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CAIS is committed to developing a vibrant community of leaders to support Canadian Independent Schools today and tomorrow.

The advanced diploma in school leadership is for those leaders in CAIS schools who see themselves as future Heads of Schools. This program is the appropriate next step for individuals with a minimum of three years of school leadership experience and who have completed the CAIS Leadership Institute Diploma (or equivalent) and are ready to explore seniormost leadership roles in a school.

Applications are now closed. 

Details on the 2025 program will be posted when available.



  • Thirteen month program combining virtual learning with three focused in-person sessions: July 8 to 13, 2024 | January 13 to 15, 2025 | July 7 to 10, 2025
  • Ongoing check-ins with facilitators and mentors
  • Leadership Self-Assessments, including a psychometric tool (for self awareness and understanding of strengths) and a 360 Feedback tool
  • Tailored advice for individuals to shape their leadership journey
  • Potential stretch opportunities for growth and learning
  • Curated reading lists for continued growth

View the detailed program curriculum below.

Facilitated by:

  • Dr. Katrina Samson, Principal at Havergal College
  • Jo-Anne Kingstone, Former Head of Aspengrove School
  • Val Cambre, Principal & CEO, Teal and Co. Inc.
  • Dr. Barry Wright, Dean, Goodman School of Business at Brock University

See Facilitator Bios below.


  • Program Fees: $6500 (due July 2024) and $6500 (due July 2025)
  • Program fees include all virtual learning activities, three in-person events at the White Oaks Resort & Spa in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario (including accommodation and food), assessment tools, and on-going support (check ins).
  • Participants are responsible for travel to and from the in-person events.

The LeAD Program Curriculum:

  1. Leadership Presence: Understand and develop elements of strong executive presence to create positive impressions build trust and credibility with others and leading, communicating, and presenting with authenticity for multiple audiences
  2. Relationship Management: Understand the various facets of the independent school governance model as well as the key elements of the Head/Board/Board Chair relationship. Understand the evolution of the relationships through stages of integrating in the role (contract, first 90-days, first year, renewal negotiation, Board Chair transition). Develop the critical role of the leadership team for the Head and the impact on culture, team accountability and succession. Develop an awareness of the key role of the Head and team in relation to the community
  3. Decision-Making: Learn and utilize tools/matrices for effective decision-making. Build a framework for both strategic and tactical problem-solving (critical thinking). Understand the impact of your decisions across the school/organization. Communicating what, why and next steps to your constituents
  4. Strategic Planning: Identify the Board, Head, Community role in developing and delivering the strategic plan. Understand the fundamentals of the strategic planning process, including identifying the Purpose, Vision, Mission and Values (PVMV), Eco-systems from which to build. Explore various SP models. Understand the implementation process (tactical plan and project management)
  5. Business Operations: Discuss and understand the role of the Head/Principal in Finance, Facilities, Advancement and Enrolment. Learn the fundamentals of the business operations leadership (roles) and how they are defined in schools, and what the leaders overseeing these portfolios need from the Head/Principal. Determine the types of questions you need to be asking your business operations leaders in order to make effective, informed decisions. Identify and understand the key metrics Heads/Principals are expected to report to the Board
  6. Organizational Design: Understand the key principles of organization design and how to apply them to the School in consideration of Operations Scope (size / budget / program delivery & promise). Establish (improve/enhance) a structure to maximize resources and deliver on the purpose, organizational objectives while leveraging strengths of the talent pool. Ensure a structure is established to enable succession planning, adjust effectively to changing priorities and have a positive impact on leadership development and growth
  7. Change Leadership: Develop an awareness of the reasons why change is necessary in organizations and the potential impact it can have on various constituents. Become familiar with different change management models, theories, and frameworks to gain a comprehensive understanding of how to effectively plan, execute, and sustain organizational change. Develop a robust change management project strategy that aligns with organizational goals and addresses potential challenges
  8. People and Culture: Understand the impact of strategic talent management and the principles of effectively attracting, retaining, and engaging teams. Understand the impact of culture - how to drive a performance culture, articulate the desired culture and influence an optimal culture. Establishing a competency framework and integrating it throughout the organization through all people programs - from hiring to off-boarding - and how to strategically position policy and process to be competitive and equitable. Learn to apply the lens of inclusivity throughout the talent strategy process that removes barriers and challenges bias
  9. Getting Hired: Create a strong professional profile (online and on paper) for application and consideration. Develop effective interview capabilities. Understand the hiring process and networking
  10. Leading Change: Understand the importance of evaluating the success of change initiatives. Measure and assess the outcomes of change efforts, gather feedback, and make necessary adjustments to ensure long-term sustainability.
  11. Leadership Lessons Learned: Reflect on one’s own leadership styles and strengths in the context of independent school leadership. Identify areas for development and create an action plan to enhance leadership competencies. 

Facilitator Bios