Mike FlanaganCEO, Mastery Transcript Consortium
Mike Flanagan is the CEO of the Mastery Transcript Consortium (MTC), a diverse and fast-growing network of schools collaborating to scale the use of digital, interactive, competency-based transcripts. MTC schools are personalized, learner-centered, and skill-focused. MTC’s digital records match these models and empower learners to tell their own stories and showcase their unique strengths, abilities, interests as they pursue the next step in their post-secondary journeys.
Mike joined MTC in 2017 as chief product officer and led the design and development of the Mastery Transcript platform. Prior to MTC, he was CEO of School and Student Services by NAIS—a cloud-based financial aid management solution used by over 2,000 K-12 schools and nonprofits to assess aid applications from 150,000+ families every year. He was also co-founder and EVP of client services at Intrepid Learning Solutions, a provider of enterprise learning technology solutions to global 2000 clients. Mike has a B.A. in English from Yale University and a M.A. in English from the University of Washington. Early in his career, Mike taught high school English.
Reggie Ford is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, mental health advocate, and social activist. A first-generation college graduate of Vanderbilt University, he runs RoseCrete Wealth Management and speaks to audiences about financial empowerment, overall wellness, and the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.
Carla IliescuFounder, potential
Carla is the founder of potential, a boutique leadership and coaching firm that creates learning experiences to help leaders and teams realize their full potential. Carla began her career in the cosmetics industry and grew to become a global vice president where she was responsible for the development of 10,000+ employees located in 120+ countries.
With over two decades of executive leadership experience, team development, and coaching, Carla recognizes the transformative impact of courageous leadership on both business results and engagement. She shares her wealth of leadership experience and real-life examples with her clients in order to transform performance.
Prior to founding potential, Carla inspired teams as the vice president of global artistry, education and events at Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, vice president of learning and education at Bumble and bumble, vice president of international education at Clinique, and executive director of leadership development. Carla has a B.S. in business administration and is a Certified Dare to Lead Facilitator, Certified Fierce Conversations Facilitator, Gallup Strengths Coach, and Mind Gym Coach.
Penny AbrahamsConsultant & Advancement Department Head, ISM
Penny Abrahams joined Independent School Management in 2010. As a consultant, she specializes in marketing communications, enrollment management, and development. Her experience in these areas comes from working in private-independent schools for more than 13 years and serving other nonprofits for an additional seven years.
Penny’s duties as a consultant also include advising schools as part of ISM’s Digital Solutions team and serving as the convener for ISM’s Advancement Academy, a premier professional development conference that educates and mentors heads of school and development, enrollment management, and marketing communications professionals.
Penny began her career in schools at Ravenscroft, a pre-K through grade 12 school in Raleigh, NC, as an annual fund director and then as director of communications. She then served as the director of admissions & marketing at Academy at the Lakes, a pre-K 3 through grade 12 school located in Tampa, FL.
Penny has served as a member of Ravenscroft’s board of trustees since 2018 and currently chairs the advancement committee.
She graduated with a B.A. in journalism and mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and holds a Digital Marketing Certificate from the University of Vermont. She also attained International Advancement Program—Leader certification in 2012.
Elizabeth BoydDean of Academics, Charleston Collegiate School
Liz Boyd is a graduate of Furman University with a B.A. in English and a graduate of The University of Charleston with a M.A. degree in English. She is currently writing her dissertation on project-based learning while completing her Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction from Liberty University. In addition to teaching 11th and 12th grade humanities classes at Charleston Collegiate School, she leads professional development, coordinates the curriculum at Charleston Collegiate School, and helps spread the knowledge about delivering effective project-based learning to teachers in the region. With 22 years of classroom experience, she most enjoys sharing her passion for project-based learning with other teachers.
Alex BraggUpper School Teaching & Learning Specialist
Alex Bragg is the upper school teaching & learning specialist at Woodward Academy. She has experience in public, private, and charter schools, and in 2016, she opened a brand new charter school in the Atlanta area as the founding assistant principal. Alex is a passionate advocate of innovation in schools and has led numerous workshops and seminars coaching educators and teams in innovative instructional strategies, design thinking, curriculum design, strategic planning, and authentic assessment design. Driven by her passion for transforming schools, Alex was invited in the spring of 2014 to attend a White House Social with Dr. Jill Biden, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and other senior White House officials to discuss education reform. She has published with Harvard University’s Transforming Teaching Project and she curates the blog BRAGGing About Education. She holds a B.S. from Auburn University, M.A.T. from The University of West Alabama, and Ed.M. in Educational Leadership from Columbia University.
Allen BroylesManaging Director, Organizational Learning, Mehta Cognition
Over a career spanning three decades, Allen Broyles has worked in and consulted with schools and organizations across multiple domains including faculty culture, program and school design, curriculum design, value proposition development, and diversity, equity, and justice. Allen has presented and consulted at regional, national, and international conferences and schools on the topics of applying current neuroscience to teaching and learning, adult learning, executive functions, and how mainstream schools might structure their programs to be more responsive to and inclusive of cognitive diversity. Allen is a faculty member of NAIS’s Diversity Leadership Institute, has served on the national board of directors for the Learning Disabilities Association of America, and is a faculty member of the Institute for New Teachers for SAIS. Prior to his current role as managing director for organizational learning with the consulting group Mehta Cognition, Allen held several senior leadership positions in schools, most recently as assistant head of school at The Children’s School in Atlanta.
Jennifer BryanConsulting Psychologist, Re-Set School
Jennifer Bryan, Ph.D., is a psychologist, consultant, coach, speaker, and author with 40 years of experience working in educational and clinical settings. She earned her masters and doctorate in counseling psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, a B.A. from Princeton University, and studied for a year at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is currently enrolled in a M.F.A. program in creative non-fiction at Lesley University.
Jennifer is best known for helping schools and organizations create inclusive communities by understanding and addressing gender and sexuality diversity. She is the author of the text book, From the Dress-Up Corner to the Senior Prom: Navigating Gender and Sexuality Diversity in PreK-12 Schools (Rowman and Littlefield Education, 2012) and children’s book, The Different Dragon.
She also consults with schools on: leadership development, systemic change, effective communication skills, working with group dynamics, ambiguous loss, and community well-being.
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted Jennifer to reorganize her consultation services and she now works as Re-Set School helping K-12 schools (re)build equitable, healthy, connected, and sustainable learning communities.
Jim BushPresident, Winkler Group
Jim Bush has been a development professional and fundraising consultant for more than 30 years. Recognized as an expert in his field, he’s helped small and large independent schools raise more than $100 million through major and capitals campaigns, annual fund programs, and endowment and planned giving campaigns.
Prior to joining the Winker Group, Jim devoted his career to being a fundraising practitioner and has developed comprehensive fundraising programs for nationally known organizations including World Vision, the American Red Cross, the YMCA, Northwell Health, and Elon University.
Jim is a noted lecturer, trainer, and teacher. He has presented at more than fifty national and international fundraising conferences; he has been named the top speaker at six national and international conferences. His articles on fundraising have been published in leading nonprofit journals. He has served on the national fundraising faculty for the YMCA and currently serves on the faculty of the South Carolina Nonprofit Leadership Institute.
Jim holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration from Elon University. He serves on the Editorial Review Board of Giving USA, the seminal report on philanthropy in America, and is a voting member of the Giving Institute.
Jennifer CarrollAttorney, Fisher Phillips
Jennifer Carroll is a partner with Fisher Phillips’ Fort Lauderdale office. Jennifer’s practice is focused on the area of employment litigation. Jennifer also counsels employers nationally in all types of employment-related matters. She conducts management and employee trainings, compliance audits, and contract review and drafting. Jennifer is also experienced in pre-suit administrative proceedings.
Jennifer is a member of the Education Practice Group where she counsels independent and private educational institutions on employee, student, and board matters, in addition to litigating matters on behalf of school clients.
Jennifer is a frequent presenter to both educational institutions and corporate associations on all aspects of employment law and risk management in the employment context.
Carolyn ChandlerPartner, Strategic School Leadership
A cum laude graduate of Vanderbilt University, with a M.A. in secondary education/mathematics from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Carolyn Chandler taught English, French, and upper school mathematics before entering the world of independent school administration in 1997 at Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga, TN. Carolyn left GPS after 19 years to assume the position of assistant head of school at Metairie Park Country Day School in New Orleans, LA, in 2003.
After Katrina came to call in the fall of 2005, Carolyn was named associate head of school, charged with managing all school operations, restoring the storm-devastated campus, and reworking school finances after the loss of 25% of the student body. In the spring of 2006, Carolyn was appointed head of school.
In the years that followed, Carolyn enjoyed participation in local, regional, and national associations; among these were service on the ISAS board, service on The Heads’ Network faculty and Council, and service on the NAIS board. Her involvement with the Klingenstein Center at Columbia University began in 2010 with participation in the Heads’ Program, followed by appointment as a Klingenstein field instructor, and continues into the present with service on the center’s advisory committee. Carolyn’s involvement with five New Orleans charter schools culminated in service as the interim CEO of Bricolage Academy.
Carolyn is currently a partner in Strategic School Leadership, a consultancy serving boards and heads of school. She is certified by KRW, International as both a practitioner and a provider of the Return on Character leadership assessment.
Meredyth ColeHead of School, Lovett School
Meredyth Cole joined Lovett in 2018 as the thirteenth head of school and the first woman to lead since founder Eva Lovett established the school in 1926. Since joining Lovett, Meredyth has worked with the board of trustees to conduct a community-wide strategic design process that excavated and defined Lovett’s mission and core values and created succinct and compelling priorities ahead of the school’s centennial in 2026. She has led the “One Lovett” initiative, working with all facets of school leadership to establish mutually beneficial expectations, practices, and commitments that will allow all community members to thrive. She also serves as an advisor to upper school students and teaches a course on ethical leadership.
Prior to joining Lovett, Meredyth was head of school at The Episcopal School of Dallas, where she concentrated on expanding the classroom experience and increasing faculty professional development tenfold. She also led the completion of the school’s first five-year strategic plan as well as launched a highly successful $75 million capital campaign. Meredyth previously spent 23 years at The Madeira School, serving as assistant head of school and acting head of school.
Meredyth earned her B.A. in sociology from the University of Virginia and a M.S. in educational leadership from the University of New England. Her board service includes the National Association of Episcopal Schools, the Southwest Preparatory Athletic Conference, and the Georgia Independent School Association. She was also selected to be a National Association of Independent Schools E.E. Ford Fellow in 2003.
Ryan CookUpper School Director, Greensboro Day School
Ryan Cook has been the upper school director at Greensboro Day School in North Carolina since July 2022. Prior to joining the Bengals, Ryan was the principal for grades 5-12 at Charleston Collegiate School, a project-based learning school, and previously the principal for grades 1-12 at the Baton Rouge International School, an IB world school.
Originally from the U.K., Ryan moved to the U.S. in 2015 having worked in the U.K. public education system since 2003. Mission oriented curriculum innovation and program design are hallmarks of his approach. He believes learning should be inquiry based, applied, and always underpinned by skills learning.
Ryan attended Edge Hill University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in business management and a post-graduate certificate in business education. Ryan earned his master’s in management practice from the University of Salford, where he received his degree with distinction and was nominated for the U.K.’s Young Educational Thinker Award. Ryan also earned a U.S. teaching license and principal’s license.
Rob EvansClinical and Organizational Psychologist
Rob Evans is a clinical and organizational psychologist and the former executive director of the Human Relations Service. A former high school and pre-school teacher, and for many years a child and family therapist, he has consulted in more than 1,700 schools throughout the U.S. and internationally, including 700 independent schools. His interests have focused on change and resistance to change in schools and organizations, on the challenges of leading innovation, and on changes in American families and their impact on schools. He is currently concentrating on ways to improve collegiality and candor among educators and to promote realistic dialogue about accountability. Rob is the author of many articles and four books: Hopes and Fears: Working with Today’s Independent School Parents (co-written with Michael Thompson), Seven Secrets of the Savvy School Leader: A Guide to Surviving and Thriving, The Human Side of School Change, and Family Matters: How Schools Can Cope with the Crisis in Childrearing.
Laura FiveashExecutive Director, Spring Valley School
In 1990, Laura earned an undergraduate degree at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC, with a major in nutrition and minors in biology and fitness. She completed a year-long dietetic internship in Augusta, GA. In 1998, Laura obtained an MPH from the University of Michigan. Five years later, she completed her doctorate (DrPH) in maternal and child health at UAB. Her coursework included special education programs and policies, public health law, statistics, quality of life measurements, and an economic analysis fellowship. Her dissertation research analyzed the quality of life, body weight, and health care insurance among 850 Birmingham City school children. During her graduate programs, she conducted research and taught graduate-level classes. She completed a postdoctoral traineeship in clinical trials and epidemiology in 2005. Laura has served as an advocate for children covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for over 13 years. In addition, she has written over 50 grants and edited over 1,000 articles. In April 2015, she was asked to serve as the interim executive director of Spring Valley School, a private independent school serving students in grades 1-12 with learning differences, such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, and ADHD. The following October, the SVS Board of Directors named Laura the permanent director. During her SVS tenure, SVS moved to its new location and the student enrollment more than doubled. She serves on the Alabama Committee on Grade-Level Reading for the state of Alabama.
Tim GreenAthletics Consultant, Southern Teachers
During his 32-year career in schools, Tim Green has served as a teacher, coach, P.E. department chair, and director of athletics. His successful record of independent school athletic leadership includes oversight of teams and coaching staff, budget development, athletic facilities, mentoring programs, coaching evaluation, professional development, and athletic capital improvements. He has served on numerous committees at the collegiate and independent school levels and is certified at the highest level (Certified Master Athletic Administrator) by the NIAAA. Tim currently serves as the director of athletic consulting performing athletic assessments, mentoring, leading the Southern Teachers AD Training Camp, and presenting across the south.
Janice GregersonCounsel, Venable
Janice is an attorney with Venable’s Independent School Law and Labor and Employment practices. Janice advises independent schools nationwide and understands their unique challenges. She helps independent schools respond to current legal issues and proactively identify potential problems before they arise.
Jane HulbertFounder, The Jane Group
Jane Hulbert, founder of The Jane Group, has been the NAIS crisis communications consultant since 2001. The Jane Group is a crisis communications management firm based in Chicago that works exclusively with independent schools throughout the world. The firm, run by CEO, Jim Hulbert, counsels schools on crisis and reputation management issues, crisis preparation and planning, messaging, media management, and provides training for the media spokesperson. The firm does extensive communications training of school leadership and boards.
Prior to consulting, Jane was a communications executive at McDonald’s Corporation responsible for the crisis and media relations department. She was the key spokesperson on high profile global crises including the “hot coffee” incident. Jane is a graduate of the Park Tudor School (IN) and a cum laude graduate of Boston University.
Lorrie JacksonEducational Sales Consultant, Finalsite
With over 20 years working in and for independent schools, Lorrie Jackson is a frequent presenter on school marketing and communications. Previously, she served on NAIS’s tech task force and contributed a chapter to the 2011 edition of The NAIS Handbook on Marketing Independent Schools. In her role at Finalsite, Lorrie helps independent schools across the Southeast improve their website and online communication tools to achieve their marketing and admission goals.
Nina KumarCo-Founder & CEO, Authentic Connections
Nina Kumar is co-founder and chief executive officer of Authentic Connections, an organization aimed at maximizing well-being in school communities. Before Authentic Connections, Nina was a product manager at IBM Watson Health. She graduated from Williams College with a B.A. in computer science and psychology and a concentration with honors in cognitive science. Nina has co-authored several papers which have appeared in scientific journals such as American Psychologist, Social Policy Report, and Development and Psychopathology.
Leonard KupersmithHigh School Principal, First Baptist School of Charleston
Leonard Kupersmith completed 35 years of heading schools in 2020 when he retired from the headship at Christ Church Episcopal School in Greenville, SC. Prior to CCES, he was privileged to serve as head of school at Wichita Collegiate School (KS), and as founding head at Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School in Joplin, MO. Subsequent to his enlistment as an executive coach for the new head of First Baptist School of Charleston (SC), Leonard accepted the invitation to serve as the high school principal. He looks forward to a second year in his post-retirement administrative career.
Christina LewellenExecutive Director, ATLIS
Christina Lewellen is a seasoned association executive who brings a data-driven framework to business planning and strategy, having earned her M.B.A. from the Rochester Institute of Technology and the Certified Association Executive designation from the American Society of Association Executives. She was named the executive director of ATLIS in 2019 and travels coast-to-coast visiting independent schools and their leadership teams. She serves as a trustee for the Harmony Foundation International and is a board member for the Virginia Society of Association Executives.
Kerry Ann MasonerHead of Lower School, Charleston Collegiate School
Kerry Ann Masoner is a graduate of Northwest Missouri State University, renowned for its education program, and graduated with a B.S. in elementary and early childhood education. She earned a master’s degree in curriculum design and instruction from the University of Missouri in Kansas City. Kerry Ann Masoner started her 20-year teaching career in the North Kansas City Public Schools where she earned a distinctive Teacher of the Year award. She transitioned into independent schools at Town School for Boys in San Francisco, where she fell in love with project-based learning and the responsive classroom approach. As an administrator, Kerry Ann has served as a director of summer and auxillary programs, a director of early childhood, assistant head of lower school, and head of lower school. In 2021, Kerry Ann moved to Johns Island, SC, to become the principal of lower grades at Charleston Collegiate School.
Rick MelvoinManaging Partner, Strategic School Leadership
Rick Melvoin is currently a lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and managing partner of Strategic School Leadership. He served as head of school at the Belmont Hill School in Belmont, MA, from 1993 to 2018. A 1973 magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College, with an M.A. and Ph.D. in American history from the University of Michigan, he began his career at Deerfield Academy, where over 14 years he taught, coached, directed plays, and served as history department chair and dean of studies. He returned to Harvard in 1988 as assistant dean of admissions and financial aid and lecturer in history and literature.
He is the author of New England Outpost: War and Society in Colonial Deerfield (W.W. Norton, 1988), Chapel Talks (a compendium of talks from his years at Belmont Hill), and numerous essays on boys, education, and school leadership.
He has been a member of the board of overseers at Harvard University, where he chaired the nominating committee and served on the visiting committees for the college, athletics, and the Graduate School of Education; the boards of trustees of The Winsor School, the Haverford School, and the Epiphany School; the board of directors of The Steppingstone Foundation; and the board of directors of Facing History and Ourselves. He also served as board president of the International Boys’ Schools Coalition and president of The Headmasters Association.
Dave MichelmanPrincipal, Michelman Consulting
Dave Michelman has spent his career in independent schools, with the exception of a brief foray into going to law school and practicing law, as a teacher, administrator, and head of school. He led Chesapeake Academy for 7 years and Duke School for 14. He served on the SAIS board and is currently a member of MISBO’s board. Dave has been an independent school board member and served as president of the board of Student U, a college access and advocacy group in Durham. He has presented at SAIS, NAIS, AIMS, and other conferences. For the last two years, Dave has been a consultant working with heads, boards, and leadership teams.
Nate MorrowHead of School, Christ Presbyterian Academy
Nate Morrow presently serves as the head of school of Christ Presbyterian Academy (CPA), in Nashville, TN. He earned his B.A. with a double major in special education and human and organizational development and has a master’s degree in school administration from Vanderbilt University. While in graduate school, Nate was chosen by the faculty and administration of Peabody College to be a discussion panelist with United States Secretary of Education Rod Paige, discussing the No Child Left Behind Act. He also worked in the special education department as a research assistant studying reading abilities in students with behavioral challenges. Nate is in his 16th year at CPA, coming onboard as the head of upper school. In his current role as head of school since 2011, he led the CPA community to develop a five-year strategic plan with a focus on ensuring the Academy becomes a contributing resource to the growing Middle Tennessee area. During his tenure, the CPA faculty and staff have witnessed unprecedented growth and achievement in the areas of academics, arts, athletics, enrollment, advancement, community service, and college placement. He recently served as a mentor in the New and Emerging Leaders Initiative through TAIS and was appointed to the TN State Board of Education in 2019.
Lois Mufuka Martin Managing Director, Storbeck Search | DSG
As a managing director for Storbeck Search, Lois works within the education practice to connect transformational and inclusive leaders with independent schools, universities, and education related nonprofits.
Prior to Storbeck, Lois served as vice president for Search and Consulting where she led a team that connected leaders to independent schools on the West Coast. Rooted in nonprofit organizational development, Lois has also served as chief volunteer engagement officer at United Way of Southwestern PA and as CEO of Bethlehem Haven, an organization that moves women from homelessness to housing in Pittsburgh, PA, and as director of The Community Fund at United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County.
Lois also coaches women from throughout the United States, South Africa, and Kenya, who aspire to become heads of schools and nonprofit leaders. In addition, Lois sits on the board of directors for Education Matters Africa, an organization that supports the USAP Community School in her native Zimbabwe. The USAP school is a boarding school for highly talented, low income 11th and 12th graders who are matched with full four-year college scholarships around the world.
Lois holds a B.A. in history from Lander University, an M.Ed. in counseling from Clemson University, and a certificate in leading innovation and creating a dynamic organization from the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University.
Donna Orem President, NAIS
Donna Orem was named president of NAIS in November 2016. Orem served as COO for 11 years before becoming president. Orem joined NAIS in 1998 as the VP for educational leadership and later became the VP for strategic initiatives and research. Prior to NAIS, she was the VP for products and services development at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). In her 15 years at CASE, she also served as the VP for independent schools. Earlier in her career, she served as associate director for the American Association of University Women. She is co-author of the NAIS Trustee Handbook and contributes regularly to Independent School magazine, the Independent Ideas blog, the NAIS Trendbook, and Looking Ahead. She holds a B.A. in English from St. Joseph’s University (PA) and attended graduate school at the University of Maryland School of Journalism.
Jennifer Osland HillenChief Learning Officer, NBOA
As chief learning officer at NBOA, Jennifer leads the staff team charged with delivering the association’s broad and diverse portfolio of programs, industry guidance, and resources. She serves the NBOA Board of Directors’ Governance Committee and leads NBOA’s volunteer Business Officers Council and staff Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee, in addition to serving as a subject-matter expert. She also serves on the teaching faculty for the M.Ed. in Independent School Leadership program at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College.
Jennifer, a CPA, worked in assurance and advisory services for Ernst & Young before joining Harpeth Hall School in 2009 where she served as a business officer. She joined NBOA in 2017 as director of accounting and tax programs and was promoted to vice president of professional development and business affairs early in 2018. In 2020, Jennifer was named NBOA’s chief learning officer.
Jennifer is a leader at several not-for-profits and currently serves on the board of Renewal House. She graduated from Birmingham-Southern College with a B.S. in accounting, Spanish, and business. She studied abroad at St. John’s College of Oxford University, England in 2004.
David PadillaHead of School, Christ Church Episcopal School
David Padilla is in his third year as head of school at Christ Church Episcopal School in Greenville, SC, a K-12 day school with 1,200 students. Prior to his appointment as head, David spent nearly two decades at Baylor School in Chattanooga, TN, a 6-12 day school with boarding in grades 9-12. At Baylor, David served a variety of roles as an English teacher, resident faculty member, coach, department chair, dean, and upper school head. A graduate of Sewanee: The University of the South (B.A.), the University of Virginia (M.A.), and the Klingenstein Center at Columbia University (M.Ed.), David has also taught at Phillips Exeter Academy (NH), St. Albans School (Washington, DC), and the McCallie School (TN).
Caryn PassAttorney, Venable
Caryn Pass has represented independent schools for more than 25 years. As a partner in Venable’s Independent School Law and Labor and Employment practices and chair of Venable’s Education Practice, she advises schools nationwide on a wide range of legal issues. She tracks trends specific to independent schools and develops industry best practices. Caryn works with schools on legal issues – raised by students, parents, employees, trustees, donors, alumni, neighbors, and vendors – by establishing policies, procedures, and strategies that promote positive working and learning environments while limiting potential liability exposure. A problem solver and strategic thinker, Caryn helps avoid liability while meeting the needs of the school.
Caryn works on documents utilized by independent schools, including employment, enrollment, and vendor agreements. She advises on the proper use of technology and social media, wage and hour compliance, employee and student discipline, admissions, investment and financial issues, performance evaluation, and employee termination. She reviews employee and student handbooks, develops emergency preparedness plans, and works with experts in the assessment of campus security. Caryn designs and reviews by-laws and governance policies and works with boards to establish good governance.
Caryn is well-known for her commitment to mentoring, supporting, and developing the next generation of independent school leadership and assists in developing transition plans and strategies for ensuring the new head’s success. Caryn regularly speaks at regional and national independent school association meetings and conducts trainings at schools. Caryn is the 2016 recipient of the Sarah Daignault Award, which is given by the National Business Officers Association to those who have consistently contributed generous support to independent schools and their business officers.
Shelly PetersPrincipal, Crane + Peters
As the strategic and organizational leader of Crane + Peters, Shelly fosters genuine partnerships that lead to enduring success. Shelly passionately believes in empowering clients to discover and shape their own optimal culture—so they can keep building authentic, active, and purposeful community long into the future. Shelly holds a dual B.A. in psychology and educational studies from Emory University and studied learning and organizational change at Northwestern University. Since joining Crane + Peters in 2007, Shelly has employed her keen perception, wise diplomacy, and inner drive to ensure that clients achieve their highest aspirations.
James RileyData Scientist, Forward Dataworks
As a high school math and statistics teacher for 20 years, James was an early pioneer in the flipped classroom movement, using data from student outcomes to promote this new style of teaching and learning.
Eventually James transitioned to the role of school statistician at an independent school in Tampa, FL. As his interest in exploring data expanded, the demanding task of balancing the roles of both teacher and statistician inspired James to focus on data analysis full time, and he launched his own consulting firm, Forward Dataworks, in 2017.
James holds master’s degrees in finance and applied statistics and now draws on his experience working in independent schools, coupled with a passion for analytics, to help educational institutions make data-driven decisions. As a data scientist, James helps schools answer questions that arise in pedagogy, school administration, and in school communities, partnering with school leaders to analyze curriculum, assess strategic plans, and evaluate community feedback.
James is based in Augusta, GA, and works with independent schools across the country.
Brendan SchneiderFounder and CEO, SchneiderB Media
Brendan Schneider is the founder and CEO of SchneiderB Media, a digital marketing agency for schools that focuses on increasing inquiries. He is one of the leaders in the field for teaching on and knowledge about inbound marketing for schools. In addition, Brendan presents and consults on inbound marketing, social media, SEO, and marketing technology at the regional and national levels. With his workshops, blog, podcast, VirCons, and his SEO Coach software, he continues to advance the abilities of the independent school admission, communication, and marketing professional. Brendan is also the founder of The MarCom Society, a community created exclusively for marketing and communication (MarCom) professionals at schools.
Bob SearsDirector of Student Services, Athens Academy
Bob Sears is Athens Academy’s director of student services, supporting students and parents in that role since 2017. A Board Certified Counselor with 25 years of counseling experience, Bob joined the administration at Athens Academy as the dean of guidance in 2004, after previously working at Tallulah Falls School in Tallulah Falls, GA, and Pine Crest School in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. In August 2008, he began serving as director of upper school while maintaining his counseling responsibilities, doing so until July 2017. During this time, he received the Faculty Award for Professional Excellence twice, as well as the Teacher of the Year Award in 2009. Later that year, Bob participated in the Peabody Professional Institute for Independent School Leadership at Vanderbilt University
Natalie SkinnerSenior Vice President, CCS Fundraising
Natalie joined CCS in 2011 and has served clients spanning education, faith-based, human service, arts and culture, healthcare, international, public media, and association sectors. She has conducted numerous capital campaigns, feasibility and planning studies, development assessments, annual fund enhancements, and special development projects. Natalie has served as counsel on campaigns that have cumulatively raised more than $750 million.
Natalie serves on the board executive committee of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) DC Chapter. She was recognized for her work in CCS’s Mid- and South-Atlantic Region with the Dennick M. W. Skeels Memorial Award in 2015.
Natalie earned her honors B.A. degree in psychology from University of Delaware.
Letitia SowersDean of Student Life, Charleston Collegiate School
From physical education teacher to dean of student life, Letitia has spent her entire career at Charleston Collegiate School. Presently in her 16th year at CCS, this is her sixth year in the role of student life which includes grades 5-12. In addition to student life, she teaches 8th grade personal finance, 5th grade youth entrepreneurship, and is the 11th and 12th grade majors program coordinator (internship program). She is a member of the academic council, student government advisor, SCISA activities director, tennis coach, bus driver, and makes many other contributions to the daily hustle and bustle of the school community.
John ThorsenHead of School, Athens Academy
John Thorsen is head of school at Athens Academy. His 32 years in independent schools have ranged from boarding schools in Georgia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, to large day schools in California and Georgia. John spent most of his first two decades in enrollment management and fundraising. John is active with SAIS accreditation and always enjoys visiting campuses across the country.
Laura TierneyFounder & CEO, The Social Institute
Laura Tierney is the founder and CEO of The Social Institute, the leader in understanding student experiences. She is also the creator of WinAtSocial.com, a gamified, online learning platform that equips students, educators, and families to navigate social experiences, both online and offline, in positive ways. Their positive, student-led approach has been applauded by Melinda Gates on Twitter and featured by The Washington Post, NPR, and USA Today.
Bob WestonSenior Vice President, CCS Fundraising
Bob Weston brings to CCS 30 years of independent school experience and expertise as an educator, administrator, and fundraiser. Over the span of his career, Bob has held several senior administrative positions, and worked extensively on hiring and recruiting faculty, collaborating on institutional strategic planning, and directing annual, major gifts, and capital campaign fundraising programs.
In his most recent role as associate head for external affairs at St. George’s School, Bob directed the communications, alumni relations, and development offices, while also serving as the school’s chief fundraiser. He spearheaded the school’s From These Walls capital campaign, which raised over $32 million for programs, facilities, and endowment. He also directed the fundraising efforts to raise $3.5 million for the construction of two turf fields, and he helped to grow the annual fund during the school’s capital campaign.
As an experienced fundraiser and school administrator, Bob’s deep knowledge of independent schools’ culture, programs, and fundraising needs uniquely positions him to serve our independent clients well.
Bob received his M.A. in English literature from Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English and his B.A. in English from Amherst College, where he also captained the men’s varsity basketball team.
Derrick WillardHead of School, Augusta Preparatory School
Derrick Willard is the head of Augusta Preparatory Day School which serves students from the Augusta, GA, area. He is a career educator passionate about creating optimal learning environments within the brick and mortar school as well as creating productive virtual learning environments online.
Debra WilsonPresident, SAIS
Debra 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. Before joining the NAIS staff, Debra was a tax litigator at the Department of Justice. Her past and current board service includes EMA-The Enrollment Management Association, GEB-Global Education Benchmarking, MISBO-Mid-South Independent School Business Officers, and NNSP-National Network of School Partnerships. She is an avid reader, photographer, and cook who loves to be outdoors in the low country of South Carolina.
Jennie WintonFounding Partner, Mission Minded
Jennie Winton is a 30-year marketing veteran sought for her expertise in branding and positioning nonprofits. Since co-founding Mission Minded in 2002, Jennie has served as a strategic advisor for over 300 nonprofits and schools and has inspired hundreds more as a nationally sought lecturer. With expertise in brand, messaging, and fundraising, Jennie helps senior leaders clarify how they talk about their work, leading to greater organizational stability, increased revenues, and an expanded presence. And as a one-on-one coach she helps values-driven people have greater impact, balance and happiness at work.