NBOA's 2021 Annual Meeting Charts a New Strategy for the Future

The trends and events of this past year reminds us that change is a constant in our profession and across the educational, social, economic, and political landscape.

Mar 5, 2021

Feature image: Closing keynote speaker Cynt Marshall, CEO of the Dallas Mavericks, leads NBOA Annual Meeting attendees in the "Cupid Shuffle" dance to kick off 100 days of innovation.

More than 1,200 first-time attendees were among the 3,774 independent school business officers, heads of school, and leaders in operational areas from human resources to technology to facilities, attended the same diverse lineup of general sessions, “Deep Dives,” and concurrent sessions typically offered at NBOA Annual Meetings. The online format also provided a platform for value-added “Goldmine” on-demand learning sessions.

The virtual exhibit hall was online throughout the meeting, allowing members to connect with business partners and 105 exhibitors on a wide range of products and services, including a special “Power Hour” each afternoon. Online forums provided connection points for members, and lively Q&As and chats accompanied all the sessions.

From the powerful message about innovation delivered by Disney’s Duncan Wardle in the opening session to the closing session story of how education and personal drive propelled Cynt Marshall to become CEO of the Dallas Mavericks, the virtual NBOA Annual Meeting delivered inspiration, content and personal connections.

“None of us knew exactly what to expect from this new format,” said NBOA President and CEO Jeff Shields, FASAE, CAE. “But we were thrilled that so many members attended and that they actively participated in online discussions, adding much of their own content along the way. It was a ‘win’ for everyone.”

Session handouts and recordings are available for attendees in virtual meeting platform. 

Charting The Future

On Tuesday, NBOA Board Chair Chuck McCullagh, chief financial officer at The Williston Northampton School in Easthampton, Massachusetts, announced the upcoming development of a new strategic plan and asked members to respond to a survey coming this spring that will serve as the foundation for this process.

McCullagh also announced the launch of a new NBOA member constituent council – the Business Officers Council – an advisory and outreach council populated by volunteers to support members in the chief financial role at their schools. Its mission is to monitor major issues and trends on the horizon to inform NBOA strategic development. Learn more about NBOA's volunteer councils here.

NBOA Award Winners

“The NBOA Awards program recognizes individuals who embody the very best attributes and aspirations we value as a profession committed to advancing business excellence in independent schools,” Shields said in the annual awards presentation.

The 2021 NBOA Ken White Distinguished Business Officer award recipient is Donna Pacchioni, who served as chief financial officer at Hawken School in Gates Mills, Ohio, for 17 years before concluding her successful tenure there in June 2018. Most recently, Pacchioni has served a nearly three-year term as interim chief financial officer at Kentucky Country Day School (KCD) in Louisville, Kentucky.

Ken White Distinguished Business Officer Award recipient Donna Pacchioni, chief financial officer at Kentucky Country Day School.

The 2021 NBOA Sarah Daignault Outstanding Support of Independent Schools Award was presented to Tina and Paco Rodriguez of SAGE Dining Services.

Sarah Daignault Outstanding Support of Independent Schools Award recipients Paco and Tina Rodriguez, SAGE Dining Services

The inaugural 2021 Jeffrey Shields Award for Innovation Excellence in School Business Operations Award went to two schools:

  • Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, for its Esoteric and Molecular Laboratory program that developed a testing protocol for COVID-19 and processed thousands of COVID-19 tests for Hamilton County at a time when cases were surging in the South and testing was urgently needed.
  • Mount Vernon School in Atlanta, Georgia, for launching its consulting and design studio division that generated new non-tuition revenue and reinforced its position in educational thought leadership. 

Good Shepherd Episcopal School in Dallas, Texas, received an honorable mention for its creation of a new mission-aligned tuition model, the Tuition Guarantee Program, which allows families to choose from either the long-established standard annual contract or a divisional contract that commits a family to the school for the duration of the time that their child is in a particular division.

Brett Jacobsen, head of shcool for Mount Vernon Presbyterian School in Atlanta, GA, speaks to attendees about the Mount Vernon Ventures (MVV), an educational consulting business in which teachers serve as consultants to private and public schools throughout the country. 

Association Connections

The pandemic has driven many new approaches, partnerships, and innovations across the independent schools community. This was exemplified in a special Deep Dive session called “Association CEOs Futurecasting: Leading Independent School Innovation,” that featured the chief executives of the five associations in the independent school marketplace. They included:

Highlights of their discussion included inspiring examples of how independent school heads collaborated on ways to manage their schools through the pandemic, and how the shift to online content has helped capture knowledge that will be accessible for years to come.

In the spirit of innovation that was evident throughout the Annual Meeting, the association CEOs also traded stories about how innovations in the community that seemed almost impossible before the pandemic suddenly happened in short order as new approaches were born of necessity in the midst of the crisis. All agreed that sustaining this willingness to try new things – with demonstrated success – is needed to continue driving innovation in the future.

Wednesday's Highlights

Wednesday's Closing Keynote Session, “It’s ‘All In’ My Mind,” was delivered by Cynt Marshall, CEO of the Dallas Mavericks NBA basketball franchise. Marshall discussed what it means to innovate as an institution, starting with investing in the right culture and environment. "The people who get up in the morning are the people we want to come in the door. With their authentic beliefs, desires, culture – that’s who we want to walk in the door, we don’t want them to change so we are all the same," she said. Marshall then closed the 2021 NBOA Annual Meeting in an energetic "innovation party," where she led attendees in the "cupid shuffle" dance.

The all-virtual experience also featured ways for attendees to participate in on-demand activities, including the NBOA Get Fit: Run/Walk and Meditation and Yoga, facilitated by The Villij, a wellness community founded for for women of color to nurture their well-being at home, work and in their communities.

Each year, NBOA joins forces with a charitable organization to give back to a community in need. For this year's virtual meeting, NBOA partnered with the same charity as last year, Hands On Orlando, a nonprofit group that plans, manages and leads volunteer projects to help at-risk groups. We chose this organization, as 2 weeks after leaving Orlando, COVID-19 caused school closings, quarantines, lockdowns, and food insecurities to rise in the United States. This year Annual Meeting attendees virtually "packed a snack" for Hands On Orlando, along with their affiliates in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles by donating over $3000 through "NBOA Gives Back."

The May/June print edition of Net Assets will have more coverage of the 2021 NBOA Annual Meeting. The 2022 NBOA Annual Meeting will be held February 20-23 in Chicago. For details, stay tuned to nboa.org and nboaannualmeeting.org.




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