Communication and Engagement Take Center Stage at San Antonio Session of The Holdsworth Center’s District Leadership Program


For Immediate Release                                  Media Contact: Melissa Ludwig, 210-380-0733

February 21, 2018

(SAN ANTONIO, TX) – What lessons can public school leaders take from the stage? Learning to speak persuasively, tailor messages and present ideas with authority to internal stakeholders can help leaders motivate a team to accomplish big goals and changes.

On Wednesday, 60 public school administrators who are part of The Holdsworth Center’s District Leadership Program, along with communications professionals from their school districts, will gather at the JW Marriott in San Antonio to focus on strategies to better communicate with impact. Skills such as executive presence, mindful listening, building trust and best practices in internal communications will be just some of the topics explored by a handful of experts and their peers.

Experts include Hitendra Wadhwa, the founder of Columbia University’s Institute for Personal Leadership whose teaching has been covered by Fortune, Psychology Today and the Wall Street Journal; Jeffrey Golde, a former actor and director in off-Broadway and regional theater and opera productions who coaches business students and executives on communication and presentation skills at Columbia; and Kate Rogers, Executive Vice President of The Holdsworth Center who formerly worked as a top communications executive at H-E-B.

Participants will delve into case studies highlighting the internal communications effort around the unprecedented H-E-B Partner Stock Plan, as well as Grand Prairie ISD’s KALEIDOSCOPE Schools and Programs of Choice initiative, designed to help families select schools based on program offerings rather than by geographic location.

The two-year Holdsworth Center District Leadership Program includes site visits to expose school leaders to other systems in order to stretch their vision of what’s possible. Workshops with top experts from around the globe are also aimed at helping them grow personally as leaders. Each district team is working to create and implement a strategy to transform the way their district manages leadership development and talent management. The first cohort of principals from each district will begin a similar two-year Campus Leadership Program in the summer of 2018.

Several months into the five-year partnership with The Holdsworth Center, the seven districts are poised to make significant changes within their districts to help create a stronger pipeline of leaders. The seven participating districts include Arlington ISD, Grand Prairie ISD, Klein ISD, Lamar CISD, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD, Round Rock ISD, and Southwest ISD.

Since beginning the program in June 2017, district leaders have explored leadership pipelines with Ram Charan, one of the world’s most sought-after leadership coaches, heard from bestselling author Chip Heath of Stanford University on change management, and learned the disciplines of root cause analysis and problem solving with Liz City of Harvard University. They have also visited school systems in Singapore and Ontario, Canada, as well as the H-E-B headquarters in San Antonio, to see how top-performing organizations succeed through a focus on culture and strategic talent management.

“So far, the program has been an excellent overall experience,” said Lloyd Verstuyft, Superintendent of Southwest ISD in San Antonio. “I am confident that if I can develop in all the aspects of inner personal mastery, I will be a better leader and a better person. I also feel confident that I will be able to work with others in my organization to scale up this process, taking Southwest ISD to new heights as a service district.”

Founded by H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt, The Holdsworth Center was created to help public school districts cultivate a pipeline of effective leaders to ensure that every classroom and campus in Texas thrives under inspired and dynamic leadership.

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 explore personal leadership in a setting that promotes reflection, thought and dialogue. Classes and team projects focus on critical topics such as change management, effective teaming, aligned systems and structures and best practices in talent management.


The Holdsworth Center

Headquartered in Austin, Texas and founded by Charles Butt, a lifelong advocate for public education, the Holdsworth Center offers world class training and leadership development to school districts selected to participate through a generous multi-year investment.  Named after Charles’ mother, Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth Butt, an educator and dedicated philanthropist, the Center’s goal is to successfully support and develop the leaders of the more than 1,200 school districts in Texas and the thousands of campus leaders in the state in order to improve the quality of education offered to every child in every classroom. For more information, visit