We are committed to...
  • encouraging diverse points of view.
  • continuous reflection and on-going improvement.
  • collegial relationships and ethical leadership.
  • independent education options for families.
  • promoting the independence of our schools.
  • quality standards without standardization.
  • assisting schools in fulfilling their missions.

Building Wise Boards

Date: Sunday - September 15, 2019
Time: All Day
Location: The Bush School (Seattle, WA)

This event has now reached capacity and registration is closed.



Building Wise Boards

September 15, 2019 - The Bush School, Seattle, WA
Registration will begin at 9:00am
Workshop will begin at 9:30am and conclude at 2:00pm.


This event has now reached capacity and registration is closed. Please consider attending one of the other three Building Wise Boards Workshops.


Formerly the New Trustees Workshop

In this workshop attendees will explore the role of trustee, and learn from experienced board chairs, heads of school and association leadership.

Offered throughout the year, each workshop is hosted by a different NWAIS school. Previously this workshop was recommended for those new to the role, but feedback was that it was universally valuable. All independent school board members are encouraged to attend.



The workshop is a necessity for new trustees as well as not so new. The information is outstanding!  - 2018 Workshop Attendee


Additional Building Wise Boards Workshop Dates and Locations

October 20, 2019 - Catlin Gabel (Portland, OR)

December 14, 2019 - American Heritage School (American Fork, UT)

March 22, 2020 - Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences (Seattle, WA)

Attendees will register for a specific date and location. If you need to move to different location please contact Cindy Steele, NWAIS Registrar.


Additional 2019-2020 NWAIS Governance Programming - Which Program is Right for You?

Building Wise Boards: This workshop focuses on board operations and case studies. This is best for those who are working on improving how your board functions and in identifying and exploring the role of trustee.

Institutional Leadership Through Governance (November 3-4): This two-day conference focuses on the the issues that boards wrestle with. The sessions are led by national thought leaders and  focus on trends in education, independent schools, and strategy. Heads of School find this meeting especially valuable when they attend with their board chair or executive committee, but Trustees of all levels of experience will benefit from the broad mix of sessions and topics.

Board Chairs and Heads Partnering to Propel Schools (May 16): This single-day workshop is specifically built around supporting the special relationship of the Head and the Board Chair as they lead the board and the strategic direction of the school. Attendees have a chance to deepen their partnership as well as developing connections with others who share their unique role in other NWAIS schools.


It's a must do! This workshop is great for anyone new to a board - with or without board experience. 

- 2017 Workshop Attendee

Some of the “Ah-ha” Moments From Previous Attendees:

  • Getting a better insight into the relationship between The board and Head of school. And how important that is for the long term viability of the school.
  • Good to get a sense of what other board structures, effectiveness and success has looked like.
  • Problems are not unique but I was pleased to see that our school is handling things correctly. Having never been on a board before it was great for me.
  • I think for me as a new board member was the clarification of my role as a board member that I take off my parent hat and think in terms of where our school will be 5,10,20 years down the line.
  • Role of board relative to school head, parents, teachers and school.
  • It was nice to get the perspectives of the group and how small or large independent schools have very similar problems.
  • I think it was great to have our board all hear the same thing from an independent source. Lots of ah-ha's


We can be a more effective Board if everyone goes through this session. - 2014 Workshop Attendee


Mark Crotty, Executive Director of NWAIS, along with one of our most experienced Heads of School and a seasoned Board Chair will lead this workshop to orient new board members to the roles, responsibilities and good governance practices of independent school trustees. Heads of school, new trustees, current trustees and board chairs, are all invited to attend.



Definitely worthwhile. It is practical in terms of our roles and responsibilities, and very interesting. The workshop brought together a fascinating group of very smart people who were great to work with.
 - 2017 Workshop Attendee



NWAIS Attendees

Early Bird (By August 28, 2019): $75
Regular (After August 28, 2019): $95


Non-NWAIS Attendees (anytime): $125


Definitely worth the time and effort. Really well done.  - 2017 Workshop Attendee

NWAIS Is Going Paperless.
All program materials will be provided electronically.

If there are pre-event materials, they will be sent to you via email about a week prior to the event. Please bring a internet connected device, download the materials in advance or print out the digital materials and bring them with you. We will not have hard-copy packets for attendees on-site.




NWAIS May Help Cover Travel Costs

The NWAIS travel reimbursement policy is designed to reimburse candidate and accredited member schools for some travel costs. This policy applies to a school’s total travel expenses (not the cost of rooms and meals), no matter how many people the school sends to the workshop. If your school spends more than $150 dollars on travel for this event and is traveling a distance greater than 250 miles you will be reimbursed a percentage of your expenses. Click here for more details



This workshop has been one of the most valuable and important each year for my new Trustees. They return to our September Board meeting raving about how helpful this has been in clarifying their understanding of the role and expectations of an independent school Trustee. The workshop has also helped them figure out how to be meaningfully engaged in sustaining and supporting our school. The value to me as Head and to the school has been critical to our success. I also think it has enabled our Trustees to truly enjoy their work, and when you're volunteering, that's really important. The opportunity to network with other Trustees has also been of benefit...
- Trish King, Director, The Island School


Cancellation Policy

Substitutions may be made any time prior to the conference. Written cancellations received by the Monday before the workshop are eligible for a refund after a $25 cancellation fee. Cancellations received after the cancellation deadline are ineligible for any refund.
<< Back

Explore Cohort Programs

Instructional Growth Cohort

is our newest cohort for our newest educators. In this cohort educators in their first five years of independent school teaching will meet regularly over the course of 6 months, to discuss ideas of pedagogy, planning, and professionalism.

Registration to Open Fall 2019

Emerging Leaders Cohort

is a two-year program to develop independent school leaders in taking the next step in their career.

Applications for Next Cohort Due May 2020

Pathways to Leadership Cohort

is a two year program to develop women who are interested in becoming a Head of School in the next 3-5 years.

Applications for Next Cohort Due May 2020

  • Guiding
  • Inspiring
  • Advancing
Northwest Association of Independent Schools
5001 California Ave. SW, Suite 112
Seattle, Washington 98136
T: 206.323.6137 • info@nwais.org
powered by finalsite