CSO hosts inaugural Charter Board Presidents Leadership Retreat
April 21, 2023
More than 30 board presidents and vice presidents from GVSU-authorized charter public schools convened at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and DeVos Learning Center in Grand Rapids for the inaugural Charter Board Presidents Leadership Retreat.
The retreat, which was held in partnership with the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, helped board leaders collaborate on how to increase their collective capacity to govern and guide with integrity.
“Great charter public school boards operate with a civic spirit and great board presidents foster an inclusive and equitable environment that allow everyone to contribute," said Don Cooper, the assistant vice president for charter schools. "This event helps board presidents create this type of environment by exploring good governance in both theory and practice with top state and national experts. It underscores our commitment to help increase governing capacity across public schools chartered by GVSU and support board members as they exercise the responsibilities entrusted to them by the university’s Board of Trustees.”
The first session of the retreat drew from the life and of President Ford as a model for leading with character and humility. After hearing some of the history and philosophy behind Ford's leadership style, attendees had the chance to explore the museum to examine artifacts related to key leadership moments in Ford's life.
Board presidents then discussed the importance of civic engagement and ensuring civility was evident in all governance practices. The conversation was co-facilitated by former Democratic State Senator Buzz Thomas and Dr. Greg Warsen, a GVSU faculty member and newest Padnos/Sarosik endowed professor of civil discourse.
The closing session focused on deliberation and decision-making, and how board presidents can guide fellow members toward consensus on critical action items. The session was led by Dr. Kerry Sautner, Chief Learning Officer at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Sautner was joined by colleague Sarah Harris, the director for education at the Center.
"It was an honor for the National Constitution Center to join such a meaningful experience and to participate in a gathering of outstanding school leaders to converse on the Constitution and Civil dialogue practices," said Sautner. "We can build powerful tools to use with parents, teachers, and students by exploring what makes us "We, the people," and learning to engage in viewpoint diversity that affords growth and understanding in our communities."