The Holdsworth Center invites new districts to apply for 5-year program to build world-class talent management systems


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

August 9, 2018

High-resolution images and videos of program participants in action can be downloaded here.

(Austin, Texas) ­–The Holdsworth Center, a leadership institute for Texas public schools founded by H-E-B CEO and Chairman Charles Butt, is inviting eligible school districts to apply for a 5-year program aimed at building a strong, world-class leadership pipeline and talent development system.

Districts with a student enrollment of 6,000 or more are encouraged to visit and register for upcoming webinars. Interested districts should submit an intent to apply by September 14, and completed applications are due October 19. By 2020, The Holdsworth Center will identify and tailor an ideal program structure to serve smaller-sized districts based on specialized needs in attracting and developing leaders.

The Holdworth Center will announce the six new districts selected to participate in its second cohort by April 2019. The selection process includes a written application and site visits from Holdsworth staff members and advisers. Evaluators are looking for districts that demonstrate a commitment to talent development, as well as an alignment of vision among the superintendent, key leadership team members and the board of trustees.

While all expenses are covered thanks to a $100 million investment by Charles Butt, the program requires a time commitment of approximately 30 days per year from participants. The partnership represents an estimated $4 million investment in each selected district.

“We recognize that there is no quick fix when it comes to strengthening public school districts and leaders,” said Kate Rogers, President of The Holdsworth Center. “We’re in it for the long haul and want to help our partner districts make improvements that will stand the test of time.”

The overall Holdsworth program has three parts: District Leadership, Campus Leadership and District Support.

  • District Leadership — In the first two years, superintendents and a team of five key administrators from central office explore personal leadership, effective teaming, change leadership and aligned systems and structures.
  • District Support — Holdsworth’s District Support Team works closely with partner districts over the full five-year term to apply learning from the District Leadership Program, with a focus on building capacity and sustainability of robust talent management systems and practices from selection to evaluation.
  • Campus Leadership — Starting in the second year, districts spread the learning to campuses, selecting teams of principals, assistant principals and teacher leaders to participate in a program similar to the District Leadership Program. Each campus leadership cohort includes approximately 150 leaders from 30 campuses. Each year, districts send successive cohorts of principals to Holdsworth with the goal of serving 50 to 60 percent of the campuses over the course of the partnership.

To date, seven inaugural school districts are participating in the program: Arlington ISD and Grand Prairie ISD (Dallas/Ft. Worth), Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD (Rio Grande Valley), Southwest ISD (San Antonio), Round Rock ISD (Austin), Lamar CISD and Klein ISD (Houston).

Since June 2017, superintendents and their teams 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 headquarters in San Antonio, to learn how top-performing institutions succeed through a focus on culture and strategic talent management. Recently, district leaders visited the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Florida to take part in the corporate athlete program and learn how health and fitness play a key role in managing mental and emotional energy.

“Participating in the Holdsworth program is hands-down the most powerful experience I’ve had as an educator with more than 34 years of experience,” said Steve Flores, Superintendent of Round Rock ISD. “I’m so proud to be a part of this group.”


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 to improve, over time, the quality of education offered to every child in every classroom. For more information, visit