Change leadership drives Austin session of The Holdsworth Center’s District Leadership Program


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

January 18, 2018

(AUSTIN, TX) – Bestselling author and speaker Chip Heath will talk change management and “motivating the elephant” with 42 public school superintendents and administrators from across Texas who are part of The Holdsworth Center’s District Leadership Program.

Heath will help school leaders make changes within their districts by applying tactics in his book “Switch,” which uses the metaphor of elephant and rider to sketch out how to drive successful change. In Heath’s metaphor, the rider represents rational and analytical thinking, while the elephant represents emotion. Both the elephant and rider must be convinced to move down the path in order for change to occur.

Six months into the five-year program, the seven districts are poised to make significant changes within their districts to help create a stronger pipeline of leaders, with the goal that every classroom and campus in Texas thrives under inspired and dynamic leadership. 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.

“One of my top takeaways of the program so far is that leadership begins with “me” in the sense that I have to manage myself and how I view the world in order to be an effective leader for my organization,” said Mandy Estes, Chief of Teaching and Learning for Round Rock ISD. “This week, I’m excited to take that to the next level and learn how I can motivate change in those around me.”

The session begins this Friday at the Hotel Granduca in Austin. Also featured is Carole Robin, a former professor at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, who will focus on giving and receiving feedback, authentic communication and interpersonal dynamics. Susan Heath Hays, Chip’s sister and a “Switch” trainer, will lead the group through an exercise to apply the “Switch” framework to different scenarios.

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 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.

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 headquarters in San Antonio, to learn how top-performing institutions succeed through a focus on culture and strategic talent management.

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