head compensation and evaluation. In her role at NAIS, Wilson directs the organization’s government relations work, reviews and analyzes federal regulations and legislation, tracks legal trends, and coordinates independent school advocacy at the federal level. Her contributions to the independent school world are innumerable; she is an authority on legal issues related to independent schools, writes advisories, offers general legal information for schools, presents to school leaders around the country, coordinates amicus briefs on cases of industry importance, and refers schools to counsel as needed. She will leave NAIS at the end of April to serve as the next president of the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) and was recently awarded the NBOA Sarah Daignault Outstanding Support of Independent Schools Award.


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Episode 2: Leading Change with the Trustee Trifecta: Strategy, Change Theory, and Accountability

In this episode, Scott Bauer, professor and associate dean for advanced education and doctoral programs in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver, discusses how boards can think about planned change more strategically using research-based practices, the critical questions boards should consider before instituting change, and how to avoid common pitfalls during implementation. Before joining the faculty in SEHD, Bauer was professor and director of the education leadership division in the College of Education and Human Development, George Mason University, a faculty member of the University of New Orleans, and research director of the School Leadership Center of Greater New Orleans. Over the past several years, he has served as developer and lead faculty for NAIS’s School Leadership Team Experience institute. His newest book (with David Brazer and Bob Johnson), Leading Schools to Learn, Grow, and Thrive: Using Theory to Strengthen Practice, was published in January 2019.

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Episode 1: The Effective Trustee: What Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions Do You Need to Lead?

Barbara Aaron Rosston is a strategic consultant for independent schools and nonprofit organizations. She has spent more than 20 years as a trustee of independent schools, including serving as board chair at Keys School and Castilleja School in Palo Alto, CA. She was instrumental in leading both schools through strategic planning processes and campus expansions. She serves on a variety of nonprofit boards including Challenge Success and the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank. She previously worked as an attorney and a linguist for the U.S. government. She is a graduate of Vassar College and the University of San Francisco School of Law.

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