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National Association of Independent Schools President Speaks at UPrep
  • Independent Schools
  • Leadership

Above, Head of School Ronnie Codrington Cazeau is pictured with National Association of Independent Schools President Donna Orem.

National Association of Independent Schools President Speaks at UPrep
Donna Orem’s speech focuses on leading schools through disruption

On May 9, UPrep hosted an event for area heads of school and their boards. We were lucky enough to be joined by Donna Orem, the president of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), who led us through a discussion titled "Leading and Governing our Schools Through Disruption.” The session was attended by school leadership and trustees from The Bush School, The Downtown School, UPrep, Westside School, and the Overlake School.

Donna Orem has served as the NAIS president since November 2016. She served as NAIS’s chief operating officer for 11 years before becoming president. In that capacity, she directed the organization’s strategic planning and provided vision and leadership for new initiatives, products, and services. She also oversaw human resources and talent management. Donna joined NAIS in 1998 as the vice president for educational leadership and later became the vice president for strategic initiatives and research. Donna is retiring in August 2023. It is a privilege to serve on the executive committee of the NAIS Board of Trustees, supporting Donna’s leadership and vision.

Donna’s speech focused on the forces that are disrupting education today and how we as school leaders have to lean into these forces in order to affect real change in our schools. She focused on five major challenges affecting our world: inflation, a volatile market, millennials being less well-off than their parents, the growing wealth gap, and the impacts of climate change. These real-world challenges affect schools in the areas of teacher shortages and turnover, competition in the job market, the health and well-being of students and employees, how many students now view the value of paying for college, and in how well our schools can compensate employees. These are all areas schools will have to focus on in the future to stay sustainable.

Her market research and data will provide focus points for me, the board, and our Senior Leadership Team as we work to keep UPrep sustainable and relevant to the Seattle marketplace. This conversation aligns closely with the work the Marketing and Communications Team, led by Mary Beth Lambert, is doing on branding. Who is UPrep in the Seattle market? What are our strengths and who do we serve best? This work will be completed this summer in time for our next admission season. Thank you to all of you who took the survey or met with the consulting team. Your comments were valuable as we work to affirm our identity.

Headshot photograph of University Prep Head of School, Ronnie Codrington-Cazeau

By Head of School Ronnie Codrington-Cazeau


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