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NESA Fall Leadership Conference 2019

Rick Detwiler

Consultant on Governance & Boardmanship

NESA Governance Initiative

RICK DETWILER has worked with school boards as head of five international schools over the past 25 years, including three NESA schools. Born and raised in upstate New York, Mr Detwiler earned his BA at Dartmouth followed by graduate work at Tufts and the University of Vermont.

Before joining the international school community in 1988, he was a Naval officer, a Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana, and for ten years, a teacher and principal in Vermont.

Mr Detwiler will also co-facilitate a 3-day Governance Initiative Institute, "Board Trustee Development", with David Chojnacki and Teresa Arpin.


Mr Detwiler is married to his wife of 47 years, Sandi, a retired ESL teacher, and they have three grown children, all educated at international schools, and one of whom teaches at the American School of Doha.

Currently, Mr Detwiler is working with NESA on its Governance Initiative, in conjunction with his work conducting board training and strategic planning workshops for international schools throughout the world.

His particular interest in board development lies in developing school board training experiences that are action-driven and individualized for the specific needs of the client school.

Preconference Workshop - Oct. 23

The Fundamentals of Trusteeship in an International School (for new trustees)

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 23 - Royal Orchid Sheraton, Bangkok

The pre-conference workshop is a survey of the basics undergirding any high-performing international school board of trustees (a.k.a. "school board”). The outcomes are designed to bring relatively new trustees and heads of school up to speed on basic board principles and practices as well as provide veteran trustees and heads a refresher on what the literature cites as proven practices.

This workshop will present the fundamentals of serving as an international school trustee, exploring the role and responsibilities of a board of trustees and an individual trustee.

Topics addressed include Board Culture, School Mission and Vision, Principles of Good Practice for Boards of Trustees, Roles and Responsibilities, Policy, and Board Protocols. This will be an active workshop, where participants will engage in a range of activities including reviewing case studies, analyzing materials, and sharing perspectives.

Please bring your laptop/tablet to this workshop.

NOTE: The outcomes of this pre-conference are designed to prepare participants to fully engage in the three-day Governance Initiative workshop series ('Trustees Institute') at the FLC, where these topics and others will be explored at a more advanced level. Mr Detwiler will co-facilitate this workshop series with David Chojnacki and Teresa Arpin.

Target Audience:

New Trustees and Heads of School; also veterans interested in a refresher on governance.

Continuum Levels:

1, 2

Learn more about how NESA plans Professional Learning
NESA'S Learning Continuum:


OUTCOMES: The Fundamentals of Trusteeship in an International School (for new trustees)

Board Culture

Understand the challenge of international school governance and how it varies from corporate governance.

Mission and Vision

Recognize the importance of clear, consistent, carefully crafted foundational statements (mission, vision & values) and the role they play in decision making from the boardroom to the classroom.

Principles of Good Practice

Understand board behaviors that support the NAIS Principles of Good Practice.

Roles and Responsibilities

• Understand the roles and responsibilities of trustees in relation to: each other, the Chair, the Head of School, board committees and task forces, faculty, students, parents and the broader community.
• Have a general understanding of the activities the board engages in to address its fiduciary, strategic and generative roles.
• Understand the difference between being a board “member” and being a board “trustee”.
• Understand, in broad brush strokes, the line that separates the board’s field of responsibilities/duties from those of the Head of School.
• Understand that the board adds the most value when it operates in the strategic realm.


Appreciate the role of policies in the operation of a school; the criteria of effective policies, why policies are useful, and how “policy governance” works in a typical international school.

Board Protocols

Identify norms of board operations that enhance board effectiveness.

Sign Up/Cost

Please sign up via the Fall Leadership Conference registration form

Cost: US $150


Save paper and effort where possible!

For your convenience, and to support our efforts in being "green", all handouts/files posted here have been notated with an A, B, C or D indicating the following:

(A) hardcopies needed at workshop
(B) electronic version on laptop is sufficient (for viewing during the workshop)
(C) required reading PRIOR to the workshop
(D) file not needed for workshop itself, but simply material of additional interest/reference


Updates to handouts may be made until shortly before the start of the conference.