The Holdsworth Center, a new leadership institute based in Austin, has announced the first seven public school districts who will participate in the center’s inaugural cohort beginning in June. Founded by H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt, the Holdsworth Center has the goal of supporting and developing public school leaders in order to improve, over time, the quality of education offered to every child in every classroom in Texas.
The seven districts are:
- Arlington ISD – Arlington, TX
- Grand Prairie ISD – Grand Prairie, TX
- Klein ISD – Klein, TX
- Lamar CISD – Rosenberg, TX
- Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD – Pharr, TX
- Round Rock ISD – Round Rock, TX
- Southwest ISD – San Antonio, TX
These districts were selected from a total of 19 finalists from around the state. The other 12 districts named as finalists include Alief ISD, Austin ISD, Brownsville ISD, Cedar Hill ISD, El Paso ISD, Frenship ISD, Harlingen Consolidated ISD, Killeen ISD, Lubbock ISD, San Antonio ISD, Spring Branch ISD and Victoria ISD.
The selection process included both a written application and a site visit from Holdsworth Center staff and advisors. The evaluators were looking for districts that demonstrated an existing commitment to human capital and talent development and alignment of vision among the superintendent, key leadership team members and the board of trustees.
“We are excited to begin our first program with a strong group of districts who have dynamic leaders at the helm,” said Kate Rogers, Executive Vice President of The Holdsworth Center. “Though all seven are doing great work, they demonstrated a strong desire to continue to improve and an openness to innovative solutions. Our staff is eager to help. In the end, the work we will do together will benefit students by ensuring that every school has a great leader.”
The intensive 5-year program will kick off in June at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort outside of Austin, followed by a trip to Singapore in July to learn about the country’s methods for cultivating great leadership within its educational system. The seven superintendents and leadership team members will participate in a two-year program with the Center. The first cohort of school leaders (principals) from each of the participating districts will begin a similar two-year leadership program in the summer of 2018, with subsequent cohorts launching annually.
Through a unique set of experiences including international travel, exposure to the best leadership experts in the country, facilitated lectures with renowned faculty and group discussion, participants at The Holdsworth Center will explore their personal leadership in a setting that promotes reflection, thought and dialogue. Classes and team projects will focus on critical topics such as change management, effective teaming, aligned systems and structures and best practices in talent management.
Kate Rogers, the creator of H-E-B’s Excellence in Education Awards program and a previous Ford’s Salute to Education Award winner, serves as the Executive Vice President of The Holdsworth Center. Rogers previously served as the Vice President of Corporate Communication and Health at H-E-B where she oversaw all internal media and corporate communications as well as employee engagement programs for the company. She is also currently leading the development of a series of career-themed high schools in San Antonio known as the Centers for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) to support students in reaching their maximum potential while also helping to fill local workforce needs.
Lindsay Whorton, a former Rhodes Scholar and Fulbright Fellow, will serve as The Holdsworth Center’s Managing Director of District Services. Prior to joining the Holdsworth team, Lindsay worked for Boston Consulting Group, where she worked in retail and education, and served as the Legislative Director for Colorado State Senator Mike Johnston.
Marina Lin, a graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School, will serve as Managing Director of Programs. Previously, Lin served as Director of Strategy & Impact at The Future Leaders Trust, a non-profit leadership development organization that trained principals and CEOs to lead disadvantaged schools across the United Kingdom.
“The Holdsworth Center has been busy building an outstanding team of scholars and thought leaders who are passionate about education and ready to help Texas public school districts become a model for the nation,” said Dr. Ruth Simmons, former president of Brown University and Chair of the Board.
A staunch advocate for public education, Mr. Butt founded The Holdsworth Center to create sustainable improvement in Texas schools. The Center is named after Mr. Butt’s mother, Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth Butt, an educator, philanthropist and lifelong leader for social justice.
The Holdsworth Center will operate as a non-profit organization and Mr. Butt has pledged to invest more than $100 million in its creation. The Center is governed by a 17-member board chaired by Dr. Ruth Simmons, who served as president of Smith College from 1995 to 2001 and as president of Brown University from 2001 to 2012.