Accreditation Summit

The SAIS Accreditation Summit is an annual event where accreditation chairs and others experienced with SAIS accreditation come together to reflect on operational and strategic issues facing schools and how the SAIS accreditation process can continue to improve to help schools fulfill their missions.

If you are interested in joining us for a future summit, feel free to contact us at

2019 Summit

2019 participants: Cobb Atkinson, Elise Blackerby, Jefferson Burnett, Hunter Chadwick, Marifred Cilella, Betsy Fanning, John King, Marvin Lishman, Ned Murray, Tony Shaffer, Jackie Westerfield, Michael Zavada

2018 Summit

2018 participants: Marifred Cilella, Josh Clark, Lee Conner, Angie Crabtree, Pat Cuneo, Rachel Deems, Rick Johnson, Palmer Kennedy, Marvin Lishman, Ned Murray, Angie Ringley, Pat Taylor, Jay Underwood, Jackie Westerfield

Participants spent two days reviewing standards around mission, governance, and resources.

2017 Summit

2017 participants: Hunter Chadwick, Marifred Cilella, Sean Corcoran, Rachel Deems, Lee Hark, Palmer Kennedy, Marsha Little, Robert McGehee, Jay Underwood, Jackie Westerfield

More hot topics this year stimulated conversation about online education, independent school identity, and our ever-expanding commitment to protect students in our schools. Our participants also delved deeper into the impact international students have on our school communities and what the next big thing in accreditation might be.

They also worked through some of the suggestions we received from our Commission on Accreditation review committee. We will be updating our training procedures for chairs and schools as a result of these conversations.

2016 Summit

2016 participants: Marifred Cilella, Rachel Deems, Paula Gillispie, Palmer Kennedy, David Noone, Scott Phillipps, Kelly Sanderson, Pat Taylor, Jay Underwood, Jackie Westerfield

After rapidly reviewing several hot topics and how SAIS Accreditation can help schools react and respond, the group reviewed and refined various aspects of the process including the pre-visit, visit schedule, and documentation from the school.

This led to adoption of a list of expected documents and documentation, revisions to the chair-led training script, and review committee procedures.

2015 Summit

2015 participants: Marifred Cilella, Josh Clark, Denise Cooper, Pat Cuneo, Mark Hale, Susan Loubser, Robert McGehee, Steve O’Neil, Scott Phillipps, Pat Taylor, Sarah Whiteside, Michael Zavada

With assistance from Jill Gough and Mary Cantwell, SAIS used a Design Thinking protocol to review the experiences of the chair, the school, and the team member with an eye towards uncomplicating, demystifying, and simplifying the accreditation process.

This led to revisions to training protocols and the creation and addition of help files located in strategic areas of the SAIS Accreditation Portal.

2014 Summit

2014 participants: Cobb Atkinson, Susan Banke, Jim Callis, Lee Conner, Angie Crabtree, Paula Gillispie, Brian Kennerly, Jay Underwood

Using a technique that the SAIS Legacy Club helped design and perfect, participants reviewed the responses received over the course of the year for each of the indicators. Participants also reviewed all responses in accreditation visit reports.

This led to revisions in the language of the indicators, the instructions given to address indicators, and a revised team report that focuses on strategic goals and initiatives of the school.