NSBA 2020 Annual Conference & Exposition

April 4-6, 2020 | Chicago, IL

Leslie Odom Jr

Leslie Odom, Jr.

Grammy and Tony Award Winner, Actor & Musician

Headshot of Mae Jeminson

Dr. Mae Jemison

First woman of color in space & Founder and President, The Jemison Group, Inc.

Headshot of Shawn Achor

Shawn Achor

New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Advantage & positive psychology researcher

Join more than 7,000 school board members, superintendents, and education leaders from across the country and around the globe to gain valuable knowledge in leadership, advocacy, learning technology, urban school challenges, and safe schools.

The NSBA 2020 Annual Conference & Exposition is the one national event that brings together education leaders to learn about best governance practices, gain insight into child development and learn about new programs and technology that can help enrich student learning. NSBA 2020 is one of the few—if not the only—places where school board members from around the country can receive the training necessary to address the instructional needs of students and to improve the efficiency of district operations.

Conference Registration Fees

  Regular  Onsite 
Conference Fee $985  $1,100 
Spouse/Family Member Fee (18 years of age and over)  $100  $100 

*New this Year: COSA School Law Seminar attendees wishing to attend the NSBA 2020 Annual Conference must register for COSA School Law Seminar first and select NSBA 2020 Annual Conference to receive a discounted NSBA 2020 registration. 

The NSBA 2020 Annual Conference call for proposals is closed. Submissions for the NSBA 2021 Annual Conference will open in April 2020.

Schedule At-A-Glance

8 a.m. – 5 p.m.  Attendee Registration  
9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Pre-Conference Workshops  
1 – 4 p.m.  NSBA Community Service Project  

7 a.m. – 5 p.m.   Attendee Registration  
8:30 – 10 a.m.  General Session  
10:30 – 11:45 a.m.  Concurrent Sessions  
10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.  NSBA Community Service Project  
10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.  Exhibit Hall 
  Exclusive hours: 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. & 2:45 – 3:45 p.m. 
Noon – 12:30 p.m.  Study Hall Sessions  
12:45 – 1:15 p.m.  Study Hall Sessions 
Noon – 2 p.m.  Luncheons 
1:30 – 2:45 p.m.  Concurrent Sessions 
3 – 3:30 p.m.  Study Hall Sessions 
3:45 – 5 p.m.  Concurrent Sessions 

7 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.  Attendee Registration 
8 – 9:30 a.m.  Keynote Meal Event 
8:30 – 9:45 a.m.   Concurrent Sessions  
10 – 11:30 a.m.  General Session  
11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.  Exhibit Hall  
  Exclusive hours: 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. & 2:45 – 3:45 p.m. 
Noon – 12:30 p.m.  Study Hall Sessions 
12:45 – 1:15 p.m.  Study Hall Sessions 
Noon – 2:00 p.m.  Keynote Meal Events  
1:30 –2:45 p.m.  Concurrent Sessions 
3 – 3:30 p.m.  Study Hall Sessions 
3:45 – 5 p.m.  Concurrent Sessions  
5:15 – 5:45 p.m.  Ukulele Session Sponsored by NAMM  

7:30 a.m. – Noon  Attendee Registration 
8:30 – 9:45 a.m.  Concurrent Sessions  
10 – 11:15 a.m.  Concurrent Sessions  
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.  General Session 

Pre-Conference Workshops

Arrive early and attend a pre-conference workshop on Friday, April 3. All pre-conference workshops are ticketed events. They are open to all conference registrants, and tickets must be purchased in advance.

  • Full Day Workshops | 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

    #1: The Student Support Card
    Are you getting outcomes you expect from your investments in social-emotional learning programs, your caring school climate efforts, or your family and community engagement initiatives? Students who come to school with a thick developmental ecology that is sustained by the school sustains, and ideally increased perform better in school. The Student Support Card can assist you in measuring what matters in the schoolhouse and beyond. 
    NatCon/CUBE: $275 | Regular: $325 

    #2: Leading for Equity Framework - A Practical Guide for School Boards Looking to Begin or Accelerate Their Equity Journey
    The topic of "equity" is increasingly part of discussions about improving educational outcomes for our students. Far from being a buzzword or a passing trend, equity is the necessary path to achieve success for each student. Join us for this informative and interactive workshop that will walk you through the Arizona School Board Association's Leading for Equity Framework which includes specific steps boards can take to begin or accelerate their district's equity journey. In this workshop, boards will learn strategies for defining equity, getting familiar with their demographics, digging into data, practicing cultural agility and incorporating student voice. ASBA's Associate Executive Director, Communications Director and Board Support Specialists (who are both also sitting school board members) provide multi-dimensional insights and resources for school boards looking to progress their education equity efforts. Participants will leave with ASBA's Equity Framework Document containing guiding questions and resources. 
    NatCon/CUBE: $275 | Regular: $325

  • Morning Workshops | 9 a.m. – Noon

    #3: Understanding the Key Works of School Boards
    In today's high-stakes educational environment, the daily pressure on governance leaders is enormous. The more effective the board, the better a school district's students perform. NSBA's The Key Work of School Boards provides a framework that reflects "best governance practices" that are traceable to high performing boards and high performing school districts. This session provides an overview of a relevant and reliable governance guide with strategies and ideas that reflect board best practices. You'll explore the five Key Work action areas. 
    NatCon/CUBE: $215 | Regular: $235

    #4: Are you Asking the Right Questions When Analyzing Data to Improve Student Outcomes
    Boards receive data reports on a variety of topics from staff, but how many analyze that data through an equity lens to improve student learning? In this interactive session, participants will practice analyzing student achievement data and leave with a tool to more effectively ask questions about the data using an equity lens to inform their board work. 
    NatCon/CUBE: $185 | Regular: $205

    #5: Becoming More Engaged & Inclusive Educational Leaders: Strategies for Supporting Our LGBTQ & Historically Underrepresented Students
    Are you interested in a deeper understanding of issues of identity and diversity? Do you think about the climate in your schools? If you answered yes, then we hope you'll join us for an in-depth and engaging workshop for school board members and administrators to explore issues of social identity (specific focus on LGBTQ), privilege, oppression, and power that have a direct impact on schools. The program will help you strengthen your capacity and abilities to ensure all children feel respected, engaged, and welcome. 
    NatCon/CUBE: $185 | Regular: $205 

    #6: Turning High-Poverty Schools into High-Performing Schools - The Board's Role and Actions
    How do some schools overcome the powerful and pervasive effects of poverty to become high performing? Shouldn't every school be able to do the same? Board members will explore the critical role School Boards play in guiding and supporting district leadership to accomplish this work. The author will share compelling new insight and strategies from a recently completed study of 16 high-performing, high-poverty schools, adding to a growing consensus of what School Boards must do to improve under-performing, high-poverty schools. 
    NatCon/CUBE: $215 | Regular: $235

    #7: You've Been Hacked! A Step-by-Step Guide on What to Do When You've Suffered a Breach
    You just had a data breach at one of your schools, what happens now? Do you know how much it's going to cost you to fix the problem? Do you know what is required to return to compliance with state and federal law after you've been hacked? Data breaches and hacks are an ever-increasing problem facing schools these days. It's no longer a matter of if it will happen, it's a matter of when it will happen. This workshop will provide a step by step road map of what to do after you've been hacked or if your data is being held for ransom. 
    NatCon/CUBE: $185 | Regular: $205 

    #8: Fostering Grit - Encouraging Your Students to Succeed
    Grit is something we're all born with - from the homeless person on the street to the Harvard business grad. Most of us just haven't learned how to access what's already inside of us. In this workshop, participants will learn about the vital skills of grit and the 3 keys to creating a resilient climate. This engaging workshop will empower you to deliver these skills to students of any background and learning style, enabling them to thrive not only in school but in life. 
    NatCon/CUBE: $185 | Regular: $205
  • Afternoon Workshops | 1:30 – 4:30 p.m.

    #9: Governing Your District for Student Success: School Board Actions that Make a Difference for Students
    Research backs up what most of us intuitively know - school board governance truly does make a difference in student outcomes. But the rest of the story is not as intuitive. Multi-state research shows a correlation between certain board actions and student academic success, both positive and negative. Learn what your board should focus on to improve student outcomes, including closing the opportunity gaps for students of color and those living in poverty. 
    NatCon/CUBE: $185 | Regular: $205

    #10: Be an Undercover Mentor - Empowering this Generation
    It is harder to be a student today than ever before. Jessie Funk and A’ric Jackson understand not only the struggles faced by today’s teens, but also how to ignite honest conversations about the problems they face, and the tools needed to support them. The workshop is divided into two components: Leadership Styles and Conflict Resolution Styles. In this workshop, participants will leave with real tools they can use to better understand, inspire, and set positive boundaries with challenging teenagers who need to be invested in. You do not want to miss this workshop. NatCon/CUBE: $185 | Regular: $205
    #11: From the Courthouse to the Schoolhouse - Hot Topics in School Law Today
    This popular program, presented by members of the NSBA Council of School Attorneys, provides an overview of key principles of school law, and an in-depth look at several issues of key significance today. Participants will walk away with a better awareness of the questions you should be asking your school attorney before problems arise. 
    NatCon/CUBE: $185 | Regular: $205

    #12: The Work of Highly Effective School Boards & the Challenges of Poverty
    Highly effective school boards ensure that they align their work and engage stakeholders to focus on student achievement. These school boars take a team approach, plan strategically, understand and use data and technology and conduct superintendent evaluations and board self-assessments that clearly align with the most important work of the district. This session led by two experienced board trainers and an outstanding superintendent will focus on these best practices. 
    NatCon/CUBE: $185 | Regular: $205

    #13: Building a High-Impact Board-Superintendent Partnership - 5 Critical Questions You Need to Answer

    Drawing on Doug Eadie's newest book, Building a High-Impact Board-Superintendent Partnership: 11 Critical Questions You Need to Answer, this session will provide participants with detailed, practical, thoroughly tested guidance for building the kind of rock-solid board-superintendent partnership that is key to effective district governance. Participants will be actively engaged in real-life discussion exercises.
    NatCon/CUBE: $215 | Regular: $235

    #14: The Problem with People - Coping with Malcontents
    The Bully. The Victim. The Gossip. The Know-It-All. We all have people who push our buttons. They drain our energy, take us off track and infect other areas of our life. From co-workers to friends to family members, negative people create situations and drama in which we become frustrated, powerless, and ill-equipped to find solutions. This negativity costs you, your business and those around you. Unfortunately, there is no getting around the fact that some people are just difficult. What you CAN change is your reaction and your tactics. The key is finding effective ways to work with negative people by building positive, successful relationships. Success depends on being able to recognize and respond appropriately to different behaviors and situations. This workshop will teach you specific strategies and effective communication skills for dealing with all kinds of People. 
    NatCon/CUBE: $185 | Regular: $205

    #15: School Leaders Guide to Creating Trauma Sensitive Schools
    One in four children in every classroom have been exposed to early childhood trauma. The toxic stress that results from early exposure to traumatic situations leads to changes in brain development that can be connected to bullying, attendance and discipline problems. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study discovered that childhood trauma leads to the adult onset of chronic diseases, depression and other mental illness, violence and being a victim of violence. School board members can bring attention, focus, and resources to the goal of becoming a trauma-informed school district through effective leadership and policy oversight. In this interactive session, school board members will learn about trauma-informed education and how they can implement change in their districts. 
    NatCon/CUBE: $215 | Regular: $235 

    #16: Ready-Set-Govern! Beginning Your Board Adventure
    Welcome to your new role and the opportunity to make a difference for all kids in your district. Now that you are on the board where do you begin? How do you get your questions answered? What is your exact role? How do you handle those difficult questions by the same people that elected you? Join us for this fun, interactive session with your colleagues and members of different state associations as we explore the ways to make you the best board member possible. Ready! Set! Govern will be full of opportunities to ask questions in a safe and fun environment. NatCon/CUBE: $215 | Regular: $235

Meal Events

Dine with your school board colleagues and NSBA council boards while hearing from distinguished speakers at these popular events.

  • Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) Keynote Luncheon

    Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) Keynote Luncheon
    Tony Plana, actor, co-founder and executive artistic director, East LA Classic Theatre (ECT)
    Saturday, April 4 | Noon

    Council Members: $75 | Regular/NatCon/CUBE/State Association Staff: $90
  • National Hispanic Council of School Board Members Keynote Luncheon

    National Hispanic Council of School Board Members Keynote Luncheon
    Sonia Nazario, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author
    Saturday, April 4 | Noon

    Council Members: $75 | Regular/NatCon/CUBE/State Association Staff: $90

  • National American Indian/Alaska Native Council of School Board Members (AIAN) Keynote Breakfast

    National American Indian/Alaska Native Council of School Board Members (AIAN) Keynote Breakfast
    Dr. Stephen Sroka, speaker, trainer, author, teacher and educational consultant
    Sunday, April 5 | 8 a.m.

    Council Members: $75 | Regular/NatCon/CUBE/State Association Staff: $90

  • National Black Council of School Board Members (N Lunch & Learn BC) Keynote Luncheon

    National Black Council of School Board Members (NBC) Keynote Luncheon
    Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr., chair of the Center for African American Studies and the William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies, Princeton University
    Sunday, April 5 | Noon

    Council Members: $75 | Regular/NatCon/CUBE/State Association Staff: $90

  • Lunch & Learn

    Lunch & Learn is a unique opportunity to network with your peers and discuss a wide range of timely topical areas such as school safety and equity in education. These informal sessions enable you to take part in important district-level conversations moderated by an experienced facilitator. Each table has a different topic, and you can choose to spend the entire time at one table topic or move about based on your interest level. A box lunch is provided, so skip the long lunch lines at the conference center and be part of what is sure to be a rewarding educational networking session.

    Fee: $25

  • CUBE Urban Night Out (UNO)

    CUBE Urban Night Out (UNO)
    Saturday, April 4 | 6: 30 p.m.

    CUBE Districts: Free | NatCon: $85 | All others: $100

Programming Highlights

  • Equity

    As part of NSBA’s dedication to ensuring that all students receive the resources and support they need to succeed, we are offering sessions throughout the conference focusing on a range of equity issues. Our goal is to provide you with crucial background information and specific strategies and plans to advance your work towards providing an equitable education to every child.

  • New Board Member Training


    Essential training to help new board members hone their leadership skills and give others a chance to refresh their knowledge while networking with colleagues from across the country.

  • School Board/Superintendent Relations

    NSBA 2020 is packed with peer-selected educational sessions on the most pressing topics and issues faced by superintendents and administrators. Hear from expert speakers and participate in educational sessions designed to inform and inspire.
  • School Business Officials

    Whether you’re new or seasoned in managing district operations, the following sessions were designed to deepen your knowledge and skills essential to optimizing business operations for your school district.

  • School Safety

    Supporting and promoting the physical and emotional safety of students is critical for student success. Learn best practices that promote safe and supportive learning environments for every child.

Experiential Learning Visits

The Discerning Eye: Adult Interactive Workshop at the Art Institute of Chicago

Friday, April 3 | 1:00 – 4:30 p.m. 

Hosted by the Art Institute of Chicago, education leaders will experience a different kind of museum visit tailored for professionals and lifelong learners across all fields and disciplines. The Institute’s galleries will serve as a unique setting for facilitated awareness and skill-building exercises. Spend your afternoon exploring how developing your skills of close observation, communication, collaboration, narrative-building, empathic thinking, and implicit bias awareness enhances your role as a leader within your school district and community. 

Transportation is included, but space is limited. Separate registration required. 

NatCon/CUBE: $100 | Regular: $125

Chicago Builds Program at Dunbar

Friday, April 3 | 9 a.m. – Noon

Opened in 2016, Chicago Builds is the only city-wide Career and Technical education program of its kind. Currently housed inside Dunbar High School, Chicago Builds is a two-year construction trade program which aims to connect 11th and 12th graders with industry leaders to learn the trade skills necessary to succeed in the construction industry fields, including electricity, welding, HVAC and carpentry.

Students who participate in the Chicago Builds program benefit from the following: a partnership with Kennedy-King/Dawson Tech that allows students to graduate high school with college credit and matriculate to one of the multiple city-colleges in the city or go straight into the workforce; industry-recognized certifications; work-based learning opportunities that allow students to connected with industry representatives over the course of their studies; and technical curriculum taught by construction trades professionals with decades of experience in the trade field and who are certified by Illinois State Board of Education. Students are also eligible to apply for pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeships after completion of the two-year sequence. These experiences are invaluable to the development and confidence of our students who are seeking post-secondary careers in this field.

Transportation included. Space limited. Separate registration required.

NatCon/CUBE: $75 | Regular: $95
Credits: 3

Kenwood Academy Coding Program

 Friday, April 3 | 9 a.m. – Noon

Kenwood Academy is one of the premier neighborhood schools in the Chicago Public Schools system. Located on the south side in historic Hyde Park, students engage in a quality high school experience that prepares them for post-secondary success. The newly formed Computer Science (CS) department provides students with opportunities to explore and engage in CS concepts that foster critical thinking. Students have an opportunity to earn a CS honors designation on their diploma by passing required coursework and can participate in the after-hours school robotics club or Girls Who Code group. During Computer Science Ed Week, students participated in field trips and learned from guest speakers from Google, Toyota Technological Institute, and Argonne National Laboratory.

Transportation included. Space limited. Separate registration required.

NatCon/CUBE: $75 | Regular: $95
Credits: 3

Community Service Project

Take a few minutes out of your conference schedule to volunteer at NSBA’s Annual Conference. Community service opportunities include repackaging food for weekend food programs, providing backpacks filled with school supplies and providing a special note of encouragement to a student. Join education leaders in serving students in need from local Illinois communities.

The Community Service project will be at the McCormick Place West Building

  • Friday, April 3, 1 – 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 4, 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 5, 11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Your help makes a difference! This event is complimentary to all attendees while supplies last.

Conference Information

  • Directions and Parking

    Click here for directions to McCormick Place and parking information. NSBA recommends parking in Lot A, which is connected directly to the West Building.

  • NSBA 2020 Chicago Hotels

    You must be registered for the conference before you can reserve housing. All reservations should be made prior to February 28, 2020. Room availability and conference rates cannot be guaranteed after this date.

    View the Chicago Hotel Map.

  • Destination and Travel

    Add some adventure into your NSBA 2020 Annual Conference experience. We've got you covered with resources to help you plan your trip to Chicago. Click here.