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2015 Institute for Heads
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We hope you'll plan to join us for the eighth year of this engaging and energizing retreat designed for heads and spouses.


June 24-26, 2015

Begins at 1:30 PM on Wednesday, June 24
Concludes at 2:00 PM on Friday, June 26


Airlie | 6809 Airlie Rd | Warrenton, VA 20187 (60 mins from Dulles) | Click here to make reservations.


Airlie is located on 1,200 acres in the foothills of the Shenandoah Mountains in scenic Northern Virginia. The lush grounds of Airlie are surrounded by wineries, lakes, and trails - plus a butterfly garden as well as formal gardens. Airlie's dedicated culinary team harvests from their 4-acre organic garden and over 30 area farms to support their delicious locally-sourced culinary program.  

Explore a map of the grounds here.

Airlie was named after a castle in Scotland, and was originally built as a farm estate in 1842. Dr. Murdock Head purchased in in the 1950s and transformed it to an "island of thought" and one of the first dedicated conference centers in the country. Read more about Airlie's history here.


  • Best conference I have gone to in years. Michael and Rob are great, and the size was perfect. We got to know each other and people could contribute without being left out, which often happens in larger settings.
  • Nothing better after the school year is over than a retreat with Rob and Michael, in the nurturing SAIS environment.
  • Excellent program! Dynamic, engaging presenters and great connections with colleagues.
  • With superb facilitators and impressive colleagues, the institute was a fabulous way to reflect on our roles from the "50,000 foot" perspective, while also recharging for the next year.
  • Absolutely the most helpful meeting of colleagues I have ever been involved in as a head.
  • Michael and Rob are the best facilitators around and they get people to share ideas, thoughts, concerns, etc. in a way that is incredibly supportive and helpful. Their presentations are also excellent but it is actually the facilitating ‐ getting the heads to share and learn from each other, which is extraordinary.
  • I came away refreshed, recharged and excited to return to my school. After 13 years as a head of school, this institute was wonderfully re-energizing.
  • I simply cannot say enough of the impact this made on me and my wife. It gave me understanding, guidance, and most important, strength to cope with a demanding job.
  • For the heads – and the spouses – Rob and Michael created a space for deep reflection, spontaneous laughter, and warm fellowship with new friends. Next year's dates are already in my calendar!
  • This was the best conference/retreat I have ever attended, and I recommend it enthusiastically, not only because of the quality time with Rob and Michael, but also because of the interaction with fellow heads of school.
  • Rob and Michael are very receptive to the group dynamic and adjust to it as needed. The fact that they are both psychologists adds an important dimension to the institute.
  • This Institute has allowed my wife and me to return to school refreshed and armed to navigate the natural unavoidable dilemmas that are inherent in independent school communities.
  • This gathering of experienced heads of school is a must for any mid‐career head of school. It truly is a refresher, inspiration, and affirmation of what we do.
  • My wife felt that she was no longer alone in feeling the way she does about my job.
  • Good way for my husband to learn that what we experience is typical and goes with the territory.
  • My wife not only felt that she understood my role in the school with more clarification, but felt the institute also greatly added benefit to her profession in the corporate world.


  • SAIS is delighted to offer this one-of-a-kind program that brings together two of the leading consultants in American schools, Michael Thompson and Rob Evans, for three stimulating, engaging days.
  • Designed specifically for independent school heads and spouses, this residential institute offers an opportunity for thoughtful dialogue and engagement with colleagues on key issues facing school heads.
  • Many participants attend year after year to enjoy the combination of learning and laughter, plus time for reflection, relaxation, and recreation — a perfect way to refresh for the year ahead.
  • This Institute is specifically designed to be relevant to spouses as well as heads.
  • It offers a chance for both heads and spouses to learn from and connect with others who share the same role.
  • In addition to a specific session that focuses on the "first couple" and sustaining a healthy marriage, other sessions frequently touch on themes that relate to the spouse's role or that help spouses understand the larger context of issues facing heads.
  • Spouses are welcome to attend every session, or just some, and to participate in the discussion.
  • Typically about half of the attendees bring spouses, and half attend solo.


Registration = $1,975 member head (includes all meals)
Spouse = $825 (includes all meals)
Hotel = $199 per night


Rob Evans and Michael Thompson

TWITTER: Tweet us @SAISnews! The official Twitter hashtag is #saisIH. Be sure to tag us when tweeting your event experience.


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


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Please stop by SAIS booth #882 in the exhibit hall too!

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April 15-16 | New Orleans, LA
Join us for a real conversation about women in independent school leadership.

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