This blog originally appeared in the Feb 2nd Catholic School Matters newsletter

Over 20 years ago, I began teaching in a diocesan high school with Jim McIntyre.  As our careers have taken us to different places, one thing that we’ve both noticed (Jim as a Diocesan high school president, me as a superintendent) is that there doesn’t seem to be any conferences or professional development specifically designed for Diocesan high school presidents/heads of school.  There seems to be robust networks of order schools but nothing for Arch/diocesan schools.  Our diocesan presidents, we suggest, could learn from our order schools and become better versions of themselves.

So Jim and I have put together just this type of conference July 15-17th.  The “Nashville Exchange” is designed to be an intimate gathering where best practices will be exchanged and relationships will be established.  Our objectives are to build a network of Catholic school presidents and highlight best practices established by successful heads of school all within the context of a collaborative that promotes safe and secure communication.

The Nashville Exchange does not have multiple tracks and lots of sitting and listening.  Rather we have designed an “unconference” that is based around listening to a fantastic keynote and then attending (and participating) in five guided discussions led by established leaders.  The Nashville Exchange will begin at 5 pm on Wednesday, July 15 and will conclude by lunch on Friday, July 17th.

The keynote speaker will be Fr. Dennis Holtschneider, CM, the president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) and the former president of DePaul University from 2004-17.  He will discuss leading for mission and share his experiences of leading Catholic institutions.  The guided discussions will be led by:

  • Tom Mengler, president of St. Mary’s University (TX), who will discuss successful fundraising.
  • Tom Long, FMS, a long-time Marist head of school, will lead the discussion on strategic planning.
  • Jack Peterson, current president of Managing for Mission and former president of Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma, will discuss spiritual leadership
  • Melodie Wyttenbach, the Executive Director of the Roche Center at Boston College, who will speak about building positive board relationships.
  • Jim, the president of Father Ryan HS in Nashville, and me will help put all the ideas together on the last day.

The Greeley Center of Loyola-Chicago has been kind enough to underwrite many of our expenses, and the Meitler Group and FACTS Education have signed on as partners.  Our host is the Diocese of Nashville and we thank them for their warm hospitality.  Here is a link to the Nashville Exchange flyer.  Please go to this link for more information and to register.