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NexGen Leaders Program

Leading CAIS schools has become more challenging and rewarding over the last two decades. Heads and Deputy Heads have to be strategic and tactical to respond to internal and external change. As our schools become more diverse in their student and parent bodies, so must our school leadership teams represent multiple perspectives and groups in our schools.

CAIS is committed to supporting leadership growth for Canadian Independent Schools, particularly for leaders who are currently underrepresented in senior leadership roles. This NexGen Leaders Program uses a cohort-based, coaching model over six-months, for 8 aspiring leaders. With the support of a leadership coach, each participant will learn more about the headship role, clarify their own leadership vision and take action toward it. In addition, there will be opportunities to establish new relationships with Heads, Board Chairs, and search firm consultants. Participants are required to commit to the full program (see below).

Applications are now closed. 

Details on the 2025 program will be posted when available.


Here's what some of our previous participants had to say about their experience:

"The NexGen program has enabled me to understand my true vision and values, guiding me to find the ideal school to fulfill my aspirations.

Furthermore, the program's emphasis on fostering connections and community has allowed me to engage with other heads of school and board chairs, enriching my perspective and providing invaluable insights into their leadership journeys.

With the knowledge and connections I've acquired through the NexGen program, I have secured a headship position that perfectly aligns with my vision and values, setting the stage for an exciting new chapter in my educational career.

I owe my success to the guidance, mentorship, and network this program has provided, and I recommend it to anyone seeking to elevate their educational leadership journey."

"I am thankful for the direction CAIS is going, and making the intention of NexGen and leadership explicit and transparent: it is a helpful step on the journey to more diverse leadership in Canadian schools.

I have already individually tapped 7 people to consider NexGen for next year. I hope to see some more BC faces in next year’s group!"

"The program had a significant impact on me. It enabled me to clearly define and express my leadership-related goals and crafted a comprehensive action plan. The networking opportunities with both peers and mentors have proven to be priceless. These are relationships that I will maintain and carry forward throughout my career."


Program Overview

Month Program Details Duration
July Cohort meets for the first time during the Summer Leadership Institute. Focus is on setting norms for engagement, building trust, and beginning to explore each participant’s own leadership vision. Full day, early July (Location TBD)
August Resources and exercises to help participants understand their own strengths and values, clarify their leadership visions and motivations to seek the Head’s role, and identify two or three meaningful objectives for the journey ahead. Up to each participant (self-paced exercises)
September Facilitated cohort discussions, panels with human resources representatives and current Heads, and one-on-one coaching session with leadership coach to develop individual objectives and action plans. 3 hours virtually
October Cohort gathers in-person at the Heads & Chairs conference. Specialized program to meet with search firm consultants, Board chairs, and join some keynotes at the conference 1.5 hours virtually
Half day October 27
Full day October 28 (Halifax, NS)
November Action plan execution feedback, panel with recruitment and other professionals emerging from the cohort needs, as well as one-on-one coaching session with leadership coach on action plan next steps. 3 hours virtually
December Closing this phase of the journey and developing plans and support mechanisms for the next phase 1.5 hours virtually
Throughout Each participant is responsible to develop their leadership vision and objectives, and take regular actions toward their objectives between group sessions. Each participant will also receive 3 private coaching sessions (30-min each) from September through December, at times of their choosing. On participant’s own time and schedule


Program Faculty

The program will be led by leadership coach Alex Radu (ICF Associate Certified Coach and formerly with Boston Consulting Group) who will be joined by a roster of independent school leaders and professionals throughout the program. Among others, CAIS is grateful to the following leaders for giving their time and support to this program: 

  • James Lee, Head of School, Bayview Glen
  • Colleen Keenan, Odgers Berendtson
  • Heather Ring, Caldwell Partners
  • Michel Shah, President and CEO, UpSkill Community
  • Claire Sumerlus, Head of School, Robbins Hebrew Academy
  • John Wray, Head of School, Mulgrave School

Program COSTS

$4,500 per participant which includes coach support and facilitation, resources, accommodation, and food. Participants are responsible for travel to and from the two in-person locations. Participants are encouraged to speak to their Head of School for sponsorship.

How to Apply

While the NexGen program was created to support leaders who self-identify as being from underrepresented groups (e.g., based on gender, socioeconomic, neurodiversity, multicultural, sexuality or intersectional status etc.), the program welcomes all leaders who believe in allyship and inclusive leadership.

Applications for the program are now closed. Details on 2025 applications will be posted when available.


This program has emerged as a result of several years of ongoing discussion at the CAIS Pluralism committee. CAIS thanks the committee members for their input and for the many Heads in the CAIS network who support NexGen leaders through sponsorship and mentorship.  


NexGen Leaders Program - Cohort 1, October 2023