A Letter from Executive Director, Lisa Haney

With deep gratitude for the part you play as a member of this unique learning organization, I am looking back with pride at another year of challenge and change. Our new CATDC team hit the ground running last August, and I cannot imagine a better group of individuals to help create and manage the professional development needed most to meet the moment, empowering educators and leaders so that they can better support all young people to thrive. 

Steadfast in our commitment to providing new pathways for professional growth and fostering relationships across school communities, we leveraged hybrid, in-person, and virtual programming to enhance our impact and reach. We worked with over 70 facilitators, guest speakers, and coaches to deliver over 40 unique programs; fall and spring surveys, roundtable discussions, and school visits guided our responsive approach. As we look forward, we are poised to deepen our connections with member schools and collaborate with like-minded organizations to further our mission of centering equity, sparking innovation, and fostering impactful teaching and leadership. One such collaboration is coming up in August with CAIS: Leading During an Election Year


I believe that no professional development organization knows California Independent Schools the way we do at CATDC. And our team has the great pleasure of knowing many of you personally. Your stories inspire us every day, and I would like to share a few of them with you.

CATDC Team at Women + Leadership

Women + Leadership 2024

Sarah Shields from Carey School, a dedicated member of our Women + Leadership Conference committee and an Emerging Leaders alum, exemplifies our mission. Next year, she will step into a facilitation role for one of our ongoing programs. Sarah’s journey with CATDC showcases how our partnerships bring transformative ideas to life:

I have been participating with CATDC for over a decade now. I started attending the Women + Leadership Conference when I was a 3rd-grade teacher with the first notions that I wanted a career shift that would take me outside of the classroom yet remain in education. I knew that someday, in some way, I wanted to support teachers: I wanted to show them that they are seen, valued, respected, and that people at their place of work care for them. As a homeroom teacher myself for nearly 20 years, that was a critical piece of my experience that I always felt was missing. 

After attending W+L as a participant for a few years, I was inspired to join the planning committee. It was there that I started putting my toes in the water of sharing thoughts and ideas with others; and those ideas were heard, respected, and acted upon. This lit a spark inside of me that this is something I could do, I could bring influence to others’ experiences. My first years on the committee, when offered an opportunity to speak at the conference, I just wanted to say my name and wave. Over the last couple of years, I have stepped up to co-facilitate activities which had me speaking in front of large audiences for the first time. This was both frightening and exhilarating! 

This past year, I took part in the Emerging Leaders ongoing program which again allowed me to think of myself as a leader. I was so inspired by both the facilitators and the participants which led me to my next step of partnering with Rebecca Shapiro to ask CATDC if we could facilitate a workshop. Northern California Director Lauren Benjamin has been incredibly supportive of us—from us pitching our idea, to helping us create a proposal, and then workshopping our outline for Partnering with Teachers: Working Inside a School and Outside the Classroom

Throughout my decade of being a part of CATDC in different ways, I have gone through job and school transitions. Many of these came with great challenges. I always knew that I had Executive Director Lisa Haney and CATDC in my corner. I can tell from the way Lisa looks at me with such direct, wise eyes that she really sees me and believes in me and wants to see me succeed. I truly do not think I would be where I am today without the support, guidance and inspiration from CATDC’s entire team and the many fellow participants I have met along the way.

Sarah Shields, Curriculum Coordinator at The Carey School and CATDC Facilitator

Another community story comes from Justin Riddle of Polytechnic. As a Leadership Fellows alum, Justin will be taking on a new leadership role as a CATDC facilitator, co-facilitating an affinity space with Norman Frazier: Men of Color + Leadership: Trailblazing Pathways For Success and Community is dedicated to establishing a supportive community focused on the unique joys, challenges, and opportunities faced by leaders who are men of color in independent schools.


Our wide range of offerings provide countless ways to engage and grow professionally. Popular programs this year, such as those focused on AI and navigating difficult conversations, reflect the pressing needs for new learning. Ongoing cohorts for those facilitating affinity spaces in their schools and a Gender Sexuality Professional Alliance Group for LGBTQ+ educators have provided essential brave spaces in these times. New ongoing programs such as Teaching for Sustainability and Growth Starts Here featured truly dynamic formats that got participants out of their seats to explore host schools or the surrounding environment, incorporating place-based learning. Our partnerships with the fifteen member schools that have hosted us this past year have been invaluable.

Growth Starts Here 23-24 Cohort

Teaching for Sustainability Cohort
Teaching for Sustainability 23-24 Cohort

As you do your best to respond to an increasingly challenging educational landscape, often learning as you go, CATDC makes sure you do not have to go it alone. We stand as a unique institution, a school in our own right for educators and administrators unbounded by walls or traditional degrees where educators and administrators can learn with and from each other, opening up avenues for greater individual and collective success.

Thank you for another incredible year full of inquiry, connection, and growth. We look forward to more!


A lifelong educator of youth and adults, Lisa Haney believes deeply in the transformative power of education. She began her career focused on international and multicultural education, teaching in Japan, Mexico and Martinique before landing at the Athenian School in Danville, California. In her 25 years at Athenian she served in many roles, including international program director, literature teacher, and humanities department chair, before becoming dean of faculty development and a member of the leadership team. Beyond Athenian, Lisa has engaged in teacher education through UC Berkeley Extension, as well as the Berkeley and San Francisco Unified School Districts, and was selected for a year-long fellowship by the US State Department to support teacher development in Tanzania. Lisa holds a B.A. in English from the University of California, Berkeley and a M.A.T. from the School for International Training, Vermont. She is board chair at the Berkeley School and an enrolled student in a Masters/PhD program in community psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute.

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