Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In
2018 Board/Head Retreat
Share |


Strategic Governance: Trends Impacting Independent Schools

Designed to strengthen the communication and partnership between the head of school and members of the board, the SAIS Board/Head Retreat offers the opportunity to collaborate on current challenges and identify common goals for the success of the school. This workshop will provide an overview of the challenging trends facing our industry and our students, as well as the opportunities ahead. Teams will work to identify the trends and topics that are most challenging for their particular schools and have time to collaborate on potential paths forward. Featuring Debra Wilson, Kawai Lai, and Jefferson Burnett.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

  • Registration is from 9:30-10:00 AM.
  • The first session will begin at 10:00 AM.
  • We will conclude by 4:00 PM.


Charleston Marriott, 170 Lockwood Blvd, Charleston, SC 29403


 SAIS Member School 
 Non-Member School 
Through August 16
 $275  $319
August 17 - September 21
 $295  $339
September 22 - October 3
 $315  $359
 After October 3  $335  $379


Debra Wilson is general counsel for the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). She received her B.A. in English from Sewanee, The University of the South, and her J.D. from the University of South Carolina at Columbia. Debra joined NAIS in 2000. As general counsel, Debra executes or coordinates all legal work of NAIS. She also oversees the association’s government relations work, including reviewing regulations, legislation, and cases impacting independent schools. She has written many articles on the legal issues that impact independent schools. Debra presents on the various legal issues that schools face and is committed to helping schools mitigate legal risks on the front end. Beyond the legal realm, Debra is also involved in the governance work at NAIS, including co-authoring the Trustee Handbook with Donna Orem.

Jefferson Burnett serves on NAIS’s innovation team, which provides thought leadership and solutions on re-imagining independent school learning, teaching, and financial models. In addition, he oversees NAIS’s environmental sustainability and global education-international student work. Jefferson presents and writes on these and related topics. He represents NAIS on its Commission on Accreditation and ISAnet, which is comprised of the organization’s member associations, and engages in strategic outreach to education partners.

Kawai Lai is the executive director and co-founder of VizLit, an organization with the mission to unleash the visual genius in all students and educators. Formerly, she served as the vice president of innovation at the National Association of Independent Schools, a non-profit serving over 1,800 schools and 730K students across the country and abroad. In her role, she helped schools re-imagine education, build capacity to innovate, and share stories of authentic progress. Kawai was a founding team member of Education Elements, an ed tech startup working with the most forward-thinking public school districts and charters across the country to personalize learning. Prior to a career in education, Kawai spent a decade in consulting and technology, implementing large scale technology systems with Deloitte, working in different industries including healthcare, biotech, and aerospace. She has an MBA from Haas, UC Berkeley and a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Southern Methodist University.


Please see hotel options under the "Hotel" button above. If you experience any difficulty making your reservations, please contact us at


Please note that SAIS is not using a housing bureau for room reservations. SAIS nor the hotel will call you and ask you to make reservations over the phone. If you receive a phone call saying you need to make reservations, it is a scam. Please make your reservations online or by calling the hotel directly.



  • AIRPORT: Charleston International Airport (CHS)
  • MAPS & TRANSPORTATION: The Charleston Marriott is located about 15 minutes from the Charleston International Airport (CHS). Please see the hotel's maps & transportation page for more information.
  • PARKING: Complimentary on-site parking is available as well as valet parking for $10/day.


  • TWITTER: Tweet us @SAISnews! The official Twitter hashtag for the conference is #saisBHR. Please tag us when tweeting about the conference.
  • FACEBOOK: Be sure to like the SAIS Facebook page!
  • INSTAGRAM: Follow us on Instagram @SAISnews.


  • The BHR is the best of all possible meetings with your board chair/head. I came away feeling and thinking more confidently about my headship and how to map us toward our future.
  • As always, useful. Worth the time, effort, and money to attend.
  • I thoroughly enjoyed the entire conference. It is always delightful to interact with colleagues and SAIS is always professional with their delivery.
  • The retreat was a great reminder of what is involved in a successful Board-Head relationship.
  • The BHR was very helpful for my relationship with the chair.
  • Very valuable and my board chair was very appreciative of the information shared/learned.
  • The retreat was very helpful in affirming as well as challenging our current practices as a board. I appreciate the fact that SAIS offers this learning experience for heads and chairs to attend together.
  • The most important thing about the BHR was validation that these relationships between boards and heads are unique, intimate, and that it's absolutely necessary to cultivate them. 
  • Glad to have the opportunity to bring the board chair to SAIS to see what it's like, how much support and collegiality there is, and that he is doing a great job!


If you require any special accommodations, please contact


Please contact or (404) 561-5841 with any questions about this event.


Payment: Payment is required by credit card at the time of registration.

Cancellation Policy: Cancellations received in writing to 21 days prior to the event will be refunded less a 20% processing fee. After that date no refunds are available, but replacement registrants are welcomed.

Consent to Use of Photo / Video / Audio:  Registration, attendance at, or participation in SAIS meetings and other activities constitutes an agreement by the registrant to SAIS’s use and distribution (both now and in the future) of the registrant or attendee’s image or voice in photographs, videos, electronic reproductions, and audio of such events and activities.

Target Audience: SAIS professional development events are designed for those in the K-12 independent school community. Topics such as working with parents and the board are presented and discussed through the lens of the independent school culture. As such, registration is limited to those from independent schools that are either already members of SAIS or from non-member schools that meet the membership candidacy criteria.

Calendar more
Virtual Summer Conference
June 29 - July 1 | Virtual
Administrative Leadership Institute
July 16 | Virtual

More Events

Membership Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal