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2020 Leadership Retreat | April 20-21
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Different from the whirlwind of conference sessions, this program offers administrative leaders time to focus on current issues and leadership abilities surrounded by colleagues who face similar hurdles and aspire to reach common goals. This year’s program will be geared specifically toward the working relationship between school leaders and the board of trustees. Whether you are a seasoned veteran or an aspiring head of school, this workshop will offer insights from recent research, trends to watch, and current issues in governance. We’ll explore factors that can contribute to a breakdown between the head and the board and discuss practices, policies, and approaches for preventing these challenges. Led by Anne-Marie Balzano, Terry Briggs, and Debra Wilson.


Monday-Tuesday, April 20-21, 2020

  • Registration opens at 12:30PM on Monday, April 20
  • First session begins at 1PM
  • Final session concludes at 12PM with a grab & go lunch on April 21


Westin Chattanooga, 801 Pine St, Chattanooga, TN 37402


Anne-Marie Balzano is the director of leadership and governance at NAIS. In this role, she designs and implements learning opportunities for school administrators and trustees, conducts research on issues facing independent schools, and collaborates with other NAIS teams engaged in these endeavors. She hosts the Trustee Table, an NAIS podcast that provides insights and information for trustees, board chairs, and school administrators on critical governance and leadership topics. Most recently, she worked with Jack Creeden, former board chair of NAIS, on the development of the board chair handbook and is now leading a research project with the University of Pennsylvania on factors leading to head of school turnover. She has delivered several presentations at the NAIS annual conference on building leadership capacity across teams and managing school change. Prior to joining NAIS, she was an associate professor and program coordinator in the Education Leadership Program at George Mason University, where she taught courses on using research to lead school improvement, supervision and evaluation of instruction, and leading schools and communities. Balzano earned her bachelor's degree from American University and her doctorate from Mills College.


Terry Briggs is a partner at Bowditch & Dewey. Briggs concentrates his practice on executive and equity compensation, ERISA, and other highly technical employee benefits issues on behalf of for-profit and nonprofit entities in Massachusetts and throughout the U.S. Prior to attending law school, he owned and managed a family retail business. Before that, he was a consultant and worked in Massachusetts and Washington state governments. He received his bachelor's degree from Columbia University and J.D. from Boston College. 

Debra Wilson joined the SAIS staff in July 2019. She grew up in Connecticut, where she graduated from the Williams School, an independent school located on the campus of Connecticut College. Debra 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. She previously served as general counsel for NAIS for 19 years. In addition to her role as chief legal officer, she has presented to school leaders around the country and abroad, including at many SAIS events. SAIS school leaders may also know her from phone calls and emails she’s fielded from member schools facing particular legal or governance issues. Before joining the NAIS staff, Debra was a tax litigator at the Department of Justice. She is an avid reader, photographer, and cook, and loves to be outdoors in the low country of South Carolina.


The earlybird member school rate is $595. 

Registration is not yet open. If you would like to be notified when registration opens, please email


Craft a proposal using these key points.


Reservations may be made online or by phone at (866) 912-1083.
  • Group rate = $189 
  • Cut-off date = March 30 or when block is full 
  • Parking: overnight valet $17/day or daily valet $10/day


Your registration fee includes:

  • Monday: reception
  • Tuesday: breakfast, grab & go lunch


  • The LR was great! I learned so much about myself and my leadership team.
  • The level of engagement during this workshop is unmatched by any other workshop I have attended.
  • The retreat unveiled some things I would like to work on, but ultimately boosted my confidence in things I do well.
  • This experience was life-altering as I move forward to the next stage of my career.
  • Simply put, this was the best professional conference I have attended. It is exactly what I need to learn in order to grow.
  • Excellent. The conference was extremely well-organized and every effort was taken to provide an optimum learning experience.
  • The LR reconnected me with what I need to do to let my team shine.
  • It was great to have such a diverse group of heads together and sharing ideas.
  • The most important part of the retreat was getting to know the other school heads ... I got a good overview of leadership, how it can be defined, and what it looks like in action.
  • Well worth taking days at this very busy time of year. It was energizing enough to get me through to graduation and provided great ideas for planning for next year.



Business casual (erring on the side of casual) is always safe with us. We want you to be comfortable. Be sure to bring a jacket or sweater in case you find the meeting room chilly. We tend to skew cooler rather than warmer.


If you require special accommodations or have any questions, please contact


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 currently employed by K-12 independent schools. Topics are presented from an independent school perspective and discussed based on that unique culture. As such, registration is limited to faculty/staff from SAIS member schools or from non-member schools meeting the SAIS candidacy criteria. Please contact if you have questions about eligibility.

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