Professional Development > Conferences and Workshops

Conferences and Workshops
(Click here for the 2019-2020 Professional Development Series PDF)


Essential Strategies for the Effective Business Officer
Grant Lichtman

Friday, May 9, 2014
9:30 am - 3:00 pm

Courtyard by Marriott Chicago Downtown Magnificent Mile
Chicago, IL

The rate of change in the world demands that independent schools re-imagine key relationships between our clients and the essential outcomes we want for our graduates. In a relatively static environment, failure to adapt may have played out over years or decades, allowing time to mitigate threats.  Today, a school’s failure to adapt through true innovation may mean marginalization within a much shorter time frame. This presents unique challenges and opportunities for the business officer.  How will business managers accommodate changing academic programs in their modeling and management of school finances?  How can they successfully play a role in developing a more nimble organization?  How can the business officer promote value-driven strategic thinking? How can and should the business officer help to break the silos that separate administrators, teachers, and our clients?  These are some of the questions we will address during a full day of provocative, design thinking-focused collaboration aimed at leveraging our collective experience and brainpower.

The day will comprise four sessions that build an arc from what innovation looks like in leading independent schools to a new approach of “zero based strategic thinking”.  Our facilitator for the day, Grant Lichtman, will initially report on key findings in his research, best practices he is encountering, and how our schools can adopt them. He will summarize the lessons from his extensive school visits and workshops with hundreds of business officers in 2012-13. The majority of the day will be a series of design thinking-based active-learning sessions that will help us test our foundational assumptions of cost drivers and tradition; dig into the sources of value in an environment of changing consumer demand; and begin to contemplate the processes through which business officers can lead and engage in the ongoing decisions about strategic-scale innovation.

Key takeaways from the day will include:

  • An overview of what “innovation” looks like in leading independent schools.
  • Understanding the concepts of disruptive innovation and industry-busting mutation within the context of challenges to independent schools.
  • Creating ideas for cost savings and revenue enhancement that have not been considered in past strategic plans.
  • Sharing strategies to promote organizational comfort with change
  • A list of actionable ideas to take back to our respective schools.

Grant Lichtman is Senior Fellow of The Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence and is currently developing a multi-year program on strategic collaboration with NBOA.  For 15 years Grant was Chief Financial and Operating Officer at Francis Parker School, a large K-12 school in San Diego; Parker won the annual NAIS award for financial sustainability during his tenure. In September 2012, pursuing a decades-long passion for transformational education, Grant packed up his Prius and set off on a three month, nation-wide research tour of 64 innovative public and private schools to learn how they are educating students for an unknowable future, how successful schools are making those changes, and to connect educators to leverage these lessons.  Since completing his journey, Grant has facilitated active learning sessions with more than 1,500 independent school business officers, heads of school, academic deans, and teachers.  His blog, The Learning Pond, has received over 85,000 views and he has a second book in progress summarizing his work with schools.

This workshop will take place at the Courtyard Marriott Chicago Magnificent Mile, 165 East Ontario Street, telephone: 312-573-0800.

The Courtyard Magnificent Mile Chicago is located just a one block east of Michigan Ave. Here is a link to the hotel's website:

The Courtyard is conveniently accessible by public transportation and taxis. Click here for directions and parking information.

Hotel Accommodations
ISACS has secured special discounted room rates at the Courtyard: $189/night plus tax (single or double occupancy) for the night of May 8, 2014. To make a reservation, call 1-800-321-2211 and use Group Code "ISG" or "ISACS" to reserve a room.  Click here for online reservations. Special discounted rates have been extended and are available until Tuesday April 15,  2014.  If you have a problem securing the rate, please call the ISACS office at 312-750-1190. 

Daily Parking - If you arrive by 9:00 am and leave by 7:00 pm, there is a special parking rate of $16.00. This is valid Monday - Friday only.  The garage is adjacent to the hotel and has a door to the hotel lobby. This is a self park only option. If you arrive after 9:00 am regular rates, depending on the length of stay, apply. The hotel does not offer valet daily parking. The self parking garage entrance is on St. Clair Street just south of Ontario Street.

There are several other parking lots in the surrounding area if the parking garage is full.
Overnight Parking - The self parking rate with in and out privileges is $49 and is valid from the time of check in until 3 pm of the checkout date, and must be arranged through the front desk upon check in. Valet overnight parking with in and out privileges is $62 from the time of check in until 3 pm of the checkout date.
Registration Fee
  • $190 Member Fee
  • $240 Non Member Fee
  • First registrant pays full fee, each additional registrant receives a $20 discount
  • Workshop includes lunch
Cancellation Policy
Cancellations must be received in writing to ISACS by emailing 10 business days prior to the event to receive a 50% refund. Cancellations received within 10 days of the event will not receive a refund. Registration may be transferred to another member from the same school. ISACS reserves the right to cancel the workshop for insufficient enrollment. In this case, participants will be notified and given a full refund. 
Questions? Please call 312-750-1190.


Member Cost: $190     Non-member Cost: $240


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