Business Officers Make the Best Company

As new business officers gathered last week to learn and connect, we were reminded of the incredible community business officers have created.

Jun 21, 2022  |  By Jeffrey Shields, FASAE, CAE

Jeffrey Shields, FASAE, CAE
NBOA President and CEO

Community is the “secret sauce” of any world-class membership organization, and there was certainly no shortage of it just last week at NBOA’s Business Officer Institute. While your students took a well-deserved break from the classroom, nearly 60 new and “new-ish” business officers from across the United States and beyond joined BOI faculty and NBOA staff in our nation’s capital. Personally, I know when community is present when I walk into a room filled with ostensible strangers, and the volume of conversation is more at the level of a high school reunion than a first-time meeting of professionals. That is, and has always been, the hallmark of the group that gathers at the NBOA Business Officer Institute.

A powerful lineup of learning sessions, networking experiences, and, of course, fun, prepared this year’s BOI cohort to hit the ground running when the 2022-23 school year arrives. Empowered with knowledge, tools and now a national network that will support them, these strategic leaders are equipped to successfully steward their school’s finances and operations into the future.

BOI 2022 full group

The 2022 NBOA Business Officer Institute cohort at Georgetown Day School in Washington, DC.

“Our stellar faculty brought diversity of thought and experience to a variety of sessions and their mentorship of professional learning networks (PLNs),” commented Jennifer Hillen, NBOA’s chief learning officer. “Nearly the entire faculty served last year as a ‘virtual faculty’ when the pandemic prevented us from gathering in-person. Given the commitment and preparation asked of BOI faculty, it’s impressive that these individuals volunteered their time to share their insight and wisdom for two consecutive years.” The 2022 BOI faculty was comprised of:

Washington, DC, is such a vibrant independent school community, and our gratitude also goes to this year’s BOI host, Georgetown Day School, for providing the perfect space for learning and connecting throughout the week. We also thank our friends at Sidwell Friends School for welcoming the BOI cohort to campus for the closing night dinner and celebration.

BOI 2022 Reception

The opening reception. 

It was a particular honor to kick off the week in conversation on trendspotting and future-casting with my friend and colleague, Donna Orem, NAIS President, as we discussed the partnership between the head of school and business officer, best board practices, the power of data, and the importance of distributed leadership. Themes from this conversation continued throughout the week, with none more important than the leadership role of the business officer.

We pointed back to this powerful conversation throughout BOI as our learning remained anchored in the ideals of financial stability, operational sustainability, access, affordability, intergenerational equity, and our evolving value propositions, not only to families, but also to employees, as our schools seek to be employers of choice. Much of the learning and conversations centered around partnerships: the partner role the business officer plays with the head of school, the board of trustees, the leadership team, enrollment, development, office of equity/inclusion, and the full teams charged with the school’s finance and operations functions.

BOI 2022 table

Connecting at a session.

It's fitting that the first full day of learning began with a deep dive into independent school culture because business officers not only keep the school’s financial and operational health in check, but they typically choose to dedicate their talents to independent schools because of the opportunity to support and enhance our schools’ unique cultures. We are all here because of the powerful missions we can both serve and impact. Business officers who consider themselves educators and engage fully in the life of their school communities are not only financial and operational leaders, but also strategic innovators, cultural guideposts and changemakers.

After a nonstop week of learning and connecting, the leaders who completed BOI are now equipped with what they need to ensure sound financial health, smooth operations, regulatory compliance, and to contribute to strategy and innovation. I look forward to seeing what they accomplish on their school campuses in the years to come! 

And beyond the learning and powerful connections, what will personally buoy me through the summer is the community and collegiality that is always present when NBOA members gather. I hope each of you find your own personal restorative time in the weeks ahead so that you can bring your best selves to the opening of a new school year in a couple months. And remember, there is a community of colleagues within NBOA that will provide solutions and exchange ideas to support you as that time arrives! 


Jeff Shields

Jeffrey Shields, FASAE, CAE

President and CEO


Washington, DC

Jeff Shields, FASAE, CAE, has served as president and CEO of the NBOA since March 2010. NBOA is the premier national association serving the needs of business officers and business operations staff at independent schools. Shields, an active member of the American Society of Association Executives, has been recognized as an ASAE Fellow (FASAE) and earned the Certified Association Executive (CAE) professional designation. His current board service includes serving as a director for AMHIC, a healthcare consortium for educational associations in Washington, DC, as well as a trustee for the Enrollment Management Association. Previous board service includes serving as a director for the American Society of Association Executives, as a director for One Schoolhouse, an innovative online school offering supplemental education to independent schools, and as a trustee for Georgetown Day School in Washington, DC. Shields holds a BA from Shippensburg University and an MA from The Ohio State University.

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