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  • 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.

NWAIS Conferences, Workshops and Events

Redesigning The Admissions Experience for the Covid Era and Beyond

Date: Thursday - April 01, 2021
Time: 10:00 AM to 3:30 PM
Location: Virtual Workshop

10:00-3:30PM PST - Virtual Workshop for Admissions Professionals

Redesigning The Admissions Experience for the Covid Era and Beyond

April 1, 2021

10:00-3:30PM PST - Virtual Workshop





During this two-part, interactive workshop, facilitators, Dana Nelson-Isaacs, Greg Bamford and Mishel Gantz will guide admissions professionals through a day of rethinking the admissions experience. Based on their extensive admissions expertise, each session will help shift the way we approach relationship building with prospective families. Over the course of the day, attendees will have the time and space to take advantage of the market disruption created by covid, to challenge assumptions about what draws new families through the funnel and design strategies to engage them in new ways. 



Agenda (10:00-11:20am, 12:30-3:30pm)

10:00-10:15 – Welcome - Introductions/Setting the Stage

10:15-11:00 – Keynote with Dana - Shifting from Admissions to Strategic Enrollment Management - This session introduces the SEM mindset and goes into specific case studies and examples of how to put the SEM principles into practice.

11:00-11:20 - Evaluating current status - This interactive session will ask participants to reflect on current SEM practices at their school, and, with partners or in small groups, to discuss ideas for how they might improve particular elements of their SEM program

11:20-12:30 – Lunch Break

12:30-3:30 – Design Workshop with Greg and Mishel

Design Workshop with Greg and Mishel

Like many small young schools, Watershed School in Colorado once struggled to achieve full enrollment, but over four years, they grew 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 design thinking 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 practice unpacking recorded interviews with parents discussing their experiences at independent schools during COVID-19, leave with actionable new tools that help you understand your markets and customers, and get the hands-on practice to do this work with their teams.


Facilitator Biographies

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 Senior Partner at Leadership+Design, a non-profit organization he co-founded in 2014. As a full-time consultant with a wide range of schools, he has a particular focus on strategic planning, change management, and leadership development.

Greg was previously the Associate Head of School for Strategy and Innovation at Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma, Washington, as well as Head of School at the innovative Watershed School in Boulder, Colorado.

Greg is a co-founder of the Traverse Conference, a national conference on experiential and place-based learning. He is also on the Board of Trustees at his alma mater, The Overlake School in Redmond, Washington.

Greg has been a featured speaker at dozens of education conferences, and he 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: $95 if registration is completed by February 11, 2021

Regular: $135 if registration is completed after February 11, 2021

Non-NWAIS Attendees (anytime): $175 for virtual workshop


TO RECEIVE THE REGISTRATION DISCOUNT: Your registration must be complete and payment must be postmarked or received by the appropriate deadline.

For registrations completed by mail or 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 February 25, 2021 are eligible for a refund after a $25 cancellation fee. Cancellations received after February 25, 2021 are ineligible for any refund.




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Northwest Association of Independent Schools
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T: 206.323.6137 • info@nwais.org
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