2021 Annual Meeting: Call for Programs

2021 Annual Meeting
Submissions for the 2021 Annual Meeting are closed. If your proposal is accepted, you will be notified in August. If you have any questions, please email programs@nboa.org or call 202-407-7140.

The year ahead will likely present considerable challenges for independent schools, and the need to exchange ideas and share solutions with peers will be paramount to our success. In these extraordinary times when agendas and priorities change week by week, many school leaders are tackling near-term issues. Soon enough, however, our community will need to plan for longer-term sustainability and best practices to help our schools thrive.

With this in mind, NBOA has opened submissions for the 2021 NBOA Annual Meeting, under the theme “Innovation State of Mind.” Needless to say, the entire sector has shifted gears rapidly over the past couple months, but innovation was unfolding in manifold ways before the pandemic — from the smallest transformations within individual schools to global shifts in the industry. Minor innovations may eventually gather steam to become a significant revolution, and all new thinking should be celebrated and leveraged.

We are seeking program proposals on pressing issues and creative solutions for business officers and other independent school leaders and professionals. Key learning tracks include executive leadership, business operations, human resources, risk management, facilities and accounting, finance and tax.

NBOA Staff

The 2021 NBOA Annual Meeting is scheduled for February 21-24 in New York City. Planning in-person events is fluid at this time, and we will be making every effort to keep program presenters and attendees updated with developments as circumstances change. As always, any decision with regard to the meeting will prioritize the safety and security of all attendees.

A hallmark of the NBOA community is the high degree of collegiality and peer-to-peer learning among the national membership. Whether we gather in-person, virtually, or through a combination of delivery methods, the 2021 NBOA Annual Meeting will proceed. We look forward to bringing business officers, controllers, human resource professionals, facilities directors, heads of school and other independent school leaders together for learning in a safe, productive learning environment.

Submitting a Proposal

The NBOA Annual Meeting features hour-long concurrent sessions, shorter and more concentrated goldmine sessions and a limited number of "deep dive" sessions, which are curated by NBOA. This call for programs is for Annual Meeting concurrent, deep dive and goldmine sessions as well as our upcoming webinar series. We strive to ensure that all presentations are timely and relevant to independent school business operations and industry trends, are creatively structured, utilize case studies from independent schools and provide a high degree of participant engagement.

Proposal selection will consider the needs and interests of the anticipated audience. Proposals should take into account the breadth of experience exemplified in the NBOA membership, from those in their first years working in independent schools to others with decades of experience, and should indicate any knowledge or experience deemed necessary for the audience (see below for more information on session levels). Other factors considered include value of content and learning objectives, new or different information, session speakers and format.

Preference will be given to presentations that address the conference theme “Innovation State of Mind.” This could include highlighting success in innovation or lessons learned from failures, and gradual or ground-breaking change. We are also looking for sessions that incorporate BIIS data where appropriate and are unique to or first delivered at the NBOA Annual Meeting. Submissions from NBOA members and particularly member schools are preferred, though membership does not guarantee selection.

Session Types and Programming Levels

In order to accommodate each learner’s preferences and prior experience, sessions are offered in a variety of formats and levels. Please select a session type and level that most appropriately suit your session. NBOA reserves the right to modify your selection as needed.

Session Types

  • Concurrent Session: These sessions are generally 60 minutes long, with approximately 50 minutes of content delivery and 10 minutes of questions and answers.
  • Deep Dives: These sessions are generally 90 minutes long and provide opportunities for smaller groups of attendees to discuss, share information and report learnings to the whole group.
  • Goldmines: These 15-minute presentations are delivered four times back-to-back, to a variety of attendees in a low-tech style with no PowerPoints or microphones. Presenters sit at a table with up to 10 participants per round, and may speak directly with up to 40 participants. This type of presentation is well suited to sharing a single idea or tool that has optimized one aspect of independent school business operations for you and your school employees.

Programming Levels

  • Basic: These are sessions for which limited or no prior knowledge about independent school business or the specific topic are necessary for participation and comprehension of the information presented.
  • Intermediate: These sessions require an understanding of independent school business to be able to fully participate and apply the learnings presented.
  • Advanced: These sessions are considered strategic and require substantial knowledge and experience in independent school business or leadership. They focus on the long-term viability of independent schools, change management, and strategic opportunities and challenges in school business operations.

Presentation Topics and Content Ideas

Session ideas recently requested by NBOA programs attendees include:

  • Affordability and accessibility
  • Board financial metrics
  • Business continuity
  • Crisis management
  • Cybersecurity and compliance
  • Data management
  • Endowment management strategies
  • Enrollment management
  • Financial sustainability
  • Governance and board relations
  • Human resources compliance and management
  • Legal compliance and updates
  • Long-range financial modeling
  • Master facilities planning
  • Schools of the future
  • Strategic leadership
  • Tax issues and unrelated business income

Perennially popular topics include:

  • Accounting, financial reporting, auditing, budgeting
  • Auxiliary services: summer programs, food service, campus rentals, school stores, transportation
  • Benefits, compensation, performance evaluations
  • Change management
  • Debt management
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Enrollment management and financial aid
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Leadership development
  • Risk management, emergency preparedness, safety and security
  • Succession planning
  • Operational issues including management of facilities and technology

Submission Guidelines

To ensure a fair, effective and efficient selection process, we have developed the following guidelines:

  • Proposals must be submitted by the submission deadline using the Call for Programs platform.
  • For full consideration, your program proposal must include all required information at the time of submission. Please make sure you have explicit consent from each co-presenter when adding them to your submission. Program proposals with incomplete information or speaker information "to be determined" will not be considered.
  • Business partners are strongly encouraged to present content; however, programs that directly promote a business or product will not be accepted. Programs that include a business partner and a business officer or business operations staff member have a greater chance of being selected.
  • NBOA reserves the right to edit session titles, learning objectives and session descriptions.
  • NBOA reserves the right to schedule sessions as appropriate over the entire conference and cannot guarantee a specific date or time for a session.
  • NBOA will not accept a proposal with more than three speakers for a concurrent session or one speaker for a goldmine session. Please use the presenter fields in the Call for Programs platform to list the speakers. Presenters listed in the “Notes” section of the submission will not be included in the program.
  • Organizations may submit a maximum of three session proposals. Additional submissions will not be considered.

Presenter Responsibilities

  • All presenters/speakers must register and submit payment for the NBOA Annual Meeting (full or single-day registration fee). If your program is selected, you will receive a "speaker code" that entitles you to a discounted registration rate for the entire conference. You must use this code when you register to receive the discounted rate. Registration opens in early October at www.nboaannualmeeting.org.
  • All expenses related to registration, travel and lodging are the responsibility of each individual speaker/presenter. In addition, speakers must make their own travel arrangements and book their own lodging.
  • You will receive your "speaker code" to register only after you have submitted your signed speaker agreement to NBOA. All presenters must agree to all responsibilities. It is the lead presenter's responsibility to advise co-presenters of these responsibilities.
  • If your program is accepted, all speakers included on the submission form must be registered and present at the NBOA Annual Meeting. NBOA reserves the right to cancel any program due to speaker substitutions after the program has been accepted. All speaker changes must be submitted to NBOA prior to October 1, 2020.

Submission Help

NBOA is using the Call for Programs hosted on a third-party event management platform, for program submissions. This is a separate system from the NBOA website so you will not use your NBOA website password to login—you will need to create an account on the platform before submitting a proposal.

The advantages of the submission platform are:

  1. You can start a submission, save it and continue editing it later.
  2. Having an account makes it easier to submit and manage multiple proposals.
  3. It streamlines the review process for NBOA and allows for easier communication between the Review Committee and submitters.


If you have technical issues, please contact the platform provider:

  • Cadmium Technical Support
    Hours: 9 am – 9 pm ET, Mon - Fri
    Phone: (Direct) 410-638-9239 | (Toll Free) 877-426-6323
    Email: support@cadmiumcd.com

If you have questions about the call for programs, please contact:

  • Lauren Anderson
    Manager, Professional Development Programs and Events
    Phone: 202-899-3089
    Email: lauren.anderson@nboa.org


Cover of Financial State of the Industry

Just Released: Financial State of the Industry BIIS Financial and Operational Indicators: 2019-2020

The only research study based on the audited financial statements of independent schools, the Financial State of the Industry draws on data from hundreds of NBOA member schools collected in the BIIS platform. This report considers financial and operational data from the singular 2019-20 school year, which ended with remote instruction for most independent U.S. schools. Changes in schools’ financial health occurred both before the COVID-19 pandemic and as a result of it.

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