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Conferences and Workshops
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2012 Heads of School Conference

January 26 - 27, 2012

Chicago, IL

November, 2011

Dear Heads of School:
The theme of this year’s heads conference is “Rethinking Strategy for the 21st Century.” We will open with a presentation on this topic by two speakers from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.  Strategic planning is required by ISACS for accreditation, but, increasingly, schools and other non-profits are seeking alternatives to the traditional process.  Kevin Murnane and Brooke Vuckovic are particularly concerned that strategic plans take into account errors, turbulence, and failures in the environment in which they are carried out, namely our schools and the culture and relationships that exist within them.  They will present their “Failure Tolerant Strategy,” which can be applied to most aspects of leading, and will give participants the opportunity to try it out on an issue or two that is current in their schools.
After lunch we will have a series of workshops on four topics.  Want to read or re-read one of the most famous essays on education and discuss it with colleagues?  Ward Ghory, former head of the University School of Milwaukee, will return to lead a discussion on Alfred North Whitehead’s “The Rhythm of Education.”  Participants will be sent this 13- page essay to read prior to the conference.  Kellogg’s morning presenter Kevin Murnane will revisit an essential task for every head—building the administrative team.  Or you can choose to think about your school’s environmental impact in the light of findings by the Sustainable Schools group, through the eyes of their director, Wynn Calder.  The last choice is an innovative way to involve faculty and staff in the big picture of running a school, in this case Cathedral High School, a large ISACS Catholic school in Indianapolis, using “good thinking groups.”
Late Thursday afternoon and early Friday morning we have opportunities for regional meetings, the progressive heads group, and beginning and experienced visiting team leaders to convene.  
The group as a whole will reconvene Friday morning to hear from James P. Honan, co-chair of the Institute for Educational Management (IEM) at Harvard.  Dr. Honan is becoming one of the foremost teachers of financial management for independent schools and other non-profits.  His presentation at this conference in 2008 was well-received, and he returns to update his presentation on new tools and frameworks for assessing independent school outcomes and impact.
Friday afternoon we will retire to smaller conclaves so everyone can have their say on the contents of the conference and other issues facing our schools.  This conference is meant for heads to talk to the only people who truly understand issues of leading our schools—other heads.  The conclaves offer a more formal approach to this process, putting together heads of similar schools.  More informal opportunities are just as valuable--the lunches, the breaks, and Thursday night’s reception and dinner, which is included in you conference fee.
This year we are ending at 2:30 pm on Friday. We hope that you will make your travel plans accordingly to stay through the early afternoon.  
This Heads’ Conference is designed just for heads of schools.  The topics could not be more relevant to what we face as a group.  It would be great if all of you could attend.

Keith Shahan
ISACS President

Rethinking Strategy in the 21st Century
Click here to view conference brochure.

Dates and Time
The conference will begin at 9:30 am (registration at 8:30 am) on Thursday, January 26 and will conclude at 2:30 pm on Friday, January 27, 2012.

Keynote Speakers

  • Kevin Munane, Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management
  • Brooke Vuckovic, Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management
  • James P. Honan, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Featured Speakers

  • Wynn Calder
  • Ward Ghory
  • Steve Helmich & Richard Smith

Click here for keynote and featured speaker bios.

Schedule and Session Descriptions
Click here for conference schedule.
Click here for session descriptions.

Reception and Dinner - Thursday, January 26, 2012
All registrants and spouses/partners are invited to attend the official conference dinner at Quartino, 626 N. State Street.  The reception and dinner will be an opportunity to enjoy Chicago while mingling with your peers in a social setting. The reception begins at 6:15 pm with dinner following at 7:00 pm.

Pre-registration is required for this dinner event for yourself and your guest. Dinner is included in your registration fee; pre-registration is required during the online registration process. If you are bringing a guest, an additional fee of $75 is required. Please call the ISACS office to register your guest for the dinner. There is no onsite registration for the dinner.
ISACS will provide roundtrip transportation to/from Quartino’s. Please meet in the hotel lobby. More details will follow.

We invite heads of school to bring along their spouse/partner to Chicago. Spouses and partners are welcome to attend any session and lunch at no charge. If your spouse/partner plans to join ISACS for any of the meal functions, please call the ISACS office at 312-255-1244.

Conference Location
The conference will take place at the Swissôtel, 323 E. Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL.

Hotel Accommodations
The Swissôtel
323 East Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL

The conference will take place at The Swissôtel, designed by Harry Weiss, the Swissôtel is a triangular glass building – one of the distinctive features of the city skyline along the Chicago River. The hotel is within walking distance of the best attractions the city of Chicago has to offer like Millennium Park, Grant Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, the theater district, and the Magnificent Mile.

ISACS has secured special discounted room rates at the Swissôtel:

  • $139/night for standard king single or double occupancy.
  • $169/night for single or double occupancy plus access to executive lounge cache which serves breakfast each morning (6:30 am – 10:00 am) and evening hors d’oeuvres (5:30 pm – 9:00 pm) with soft drinks and water plus access to computer and internet/printer, newspapers and flat screen tv’s. To request access to the executive lounge, please call reservations at 312-565-0565 and request the $139/rate plus an additional fee of $30 to access the executive lounge.
  • The room rates above include complimentary Internet in the sleeping rooms and complimentary access to the health club.

Please call the hotel directly to make a reservation at 312-565-0565 to reserve a room and use the group code "ISACS 2012 Heads of School Conference" or  “ISAC0112. " Discounted room rates have been extended and are available until Friday, January 14th.  If you would like access to the executive lounge rate ($169), when calling reservations at 312-565-0565, make a reservation at the $139/rate with an additional fee of $30 for the executive lounge access.

Online hotel room booking is available here. Please note when booking online that in order to receive the $169 rate, you will need to make the online reservation and then call reservations at the hotel at 312-565-0565 to request the Executive Lounge upgrade.

Please note that any reservation cancelled within 48 hours of arrival date will be charged one night room and tax.

Directions and Parking

  • Click here for directions and parking information for the Swissôtel.
  • Special daily parking at the Swissôtel is $16 per day for the ISACS Heads of School Conference (Please obtain a voucher from the ISACS registration area to receive the daily discounted parking rate. Special overnight parking rates are $42 per night. If you drive a hybrid car, the Swissotel provides a discount.
Renovations to Swissôtel Lobby – Temporary Entrance Information
Please note: For the 2012 Heads Conference the Swissôtel main entrance/lobby will be closed for renovations. During the ISACS conference, the main hotel entrance on Wacker will be closed.  The hotel’s temporary entrance, will located at the North Driveway, which is located just east of the usual hotel entrance. Please pass the hotel’s main entrance and the Palm Restaurant, and make a right onto the North Driveway (which may be unmarked) and proceed approximately 1/2 block to the North Driveway entrance. The valet, front desk, concierge and taxi stand will be located immediately inside the temporary entrance. 

Registration Fee

  • $600 Member
  • $700 Non Member
  • 50% discount for those new heads registered for the New Heads Network. If you are enrolled in the New Heads Network, please call the ISACS office to receive a coupon code before registering for the Head Conference.
  • Registration fee includes Thursday evening dinner, 2 lunches and 2 continental breakfast.

Cancellation Policy
Cancellations must be received in writing to ISACS, 1165 North Clark Street, Suite 311, Chicago, IL 60610 or, ten business days prior to the Heads Conference to receive a 50% refund. Cancellations received less than 10 days before the event will not receive a refund.

Check back periodically for updates!

Questions, call the ISACS office at 312-255-1244.

Member Cost: $600     Non-member Cost: $700
Registration Deadline:  January 25, 2012


55 West Wacker, Suite 701 · Chicago, IL 60601 · Telephone (312) 750-1190 · Fax (312) 750-1193
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