District Leadership Program participants head to Dallas to study decision-making with top experts


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

December 13, 2017

(DALLAS, TX) – The Holdsworth Center’s inaugural District Leadership Program is bringing 42 public school superintendents and administrators from across Texas to the Four Seasons Dallas at Las Colinas this week to work with renowned faculty from the business and education sectors 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 decision-making, studying reform efforts in Denver’s public school system, the 1986 explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger and the race to the South Pole in the early 20th century to explore how decisions — and the way they are made — can lead to failure or success.

Guest faculty for the Dallas session, which begins Dec. 14, includes Tom Boasberg, superintendent of Denver Public Schools and former legal advisory to the Federal Communications Commission and former chief of staff to the chair of Hong Kong’s largest political party; Peter Sidebottom, a senior business leader and global consultant who served in executive roles at TD Ameritrade and Wachovia Corporation, and as a partner at consulting firm McKinsey & Company Inc.; and Dr. Vicki Phillips, who most recently served as education director for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and is a former superintendent of schools for Portland and secretary of education for Pennsylvania.

“The caliber of people we are bringing to the program is a testament to how much we believe in our public schools,” said Kate Rogers, Executive Vice President of The Holdsworth Center. “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 headquarters 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 www.holdsworthcenter.org.