Holdsworth has improved our leadership trajectory, our leadership pipeline and our systems for principal selection.”

Dr. Martha Salazar-Zamora

Superintendent, Tomball ISD

Dr. Martha Salazar-Zamora, Superintendent, Tomball ISD is photographed smiling at The Holdsworth Center at the Campus on Lake Austin.
These leaders were photographed collaborating during a Leadership Collaborative session at The Holdsworth Center at The Campus on Lake Austin.

Holdsworth Leadership Collaborative

The Holdsworth Leadership Collaborative is an 18-month program designed to help district leaders build a strong bench of aspiring principals who are ready to step into school leadership positions when they arise.

Next to a child’s teacher, a principal has the most impact on their learning, according to recent research.

As demands on schools evolve and heighten, principals must be more prepared to navigate ambiguity and respond to challenges with creativity. The best way to learn is through experience, but often principals are hit with all the demands of the role on the first day- few training wheels exist.

Aspiring principals need more opportunities within their own districts to learn, grow and prepare for these critical roles, and, when given support and guidance, district leaders can design and develop systems that make this possible.

See a list of districts

Future cohorts

The application window for the 2023 cohort is September 1 – October 3, 2022. If you are a district leader interested in joining a future cohort or in receiving information about other learning opportunities, click below to sign up for notifications.

Sign up
A photo of a district leader during a Leadership Collaborative program session at The Holdsworth Center's Campus on Lake Austin.

“In Holdsworth, you learn things about yourself that you didn't know. You learn better ways to deliver for kids. You’ll never regret this investment because you’ll see a return.”

Dr. Gonzalo Salazar

Superintendent, Los Fresnos CISD

Our approach

A team of three – the superintendent and two district leaders – work with Holdsworth staff to define what great leadership looks like in their district and use this definition to design systems and structures to sustain their school leadership pipeline.

We chose the word 'collaborative' to describe this program because accomplishing the goals that have been set will hinge on Holdsworth staff and participants from each district working together in distinct ways.

It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Each district will have a different starting place, and the program will give them the tools to investigate top challenges and areas for opportunity.

By the end of the program, districts will have made significant strides toward building internal leadership development systems and will be well equipped to continue the work.

Tiffany Parkerson of College Station ISD is photographed during a Holdsworth Center Leadership Collaborative session at The Campus on Lake Austin.
A photo of a leader interacting during a Holdsworth Center Leadership Collaborative session on the Campus at Lake Austin.

A philosophy of partnership

Everything we do at Holdsworth is based on a philosophy of partnership. We are committed to providing world-class programming, and we listen to feedback to adapt our plans and ensure we are providing the support districts need.

Each district in the Collaborative will have an opportunity to:

  • Work with Holdsworth staff to learn best practices from organizations inside and outside of education that have built high-performing talent management systems.
  • Attend learning sessions at the Campus on Lake Austin, a setting that will allow teams to step back from the day-to-day and see their district’s challenges and opportunities more clearly.
  • Form strong bonds, share ideas and get help with challenges from a network of peers in other districts around Texas.
  • Put the insights and designs they’ve come up with into action in between sessions to figure out what works for their district. During sessions, district leaders will share notes and adjust strategies with help from peers and the Holdsworth team.

Holdsworth Leadership Collaborative Districts

Central Texas

  • Eanes ISD
  • College Station ISD
  • San Marcos CISD
  • Temple ISD
  • Waco ISD

North Texas

  • Irving ISD
  • Plano ISD

Southeast Texas

  • Conroe ISD
  • La Porte ISD
  • Pasadena ISD
  • Tomball ISD

South Texas

  • Corpus Christi ISD
  • Los Fresnos ISD
  • Mission CISD

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my district is a good fit for this program?

Texas public school districts with more than 5,500 students in any geographic region are eligible for the Collaborative and are a good fit if they:

  • Are early in their journey of developing talent systems aimed to strengthen the principal pipeline and are ready to start building their knowledge and expertise in this area.
  • Have a superintendent and two other senior leaders who are:
  • Committed to learning about and designing talent development systems throughout the 18-month program (Summer 2023 – Winter 2024).
  • Positioned to share and act on their new knowledge with other district stakeholders in between sessions.
  • Open to guidance and support from experts on the initial steps to develop talent systems.
  • Willing to accept coaching and feedback on the design and/or implementation of their plans.

How does the Leadership Collaborative differ from the Holdsworth Partnership?

  • The Leadership Collaborative is an 18-month program while the Holdsworth Partnership is a 5-year commitment.
  • The Collaborative involves a team of three – the superintendent and two district leaders – while the Partnership involves the superintendent plus five other district leaders who will spend time focusing on personal growth and leadership development in addition to building knowledge about talent development systems and leading change.
  • The Partnership includes a campus component – approximately 50 percent of all campuses in each district will go through a similar 2-year program as district leaders.
  • The Partnership includes District Support, Holdsworth staff members who embed within the district and work closely with district leaders to help them build talent development systems.

What are Holdsworth’s goals for districts who participate in this program?

There are four broad objectives for the Leadership Collaborative:

  1. Define what leadership looks like at all levels of the school leadership pipeline.
  2. Analyze and assess the strength of district’s principal pipeline.
  3. Build knowledge of best-in-class talent development systems.
  4. Determine critical talent management systems needed to strengthen the bench of ready leaders.

What kind of work will happen in session versus back in the district?

During sessions, Holdsworth staff provides high-quality programming that introduces new concepts while at the same time preparing participants to implement new strategies in their districts.

Between cohort sessions, district staff will put their learning into action, keeping a record of what’s working and what’s not. When leaders return to the next convening, they will share progress and barriers, learn from each other’s stories, and adjust strategy and next steps.

To this end, each session will be designed to:

  1. Ensure participants successfully learn new concepts and content.
  2. Prepare participants to execute on key projects when they return to their district.
  3. Provide space to reflect on progress, challenges, and next steps.

What’s the total time commitment and workload?

The program consists of 10 sessions from July 2023 to December 2024, for a total of 25 days.

Additionally, there will be reading assignments in advance of sessions, plus implementation of work around talent development outside of sessions.

After each phase of work between sessions, districts will upload a set of common artifacts that record the progress the team is making.

Where do sessions take place?

ll sessions take place at the Campus on Lake Austin, a space designed for learning, reflection and connection with peers. While in session, leaders have access to state-of-the-art classrooms, a 300-person lecture space, an open-air amphitheater, walking trails, well-appointed accommodations for overnight stays and a two-story dock classroom. In addition, all meals are provided.

Visit our campus page to learn more and take a virtual tour.

How does a district apply for the Collaborative?

Online applications for our second cohort of the Collaborative will open on September 1, 2022. You can learn more about eligibility and the application process by visiting this page.