Michael is the co-founder of and a distinguished fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, a non-profit think tank, and an adjunct lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He cohosts the top education podcasts Future U and Class Disrupted. He is a regular contributor to Forbes.com, The New York Sun, and writes the Substack newsletter The Future of Education. Michael also serves as an executive editor at Education Next, and his work has been featured in outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Harvard Business Review, and NBC.
Michael serves on the board and advisory boards of a range of education organizations, including Imagine Worldwide, Minerva University, the LearnLaunch Institute, and Guild Education, and is a venture partner at NextGen Venture Partners.
Michael holds a B.A. in history from Yale University and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School.
Lee RubinPresident, Lee Rubin Speaks
For more than 20 years, Lee Rubin has been building high performance teams in both corporate America and the collegiate sports world, setting the foundational cornerstone for a leadership and culture-building mindset focusing on the key components that create extraordinary teams.
This strong core foundation was instilled early in Lee’s life as he held the position of captain of the Penn State football team and later went on to serve as a human resource executive, building senior leadership teams for some of the country’s most prominent corporations which have become dominate leaders in their industries.
Lee has collaborated with and taken the stage for leading Fortune 500 Companies like Johnson & Johnson, Sony, and JP Morgan, as well as collegiate sports teams and organizations across the country.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in speech communications with a minor in business from Penn State University.
Jennifer WallaceJournalist & Author
Jennifer Wallace is an award-winning journalist and author of the book Never Enough: When Achievement Pressure Becomes Toxic – and What We Can Do About It. She is a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post and appears on national television to discuss her articles and relevant topics in the news.
After graduating from Harvard College, Jennifer began her journalism career at CBS “60 Minutes,” where she was part of a team that won The Robert F. Kennedy Awards for Excellence in Journalism. She is a journalism fellow at The Center for Parent and Teen Communication at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Jennifer serves on the board of the Coalition for the Homeless in New York City
Ray CaseyPresident, Westminster Christian Academy
Dr. Ray Casey has served in nonprofit and educational leadership for 35 years. He has led six different Christian schools in Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Carolina, Florida, and currently Louisiana. He specializes in leadership and team development with an emphasis on executive coaching. Ray has consulted and conducted strategic planning for a variety of schools, businesses, and international organizations. Ray has traveled to 45 countries and had the privilege to work with leaders from many different cultural contexts. He is fascinated with organizational archeology and has a keen interest around how leadership behaviors contribute to culture formation in schools. His doctoral dissertation focused on how leadership makes and breaks community in Christian schools.
Sean CaseyHead of School, Franklin Road Academy
Sean Casey has served as the head of school at Franklin Road Academy for the last nine years. During his tenure, he has led the school through two strategic plans, two master plans, and has raised over $47M toward these campus improvements. In addition, enrollment has grown nearly 60% and annual giving has more than tripled.
Sean has 30 years of experience in education starting out as a math teacher and coach for 17 years at the Peddie School before moving into roles as associate athletic director, director of external programs, and director of marketing and communications. He also served as head of the upper school at Wesleyan School for four years before coming to FRA. Sean holds a B.S. from Hobart College, a M.Ed. from Temple University, and an M.B.A. from Rutgers University. Sean has been a decorated educator and was awarded the Naismith National High School Coach of the Year in 2010 prior to stepping down from coaching.
Tracie CatlettHead of School, Greensboro Day School
Tracie Catlett joined Greensboro Day School (GDS) as the head of school in 2019. Her education career spans over 25 years including 11 years in the public school system and 17 years with independent schools.
Tracie received a B.S. in finance from Florida State University, M.A.T. in mathematics from the University of Louisville, and is expected to complete her doctorate in mind, brain, and teaching at Johns Hopkins University in August 2023. Her research and dissertation focus on the rise in stress and anxiety among adolescents at high achieving schools.
Tracie currently co-teaches a mindfulness class for juniors at GDS and recently conducted research on the effectiveness of a school-based mindfulness class on adolescent emotion regulation and perceived stress. In addition to serving on the advisory board for Authentic Connections, Tracie is also a member of the board for United Way of Greensboro and MISBO.
Scott CollinsAssistant Director of Admissions, University School of Nashville
Scott Collins has been the assistant director of admissions at the University School of Nashville for the past 11 years. In addition to his duties in the admissions office, he is a 9th grade advisor, high school boys’ head tennis coach, a faculty advisor for the high school Asian and Pacific Islander Affinity Group as well as the Transracially Adopted Affinity Group, and member of the faculty Cultural Competency Committee.
Michael ConnorPresident, Connor Associates Strategic Services
Michael Connor earned an M.A. in political behaviour from the University of Essex, England, and has since spent nearly 30 years in public, charter, and independent K-12 schools and colleges. He has a 360° perspective from a variety of positions. Prior to founding Connor Associates, Mike Connor was an experienced teacher, counselor, academic dean, admission director, development director, director of communications, and director of advancement.
Connor Associates Strategic Services has worked with hundreds of independent, faith-based, and charter schools in the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia since 1998.
His 2021 podcast with strategic partner Thom Greenlaw, Finance and Marketing: Overlooked Alliance for Success, was the most downloaded podcast of 2021 on InspirED. Connor’s articles on strategic planning, integrated marketing, and international programs have appeared in CASE Currents, Independent School Magazine, The Washington Times, The Los Angeles Times, and Education Week.
Clay ElliottHead of School, The Salisbury School
Clay Elliott is currently the new head of school at The Salisbury School in Salisbury, MD. He has also served as a head of middle school at Randolph School and St. Andrew’s School. Earlier in his career, Clay taught history and math, coached multiple sports, and served in a variety of teacher leader positions. In 2007, he graduated from the Klingenstein Center, Teachers College, Columbia University.
John GrantDirector of Curriculum Alignment and Worldview, Evangelical Christian School
John Grant is the director of curriculum alignment and worldview at Evangelical Christian School and the sophomore New Testament teacher. When not in the classroom, he is tasked with directing the school’s worldview integration throughout the school functions. In short, the school is pursuing an educational experience that is less about information about particulars, but reformation of the soul toward the unity of truth, goodness, and beauty.
Thom GreenlawSenior Strategic Partner, Connor Associates Strategic Services
Thom Greenlaw is Connor Associates’ senior strategic partner for finance, operations, and leads executive-level search services.
As founder of Creative Independents, a Sandwich, MA, based consulting practice, Thom specializes exclusively on the needs of nonprofit organizations, including independent schools, colleges, faith-based communities, and membership-based organizations.
Thom created the first long-range sustainable modeling in 2008 and this work was so successful that it was built out for TABS and NBOA and continues to be in use by these organizations today.
Thom served as president of Independent Schools Compensation Corporation (ISCC) from 2012-2021, a member-based self-insurance group which serves 180 Massachusetts-based independent schools, colleges, and cultural organizations. He also served for over twenty-five years in varying senior roles in independent schools. He most prominently was special assistant for strategic initiatives at Buckingham Browne & Nichols School from 2017-18 and assistant head for operations/CFO 2001-2013.
Janice GregersonCounsel, Venable
Janice Gregerson focuses her practice on employment counseling and independent school law. 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. She works collaboratively with her clients, actively joining their teams to ensure she is intimately familiar with each organization’s operations, mission, and environment.
Cintra HornAssistant Head of School for Student Affairs, Ashley Hall
A joyful school leader with a heart for equity, Cintra Horn delights in over 25 years of experience working with children of all ages across 10 schools, spanning seven cities and three countries. She has served in a wide variety of roles from band assistant to French teacher to division director. Cintra received her B.Ed. and Post-Bacc from the University of Manitoba and M.Ed. from the University of Toronto OISE. Cintra is energized by her new role, assistant head of school for student affairs, at Ashley Hall in Charleston.
Jim HulbertCEO, The Jane Group
Jim Hulbert, J.D., is a partner at The Jane Group and a labor and employment lawyer by training. Jim is the CEO of the firm and manages the ongoing caseload. With an expertise in board matters, Jim is the lead consultant on governance and complex legal matters. Jim works closely with board chairs and executive committees advising on complicated issues involving governance matters and best practices; leadership transitions; sexual misconduct investigations; employment disputes and DEI(JB) cases; as well as managing a response to social media campaigns against schools. He has presented at numerous domestic and international education conferences, working with schools in 38 countries on five continents since 2015.
Jim 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. Jim earned his law degree at Boston College, cum laude.
Jill JohnsonDirector, Capital Campaign and Planned Giving, Franklin Road Academy
Jill Johnson is the director of capital campaign and planned giving at Franklin Road Academy, a coeducational, PreK-12 day school in Nashville, TN. In this role, she leads all leadership and capital giving for the school. Under Jill’s leadership, the school recently completed a historic capital campaign raising $27M, and capitalizing upon the momentum of these initiatives has launched phase II and has raised more than $20M toward its goal.
Jill has more than 18 years of experience in capital and annual fundraising, alumni relations, and communications, having served as advancement director and development director for two independent schools and as a foundation executive director at a community college. Jill enjoys strategic planning, is innately positive, thrives at making things happen, and is inspired by a vision for what can be. She is a builder and connector and is passionate about organizational culture, storytelling, and building relationships.
Stephanie KeaneyExecutive Director, NCAIS
For more than 25 years, Stephanie Keaney has been involved in education. She is the executive director of NCAIS. She earned her B.S. in elementary education from Appalachian State University and a M.B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Stephanie’s proudest accomplishment was planning and executing a robust continuing education program for educators nationwide in response to the changing educational landscape after COVID-19.
Stephanie is a highly relational leader committed to empowering those around her. She has held various positions in her career, from classroom teacher to state-level leader. Stephanie has designed and delivered custom retreats, leadership development programs, and conferences for early-career professionals, classroom educators, and established leaders. She is committed to supporting independent school leaders and has presented at conferences nationwide. In addition, she has served in various leadership roles and board positions with nonprofit and community service organizations.
Doreen KellyHead of School, Ravenscroft School
As an experienced educational school leader, Doreen Kelly is responsible for administering all aspects of an independent college preparatory co-ed day school for grades Pk-12. Ravenscroft School includes 1,240 students, over 200 employees, an annual budget of approximately $33 million dollars, an endowment of approximately $20 million dollars, an annual fund goal of $1.5 million dollars, and a board of 22 members. Doreen graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in English and M.S.Ed. where she was captain of the varsity women’s volleyball team. She has additional training and experience from the Center for Creative Leadership and Delta Leadership. Her background includes being on the faculty for the NAIS Institute for New Heads. As a board-certified executive coach and seasoned nonprofit board member, she is drawn to the practice of supporting leaders who are interested in becoming more self-aware, developing strong connected teams who possess a goal to purposefully change their world.
Skip KotkinsSenior Consultant, Carney, Sandoe & Associates
Skip Kotkins has been a senior consultant at Carney, Sandoe & Associates for ten years. About half of his work consists of leading searches for heads and senior administrators; and half is working with schools and boards on a range of needs. Skip comes from the business world but has chaired 8 nonprofit boards, served extended 9-year terms on both the NWAIS and NAIS boards; worked with the largest and smallest independent schools in the country, in more than half of the states, and many foreign countries. Skip helped write NAIS Principles of Good Practice and has been a contributor to both the Trustee Handbook and the Head Search Handbook. In addition to his consulting work, Skip is a frequent writer and speaker on independent school leadership issues. Skip is a graduate (and former board chair) of Lakeside School in Seattle; has his B.A. from Williams College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Nina KumarCEO, Authentic Connections
Nina completed her undergraduate degree in computer science and psychology at Williams College. Prior to co-founding Authentic Connections (AC), Nina worked in user experience and product management at IBM Watson Health. At AC, Nina uses her multi-domain expertise to steer the organization’s data science and analytics efforts. She has published several peer-reviewed papers in leading scientific journals, as well as chapters for scholarly audiences and the general public.
Nija Majmudar MeyerVP for Enrollment Management, Woodward Academy
Nija Majmudar Meyer joined Woodward Academy in 2014 to lead the academy’s marketing and communications efforts. In 2017, her duties expanded when she was named vice president for enrollment management. She leads a highly skilled team dedicated to ensuring an exceptional experience through every step of a family’s journey, from their initial inquiry to graduation and beyond.
In 2022, Nija received the Enrollment Management Association’s (EMA) Rising Star Award, honoring educators who have distinguished their schools in the field of enrollment management. She has been a presenter and a panelist for multiple conferences and webinars including NAIS, EMA, Niche, Graduway, Veracross, INDEX, and TV Asia, among others.
Nija previously served in strategic marketing and consulting roles for The Coca-Cola Company, Andersen Consulting’s Strategic Services, and GE Capital. She graduated summa cum laude from Emory University and later received a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration.
Jeffrey MitchellHead of School, Currey Ingram Academy
Dr. Jeffrey Mitchell is the head of school at Currey Ingram Academy in Brentwood, TN, where he has been since 2014. He remains actively involved with the students he leads through coaching and teaching academic classes. Prior to coming to Currey Ingram, Jeffrey served for five years as head of school of Tuscaloosa Academy in Alabama, four years as director of Park Tudor Lower School in Indianapolis, and as a teacher and administrator for eleven years at St. George’s School in Vancouver, British Columbia. Jeffrey has written numerous articles and has presented on various topics in education throughout his career. He received his B.A. from the University of Winnipeg, and his master’s in educational administration and Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia. His focus and passion is educating students with learning differences.
David PerkinsonHead of School, Episcopal Day School
David has been in independent schools across the Southeast for his entire career which spans 34 years. David began his career teaching math, coaching, and advising at his alma mater, McCallie. He has served in a variety of roles over the years– scheduler at Charlotte Country Day, head of middle school at Spartanburg Day, head of upper school at Episcopal School of Baton Rouge, head of school at Episcopal Collegiate in Little Rock, AR, and currently as the head of school at Episcopal Day School in Augusta, GA. Since his time as head of middle school, David has worked to establish healthy social-emotional environments for faculty, students, and parents. He has partnered with Scott Tyink and leaned into the work at The Origins Program for most of the last 15 years or so.
Susan PerryAssociate Head of School for Wellness and Belonging, Forsyth Country Day School
Susan Perry, Ph.D., M.S.W., LCSW, is a proven, experienced interdependent, and relational educational leader who thrives in the nexus of campus life having served in executive and leadership roles at independent schools and in higher education. Susan served on two NAIS committees charged with examining best practices and providing recommendations to ensure the safety, health, and well-being of students. Susan has also completed extensive training in leadership development with the Center for Creative Leadership and is certified as a Better Conversations Everyday facilitator. Additionally, Susan has completed the Racial Equity Institute Groundwater and Phase 1 training and The Principals’ Center at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education program in Race, Equity, Leadership in Schools. Susan is a published author and holds an earned doctorate in educational administration. She is the associate head of school for wellness and belonging at Forsyth Country Day School and senior consultant with EXPLO Elevate.
Julie RustAssistant Head of School for Teaching & Learning, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School
Julie Rust serves as the assistant head for teaching & learning at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Jackson, MS, where she works to foster professional growth through faculty leadership and dialogic literacy practices. Prior to this appointment, she taught middle and high school English; received her Ph.D. in literacy, culture, and language education from Indiana University; and was an assistant professor of education at Millsaps College.
Ann Marsh RutledgeHead of Learning and Innovation, MV Ventures, The Mount Vernon School
Ann Marsh Rutledge is the head of learning and innovation for Mount Vernon Ventures. She has worked for The Mount Vernon School since 2014. Over the course of her career, she taught PK through grade 6 and served as a learning specialist and instructional coach. Ann Marsh received her B.A. in art history from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has her M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction from the University of Richmond and she is certified in Orton-Gillingham, as a reading specialist and as an ESL teacher. Her expertise is in inquiry-based learning, competency-based education, and applying neuroscience research to classroom practice. She loves working with educators to transform learning experiences.
Patricia SasserAssistant Head of School, St. Mary’s School
Patricia Sasser is currently the assistant head of school at St. Mary’s School in Raleigh, NC. Before joining St. Mary’s School, Patricia served as the head of the upper school at Ransom Everglades School. Patricia also worked at the Loomis Chaffee School as a dean of students. Prior to Loomis Chaffee, Patricia worked at her alma mater The Madeira School in several roles, including as a major gifts officer, director of student activities, and the assistant dean of students for residential life. Before transitioning into education, Patricia worked at ESPN in Bristol, CT, as an associate producer where she was a two-time Emmy nominee and a 2006 Emmy award winner. She earned her B.A. in English literature and in African-American studies from the University of Virginia. Patricia also earned a M.A. in educational leadership from George Washington University.
Yerko SepúlvedaDirector of Community Engagement & Belonging, Porter-Gaud School
Dr. Yerko Sepúlveda is the director of community engagement and belonging at Porter-Gaud School in Charleston, SC. He is an experienced teacher-trainer and educational consultant. In 2023, The National Diversity Council recognized Yerko with “The National Latino Award” for his leadership excellence.
He holds a B.A. in English, an M.A. in applied linguistics, an M.Ed. in bilingual education and diversity studies, and a Ph.D. in linguistics and intercultural competence.
He has facilitated learning for teachers in over 20 countries and has presented his work at national and international conferences. He also serves as a national and international leader in the following programs:
Meera ShahExecutive Director, Trey Education
With over two decades as an independent school educator and academic leader, Meera has mentored teachers, overseen the professional growth of faculty at the department and all-school level, run leadership teams, and shepherded curricular and programmatic change in schools. As a consultant, she’s coached teachers and developed teacher mentorship programs, provided both one-on-one and all-school leadership development programming for department chairs, facilitated departmental and team retreats, partnered with regional associations for professional learning, supported schools with program visioning, optimized schedules, conducted senior administrative searches, and more.
Meera partners with schools with the belief that change, growth, and empowerment are intertwined, and thus prioritizes authentic relationships, responsive design, and collaboration in her work.
Natalie SkinnerExecutive 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.
Scott TyinkHead of Middle & High School Development, The Origins Program
Scott Tyink, Ed.D, is an educational consultant for The Origins Program based in Minneapolis, MN. He taught in classrooms several years before co-founding Developmental Designs for Middle Schools. He leads weeklong educator workshops and consults in schools worldwide on social emotional and academic learning, advisory, and creating cultures of engagement.
Kristine VarneyDirector of Instruction, Norfolk Collegiate School
Kristine Varney has taught and served as an academic leader in a variety of school settings. She taught physics and math in public schools in Brooklyn for six years before moving to Houston in 2013 to serve as the upper school physics teacher and science department chair at the Emery/Weiner School. Kristine then served as the director of STEM education at the Foxcroft School for four years, bringing a love of STEM to Foxcroft’s girls through her student-centered, inquiry-based philosophy of teaching. Kristine currently serves as the director of instruction at Norfolk Collegiate School in Norfolk, VA, applying her collaborative, mission-driven approach to the academic program in grades Pre-K through 12.
Bob WestonSenior Vice President; Practice Lead, Independent Schools, 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.
Connie WhiteDirector of Learning & Innovation, Woodward Academy
Connie White is a visionary leader who has served as the director of learning & innovation at Woodward Academy in College Park, GA, since 2015. She is a former upper school physics, chemistry, and math teacher who became one of the first technology & learning directors of a 1:1 program in the southeast. Connie specializes in start-up innovation initiatives, STEAM, strategic planning, curriculum design, assessment, professional development, brain-based strategies, and pedagogy. She has conducted hundreds of workshops and seminars throughout the country and internationally. She is the president of the AATE ISTE affiliate, serves on the Association for Academic Leaders Advisory Board, and is a Paul Harris Fellow. Connie leads at Woodward in the areas of professional development, curriculum, and innovation. Connie was also the recipient of the 2016 ISTE ISEN Outstanding Educator Award, the 2020 ATLIS Pillar Award, and EdTech Digest’s Top 100 Influencers 2023.