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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.

Pathways to Leadership

Pathways to Leadership is a two year long cohort-based program to support and develop women who are interested in becoming a Head of School in the next 3-5 years. As a participant, you will work with an assigned mentor and engage in a number of activities to support your professional growth. Pathways to Leadership will use the framework of the NWAIS standards to build your competencies in areas such as governance, school finance and leadership.


Over the course of 2015-16, Briel Schmitz, head of Spruce Street School; Joan Beauregard, head of Hamlin Robinson School; and Ronnie Codrington-Cazeau, head of The Evergreen School, traveled throughout the NWAIS region and spent time over a meal with women in all phases of their leadership journeys. The goal of these events was to investigate how we can support the ongoing development of female leaders, and in particular, aspiring heads of school. This listening tour informed the content and format of this program.


Pathways to Leadership will serve approximately 18 participants. The first cohort will apply in Spring of 2016. The application will help you and the selection committee assess if this is the right time in your career to take on this program.

Application Components

  1. Resume
  2. Short statement of educational philosophy (no more than one page)
  3. Endorsement from current Head of School: An endorsement stipulates that the Head of School is aware that you are applying and is supportive of your participation.
  4. Career aspiration/time line (narrative answer - no more than one page)
  5. Using the NWAIS standards, what are areas of strength/expertise and what are areas that you hope to improve/grow in. (narrative answer - no more than one page)

To Apply

Send Application Packet to Emily McGrath, NWAIS Director of Professional Development

Overview of NWAIS Standards

  • School Mission
  • School Culture
  • Commitment to Diversity
  • School Program
  • Residential Program
  • Institutional Leadership
  • Administration
  • Finance
  • Institutional Advancement
  • Enrollment Management
  • Human Resources
  • School Plant
  • Health and Safety

For more information on each of these, please see 2014 Self Study Manual.


Applications for the Program will be due May 1, 2016 and selection decisions will be announced May 15, 2016. Enrollment must be confirmed by June 1, 2016. The Program will launch with a session to take place after the Leadership Institute (June 27-29, Sleeping Lady Resort, Leavenworth WA) this summer, and will continue through the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school year. Participants will be expected to attend the Leadership Institute.


Over the course of the two years participants will:

  • Work with a mentor to self assess, develop and carry out a professional growth plan for the duration of the program
  • Serve on an accreditation team (as space allows)
  • Attend Board Meetings (2-3)
  • Attend NWAIS Conferences Including:
  • Leadership Institute
  • Institutional Leadership Conference for Heads and Trustees
  • Fall Educators Conference
  • Business Officers Conference
  • Meet with NWAIS Legal Team at Karr Tuttle Campbell
  • Meet with an CPA firms that handles Independent School audits
  • Meet with a search consultant
  • Participate in a networking events

The overall time investment will include monthly meetings over the course of the year, which would include experiences with mentors as well as the participation in the conferences. Some will take place in person and others digitally.

Template Event Calendar

Download the template event calendar to get a sense of the type and frequency of meetings.


The total cost of participating in the program is $6000 ($7500 for participants from non-member schools) and is inclusive of all registration fees and housing during conferences. We recognize that this is a significant investment for individuals and schools, and would like to make it accessible by spreading out the cost over the two years.

The following is the schedule of fees:

  • Deposit: $500 Due upon enrollment, this will secure your space in the program and at the Leadership Institute
  • September 15, 2016: $2500
  • September 15, 2017: $3000

If you are able to pay for the entire course upon enrollment NWAIS would be happy to offer you a discount of 5% for a total of $5,700 for the two year course.

The additional cost of $1,500 for non-member schools will be adjusted across the program.

Cancellation Policy

View the cancellation policy.

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Northwest Association of Independent Schools
5001 California Ave. SW, Suite 112
Seattle, Washington 98136
T: 206.323.6137 •
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