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Gatekeepers to Strategic Leaders: Reimagining the Role of the Admissions Office

Date: Monday - April 06, 2020
Time: All Day
Location: Charles Wright Academy (Tacoma, WA)


From Gatekeepers to Strategic Leaders: Reimagining the Role of the Admissions Office

April 6, 2020 - 9:00-4:00


Who Should Attend

Admissions professionals. The workshop is appropriate for all levels of experience.


Agenda and Workshop Description

9:00-12:00pm - Workshop 1: From Gatekeeper to Strategic Leader: Evolving from Admission to Strategic Enrollment Management

with Dana Nelson- Isaacs, Founder and President, DNI Consulting

Over the last decade or so, the admission role has evolved into the strategic enrollment management profession. This change is essential for schools to understand and prioritize enrollment as a main revenue source, as well as the driver of community composition. This workshop will educate and inspire participants to either begin or advance their admission effort into a strategic enrollment management mindset and plan. We’ll cover both theory and practice, and participants will leave with concrete ideas for how to move the needle forward to achieve greater enrollment management success.


12:00-1:00pm - Lunch


1:00-4:00pm - Workshop 2: From Gatekeeper to Strategic Leader: Evolving from Admission to Customer Experience Design

with Greg Bamford, Associate Head of School for Strategy and Innovation at Charles Wright Academy and former Head of School at Watershed School and Watershed's Chief Experience Officer, Mishel Gantz

Like many small young schools, Watershed School in Colorado once struggled to achieve full enrollment, but over the last four years, they have grown by 82%. This journey was not easy or pain-free. Greg Bamford, who was the Head of Watershed during this period of growth, and his admission director, Mishel Gantz, had to hear tough feedback, learn about their market, and grow as marketers and as leaders. Using a design thinking process, they generated new customer insights and began to understand which touch points were pulling families in--or pushing them away. 
In this interactive workshop, Greg and Mishel will begin with the experience of Watershed School, and will then introduce a designthinking framework for enrollment management and a conceptual lens for customer experience design. They will introduce participants to two hands-on design thinking tools for the admissions office: the “empathy map," a tool for generating customer insights, and “customer journey mapping,” a way to identify key touch points that can either generate parent loyalty or drive attrition. Attendees will leave with actionable new tools that help you understand your market better, a new perspective on how to relate to your customer, and the hands-on practice needed to do this work with your team.



Workshop Facilitators

Dana Nelson-Isaacs, Founder and President, DNI Consulting


Dana has twenty years of experience working within and between all levels of administration and faculty, parents, students, board members, and other community stakeholders regarding a range of topics including enrollment management, communication, marketing, and parent and student satisfaction.

In addition to on-the-ground experience working within schools in various admission and marketing roles at four different institutions, Dana is an expert in market research, enrollment feasibility studies and strategic enrollment management projects. Additionally, she has led projects as a consultant in areas including parent satisfaction, admission office efficiencies, staff coaching, curriculum planning, and exit interviewing.

Dana currently serves as the coordinator of the Bay Area Directors of Admission consortium, consisting of approximately 75 schools. Among a variety of tasks to keep the group up and running, she is responsible for professional development planning and other organizational leadership.

Dana holds a BA in Psychology from Lewis and Clark College and an MS in Counseling Psychology from Sonoma State University. She lives in Northern California with her husband and their elementary school aged daughter.


Greg Bamford

Greg Bamford is a speaker, consultant, and independent school leader. 

He is currently the Associate Head of School for Strategy and Innovation at Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma, Washington. Prior to this, he was Head of School at the innovative Watershed School in Boulder, Colorado. 

Greg is a co-founder of Leadership+Design, a nonprofit that supports educational innovation, as well as Traverse, a national conference on experiential and place-based learning. He is a member of the Board of Trustees at his alma mater, The Overlake School. 

Greg has been a featured speaker at a wide range of conferences and consults with independent schools nationally. He writes on education at www.gregbamford.education, as well as in publications like Independent School, Net Assets, and The Yield. You can find him on Twitter at @gregbamford.


Mishel Gantz

Mishel Gantz is the Director of Enrollment Management at Synapse School in Menlo Park, CA. Most recently, Mishel was the Chief Experience Officer at Watershed School, a grades 6-12 forward thinking, intentionally small, independent school in Boulder, Colorado. There, she was responsible for driving Watershed’s enrollment and bringing their student body to full capacity. She developed this through a deliberate, relational strategy with a plan to differentiate the school’s unique style and mission. She is also a seasoned teacher, having worked as a middle school teacher and a team leader at Wyatt Charter School in Denver, CO. There, she was the primary educator for their middle school math program. Mishel also taught the youngest learners (Pre-K & Kindergarten) at Children’s House, one of Boulder’s longest running and most inclusive preschools. Mishel holds a BA in Psychology from the University of South Florida and has multiple certificates and trainings in family systems, grief counseling, and enrollment. Most importantly, Mishel is a proud parent of two grown children of her own.



NWAIS Attendees


Early Bird (By March 5, 2020): $165

Late (After March 5, 2020): $195


Non-NWAIS Attendees:

$225 (anytime)



Your registration must be complete and payment must be postmarked or received by the appropriate deadline to be eligible for the early bird discount.

• For online registrations with payment by check, payment must be postmarked by deadline date.

• Online registrations paid by credit card must be completed by 11:59pm on the deadline date.



Cancellation Policy

Substitutions may be made any time prior to the conference. Written cancellations received by March 27, 2020 are eligible for a refund after a $25 cancellation fee. Cancellations received after March 27, 2020 are ineligible for any refund.


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

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