The Holdsworth Center brings first cohort of school leaders for session with Harvard & Stanford faculty


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

November 29, 2017

(HOUSTON, TX) – The Holdsworth Center’s inaugural District Leadership Program is bringing 42 public school superintendents and administrators from across Texas to the Houstonian Hotel this week to work with renowned faculty from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Stanford University as part of a 5-year program to help districts develop a steady pipeline of talent and put a dynamic leader on every campus.

The seven participating districts are Arlington ISD, Grand Prairie ISD, Klein ISD, Lamar CISD, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD, Round Rock ISD, and Southwest ISD.

The session will focus on encouraging leaders to be self-reflective, with a clear sense of their strengths and growth opportunities, as well as understanding how to work best in teams and leverage the skills of the group.  Participants will also work closely with faculty on root-cause analysis and strategic action planning in order to build robust leadership pipelines in each of their districts.

“Lasting changes at any organization are rarely due to one person. It’s not about the individual hero,” said Kate Rogers, Executive Vice President of The Holdsworth Center. “The best thinking and work happens in teams.”

Guest faculty for the Houston session, which begins Nov. 30,  includes Dr. David Bradford, Eugene O’Kelly II Senior Lecturer Emeritus at Stanford, who has written six books on leadership and team performance; Dr. Susan Moore Johnson, Jerome T. Murphy Research Professor in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, who is the co-author of six books and co-chair of the Public Education Leadership Project (PELP); and Dr. Elizabeth City,  Director of the Doctor of Education Leadership Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, who is co-author of “Strategy in Action: How School Systems Can Support Powerful Teaching and Learning.”

“The caliber of people we are bringing to the program is a testament to how much we believe in our public schools,” Rogers said. “Why shouldn’t schools have the same quality of leadership development as the world’s top private companies?”

The two-year 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 country are also aimed at helping them grow personally as leaders.

The program includes a total of six central office administrators per district, a team that will work to create and implement a strategy to transform the way their district manages the pipeline of leadership talent. The first cohort of principals from each district will begin a similar two-year leadership program in the summer of 2018.

“One thing that Holdsworth is trying to do is have everyone collectively leverage their strengths,” said Mike Rockwood, Executive Director of Community Relations for Lamar CISD and a participant in the program. “We are all in this for kids. When we work together, really unique outcomes can come forward.”

Since beginning the program in June, district leaders have explored personal leadership with Hitendra Wadhwa, a professor at Columbia Business School and founder of the Institute for Personal Leadership, and Ram Charan, one of the world’s most sought-after leadership coaches. They have attended site visits to school systems in Singapore and Ontario, as well as to H-E-B in San Antonio, to learn how top-performing institutions succeed through a focus on culture and strategic talent management.

“We’ve got to build capacity within the system and the organization to ensure that every student has access to a quality leader in the classroom as well as running the school building,” said Dayna Hernandez, Executive Director of Teaching & Learning at Klein ISD and a program participant.

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.

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.


The Holdsworth Center

Headquartered in Austin, Texas and founded by Charles Butt, a lifelong advocate for public education, the Holdsworth Center will offer 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