This program changed me in ways that I didn’t know I needed changing.”

Ray Borden

Principal, Arlington ISD

A photo of Ray Borden, a principal in Arlington ISD, laughing with a colleague during a Holdsworth Center Campus Leadership Program at the Campus on Lake Austin.
Principal Josh Leonard was photographed greeting a student with a fist bump on the campus of Blanton Elementary school in Arlington ISD.

Holdsworth Partnership

The Holdsworth Partnership is a 5-year multifaceted investment to help school districts grow a strong bench of outstanding leaders at all levels of the system.

We start by giving teams of leaders the inspiration, tools and resources needed to grow through our 2-year District and Campus Leadership Programs.

In addition, Holdsworth District Support Team members are embedded within central office to help leaders create an engaged culture and the structures needed to build best-in-class talent development systems.

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 Melissa Sestak and Quintin Shepherd of Victoria ISD during a Holdsworth Center District Leadership program session.

“Holdsworth is a game changer for kids because it empowers the adults to address problems head-on and make incredible gains for students.”

Michelle Nedd

Instructional Facilitator, Arlington ISD

Our approach

Our programs are designed with the belief that 70 percent of a leader’s development occurs through job-related experiences, 20 percent from interactions with others or coaching, and 10 percent from formal educational events. We strive to deliver learning experiences that span all three areas of a leader’s development. Working with teams allows us to bring a job-embedded component into every session we deliver.

Back in the district, our team of consultants works closely with district leaders to help them build best-in-class leadership development systems and create the right conditions for people to grow and flourish on every campus and in every classroom. Every time there is a principal opening, our goal is for districts to have at least two strong leaders ready to step into the role and make an impact for students from Day One.

Stronger Leaders

01 | Develop personal leadership

To give leaders the tools they need to build a solid foundation, Holdsworth focuses first on the leaders themselves. Change starts from within. When leaders are willing to grow, others are motivated to follow.

Stronger Leaders

02 | Grow & empower others

Next, leaders learn to empower others, coach them to success and build high-performing individuals and teams. We believe this muscle is built through exercise and create space during learning sessions for deep practice.

Stronger Leaders

03 | Create change

After mastering key leadership concepts and studying high-performing organizations, teams create a clear and compelling vision for student success. Leaders assess their culture, develop a leadership definition, lay out a roadmap for developing future leaders and drive the needed change.

Stronger Organizations

04 | Pipeline of ready leaders

At the end of the partnership, the goal is for districts to have strong talent systems in place that consistently identify high-potential leaders and invest in their long-term development.

Stronger Organizations

05 | Engaged culture

For a vision to take root, it must be planted in fertile soil. Leaders work to build a positive and caring environment where educators and students feel engaged, challenged and supported. Sustaining that culture requires a steady infusion of inspiring leaders at all levels.

Stronger Results

06 | Excellent & equitable student outcomes

Over time, we believe growing outstanding leaders at all levels of a school system will result in better outcomes for students.

How we invest in districts and campuses

01 | District Leadership Program

Often compared to the rigor of a graduate program, the 2-year District Leadership Program gives superintendents and their teams the opportunity to learn from some of the nation’s top leadership experts, receive intensive leadership training from our expert program team and study high-performing organizations in and outside the education sector. We also provide superintendents with executive coaches to reinforce on-the-job application of their learning and support them on crucial issues impacting their district.

Colin Curtin of The Holdsworth Center's District Support Team is photographed collaborating with leaders at The Campus on Lake Austin.

02 | District Support

A cornerstone of our model, our District Support Team embeds in partner districts throughout the 5-year Holdsworth Partnership, working together with central office leaders to define what great leadership looks like in their district, and the outcomes they hope to achieve. Our team helps districts build custom solutions to identify and develop future campus leaders, place them in leadership roles and support them as they progress in their leadership journey.

03 | Campus Leadership Program

In the Campus Leadership Program, principals plus a team of administrators, teachers or other campus leaders embark on a 2-year learning journey to become stronger leaders and create change by getting to the root cause of issues before generating solutions. To create a common language and understanding of leadership principles, Holdsworth invites 50 percent of schools within our Holdsworth Partnership districts to join the program. Principals receive one year of executive coaching to help them set and reach leadership development goals, and campus teams use the tools they learn over the course of the program to identify and solve a tough problem on their campus that impacts student learning.

Program timeline

A vector graphic image of The Holdsworth Center's 5-year-long program timeline.

“I am a stronger leader and learner. I am even more driven than before. I feel valued and respected thanks to Holdsworth. Holdsworth made me feel like the professional I am.”

Jennifer Moy

Teacher, Round Rock ISD

Districts in the Holdsworth Partnership

North Texas

  • Arlington ISD
  • Cedar Hill ISD
  • Dallas ISD
  • Garland ISD
  • Grand Prairie ISD
  • Mesquite ISD

Central Texas

  • Lockhart ISD
  • Round Rock ISD






South Texas

  • East Central ISD
  • Judson ISD
  • Harlingen ISD
  • Laredo ISD
  • Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD
  • Southwest ISD
  • Victoria ISD

Southeast Texas

  • Aldine ISD
  • Klein ISD
  • Lamar ISD
  • Spring ISD

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my district is a good fit for the Holdsworth Partnership?

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

  • Have dedicated significant time and capacity in recent years to improving talent systems but need support understanding growth areas and developing new systems to strengthen the district’s leadership bench.
  • Are committed to working in the district for five years until the Partnership is complete (Summer 2023 – 2028).
  • Have a superintendent and team of five senior leaders who are committed to formal learning sessions in the first two years (Summer 2023 - 2025) and are hungry to grow in the areas of personal leadership, growing and empowering others and leading change.
  • Are committed to recruiting and investing in about 50 percent of principals and their school teams to participate in the 2-year Campus Leadership Program.
  • Are open to direct guidance and feedback on the creation and implementation of talent systems and are ready to frequently work alongside Holdsworth’s District Support Team to do so (i.e., available for weekly meetings to align on key content and take on action items).

What is the time commitment?

The time spent in learning sessions and site visits is approximately 35-40 days over the 2-year District Leadership Program and 27 days for the 2-year Campus Leadership Program. Though the details of how learning is organized—in-person sessions at the Campus on Lake Austin, travel outside the state or virtual sessions online —will continue to evolve in response to our context, these time allocations provide a good guide for what participation in Holdsworth programs will look like.

Regardless of format, the learning experiences are comprehensive and involve pre-reading and preparation. Back in the district, central office leaders also work closely with the Holdsworth District Support Team to strengthen their approach to identifying, developing, selecting and supporting leaders.

What makes the Holdsworth Partnership different from other leadership development programs?

The Holdsworth Partnership is distinguished from many leadership development programs by its 5-year commitment and deep investment in a critical mass of leaders within each district.

We build capacity at the individual, team and system level because we know it contributes to sustainable improvement that positively impacts students over time.

Another key differentiator is the District Support Team, consultants who work in partner districts as thought partners and project managers to help move the work forward and keep everyone focused on the goal.

One thing you’ll find about Holdsworth is that we bring fresh ideas and perspectives to the table by looking for insights and expertise outside of the educational arena. While we understand the need to work within the system, we believe that stretching our leaders’ thinking and broadening their view of what is possible will result in new and valuable approaches customized for each district.

How does the Holdsworth Partnership differ from the Leadership Collaborative?

  • 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.

How many leaders from the district participate?

The superintendent and five other District Leaders participate in the District Leadership Program, including a District Champion selected by the superintendent to align the team’s efforts around developing a strong leadership pipeline.

The number of leaders in the Campus Leadership Program will depend on the size of the district.

Over the course of five years, our goal is to include at least 50 percent of a district’s campuses in the program. Campus teams include four people, a number that could expand for large, comprehensive high schools.

How does a district apply for the Partnership?

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