PAIS 75th Anniversary Speaker Series: The Next 75 Years
Celebrating 75 Years of Service to Our Member Schools
Registration Required • No charge for PAIS Member Schools.
We hope you will be able to join us live, and the recording will also be shared with you.


As independent school leaders, your work leans towards the present and pressing. What if this paradigm were shifted to encompass not just the short term, but the mid- and long-term? How would adopting a futurist mindset (and becoming an urgent optimist) deepen what you do and strengthen your school? We’ll unpack what it means to be a futurist, apply this lens to an independent school ecosystem informed by trends and challenges, and consider scenarios that will help you and your team prepare for a strategic and successful future.

Program Overview

The maturation of artificial intelligence is transforming work and education at a rapid pace. How will the advances in human intelligence affect our lives in the future? How can machine learning and robotics be deployed to support, rather than detract from, student learning and human empowerment? Graduates of our educational institutions will shape our robot future and help us understand and manage the ethical implications of artificial intelligence. Promotion of technology fluency—the ability to be a developer and shaper, rather than merely a consumer, of these technologies—is the key to student success and personal fulfillment in the decades of change ahead. In this talk I will introduce a grammar for understanding the ways in which AI interrogates our identity as humans, and the ways in which we can prepare students for a challenging future.

Program Overview
"Thinking Like Futurists: Looking at Global Trends and Signals" aims to equip attendees with the tools and frameworks needed to anticipate and adapt to an ever-changing world. The webinar will delve into identifying key global trends, from technology to social issues, and will teach participants how to decipher the signals that forecast future scenarios. By embracing a futurist mindset, you'll learn how to make more strategic decisions for your organization, better understand the implications of emerging trends, and prepare for the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Join us to gain a deeper understanding of the world tomorrow and your role in shaping it.

Program Overview
The current paradigm of school, modeled after methods of industrial production, is dying. But, like any ubiquitous 150-year-old paradigm, it’s putting up a hard fight on the way out. Most educators have a sense of what the future of education should be, but HOW does a school get there? And what will make the fight and the journey so much easier soon? 


Program Overview
This session will focus on how we achieve inclusion and prosperity in a time in which demographic change, economic uncertainty, and political polarization have become major trends. How do we develop and strengthen a sense of community and shared fate in this context? What is the role of bold leadership, cross-sector conversation, and movement building in this vision? And, given this particular audience, how can educators and creatives play a role? Demographic and economic vitality changes and trends, both nationally and in Pennsylvania/Delaware, will be shared.

The National Equity Atlas is America’s most detailed report card on racial and economic equity. We equip movement leaders and policymakers with actionable data and strategies to advance racial equity and shared prosperity. The Atlas is a partnership of PolicyLink and the University of Southern California Equity Research Institute.


Jefferson G. Burnett

Jefferson Burnett currently serves as a strategic advisor to independent school heads and board chairs. He was formerly a vice president at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) for over 30 years during which time he led its global education, government relations, environmental and financial sustainability, advocacy, and accreditation work. Jefferson also served as a governance and leadership resource for NAIS and was the liaison to the Board Governance Committee and the Independent School Association Network. Before joining NAIS, Jefferson was Vice President for Independent Schools at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) where he directed services for CASE’s independent schools, two-year institutions, and international members. He has also been an adjunct instructor in anthropology at Georgetown University, a history teacher at the Robert Louis Stevenson School (California), and an English teacher at St. George’sSchool (Rhode Island).

Jefferson serves on the International Council for Advancing Independent School Accreditation as Councilor-at-Large and on the Professional Development Collaborative of the Washington International School (Washington, DC) Advisory Council. He recently completed two terms as a trustee at the Washington International School (Washington, DC), where he served as vice chair, co-chaired the Governance Committee, and was a member of the Executive Committee and Strategic Initiatives Task Force. He is a past Board member of the Edmund Burke School (Washington, DC) and the Advisory Board of the Klingenstein Center at Teacher’s College, Columbia University (New York).

Jefferson has an A.B. in anthropology from Columbia University, Columbia College (New York) and an M.Phil. in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge, King’s College. He is a graduate of St. Michael’s Country Day School and St. George’s School, both in Newport, Rhode Island as well as the Sherborne School in Dorset, England. Jefferson is an avid alpine hiker, zen gardener, and cooking enthusiast.

Illah R. Nourbakhsh 
Illah R. Nourbakhsh is K&L Gates Professor of Ethics and Computational Technologies at Carnegie Mellon University, inaugural Executive Director of the Center for Shared Prosperity, and co-director of the Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment Lab. He obtained his PhD in Computer Science from Stanford University. In 2009 the National Academy of Sciences named him a Kavli Fellow. In 2013 he was inducted into the June Harless West Virginia Hall of Fame. He was previously Robotics Group Lead for NASA/Ames during the MER landings. In 2019 he was named a Hastings Fellow. He has co-authored textbooks and popular literature, including Robot Futures. He is a trustee of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, Winchester Thurston School and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project. He is also a Director at Open Planet, a London-based Community Interest Corporation.

Antonio Viva
Antonio Viva is a Senior Associate. Previously, he served as the Executive Director of Artisans Asylum, one of the oldest and largest makerspaces in the United States. Prior to his role at Artisans, Antonio spent 12 years as the Head of School at Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, MA. During his tenure, he implemented transformative programs and oversaw the expansion of artistic facilities. Antonio's most recent achievement includes co-designing and founding The Boston Ballet School Professional Division at Walnut Hill, the nation's leading all-inclusive professional ballet academy. A child of immigrants and a first-generation college student, Antonio has dedicated his life to promoting diversity and inclusion. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Union College in English and Teaching respectively.

He is a sought-after speaker where he addresses topics such as understanding global risks, fostering creativity, design, and effective leadership. Antonio has been featured by numerous regional independent school associations across the United States and works as an executive coach and advisor. Antonio resides in the Boston suburbs with his family and two cats and maintains his personal art studio at Artisans Asylum.

Scott Looney
A graduate of DePauw University and Northwestern University, D. Scott Looney became Hawken’s tenth head of school in July, 2006. During his tenure, he has overseen the growth of the school from 950 students on two campuses to 1,600 students on four campuses, including the launch of the new Mastery School of Hawken and the addition of the Birchwood School of Hawken. In addition, Scott is the Founder and Board Chair of the Mastery Transcript Consortium, an organization of almost 400 independent and public schools working together to change the high school system of assessment, crediting and transcripting. Prior to becoming head of Hawken, Scott served in leadership roles at Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Lake Forest Academy in Lake Forest, Illinois and Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Scott is an influential voice in the national independent school arena, as well as a published author and frequent presenter. Scott has served as a trustee and executive committee member of the National Association of Independent School (NAIS), trustee of the Global Online Academy, faculty member at the NAIS Institute for New Heads and the NAIS Financing Institute, and Executive Director of the Midwest Boarding Schools Association.

Dr. Ezinne Nwankwo
Ezinne Nwankwo is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the USC Equity Research Institute (ERI). She holds a PhD in community health sciences from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Shaped by her experiences as an immigrant from Nigeria, Ezinne’s research interests center on the migration and immigrant experiences of Black and African populations. Her dissertation examined how residential contexts, especially ethnic enclaves, shape preterm births among Latinx mothers in the United States.